Cardboard Children – Best Boardgame Of 2015

Hello youse.

In the first few years of doing this column, I would always do a Game of the Year award thing. It’s the kind of thing you’re supposed to do at the end of a year, right? You look back over the months and follow your heart to the place where everything was magical for you. There was a time when a game would absolutely stand out over all the rest, and you’d feel like you’d seen enough of the rest to make a confident call on what you thought was “the best”. But times have changed.

Boardgame Of The Year 2015

So what was my Game of the Year in 2015? Well, how can I possibly say? I write this column ever single week, missing one or two for holidays and such. So that’s about 50 columns in 2015, and the vast majority of them were reviews of games. Not just reviews of games, but recommendations of games. So that’s good games. A whole load of good games you’d suggest people should buy.

So you just pick the best of those and give out the award, right?

Well, maybe. See, there were an unbelievable amount of games released last year. I’d guess that there were more board games released last year than ever before, and I haven’t played all of them. I won’t have even come close. I won’t have even played half. Or a quarter. Or even a sixth maybe. Or even, let’s be frank, an eighth. Or maybe even one of the more obscure fractions, like an eleventh.

Further than that, there are a few games that other people have stated were important releases from 2015 that I haven’t yet touched. Pandemic: Legacy is sitting there unplayed, and people are raving about it. On Her Majesty’s Service is a game that I can see sitting across from me as I write this, and who knows how good it is? I haven’t got to that yet.

Forget about all the big-name board games that I haven’t had a chance to get to – what if the best game of the year was some obscure, indie board game that hardly anyone has seen? A little game of sheer genius that really needs the exposure of a Game of the Year award from a major website like this to increase its sales. What if that is out there somewhere, waiting for me to find it? There were more obscure indie board games released this year than ever before too! It’s endless. It is ENDLESS.

So as each year goes by, it’s almost like I am less qualified to hand out any kind of Game of the Year award. What am I supposed to do? Change the name of the award to THE BEST GAME THAT I HAVE PLAYED THIS YEAR AWARD 2015? That’s entirely meaningless, right? What if I’d only played three games? What if I’d only played Star Wars Monopoly, Star Wars Cluedo and Star Wars Guess Who? What would be the point of that award?

So it’s with some reluctance that I approach this whole endeavour, but I kinda sorta think I have to say something. I have to give out an award of some kind, or what kind of games writer am I? What games writer doesn’t give out awards or make lists?

Okay, so here, for what it’s worth, are my top three games of 2015. Of the ones that I’ve actually played. They’re all brilliant, don’t worry about that. And the actual winner is a delight.

Star Wars: Imperial Assault

While Star Wars: Imperial Assault was released in 2014, it was the start of 2015 that saw it spread properly into players’ hands, and it was through 2015 that the game really developed as a full experience. The expansions brought a huge amount of variety into both campaign and skirmish play, and now Imperial Assault is the perfect Star Wars figure fighty sandbox in a box. When you’re in the middle of a skirmish, with stormtroopers firing at Han and Chewie, and Vader striding towards the battle, and R2 and C-3PO messing around with the control panels – it immerses you in the Star Wars universe beautifully.

T.I.M.E. Stories

Squeezing in towards the very end of 2015, and reviewed here just last week, T.I.M.E. Stories is a remarkable co-op storytelling game that promises many further delights. I also love the fact that people are disagreeing about the value of the game, the design of the game, the story of the game. This isn’t just another release to be forgotten about in a few months time. This feels like landmark stuff.

Game Of The Year 2015: Three Kingdoms Redux

And here is my choice for Game of The Year 2015.

This indie-published, strictly 3-player board game set in Three Kingdoms era China is an experience like no other. The 3-player dynamic is dramatic and elegant, and the game is full of tight strategic decisions. It’s gorgeous, beautifully designed and deserves to be more widely known and far more widely praised.

I told you before to get it. Now you MUST, because it just won a fucking award.


  1. Tiax says:

    Well, after watchind SUSD review of TIME Stories I can’t say that the game felt that interesting to me. Nothing to get mad about, just really bland.

    • Rhodokasaurus says:

      Peeps was mad because the author said if you can’t afford $60 for a 4 hour experience you should “fuck off”. Here he’s saying he “loves” the fact that this bothered some people, so I imagine this will follow him around for a while.

      • jomurph86 says:

        If by “the author” you mean Rab, then no, I doubt it will “follow him around.” RPS is a delightfully “fuck off” type of site and is mostly frequented by good and decent “fuck off” types of folks! Rab is a welcome member of the clan :)

        • wraithgr says:

          People who encourage or endorse the “fuck off” attitude, especially over things such as wealth or other personal circumstances, should fuck off.

          • JimboDeany says:

            Fuck off? XD

          • jomurph86 says:

            Agreed. Fortunately, none of the writers here have ever done anything of the sort.

            However, I do approve of a mighty heft of the middle finger to the Offended Generation. Fuck that all day.

          • Rhodokasaurus says:

            “Fuck Off to the Offended Generation” is something I can happily endorse. Everyone’s so sensitive.

          • The Crane says:

            I feel too old to be part of the Offended Generation, but it still seems a bit steep if one can’t take umbrage at being told to fuck off for not having more disposable income.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            Perhaps in the same manner as people who demand that all experiences be framed from their own personal perspective.

          • jomurph86 says:

            “I feel too old to be part of the Offended Generation, but it still seems a bit steep if one can’t take umbrage at being told to fuck off for not having more disposable income.”

            I hear ya. It’s just, that’s not what Rab was saying. So many thin-skins out there jump at any opportunity to interpret everything in the worst possible light. Offense has become a joke. I don’t feel like RPS members, by and large, subscribe to such a shitty world view.

  2. ansionnach says:

    Like how you’ve framed the award. It’s certainly meaningful to me as someone who hasn’t played any new ones in 2015. The Star Wars one looks interesting. If they’re as cynical as they should be, they’ll keep making classic Star Wars stuff that ignores the horrible prequels and waste-of-time sequel.

  3. NeuroNiky says:

    Nice choice of games there, but Pandemic: Legacy is easily the best game of the year, and one you will LOVE since you also loved T.I.M.E. stories. Do yourself a favour and start playing it RIGHT NOW.

  4. OpT1mUs says:

    First of all thanks on a “list” that doesn’t include fing Pandemic, second I would get Three Kingdoms if anyone was selling it.

  5. stannis_the_mannies says:

    This game should win an award too!

    link to

    • JuergenDurden says:

      considering that guys’ kickstarter track record and the current look of this i must say that no, it does not.

      looks like somebody is shamelessly plugging his “project” here.

      hint: pics of your R&D seem more believable without whiskey bottles in the background.

      • JuergenDurden says:

        on second look it seems to be a coffee can… which is better but still doesn’t scream “professionalism”

  6. Xipheas says:

    I shall certainly take a look at the kingdoms, thanks for the recommendation!

    I’d like to suggest either The Gallerist or Sherlock Holmes The Card Game. Although new to me, the Holmes wasn’t new last year, but that’s a technicality.

    They are from opposing ends of the light/heavy scale, but both have many things to recommend them.

  7. Josh W says:

    The problem here is just that boardgames have turned into old fashioned music without anyone noticing.

    People release an album a boardgame in a bulky physical medium, just about big enough that you can carry one or two at a time to a party, but really, you need a massive amount of shelves to carry them all.

    Loads of it comes out, loads of it, and most people get into playing through one or two of them for a month at a time, so by the end of the year, someone has probably focused on about 10 to 20 of them, and maybe if they’re some kind of journalist, has got to grips with about a hundred. Compared to the number being made, there’s no way that anyone can honestly give the overall album boardgame of the year, so those who do are either unashamedly giving their own personal perspective, or have cultivated a very specific sub-genre to the point that they reject everything outside of that as important.