Board game Top 10: Sarah’s favourite games 2021

This is the third year of (my better half) Sarah’s Top 10 list. And while there’s not a lot of movement, I still find it an interesting exercise. If you’re a gamer that’s starting to get your partner interested in the hobby, this will give you an idea of the games that are working best for us.

I ‘make’ (she doesn’t mind really…) Sarah play a lot of new games. But I’m careful to only inflict things on her I think she’ll like. So every year, there’s a good chance some new blood may hit this list. Despite that, the old guard largely holds off the new hotness. There’s definitely an element of “I want to play these because I know/compete at/am good at them”. And that’s natural. But they are clearly very good games.

Three games were knocking on the door this time last year, but didn’t make the step up. Fistful of Meeples got a bit samey and has now been moved on. Both Patchwork and That’s Pretty Clever still get played, but haven’t become top favourites (they’re probably both in the next 10 or so games on her list though).

Sarah’s undisputed Top 6 games (alphabetical)

Targi has come from nowhere to take its place, just replacing Adios Calavera. All of these games get regular table time and were the first on Sarah’s list, without having to think at all. Over to Sarah…

  • Azul (2-4 players, 60 minutes): Looks and feels beautiful. Straightforward rules, which we now follow correctly! But still plenty to think about.
  • Oracle of Delphi (2-4 players, 90 minutes): My longstanding favourite longer (for me) game. Memory becoming an issue! Trying hard to use the gods more.
  • NEW! Targi (2 players, 45 mins): Clever way of choosing the cards, pleasing when a turn co-ordinates well and ends with the purchase of a good card; but then the dilemma of where to place it.
  • Thurn and Taxis (2-4 players, 60 minutes): So many ways to score points, such satisfaction in the route building.
  • Ticket to Ride (2-5 players, 90 minutes): A permanent route building top favourite. Enjoy all the boards and love the little extra variants for variety, but really enjoy the original game. Nothing quite like the satisfaction of picking up some new tickets and finding an already completed route.
  • Uptown (2-4 players, 45 minutes): Love the theme of the artwork and the abstract challenge of the game.

Just behind them…

Kahuna board game box

Both new entries in this year’s Sarah Top 10 are Kosmos two-player games. It’s not that surprising, as I’ve been sent a few to review and we largely play two-player – especially due to lockdown. But Adios Calavera is the only other specifically two-player game here. Again, over to Sarah:

  • NEW! Kahuna (2 players, 45 minutes): Pretty straightforward but really quite taxing. Ownership of the islands can suddenly swing and all change with one crucial bridge.
  • Kingdomino (2-4 players, 30 minutes): Fun laying the tiles and making sure they score well whilst also making a nice looking kingdom.
  • Adios Calavera (2-3 players, 30 minutes): My longstanding favourite short game, especially when I don’t get myself cornered. Still find smelly cheese man strangely scary and kissy lips switchy lady very annoying!
  • Welcome To… (2-4 players, 30 minutes): another one where we’ve learnt the correct rules! Plenty of ways to score and fun creating your own little spaniel neighbourhood.

Special mentions – and the games that fell from the 10

We’ve both been really enjoying Remember Our Trip and it really nearly made the list. Sarah just decided it was too new to be here, so wants a few more plays. But if I were a betting man, I’d back it to make the 2022 list.

She also thought hard about Snowdonia – and again, it may make it in future. And if Delphi stayed, that would see a second euro sneak onto the list. I’d be so proud lol.

Two new entries means two games falling from the list – so it was farewell to Ingenious and Codenames Duet. Again, these two games are probably in her next 10 favourites and were in the conversation.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Adios-Calavera-cheese-guy-150x150.jpg

We’ve hit a bit of a wall with Codenames, struggling to complete harder levels but not really wanting to go back to easier ones. Psychological, but weirdly hard to get past! And no, we haven’t tried the new Codenames Online – Sarah really isn’t interested in playing games on the pooter.

So that’s it for Sarah from this year. And it’s goodbye from smelly cheese man too. what a catch…

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