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Fantasy Flight Games
Eldritch Horror, from Fantasy Flight Games, is a fun story-driven adventure game.

This past year saw some amazing new board and card games hit the market, and I make it my business to play as many of these titles as I can. The following is my list of the 10 best tabletop games of the year. In addition to brand new games, I have included new editions of previously released games.

First of all, let me give honorable mention to several great games that almost made the list. In fact, all of them probably would have except for the sheer number of games they went up against. Global Mogul (Mayfair Games), Hegemonic (Minion Games), Ogre (Steve Jackson Games), Gem Rush (Victory Point Games) and Relic (Fantasy Flight Games) are all wonderful games worth checking out.

And now, the top 10 tabletop games of 2013:

10. Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (Paizo Publishing): Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is a wonderful game that offers the thrill of a traditional role-playing game without the need for a game master. Using cards, players choose heroes and work together to defeat a host of enemies like skeletons, bandits and some gruesome monsters. For ages 13 and up.

9. Dawn of the Zeds: The Battle for Farmingdale (Victory Point Games): The player of this solitaire game must defend his or her town from a zombie invasion. Townspeople have special powers that allow players to buy time as the zombies advance along several tracks toward his or her town center. If they reach it, the town is doomed. Dawn of the Zeds: The Battle for Farmingdale does contain some scary imagery that may not be suitable for younger children. For ages 13 and up.

8. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings Deck Building Game (Cryptozoic Entertainment): In this inventive card deck building game, players take on the role of Frodo, Gandolf, Boromir and other iconic characters as they attempt to defeat the minions of Sauron. Players start with weak cards that become stronger over the course of the game, allowing them to defeat more powerful monsters. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings Deck Building Game does contain some scary imagery that may not be suitable for younger children. For ages 15 and up.

7. Coup (Indie Boards and Cards): In this sequel to Indie Boards and Cards' popular game The Resistance, players hold only two cards that give them special powers, though they can claim they hold different cards and use their powers. Other players can challenge them, however, making Coup a wonderful game of bluff and counter bluff. Each game plays in about 20 minutes, making this a perfect opener for game night. For ages 13 and up.

6. Downfall of Pompeii (Mayfair Games): Downfall of Pompeii recreates the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Players place their pieces throughout the Roman city of Pompeii before a special card is drawn. The second half of the game sees players laying lava tiles upon their opponents' pieces, then flinging them into a three-dimensional volcano. For ages 10 and up.

5. Axis & Allies: WWI 1914 (Wizards of the Coast): Axis & Allies: WWI 1914 takes all of the tension and drama of traditional World War II era Axis & Allies and places it in the trenches of World War I. This a grand strategic war game that is both familiar and new, and allows players to recreate a fascinating period of world history. For ages 12 and up.

4. Duel of Ages II (Worldspanner): DOA II is a very unusual game in which characters throughout history, fantasy, science-fiction and mythology engage in a battle for dominance. Its fresh, new theme and compelling card combat mechanic make DOA II one of most original board games on the market today. For ages 12 and up.

3. Warparty (Lock 'N Load Publishing): Warparty is a fantasy war game in which players take on the role of one of four factions competing to rule the realm. Players can send their units into dungeons and search for treasures, or engage in grand battles to defeat opponents' armies. A wonderful combat system and engaging theme highlight this unique war game. Warparty does contain some scary imagery that may not be suitable for younger children. For ages 12 and up.

2. Star Trek: Attack Wing (WizKids): Star Trek: Attack Wing puts players on the command bridge of a Federation, Klingon, Romulan or Dominion vessel as they engage in intense starship combat. Borrowing mechanics from Fantasy Flight Games' popular Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game, this Star Trek adventure contains beautiful starship models and is a really fun game to play. For ages 14 and up.

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1. Eldritch Horror (Fantasy Flight Games): Based upon the terror-filled universe of H.P. Lovecraft, Eldritch Horror sees players take on the roles of investigators working to prevent horrible monsters from engulfing the Earth. This is an intense, story-driven game in which players move around the board having encounters, drawing cards and testing their skills with dice. What makes this game so much fun is the way it draws players into the stories and allows them to craft unique, thrilling adventures with every game. Eldritch Horror does contain some scary imagery that may not be suitable for younger children. For ages 14 and up.

Now, let's see what 2014 has in store for players.

Cody K. Carlson holds a master's degree in history from the University of Utah and currently teaches at SLCC. Cody has also appeared on many local stages including Hale Centre Theatre and Off Broadway Theatre. Email: ckcarlson76@gmail.com