Retrofix Games' Top Picks:
Best Board Games for 2019

Your Guide to the Best Recent Tabletop Board Games

Classic mass-market tabletop games like Monopoly and Clue have always enjoyed widespread popularity, but over the last few years there has been a renaissance in creative and unique board games appealing to a broader spectrum of gamers. From hilarious party games to challenging cooperatives and engrossing, RPG-like dungeon delvers, the abundance of options can make knowing where to start slightly challenging, especially if you haven’t been following the industry over the last few years.

With that in mind, we decided it was high time to put together a list of our 2019 picks for some of the best board games released in the last five years. Whether you’re a battle-hardened WH40K player in Montana looking for a lighter alternative or just a fan of fun family games with imaginative themes, the board games on the following list are definitely worth your time.

How Did We Decide Which Games Made the Cut?

As with every “best of” board games list, it’s usually good to establish some rules for selection, so we should clarify ours before jumping in. For this guide, the criteria was subjective but straightforward: based on replayability, popularity, and overall quality of gameplay, these games stand out in a pool of outstanding games that have been released since 2014. We’re certain gamers in Missoula and across Montana will enjoy them as much as we did. 

With that in mind, here is Retrofix Games' guide to the best board games of the last five years. Enjoy! 

Best Tabletop Board Games to Play in 2019

Great Western Trails (2016)

Players: 2-4
Age: 12+
Playing Time: 75-150 minutes
It's America in the 19th century, and you are a rancher and repeatedly herd your cattle from Texas to Kansas City, from where you send them off by train. This earns you money and victory points. Needless to say, each time you arrive in Kansas City, you want to have your most valuable cattle in tow. This will not only require that you keep your herd in good shape, but also that you effectively utilize the various buildings along the trail. Success will require that you hire capable staff—cowboys to improve your herd, craftsmen to build your very own buildings, and engineers to manage the important railroad line.

If you cleverly manage your herd and navigate the opportunities and pitfalls of this great western trail, you will surely gain the most victory points and win the game.

Buy Great Western Trails

Root (2018)

Players: 2-4
Age: 14+
Playing Time: 90-120 minutes

Find adventure in a marvelous asymmetric game. Root provides limitless replay value as you and your friends explore the unique factions all wanting to rule a fantastic forest kingdom. Playable characters include:

Marquise de Cat - Dominate the woods, extracting its riches and policing its inhabitants.

Woodland Alliance - Gather supporters and coordinate revolts against the ruling regime.

Eyrie Dynasties - Regain control of the woods while keeping your squabbling court at bay.

Vagabond - Seek fame and fortune as you forge alliances and rivalries with the other players.

Each faction has its own play style and paths to victory, providing an immersive game experience you will want to play again and again.

Buy Root

Wingspan (2019)

Players: 1-5
Age: 10+
Playing Time: 40-70 minutes

Wingspan is a competitive bird-collection, engine-building game for 1-5 players.

You are bird enthusiasts—researchers, bird watchers, ornithologists, and collectors—seeking to discover and attract the best birds to your aviary. Each bird extends a chain of powerful combinations in one of your habitats (actions). These habitats focus on several key aspects of growth:

Gain food tokens via custom dice in a birdfeeder dice tower

Lay eggs using egg miniatures in a variety of colors

Draw from hundreds of unique bird cards and play them

The winner is the player with the most points accumulated from birds, bonus cards, end-of-round goals, eggs, cached food, and tucked birds.

Buy Wingspan

Chronicles of Crime (2018)

Players: 1-4
Age: 12+
Playing Time: 60-90 minutes 

Chronicles of Crime is cooperative game of crime investigation, mixing VR experience and board gaming. With the same physical components (board, locations, characters and items), players will be able to play plenty of different scenarios and solve as many different crime stories.

They will start the app, choose the scenario they want to play, and follow the story. The goal being to catch the killer of the case they have been given in the shortest short time possible.

Using the Scanechnology, each component (locations, characters, items, etc.) has a unique QR code, which, depending on the scenario selected, will activate and trigger different clues and stories. That means players will be able to get new stories way after the game is released by simply updating the app, without any shipping of new physical components involved.

The VR experience only requires a mobile phone. Players simply put the VR glasses provided inside the game onto their mobile device, and put the VR glasses on their nose, holding their mobile device in front of their eyes to immerse themselves in the game's universe and search for clues in a virtual world. Each session will last around 60-90 minutes and many scenarios are connected in order to tell a much bigger story.

Buy Chronicles of Crime

Arkham Horror LCG (2016)

Players: 1-2
Age: 14+
Playing Time: 60-120 minutes

The boundaries between worlds have drawn perilously thin…

Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a cooperative Living Card Game® set amid a backdrop of Lovecraftian horror. As the Ancient Ones seek entry to our world, one to two investigators (or up to four with two Core Sets) work to unravel arcane mysteries and conspiracies.

Their efforts determine not only the course of your game, but carry forward throughout whole campaigns, challenging them to overcome their personal demons even as Arkham Horror: The Card Game blurs the distinction between the card game and roleplaying experiences.

Arkham Horror LCG

Mysterium (2015)

Players: 2-7
Age: 10+
Playing Time: 42 minutes

A horrible crime has been committed on the grounds of Warwick Manor and it's up to the psychic investigators to get to the bottom of it. In Mysterium, one player takes on the role of the ghost and, over the course of a week, tries to lead the investigators to their culprit. Each night the team will be met with visions, but what is the ghost trying to tell you? Can the psychics determine the weapon, location, and killer—or will a violent criminal pull off the perfect murder?

Buy Mysterium


Everdell (2018) 

Players: 1-4
Age: 13+
Playing Time: 40–80 minutes

Within the charming valley of Everdell, beneath the boughs of towering trees, among meandering streams and mossy hollows, a civilization of forest critters is thriving and expanding. From Everfrost to Bellsong, many a year have come and gone, but the time has come for new territories to be settled and new cities established. You will be the leader of a group of critters intent on just such a task. There are buildings to construct, lively characters to meet, events to host—you have a busy year ahead of yourself. Will the sun shine brightest on your city before the winter moon rises?

Everdell is a game of dynamic tableau building and worker placement.

On their turn a player can take one of three actions:

a) Place a Worker: Each player has a collection of Worker pieces. These are placed on the board locations, events, and on Destination cards. Workers perform various actions to further the development of a player's tableau: gathering resources, drawing cards, and taking other special actions. b) Play a Card: Each player is building and populating a city; a tableau of up to 15 Construction and Critter cards. There are five types of cards: Travelers, Production, Destination, Governance, and Prosperity. Cards generate resources (twigs, resin, pebbles, and berries), grant abilities, and ultimately score points. The interactions of the cards reveal numerous strategies and a near infinite variety of working cities.c) Prepare for the next Season: Workers are returned to the players supply and new workers are added. The game is played from Winter through to the onset of the following winter, at which point the player with the city with the most points wins.

Buy Everdell

Azul (2017)

Players: 2-4
Age: 8+
Playing Time: 30-45 minutes

As a tile laying artist, Azul invites you to embellish the walls of the royal Palace Of Evora.

Introduced by the Moors, azulejos (originally white and blue ceramic tiles) were fully embraced by the Portuguese, when their King Manuel I, on a visit to the Alhambra Palace in southern Spain, was overwhelmed by the stunning beauty of the Moorish decorative tiles. The king, awestruck by the interior beauty of the Alhambra, immediately ordered that his own palace in Portugal be decorated with similar wall tiles.

Buy Azul

Terraforming Mars (2016)

Players: 1-5
Age: 12+
Playing Time:120 minutes

In the 2400s, mankind is forced to terraform Mars. To do this, giant corporations, sponsored by the World Government on Earth, initiate huge projects.

The goal is to raise the oxygen level and temperature and to create enough ocean coverage that the planet is habitable.

In Terraforming Mars, you play one of those corporations. You earn prestige by contribution to the terraforming process and for advancing infrastructure in the solar system. Significant mmilestones will also help to determine who becomes the most dominant for ce on Mars.

Buy Terraforming Mars


So there you have it, our 2019 picks for some of the best games released in the last 5 years. To learn more about any of these games, get in touch or stop by one of our two locations in Missoula.

About Retrofix Games

Retrofix Games is Montana’s source for game dice, miniatures, pre-release events, MTG, retro video games and board games. We have a huge variety of games and host in-store game demos and nightly game events. From casual gamers to experienced pros, we offer something for everyone! Check out our gaming events calendar or stop by our game shop to say hello!