My Top 5 Board Games (x3)

This is the second update to my Top 10 Board Games.
If you're interested, you can check out the original list and the update. In both of those posts, I stated that the games you'll find here are all ones I own and have played more than once. That has still has not changed. There are a handful of games that I've played once (Heaven & Ale) or I don't own (Junk Art), that will likely make this list because I really enjoy them. However, we all need rules to live by and those are mine.

I was able to get all of my unplayed games played before the new year began. After that, the plan was to get mores plays in of the ones that only had a play or two. So far this year, that has not happened. I blame the move to the new house taking up a good portion of the time when that could have happened (excuses excuses). I'm still going to try and get back on track with that goal. I do like playing things I've never played before too, so there have been a few additions. Of those, there are at least a couple that will make next year's list I think. I've also done a good job culling down my collection and another purge will happen soon. Getting my collection down to the games I truly enjoy has been quite a process.

When I originally wrote this list, it was a straight up Top 10. However, my friend Shawn suggested something a little bit different and I really liked it. Instead of a Top 10 that pits games that are drastically different than one another, I'm breaking it down into three Top 5 lists. The categories are Card Games, Light Games, and Heavy Games. I feel like this provides a better representation of my favorite games.

Cards Games
This category is pretty self explanatory. Games on this list are card based, but they may have some extra components or a player board. Of the three categories, this is probably my favorite.

5. Circle the Wagons
Circle The Wagons is one of two games that I have multiple copies of, the other being No Thanks! I keep the extra copies in my car at all times just in case I want to play something quick when we're out. I've been able to play a bunch of games of this online because it was added to Happy Meeple, a site that hosts about a dozen light games. As I've said before, it's incredibly smart and has a great table presence. There was a lot of competition for this final spot on the Card Games list, so I don't know if it was have the staying power as I get in more plays of some newer things (Point Salad I'm looking at you).

4. 6nimmt!
I feel kind of foolish not including this game on my previous Top 10 lists. I played physical copies of this a couple of times in person with 3 and 4 players, but little did I know that those are not optimal player counts. This game absolutely shines at 5 and 6. Thanks to Board Game Arena, I've had the opportunity to play with that many players at anytime of day for years now. I've done so to the tune of 211 games on their site. It's simple and is reminiscent of many classic traditional card games. The key is to know how to play your hand and sometimes get a little lucky. I'd love to be able to play this regularly with 5 or 6 players in person.

I don't play on the app much anymore, but now it's on Board Game Arena so I play it there sometimes. I still need to try some of the expansions. This is hands down the best straight up card drafting game out there. It's amazing scalability keeps it at the top of that genre.

2. Biblios
I haven't played this in quite a while, mostly because my group isn't interested. It's super smart and because of the lack of plays it's had, I have a hard time dropping it on the previous lists. I enjoyed the plays that I did get in so much, that once other games are compared against, none have toppled it. Unless I'm able to get a lot of plays in and grow tired of it, I think it's cemented its place on the Card Games list.

1. Star Realms
Every time I think that this might not be my favorite game, I open the app and play a few games. Those few games end up turning into 20 or 30 over a couple days. It's because of that, that Star Realms continues to reign supreme. No other game gets me locked in the same way or makes me say "just one more game" until my phone is just about to run out of battery. Someday my physical copy will hit the table for the first time, but for now the 1206 games I've played on the app should show you how much I love it.

Light Games
Games on this list have more components like a main board that players use or add to, their own player board or space to build, and may contain cards but they're not the main component of the game. For this category, all of the selections are equal to or below a 2.5 weight based on the complexity rating on BoardGameGeek.

5. Favelas
I was struggling a bit to choose the number 5 game for this list. There are a bunch that need a second play before qualifying and the ones that do qualify will likely not make it next year. I chose Favelas because it combines a few of my favorite mechanics: tile laying, area control, and dice score manipulation (a la Biblios). I raved about it when during my first play at UnPub 7 and I still really enjoy it even though it doesn't see the table nearly as often as I'd like.


4. Blokus
I finally broke up my Blokus collection and now only own the original game. I traded away Trigon and Duo because I don't know if they'd ever get played again. I can always play Duo with the regular board. Because I broke them up Blokus would have tumbled off entirely, but it stays in for now due to the split up of the list. I do want to say that even though it probably won't make it on the list next year, I will never turn down a game of this.

I thought for sure this would be the year that Survive fell off the list. In fact, I had taken it off my top 10 list before I went through my ratings on BGG. When it came down to it, I still love this game. I think another reason it stayed was because there are a handful of "only played once" games that just haven't gotten their shot yet. It rarely sees the table, but I'm hoping our kids will enjoy it once they're a bit older. I expect it to fall of the list before then, but who knows maybe it'll claw its way back. Survive: Escape From Atlantis! survives for now.

2. Kingdomino
Making a big splash onto this year's lists is the 2017 Spiel des Jahres Winner, Kingdomino. I played this for the first time back in 2017 and then upgraded my copy to the one with the tile dispenser because I knew I'd be keeping it. However, it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I really got to know this game. As with others on this lists, Board Game Arena added this title and my plays have exploded because of that. It scales really well from 2 to 4 players, the 2 player version with the 7x7 board is amazing, and I love that it plays quick. It gives me the same "just one more game" feeling that Star Realms does.

1. Carcassonne
This is another game that was added to Board Game Arena, so it has seen an uptick in plays. My copy with the new art has also been opened and played. I consider it to be a must own games for any collection. It's for that reason that I was going to bump it up on the Top 10 list, but now it will sit at the top of the Light Games list. There are a couple expansions I'll eventually pick up, but the base game is great all on its own. 

A side note: upon completing this list, I noticed that all 5 games have the tile laying/placement mechanic. I guess I like what I like.

Heavy Games
Games on this list are very similar to the Light Games list. The only real difference is the complexity, and therefore, playing times are also typically longer. For this category, all of the selections are above a 2.5 weight based on the complexity rating on BoardGameGeek.

5. Shakespeare
Shakespeare snuck on to this list because many of the heavier games I own, that I really enjoyed, have only seen a single play. That's not to say that it's not deserving to be on this list, because I do enjoy the theme and the combination of mechanics. The auction for draft order also affects the number of actions a player can take on their turn. The more actions they take on their turn early, the less options they'll have on their following turn. I've played this at player counts of 2 and 4 and felt like it scaled really well. There is an expansion that adds more characters and another scoring wrinkle that I want to pick up. This won't stay in my Top 5 Heavy Games, but it will stay in the collection.

4. This War of Mine
This War of Mine had two big hits against it for me before I even opened the box: 1) It's cooperative and 2) It's got a lot of set up. I don't normally like cooperative games and will almost never play a game solo. Also, if a game takes more than a couple minutes to set up, I'm losing interest. Thankfully, I LOVE the theme. Both of our 4 player games and my only solo play ended fairly quickly, but I found myself wanting to hit the reset button and start again after each play. It makes sense because the game is based on a video game of the same name. I'm half tempted to buy it on Steam to see if it's worth keeping the board game version or not. This is another game that I don't see staying on this list, but it probably won't leave the collection either.

3. Scythe
I just recently got a second play of this in and I was very happy with how it went. I don't own a lot of heavier games and this one isn't THAT heavy with a weight of 3.38, but I love Scythe's theme and action selection mechanism. Being able to plan out and see what my next four or five turns are likely going to be is very satisfying. I got that same feeling during my only play of Wingspan. Another thing I really enjoy about it is the different paths to victory a player can take. It ramps up so quickly towards the end as players can do even more on their turn as they change their player boards. I don't see this leaving my collection because it's my one "big game".

2. The Castles of Burgundy

I want to play this more often, but with so many games out there to try it just hasn't happened. That doesn't change how I feel about it though. It's a marvelous game that I always look forward to playing. Perhaps some plays online are in order, that might help it get to the top of this list.

1. Tikal
Tikal remains my favorite of Kramer's designs. Although, one of the newest entries on the lists, 6nimmt!, is right up there. I wish I got this one to the table just a fraction as often as I play 6nimmt! online. The area control/area influence of it keeps it off the table unfortunately. Games like this need to see the table more or they run the risk of slipping, in favor of games I really like but also play often. For now it tops my Heavy Games list with a weight of only 2.83.

Notes
Hive is the only game that fell of "the list". It could have definitely make the Light Games list, but I know it'll get knocked off next year. Also, if I had a choice I'd rather play Favelas because it plays more players and I'm better at it. Hive is a really great game that is staying in the collection.

Some games in each category that currently own and could see making next year's list if they get more plays:

Card Games - Point Salad, SPQFThe Fox in the ForestArboretum

Light Games - Azul, Kingdom Builder, Gold WestWarsaw: City of Ruins

Heavy Games - Heaven & AleVillageTorresWhistle Stop

I really like this new format a lot better than a straight up to 10. Comparing a super light game like Kingdomino to a somewhat heavy game like Scythe doesn't make a lot of sense. Sure, this format allows me to add more games to the overall lists, but as I said, this gives a better representation of what I like. I'm all for medium heavy games in the 3 - 3.5 weight range, but my sweet spot is more around 1.75 to 2.5.

What are your favorite games? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading.

Comments

  1. In no particular order:

    Card Games - Imperial Settlers, Deus, Legendary Encounters: Alien, Hero Realms (Campaign), and Bohnanza.

    Light Games - Tiny Towns, Welcome to..., Carcassonne, Sagrada, and The River.

    Heavy Games - Teotihuacan, Alchemists, Great Western Trail, Santa Maria, and Scythe.

    ReplyDelete

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