Monday, April 18, 2011

My Top 10

I covered what I thought about the BGG Top 50 and here is my top 10. The last couple fall into a bucket of games that could round out the top.


Far and away my favorite game. This game is so interesting to me. I suppose it is interesting in the way that Chess is interesting to a Grandmaster - there isn't too much information that you can't take it all in, but there is enough going on to make it interesting. The game plays 2-4 players and is subtly different with each number of players. If there is one flaw it is that an inexperienced player gives a huge advantage to the player that follows.

This is the king of trick taking / climbing card games. This is really just a standard deck of playing cards + 4 special cards and yet those 4 cards make this a special game. The best partnership game out there.

Combat Commander: Europe
First, I'm not a WWII enthusiast - I don't read everything about it nor know all about it. However, this isn't just a game, it is a method of storytelling and an experience. It is Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers all rolled together. It would be easy to glance at the game and suspect that the scenarios are all similar or that they all play similarly. They do not. It never ceases to amaze me how different every single playing of this game feels. Each army has a different feel because of the card decks and unit combinations. The scenario setup and postures also change things every time. I haven't had a chance to play the random scenarios, but I've read nothing but good things about it. I can see playing this for years and years.

Power Grid
As I mentioned last time, this one has a bit of fiddlyness, but is such a fun playing experience that I've always overlooked it. It combines an auction with resource planning and positioning. I really don't know anyone that thinks its a bad game. It has seen a lot of plays over the years and some players may be burnt out on it a bit, but I'd still play it almost anytime.

The original - Age of Steam was my favorite game for a long time. I never even wanted to try this game. Once I did, I realized that it was probably the better game. The changes Martin Wallace made were not significant enough to completely change the experience, but really cleaned the game up. The new method for restocking goods makes planning so much more straight forward and the money management is much much better. The game is also quicker by eliminating some of the little things that caused the game to drag on (like building a bazillion little pieces of track).


There is something really cool about this action-point game. There is a ton of chances for clever play and outsmarting your opponents. I really enjoy the spatial play too - building castles and thinking in multiple dimensions makes this a unique experience. This might be a bit dry for some tastes, but I really like playing this.

Carcassonne: The Castle
There are a lot of Carc variants and expansions, but this one struck a certain chord with me. Maybe it is the "frame" which reigns in the board while still retaining the essential feeling you get from playing a Carc game - building a world. I also love the bonus chips and how you have to manage your scoring tactically to snatch up bonus opportunities. This is a great two-player game.


Chaos in the Old World
Four asymmetric forces duke it out in a dice fest? Well, not entirely. This is a great marriage of Euro and Ameritrash. It is a tactical fun fest and each side plays differently enough to make each game just a little different. The play time on this is limited so it won't overstay its welcome and force someone to sit around for hours on end.

Dominant Species
I hesitated to throw this in hear after only a couple plays, but for a game to play in 5.5 hours and for me to play it week after week and not need a break says something. I just enjoy myself the whole time I'm playing. There is just enough complexity that you feel like you have a lot of control amid the chaos. The game rewards good tactical play, but can swing to someone else just as quickly. I think you can cut off 20% of the playing time by taking out cards and would still get a great experience.

Medici, Through the Desert, Antike, Chicago Express, Age of Empires III, Steam Barons, Battles of Westeros, A Game of Thrones, Ave Caesar, El Grande, Java, Ticket to Ride

Too many choices to round out the top 10. Each has some reason for belonging and frankly needs to be played.

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