10 Games Exercise

In the Minimalist Gamers guild on BGG, somebody created a thread called the 10 Games Exercise. The idea is that you only get to keep 10 games. There are no rules outside of that, they could be your 10 favorite games, 10 games you play with your group, 10 games your family enjoys, etc. You get to choose whatever criteria you want to follow. Maybe you want to build a list that hits ten different main mechanics. Or perhaps you pick games that cover specific player counts.  The possibilities are endless.

It's an interesting exercise that I wanted to take a crack at to see what my 10 games would be and why. To help shape my list, I set two rules that I'd follow. First, I have to currently own the game and any expansions. There are games I previously owned or have played but don't own that might have made this list. Second, I won't include games for the kids. Our kids are a little young yet, so for now I chose not to include games specifically for them. In fact, they have so many games, they could make a list like this themselves. In a few years, this list will look very different.

My assumption before making this list was that it would end up being comprised of games from my Top 5(x3) list. However, once I started picking games, there was a lot of overlap mechanics-wise. Tile-laying and drafting are two of my favorite mechanics and I could have easily made a list comprised of games with just them. I mean I would happily play the games on that list, but I like variety so some tough cuts had to be made. There are definitely a handful of familiar favorites, but I was shocked to see some of my top games not make this list.

With that, here are the 10 games I would keep in alphabetical order:
I've covered Biblios many times on this blog because it has been my perennial number two favorite card game for a long time now. I chose it 1) because it's criminally underappreciated and 2) because it checks a bunch of boxes as far as mechanics go. It's drafting, hand management, auction/bidding, and set collection. Also, being able to manipulate the value of the card types for end game scoring is one of my favorite things of any game.
Blokus is the lone abstract on this list. I love abstracts and of the ones I own, this selection will might shock people the most. I could have just as easily chosen Azul, Patchwork, Onitama, or a handful of others. What got Blokus on this list is the player count and ability to play two different versions. A lot of abstracts only play 2 players, while Blokus plays 2, 3, or 4. You can also play Blokus Duo, with an altered board. It has probably my favorite mechanic, tile placement, and plays mean as hell. Azul does a lot of the same things that I just listed, but the perfect information from the get go pushes Blokus ahead. I've owned Blokus longer than just about any game in my collection and certainly longer than the rest of those on this list.
I've said this before, but I'll say it again. If there is one game I think every single gamer should own, it's Carcassonne. This is another tile placement game, but this one has some area majority/control. Building a communal map that changes with every single game is so refreshing, compared to fixed maps in many games. I don't own but have played with many of the expansions. I think the base game is good enough to be in every collection, but if you add the Inns & Cathedrals and Traders & Builders expansions, it's the closest thing to a perfect game that you'll ever find. 
The last tile laying game on the list is The Isle of Cats. Unlike Blokus and Carcassonne, players are laying tiles on their own player board, instead of a communal space. I went with the all in pledge on Kickstarter when I backed it, so I have the expansion that allows for up to 6 players. There is so much to love about this game including two different types of drafting with the tiles and the cards. The card drafting allows players to get more end game points just for themselves or for all players. The puzzly nature of trying to make the various scoring options work best for you made me just adore it. There's also a family version of the game that makes it approachable for anyone.
I wanted at least one dexterity game on here and since I don't own Junk Art (yet), Klask gets to take that spot. I just wrote about how much I LOVE this game last month, so I'm not going to go into too much detail about the game itself here. I debated putting this on the list solely because it's only 2 player. However, it plays so quickly that many people can play one another is just a few minutes. I picked up a second copy for only $12 on clearance, making it the 3rd game I own multiple copies of. The others are Circle the Wagons and coincidentally, the next game on the list.
I love card games more than any other type of game and No Thanks! is one of the reasons why. Choosing No Thanks! over a ton of others like Coloretto, 6 nimmt!, Hocus, The Fox in the Forest, Point Salad, etc. was tough. I chose it for a few reasons and the main one being its accessibility. It's so easy to teach and there's not a lot of math involved like some of the others. I wanted one game that I could carry around in my pocket, that anyone could learn to play in a matter of 60 seconds. No Thanks! may not be better than the games I listed, but it fits on this list where the others for one reason or another just don't.
This list needed at least one large game and I don't own many, but I do own Scythe. Scythe scratches some itches that other games on this don't. The main one being the engine building that I love, love, love. Having the player board helps me plan multiple turns ahead, assuming my plans aren't forced to change and I really like being able to do that. Wingspan, another game by the same publisher gives me that same feeling. Scythe at its core is a racing game because players are racing to complete a certain number of objectives that then triggers the end of the game. The tension that builds as players get closer to triggering the end game is another feeling that I love in games, Rajas of the Ganges feels the same way.

If you're a regular reader of mine and/or follow me on twitter, Star Realms being on this should come as no surprise. For a half a second, I almost didn't put it on the list because I've never played my physical copy. But if I can only keep 10 games and the internet crashes indefinitely, I want to be able to play my favorite game. Star Realms only plays 2 players (technically more with extra copies), but I just love the fast play in a head to head battle against a single opponent. As I've said before, it scratches my M:TG itch as I slug it out with the other player. It's also the only deck building game on the list, a mechanic that I really enjoy.
I can't believe I'm doing this, but Sushi Go Party! is stealing the spot that should go to 7 Wonders. I love 7 Wonders. It's one of about a dozen games that have reached the century play club (100 plays). It has even been on my top games lists each year. So why on God's green earth is it not on this list? Strategy burnout. By that I mean, I've played with basically the same strategy because it wins a large majority of the time. Because there is no variability with the cards game to game without expansions, it's just gotten a bit stale for me. The same thing happened to me with Takenoko, which oddly enough is by the same designer. Sure I could explore different strategies, but my will to win is so strong that I end up settling with something that is proven to work. The entire reason 7 Wonders was going to be on this list is because it's the best pure drafting game around. But I've always argued that the original Sushi Go! is nearly as good. So what's better than a quicker game with cuter art that's almost as good? A deluxe version of that game that forces me to change strategies game to game because there is always a different combination of cards. It's for that reason that Sushi Go Party! gets the nod over 7 Wonders. Let the hate flow through you and into the comments below.
The final game on my list is Village, a worker placement game that immerses you into the theme unlike the standard soulless, cube pushing euro. You control a family of workers that take on various tasks on the game or player boards while also tracking how much time has passed. Over a series of turns, your workers actually die. It's very sad. But depending on what they were doing when the passed, it could mean big points for you at the end of the game. After adding the Port and Inn expansions and getting this to the table for only the second time, that play helped cement this game for me as one of my favorite worker placement games. The other option for this spot was the classic The Castles of Burgundy, but dice and I just don't get along. I feel like I have more control in Village and that's what ultimately put it on this list. I think Castles is unquestionably a better designed game, but sometimes you just need some theme.

This list definitely did not shape up how I expected it to. What does your list look like? Please share in the comments below.


  1. As the originator of BGG thread you referenced, I really enjoyed reading your blog post about it. You have a good list of games.

    1. Thank you! And thank you for coming up with the exercise in the first place.


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