Giant Bomb News

22 Comments

Ed Beach's Top 10 Games of 2016

The lead designer of Civilization VI discusses the few games he found time to enjoy this year, and the ones he's most looking forward to digging into in 2017.

No Caption Provided

Ed Beach is a lead designer at Firaxis Games. His first project as lead, Sid Meier's Civilization VI, shipped earlier this year. He's an avid board game player and designer, having worked on the card-driven wargame Here I Stand, and its sequel Virgin Queen, as well as four games in the series Great Campaigns of the American Civil War. You can find him on Twitter as @EdBeach23.

As everyone can imagine, 2016 has been a very hectic year for me. Successfully shipping my first AAA title as lead designer made for many months of juggling priorities and overstretched time commitments. Finding hours to just sit down and enjoy some gaming was often difficult. So instead of coming up with the Top 10 Games I played this year, I’m breaking it into the Top 5 I did get a chance to try, and the Top 5 I’m looking forward to catching up on now that I have more opportunities.

Also, for those not aware of my background, please note that I have designed a number of board games in addition to my work in video games and on the Civilization series. When I get free time, I’m just as likely to be spending it with paper maps and dice as I am with a controller. So these lists will be split pretty evenly between tabletop and computer games.

Top 5 Games I Did Play

1. XCOM 2

No Caption Provided

Although the latest generation of XCOM games have been made by my colleagues down the hall, I haven’t contributed besides being a guinea pig for some of that team’s focus tests. This allows me to play the XCOM series just like a fan would. I did get a chance to put dozens of hours into XCOM 2 early in the year, but once again the game proved too difficult to beat that quickly. Flipping the tables and making XCOM into the rebels working against the alien overlords was genius. I’ll be finishing this one shortly, even if my squad gets wiped a few times first.

2. Stellaris

As anyone who has read up on our design philosophies for Civilization VI knows, I steadfastly believe that the map is a key actor in any good 4X strategy game. And this is where Stellaris shines, for it starts the game by creating a procedurally-generated galaxy. That’s an amazing way to state up front that “this game is going to be epic.” I haven’t had time to master this one or keep up with the latest updates, so I’ll need to get back out in space to catch up in 2017.

3. 7 Wonders Duel

No Caption Provided

Let’s jump over to board games. A design I have admired greatly since it came out in 2010 was 7 Wonders. Much like in a Civilization game, you are tasking with building one of the wonders of the ancient world. However, the game design is a wonder as well: it accommodates up to seven players at a table with no added down time regardless of how many are playing. My only quibble was that it couldn’t be played with just 2, except they solved that this year when the Duel version made its way to America.

4. Ticket to Ride: United Kingdom

My family is obsessed with the Ticket to Ride series. We have tried all the variants and expansions, and own most of them. We’ve helped run the Ticket to Ride tournaments at the World Boardgaming Championships each of the last 10 summers. So imagine my surprise when the newest TTR variant includes a “tech tree”. Does that work? Throwing a tiny bit of Civilization game design into Ticket to Ride? Yes, it does, though I had the edge in the first few games of this we tried since I had studied how this one had been put together very carefully. I expect the rest of the family to catch up to me on this one soon.

5. The U.S. Civil War

No Caption Provided

When I was working on publishing my first board game ever (Stonewall’s Last Battle on the Chancellorsville campaign), I was helped by an Avalon Hill staffer with a great sense for elegant design and presentation in a board game, Mark Simonitch. Although most of my work on Civil War games has been at the operational or campaign level, I’ve always loved games that encompassed the entire war. So imagine my excitement when I heard that Mark’s latest game would be a new treatment of the war at that grand strategy level. So far the yearly campaigns have been great and I will tackle the full war shortly.

Top 5 Games I Am Anxious to Try

1. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

No Caption Provided

When I need a break from deep-thinking games, the Uncharted series has been my franchise of choice. I love the way Naughty Dog folds in just enough believable history and archaeology to really catch my attention. Don’t ask me how much time I spent staring at all the Renaissance-era objects in the museum in Cartagena in Uncharted 3! I’m behind a game right now. Time to catch up.

2. Battlefield 1

I normally don’t play shooters at all, but as a history geek how can I ignore the chance to be dropped into a World War I battlefield and check out what that is like?

3. Star Wars: Rebellion

No Caption Provided

Back in the 80s, my favorite grand strategy game was SPI’s Freedom in the Galaxy designed by John Butterfield. That game put you in a fictional Star Wars-esque setting and tasked you with launch a rebellion against their deeply evil Empire. Finally in 2016 we saw a spiritual successor published, Star Wars: Rebellion, a new board game with the actual Star Wars license. I have heard nothing but amazing things about this game. How can you not love it when there is a risk that even Leia gets turned to the dark side?

4. T.I.M.E. Stories

The other hot commodity in the board game market is the new T.I.M.E Stories series. The game’s deck of cards navigates you through an amazing story through time to save the planet from destruction. I haven’t even tried the first and already the third one is out: set in the Middle Ages. This one needs my T.I.M.E. badly!

5. Atlanta Is Ours

No Caption Provided

And I have to end with a game I’m personally anxious to see in 2017. I work with a team of Civil War board game enthusiasts on the Great Campaigns of the American Civil War series. Our latest board game on the Atlanta campaign just made its preorder target and should be coming out from Multi-Man Publishing within the year. Sherman’s Atlanta campaign is one of the most famous of the war but has never been covered in this much detail before. Check it out!

22 Comments

Avatar image for colonel_pockets
Colonel_Pockets

1314

Forum Posts

5

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 44

Colonel_Pockets • 

This reminds me that I need to play XCOM 2. Play Uncharted! 4 is so good.

Avatar image for 2headedninja
2HeadedNinja

2304

Forum Posts

85

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 2

2HeadedNinja • 

I can tell this is a man after my taste. Cheers, great list :)

Avatar image for amyggen
AMyggen

7738

Forum Posts

7669

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 1

Edited By AMyggen • 

@colonel_pockets: XCOM 2 is a game I just forgot to play this year for some reason. Need to get on that ASAP. Great list!

Avatar image for ssully
SSully

5627

Forum Posts

314

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 3

SSully • 

Really need to give Stellaris another shot, but I can't help but pick Civ 6 when I have the choice between the two.

I completely forgot Xcom 2 came out this year - I loved the game. Agree that the rebel angle is fantastic.

Avatar image for ethanielrain
EthanielRain

1563

Forum Posts

45

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 2

Edited By EthanielRain • 

I bought T.I.M.E Stories not to play, but to mount on my wall. The look of it is just awesome :D

Avatar image for exitdose
ExitDose

110

Forum Posts

72

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 3

ExitDose • 

Till now, I hadn't realized that Ed Beach was the same person as the famous board and war game designer.

Avatar image for admanb
admanb

245

Forum Posts

108

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 2

admanb • 

I can't believe I just saw multiple references to the GCACW series on Giantbomb. The people you guys manage to get for this stuff are amazing!

Avatar image for machinerebel
machinerebel

233

Forum Posts

13

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 10

User Lists: 0

Edited By machinerebel • 

Oooh, board games!

Weird that a Civ guy would have board games on his list! :) Excellent list, Ed!

Avatar image for thaddeusbandido
ThaddeusBandido

23

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

ThaddeusBandido • 

I am upset with myself for not knowing there was a new Ticket to Ride out there. With a tech tree? I'll have to give it a look, so thanks for bringing that one to the table! (For the record, I wasn't too keen on the restrictions and new mechanics in Europe at first, and required a lot of getting used to them before I started appreciating them.)

Avatar image for wandrecanada
Wandrecanada

1010

Forum Posts

7

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 1

Edited By Wandrecanada • 

Nice list Ed! Loving Civ 6 so far!

Also no doubt about it; Stellaris is the best Space 4x out there to date even with all it's nitpick problems. Make sure you get the Leviathans DLC as it really improves the mid/late game.

Avatar image for bb4lake
bb4lake

84

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

bb4lake • 

Great list and love the board game inclusions. I bought 7 Wonders Duel but haven't gotten a chance to really play it, my gaming group is too big to get out a 1 v 1 game much.

I would love to hear your opinion on the board games with apps trend that is popping up, including the XCOM board game. Personally I've only played Mansion of Madness 2nd Ed. but I really enjoyed it.

Avatar image for homelessbird
Homelessbird

1620

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Homelessbird • 

Love this. Gotta forward this list to my friends who are fellow history/gaming enthusiasts

Avatar image for captain_insano
Captain_Insano

3477

Forum Posts

841

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 5

User Lists: 14

Captain_Insano • 

More board games!! Great choices - the Pennsylvania side of the Ticket To Ride Uk map is great. 7 Wonders Duel also fantastic. I just bought Star Wars Rebellion today

Avatar image for mimakos
Mimakos

136

Forum Posts

10

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Mimakos • 

i loved your civ6 streams, good job on a well made game, thanks for this list. good luck

Avatar image for devine1210
devine1210

90

Forum Posts

1038

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

devine1210 • 

I too greatly enjoyed Ed's Civ 6 streams. Really sold me on the game. Nice to see board games get some love as well.

Avatar image for druv
druv

237

Forum Posts

1936

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

druv • 

I recently got Sushi Go! and that's quickly become my "lighter 7 Wonders that can be played 2-player".

Avatar image for monkeyking1969
MonkeyKing1969

7470

Forum Posts

1239

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 18

MonkeyKing1969 • 

I like this format of a split list of "played" games and "game desired to play". I like the choices too - good job!

Avatar image for unsolvedparadox
UnsolvedParadox

2161

Forum Posts

31

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 2

UnsolvedParadox • 

Love the board games! Didn't know about the latest Ticket to Ride expansion, will have to grab that.

Avatar image for hassun
hassun

9872

Forum Posts

121

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 2

Edited By hassun • 

Oh god what do I have to do to get an article from this man on GB about US civil war (board) games?

Avatar image for code3xbl
code3xbl

50

Forum Posts

66

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

code3xbl • 

Great list! Going to have to pick up Ticket To Ride: UK!

Avatar image for takyondg
TakyonDG

59

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

TakyonDG • 

I feel like XCOM2 was super slept-on this year. Glad to see it getting some love in lists like these. A good read!

Avatar image for wadtomaton
wadtomaton

608

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 1

wadtomaton • 

I love seeing Rebellion on a list, so good (also on a related but separate note, they should do an HD update version of the old pc game Rebellion, love that game XD ).