(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.
Runnerup Game of the Year
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.
Game of the Year
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.