Here we are again, at the beginning of a new year, and what better way to start it out than talking about my favorite games. Each year as new games come out and I play more it gets harder and harder to make this list. Fortunately, 2016 saw the introduction of our Board Game Ranking Engine which helped me rank my games easily. I approached this list by answering the question, “which games am I most excited about playing”. There might be some better games out there but these are the ones that I want to see hit the table right now. I’m sure you aren’t here to hear me jabber so let’s just get to the list.

Also, don’t forget to check out our Pub Top 5 video where we combine our lists to share the games the Pub most recommends.

10. LORDS OF VEGAS [Review / Buy]

Lords of Vegas has been slowly and silently creeping up my list for a while and here it is, for the first time, in my top 10. The more I have played this game the more fun it has gotten. It has a very accessible theme and the mechanisms plug into it seamlessly making it easy to teach. You really do feel like a casino developer staking your claim on the Vegas strip and then ruthlessly trying to push everyone else out.

9. MECHS VS MINIONS

Mechs vs Minions caught me by surprise this year. I saw quite a bit of board game media attention leading up to its release. It was coming from a video game studio. I wasn’t that interested. But as I looked into it more I realized that it might just be right up my alley. I don’t own many programming games due to their highly random nature but this one seemed to allow players to mitigate that to a greater degree than most programming games. Add to that the component quality for the price and I decided to go for it. I’m really glad I did.

8. CARCASSONNE [Review / Buy]

The classic tile laying game is still on my list, even if it has fallen some. I realized that I just enjoy the bigger heavier games more even if this one is easier to teach and get to the table. Carcassonne is so versatile – it can be a friendly activity kind of game or it can be a competitive and cutthroat affair. This versatility does not come at a cost – it is wonderful either way you play it.

7. ISTANBUL [Review / Buy]

This game always surprises me when it ends up so high on my list. It is a very unassuming game – nothing flashy about it (except perhaps those shiny rubies) – but when it hits the table it is always a hit. It combines a unique location-based worker placement mechanism that encourages planning, solid components, and quick play time into a very fun experience. Everyone always wants to play again. And again. Which is why it will continue to show up on my list.

6. EL GRANDE [Review / Buy]

El Grande is the oldest game on my list and I don’t expect it to leave anytime soon. It was one of the games that showed me how immersive this hobby could be. But it is not on my list for nostalgic reasons. It is on my list because it is one of the purest forms of area control. The interwoven bidding and action card systems in the game are brilliant and keep the replayability high. This game is a new classic in every sense of the term.

5. ECLIPSE [Review / Buy]

Eclipse represents my gaming tastes well. It is a 4X game set in space with asymmetric player powers and dice chunking combat but it has a euro economic engine at the center of it all. You feel the tension between growing your economy smartly and wanting to expand and destroy as fast as you can. Since Eclipse has a round cap you can see the end coming and plan accordingly which is both a plus and a minus for me. I love being able to know that the end is close but I don’t really like min-maxing. But that is a tiny minus amongst so many plusses.

4. FORBIDDEN STARS [Review / Buy]

Another big game on my list and another that hits lots of high notes for me. You have hidden orders, card-based combat with a bit of dice flair, objective based victory, and beautiful art and components all wrapped up in a space combat game. How could I say no? Forbidden Stars is a tense game from beginning to end with lots of interesting strategic and tactical decisions.

Check out some of our other content:

3. SCYTHE [Review]

I love big games – especially 4X games. I also love a good Euro with workers and resource management. So when Scythe was announced as a worker placement meets 4X game I was immediately on board. Add to that the beautiful art and components and Stonemaier’s record for producing great games and you have a game that could end up very high on my list – and here it is. I really enjoy everything about this game but most especially the popularity system. Very few games like this take into account the people of the land you are fighting over but in Scythe you really have to consider the impact of your attacks or suffer the consequences. And this isn’t just a side system – it factors into the final scoring of the game in a big way.

2. T.I.M.E. STORIES [Review / Buy]

If a Legacy game is a 12-16 episode TV season, each scenario of TIME Stories is a 2-3 episode miniseries. This is something I can get behind since it fits better with my stage of life. TIME Stories does a wonderful job of immersing the players in a story that unfolds as you explore locations, meet characters and solve puzzles. Each scenario feels a bit different than the last but is based on the same basic mechanisms. This makes it easy to plug in a new scenario like you would a new Nintendo game – just put it in, pick up your trusty controller and go.

1. STAR WARS REBELLION [Review / Buy]

I grew up on Star Wars. Some of my first movie memories revolve around watching the Original Trilogy – over and over. I read every book I could get my hands on, played every video and board game I could, watched fan films…you get the picture. Something I had been waiting for was a board game that really brought this big universe to life in an epic way. If you like Star Wars and board games Star Wars Rebellion is the perfect marriage of the two. Despite its length, it has made it to the table quite often this year and I’m looking forward to playing it many more times.

See our individual top 10 lists:

See our individual top 10 lists:

See our individual top 10 lists:

For more, check out the Pub Top 5: