My Top 10 Board Games

I've refrained from making one of these lists because who really cares what my favorite games are? Somebody. Somebody will find this list interesting I hope. Now I'm going to warn you, I have only played 43 of the current top 250 on BGG, so are there games that probably should be on this list? Sure. But this is my list of games I have played AND own.

There isn't a game I've played and I don't own that would be above any of the following games. The reason for that is mostly because playing a game once isn't enough for me to say it's in my top 10. All of the games you're about to read about have been played multiple times and in one case, *potential spoiler* hundreds of times. One final note, I know there are some played once and unplayed games in my collection that will push a few of these out in time but that's another list for another day. So as of August 31st, 2017, these are my top 10 board games:

10. Hive
Coming in at number 10 and just edging out a handful of great games is the two player abstract game Hive. I've had three different copies of this in my collection over the years. First, it was a wooden blocks with stickers edition that was one of the first versions they ever put out. Then it was the standard bakelite tile version. But now I've settled on Hive Pocket which is the same game just using smaller bakelite tiles and it comes in a nice cloth bag, great for traveling. I'm not very good at it but it doesn't take away my enjoyment of trying to trap my opponent's queen bee.

9. Patchwork
Patchwork comes in at number 9, and honestly it was a toss up between this and Hive for the final two spots. This is another two player abstract game, a genre that I could probably write another top 10 list for with no problem (note to self: write a top 10 of two player abstracts). As bad as I am at Hive, I'm even worse at Patchwork. I always think I'm doing really well and usually snag the 7 point bonus for being the first to make a 7x7 quilt, but then my opponent stomps me in buttons and still prevails with more open spaces left. I think I like games that I lose at often because they haven't quite clicked yet. One game that didn't make this list that I really enjoy is Takenoko for the complete opposite reason, I win A LOT and that isn't as satisfying to me. Back to quilting here, the puzzly nature of fitting pieces together and balancing your button count really pushes my brain buttons.

8. Sushi Go!
Number 8 is the game that introduced me to card drafting, Sushi Go! It continues to be a favorite of mine for many reasons including: I love card drafting and set collection mechanics, the theme is cute, the art is adorable, it plays really quick, I can card count while playing to some degree, and it's super easy to teach to non-gamers. A while back, my Mom was visiting for a holiday and wanted to play something with my brother and I. She perused my shelves but this one caught her eye pretty quick (the adorable art strikes again, that and she loves sushi). When it was all said and done, we played three full games in a row. I also have Sushi Go Party! and while it does more than it's predecessor, it also take longer to set up and I've only had the pleasure of playing it once. The two games are different enough that both will stay on my shelf. The fact that the party version allows up to eight people to play is great for teaching a large group but I mostly play at 2 to 4 so Sushi Go! is my jam.

7. Carcassonne
Carcassonne comes in at number 7 and with a bit of controversy because I'm bending one of the rules to include this one. You see, I don't actually own a copy of this, not a physical one anyway, but I do own the app version. Since I've played a physical copy a bunch of times and countless times in the app, and because this is my list, this tile laying game gets to stay. This is another one of those really easy to teach games that is not easy to master, a reoccurring theme you'll find throughout this list. It plays pretty quickly and there always seems to be some jockeying for position to get the precious farm points that can really swing the end game scoring. It's a smart design that I'll never turn down when asked, but the possibility for a game of poor tile draws keeps it from going any higher on this list.

Number 6 brings what I would have called my favorite game if you had asked me just a year or two ago. Survive: Escape From Atlantis! will always have a place in my heart even if it eventually falls out of my top 10. What makes the game so fun for me is the social aspect. If you were to sit and play this game with little to no table talk, it wouldn't be nearly as fun, in my opinion. I love stirring up trouble or to try and talk people out of killing my meeples that are slowly swimming to safety after a whale crushed their boat to smithereens. Because of my ruthless style of play and my constant attempts to pit other players against one another, I often become the target. However, that just adds to my enjoyment, especially when I can pull out an unlikely win. The theme is fantastic and my copy has all wooden meeples which is a great touch. Between the base game, the expansions, the random set up of tiles, and the initial meeple placement, this game has an outrageous amount of replayability.

5. Tikal
I fell in love with Tikal the first time I played it using the Mini-Tikal variant I found on BGG. I wanted to learn the game but didn't want to play for a long time at two players, because at the time I wasn't getting a lot of opportunity to game so we often played a bunch of shorter stuff to maximize our exposure. Then I got to play again using the same variant but this time in a four player game and it really flourished for me. I would love to play a full game of this but many have commmented that the shortened version is just as fullfilling, if not better. but we'll see. This is another one of those games that pushes my brain buttons in all the right ways. It won the game of the year back in 1999 and I think it still holds up really well, obviously. The combination of area control and the action point system clicked with me pretty quickly and has allowed me to do well while playing it. I like the jungle exploration theme and the unique system of scoring the temples. I'm very happy I took a chance on this older game when I got it a few years ago.

4. 7 Wonders
Since I love drafting and set collection mechanics, it shouldn't be a surprise to see 7 Wonders higher up than its little brother, Sushi Go!, on this list at number 4. The comparisons between the former and the latter are obvious but because 7 Wonders is more involved and requires more attention and strategy, it easily gets the better spot. When I first bought and opened this game I started looking through the rules and then put it back because I thought learning the iconography was going to be a bear. But a few years...yes years...later, when we met our current gaming friends, they taught it to us and I find a lot of appreciation for the design. The theme is interesting, there is a ton of replayability both from just the shuffle of the cards and how specific people tend to play, and as I said before, it utilizes two of my favorite mechanics. It scales up and down pretty well and definitely rewards repeated plays. It's a game I find myself wanting when I want something with a little more meat to it than a really light game but not something that's going to come close to burning my brain. Honestly, that's the kind spot I am in most of the time.

3. Blokus (Series)
I'm back to cheating on this list, but once again, it's my list so I make the rules. Blokus as a series of three games comes in at number 3 and there are few reasons for that. The most important is that the original Blokus was one of my first real hobby games so it got a big bump from that. Another reason why the group of the original Blokus, Blokus Trigon, and Blokus Duo, get such a high spot on the list is because I wanted to include more games on the list and listing each on separately wouldn't have allowed me to do that. Yes, I like each of them that much. The junior and 3D versions are not included simply because I haven't played either yet, but if they're anything like the other three, they'll get to join the stack. Each of the three games plays best at different player counts so depending on how many people want to play, I have the perfect version. Duo, a two player only game, obviously plays best at two and is probably my favorite of the three because it's ruthless knife fight in a phone booth, my favorite type of game. Trigon can play two to four but it shines at three, making it the best three player abstract I've ever played. The original also player two to four and I love that it plays great at four but can also scale up and down pretty well. All of them can be (and should be played) agressively, which I get great enjoyment from even when I'm on the receiving end of being completely shut down. So while all three won't make the list as I start playing my other games multiple times, it will take some serious contenders to knock them off as a group.

2. Biblios
This may be the shocker of my top 10 list, a game you probably didn't expect to see in the number 2 spot, if at all. I got turned onto Biblios years ago during one of my many deep dives into geeklists on BGG. The theme appealed to me, even if it's not really apparent when you're playing, but it was the title of a review by user EndersGame that caught my attention, entitled "A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: The super filler that Reiner Knizia wishes he had designed". Those are some fighting words if I have ever heard any. After reading the review, seeing the components, and tempering my expectations as suggested, I picked up a copy. My first game was with my brother, a now federal archivist and lover of all things books, and while we both agreed that the theme was pasted on, I was hooked. The combo of drafting and set collection make another appearance on this list which shouldn't surprise you, but it's the auction and dice manipulation mechanics that make me love this game more than almost any other. Not to go off on a tangent but games with an auction mechanic might make this list in the near future after repeated plays, Stefan Feld's The Speicherstadt, I'm looking at you. There's also press your luck, memory, and some ability to card count, although the latter is difficult because cards are removed before each game. Biblios is such a smart design and I think any designer who designs "fillers" (I hate that term) would love to have been the one who thought of this one.

1. Star Realms
Star Realms is my number 1 game. It's as simple at that. If you regularly read my blog or happened to the this post, then this choice shouldn't come as much of a shock. I own physical copies of both Star Realms and Star Realms: Colony Wars. Guess how many times I've played them? Zero. *Gasp* People are going to stop wanting to play games with me due to all of the cheating I'm admitting to on this list. I haven't played my physical copies but I have played 535 games on the app and that doesn't include games against the AI or challenges against players under level 5. Needless to say, I have played this game a lot. How did this light weighted and very inexpensive game reach number one on my list? How is that I've played it over 500 times and not gotten sick of it? I'll tell you why, I used to play Magic: The Gathering. Star Realms takes what I love about that money sucking CCG and puts it all in a tuck box. The drafting mechanic is all over this list but this game does it more in a resource management kind of way. Building a deck in M:TG was always one of my favorite parts but building a deck from turn one and refining it into a well-oiled machine is even better. The one on one direct conflict (take that) is what I'm all about, as previously mentioned. Star Realms allows me to be ruthless because you have to be to be successful. It also forces you to try different strategies because the available cards to get and the amount of trade you have are never the same. You may love going heavy yellow, allowing you to draw card and force your opponent to discard (a frustrating tactic that is a favorite of mine) but if those cards simply don't come up or your opponent takes them first, then you have to come up with something else. Maybe you go red and scrap your deck down, getting rid of those weak starting cards. Perhaps you go green and smash your way to victory or go blue and gain authority like your life depended on it (because it does). I've gotten more enjoyment out of this ~$15 game more than any other and while a game might eventually take its place, it'll never drop out of the top 10.

If you can't tell by now, my favorite games are on the lighter side. That's not to say I don't like a heavy, 3.5+ weighted game on BGG that really makes me work my brain muscles, it's just that I prefer games I can pick up, knock out, and then play over and over and over in a single sitting. Growing up playing a lot of traditional card games is likely the driving factor behind that. But I also want to mention that there are a few games out there that I have more than 100 plays of, that you didn't see on this list because while I like playing them, they're just not as good. Some of those are: Can't Stop (300 plays), 6 nimmt! (157 plays), and Quoridor (171 plays).

Some surprises to me when I made this list:
1) There are no games by Stefan Feld
2) There are no worker placement games
3) There are no trick taking games

The first two will change once I have time to play more of my games multiple times. But that third one really sticks out. I love trick taking games but I guess I haven't found one that I would play consistently over the games found on this list.

I also want to mention a few games that could creep up into the top 10 as I get to play them more: Village, The Castles of Burgundy, The Downfall of Pompeii, 7 Wonders Duel & The Speicherstadt.

Well that's it for now, I plan to revisit this list either once a year or once every six months. My time is limited due to baby James being in the picture now so it'll be a while before I can get some serious playing in for most of the longer games. See you in a year then?


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