My top 50 board and card games (2015 update)

Here we go again – nine new entries since last year’s début top 50 alongside plenty of ups and downs between top and bottom. I’ve kept the same format, except I’ve wittered on even more, so without further gibber jabber…

My Top 20 board and card games 2015 (last year’s position in brackets)

  1. Race for the Galaxy(1) Race for the Galaxy (2007) While my plays of this have dropped dramatically after I stopped attending my old regular midweek group, it still sits comfortably at the top of the tree. You may need to be tied to a chair and forced to play 10 games before you really ‘get’ it, but it is absolutely worth it.
  2. (3) Terra Mystica (2012) I have played some good medium/heavy euros over the past year, but none of them have come close to Terra Mystica. Pasted-on theme aside, this is a masterful mix of strategy and tactics that’s chock full of meaningful decisions from start to finish.
  3. (4) Ticket to Ride (2004) Thanks to its many maps adding just enough variety and rules tweaks to keep things interesting, Ticket to Ride remains my gateway game of choice. Few games can be so easily taught, then played while chatting, but still give you the feeling you’ve been doing something competitive.
  4. (2) Ra (1999) Like Race, my plays of Ra have dropped off since leaving my midweek group and, thanks to not feeling quite so satisfying in plays since, it has dropped a couple of positions. Three-player is its sweet spot for me and I just don’t enjoy it as much with four or five – which is how I’ve played most recently.
  5. (-) NEW Deus (2014) The stand-out game of 2014 for me, by miles. This is in a similar place for me as Race for the Galaxy, being tactical and card driven and playing out in under an hour and having several routes to victory. But it has a much lower barrier to entry, meaning it is easier to get to the table.
  6. (20+) Endeavor (2009) A big jump for Endeavor, which had been a little forgotten in 2013. I’ve had three hugely enjoyable games since and it is firmly back in the rotation, being enjoyed by everyone in my weekend group. It always feels too short, but that in itself adds to the excitement. And it can be really cut-throat.
  7. (6) The Downfall of Pompeii (2004) Gateway game number two – and the only thing holding it back from more plays is the fact it’s limited to four players. The switch in game style half way is genius and works brilliantly, moving from placement to mayhem and murder on one fun little step.
  8. (20+) The Castles of Burgundy (2011) Castles has risen to the position of number one Feld design on the list by dint of being one of Zoe’s favourites. It plays pretty fast for its weight, while two-player it feels very tactical as well as strategic. While a bit of a point salad, importantly it always feels like the best player on the day won.
  9. (8) Copycat (2012) While not the most popular game on this list, I enjoy the way Copycat uses mechanisms I love from other great games and really makes them compliment each other. It plays fast but also thinky, having a great mix of luck, strategy and tactics that I keep wanting to come back to.
  10. (5) Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar (2012) While Castles and Endeavor have jumped up the table due to working in my regular groups, Tzolk’in has fallen a little for the opposite reason: some simply find it frustrating and it can be very punishing score-wise if you play poorly. But I’m still a big fan, so it’s staying in the top 10.
  11. Deus box(9) Through the Ages (2006) While I still really enjoy my plays of Through the Ages, I find the power of military in the game a little frustrating at times – but not as much as my inability to be any good at it! Still my favourite three-plus hour game, but there is definitely room in my life now for its successor.
  12. (14) Snowdonia (2012) While a few euros tumbled a few places due to tough competition (see below), Snowdonia has held its own thanks to the variety of tracks and its simply ingenious ‘game plays you’ mechanisms. The weather constantly ruins my life, players steal MY actions and I love it every stinking time.
  13. (20) Pizza Box Football (2005) I’ve had two more plays since last year’s top 50 – one an epic, crushing defeat and the other a close defeat after an oh-so-close onside kick failure. Both games were epic in their own way and no matter how stupid this game may be, it never fails to deliver.
  14. (16) Twilight Struggle (2005) I now own my own copy of this classic, but sadly it has only been played once – must try harder. I’m hoping I’ve found a regular playing partner, but h wasn’t 100 per cent convinced after our first play. But as this is a proper cold war card play classic, I’m sure someone else will step in if need be.
  15. (-) NEW Bora Bora (2013) I skipped this on its release as it looked like a day-glo dog’s breakfast, but one play and I was hooked. The dice mechanism is worth the entrance fee alone, but the agonising decisions of which bonuses to give up on as you move forward really makes it shine.
  16. (11) Notre Dame (2007) Despite being relegated from first to third Feld, I still love me some Notre Dame. Card drafting is a mechanism I love in theory but in truth this is the only game I own that really uses it well. And it plays fast, every decision counts, and you’ve never got quite enough to do exactly what you want.
  17. (-) NEW Navegador (2010) I’m not sure quite where Navegador will end up in the long run, but right now it is my favourite Mac Gerdts game. It’s super crunchy and right now I’m enjoying that – but the jury is out on whether it will become too dry or just right. I love that rondel, but it clearly hates me!
  18. (17) Can’t Stop (1980) The 80s are still being represented in the top 20 by this evergreen push-your-luck classic. Zoe thrashed me in our last two games but I still thoroughly enjoyed myself. I’m not sure hat says more about me or the game, but either way I’m still smitten by this daft family game.
  19. (7) Concordia (2013) Gerdts’ momentary meander away from his beloved rondel is still a game I love, but it isn’t drawing me to the table quite as much as it was a year ago. I still enjoy the tricky decisions you are forced into each round, but it may be a little too dry and a little too solitary to keep a place in my top 20.
  20. (13) The Manhattan Project (2012) The great integration of theme  and the clever, edgy worker placement have kept this in the top 20 despite me only getting it to the table once since last year’s top 50. And people like it too – what have I been playing at? A game that may well bounce back up in next year’s list.

21-30 (alphabetical)

  • Archaeology The Card Game boxAcquire (1963) A steady hold for Acquire, which I still can’t believe is as old as it is and remains the granddaddy of the list. Luck, clever play and speculation all play their part in this light economic gateway game.
  • Archaeology: TCG (2007) A big two-division jump for this, which didn’t look likely a week or two ago as it hadn’t been played for ages. But a few funny, swingy games have reminded me just how good, light and fun it is.
  • Ingenious (2004) A drop from 12 for Ingenious, largely due to a lack of plays over the year. Still a favourite for sure and one that may head back up the chart if I find others who like to play more regularly.
  • Maori (2009) A one division jump for Maori, whose tile-laying charms continue to entice me despite my regular ineptitude at the game. Simple to teach, tough to master – well, it is for me anyway! The fourth and final Feld on the list.
  • Merchant of Venus (1988) A big drop from 10 for Merchant of Venus, again due to lack of plays. I love it, but not enough to set it up! I can’t help thinking a shiny new version may break that but I can’t justify pulling the trigger…
  • Port Royal (2013) A hold for Port Royal, although it is teetering on a division drop. I still enjoy it but almost feel as if I’m waiting for a slightly better push-your-luck card game to come along. Right now, Archaeology (above) has edged ahead of it.
  • Reiner Knizia’s Decathlon (2003) A small jump for this free Knizia game as I now tend to enjoy it a little more than Pickomino (below) if Zoe and me decide to go head to over the dice tower. I still mostly lose, but hey – that’s dice.
  • Rosenkönig (1997) A small drop from 15 for this fascinating two-player abstract, but nothing really to worry about. The thrill has gone a little now that I’ve finally found my own copy, but I still get a kick out of it when I get to play.
  • The Boss (2010) The Boss is hanging in there, no problem. I’ve played with several groups over recent months and everyone has been that great blend of initially baffled, then delighted, then crushed once more as they get their head around it.
  • NEW Yspahan (2006) Nine years old, outside the top 250 and I’ve never seen it on the table anywhere else – but it has captured the imagination with everyone I’ve played with so far. A very clever design and I look forward to exploring it more.

31-40 (alphabetical)

  • Alhambra 004Alhambra (2003) The expansions are definitely keeping Alhambra fresh for me, pushing it up a division by giving a new lease of life to this classic tile buying/laying game. I’m not sure the original on its own would still be in the top 50.
  • Brass (2007) A drop in division for Brass, simply due to lack of plays. My opinion of the game hasn’t changed: its one of the best heavy euro games out there. But the fact I haven’t played it for months has to say something. It may well rebound up.
  • CV (2013) This is another title that’s expansion has helped it up a division, but its charm is still very much in tact either way. The Yahtzee style dice mechanism fits the theme really well, while the cards just pile on the charm.
  • Kingdom Builder (2011) The Android app of Kingdom Builder has helped it hold its own, as I haven’t played the ‘real’ version much. I’m still terrible at this clever and quick area scoring game, but love it all the same – even without expansions.
  • Macao (2009) I think Macao has largely dropped a division under the pure weight of Felds and other good euros. My opinion of it hasn’t dropped – its more that games are just slotting in above it in the medium weight category.
  • NEW Manhattan (1994) With three games under my belt now, this is now in my ‘must buy’ category. Fast, nasty, light on rules and deeply table talk inducing, it succeeds despite looking bloody awful and having no theme. A true classic.
  • Manila (2005) Manilla holds its own thanks to no other game I’ve played so perfectly blending the betting and racing genres. Lots of luck, sure, but also lots of interesting decisions to make each round.
  • NEW Oltre Mare (2004) This turned out to be a great acquisition, taking the ideas of Bohnanza and adding more strategy, some nastiness and more real thinking to the mix. Must… stop… thinking… about upgrading my perfectly adequate copy.
  • Pickomino (2005) Another hold, this time for one of Zoe’s favourites. We don’t play as often as we used to, and the chicken gods still hate me, but you can’t beat the look on Zoe’s face as she crushes me again and again. And again.
  • Power Grid (2004) Oddly this has gone up a division despite very few plays over the last year – where Brass has fallen for the same reason. I think they’ve found their level – I was just newer to Brass this time last year and a little jaded on Power Grid.

41-50 (alphabetical)

  • Ancient Terrible ThingsNEW Ancient Terrible Things (2014) Despite being a year older I’d still reach for CV before ATT, hence its lowly position here. But I do very much enjoy it and look forward to exploring its dice-rolling Cthulhu goodness more throughout the year.
  • Basari (1998) Basari has dropped two divisions largely due to a few lack lustre games, which have seen some of my friends fail to get into it at all. I’m still keen, but everyone needs to be on board to make this negotiation card game truly shine.
  • NEW El Gaucho (2014) Six months ago this clever dice/set collection game may have made the top 20, but multiple plays have become a trickle. Played out? Maybe, but its still in the 50 because I think a break will be enough to reinvigorate it for me.
  • NEW Johari (2014) While I love Johari’s mix of gem collection, action cards and turn order manipulation others have been less enthusiastic. I would rate this game higher if I could find some enthusiasm for it in others when we play!
  • Nefertiti (2008) This unique and clever bidding game has dropped down a division purely due to a lack of really fun plays. The game isn’t at its best with two and, like Basari, I’ve struggled to get it played with the right group of people.
  • Puerto Rico (2002) The game that just beat the drop. While I still very much enjoy a play it rarely rises to the top of the pile now and sometimes plays out very poorly, even with people who enjoy the game. A classic, but for me a slowly fading one.
  • Stone Age (2008) Anther ‘I love it but others fail to share my enthusiasm’ game. I like the random element and big points of this classic worker placement game, but it either baffles or bores most of my gaming pals. A big drop from number 19.
  • Thebes (2007) Another big drop, this time from 18, but for more gamerly reasons. I still enjoy a game of Thebes, but you can’t escape the fact that despite it being thematic there is far too much randomness for it to be a ‘good’ game. But I like it…
  • Tikal (1999) A two division drop for this great area control game, largely because it feels too long – while the ‘mini’ version we tried was too short. I’ll always enjoy it in the right mood, but not often enough for it to stay in my own top 30.
  • Uruk (2008) Another falling from the top 30, Uruk will always be in my collection but is fading a little because of its lack of variety; something that will never be fixed now that the inferior reprint has come along. Still great, but now just occasionally played.

The new entries

As you can probably tell, I didn’t think too much of 2014’s new releases. There was some real nonsense (Imperial Settlers and Madame Ching in particular), a massive pile of ‘OK’ games (Mad King Ludwig, Imperial Assault, Splendor, Star Realms, Istanbul, Mangrovia etc etc), one that flattered to deceive (Dead of Winter) and some that may yet make the grade (Roll for the Galaxy in particular) – but overall, I think it was a ‘meh’ year.

There were still nine new entries into the top 50 this year – but five of them were older games. Bora Bora was 2013, so is hardly old, but the likes of Manhattan, Yspahan, Oltre Mare and Navegador continue to show me there are decades worth of gems out there still waiting to be discovered and that I should never judge an old game by its cover (or nasty pink and pale blue pieces!).

Out of the 50

  • Blueprints box contentsArkham Horror (2005) This was replaced by Dead of Winter earlier in the year – but after a few plays of that I came to the conclusion that Ameritrash games like this simply aren’t for me: too fiddly, too luck dependent, too ripe for a poor experience.
  • Blueprints (2013) A good game for sure, but it very rarely hits the table – making it hard to justify leaving in my top 50. I have no intention of getting rid of it though.
  • Bruges (2013) This burned brightly for a short time, but in the end the level of luck/frustration just outweighed the fun factor for me and it disappeared from my wishlist. I’d play it more, but don’t want to get my own copy.
  • Cards Against Humanity (2009) Another game I’m glad I own, and will play when the time is right, but that isn’t very often and in truth its just  bunch of rude words on some cards with a borrowed game mechanic. Top fun, but not top 50 material.
  • Escape From Atlantis (1986) This is another game I’ll play any time, and am happy with my £1 charity shop copy, but I need to play with some variants to really find its sweet spot. I like it, but it isn’t in the same league as Pompeii, for example.
  • Hamburgum (2007) Again, still a great game – but Navegador simply replaced it in this top 50 as the Gerdts rondel game of choice. Having more than one on the list felt like overkill, especially with Concordia on here too.
  • Le Havre (2008) I played this at the weekend, enjoyed it again, and even won – but it has fallen from my wishlist. For me the games goes just a little too long to fall in love with – the decision space gets a little too big, it becomes work, and I struggle.
  • Rialto (2013) Having had an enjoyable game of this over the weekend it almost snuck back onto the list, but like Blueprints I just find it a little hard to love. Fun on occasion, and very clever, but not quite a classic.
  • Revolution! (2009) Like Blueprints, a lack of plays has seen this fall below the 50. It’s a very silly, luck riddled game that I enjoy immensely despite its flaws but it needs three to play and just never seems to be the best choice available.

Top 50 potential

Red7Entdecker, Caverna, Age of Empires III, Africana and Lords of Vegas (both now owned), Sentinels of the Multiverse and Amun Re all impressed me after a single play.

They are all games I look forward to exploring more – hopefully sooner rather than later.

Roll for the Galaxy has been fun so far but the jury is definitely out. Maybe its too close to Race to make a big enough impression yet, but it has potential. Red7 I have enjoyed too, and own, but need to play more before deciding just how much I like it. But until next year… I’m out.

My top 50 board and card games

Race for the GalaxyWhen I started this back in October 2011, I wanted to write about travel, games and music; but over time one of these three has risen to the top.

In terms of both how much I want to write, and how popular the posts are, board games is the clear winner. So as I’ve now reached 100 blog posts, it seems well past the time to list my current favourite board and card games.

I’ve done the first 20 in order, then grouped the rest in chunks of 10. I could easily make this a top 100, or more; the games in the bottom bracket here are still some of the best I’ve played (out of hundreds). Down beyond the top 20 things change almost daily – so I’ll certainly be revisiting this list, you lucky people…

My Top 20 board and card games

  1. Race for the Galaxy (2007) An easy choice, and almost 250 plays proves it. Its a quick (30-minute) tableau building card game which really is a race for points. Every game plays differently, while a rash of expansions let you mix things up even more. The iconography is hard to get to grips with, but once you do there’s an endlessly rewarding game underneath. An absolute tactical masterpiece.
  2. Ra (1999) In almost every round you have an agonising decision to make; do you start the auction or continue to sweeten the pot? Then once the auction begins, what to bid? It’s so simple, but I haven’t played a better game that so perfectly forces players to bluff and psyche out their opponents. Ra is a simple game mechanically, but so much more is played in the mind – and the one-hour playtime is perfect.
  3. Terra Mystica (2012) Finally, a deep civ-building brain burner for non-combat oriented board gamers. The board and bits are as elegant as the game’s mechanisms, while variable set up and a raft of player powers guarantees oodles of replayability. This is a game I totally lose myself in and I can never believe a few hours have past when we get to the end. A euro gaming classic already.
  4. ticket_to_ride_boxTicket to Ride (2004) My go-to gateway game of choice; not only because it has a great new gamer conversion rate but also because I still find it fun after 100+ plays. It’s not big or clever, but nor does every game need to be. You can play with a few beers, while the inoffensive theme and familiar mechanisms (set collection, route building) make it highly accessible. The best gaming evangelism tool around.
  5. Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar (2012) Some say gimmick, I say nonsense: the clever cog mechanism makes what would be a tedious, fiddly affair into a perfectly streamlined worker placement game. It’s tricky as hell, and always seems to end before you’ve quite got things going, but therein lies the challenge. And it’s gorgeous too, with a great theme and fantastic production values.
  6. The Downfall of Pompeii (2004) This was a close contender for best gateway game, especially as it has a fantastically fun ‘take-that’ mechanism built in and a great theme. Crazily chaotic with four, fun with three and surprisingly tactical with two, I’m always happy to get this to the table; what’s not to like about sacrificing your friend’s citizens to the volcano with dramatic howls and shrieks?
  7. Concordia (2013) This was my favourite game of last year by a distance; short snappy turns, lots of decisions to make and you’re involved throughout; in each other’s faces constantly, while keeping it non-confrontational. Exploration and hand management blend beautifully with resource management and deck building to show that there’s more to Mac Gerdts than the rondel.
  8. Copycat (2012) Easily the least likely title on the list, Copycat is one of only two games in my top 20 outside the BGG top 500. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but most people I’ve played with have been charmed by its combination of deck-building and worker placement. It takes some of the tight board tension of Agricola and the card track of Through the Ages, while distilling Dominion to its core.
  9. Through the Ages (2006) Easily the longest playing game in my top 10, a full game of Through the Ages is totally draining; and completely brilliant. It’s remarkable how designer Vlaada Chvatil has managed to make a totally convincing civ building game without a map – or even a board to speak of. But it works beautifully, as the ebb and flow takes you on an amazing journey every time.
  10. Merchant of Venus (1988) This may be the elder statesman of the top 20, but for me no game has come close to taking its sci-fi exploration and pick-up-and-deliver crown in 25 years of trying. Every game is different, with new route plotting puzzles to solve as the various races are revealed; while the luck of the dice throws in the perfect level of chaos if you’re willing to leave your trip in the lap of the gods.
  11. downfall_of_pompeii_boxNotre Dame (2007) While no designer has more games on my shelves, or on this list, Stefan Feld just failed to crack the top 10 (I’m sure he’ll be distraught). This was my first and is still my favourite, cleverly mixing action card drafting with worker placement and making almost every decision an agonising one. Simple to learn, quick to play, but packed with both tactical and strategic dilemmas.
  12. Ingenious (2004) This was one of the gems that got me back into the hobby and is still my favourite abstract game. A simple tile-laying game is taken to the next level with a simple yet clever scoring mechanism; your lowest score across six colours counts. This makes for a fascinating game of ‘where’s the tipping point?’ every time, as you try and pick the perfect time to flip from scoring to blocking.
  13. The Manhattan Project (2012) What could’ve been ‘just another euro’ initially shines thanks to a brilliant theme and art direction (both rules and components); but there’s a unique blend of mechanisms too. Not only can you really screw with people, but the unusual end game condition of first past the post really ratchets up the tension towards the end – which is perfect for a game about building ‘the bomb’.
  14. Snowdonia (2012) Another beauty from 2012, the ‘year of the euro’ for me. An original take on the train game theme sees you battling the game itself for points, let alone your opponents. Then there’s the damned weather, and that lazy worker in the pub – and should I bother buying a train? A great worker placement game that, despite playing differently every time, still never seems to go the way you want it to!
  15. Rosenkönig (1997) It’s old, it’s abstract and it’s ranked worse than 700th on BGG – but I love it. A tight two-player game that gives a clever spin to area majority, introducing card driven placement to a classic format. This means you can’t learn strategies, you can only react with tactics – a pleasant change for this style of game. The best thing to come out of the hours I’ve spent playing games at
  16. Twilight Struggle (2005) This is the only game in my top 20 that I don’t own; something that will hopefully be rectified on my birthday (hint hint). I’ve only played twice, but have been blown away while feeling totally out of my depth. Simple card play and area majority influence are easy concepts; but the depth and theme on every card makes it fascinating. This will only go up on this list with more plays.
  17. Merchant of VenusCan’t Stop (1980) This is the first of several push-your-luck dice games on the list, with the old Sid Sackson classic still being my favourite of its kind. It really strikes at the essence of the genre; it’s a race against time, with all the odds out there in front of you to try and defy – and your friends there to screw over as you overtake them and claim each number as your own.
  18. Thebes (2007) There’s a mass of contradictions here: the theme is perfectly met, as in it’s a total luck fest whether you’ll find anything. And it seems no matter how much you may perfectly plan your moves, you can be scuppered by luck – so why is it still so much fun? Simple – because shouting “dirt dirt dirt!” as your opponents try and pull treasures from a bag is fun; and it has a very satisfying turn track mechanic.
  19. Stone Age (2008) While many now deride this worker placement euro game, I still love it. Sure, the luck of the dice seems a little out of place and the huge swingy scores aren’t in keeping with the genre. But I love the theme, love the stinky dice cup, love the tactical blocking – and yes, I love the dice. I much prefer it two-player, where the tactics really shine, but I’m always happy to play with any number.
  20. Pizza Box Football (2005) Some of my fondest childhood memories are of making up pen-and-paper football leagues and rolling dice to get results; primitive, but brilliant. This is a step up from that, but deep down it’s just a bunch of dice and guesswork and over excitement. Say what you want, but it just feels right; few games can absorb me like this one, and tell as many stories. There was this time…

21-30 (alphabetical)

  • Ingenious board game 03Acquire (1963) The oldest game on the list and the second from the late great Sid Sackson. The definitive accessible economic/stocks game.
  • Basari (1998) An odd mix of simultaneous action selection, set collection, racing and negotiating; but somehow it works in this quick, fun little game.
  • Brass (2007) One of the heaviest brain burners on my list, this economic hand management/route-builder fascinates me. A heady mix of strategy and tactics.
  • The Castles of Burgundy (2011) A great tableau building game with a clever use of dice. Lots of decisions to make, but way less complex than it at first appears.
  • Endeavor (2009) I love how this clever area control/tableau building game gives you the feeling you’re exploring, despite being very abstracted.
  • Händler der Karibik (AKA Port Royal) (2013) A fabulous little 30-minute push-your-luck card game that sets up and packs down in two minutes.
  • Macao (2009) There’s so much going on in Macao I really don’t know where to start. Roll dice, draft cards, deliver goods, control areas, manage resources etc etc…
  • The Boss (2010) A small, cheap and quick card game which beautifully blends bluff and deduction. Agonising, but wholly satisfying too.
  • Tikal (1999) Area control and action point allocation as you explore the jungle. A game that’s clever, fun and beautifully illustrated.
  • Uruk (2008) The game that proves you can distil the essence of civ building into a small box card game that only lasts an hour.

31-40 (alphabetical)

  • pickomino_boxBruges (2013) The classic Feld point salad meets chaotic tactical tableau building; and somehow he makes it work. A fun, quirky and random experience every time.
  • Hamburgum (2007) While this is the simplest of Mac Gerdts’ rondel games, there are still plenty of agonising decisions to be made in each quick round.
  • Kingdom Builder (2011) A very divisive game, but I’m firmly in the ‘yes’ camp. It turns area majority on its head in a fascinating way.
  • Le Havre (2008) A fascinating ‘turn X into Y’ manufacturing game which nicely ramps up the decision space turn-by-turn.
  • Manila (2005) This is a very light bidding/racing game with some really clever ideas and a bunch of randomness; but not too much for its length.
  • Maori (2009) A seemingly simple tile-laying game that has something to offer for all ages and abilities; play simple, nasty, tactical, or strategic – or a mix of them all.
  • Nefertiti (2008) A bidding game, yes, but it feels like worker placement. And set collection. A unique and clever mix of common mechanisms.
  • Pickomino (2005) Pure push your luck ‘take that’ dice-based silliness. One of Zoe’s favourites, so automatically one of mine too.
  • Reiner Knizia’s Decathlon (2003) More push your luck, more dice, and another Zoe favourite; this time with a little more going on tactically.
  • Rialto (2013) The fifth and final Feld game on the list. Really interesting drafting/auction mechanisms blend beautifully with area control.

41-50 (alphabetical)

  • Alhambra 004Alhambra (2003) An endlessly expandable tile-laying city builder with clever use of different currencies and area majority scoring.
  • Archaeology: TCG (2007) For a long time this was my go-to quick push-your-luck card game; but deposed by Händler der Karibik (above).
  • Arkham Horror (2005) A crazy, bloated, over-long co-op game where you spend your time going mad. But really great fun once a year or so.
  • Blueprints (2013) A clever puzzley deduction/dice game that everybody likes but nobody loves. A great filler for all-comers.
  • Cards Against Humanity (2009) If you’re enjoying adult beverages and want a very adult-themed and politically incorrect party game, look no further.
  • CV (2013) Takes the Yahtzee dice mechanism and makes a properly fun push-your-luck game that tells a great story every time. Light and accessible.
  • Escape From Atlantis (1986) This classic ‘take-that’ board game is still a lot of fun today, although if I could only have one I’d choose Pompeii (above).
  • Power Grid (2004) This bidding/route building classic has a unique theme which initially seems dry, but inside the box lies a lovely, if tricksy, game.
  • Puerto Rico (2002) I love the combination of empire building and action selection here, which Race for the Galaxy (above) ‘borrowed’ and, for me, improved on.
  • Revolution! (2009) It’s stupid, chaotic, random and a little long, but I always enjoy this blind bidding/area majority game.