“The Nerdies” are the end-of-year awards from Nerds on Earth. They are only awarded to the most excellent of things, and are selected by Nerds on Earth writers and editors, with input from readers via our social media.
Our category today is “Best Board Game,” and what a year for board games it has been.
This year’s slate was difficult with literally hundreds of new board games being released in 2018, but we narrowed it down to four before opening the vote to determine the winner of the Nerdie Award for Best Board Game.
2018 Nerdie Award for Best Board Game
1 Rise of Tribes
Rise of Tribes is a 2018 civ-style board game from Breaking Games. Players control a tribal faction in prehistoric times among plentiful lakes, mountains, forests, and an occasional volcano, where they are looking to grow, move, gather, and lead their people in order to develop their civilization.
You may not see Rise of Tribes among many end-of-year lists and that’s a darned shame. There is a lot of game packed into a really slick mechanic where a die is placed on the left, which slides the dice that are already present to the right. What’s more, Rise of Tribes is a beautiful and well-produced game in a genre where similar games have a reputation for being boorish, overly complicated, and soooooooo loooooong. Yet Rise of Tribes is streamlined and elegant. It’s a civ game that plays in under an hour, which may be the greatest invention outside of the wheel. – Clave
2 Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra
Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra is an abstract interactive tile-drafting game where players are constructing the most gorgeous array of stained glass windows possible. Much like its predecessor, this standalone version of Azul can be ruthlessly cutthroat as players select
Jolly Ranchers pieces of glass while doing their best to prevent opponents from acquiring their beloved tiles.
Simple mechanics coupled with beautiful components result in a fun and engaging addition to game night, and that’s why it was nominated for 2018 Board Game of the Year. – Abram
3 Rising Sun
Rising Sun is an undeniably great game, buoyed further by a multi-million dollar Kickstarter that filled the box with additional miniatures. The game takes place in a mythical version of Japan. Players lead a clan to conquest, gaining favor with the gods, and the game uses an honor mechanic to track it all, meaning diplomacy and alliances will play a large part in winning the war.
Rising Sun is from the same team that brought Blood Rage to gamers and in many ways it is even the superior. Further, the artwork is by the legendary Adrian Smith so the game is beautiful. But what really sells it are the beautifully sculpted miniatures that truly are drool-worthy.
So, slam dunk, right? Mostly. The 90+ minutes play time doesn’t sit well with all gamers, nor does the minimum 3 players. That combined with the combative nature of the game places Rising Sun in a category reserved for mid- to serious-gamers. – Clave
And the Nerdie Award winner for Best Board Game of 2018 is…
Everdell is the tableau building and worker placement board game from Starling Games. It is set within the charming valley of Everdell, beneath the branches of a towering tree, where little forest critters are thriving. 1-4 players lead a group of critters tasked with expanding into new territories. There are buildings to construct, characters to meet, and events to host.
Everdell is a stunningly beautiful game, with exceptional component quality. I have a 7- and a 9-year-old daughter in my house and they go absolutely ga-ga over the game, while I admit that I am quite smitten myself.
Everdell is a simple game, yet it has an amount of depth far beyond what the little critters of the game would suggest. It’s a game that is exciting even to set up at the table, plus I’d also tack on words like whimsy, mirth, and charm.
With so many generic fantasy themed games, expressing a woodland theme and then really marrying that theme into the mechanics works for Everdell. That makes it something that could appeal to everybody, whether they’re 10 years old or 70. It’s sweet and charming, but it’s not cartoony. Plus, it boasts deep, thoughtful game play. For those reasons and more, Everdell wins The Nerdie Award for Best Board Game of 2018. – Clave