Hi folks! I finally did the thing I’ve been meaning to do for ages, and put together a list of my 50 favourite board games as of 2022 (as well as 10 honourable mentions), with a mini write-up on each entry. Hope you enjoy… even if your wallet doesn’t!
(BGG geeklist is here)
50 – Cascadia
This is the perfect “coffee table” game for me and my wife. We’ll often have a game of it going on the side while we blob out and watch a show or a movie in the evening. It’s a delightful little game with interesting decisions delivered in bite-sized pieces, and the scoring cards give it a decent amount of replayability and variety. And Beth Sobel’s art is, of course, an absolute joy.
49 – Cosmic Encounter
There was a time where I had this as my #1 game, and I was sure that would never change. It still holds a special place in my heart, and it still comes out now and then when we’re in the mood for a pure fun, chaotic experience. Interestingly, I never bothered with the expansions; perhaps I should give them a try.
48 – Viticulture
Viticulture as a theme doesn’t interest me at all, but I really do love this game. It pushes all the right buttons for me in terms of action efficiency, and the way it marries up order fulfilment with the aging of grapes/wine is brilliant. I consider the Tuscany expansion essential.
47 – Dice Throne
Pure asymmetrical battling fun in a box. Well, several large boxes; we have everything for this excluding Adventures (so Season 1 Rerolled, Season 2, and Marvel) and it’s all fantastic. The heroes feel very different, the dice-chucking is satisfying, and the card-play is impactful. Not bad at all for what is essentially an evolution of Yahtzee!
46 – Sleeping Gods
This game really is all about the stories contained within it, and thankfully they’re fantastic. That said, I also enjoy the maintenance and combat, and find the whole experience very compelling. Fun (or not-so-fun) bit of trivia: This game got me through a particularly nasty bout of COVID – good times! Very much looking forward to the next chapter in this adventure.
45 – Android Netrunner
I got into this in a big way many years ago, when it was still in print. I’ve been meaning to try out the new fan-made versions. There’s really nothing quite like this in existence, it’s a true masterpiece of two-player asymmetric game design. So many wonderful memories of making white-knuckled sweaty runs, praying that my opponent didn’t have a trap waiting for me (even though they inevitably always did). If this was still in print and easily accessible, it would probably be higher on my list.
44 – Blood Rage
My favourite Eric Lang game, and one of the best drafting games ever made (not to mention minis-on-a-map and area control). The fact that it can be just as beneficial to win combat as it can be to lose is genius and adds a lot of intriguing tension. Such a fun experience every time. ABHDL (Always Be Hate-Drafting Loki).
43 – The Age of Atlantis
A surprising newcomer to the list! I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy this as much as I have, but it’s an excellent game. The rulebook is a hot mess and desperately needs a re-write, but once you get past that there’s a lot of good stuff going on here. Much like Scythe, mixing up the different player boards adds a lot of variety and dramatically changes the feel of the game. The morale mechanism alongside upgrading workers to Atlanteans forms an especially clever almost push-your-luck approach to worker placement. Plus the whole thing looks fantastic on the table. A few people have complained about the quality of the cards and the resource trackers but honestly I haven’t found either of those things to be issues at all.
42 – Clans of Caledonia
Another one that used to be much higher on my list. Very similar to Terra Mystica and Gaia Project in a lot of ways, but ultimately feels different enough to be it’s own thing. The market system is very clever and adds a good amount of additional interactivity, and the central point-scoring mechanism of order fulfilment works very well with the theme of the game. Always happy to play this one.
41 – Argent: The Consortium
Possibly the meanest worker placement game in existence. Different types of workers behaving differently is clever and interesting, and the end-game scoring being effectively a hidden goals system is extremely unique. Plus, there’s an absolutely ridiculous amount of variability with all the different locations and cards. I adore this game and wish I had more people to play it with.
40 – Mechs vs. Minions
This was the first truly big-box, deluxe board game I ever owned, and it holds up to this day. Putting the gorgeous production aside, the gameplay is pure action programming fun. There’s something so satisfying about trying to control the chaos of your mechs in the early game, and eventually becoming devastating minion stomping machines by the end – hopefully in time to complete the objective! The variety in missions is excellent, and it’s bursting with great ideas executed well. Also, the secret box doesn’t disappoint.
39 – Dwellings of Eldervale
My initial impressions were that this would be a “candy game”; there’s a lot of stuff going on that initially seems loosely connected at best, and it’s all very vibrantly colourful and overproduced. However, it is a very solid game underneath all the bling, and I’ve had a ton of fun with it every time. The tempo of the game (placing workers out to do stuff, then eventually taking them back to do different stuff, rinse and repeat) is very satisfying and feels unique, and there’s a lot of very strong player interaction for what is ultimately a rather thinky euro.
38 – The Search for Planet X
I’ve always enjoyed Cryptid, and consider it a genius work of design in how it uses only physical components to create a variable setup pure deduction game. The Search for Planet X is also a pure deduction game, but it requires an app, and despite my initial reservations because of that, it is the better game for it. My favourite pure deduction game by far, and one I’m always willing to play. The fact that it uses a rondel to simulate opportunity cost is just icing on the cake.
37 – New Frontiers
Puerto Rico was one of my favourite games for a long time, but it has a bunch of problems, such as its representation of “colonists” and the way seating order can significantly impact the outcome of a game. New Frontiers entirely replaces Puerto Rico for me, and it does so with a more interesting theme (for me) and more rigorous mechanisms. Yes, the resource cubes are way too big for what they are, and the box takes up way too much space, but it’s such a good game that I can’t hold either of those issues against it.
36 – Crokinole
By far my favourite dexterity game, and one of the best “we don’t know what else to play” games out there. Incredibly easy to teach and play, but with a surprising amount of depth for what it is. We love crokinole so much that we actually have two boards for it (pro tip: if you need extra justification for buying a crokinole board, they make striking wall art). Some day we’ll finally get around to hosting a tournament…
35 – Scythe
I remember desperately trying to source a copy of this back when it was hard to find in little ol’ NZ, but nowadays it’s everywhere! One of the two games I’ve bought a big-box wooden insert for (the other being Firefly; spoilers for later). Scythe is always a hit with every group I play it with, and is suitable for gamers of any experience level. There are always interesting decisions to make, but due to the simple action selection mechanism it never feels paralyzing. Doesn’t hurt that it looks amazing on the table. Also, the Fenris expansion takes it to the next level in terms of the variety it adds.
34 – 18Chesapeake
In my opinion, this is the best entry-point to one of my favourite board game sub-genres, 18xx. I’ve taught it to multiple groups with great success, and virtually everyone has wanted more afterwards. The export system is a simple, clever way to keep the game moving in games where people aren’t buying many trains, and the map is interesting and covers a wide variety of classic 18xx situations. Sure, it isn’t as cutthroat or tightly balanced as some other titles, but it is perfect for what it is. The 3-hour playtime alone makes it worthwhile (there’s no better way to turn people off a genre than mentioning that most of the options take 6-12 hours).
33 – Gùgōng
Something about the way this game combines hand management with worker placement really gets my gears turning. It’s an immensely clever system. Then you add the various locations on the board that effectively work like minigames, while still feeling cohesive and interrelated, and it all comes together in a very satisfying package. It’s so much fun to play, with a healthy mix of tactics and strategy to keep the brain burning. I haven’t yet tried the expansion but it looks like it adds even more interesting and impactful options, so very much looking forward to it.
32 – Reef Encounter
The theme is very unusual and at times downright silly. The mechanisms are essentially a bizarre mixture of tile placement and stock-market manipulation. There’s an element of hidden-but-trackable information which one could argue is poor design. On paper, I should hate this game, but it’s incredible. Richard Breese is some kind of mad genius.
31 – Race for the Galaxy
Safe to say this is my favourite pure card game (if you ignore the point chits). There aren’t many games that are more satisfying once you get going with that perfect point-scoring engine, only to realise at the end that you underestimated your opponent’s military juggernaut and they’ve blown you out of the water by 20 points (ahem, that definitely doesn’t happen to me anymore). Sure, the iconography isn’t exactly pretty, but it is extremely functional and essentially disappears with enough plays. It’s a rare thing when a game can take 20 minutes and yet feel like a completely satisfying experience. The only thing keeping me from playing it more often is a lack of opponents; perhaps I should try an online implementation.
30 – Earth Reborn
I got this in a math trade a number of years ago, and was blown away by how good this tactical skirmish game with a B-movie aesthetic really is. The barrier to entry is quite large, as it effectively requires you to play through numerous scenarios of escalating complexity to fully learn the game, but it is well worth it. There is so much depth here that it’s almost absurd (seriously, check out this rulebook summary – sheesh), but it all comes together incredibly well and the theme shines through wonderfully. This is the game I most want to see remastered.
29 – Firefly: The Game
We own everything ever made (barring some rare promos and the big money), including a massive wooden crate to store it all in, and despite the nearly overwhelming amount of… stuff, it is an absolute treat every time we play. One of the best examples of thematic integration and fun-first gameplay out there. There’s nothing quite like exploring the ‘verse with a bunch of friends (and maybe stabbing them in the back while you’re at it).
28 – The Quacks of Quedlinburg
This game, with all the expansions and the deluxified chips, is almost always the game of choice when we’re trying to bring newbies into the hobby. It is immediately satisfying to pull those chips out of the bag, and the temptation to pull just. one. more. chip is delicious. Even better when you’re watching someone else think about it, think some more, slowly reach into the bag… only to pull out the 3 Cherry Bomb and bust. It’s always a raucous experience, even if the luck heavily outweighs the strategy. If you hate Quacks, you might hate fun… and that’s okay! But I love it.
27 – Great Western Trail
On it’s own, Great Western Trail is an excellent euro. With the Rails to the North expansion, it is a masterpiece. So many interlocking mechanisms and interesting decisions to make, in which buildings you place and where, to how far along the rondel you move at once, to how you construct your deck. Rails especially fixes some slight balance issues (e.g., it’s almost always best to deliver to Kansas ASAP) and makes many different strategies much more viable. It’s astonishing that a game primarily built around building a deck of cows is so much fun, but it really is.
26 – Crisis
This is a real underrated gem of a worker placement game that more people need to know about. It is a semi-cooperative game where you play as business leaders trying to make bank in a time of economic uncertainty. The fact that everyone is responsible for keeping the economy afloat works brilliantly to keep a sense of tension while not being overbearing. You really don’t want to be left holding the bag when Axia collapses into turmoil. The way it simulates an economy with internal production vs importing is also excellent, and really drives the theme of the game home. Plus it’s just good fun to build your engine of companies into a well-oiled resource-producing machine.
25 – Trick Shot
As a Canadian, I am legally obligated to enjoy anything and everything related to hockey. Despite all that, the reason I love this game so much is in fact because it is fantastic. By far my favourite sports board game implementation, the turn-to-turn luck pushing via the dice combined with the almost chess-like positional play, all masterfully woven into the theme, makes for a great experience every time. Artyom Nichipurov is quickly becoming one of my favourite designers, and I’m very much looking forward to the second edition.
24 – Troyes
It’s pronounced “twah”. Right, now that that’s out of the way, I’m a big fan of Troyes. It’s one of the meaner euro games out there, in that you can snatch dice away from other players that they were hoping to use. However, when you do this, they get money that they can then use to do the same in turn, so it never feels so mean as to be brutal, and it is more of an opportunistic mechanism than a back-stabby one. The semi-cooperative aspect of trying to defend the city from bad stuff is also done quite well. There’s so much variety here and every game feels fresh and different with the wide variety of cards that completely change the game. My favourite euro involving dice as a central mechanism.
23 – Townsfolk Tussle
This was quite a big surprise for me. I was expecting an experience with wonderful art and a fun theme, but not much substance. The truth is that Townsfolk Tussle is a boss battler that, while relatively light, punches well above its weight. You’ll fight through four random bosses through escalating levels of difficulty, with the first being relatively easy and the last being a real challenge. Between the battles, you’ll experience random events and buy equipment. The bosses all feel very different, the items change the game up a lot, and all combined results in a different-feeling game filled with interesting decisions every time. Despite the long playtime, I’m always up to play through this one.
22 – Everdell
Everdell is my go-to game for introducing folks new to the board gaming hobby to slightly heavier fare, and it always works. The base game is a lot of fun and quite easy to teach, while encompassing a fairly wide range of common mechanisms. Working out and executing the optimal engine is very satisfying. Not to mention the wonderful table presence. However, it really comes to life when you add the expansions. Spirecrest in particular is fantastic, adding different incentives (and disincentives) to moving through the seasons, and more interesting scoring options. We have the (ridiculously huge) Complete Collection and haven’t yet managed to play the two new expansions, but they look great as well.
21 – Mage Knight
This is a massive, intimidating puzzle in a box. It’s a tough one to get to the table, even solo, because of how long it takes to setup, play, and teardown, but it is remarkable and a true masterpiece of adventure game design. It has one of the best implementations of multi-use cards, which is one of my favourite mechanisms (potential spoilers for the rest of my list), combined with a host of other brilliant aspects that all work together to become a gripping, fun experience every time. It does hurt my brain, though, and I can’t help but feel like it might be even higher in my list I didn’t feel like I need to relearn it every time I play.
20 – Keyflower
I love Keyflower, it does so many things so well and is always fun every time I play, and I often find myself daydreaming about it while playing other euros. There’s also a bit of a nostalgic factor, as it’s one of the earlier games in my collection that really stuck with me. One of my formative gaming memories was playing Keyflower 1v1 with my wife on the floor of our old apartment on a stormy winter day. Also, to this day I am convinced that bidding with workers is one of the cleverest combinations of mechanisms in games.
19 – Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar
The way Tzolk’in represents the passage of time by using massive gears that slowly turn is sublime. It is so much more than a physical gimmick. In my view, it is one of the finest examples of a game that, on paper, seems like it should be overly convoluted and contrived, yet feeling perfectly elegant and natural whenever it is played. The base game is excellent, but the Tribes & Prophecies expansion cranks it up yet another notch and makes it one of my favourite games.
18 – Age of Steam
This is not a game I would play with just anyone, it requires a certain mindset to properly enjoy. It is incredibly mean, cutthroat, and an early misplay can destroy your whole game. It almost feels like a push-your-luck game, in that in order to beat tough competition, you often need to over-leverage yourself and dance on the edge of a knife. Quite possibly the tightest game I’ve ever played, with the highest highs in gaming coming from a strategy planned and executed successfully. It is phenomenal.
17 – 1822: The Railways of Great Britain
This glorious monstrosity of a euro cleverly disguised as an 18xx is my favourite “event game” (i.e., take the whole day off and order pizza). There’s a ton going on, and if you play with people new to 18xx, they’ll probably have a bad time, but once everyone knows what they’re doing and the turns go by quickly, there aren’t many experiences like it. I especially love the absolutely bonkers amount of bidding that takes place, leading to lots of interesting decisions and game states. And there are quite a few variants out there to give it legs if the base game ever wears out (hah, as if).
16 – Le Havre
A good storage/setup solution is essential for this one, but once that’s sorted, it’s one of the best tableau builders out there, with an incredible amount of variety in the cards and the order they come out in. Even the different order of the ship track can change the game feeling significantly. Not my favourite Uwe game (spoilers), but it is a delight nonetheless.
15 – 1830: Railways & Robber Barons
My first, and favourite, 18xx. I adore everything about this game. From the opening auction of private companies, to the map layout and position of public companies, to the stock market, to the train count and pacing. The only reason I don’t play it more in person is the long playtime, but I almost always have a game going online.
14 – Gloomhaven
The best dungeon-crawler ever, bar none. I’ve played this dozens of times and almost every game has been down to the wire, filled with some of my most memorable board gaming moments. The card play is pure genius. The sheer amount of content, all of it interesting and unique, is breath-taking. The only downside is the extensive setup/teardown time (even with the app) and the sometimes-unintuitive AI (although this quickly becomes a non-issue with enough plays). I’m very much looking forward to trying Jaws of the Lion some day, as it seems like it solves a lot of those issues.
13 – Barrage
A relative newcomer to the list. The idea of a game based around building dams and “catching” water to generate power didn’t appeal to me at all, but I was hooked from the first time I tried it. The theme seems like it should be dry (something something water pun) but it flows (oops, there I go again) so well. I absolutely love the feeling when someone thinks they’ve thwarted my plans by grabbing a particular droplet, only to realise that they’ve opened up the floodgates (please stop) for a whole new, better option for me. Even the worker placement and the simple rondel for building feel so satisfying.
12 – Agricola
The first “heavier” game I ever played (compared to games like Catan and Dominion), and it has withstood the test of time. Despite the fact that my wife virtually always beats me, I still love this game and will play it with her any time. The potential for runaway combos of cards means that playing with a draft is really essential for people who know what they’re doing, but it is one of those games where a draft adds more fun, rather than just friction, as it gives you more of an opportunity to deliberately try out different strategies. Also, we see Farmers of the Moore as mandatory (and amazing), but that may be just us.
11 – Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile
The first Cole Wehrle game on my list, but certainly not the last (spoilers), this is a glorious experience that is more about the memories you make than the moment-to-moment gameplay (although it is certainly no slouch in that area either). The fact that each game impacts the next is, quite simply, brilliant, and leads to some truly fantastic meta-gaming. King-making becomes a legitimate strategy, because if you know you’re down-and-out in this particular outing, you can at least put yourself in the future Chancellor’s good books and win some favour for the next one. If that sounds awful to you, I can’t in good conscience recommend Oath to you, but if it sounds even remotely intriguing, I promise you: It’s wonderful. An incredible achievement that accomplishes exactly what it sets out to, creating an overarching narrative that outlasts the time at the table.
10 – A Feast for Odin
My love for the worker placement genre goes back many years, starting with Uwe’s classic Agricola, but none come close to matching this in my mind. Yes, it has a ludicrous amount of bits, but they all have their place. Yes, it has more placement locations than ten other games of the genre combined, but they are so brilliantly designed that it’s never overwhelming. Yes, the geospatial puzzle only works with the Viking theme if you put on dark glasses and squint heavily, but any game that makes me say “Oooooooh, beans!” delightedly multiple times is clearly nailing it in the theme department. Add in the Norwegians expansion to trim the loose ends and you have a bona fide masterpiece.
9 – Root
Another Cole Wehrle title! Root was one of my earliest introductions to heavy asymmetry, which is an aspect of games that fascinates me to this day. The idea that everyone at the table could be playing what is effectively a completely different game, with strong interaction between factions, and every permutation thereof resulting in a unique experience? Mind-blowing. And the art really takes it to the next level. Root is a remarkable feat of game design while somehow being enormously fun to play, and it isn’t even Cole’s masterpiece (again, spoilers).
8 – Ark Nova
The rise of Ark Nova to the top of the board gaming charts has been meteoric, to say the least, but deservedly so. It doesn’t do much that is truly unique or innovative, but rather blends existing mechanisms in such a perfect way that it feels like an entirely new thing. I am especially enamoured with just how lovingly the theme is captured; it really feels like you’re grappling with running a zoo, trying to balance the need for ticket sales with the greater good of conservation. The use of the escalating action selection mechanism (borrowed from Through the Ages) is especially inspired, and ties the whole thing together into an incredibly satisfying experience.
7 – Brass: Birmingham
My favourite economic game, there is something so delightfully crunchy about Brass: Birmingham. The interaction is so exquisite and every decision so impactful. I especially love the fact that in the canal era, you’re effectively vying for positioning in the rail era where the REAL points are scored, but how you want that positioning to shake out entirely depends on the market locations which differ from game-to-game, meaning that no two eras, let alone games, ever feel the same. The card play is also absolutely brilliant, and despite the dark aesthetic, it is gorgeous on the table. I still need to get my hands on some iron clays to really pull it all together.
6 – High Frontier 4 All
This is, by far, the most intimidating game I’ve ever played. It’s jaw-dropping how accurately it simulates space exploration, and yet once learned it’s pretty easy to remember how everything works. My preferred way to play, at least so far, is a friendly goal-based approach. Everyone picks goals that seem fun to accomplish (e.g., landing on Mars) and goes for them, not worrying about scoring. Perhaps after a couple dozen games, I’ll want to get more competitive with it, but as it is it’s such an entertaining and engrossing puzzle that I haven’t felt the need. I’ll never forget the first time I successfully landed on Mars.
5 – Spirit Island
By far my favourite one-and-done cooperative game, there is so much to love about Spirit Island (aka “reverse Catan”). The spirits all feel wildly different to play as, the scenarios are rich and impactful, and even the power cards that come into play can change the game significantly. Especially when the numerous expansions are added in, there aren’t many games that come close in terms of sheer replayability. Figuring out the puzzle is always a pleasant headscratcher, and if it ever isn’t, just increase the difficulty! Finally, I love how it solves the alpha gamer issue by quite simply being too difficult to quarterback (or alternatively, by being excellent solo). If you’re trying to manage what everyone else at the table is doing, you’re probably failing miserably yourself.
4 – The 7th Continent
I am convinced that no other game pulls you into its world quite like 7th Continent. It is effectively an optimisation puzzle disguised as a choose-your-own-adventure novel in board (well, card) game form, and it is a masterstroke of genius in how well it pulls it off. My wife and I spent more than 20 hours solving the first curse (effectively a complete campaign) together, then at least another 50 hours across some of the other curses, and we loved every second of it. It can be punishing, so you need to know that going in, but with a few basic survival tips in mind (e.g., hunt often), it is just the right amount of difficult to make the experience that much more rewarding when you figure it out. There is a truly absurd amount of game even in the core box alone, and it gets ludicrous when you add in all the expansions on top. I’m not sure I’ll ever see it all, but I’m sure going to try.
3 – Pax Pamir: Second Edition
Can you guess who my favourite designer is? Yup, it’s Cole Wehrle by a mile. Pax Pamir 2e is an absolutely essential masterpiece that creates experiences at the table like no other. Despite its undeniable weight, everything makes intuitive sense, and the complexity leads to amazing, unforeseen plays. It’s one of the games that I most often hear the words “Oh, WELL done!” said by someone at the table in response to a move (often a last-minute change of allegiances). It is also one of the most beautiful games ever made, with its unconventional components and strikingly thematic artwork, right down to the pattern on the inside of the box.
2 – Gaia Project
I have played Gaia Project dozens of times and every single time I love it more. There are so many things to think about before even picking (or bidding on, if everyone is experienced enough) a faction. The end-game scoring, the round scoring, the position of basic and advanced tech tiles, the position of planets on the board… It’s an incredible puzzle every time, and the process of trying to solve it while jostling for position with the other players is one of the best experiences in board games. This game pushes all the right buttons for me and I am literally always willing to play it.
1 – Guards of Atlantis II
It’s entirely possible you’ve never even heard of it, but Guards of Atlantis II is a masterpiece of game design. Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised that it is, by far, my favourite game of all time. But don’t take my word for it; I’ve played it now more than 20 times with more than 20 different people, and have never had it fall flat, and have had many others proclaim it their favourite as well. It is constantly requested, and we’ve even had multiple public holidays dedicated to playing it. The best way to describe it is a team game that plays from 2p to 10p (with a variant to support odd numbers), based on the MOBA video game genre where every player controls a different hero with completely unique abilities, and the goal is to either kill off the opposing heroes enough times, or help your team’s NPC minions push forward into the opposing team’s home base by killing the opposing team’s minions. The gameplay is deceptively simple, with the decision space being mind-bogglingly deep. It’s also exceptionally well-balanced despite having 22 VERY different heroes. The team aspect really makes it shine, resulting in some of the highest highs (and lowest lows) to be found in gaming. Nothing even comes close to touching this as my favourite game, and I suspect it will stay that way for a very, very long time.
(Games that technically made the list when I ranked but I haven’t played them enough to be sure)
Would’ve been 60: Yellow & Yangtze
I enjoyed the predecessor, Tigris & Euphrates, but never really fell in love with it like so many people do (that said, I still play the mobile implementation now and then). My single play of Yellow & Yangtze was fantastic. It didn’t have as many of the big game-shattering moments of T&E, but seemed much… friendlier, somehow. And the progression/escalation throughout the game was very satisfying. Looking forward to playing it more.
Would’ve been 52: Viscounts of the West Kingdom
This is one of the most Vital Lacerda games I’ve played made by someone not named Vital Lacerda. I was very impressed, and thoroughly enjoyed it. All the mechanisms seem somewhat disparate at first, until you start to see how they all come together, and the card-play is extremely unique and satisfying. Strong potential to become my favourite Shem Phillips game.
Would’ve been 47: Rising Sun
I’m still not completely sure how I feel about this one, although truth be told it hasn’t fully left my head since I played it. I’m convinced that it can’t be well-balanced (even basic things like not everyone getting the same number of turns in a relatively turn-poor game), but the decision-space is extremely interesting and the politicking seems like it has a lot of potential for high-level play. Definitely keen to play it more, but not sure how well it’ll hold up over time.
Would’ve been 42: Glen More II: Chronicles
This was immediately one of my favourite tile placement games, really blew me away. There are a lot of just plain fun things about this, from the rondel mechanism for determining the current player (think Patchwork), to the spatial puzzle when placing tiles and the way it massively escalates as you build up your little clan, to the sideboard and the little treats it provides throughout the game. The lavish production doesn’t hurt either.
Would’ve been 37: Heroscape
I have played WITH Heroscape for many, many hours. The toy factor verges on ridiculous and building maps with the terrain in particular is perfect for kids (as long as you don’t let them apply too much pressure to the water and swamp tiles – whoops). Plus, the pre-painted minis are great fun, and I have multiple duplicated sets (for terrain) so I’m not too worried about the extras getting chewed on. However, I have only properly played the actual game once. I’m hoping to correct this as my kids get older, and I’m sure they’ll be happy to help me do so.
Would’ve been 33: Cosmic Frog
One of the wildest (and prettiest) looking games I’ve ever played, but don’t let looks deceive. This is a relatively simple game, and perhaps the closest thing to Smash Bros that exists in board game form. The idea of combining a brawler with a geospatial puzzle is incredibly unique and feels great, just like the aesthetic. I really want to play this one more.
Would’ve been 30: Pax Renaissance: 2nd Edition
I’ve enjoyed every Pax game I’ve played so far, and this was no exception. Massively brain-burning, with many decisions that cascade dramatically, and interesting end-game conditions, I see this becoming my second-favourite Pax with ease (I doubt anything will ever top Pamir 2e though).
Would’ve been 25: Twilight Imperium: Fourth Edition
To be fair, a single game of TI4 takes longer than numerous plays of most other games, but once is still only once, and I don’t feel comfortable having it on the main list until I’ve experienced it as least one more time. However, that one play was an incredible experience from start to (9 hours later) finish. This is the definition of an “event game”, and it knows it. Truly brilliant.
Would’ve been 23: The Great Zimbabwe
This has been consistently at the top of my “want to play” list since first trying it several months ago. A fascinating spatial puzzle unlike anything else I’ve played, it seems to be the type of game that takes literal years to master (if that is even possible). The way you effectively set your own victory threshold (low threshold if you pick weaker options, high threshold if you pick stronger ones) is absolutely genius and means that many different strategies are viable. Such a cool system that I wish more games would use.
Would’ve been 21: War of the Ring: Second Edition
I adore the Lord of the Rings, so no surprise that I massively enjoyed my play of this, and in fact immediately sought out all the expansions I could find afterwards. The theme shines through remarkably well, and it is filled with those “eyes light up” moments of recognition; however, it never relies on nostalgia and the game itself is fantastic. I could easily see this making my top 10, given enough plays.