Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Top Ten: Board Games...

Hey, kids.  I'm gonna slap this up here really quick before bed.  (That's what she said.)  I thought it might be interesting for those of you in the board game world (or those of you who are looking to dive in and wondering what's good) if I shared what my top ten highest rated games are according to my Board Game Geek account.

So, in reverse order and without any further blahblah, here we go.

#10.  Ghost Stories - You want a co-op experience that will beat you down and make you want more?  This is for you.  Defend a town from invading spirits using limited means.  The artwork on this is incredible!  Check it out if you don't mind a challenge.  We've played it 17 times and never won.'s hard.

#9.  Tales of the Arabian Nights - This is more of an experience than a game, but it's still super fun.  You take one of the heroes from the Arabian Nights collection and journey across a board making choices and facing dangers.  It's like a choose your own adventure story book with game elements.  You might end up a sultan with vast treasure.  You might end up a sex-changed beast man who is crippled and lost.  You never know what's coming in this one!  It seats up to 6, but if you play with the full complement of players, cut the points in half.  We played this for 5 hours our first time.

#8.  Flash Point: Fire Rescue - Another co-op experience that's FAR less challenging that Ghost Stories.  This game has you fighting fires and rescuing trapped civilians before the structure you are in collapses around you and dooms you all.  Each character has a special power.  Each turn means more fire.  Work together or die in a fire.  There are some great expansions to this one available, too.  More maps, different mechanics.  It's a great time, and the difficulty scales to fit your ego.

#7.  Carcassonne - What's to be said about this game that hasn't already been said?  This is the game that got me into the modern gaming hobby.  I bought a copy randomly from Barnes & Noble, and after Robb's and my first game, I knew I'd found something special.  Lay tiles and assign workers to score points.  You're building a map of cities and fields and roads, matching tile edges and claiming features to score.  This is a fantastic entry level game that I would play any day of the week.  It's got a pretty satisfying app version, too, with a fun single player solitaire version that you don't get in the box.

#6.  Splendor - Splendor sold me originally because the coins in the box are MAGNIFICENT.  They have a satisfying weight and sound, and that's why I bought this game.  But!  I'm so glad I did.  Splendor has won awards ever since its release, and I would put it up there with the likes of Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan (now just called Catan) for games to introduce someone to if they're curious about the hobby.  Take currency, buy assets, and let those assets work for you to buy even bigger assets.  It's a slow build that really satisfies.  Check out the app version.  It's super well produced and quite fun.

#5.  Catan - You knew it had to be on here.  This game is the reason there IS a gaming boom.  Without Catan, I just can't imagine modern board games being as good as they are.  Roll dice to collect resources and build cities for points.  First to 10 wins.  Choose your starting points wisely or risk being forced to trade away hard earned resources for things you desperately need.  The economy is tight, and the robber makes things tense when you feel like you might be pulling ahead.  Give this a try.  This is another game I own in several forms--including an app version that is pretty good and way cheaper than the actual physical game.

#4.  Scrabble - I know.  I know.  This is not a hobby game, really.  But I can't just leave it off a list like this.  I've lost two games of Scrabble in my life, and they were both to the same person.  You know who you are.  To say I like this game would be doing it a disservice.  It's simple.  It's addicting. And if you have a huge vocabulary, it's almost a guarantee that you'll win.  Wooden squares and a board.  Simple and fun.

#3.  Machi Koro:  Harbor Expansion - The original Machi Koro is a good game.  It's sort of like Catan without a board.  You build a tableau of cards and roll dice to generate income to buy more cards.  First person to build all four landmarks wins.  The Harbor Expansion makes this game into a whole different animal.  Instead of having every building available all the time, this version includes the marketplace, where only ten different building cards are up for grabs.  The market rotates as people buy cards, forcing you to change your strategy based on what is available instead of what has been proven to work time and again (I'm looking at you Ranches and Cheese Factories).  Cute artwork makes this game shine.  Check it out.  It's simple and fun and one of my favorite games.

#2.  Five Tribes - The Mancala mechanic makes this game for me.  Pick up and lay down assassins, merchants, builders, viziers, and elders to score points in several different ways.  Control tiles for points.  Collect cards for points.  Kill people for points.  Invoke powerful Djinni for points!  POINT SALAD!  ALL THE POINTS!  I would play this game right now in the middle of the night with complete strangers if they asked me to.  That's how much I love this game.  Our version was lucky enough to come with a headless camel meeple.  That's right.  Headless.  Robb claims him every game.  But really, pick a strategy and run with it.  That's the path to victory in this Mancala-inspired game that's anything but tame.

And finally, #1.

#1.  Pandemic Legacy:  Season 1 - Don't be turned off by the fact that this game is a one-time-through affair.  There are very few games I've played 17 times.  You have the chance to play anywhere from 12 to 24 games, depending on whether you win or lose each of this game's in-game months.  Twists and turns galore in this one.  Create characters and take them through a year of catastrophic unrest!  Later game mechanics are extremely satisfying and challenging.  If you like Pandemic, play this.  If you've never played Pandemic, play this.  Seriously.  It's that good.  The price tag is sort of high, but after having played through it, I can say that it's worth every penny.  This is, without hyperbole, the single best gaming experience I have ever had for any platform.  And that's saying a ton.

So there you have it, folks.  My top 10, as rated on Board Game Geek.

Honorable mention goes to Traders of Osaka, a compact little economic title that I really suck at but I love.  Another game on my short list is Betrayal at House on the Hill.  The rules are a complete mess, but this game is super fun.  50 scenarios determined randomly in a randomly build mansion mean you never play the same game twice.  And lastly, Rhino Hero made my short list because it's hella fun with kids or adults.  Alcohol increases the difficulty and fun.  Stacking cards like Jenga doesn't seem like much until you realize you've played six games of it and you're sweating like a hog.  Check it out.  It's super cheap right now.

Alright.  I hope you enjoyed this look into my board gaming habit.  Stay tuned for more blahblah later.


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