Today you are going to learn about great board games that you probably don’t have. You will also find out why you need them to round out your collection.

But I don’t need any more board games. And who are you to tell me what I need?

Well, I can tell you aren’t a true board gamer, I bet you don’t even have an unplayed game section in your board game room.

This definitive top 10 list (in two parts – go read part two) will go through some of my favorite lesser known games, and let you know what holes it might fill in your collection.

10. KORYO

1100 BGG Votes

Why should I get Koryo?
Well, thanks for asking! Do you have a family? Do they know how to play card games like hearts or spades but don’t want to take the time to learn a board game, or are intimidated by the thought of going through a rule book?

Welcome to the club. Koryo can help you scratch the itch of playing a board game with the components of a card game. It won’t be too daunting to plop a deck of cards in front of Uncle Bob, and the game has as much depth as you can handle in 30 minutes, without having to feel like you need to really over analyze every decision.

How does it play? What makes this game fun?
Such great questions. But one at a time, please.

Koryo plays over a series of rounds, 8 rounds to be exact, and every round you get to play cards in front of you. You also progressively draw 1 less card, and get to have one more card in front of you.

Why is that fun? Why do I care about playing cards in front of me?
That’s two questions again, but I’ll let it slide. Well, the cards each have special powers that let you bend the rules of the game, and if at the end of your turn you have the most of a card you get to take its special action.

Also, whoever has the most of a card at the end of the game scores points for that card. The cards are numbered 1-9 and they are worth the point value on the card. There are also that number of cards in the deck. I.e. there are three 3’s, one 1, and Eight 8’s.

The special abilities of the lower cards are more powerful but you’ll miss out on having the higher point cards. That’s where the tension comes in, as well as the fun. Every round you draw fewer and fewer cards, so you are getting farther and farther away from being able to do whatever you want, and every small decision seems that much more precious. There is never an overwhelming amount of decisions to make, but they seem more meaningful as the game goes on. The ability to have more powerful actions when you have fewer points also ensures that the game will almost always come down to the wire.

Who will play it with me?
I will, and you can probably get that person that’s always loved card games but isn’t yet comfortable with you pulling out that scary board game with the huge rule book. The small box and short play time mean that you can keep it with you at all times. Just make sure and sleeve the cards when you are at the waterpark.

9. EXPEDITION: NORTHWEST PASSAGE

1126 BGG Votes

Why should I get Expedition?
Have you played Carcassone? Are you ready for something in the tile laying genre that finally adds more dimension to the game besides expansion #37: The Circus?

Welcome to the club. Expedition fits in a weird space for me. It has an element of the mathy-thinkiness of a Euro like Castles of Burgundy, and a really streamlined player interaction that doesn’t feel like you are screwing the other person over, even if that is precisely what you just did.

In Expedition, you are racing from to The Northwest Passage and are gaining prestige by what you discover along the way. You can be the first to The Northwest passage, or discover new territory, or Inuits and a host of other things. Whoever explores the best wins.

It might not always be worth your time to go make friends with the Inuits or find the survivors from The Franklin Expedition, or maybe that’s precisely what you want to do since your competitors already made their own way without you. Or did they? They just spent too much time in the North and the sun has gone down and their boats are trapped in the frozen tundra. If only they could have avoided this remembering the rules. Serves Joe right, he should have known that the sun goes down and the top of the map freezes. Oh, he did remember and that was his strategy. He has pulled out his sled and exploring all sorts of things that we are too far from now.

This game shines (just like the sun on the frozen white landscape,…. too poetic and cheesy?) in its ability to have a Carcassonne mechanic with a whole lot of theme hidden inside a lightweight Euro. I usually shy away from Euro style games, but the way that you interact and the decisions you get to make are almost always fun and feel meaningful.

One of the more interesting things about the game is your ability to use other players actions as your own. For example, to get to the Northwest Passage you have to place tiles, but if someone else is placing them then you don’t have to waste your actions placing them. If someone else places a tile with a resource you want then just go grab it. It’s not that simple, though. Everyone starts each of the 10 rounds with 7 crew members on a ship. If you want to take a second action you can, you just have to use an extra crew member and hope you don’t get left behind by wasting your crew too early. At the end of the day, most of what you are doing is either grabbing from a row of tiles, placing a tile, moving to a new tile, or taking a resource. It’s a simple game with a surprising amount of meaningful decisions.

Who will play with me?
Anyone that ever loved Carcassonne, or anyone that thought it needed a little more to be fully fleshed out.

8. HEARTS OF ATTRACTION

139 BGG Votes

Why should I get hearts of attraction?
Because you love magnets and you have 15 minutes before Joe gets here. We need to start telling Joe that game night starts 30 minutes before it does.

Hearts of attraction is the dexterity game that’s fun for the people winning and losing. It’s simple, quick, fun, and magnets!

How is it played?
Ok, I’m going to explain everything in one single breath.  —————whhhhhp

Throw all the magnets on the table, ok spread apart the ones that are stuck on the other magnets, get that magnet off the floor by your right foot. Your other right.

Ok, take one of the magnets into your hand and with your hand an inch or two away from the table throw it at the other magnets. Every magnet that is attached to another magnet now becomes yours and you take them. Keep going until all the magnets are gone. If you throw any magnets off the table and someone else catches it they get to keep it. Most magnets wins——–puuuh.

This is a game you have to play and experience to know how fun it is. It isn’t fun just to win, though, it’s fun to watch someone get lucky and have 4 magnets get stuck together, and then miraculously have a fifth one slide 6 inches across the table because the magnetic field got strong enough to make it twirl like a ballerina to its new home. That is only slightly less fun than watching someone make a perfect throw and somehow the polarity didn’t match up on the heart and they are so close together but just won’t connect. Every throw has potential victory and heartbreak for the whole group. It’s a light enough game that everyone can simultaneously be rooting for and against you and just enjoy the magic of throwing around magnets in a game of luck and skill.

Who will play with me?
Your regular board gaming group, and your 7-year-old niece, and your grandparents, all with equal measure of enjoyment.

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7. HANABI Deluxe

Over 23,000 BGG Votes

Hey, that’s not an obscure game. I own it, AND you even show it to have over 23,000 votes on BGG. It’s literally inches away from this fake person’s irate rant.

I know, obviously, I know. I even went out of my way to make a conversation between a fake you and me to prove that I know.

Have you calmed down?

Since you already know what Hanabi is, and you’ve played it and Joe already ruined the back of the blue 5, I’ll spare you the explanation.

Why should I get Hanabi Deluxe?
You are most likely reading this article for one of two reasons.

  1. You get some delight out of finding games that are fun that you have never heard of and you are even somewhat embarrassed that you are proud of that.
  2. You are looking for games to round out your collection to introduce to others to show them how great games are.

Hanabi Deluxe is one of a handful of games where upgrading the components of the game really adds to the game in a meaningful way. I think every game can be made better with prettier components, and wouldn’t shy away from custom Scythe components or actual chips for Lords of Vegas. Hanabi changes drastically by having tiles instead of cards. The gameplay is completely intact, but there is a certain elegance that the game demands. If you are wanting to introduce a new gamer to this game, you have no choice but to get the deluxe version now that you have been told.

If you don’t believe me, close our eyes and imagine playing dominoes with a deck of bicycle cards. I don’t know why I’m still talking about Hanabi because you won’t be able to read this if you closed your eyes like I told you to.

6. RISK EUROPE

184 BGG Votes

Why Should I get Risk Europe? Why should I keep reading your list, it seems like you don’t understand the title of your own article?!

Listen up, I made this article and I can stop and turn around right now! If you pop off one more time… Oh, man I’m so sorry, I promised I’d never turn into my dad. But here I am playing Risk and telling you why you should too.

How many times have you told someone about a game and they said: “Oh yeah, that’s just like Risk”?

The common response from most gamers is to retreat back into their elitist shell and explain how much better their games are, or why Risk is horrible. Let’s just go ahead and get this off the table: your initial desire to respond that way is wrong. It would be like a 4 star chef explaining his soup to a child, and the child telling them that it’s just like Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. The chef isn’t going to get the child to try the gourmet soup by telling them how the chicken is processed and they’ve been eating food wrong their whole life. Sorry, my dad also tends to get on his soap box so I had to also.

Back to the question of WHY you should get Risk Europe. This might actually be the easiest game to introduce to a group of non-gamers who like Risk, and almost guarantee they will love it. Here is a secret though, it doesn’t play anything like Classic Risk. All of the inherent problems that you already know about classic Risk are gone. ALL. Plus, it’s incredibly fun, easy to explain, and introduces concepts of modern games in a brilliant way. So trick your friends into playing this beautiful game and they will be none the wiser.

Risk Europe is card driven and plays to a specific number of victory points which are crowns. First player that gets 7 crowns and can hold them until the end of the round wins.

The fact that it is card driven is wonderful. It restricts what you are able to do every turn, introduces more exciting choices, and adds a level of strategy that just works. You choose two of your cards every turn to play and set them down, on your turn you take the top card and do the action. The card had two options, so you still have some freedom to change if something happened in between choosing the card and your turn coming up. Some of the options on the card are moving, taxing, spending, and attacking. Nothing is incredibly complex, but if you choose to tax every turn you’ll never have the option to spend, and John will come by and wipe you out before you ever built that glorious army.

Glorious is the right hyperbolic term too! Every army has unique figures, so I can play as the Vikings, and you are the Mongols, and John is the crusaders. AND they all have freakin’ sweet siege weapons. There aren’t enough games with battering rams, catapults, or ballistas. And every unit attacks differently and they all cost different amounts. I love going in with some infantry as fodder, an archer for an advance fire, a cavalry, and 4 Trebuchets to wipe out a castle.

Unlike Risk where you are trying to get a whole continent to get a reinforcement bonus you are taking over specific cities that give you unique powers. They are also the key to winning the game. But, more rules aren’t what you need to hear about right now. You need more Risk Europe on your table, you need more friends to play it with, and you need to make more time to talk about how awesome it was after you played it.

Who will play with me?
Anybody that used to play Risk or thinks they are awesome at Risk and wants to prove how they can win by sitting in Australia like a two-legged kangaroo.

About the Author - Wey

About the Author - Wey


My love for board gaming is tied to my need to develop deeper connections with people. My collection keeps growing into the 100's of games so that I can always have the perfect game to play with a particular group. I hope to be influential in progressing the hobby in new and interesting ways.

Favorite Games: Julius Caesar, The Resistance, Pit

About the Author - Wey

About the Author - Wey


My love for board gaming is tied to my need to develop deeper connections with people. My collection keeps growing into the 100's of games so that I can always have the perfect game to play with a particular group. I hope to be influential in progressing the hobby in new and interesting ways.

Favorite Games: Julius Caesar, The Resistance, Pit