LJ Best Books 2017

It's time again for LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry and literature, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles.   SEE WHO MADE THE LIST

Best Media 2017: Games

LJ’s new gaming columnists have chosen their favorite games of the year. The titles include board games, video games, and a mobile title that will appeal to
a wide range of patrons with differing interests
and experience.

Jenn Bartlett, Manchester P.L., CT

Century: Golem Edition. Plan B Games.
Designed by Emerson Matsuuchi.

Century: Golem is an engine-building game, i.e., throughout the game players collect resources and cards necessary to win victory points. It can also be a racing game, as players compete to be the first to gather a certain number of victory point cards. Components are phenomenal, from vibrant crystals to metal coins. The artwork is sweet; players will find themselves looking at the various adventures the golem is having on the cards. This was my most played game of the year, one I find highly addictive and great fun. With a clearly written rule book, it is easy to teach to library groups.

Ex Libris. Renegade Game Studios.
Designed by Adam P. McIver.

Ex Libris is a librarian’s dream board game—players compete for the title of Grand Librarian by collecting rare and valuable books. To win, one needs to build a sturdy, stable shelf of books with prominent works, avoid banned books, and build a secret special collection. Twelve special assistants grant extra abilities, allowing for variation in game play. The special assistant “meeples” are ridiculously adorable and include a snowman, wizard, and gelatinous cube. The artwork is vibrant, colorful, and cheerful. Best of all, there are 152 book cards, with more than 500 unique items, each with clever and funny titles.

The Godfather: Corleone’s Empire.
CMON Limited. Designed by Eric M. Lang.

In this worker placement game, which includes high-quality miniatures and metal briefcases, play involves competing Mafia families looking to take over organized crime in New York City. Over five rounds, players must finish “jobs” in order to collect the most money. Players do not need to be a fan of the “God­father” books or films, but those familiar with the universe are more likely to get into character, donning accents and cracking jokes. Excellent quality, fun and easy game play, and a unique theme provided some of my favorite gaming experiences of 2017.

Kathryn Kania, Pelham P.L., NH

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

In this free-to-play mobile game, players gather resources such as fruit and bugs to befriend the anthropomorphic animal NPCs (nonplayer characters). They provide crafting supplies and bells, the game’s currency, so players can create furniture and buy clothes. It’s a simple concept but an entrancing one. There is, of course, a way to buy Leaf Tickets, the premium currency, to make things go faster or to buy objects that make fishing and bug- hunting much quicker. There are ways to get Leaf Tickets without paying, and it is entirely possible just to ignore them. For fans of games with simple goals and cute graphics or other games in the “Animal Crossing” franchise.

Destiny 2. Bungle. Designed by Lars Bakken,
Jacob Benton, & Gavin Irby.

A sequel to the original Destiny, Destiny 2 aimed to be better than the first game while catering to veterans and newbies alike. It delivered. A first-person shooter (FPS) game with sf elements and massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) qualities, Destiny 2 at first glance looks just like its predecessor—but in fact exceeds it. It brings back the old voices and offers more of them yet continues the story in a more satisfying way. This is a game for fans of the original, for those who like playing online with friends, or those who enjoy sf without looking too hard at plot holes.

Chris Wilkes, Tazewell Cty. P.L., VA

Barenpark. Mayfair Games.
Designed by Phil Walker-Harding.

Similar to the popular two-player game “Patchwork,” Barenpark is a tile placement game in which two to four players construct a bear park by placing polyominoes on their personal board. This gateway game has little downtime between turns and lasts approximately 45 minutes. On a turn, a player places a tile on their board. If the tile covers a special icon, then the player takes a new tile from the general supply or adds another board to their park. Each panda, gobi, koala, and polar bear tile score victory points at the end. The completion of objectives, such as having three polar bear tiles in your park, score additional victory points. Although there is little player interaction, there is a great deal of tension as players strive to get higher victory point tiles and complete objectives before opponents.

The Lost Expedition. Osprey Games.
Designed by Peer Sylvester.

Inspired by David Grann’s book The Lost City of Z (see Best Video, p. 32), Expedition is a cooperative card game in which players search for the city of El Dorado. Players must trade off between moving their explorers deeper into the Amazon or preserving their limited resources and health. Participants play cards from their hand. Cards represent thematic encounters that explorers might experience. The Kalapalos indigenous people card will provide explorers with expertise in navigation or offer food, but an encounter with a jaguar will cause one either to lose health or spend limited ammunition resources killing the jaguar. The winner is crowned if one of the three explorers survives to reach El Dorado. The card art by Garen Ewing includes characters inspired by historical individuals and are more representative than typical games, including women and explorers from multiple cultures, such as Isabelle ­Eberhardt and ­Candido Rondon. Strongly recommended for anyone who enjoys difficult cooperative games.

This article was published in Library Journal's January 1, 2018 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.



  1. Bruce Jensen says:

    “…avoid banned books” in order to win at Ex Libris? That’s a librarian’s dream game? Really?

    • Jenn Bartlett says:

      Of course, so much of the game is tongue-in-cheek, including the banned books part. ;) I was stoked that we librarians finally got our moment in the sun for a board game.
      I have joked that when playing the game, I would one time like to go rogue one time and go all banned books.
      Thanks for the read, Bruce, and any gaming questions you have, please feel free to e-mail me! Warmest regards and happy gaming to you!

    • Karen Vallee says:

      I work with Jenn and I was thinking the same thing!

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