#1 Ark Nova
My number one game this year is one we purchased in May but didn’t get into until June. From then on it has hit the table at least once a week. We even bring this big box out camping with us and set it up in the kitchen tent to play on rainy days.
In Ark Nova you are creating a zoo by building enclosures, adding animals, supporting conservation projects, and building up your reputation as the number one zoo. Plays well at one, better at two, and we are looking forward to seeing how it plays at 3 and 4.
A push your luck dice drafting and rolling game that is a blast every time you play. This quirky game quickly rose in my list of favourites as soon as we unboxed it. In this game you are racing against your opponents on one of four supplied maps by buying, drafting, and rolling different coloured dice. Each unique coloured die has different faces with different powers, move abilities and money values enabling you to move around the map and buy more die, just be careful not to bust or you will be left in the dust. Great at all player counts.
#3 Quacks of Quedlinburg
Another push your luck game that became an instant favourite amongst our friends. In this game you are playing as doctors or so you hope, nobody wants to be a quack. You are building potions by pulling ingredients out of your bag and placing them into your pot. Sounds easy enough but pull too many cherry bombs and your pot explodes revealing your true identity as a quack. Throughout the game you can buy different ingredients with better abilities and values enabling you to gain more victory points than your opponents. Great at 2 and 4 players, plus the Herb Witches expansion gives the opportunity to play with 5 players.
This engine building card game is fun to play and as pretty as it gets. In this game you are attracting different birds into your tableau, feeding them their desired food, and placing them into their correct habitat. Your goal in selecting and placing birds is to create powerful combos that will allow you to gain more food, lay more eggs and give you access to more birds allowing you to out score your opponent. Plays great at two, (untested on higher player counts).
An oldie but a goodie. We have been playing this game for decades but only started keeping a running score at the beginning of COVID, three years later and we still have the same game going. Easy to bust out at any time, even outdoors since the tiles are heavy and aren’t bothered by wind or the occasional raindrop.