The mountains provided great vantage points for both sides. We could easily see what the enemy was doing, but so could they. Providing air support was going to be impossible because of the terrain, but we were still considering paradrops to get troops far into the enemy's territory. It would all come down to tactics, because we had only been given General Orders: World War II by Trevor Benjamin and David Thompson from Osprey Games.
Announcing the annual Top Table Award is always a pleasure and an honour at the same time. Choosing and deciding the order of the top 5 games I reviewed in 2023 is never easy. There usually isn't much between the games and they are all great for their own reasons. So, irrespective of which one won the coveted award, all of the games are worth a closer look. Here goes...
Fungi have long been misclassified as plants. In reality, they are a whole kingdom of their own. What we call a mushroom is just a fungus's fruit that appears above ground, but a mushroom is just a tiny part of a fungus. It's their underground root system composed of dense masses of fine, thread-like filaments, called hyphae, that makes up the majority of a fungus. Yet, mushrooms are crucial in a fungus's propagation. Mushrooms send out spores, which are carried through the air to new locations. When they eventually germinate they create new Mycelia by J. J. Neville from Split Stone Games.
Before the dawn of time, Gaia, our Mother Earth, gave birth to the first trees. With their strong trunks and majestic crowns, they quickly converted the fallow land into fertile soil. They cherished the everlasting rituals of Gaia that sent a ferocious force through their veins, bringing life to the highest branches and deepest roots. It did not take long for them to cover the whole continent and create the vast Forests of Pangaia by Thomas Franken from Pangaia Games.
The canal era was over. It was the time of the steam railways. The industrial revolution was in full swing and coal was at the heart of new, booming industries. A lot of steel was needed to build the infrastructure that would allow resources and goods to be shipped around the country. The workforce needed to be kept happy and beer was the perfect lubricant for this task. The rise of cotton mills, potteries and manufacturing gave us the opportunities to earn our Brass: Birmingham by Gavan Brown, Matt Tolman and Martin Wallace from Roxley Games.
"Captain!" came the shout from the deck. I turned around to see who from my Bluefin Squadron had called over to me. "What is it?" I shouted back in the general direction of my crew. "The crow's nest has spotted something. It looks like a smuggler ship." Ah, yes, the Smugglers. We were neither allies nor enemies. They would help us up to a point, while also always looking out for themselves. I only trusted them as far as my cannons could fire at them. "Fine, fine. Come about and let's see what they're up to." Minutes later the smuggler ship was upon us and I shouted "Ahoy!" by Greg Loring-Albright from Leder Games.
Growing up in Germany, I started playing traditional trick-taking games like Skat or Doppelkopf from a relatively young age. I'm used to the idea of suits, trump, following suit, taking tricks, gleaning information from what cards others play and much more. Traditional trick-taking games sort of have their own language. So I love to see modern games developing this mechanism further and incorporating it into other mechanisms, creating completely new game experiences.
The Durrani Empire had just collapsed and large swathes of Central Asia had fallen into disarray. It was an ideal opportunity for the ferengi to impose their power over the region and fight out their rivalries somewhere far away from their daily politics. The foreigners were completely unaware of how the local Afghan leaders were manipulating them to their own benefit. They played their own "Great Game" with these superpowers and knew that the imperial might would not survive for long. There was never going to be a Pax Pamir: Second Edition by Cole Wehrle from Wehrlegig Games.
The Caliphate is in turmoil. The Murshid spreads its influence and whispers into the Sultan's ear, trying to affect where they build their magnificent towns and cities. The Warlord ravages the lands, plundering and destroying everything in their way. Nothing is safe and everyone has their own goals. So as the sun sets on the deserts, mountains and fertile lands and as day turns to night, the warring factions prepare for another day and get ready to put their plans into action. For now, though, it's the time of the Crescent Moon by Steven Mathers from Osprey Games.
It is the 11th century AD and the Vikings regularly invade our lands, while my domestic rivals try to forcefully take territory from me, without much luck. My military prowess is well known and I prove myself again and again, while also forging political alliances by strategically arranging marriages between my family members and other important houses. I even have time to rebuild the many monasteries in my realm, bringing the Church and its wealth onto my side. My name is Brian Boru: High King of Ireland by Peer Sylvester from Osprey Games.