Board Games are in some of their finest hours, a renaissance of sorts. Here’s the best from 2013.

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A desperate, cooperative race against time, Forbidden Desert challenges you and your friends to find a lost, ancient airship in a harsh wasteland. It’s a tense, mind-boggling challenge that thrills again and again.

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Suburbia brings fun to the most boring of settings: Suburban planning. You run a town council trying to make the best suburb around a major city by placing hexagonal tiles and stacking up bonuses – it’s an easy to learn game with complicated, high level interactions that keep you coming back.

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The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game takes all the fun of roleplaying adventures and boils it down to tense challenges in an ongoing story – many expansions and new adventures are available since the initial release. Players manage their own hero deck, adding in new magic items and equipment as they play more and more. It’s an unstoppably fun experience, and perfect for RPG nights where nobody has time to plan an adventure – or for game groups with no patience for roleplaying.

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All the fun of risk, none of the five hour randomized dice slogs. Instead, 20 minutes of high action and daring politics. The miserably out of print Kickstarter darling Eight Minute Empire will capture your heart and have you desperately searching for a used copy.

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Combining every known euro game mechanic into a complicated whole, Archipelago challenges you to explore and exploit a chain of fantastical islands during the European colonial period. This is not one for the faint of heart, but the rewards for mastering its complicated mix of trading, exploring, inter-player politicking (with, yes, betrayal mechanics), and stressing over the price of beef will be infinitely rewarded.

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The darling of the german scene this year, Hanabi is a clever game where you can see everyone’s cards but your own, so cooperation is key. While playing, you race against time to build the proper fireworks from various cards, in the perfect and proper sequences. It’s a blast.

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Another Kickstarter game, Francis Drake is a high adventure in the age of sail, where players move their ships about the Caribbean raiding convoys and colonies for treasure and glory. The cleverness of the game is that you have to plan ahead, but random elements can disrupt your voyages, so flexibility and a keen mind carry the day.

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You’re giant monsters. There’s a cardboard city. Wreck it. Rampage is a brilliant game of moving about and dexterity-based skill shots, where when you try to knock down a building you actually drop your little monster and see how many tiny people come tumbling out for you to eat. When you blow down a building, you actually put your chin on your monster and BLOW. When you throw a car, you actually flick it off your monster’s head.

It’s pretty freaking great, and kids love it.

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