Top 5 Board Games of 2016 – Geek Node

Tabletop Game Feature: Top 5 Board Games of 2016

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2016 has been a year full of ups and downs, mostly downs, no matter where you are in the world. Britain has Brexit, America has Trump, South Africa (still) has Zuma – but you know what the saving grace in all of this is? The board games of 2016!

All the board games that have come out in 2016 have been so unique and interesting and have set a really high standard for the games of 2017. Here is a list of my top 5 board games of 2016:

Number Five: The Last Friday

Like slasher horror films? Well then this game has the perfect theme for you. A Psycho killer comes to haunt a bunch of campers in and around their lodge. One player plays as the psychopath, trying to kill the other players, who play as campers.

thelastfridayThe Last Friday has an excellent hidden movement mechanic, paired with a deduction mechanic which increases the suspense of the game as a whole. The map is massive, allowing players to move quite freely. The game has four main phases: The Arrival at the Camp, The Chase, The Massacre, and The Final Chapter. Each phase plays out very differently, allowing for a varsity within the game play.

The Last Friday provides the players, either campers or the psychopath, very intense mechanics which create high tension and fantastic player interaction within the game. However, this game has been criticized for having some balancing issues: some people think the psychopath is too powerful and others think the campers are too powerful, depending on the gameplay, the amount of players etc. Some players also feel as though the actual size of the map is too big – some locations are just not necessary and campers wouldn’t go to the corners of the map because it is too far from the rest of the action on the board.

The Last Friday is a very interesting game, and it does provide a really awesome theme to a game with a hidden movement mechanic, but the game definitely needs to be balanced.

Number Four: The Dragon and Flagon

Beer and brawling, what more could you want from a game? The Dragon and Flagon provides this and so much more to its players. From swinging on chandeliers to throwing chairs into other players, the Dragon and Flagon creates an amazing concoction of mechanics that the players can use to win dragonflagonthe bar fight.

The actually board of the game is such a positive element to it because you can set it up to however you want it to be. The game provides you with beautiful game bits like tables, chairs, rugs, mugs etc. to place all over the inside of the tavern. The actual piece called the Dragon Flagon, however, is always placed in the centre of the board.

Each player picks a quirky character and gets the matching deck of action cards and tokens. The players start with 20 reputation. As the players pick their actions for each round, they will either earn or lose their reputation depending on if they give or take damage to/from other players. Once the timer has counted up the end of the game, the city guard bust into the tavern and stop the fight. The player with the most reputation at the end of the game, wins.

The Dragon Flagon is definitely a game that you need to check out, if not for the shoving of tables into other players, then definitely for the fantastic pieces and board.

Number Three: Hit Z Road

Besides the charming 1960’s theme that the game has, Hit Z Road has some of the best survival mechanics of the games that have been released in 2016. With bottle caps and old playing cards, the players need to be the last people surviving in order to win the game.

Players each have their own group of survivors, including themselves which is indicated by their designated colour. The players have resources which they need to manage throughout the game, these include ammo, fuel and adrenaline and they all look like bottle caps.

hitzroadAt the beginning of every turn, the players bid their resources for their starting positions. The more resources you bid, the higher your starting position. The first person to play picks a row event cards. These event cards give you resources, sometimes points, as well as zombies that you need to fight.

Fighting zombies is a critical part of the game and there are multiple ways in which a player can do this:

  1. The player can drive away from the zombies by spending fuel tokens, but they lose out on the points given to them on the event card.
  2. The players can shoot at the zombies by spending the ammo resource. The amount of ammo spent will determine how many black die the player gets. If the player rolls the target symbol on the die, they kill the zombie.
  3. If there are any zombies left after shooting them, or if the player does not have any ammo resource to spend, the players must fight the zombies off using melee. When the player fights the zombies using melee attacks, the player rolls 4 die. If they roll targets, the player kills the zombies.

If the player does not kill all the zombies then they lose one survivor in their group.

Once all the event cards have been played through, the remaining players add up their points and whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins.

Hit Z Road has an amazing theme to it and the pieces of the game are unique and high quality. If you haven’t checked this game out, put it on your Christmas list!

Number Two: Pandemic Reign of Cthulhu

Another addition to the Pandemic series? But of course! Reign of Cthulhu adds a 1920’s, detective theme to the game, along with some changes of the mechanics to work around that specific theme. The goal of the game is to close the four main portals that lead to the supernatural world, where monsters spawn from.

pandemicrocThe game takes place within the four towns: Arkham, Dunwich, Innsmouth, and Kingsport. In each town, the players need to work together to close portals, defeat cultists and shoggoths. At the top of the board, the players need to place 7 cards, known as the Old Ones. These cards all have various bad effects onto the players, the seventh being Cthulhu himself. If Cthulhu enters the game, the players have lost.

Throughout the game, players need to collect cards and manage them in order to move around the board, close portals and defeat shoggoths or cultists. The players also need to look out for their sanity levels as they perform actions within the game. If the player becomes insane, they must flip over their character’s card and play the new special ability as indicated on the card.

Reign of Cthulhu is a fantastic addition to the Pandemic series, it adds a refreshing perspective to the game which creates a new kind of game play that most Pandemic enthusiasts should enjoy. It’s definitely something to check out, even if you’ve never played the Pandemic series before. In fact, I think Reign of Cthulhu is a great way to get started with the Pandemic series.

Number One: Captain Sonar

At number one we have the incredible game Captain Sonar. Think Battle Ships but with all the communication skills! Captain Sonar requires players to make their own submarine functional whilst trying to destroy the other team’s submarine.

Within the game, each player has their own specific job. These jobs all do different things and are vital to the submarine’s life, abilities and movement around the map. The game comes with various maps so that there is replayability within the game. Within the game, there are four positions:

  • The Captain: If you are the captain of the submarine, you move your submarine on the board. You move one dot at a time and you also steer the direction in which the submarine must move. The Captain must make sure that the submarine does not steer into an island.
  • The Chief Mate: The chief mate is in charge of the submarine’s abilities. For example, each time the submarine moves, the chief mate may pick an ability, tick off one of the blocks and start the process of that ability to be ready.
  • The Engineer: Direction is very important if you are the engineer. Once the captain has shouted out a direction, the engineer must tick off one of the submarine’s systems. Think of this as an antagonist system to the Chief Mate’s job, as the direction that the ship moves will hinder an ability until all systems are reset.
  • The Radio Operator: The radio operator is in charge of trying to find out where the opponent’s submarine could be. They track the opponent’s captain’s announcements of their submarine’s movements. Once the radio operator has a clue where the opponent’s submarine could be, they must tell the Chief Mate and the Engineer so that they can start to plan an attack.

captain-solarEach team is doing the same thing in real-time, so it’s very important to not only track what you are doing, but also what your opponent is doing. Once you have an idea where your opponent is, you can choose a method of attack. This includes placing a mine, which you can decide when to blow up, as well as shooting a torpedo that travels four dots in the direction you are facing. Once a team’s submarine has taken 4 damage points, their submarine is destroyed and the other team is victorious!

This is a fantastic party game! It is highly recommend that you play with eight players, but it is possible to play with fewer. This game mixes strategy and socializing and it is incredibly fun and exciting. You need to buy this game if you have a regular group of people who you play board games with!


So there are my top five board games of 2016! These games are incredible and definitely worth your time if you are an avid board gamer. If you are into the more social and casual games, I would definitely recommend Captain Sonar and The Dragon and Flagon. If you are into board games that have amazing themes and different mechanics, I would recommend The Last Friday and Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu. Finally, if you’re into resource management and survival, then Hit Z Road is the game for you. Let us know what your favourite board games are of 2016!

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Tabletop Author at Geek Node
Andrea is a game designer with a passion for creative writing as well as cats. She is in her 4th year of study at Wits and is all about that academic life. Andrea spends the majority of her time trying to balance out playing really cool games and trying to make really cool games.
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