I have been playing board games for a long time but I have never really tried to rank them. I’ve always had in my head what I felt were my top several games but never codified it. That is about to change. Let me give you a couple factors I considered when ranking these games before I give you the list.
- How often I play the game (Actual Play) – Some games just naturally get played more than others. Games with shorter play times fit much better into a busy schedule. Games the people I play with like hit the table more often. While not a major factor in my ranking it is something for me to consider.
- How much I want to play the game (Desired Play) – This is the biggest factor in my ranking. If there are no obstacles, what games do I see on my shelf and long to put on the table?
And now the list you’ve all be reading toward.
10. Coup (BGG / Amazon)
I do enjoy a good social deduction game but not as much as much as many of my gaming group does. Coup has many of the elements of a game like the Resistance like bluffing and accusations but in a much shorter package. I love that I can play a game of Coup in ten or fifteen minutes. It also tends to be less chaotic than the Resistance but still has lots of deduction, bluffing, and social interaction. I will play Coup anytime.
9. Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition (BGG / Amazon)
This game would be even higher on my list if I could play it more often. TI3 is the quintessential space empire game. Take on the role of an alien race with some ability that sets it apart from the rest. Combat, trade, politics, and a bit of economic management make this game shine. All these things also make it a beast to set up and remember all of the ins and outs unless you play it often.
8. Carcassonne (BGG / Amazon)
One of the first hobby board games I played, Carcassonne has stood the test of time. It is simple to teach and learn, yet every game is different because of the tile laying mechanic. It has also stayed fresh with numerous expansions, all that add a unique twist to the original game. Add in a wonderful iOS app and you have a winner and one that will always be one of my favorites.
7. Pandemic (BGG / Amazon)
As far a coop games go Pandemic still sits at the top of the pile for me. Get together with your friends and save the world from deadly diseases. Maybe. It is still a challenge at the harder levels keeping all of the outbreaks under control. When I am playing with a group that would rather cooperate than compete this is my first choice.
6. Risk Legacy (BGG / Amazon)
The board game hobby usually changes slowly with small innovations leading to bigger ones later. Risk Legacy took a giant leap forward when it introduced the Legacy format. Imagine a game where your choices matter from game to game creating a connected narrative. You will be opening sealed packets to add new cards and components to the game as well as marking up the board and tearing up cards. My group is still working through our campaign and I am excited to see where the Legacy format goes in future games.
5. El Grande (BGG)
One of the first area control games and still the best in my opinion. El Grande puts you in the position of a governor of Spain. You are trying to spread your influence across Spain by having more of your followers in different provinces than your opponents do. The cards that come up each round add lots of strategy as you balance moving your followers into your court then out onto the board. Wonderfully simple yet deeply strategic, El Grande does what the best Eurogames attempt and it succeeds.
4. Eclipse (BGG / Amazon)
4X space empire games are probably my favorite genre. They are also usually overly complex and long (TI3 for example). Many games have been trying to improve on this formula and Eclipse has succeeded. You get the exploration, combat, technology, and resource management that most 4X games provide in a very tight and short(ish) package. I really enjoy the way the action selection integrates into the economics of your empire. The only issue this game has is that it ends just as your empire reaches its apex. I can forgive this for the experience this game gives.
3. Dominion (BGG / Amazon)
The first and still the best deck building game. This game created a whole new genre when it came out that many have tried to replicate. Deck building has now been intertwined with other mechanisms in new games but Dominion still the the best pure deck builder. The mountain of cards available make the game endlessly replayable since you can play with a new combination every time. It is simple to teach, learn, and is quick to play.
2. X-Wing Miniatures (BGG / Amazon)
This is my most played game of 2014. A good two player game is something that should be in every gamers repertoire. One of my regular gaming buddies and I picked this to be our go to game and had a blast with it. It’s miniature game that is simple enough that anyone can play and that is a feat. The only issue is its collectable nature. Fantasy Flight continually puts out new ships that I feel like I need. I usually try to avoid collectable games that turn into money pits. This may keep it off my list in the future but this year it really shined brightly.
1. Lords of Waterdeep (BGG / Amazon)
This game has it all for me. Tight interesting gameplay, quick playtime, a wonderful expansion, easy explanation, and my wife likes it. For a D&D themed game the theme is a bit thin but still works. I love the hidden scoring roles that keep things interesting all the way you the end. I’m really interested to see what direction future expansions go. I will always play Lords of Waterdeep and it fits so well into almost any situation. This bodes well for its future table time.
Originally posted on BoardGameTheory.com