Announcing the 2022 Game of the Year Finalists

It’s hard to believe, but 2022 is almost over, and that means that it’s time to look back on our top picks in the tabletop world! We’ve narrowed down titles from our GeekDad Approved selections for 2022 and soon we’ll choose the one that will receive our Game of the Year award. In the meantime, please have a look at our list of nominees and learn more about our process for selection.

Our 10 Favorite Games of 2022

Our finalists for Game of the Year (in alphabetical order) are Cat in the Box, Clank! Catacombs, Cuphead Fast Rolling Dice Game, Familiar Tales, Long Shot: The Dice Game, Museum Suspects, Northgard: Uncharted Lands, Star Wars Villainous: Power of the Dark Side, Tenpenny Parks, and Trekking through History. Each description below includes a link to our original review.

Cat in the Box box cover
Cat in the Box

Cat in the Box

Designed by Muneyuki Yokouchi, published by Bezier Games, with illustrations by Osamu Inoue.

Cat in the Box turns classic trick-taking games on its head by letting you choose the color of your card when you play it—as long as you don’t contradict anything that has been played already that round. It’s a fascinating thought experiment in an adorably cute package. Read our full review here.

Clank! Catacombs

Clank! Catacombs

Designed by Paul Dennen, published by Dire Wolf, with illustrations by Clay Brooks, Anika Burrell, Nate Storm, and Dan Taylor.

Clank! Catacombs introduces fresh gameplay elements into Paul Dennen’s Clank! series of deck-building games, giving players an experience that is both comfortingly familiar and refreshingly new. An ever-changing dungeon map will keep you on your toes each game when planning your escape from the dragon. Read our full review here.

Cuphead Fast Rolling Dice Game. Photo: Rob Huddleston

Cuphead Fast Rolling Dice Game

Designed by Pat Marino and published by The Op, with illustrations by Stephen deStafano.

Few video-to-boardgame adaptations have captured the feel of playing the original as well as Cuphead Fast Rolling Dice Game. It’s got the frantic real-time action, but also pulls off a staple of video games rarely found in their analog counterparts: progressive rules reveal and new mechanics that simulate moving up through levels. Yes, it’s a stressful 20 minutes, but one you’ll want to revisit over and over. Read our full review here.

Familiar Tales. Photo: Michael Knight

Familiar Tales

Designed by Jerry Hawthorne, published by Plaid Hat Games, with illustrations by Vanessa Morales, Tregis, JJ Ariosa, Fajareka Setiawan, and Dan Smith.

In this cooperative story crafting game, players take on the roles of one or more familiars as they move through a series of stories while fighting enemies, gathering resources, and gaining new skills and equipment along the way. The game requires a free app which not only tells the story as you progress, but keeps track of turns during the game as well as your progress through the campaign. Read our full review here.

Long Shot: The Dice Game

Long Shot: The Dice Game

Designed by Chris Handy, published by Perplext, with illustrations by Clau Souza.

Long Shot: The Dice Game is a roll-and-write that lets up to 8 players place their bets at horse race. You can work to influence the outcome of the race … but so can everyone else! It’s a blast to cheer on your favorite horses, particularly if your big bet on the long shot pays off. Read our full review here.

Museum Suspects
Museum Suspects

Museum Suspects

Designed by Phil Walker-Harding and published by Blue Orange, with illustrations by Maxime Sarthou.

Who stole the artifact from the museum? This deduction game may seem like Guess Who? at first as you eliminate suspects based on various attributes, but the twist is that you don’t know how many culprits there are until the end. You’ll have to make your best guesses based on imperfect information, so pay attention to what the other detectives are guessing. Read our full review here.

Northgard box cover
Northgard: Uncharted Lands

Northgard: Uncharted Lands

Designed by designed by Adrian Dinu, published by Open Sesame Games and Studio H Games (and by Hachette Games in the US), with illustrations by Grosnez.

This 4X game based on the Northgard videogame combines some light deck-building, quickly-resolved combat, and different clan abilities. Go for the most victory points, or try to rush the ending by claiming (and holding!) three valuable territories. Read our full review here.

Star Wars Villainous: Power of the Dark Side. Photo: Rob Huddleston

Star Wars Villainous: Power of the Dark Side

Designed by Mike Mulvihill, based on the Villainous Game System designed by Prospero Hall. The game was art directed by Jake Breish, with graphic design by Chris Buckley and published by Ravensburger.

Taking a long-running, highly successful franchise and merging it with another long-running, highly successful franchise in a new and fun way that still feels like the old while embracing the new is hard. But with Star Wars Villainous, Ravensburger fully succeeded. This isn’t just a fresh coat of paint on what is otherwise another Villainous game. Instead, it adds some great new twists–including incorporating vehicles–that makes the game really feel like a Star Wars game.  Read our full review here.

Tenpenny Parks. Photo: Paul Benson

Tenpenny Parks

Designed by Nate Linhart and published by Thunderworks Games, with illustrations by Vincent Dutrait.

A tile and worker placement game where you’re competing to build and promote your amusement park, Tenpenny Parks gives players multiple paths toward achieving victory. Snappy gameplay combines with gorgeous and evocative Vincent Dutrait artwork to make a fun time at the table for family and friends. And how many other games out there have a three-dimensional carousel right in the middle of the game board? Read our full review here.

Trekking Through History. Photo: Michael Knight

Trekking Through History

Designed by Charlie Bink, published by Underdog Games, with illustrations by Eric Hibblerer.

The last game on the list (alphabetically) is a time-travel board game where players must draft cards, each with a different date and historical event, to create sets of cards in chronological order. The more cards in each set, the more points they are worth. A clock with player’s timepieces on it keeps track of turn order as well as how many turns each player gets during a round based on teh time cost on each card drafted. Read our full review here.

How We Picked Our Finalists

The GeekDad Game of the Year is an award given annually to the game we have enjoyed the most in the previous year. Qualification is dependent on a number of factors: First (and probably the biggest filter), the game must have been reviewed on our site in the previous 12 months. Additionally, we must have recognized the quality of the game in the review and noted the game as a “GeekDad Approved” game, worthy of our big, shiny metal thumbs-up.

Second, the game must be accessible to most families—a bit of a nebulous identification to be sure, but roughly a game should be one that most families would be likely to play on a weekend afternoon. This would typically rule out very heavy strategy games and very light fare. That’s not to say we’re not heavily enamored with some of those games, we just have to be more selective as we narrow games down. While we do have a couple of longer, heavier games and much lighter fare on this year’s list, we still try to adhere to that criteria.

Third, we also keep an eye on content, and games that have themes, language, or art that we deem inappropriate aren’t going to make the cut. The family game category, as you traditionally think about it, is a good place to start, but it’s not absolute. We recognize that families might consist of adult children or older teenagers, as well as very young children. As a resultant, our sweet spot covers a very large area.

Fourth, in the past, a game we select as a finalist must have come out in those previous 12 months and be currently available in wide release. There’s no sense in us celebrating a game that not many (or no one) can get their hands on.

It’s worth noting that occasionally we put a GeekDad Approved seal on a game we enjoyed even though it wasn’t published in the 12-month window—these do not have the year designation on them, and are not eligible for Game of the Year.

Fifth, when we originally started the Game of the Year award, our plan was for a select few GeekDads to travel to one location and play all ten of the finalists together. For the last two years, we had to change course and play the games online. We’re all very happy to be able to play the games in person again this year.

Sixth and finally, we love games that have fresh takes on old mechanics, offer great components, or otherwise have a special something that will get everyone to the table. As we narrow down our list of GeekDad Approved games to just 10 finalists, we try to include a mix of genres, game weight, game length, and themes, though it’s always hard to fit everything!

Our Timeline

Our selection process gathers steam in mid-November. It is then that we begin our judging, winnowing down our list of Approved games to just ten finalists, which is, honestly, the hardest part of this process. Everyone who writes for GeekDad has the opportunity to vote in this process; our only prerequisite is that they have played the games they provide input on.

Very soon, Jonathan and Paul will be traveling to Sacramento to play through these ten games with Rob, and then collectively decide on a winner, which will be announced in a follow-up post in the first week of December.

The timetable might seem a bit odd—a 12-month calendar keyed off November, but there is reasoning behind it. By considering games released between last November of the previous year and the first ten months of the current year, we feel as though we capture most games released during the year. Further, by narrowing our field and making a selection by mid-December, it allows our readers to consider and make a purchasing decision on a game they can have for the holidays and enjoy all of the next year.

Our Approved Games for 2022

Chances are that one of your favorites isn’t on that list. Tell us which one and why! And make sure to check back in sometime in December to find out which one we’ve chosen as our 2022 Game of the Year!

Bag of Chips
Bristol 1350
Cat in the Box
Clank! Catacombs
Company of Heroes Board Game
Cuphead Fast Rolling Dice Game
Downtown Farmers Market
Dune: Imperium – Rise of Ix
Familiar Tales
Final Girl
Fit to Print
Long Shot: The Dice Game
Mantis Falls
Marvel Dice Throne
Museum Suspects
Next Station: London
Northgard: Uncharted Lands
Rear Window
Return to Dark Tower
Ruins of Symbaroum
Six Second Scribbles
Sobek: 2 players
Star Wars Villainous: Power of the Dark Side
Star Wars: The Clone Wars–A Pandemic System Game
Super-Skill Pinball: Ramp It Up
Switch & Signal
Ted Lasso Party Game
Tenpenny Parks
That Time You Killed Me
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, Revised Core Set
Ticket to Ride: San Francisco
Trekking through History
Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume 2
War of the Ring: The Card Game

The Fine Print

We realize that we can’t get to every game that is released each year. For that, we apologize. There are only a handful of us and we have day jobs. But we are trying hard to review as many games as we can.

To be completely transparent, when we identify a game as Approved, the publisher is notified and we provide a logo noting the Approved designation that they are free to use without any obligation. However, for any game that we select as a Finalist or as the winner of our Game of the Year, we request a small fee for use of the finalist logo and designation; again, there is no obligation to participate, nor do we consider the likelihood of a publisher paying when we narrow down our list.

We ask for this fee since we believe the award provides a benefit to the publishers who decide to use it, but also to offset administrative costs of running a big website and travel costs involved with a number of us getting together to play the Finalists games and make a decision on the overall winner. We’re bloggers. Financially, it’s a losing proposition—in a big way. We’re just trying to offset that a little.

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