As we approach 2024, it is time to take a look back at some of the great games of the year. While this isn't a "best of" list; these are recent releases that caught our interest over the last 12 months.
I come from a Rummy family. While I love playing new games and exploring new genres, there is something special about a game of gin rummy with the people who are closest to me.
That's what makes Sea, Salt, and Paper such a delight. It feels like a classic set collection card game. The "rummy" vibes are there. But while the rules are fairly straightforward, certain pairs and sets of cards have special effects and scoring rules. In addition, there's a "card counting" mechanism where players need to anticipate whether its best to end the round while they're ahead or whether they should continue to collect cards in the hopes of outscoring their opponents.
The result is a light card game I can introduce to new and experienced gamers alike, a title that retains the best elements of a classic while keeping things daring and fresh
I'm going to be completely honest. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be telling you about this game.
It's not because Heat isn't a good game – it's a great game.
It's because for the vast majority of the year, we haven't had Heat up on the shelves. We immediately sold through our initial allocation, and then when we received a small restock earlier this fall, it was hardly enough to make a dent in our list of backorders.
The good news is that we experienced a holiday miracle and received a small shipment a week or so ago. And for the first time in 2023, we were able to work through all of our backorders, and copies of this exciting racing game have finally arrived on shelves.
I'm not sure how long copies are going to stick around, so there's a chance that as you're reading this, we're already sold out and have started to take backorders. If that's the case, I'm very sorry. Leave your information with a staff member and we'll contact you when another shipment arrives.
But if we do have Heat in stock, boy is it one of our top recommendations.
Heat is a thrilling hand management game (with some deckbuilding elements) for 1-6 players. You race towards the finish line, but burn to hot and your engine could overheat, giving the other players a chance to pass by. This element of balance allows Heat to succeed where so many other racing games spin out. And the base game comes with two double-sided boards, which means that there are plenty of tracks to explore in just the one box.
3. Disney: Lorcana
It turns out I'm also pretty reluctant to talk about Lorcana. This exciting new collectible card game has suffered from some pretty rocky availability issues, and this means that our initial excitement about building decks with Mickey and friends soured as the few products we were able to grab sold out and prices began to skyrocket.
But in the last month, the second set for the game released, and availability has been slowly getting better. My Lorcana friends have been having a great time collecting cards and building decks. I have really enjoyed the few games I have gotten to play, and I look forward to playing more.
Disney Lorcana might not be the Magic- or Pokemon-killer that some early articles were forecasting, but now that you can buy a decent amount of cards without refinancing your home, Disney Lorcana is definitely worth looking into.
We're in risky territory here, so there's a chance that, by the time you read this, products have disappeared from shelves again and we're in a rough spot, but I'm going to choose to end the year on an optimistic note.
If you're looking to pick up Lorcana, call you preferred location ahead of time to ensure we have the products you're looking for!
But Boop has a very cool take on the genre. Yes, the theme of cats bouncing around on the bed is adorable, but what brings the game to the next level is that the pieces act like cats, scrambling about and never staying put.
The initial goal is to get three of your kittens in a row, but whenever a kitten jumps onto a new square, everything around that kitten bounces away, making it exceedingly difficult to execute any sort of plan.
And once you've succeeding in herding the kitties into a straight line, they get upgraded into the larger cat tokens and the struggle begins all over again.
If you love Wingspan as much as I do, Earth is definitely looking into. (If you haven't played Wingspan, go play Wingspan, then come back here.)
Rather than filling a habitat full of different birds, you and your friends will compete to add different types of vegetation to your island. Each new plant that you add augments the actions you can take, giving you additional benefits or new scoring conditions.
What makes Earth truly exceptional, however, is that every turn, one player will choose to take a "major action," and all other players at the table will take a "minor" version of the same action. Gone are the long periods of downtime while you're waiting for your turn to come back around.
And with a plethora of scoring conditions and plant cards, the replayability of Earth is fantastic.
That said, Earth hasn't replaced Wingspan in my collection; I love them both. Wingspan is more accessible to less experienced gamers, and Earth can cause my brain to run on overdrive sometimes.