Codenames

(2-8 players; 20 minutes; ages 10+)

I am not a word game person. While I respect scrabble, it is just not my kind of game because the memory requirements are so high. It is therefore with great surprise that I am naming a word game as MathPickle’s 2016 game of the year.

Codenames is a scintillating game of deduction and brinksmanship where you try to stay on the same wavelength as your team members to guess a set of words from a tableau. I cannot speak highly enough of the subtle game design elements which make this game an absolute winner. I play without a timer, but impatient players will definitely want to use the timer to put added pressure on their already beleaguered opponents.

I think the universe is pure geometry – basically, a beautiful shape twisting around and dancing over space-time.

Antony Garrett Lisi

Hanabi

2013
MathPickle 
Game of the Year
2-5 players
25 minutes
ages 8+

Avalon

2014
MathPickle 
Game of the Year
5-10 players
20 minutes
ages 9+

Star Realms

2015
MathPickle 
Game of the Year
2 players
20 minutes
ages 8+

Codenames

2016
MathPickle 
Game of the Year
2-8 players
20 minutes
ages 10+

Hanamikoji

2017
MathPickle
Runner-up Game of the Year
2 players
15 minutes
ages 8+

Santorini

2017
MathPickle 
Game of the Year
2-4 players
15 minutes
ages 6+

War Chest

2018
MathPickle
Runner-up Game of the Year
best with 2 players
30 minutes
ages 9+

Warsaw: City of Ruins

2018
MathPickle 
Game of the Year
2-4 players
45 minutes
ages 10+

An abstract struggle with clunky chips and a draw bag.

Simultaneous play and no downtime.

Urbino

2019

MathPickle
Runner-Up Game of the Year
2 players
30 minutes
ages 9+

Urbino is a themed strategy game that has brought joy to my home for years. It is almost as elegant as the greatest abstract strategy games of all time: Dvonn and Go.

Patchwork

2019

MathPickle
Runner-Up Game of the Year
2 players
30 minutes
ages 7+

Patchwork is a tactical zero-luck game. It is challenging to look many moves into the future!

878 Vikings

2019
MathPickle
Game of the Year
2-4 players
60-90 minutes
ages 11+

"1754: Conquest – The French and Indian War" is a simpler game using the same wonderful mechanics.

The Crew

2020
MathPickle
 runner-up Game of the Year
2-4 players
20 minutes
ages 9+

"The Crew: Missions Deep Sea" is the even better sequel. Beware that cooperative games like these can be more stressful than competitive games because your failure can wreck the whole group.

Cartographers

2020

MathPickle
Game of the Year
1-100 players
30 minutes
ages 8+

My favourite pencil and paper game is a solitaire experience blends tetris with variable scoring objectives.

Air Land & Sea

2021
MathPickle
runner-up Game of the Year
2 players
15 minutes
ages 8+

Jon Perry's Air Land & Sea impressed me immediately with its inspired rule that allows players to withdraw from a battle at any time. The game improves with play as the first games will be slowed down because each card has critical text... however there are only 18 cards in total. This game is a gem for those with a limited budget.

Wingspan

2021
MathPickle
Game of the Year
1-5 players
60 minutes
ages 10+

Elizabeth Hargrave's Wingspan does not have the most innovative mechanisms, but it is infused with natural beauty like no other game I've played. Unlike all previous winners, the game did not "wow" me on the first play, but over many plays, I came to love the anticipation of each new bird entering play. It is a sumptuous game.

Sniper Elite

2022
MathPickle
runner-up Game of the Year
best with 2 players
30 minutes
ages 12+

Ever dreamed of being James Bond? In Sniper Elite one player secretly sneaks around a top-secret WWII military base - attempting to sabotage the enemy without getting killed. Many parents will have issues with the theme. I do not let my children play violent computer games, but a violent strategic board game? That is different.

My City

2022
MathPickle
Game of the Year
2-4 players
20 minutes
ages 8+

My City is a legacy game that is played 24 times. A legacy game is one in which permanent changes happen with each game. For example, if you win a game you might "win" a building that is difficult to construct for all future games. Only buy My City if you plan to play with the same people again and again. 

Dune Imperium

2023
MathPickle
runner-up Game of the Year
2-4 players
2 hours
ages 12+

This is not an easy game. Choose a different game if you are new to board gaming, but if you are an experienced gamer AND enjoyed the 2021 movie Dune, then this is an immersive game experience with tense decisions. 

Cat in the box

2023
MathPickle
Game of the Year
3-5 players
30 minutes
ages 10+

This card game is a logician's paradise. The suit of each card is not written on the cards. Instead, you declare the suit when it is played. Then you must live with the repercussions of your decisions. Do you decide to trump a hand by saying you have no yellow cards? Fine, but that means you cannot play another yellow card for that round. Continue until someone wins or there is a paradox!

Skull

2024
MathPickle
runner-up Game of the Year
3-6 players
15 minutes
ages 8+

Skull is a minimalist joyful experience that is a descendant of the dice game Perudo/Dudo/Liars Dice. While I prefer the dice game original for the classroom, the artwork on these coasters make this the most beautiful of all the bluffing games.

Maskmen

2024
MathPickle
Game of the Year
3-5 players
15 minutes
ages 8+

This game is brilliant and minimalistic. You start with a hand of wrestlers. At the start of a hand, the relative strength of the wrestlers is unknown. If a wrestler beats another wrestler, then it will always beat that wrestler for the rest of the hand.