2018 Best International Game Short List

Here are the short listed games for the 2018 Best International Game award in alphabetical order.


Designed by Michael Kiesling
Art by Philippe Guérin and Chris Quilliams
Published by Plan B Games

Win acclaim from King Manuel I of Portugal, by completing the best wall tile mosaic for the Royal Palace of Evora. Each turn players choose tiles to make sets on their player board, then move tiles from completed sets to their wall mosaic. At the end of each round the wall tiling is inspected and points are awarded – but beware, wasted tiles bring a penalty. As the game progresses, the mosaic pattern begins to take shape. Players compete to achieve special bonuses for completing rows and columns or laying 5 tiles of the same colour. With an easy to follow rulebook with clear examples, Azul offers pleasing game play, and rewards players for finding new strategies to edge out their opponents with each play. Suitable for two to four players aged 8 and up. At $60-$80, Azul includes 100 colourful tiles that make a great display on the table and feel great in the hand.

Century: Spice Road

Designed by Emerson Matsuuchi
Art by David Richards and Fernanda Suárez
Published by Plan B Games

Century: Spice Road explores the history of spice trading in a strategic game for 2-5 players. Players take on the role of a caravan leader in the spice trade, travelling the silk road to acquire and deliver spices, represented by richly coloured wooden cubes. With beautiful artwork and simple rules – there are only four possible actions on any player’s turn – that lead to wide open possibilities, Century: Spice Road offers a great mix of fun and challenge with interesting options right from the start of the game. Although the box says it will take up to 45 minutes, after a couple of plays this is unlikely to take much more than half an hour. Suitable for ages 8 and up, the game costs around $60-$70.


Designed by Rob Daviau, Justin D. Jacobson and Wolfgang Kramer
Art by Tavis Coburn and Michael Crampton
Published by Restoration Games

A reissue of the classic car-racing game Top Race (Niki Lauda’s Formula 1, Daytona 500), Downforce has been brought well and truly up to date. Players bid on cars and special powers, then race around the track. Will you zoom ahead, or will you block other players’ cars from progressing? Players use the cards in their hand to determine the course of the game. Interestingly, these allow them to move other players’ cars as well as their own. At three different points on the track, they can nominate which car they think will win. But winning the race isn’t everything: money (victory points) is awarded for picking a winner and for finishing the race, and is deducted to pay for the car’s auction price. For 2-6 players, the game is complicated enough to please adults but has simple rules for playing with younger children or for those who don’t want to ‘bet’ on the race’s outcome. You’ll love the toy cars but you’ll love the game even more. Around $55 – $65, with an expansion board on the way already.


Designed by Bruno Cathala
Art by Cyril Bouquet
Published by Blue Orange

As ruler of your domain, select and place domino tiles to extend the lands surrounding your castle. Each domino tile shows two colourfully illustrated landscapes, and your goal is to create areas of landscape that gain bonuses from the crowns shown on each tile. With clever play, you may claim just the right dominoes to fill all of the five-by-five grid allotted to your kingdom. While each turn presents simple decisions, you must choose carefully in order to achieve your best score while keeping an eye on what your neighbouring kingdoms require. Suitable for two to four players aged 8 and up, Kingdomino presented in a compact box, and finishes in 15-20 minutes – so quickly that you will want to play again straight away. The Kings, castles and domino pieces are beautifully presented, yet its $30-$40 price makes Kingdomino a family game essential or great gift

Word Slam

Designed by Inka and Markus Brand
Published by KOSMOS

Word Slam is a hilarious, team-based party game for three or more players. Playing simultaneously, one player on each team sorts through over 100 cards to find clues to a secret word – the rest of the players must guess the word. The restriction – you can only use the words on the cards. No talking, no speaking – just select and play cards from the deck. Meanwhile, your team members must guess what they think it is – and listen to the other team’s guesses in case there’s a clue. Will your team pick “Astronaut” as a “SPACE JOB” before the other team guesses it? What’s your pick for “SCIENCE FICTITIOUS MOVIE TECHNOLOGY LONG OBJECT BLUE”? In the $40 – $50 bracket, Word Slam is sold for ages 12+. We think it works as well for adults-only groups as it does for families from about 10+ – just try to make your teams fairly even. And the movie tech was a light saber, but you guessed that already right?

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