Thursday, August 20, 2015

My Top 20 Board Games...and Why You'll Disagree 

Any legitimate board gamer out there will most likely look at my list and scoff at the number of party games that made it to my top 20 (or the fact that I play party games at all!), but I must include a disclaimer here about my list. I ranked all the games I own and all the games I can remember playing by how much fun they were and how much I look forward to playing them again.

That's it.

I didn't take into account design, length, theme, my own game group, etc (though these all add to my experience so they are included overall). All I did was gauge my own fond memories and excitement to play again. Part of me feels like I need to defend this and part of me feels like it speaks for itself. Why do we play games? To have fun! To be social! To make memories! To me, that's what this list represents.

Allow me to make a quick comment on behalf of anyone who has ever done this before. I basically rated all of my board games on BoardGameGeek, meaning I had about 30 games that were ranked between 9-10. I had ten games that I like very much which had to be cut. I can only imagine that's akin to picking a favorite child.

Drum roll, please.

20. March of the Ants: This is a great light option with a lot of theme. There are only four rounds, there are only a certain number of turns you can take, and each action allows non-active players to take a counter action, so AP is much less painful in this game. There can be as much or as little conflict as you like and it is simple yet addicting enough to be a gateway game.

19. Loaded Questions: I know, I know, but you can't say I didn't warn you. Loaded Questions is a long time favorite of mine to pull out at parties and get-togethers where people don't know each other that well. It's a hilarious ice breaker and conversation starter. WARNING: Do NOT play at family reunions unless you wish to be scarred for life.

18. Citadels: I have been called many names during Citadels, so you might not want to play unless your skin is thick. Citadels is chock full of conflict and vengeance but you can also escape the brunt of this conflict by strategizing and not being predictable in your actions. Different roles also give this game good replay-ability. That is if your friends will want to play with you after you kill them and steal all their gold...

17. The Voyages of Marco Polo: This is a recent play of mine but I was so impressed with it that it made its way right to the top of my list. This game is rich in strategic options and has near-limitless replay-ability due to its characters, special ability cards, contracts, etc. It's a dice placement game where low rolls have just as much of an advantage as high rolls, so luck plays less of a roll (no pun intended).

16. Cosmic Encounter: Aliens, special powers, card battling, and planetary domination. What? You want more? Cosmic Encounter is easy to pull out among a variety of people. I myself am not typically into space-themed games but I love Cosmic Encounter. The different roles make it nearly impossible to play the same game twice unless you stack the deck. The game also has a semi-cooperative vibe at times where all players gang up to beat one, or two-on-two, etc. AND more than one person can win, which is always interesting. You'll begin to understand who your true friends are in no time...

15. Dead of Winter: I was so excited about this game when I first heard about it. It is rich with theme and there are just so many options for every player. You have group goals, individual goals, a hidden traitor, and a number of ways you can die and become overrun with flesh-eating zombies. This does take a bit of setup but the game itself is simple to play and could even be fun for those who are relatively new to games. I won't say this is a gateway game as it is a bit heavier than most in the category, but it's one of my favorite nonetheless. 

14. Sheriff of Nottingham: Another theme-rich game, Sheriff of Nottingham is a silly lying game (or truth telling depending on your cards and personal style) that revolves around bribery, contraband, and sneaking goods into Nottingham behind the Sheriff's back, or tricking him into checking your load and getting paid for telling the truth! I love this because it lets the quiet ones come out of their shell a bit and it offers plenty of opportunity for some light role playing.

**And here's the point in my list where things start to get a little hard to sort through and decide what I like best. I love all of these games, I would play each and every one of them right now, but alas, that is not the nature of this list. So I must choose.**

13. Ticket to Ride (USA map): Ticket to Ride is now a must-have game, it's easy to pull out for nearly any group of people, it's great for kids, and it never really gets old. It can be quick and peaceful; it can be tense and full of conflict. 

Flip table meme - Little Rock to Nashville? I was going to go there!

12. The Resistance: Can I just say how much I love the hidden bad-guy games? I love lying to the people that trust me most, I love the tension everyone feels when they realize they don't know as much as they thought they did about their friends. The Resistance does that for me. It's a social game about deceit that usually ends in laughter and it's quick. Everyone can have a chance to be the spy or resistance multiple times over.

11. Mr. Jack: A two player game! One person plays a detective and the other is Jack the Ripper. Over a series of rounds Jack tries to either stay undiscovered or sneak out of London. Eight characters are manipulated and each has a different special ability to make the game exciting and unpredictable. So good, and one of my favorite two-player games. 

10. The Resistance Avalon: First of all, it's a different game so get off my back. Second of all, it adds a completely new layer to the game. Now you have a Merlin character that knows who the spies are and can point them out to you! Or is that the spy pretending to be Merlin? Mind = Blown.

9. Dixit: Dixit is basically Apples to Apples but with incredible art work instead of words. It also allows you to give your own cryptic clues and everyone else tries to lay a card that matches your clue then votes on the one they think is yours. Simple, fun, and a great filler for between heavier games. My only qualm with the game is that you work through the deck of the base game in one sitting. You need to get the expansions to get decent replay-ability out of it. 

8. Telestrations: I don't know if I've ever laughed even half as much in a game as I have when playing Telestrations. You can play with nearly any age and it never gets old. Make it as mature as you want with your college friends or as family-friendly as you want. You can make up your own topics and the more people you add the more hilarious and messed up the pictures get. On my first game with only four people, what started as a whale wound up being guessed "The Gulf of Mexico." So...yeah. 

7. Scene It? Harry Potter: I don't need to justify this.

funny harry potter memes sassy dumbledore 

6. 7 Wonders: I love the drafting mechanic and I think it works really well in 7 Wonders. We've had mixed luck teaching the game but we've rarely ever played it less than twice in a row because, after the first game of learning, people usually want to play again. It only takes about 30 minutes to complete a game and that doesn't increase with the number of players since everyone is active simultaneously, a great aspect for those with attention problems. I also love that there is more than one strategy to focus on so it doesn't feel like you're playing the same game over and over again. 

5. Ticket to Ride Europe: Okay, I promise this is the last semi-repeat, though I think this counts as a separate game too. TTR Europe is a little more fun than the USA version in my opinion. You have "long routes" worth more points and potential disappointment, train stations so a blocked city isn't the end of the world, and tunneling that adds a gambling aspect to the game.

4. Bezzerwizzer: A trivia game with several categories, Bezzerwizzer has a pub-trivia-night feel to it because you can switch topics and hijack other teams' questions. I love the flexibility of the number of people it can play since trivia is even more fun in teams.

3. Cranium: This has to be my all time favorite party game because it has every party game rolled into it: drawing, singing, acting, puppeteering, sculpting, trivia, spelling, and word puzzles. There's really no going wrong with this one.

2. Dominion: A deck building game with simple rules,even simpler victory conditions, and a number of variations within the base game itself, Dominion is one of my all-time favorite games. It plays well with 2 players and well with 6, it's just a well-rounded game altogether. You can choose a variation with a lot of attack cards or opt for a zero conflict game if you want. Dominion is everything you make of it.

1. Five Tribes: So pretty! Apart from it being an incredibly visually appealing game, Five Tribes also has many strategies to choose from. You can collect goods from the market, eat up the djins, or plop camels down like it's your job. One of many things I love about this game is that it's nearly impossible to tell who's winning at any given time. I've won about 6 out of 7 times and 5 of those times I thought I had come in last place prior to scoring. I love games where you're never out of the running.

Well that's my list! But I can't leave without some honorable mentions and why they ultimately weren't chosen to be part of my top 20:

Taboo - too much is dependent on how well you can think under pressure and how well you know your partner(s).

Letters from Whitechapel - it seems a little unbalanced in Jack's favor unless a newbie is Jack.

Euphoria - I liked the contracts and routes that Marco Polo had to offer a bit more than this dice placement game.

Pandemic - I am typically not a huge fan of pure co-op. I like Pandemic a lot but I prefer to play against people instead of games.

Empire Builder - it's just a bit too long. I like the logistics and the supply chain of it, but at some point you stop building and just start collecting money until you reach 250 million, at which point it slows down considerably for me.

Geek Out - I love geeking out as much as the rest of them, but while you're listing 197 super heroes that wear red, I have nothing to do.

Catan - I still love playing Catan but there are more complex and flavorful games that I'd rather play.

Spyfall - I really like the role play and the sneaky-ness of Spyfall but the game very much depends on the people you play with for me. Some are uncomfortable with this style of game or just really bad at answering questions appropriately which can make it too hard/easy.

Castles of Burgundy - With a little more flavor this could have made it to my top 20.

No comments:

Post a Comment