The best games of 2014 (so far!)

Title The best games of 2014 (so far!)
Author Tom Chick
Posted in Features
When July 6, 2014

It's that time of year again! America celebrates her emancipation from all those tea-drinking monarchists loitering off the coast of Europe and I post a list of my favorite games so far..

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I enjoy your coverage of boardgames just as much as your coverage of videogames and I certainly wouldn't want you to stop talking about either, but I do think the platform matters. I play both, but I enjoy different things from one to the other and I have very different constraints on how and when I can play them.

Tom--I really enjoy reading your writin', so thanks! I will admit that I tune out board game writing, because when I was 9 or so I learnt a painful but valuable lesson about board games (learnt with the Mad Magazine bored game). One can't play them either alone, or online with strangers. While I wasted my high school years playing AD&D, I never got into board games after a few childhood burns (siblings that quit when losing, me quitting when losing, or valued parent or older cousin types quitting after declaring "this is lame").

So I tune out board game writing. But I know how much bored game writing you do I thank you for your restraint in only including one (1) bored game in this list, ha ha. Also, between Legos and MKart8, I just might have to buy a Nintendo (again). Also thanx for the plug for Xenonauts. X-com with 21st century refinements??! Say No more!

Thanks Tom!

Jeff3F (a Fan who disdains boredgames write-ups and non-text (podcast) format content but who is nevertheless a longtime Qt3 fan!)

I guess I haven't played a lot of new for '14 games. I certainly agree about D3: RoS and MK8. I need to get to Xenonauts for sure. I like A Study in Emerald a lot, it's a typical Wallace game, in that it has brilliant aspects, combined with some strangely kludgy mechanics.

Delighted to see One Finger Death Punch in here. What a joy it is! When I got to the end of the list, though, I couldn't figure out why Watch Dogs hadn't been bumped for Archipelago.

Archipelago has already been out so long it's got two expansions (BGG says 2012)! A Study in Emerald barely squeaks by because a lot of folks didn't actually get their copies until after the holidays.

Thanks, Jeff!

But I assure you that a) there are plenty of good solitaire boardgames and b) there are tons of excellent ways to play boardgames online with friends or strangers, whether it's the various iPad ports or online services like Yucata or even VASSAL modules. It's a very different scene these days from whatever happened to you with the Mad Magazine boardgame!

Agreed on Mario Kart 8 and Titanfall. It's a testament to the latter's design that I enjoy playing as a pilot (finding elevation, playing David to a mech's Goliath) as much as a Titan.

MLB: The Show '14 also made a handsome debut on PS4 this year. They added one thing I've always wanted (you can carry your franchise into next year's game) and two things I didn't know I wanted (dynamic difficulty & quick counts) that grant consistent challenge and the elusive half-hour baseball game.

I don't know from these board games. Is that like Monopoly? If so I loved the Sega Genesis version.

Also honorable mention to Rusty's Real Deal Baseball (3DS), a very Nintendo-ish collection of mini-games that you actually haggle down the real world price for in-game, all while helping a balding canine shop owner and father of ten put his life back together and win back his estranged wife.

Half-hour beisbol game? Quick counts? What's this?

Nice feature Tom. I am excited to try out Spintires and Xenonauts, as those were definitely not on my radar. Infested Planet is a lot of fun, glad to see it high on the list.

I really would like to play A Study in Emerald, but is seems like there is such a high barrier to entry in playing boardgames like this. The games themselves are typically more expensive than a AAA videogame and then you have to find people with time to play, and the dedication to overcome the learning curve and the setup. I just don't have that much leisure time. :(

There's an option to start every at-bat with an advanced, in-progress count. 2-1, 1-1, 3-0, 1-2, etc. It takes away a bit of your agency, but games really move and become a pleasant succession of key moments.

Huh, I'm trying to find games from this year, but coming up lacking. Mostly it's been either releases from last year, hello Unity of Command and AC: Black Flag, or expansions from games of years past, oh Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis will you ever let me go.

The one game from this year I've played absolutely deserves a spot on this list, but never had a chance since you didn't care for it Tom. Transistor. I won't pretend I liked it as much as Bastion, but it is the only game released this year (excluding iOS games like Drive on Moscow, wait that was November. Damn.) that I've had interest in.

Oh well, we all have our flaws. I'll forgive your dislike of Transistor Tom.

So for 2014 here's my top 3

3: Crusader Kings 2 Rajas of India
2: Europa Universalis 4 Conquest of Paradise
1: Transistor

Yeah, no top 10. Sorry, not enough time with baby to, you know, play many new games.

Sounds interesting. I suppose the count is determined by stats of pitcher and batter, along with game situation, pitch count etc? Does it seem implemented fairly and smartly? Can you turn it off and on mid game? I would hate to be at the mercy of a quick count late in a close game, starting down 0-2 at a critical point would make me mad.

You enable it before every game, but it can't be turned off once selected. The situation you describe definitely does crop up, i.e. I get a rally going with McCutchen coming up and then he steps to the plate down 0-2. It only bothers me a little. Not hard, if you use the contact swing and really focus, to fight your way back to a more favorable count.

I really expected Titanfall and Dark Souls 2 to have more of an impact on me. In the end Titanfall felt like a promising product test squeezed in between console generations and DS2 was a pass as I think I am just satiated from Demons Souls and Dark Souls 1.

I don't know if it is the continuing Great Blah Schism of console generation transition or the board game renaissance, but as I consider the year so far and what fall has to offer, I am thinking a large chunk of my year's best games will be of the low wattage variety.

Gundam Extreme VS Full Boost is still probably the most underrated fighter on the planet that most folks won't see. It is darn awesome, but exactly because most folks never will see it, my enjoyment as a social gamer was short lived. Infested Planet is a surprising gem that leaves me wishing that it was less Indy (mostly for things like coop play). AoW3 is a darn fine 4x TBS. And the current beta of a Warmachine Tactics has me thinking it could a major contender as the best of juicy table top tactical awesome get the time compression and eye/ear candy benefits of digital games.

Still, with Shadows of Brimstone, Xenoshyft, Arcadia Quest, and SDE: Forgotten King all still on the horizon, I expect to be rolling more dice and drawing more cards than tapping buttons come December.

This definitely has me interested. I always enjoyed videogame baseball going back to Bases Loaded on the NES. I tried The Show a couple of years ago and had fun, but I got lost in its scope. Some quick play rules might be enough to hook me again.

After having RTS games just bounce off me for at least the last 10 years, I finally decided to give Infested Planet a try... Tom, you are pretty spot on with this one. I really like the pacing and the overall feel of it.

My list would have to include at least Dark Souls 2, Bravely Default, Toukiden, Mario Kart 8, Mario Golf, Age of Wonders 3, Dungeon of the Endless, Shovel Knight, BlazBlue CP, and DKC Tropical Freeze.

Great writeup Tom. This put a few games on my radar and moved some others to the top of my queue.

Does a Study in Emerald work well as a solo game where one could control all of the characters (something I am familiar with) or do you need multiple players due to the design or mechanics? Thanks for your thoughts.

Tom, now you have to do the ten worst games of 2014 (so far).