Here we are...the Top 10. If you haven't seen the rest of the list, check it out here:
BGG Rank: 541
Last Year's Rank: --
Designed by: Germán P. Millán
Art by: Edu Valls
Released: 2021 from Devir
Well, this is the cult of the new talking, as this game didn't even enter my collection until August 2022, and when I got it, it didn't leave my table for a week. It's that good. Nothing new, necessarily, in terms of mechanisms, but the blend of card play, contract fulfillment, dice placement and manipulation, and going up tracks is so satisfying. The solo mode is a bit of a bear to learn, but it's great. The art is stunning...the production is insane, and it's not even a kickstarter game. Just all around an amazing package and worth checking out if you're into medium-heavy games that score a lot of points. I also expect that, as more people own this game, it will rise in BGG ranking.
9. Ark Nova
BGG Rank: 4
Last Year's Rank: --
Designed by: Matthias Wigge
Art by: Steffen Bieker, Loïc Billiau, Dennis Lohausen, Christof Tisch
Released: 2021 from Feuerland Spiele and Capstone Games
Okay, so this is literally the elephant in the room. This game came out late in 2021 (many didn't get their copy until 2022, either) and has already made the Top 5 of BGG. It's that good, though. The action selection mechanism of having a conveyor belt of five action cards that continually change in power is an absolute delight, and there's also tile placement, tableau building; it's a lot, but it's incredible. I love the theme of building a zoo that's centered around conservation and selling tickets to help sponsor more conservation projects. It also borrows from Rajas of the Ganges in terms of the score track. Just a brilliant design from first-time designer Matthias Wigge. I'll be eagerly awaiting his next game.
8. Paladins of the West Kingdom
BGG Rank: 64
Last Year's Rank: 9
Designed by: SJ Macdonald, Shem Phillips
Art by: Mihajlo Dimitrievski
Released: 2019 from Garphill Games and Renegade Game Studios
Well, this one is holding its place in the Top 10 (up one spot from last year) after the hotness took it by storm this year. It's the second in the West Kingdom trilogy (which is all excellent, by the way) and definitely the heaviest in terms of rules. There are six different colors of workers that all fulfill different functions, and the puzzle is trying to eke out bonus workers to extend your turn by one action at a time while managing your resources to make sure you can keep going. The solo mode is excellent, though I also wouldn't want to play it at more than two players, either, so that's something to think about.
BGG Rank: 60
Last Year's Rank: --
Designed by: Randy Flynn
Art by: Beth Sobel
Released: 2021 from Flatout Games and Alderac Entertainment Group
Wow, can't believe this one has made it into the Top 10. It's definitely the lightest game in the Top 10, and it's one of the newer ones as well, but I am always down to play Cascadia, and so is my partner. It also scales well from 1-4 players with a breezy setup and relaxing gameplay of entangled drafting of habitat tiles and animal tokens. I cannot recommend this game highly enough for the whole family, and it's also worth noting that it won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres, which is the equivalent of the Academy Awards of board gaming.
6. The Gallerist
BGG Rank: 63
Last Year's Rank: 8
Designed by: Vital Lacerda
Art by: Ian O'Toole
Released: 2015 from Eagle Gryphon Games
Another Lacerda title in the mix, here, up two spots from last year and barely missing out on the Top 5. This game is probably the best introduction to the heavy euro designs by Lacerda, in my opinion, though that may change with Weather Machine dropping later this year (2022). At its core, it's a worker placement game with only four spots and eight possible actions, but the meat of the game is figuring out how to leverage those actions as well as bonus actions when some other player kicks out your gallerist or your assistants to gain bonus actions by spending influence that you've accrued through attracting visitors to your gallery, buying and selling paintings, and promoting artists. Dripping theme, The Gallerist will maintain a spot here for a while, I think.
Credit: All images come from Boardgamegeek.