Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Top 25 Games of All Time - 2012 Edition

Last year I did a list of my top 25 games of all time. It was pretty popular and so I thought I’d do it again, since my likes change each year. So this is my Top 25 Games again, just as a snap shot of 2012 and what I’m currently think are the best ever. I’ve used () to show where the game was last year on the list. Some of the games are new to me in the past year and so have made the list, some of the games like Crokinole, have just gotten better. Remember though, as of the time of writing this, I’ve played 505 different board games, so to be in the Top 25 still means these are games I rate at least a 9 out of 10! Also, I only have considered games that I’ve played at least 5 times, so games like Twilight Struggle, though I think it would make the list didn’t because I’ve only played it twice so far.

25. Crokinole (Below 25)
A new entry to the Top 25 this year. I won the Geekway to the West (along with a partner) Crokinole Tourney this last year, which may have helped move it on up. I just have an excellent time when I play this game and I think anyone and I do mean anyone, even absolute board game haters, would really like this game. I would love to get a dark oak board with the Elven script around the edge.

24. Gheos (17)
Carcassonne + Acquire and it makes it those two games just slightly better. You can swoop in and destroy others civilizations and then invest in your own civilizations. It can be a devastating game though for new players, so play through a game or two, and get a good understanding what the flow of the game is about. Also, the push your luck with epochs is also a big part!

23. Dungeon Lords (14)
The theme in this game is awesome and unique! You are playing a Dungeon Lord trying to keep out adventurers. Don’t let that light hearted theme fool you though. This is a very deep game. You have to know your opponents and know what the resources they need will be. Only bad thing about the game is it is pretty much a four player only game.

22. Pillars of the Earth (19)
The book is big and long, but the game is just right. The best way to play this game is with the expansion and 5 players. It keeps everything really tight, but allows for the expansion to be added, which makes your decisions when placing your workers for VPs or for resources more excruciating.  The art in this game, along with Cuba is possibly the best art in board games ever.

21. Fairy Tale (16)
Extremely quick game. My 11 year-old sister loves this game as well. The card drafting of the game, makes it really quick, since everybody gets their turn at the same time. I’m sorry that it is out of print. I’d like to pick up a second copy as mine will wear out I know.

20. El Grande (6)
Though this one has dropped for me in the past year, it is still a great game. It’s really a 4 or 5 player only game though. Sometimes though I feel like it bogs down more than it should, which is why it has dropped a bit though. It will always have a permanent placement in my collection.

19. Ra (25)
This game is probably the most consistently played somewhat long game at our game day each year. I personally like it best with three people. I love getting all low numbered suns and invoking Ra every time it comes around to me.

18. Tikal (24)
One of my oldest games (as far as me owning it) and still one of the best! You have to play with the Auction variant, which makes it really good and tight since you’re bidding the victory points you need to win with! The board is and pieces are beautiful. Now, too bad I lost one piece that I have to “fix” each time I play.

17. Keythedral (21)
A good and mean Euro. Every single piece has different artwork, done by the designer’s wife. It looks and sets up like Setters, but you take the trading away and add in a bucketful of competition. Each player is constantly vying for going first and getting the resources they need before the others. It also scales very well.

16. Traders of Carthage (20)
This game is a 2-player gem. The artwork may be the best artwork ever in a game, it works perfectly for what it is supposed to do, and it plays quickly, but not so quickly that you feel you don’t have any control over your own destiny. It plays up to 4, but this has become a two player only game for me.

15. High Society (15)
When it comes to filler games, you can’t beat High Society. No set up time, the teenagers in the youth group have really liked it, I’ve played it dozens of times and look forward to more plays. It has some really tough decisions for such a short game.

14. Endeavor (18)
I probably said this last year, but this is the smoothest game ever. Just flows so perfectly that you hardly realize you’re taking your turn. I like the theme, I like the art, the boxes is the coolest box art in the history of games and it has conflict. It plays different, but good, with 3, 4, 5 players. Endeavor to me is just a great Euro game.

13. 7 Wonders (13)
Added the Leaders expansion this year and it adds just a bit more strategy to the game. The more I’ve played this game, the more fun I continue to have with it. My only knock against the game, is despite it’s lightness, I have had some difficulty getting non-gamers to enjoy it. Much more so than say Fairy Tale (which I think can be confusing myself) or Dominion. The art, the presentation, and how full the table looks after the game makes this one just fun in 30 minutes.

12. Hansa Teutonica (Below 25)
About as dry as a Euro as you can get, but some great mechanics and challenging game play. I played it this past year at Geekway to the West, with a different group of people and got to see how much our group has got into “group think.” This is the highest game on my list that I do not own. I’m thinking, I should get it, but when I get it I also want to get the expansion map, which really makes the game shine a bit more I think.

11. Founding Fathers (12)
This seems to be a love or hate game for people. I love it and others not so much. Still, I think if you are looking for a  multi-player card driven game, you can’t go wrong with this one. Just tell everyone what George Washington does before the game begins and you are good to go. This, along with 1960, is a game that I would recommend to teachers or parents wanting to teach/interest their kids in US History. Though the game itself isn’t a simulation, the place you put yourself in makes you want to research more.

10. Lord of the Rings – Trading Card Game (9)
I’ll admit, this is probably in my top 10 for nostalgia reasons just as much as for it being a great game. But I still do think that is an excellent game. Of course, it is LotR themed, so I like it automatically. The way though that you had to play both the Shadow and the Fellowship at once made for a great and intense game; trying to use your Shadow to help your Fellowship or vice versa. I still have all my cards and likely always will. I try to get this played occasionally and have even thought about looking around for 3 or 4 people to play with on a regular basis.

9. Warhammer: Invasion (New Game)
I think I’d just played my first game of this last year when I wrote the Top 25 list. Since then I’ve played about 150 games of it! I’m always building decks, tweaking them, and then trying again. I’ve played in 5 tournaments, including the World Championship at GenCon. My like for the game is partially the competition of it, but it is more than that, the game itself appeals to me as a board gamer because of the way it is laid out and having to make decisions not only where to place your cards (which changes what those cards do for you), but what zone of your opponent’s to attack. The game is just excellent.

8. Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game (New Game)
This is exactly how a civilization board game should be implemented. It’s got the feel of the computer game, but still plays in under 4 hours. I’ve played it as quick as 2 hours with 4 experienced players. It scales well, I’ve not played the 5-player game yet, but I still get the civilization feel with 2, 3 or 4 players. The best part about it though, is that it doesn’t feel like a spread sheet like Through the Ages does, it feels fun with bright colors, cool art, and race to victory!

7. 1960: The Making of the President (10)
Sadly this isn’t a game I get played all that often, because it is a 2-player game and most of my 2-player gaming happens with my wife who isn’t a big fan of this one. It is however, such a great game. It makes for really great decisions, between playing a card and using your momentum now to stop your opponent from using the event or saving your momentum and allowing that even to happen. The theme really comes out in this one as well, the board looks great, and the best part it plays in 1.5 hours. Which is really good compared to a lot of deep 2 player games.

6. Small World (8)
Small World has a lot of things going for it in my book. Plenty of conflict, yet you don’t feel absolutely devastated if your army is destroyed, because you get to immediately just a get a new one. Variable player powers is always a plus. The replayability of the game is off the charts. The iPad version for 2 players is great and I’ve played that several times with a friend this past year. The expansions just add more fun and differences to each game. It’s great with 2-5 players. You can’t lose with this game. I would recommend it as an alternative to those Risk fans out there.

5. Dominion (5)
Still my most played game and is likely to remain my most played game for a quite awhile, though Warhammer: Invasion is making a big surge. Dominion is just fun and addicting. We’ve stopped getting expansions for now, though I’m being re-tempted by Alchemy & Hinterlands. Other than Tichu, more people that I’ve introduced this game to, have proceeded to go out and purchase it. It’s great with 2-4 players, plays very fast, and I like it a lot!

4. Agricola (4)
This game just makes perfect sense to me.  It is fun, even when you are losing, it lets you build your own farm and it is deep. With all the different cards I haven’t felt the need to even purchase an expansion and time wise, it has seen a lot of table time over the past 3.5 years. Now it isn’t a game you just pull out with the Scrabble or Monopoly lovers in your family, but it is a game for the gamers that you know. Especially when it comes to explaining the game, because it is easy to explain, with everything doing what one would expect it to do. This isn’t a game I’ll ever be getting rid of.

3. War of the Ring (3)
I wouldn’t have spent all the time I did painting all the figures in this game if I didn’t love it. I’ve only played it 10 times, yet it deserves this spot above hundreds of other games. Every game I’ve played of it is intense and close, with the results feeling like they stand on the “edge of a knife and if they stray just a little they will fall to the doom of us all”! When you play the game, you feel like you are in the War for the Ring of Power, but it also has some great juicy decisions such as using a card for a battle advantage or playing it as an event. Now that it is all painted too, it just looks so awesome laid out on the table.

2. Puerto Rico (2)
Still a game that I play on a regular basis year-round. With or without the expansions, it is a game that offers such options and such control over what you are going to do, that I’m always willing to play it. My favorite part of the game is still how important it is to see several turns ahead, because what you select now as your role, will influence what your opponent’s select as theirs. If you haven’t ever played Puerto Rico, you should.

1. Railroad Tycoon/Railways of the World (1)
These two games are the exact same game, they just lost the Railroad Tycoon license and so had to change the name. Still where it was last year and not going anywhere soon, this is just an awesome game.  I’ve played Age of Steam & Steam, both similar games, and though they are good games they just aren’t as FUN as RRT. It looks huge and the plastic trains and cards all over the place just add to it. With players that know what they are doing games only last 1.5-2.5 hours, even with 6 people we can get games in around the 2.5 hour mark. I consider this the next step up when it comes to games. If you like Ticket to Ride, but want something deeper, this is the first place I’m bringing you.


  1. I'm ready to try RRT next time. I'd like to watch a game ... Maybe at Geekway.

    Thanks for the update!

  2. I'll play RRT anytime. Maybe we can scrounge up a copy at Geekway.