Top 5 Games of 2022

Clank Catacombs board and card set up. The Clank board is at to top of the picture with a few yellow and blue cubes on their health tracks, some cubes in the clank area, and the dragon token on the second to highest level of the rage track. Below that is a stack of Explore and Secret Tome cards, and the goblin monster card.

As we wrapped up 2022, I decided to take a look back at the games that I played that were released in 2022 (according to their listings on Board Game Geek). I played about 30 of them, and here are my current top five.

#5 Planet Unknown

Planet Unknown is a tile laying game where each player has a planet board that they are filling up with tiles while driving rovers around the surface to gather oxygen tanks and repair meteorite strikes. Placing tiles also moves the player up on different tracks on a corporation board for points and bonuses.

A large square board with a planet and a second rectangular board for a player in Planet Unknown. The planet has a few tiles places on it, five blue markers and a rover. On the planet there is a line of squares marking where water mide be on the planet. The corporation board has five tracks, each of a different color and each having a maker a few spaces form the bottom.

I especially like adding the variable planets and corporation boards to add a little complexity to the game. The tile-drafting mechanism is fun, with a lazy susan full of tiles at the center of the table. In the two-player game the tile spinner clicks around one segment at a time, so you can plan ahead for the next tiles that will be available to you. In the multi-player game the active player chooses how much to spin the tile holder, which adds a little randomness, but gives you more control when its your turn to choose which tile you want access to.

#4 Flamecraft

Flamecraft is a worker placement game with the cutest dragon art I think I’ve ever seen. Players are building up shops in town, enchanting the shops to produce more goods and staffing the shops with artisan dragons who provide additional benefits.

Close up on one of the shops on a Flamecraft board. The shop has a green leaf symbol printed on the upper left corner. A light blue dragon figurine stands on the shop card. Beneath the shop are two cards, each depicting a dragon, one called Twig, the other Dandelion.

The art in Flamecraft is what drew me in, but also love the game-play. It’s a fairly simple game of collecting resources and trading them in for points or other resources, but it adds a lot of fun decisions. For example, once a shop is full of artisan dragons, you can’t place new ones there for the placement benefit, but they give you so many resources that it’s hard not to use them just the same. So you are constantly deciding whether to visit a newer shop or get all the resources out of an older shop.

#3 Now or Never

Now or Never is a story-driven game where players are trying to rebuild their ancestral home and bring residents back to the village. This is the third in Ryan Laukat’s trilogy of games that also includes Above and Below and Near and Far. It is by far the most complex — it keeps the elements of story-telling and adventuring and adds town-building to the mix.

Two player game of Now or Never set-up with the map board at the center of the table. Each player has a character board - one shows a blue creature with curved. horns named Zeik, the other a brown-skinned woman named Halia. Each payer also has a blank board next to their character board with a grid to play buiding tiles.

We played through a full campaign earlier this year, and I’m hoping to play through again in 2023 so we can see some of the other characters and their stories. It is a big and long game, but we never felt like it overstayed its welcome; however, we’ve only played with 2-players, so with more I could see where this would be a bit overwhelming. Still, I really enjoyed the campaign, the story, and the game play.

#2 Monsters on Board

Monsters on Board is a dice drafting game where players have a group of monsters running through town, haunting different neighborhoods and trying to summon the Spider Jack for a party. Players are drafting the dice based on their color to move their monsters through the town, but also for their symbols which define actions they can take after moving their monsters. Additionally, they are drafting the dice to match a pattern they need to accomplish by the end of the game of the tableau of dice they are building on their player board.

Player board at the end of the game on a table with two car figurines that have holes in them for 6-sided dice. The right side of the player board has a grid of spaces, each space has six circled spaces ringed by a different color. In this player's board there are monster minis of different colors scattered throughout the board. On the left side of the player board is a grid of dice, also in different colors.

As with many games, I was drawn in by the art and monster figures, but the puzzly game-play has made this one of my faves of the year. I love trying to manipulate how my monsters move through town by strategically placing minions, which will move those monsters toward bonus actions and the end space quicker. But I also enjoy the puzzle of trying to get just the right dice to make my dice tableau score its maximum points. Other than the interaction of the dice drafting, this is a game of multi-player solitaire, but I don’t care — it’s right up my alley.

#1 Clank! Catacombs

Clank! Catacombs is a deck-building game where players are noisily exploring a dungeon to find artifacts while dodging dragon attacks. This is the latest iteration of the Clank! family of games, and I have loved every single one.

A map made of square tiles lies in the middle of a blue table. Each map square has a series of rums that are either rectangle in shape or round. The round rooms have blue spikes running around the inside of the circle. Between the rooms are a maze of lines, some with arrowheads on one side, some with a lock symbol and some with a monster symbol. On one of the rectangular rooms stands a yellow meeple. In the distance a black meeple is seen on circular room

Clank! Catacombs adds only a few new mechanisms to the Clank universe, but the ever-changing map is a brilliant one. I’ve added all of the alternate maps to my base set of Clank!, but Catacombs gives you a new way to change out the map with every game. I love what this adds to the main Clank! game play, and can’t wait for my next chance to get lost in the underground maze.

An honorable mention goes to Encyclopedia. It is a dice drafting game where players are researching animal species, hiring assistants, and then embarking on expeditions to different regions of the globe to gather data about those animals to print in an encyclopedia.

Player board and collected cards in Encyclopedia. The player board has a character on the left side and a list of reminders on the right about scoring. In the middle are four spaces for assistant cards, which are full in this player's board. Along the top of that is a track with a player's "star" marker for reputation. Above that are spaces to place the dice that are up for drafting. Below the player's board are animal cards with a few player cubes marking different parts of each card, showing which aspects of the animals they have researched.

This is a Kickstarter game that just fulfilled in early December, and it ended up ranking pretty high as I was looking at the 2022 releases I had played. However, I have only played it once, and I suspect it bubbled toward the top because of how recently I’ve played it. We’ll see where it ranks next year.

What are your favorite games that published in 2022? Or a favorite that you played over the last year? Let me know in the comments!

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