Is your shelf of shame ever growing? With thousands of new board games being released every year, it’s harder than ever to figure out which games to buy, which to play, and which to avoid. There’s simply too many games! Overwhelmed with choices, many of you may have turned to popular board game reviewers such as the Shut Up & Sit Down posse or Tom Vasel and motley crew at The Dice Tower. But reviews have limitations and only help so much with the decision process. They don’t rank games, compare them to other potential candidates, or account for bias à la cult of the new. It’s no wonder that “top board game lists” have risen in popularity over the years among reviewers and content creators. They are helpful and simultaneously entertaining.
Although I love a top game list as much as the next gamer, I understand that they only represent an individual’s personal game tastes. I wanted to see what they may look like in aggregate. So, I compiled the lists from 20 of my favorite board game reviewers and combined them to see which games topped the charts. Let’s explore.
- Edward Uhler (Heavy Cardboard)
- Tom Heath (Slickerdrips)
- Tom Vasel, Sam Healey, Zee Garcia, Jason Levine, and Melody Vasel (The Dice Tower)
- Quinns Smith (Shut Up & Sit Down)
- Jarrod Carmichael (3 Minute Board Games)
- Melissa Delp and Kevin Delp (Tantrum House)
- Elaine & Efka (No Pun Included)
- Richard Ham (Rahdo Runs Through)
- Jonathan Cox (JonGetsGames)
- Jeremy Salinas, Gary Chumbley, and David Waybright (Man Vs Meeple)
- Jamie Keagy, Chris Miller, and Steve Spang (The Secret Cabal)
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Top Board Games, 100-91
|99||Two Rooms and a Boom||2||5|
|96||Watson & Holmes||2||3.5|
|95||Merchants & Marauders||2||3.5|
|92||Letters from Whitechapel||2||2.5|
100. Terra Mystica
Description: “Terra Mystica is a strategy game with a simple game principle and very little luck involved: You govern one of 14 factions trying to transform the landscape on the game board in your favor in order to build your structures. On the one hand, proximity to other players limits your options for further expansion, on the other hand though, it provides some benefits during the game. This conflict is the source of Terra Mystica’s appeal. The 14 artfully designed factions, each having unique special abilities, as well as the exchangeable bonus cards allow for a large number of possible game plays that constantly keep this game entertaining.”
Reviewer(s): Jeremy Salinas (#1), Quinns Smith (unranked)
99. Two Rooms and a Boom
Description: “In this social game of hidden roles and deduction, players are divided into 2 different rooms. Find your teammates, establish trust, and exchange hostages before time runs out and the bomb explodes! It’s the party game that’s always a blast.”
Reviewer(s): Elaine & Efka (#9), Quinns Smith (unranked)
Description: “Welcome to 1960s New York. A new immigration act triggers a demographic boom, and a wave of Chinese immigrants moves into Chinatown. Hard-working men and women arrive by the thousands to build a new life in the New World. In Chinatown, you are one of these immigrants. Use your talents and your life’s savings to claim ownership of sections of city blocks, establish businesses, and build your fortune. Put your negotiation skills to the test as you make deals with other players to acquire adjacent properties and grow your empire. But it’s not always easy. In this game where everything can be negotiated, only the hard laws of the market prevail.”
Reviewer(s): Jarrod Carmichael (#9), Quinns Smith (unranked)
97. Sidereal Confluence
Description: “Sidereal Confluence: Trading and Negotiation in the Elysian Quadrant is a singularly unique trading and negotiation game for 4-9 players. Over the course of the game, each race must trade and negotiate with the rest to acquire the resources necessary to fund their economy and allow it to produce goods for the next turn. While technically a competitive game, Sidereal Confluence: Trading and Negotiation in the Elysian Quadrant has a uniquely cooperative feel during the trading phase as no race has the ability to thrive on its own. Trade well, and you’ll develop technologies and colonize planets to form a civilization that is the envy of the galaxy.”
Reviewer(s): Elaine & Efka (#7), Quinns Smith (unranked)
96. Watson & Holmes
Description: “Race to find the truth in the mysterious world of Watson & Holmes, a game of deduction and intrigue for two to seven players. Each aspiring detective will work alongside Sherlock Holmes in order to solve a series of mysterious cases. By visiting locations, speaking with witnesses, and deciphering clues, you will come to your own conclusions about the investigation, independent of your fellow detectives. Once you believe you have all the facts, you must present your findings to the brilliant Holmes and the good Dr. Watson. Answering every question correctly will lead you to victory, though one misstep and you will be forced to retire from the case, leaving the remaining investigators to accurately interpret the clues before it’s too late.”
Reviewer(s): Steve Spang (#6), Quinns Smith (unranked)
95. Merchants & Marauders
Description: “Merchants and Marauders lets you live the life of an influential merchant or a dreaded pirate in the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy. Seek your fortune through trade rumor hunting missions and of course plundering. The game features a unique trade system and a thematic combat system allowing for critical decisions and intense excitement. Modify your ship buy impressive vessels load deadly special ammunitions and hire specialist crew members. Will your captain gain eternal glory and immense wealth or find his wet grave under the stormy surface of the Caribbean Sea?”
Reviewer(s): Chris Miller (#6), Quinns Smith (unranked)
Description: “Set in ancient Rome, Trajan is a development game in which players try to increase their influence and power in various areas of Roman life such as political influence, trading, military dominion and other important parts of Roman culture. The central mechanism of the game uses a system similar to that in Mancala or pit-and-pebbles games. In Trajan, a player has six possible actions: building, trading, taking tiles from the forum, using the military, influencing the Senate, and placing Trajan tiles on his tableau. This is a Euro-style strategy game and playing time is 30 minutes per player.”
Reviewer(s): Richard Ham (unranked, rated 10 on BGG), Tom Heath (#5)
93. Spirit Island
Description: “Powerful Spirits have existed on this isolated island for time immemorial. They are both part of the natural world and – at the same time – something beyond nature. Native Islanders, known as the Dahan, have learned how to co-exist with the spirits, but with a healthy dose of fear and reverence. However, now, the island has been “discovered” by invaders from a far-off land. These would-be colonists are taking over the land and upsetting the natural balance, destroying the presence of Spirits as they go. As Spirits, you must grow in power and work together to drive the invaders from your island… before it’s too late!”
Reviewer(s): Jarrod Carmichael (#4), Jonathan Cox (unranked, rated 9 on BGG)
92. Letters from Whitechapel
Description: “Can Jack the Ripper escape justice and live to kill again, or will the police put a stop to history’s most notorious killer? Letters from Whitechapel is a thematically engrossing board game of deduction and bluffing in which one player takes the role of the infamous Jack the Ripper, while up to five other players are detectives working together to pursue him through Victorian London. After committing his horrible murders, Jack must outmaneuver the detectives in the tangled streets of the Whitechapel District. Meanwhile, the detectives must use clever deduction and their superior numbers to hunt Jack the Ripper down before he can kill again or elude them forever.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Steve Spang (#4)
91. Memoir ’44
Description: “Memoir ’44 is a unique historical game from Days of Wonder where players command a horde of little plastic Army men facing-off in dozens of WWII battles on an oversize hex game board. Each battle scenario mimics the historical terrain, troop placements and objectives of each army. Deploying forces through a variety of Command cards, the smart commander uses the unique skills of his units to their greatest strength. Easy to learn and fast-paced, Memoir ’44 requites strategic card play, timely dice rolling and an aggressive, yet flexible battle plan to achieve victory. There are 17 unique historical scenarios, including a monster-size double-board version of Omaha Beach. The game has a double-sided, three section board map of the battlefield, featuring beach landings and countryside terrain. There are 44 lavishly painted double-sided terrain hexes, along with the 3D miniatures and obstacles to go on them. Also included are 60 Command cards, including 20 WWII Tactics cards and 40 troop movement Section cards, and two Army bags of incredibly detailed miniatures. You also get a cardholder to share with your “command staff” and some time-saving Terrain summary cards.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Sam Healey (#3)
Top Board Games, 90-81
|88||Magic: The Gathering||3||63.66666667|
|87||King of Tokyo||3||63.33333333|
|86||Defenders of the Realm||3||61.33333333|
|83||Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island||3||56.33333333|
|82||Raiders of the North Sea||3||56|
Description: “A picture is worth a thousand words. Dixit is an enchanting game which summons your imagination. Discover 84 dreamlike illustrations on big cards and interpret them.
A storyteller chooses one card of its hand of cards and proposes an accurate theme. Other players use this theme to select a card from their hand which inspires them. All the cards are shuffled and revealed. Players must find the teller’s card. To score points, the theme must be neither too simple or too complex.”
Reviewer(s): Melody Vasel (#83), Tom Vasel (#77), Zee Garcia (#94)
Description: “The sun shines brightly on the canopy of the forest, and the trees use this wonderful energy to grow and develop their beautiful foliage. Sow your crops wisely and the shadows of your growing trees could slow your opponents down, but don’t forget that the sun revolves around the forest. Welcome to the world of Photosynthesis, the green strategy board game!”
Reviewer(s): Jason Levine (#68), Sam Healey (#93), Tom Vasel (#92)
88. Magic: The Gathering
Description: “In the Magic game, you play the role of a planeswalker—a powerful wizard who fights other planeswalkers for glory, knowledge, and conquest. Your deck of cards represents all the weapons in your arsenal. It contains the spells you know and the creatures you can summon to fight for you.” (Source)
Reviewer(s): Jamie Keagy (#22), Jason Levine (#80), Zee Garcia (#89)
87. King of Tokyo
Description: “King of Tokyo is a game for 2 to 6 players where you play as mutant monsters, rampaging robots, or even abominable aliens battling in a fun, chaotic atmosphere. Roll dice and choose your strategy: Will you attack your enemies? Heal your wounds? Improve your Monster? Stomp your path to victory!”
Reviewer(s): Melody Vasel (#94), Sam Healey (#65), Zee Garcia (#31)
86. Defenders of the Realm
Description: “Our Liege is in desperate hour. From what grievous cause have these accursed races arisen? Orcs Dragons Demons and the Dead make haste towards Monarch City. The King and Countryside of Monarch City are in need of valiant Heroes. Will you answer the King’s call? In the ancient Citadel of Monarch City the King calls to arms the finest Heroes to defend against a Darkness that engulfs the land. You and your allies must embark on a journey to defend the countryside repair the tainted lands and defeat the four creature factions before one of them enters the City and they approach from all sides — fast populating Orcs. fierce Dragons. Undead that bring terror. And demons. — all tainting the land in their wake. There are several paths to defeat but only one path to victory and only the most valiant Hero will be named King’s Champion. Defenders of the Realm is a cooperative fantasy board game in which 1-4 players take a role as one of the King?s Champions (Choose from Cleric Dwarf Eagle Rider Paladin Ranger Rogue Sorcerer and Wizard). You as one of the King’s Heroes make use of strategy special abilities cooperation card play and a little luck in Defense of the Realm for a unique experience every adventure. But be forewarned. There is never time to rest. As each Enemy General is struck down in battle the remaining dark forces only grow more difficult to vanquish and their march to Monarch City gets faster with each Hero victory.”
Reviewer(s): Chris Miller (#45), Jamie Keagy (#48), Melody Vasel (#91)
85. Neuroshima Hex!
Description: “Neuroshima HEX is a game of tactics, where armies wage continuous battles against each other. It is based on a roleplaying game called Neuroshima RPG published by Portal in 2001. The world of Neuroshima RPG is that of a post-apocalypse world torn apart by a war between humans and machines. The remains of humanity took shelter in the ruins of cities and organized in small communities, gangs and armies. Conflicts between such groups are not uncommon and the reasons of such are numerous: territory, food or equipment. What is more, the ruined cities are constantly patrolled by machines sent from the north, where a vast cybernetic entity, called MOLOCH, appeared. Great wastelands that surround what was left of the greatest cities are home to another enemy – Borgo – a charismatic leader who controls an army of gruesome mutants. One of the last hopes of humanity is the OUTPOST, a perfectly organized army which wages a guerilla war against MOLOCH. Nevertheless, most human settlements, including the HEGEMONY, are not concerned with war until it comes banging at their door. Such is the world of Neuroshima.”
Reviewer(s): Jason Levine (#73), Sam Healey (#87), Zee Garcia (#14)
Description: “Take on the role of an ambitious demigod who is trying to claim a place at the summit of Mount Olympus. Recruit heroes, acquire artifacts, undertake quests and earn the favour of the gods. When your allies fulfill their destiny, they enter Elysium, and contribute to your legend. Once all the tales are written, a single demigod will join the Olympians. The goal of the game is to earn as many victory points as possible. Victory points are won mostly with the legends that players will write through the cards that they have transferred to their Elysium, but also by employing the powers that they have assembled throughout the game by the means of specific cards. “
Reviewer(s): Jason Levine (#62), Tom Heath (#33), Zee Garcia (#75)
83. Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
Description: “Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island is a game created by Ignacy Trzewiczek, the author of Stronghold. This time Trzewiczek takes the players to a deserted island, where they’ll play the parts of shipwreck survivors confronted by an extraordinary adventure. They’ll be faced with the challenges of building a shelter, finding food, fighting wild beasts, and protecting themselves from weather changes. Building walls around their homes, animal domestication, constructing weapons and tools from what they find and much more awaits them on the island. The players decide in which direction the game will unfold and – after several in-game weeks of hard work – how their settlement will look. Will they manage to discover the secret of the island in the meantime? Will they find a pirate treasure, or an abandoned village? Will they discover an underground city or a cursed temple at the bottom of a volcano? Answers to these questions lie in hundreds of event cards and hundreds of object and structure cards that can be used during the game…”
Reviewer(s): Jamie Keagy (#36), Jarrod Carmichael (#42), Jason Levine (#91)
82. Raiders of the North Sea
Description: “Raiders of the North Sea is set in the central years of the Viking Age. As Viking warriors, players seek to impress the Chieftain by raiding unsuspecting settlements. Players will need to assemble a crew, collect provisions and journey north toplunder gold, iron and livestock. There is glory to be found in battle, even at the hands of the Valkyrie. So gather your warriors, it’s raiding season!
The aim of Raiders of the North Sea is to impress the Chieftain by having the most Victory Points (VP) at the game’s end. Victory Points are gained primarily by raiding Settlements, taking Plunder and making Offerings to the Chieftain. How players use their Plunder is also vital to their success. The game ends when either only 1 fortress raid remains, all Valkyrie are removed, or all Offerings have been made.”
Reviewer(s): Jarrod Carmichael (#60), Sam Healey (#73), Tom Vasel (#35)
Description: “Azul was designed by the world famous, award winning game author Michael Kiesling. Azul captures the beautiful aesthetics of Moorish art in a contemporary board game. Players compete as artisans decorating the walls of the Royal Palace of Evora. By carefully drafting the correct quantity and style of tiles, the most clever of artisans plan ahead to maximize the beauty of their work (not to mention their scores!) while ensuring they wasted no supplies in the process.”
Reviewer(s): Jarrod Carmichael (#18), Jason Levine (#100), Steve Spang (#49)
Top Board Games, 80-71
|76||Glory to Rome||3||39.33333333|
|75||Architects of the West Kingdom||3||39|
|72||Lords of Hellas||3||35.66666667|
80. Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure
Description: “Burgle your way to adventure in Clank!, the new deck-building board game.
Sneak into an angry dragon’s mountain lair to steal precious artifacts. Delve deeper to find more valuable loot. Acquire cards for your deck and watch your thievish abilities grow.
Be quick and be quiet. One false-step and CLANK! Each careless sound draws the attention of the dragon, and each artifact stolen increases its rage. You can only enjoy your plunder if you make it out of the depths alive!”
Reviewer(s): Melody Vasel (#62), Steve Spang (#8), Tom Vasel (#61)
Description: “Once Yokohama was just a fishing village, but now at the beginning of the Meiji era it’s becoming a harbor open to foreign countries and one of the leading trade cities of Japan. As a result, many Japanese products such as copper and raw silk are collected in Yokohama for export to other countries. At the same time, the city is starting to incorporate foreign technology and culture, with even the streets becoming more modernized. In the shadow of this development was the presence of many Yokohama merchants.”
Reviewer(s): Chris Miller (#1), Melody Vasel (#74), Tom Vasel (#54)
Description: “It’s the dawning of a new age in the land of Ethnos. The last rulers left the six Kingdoms without leadership and scattered the twelve ancient tribes across the land.
In Ethnos, players will recruit different Tribe cards into their hands, band them together, and play them to gain control of one of the six Kingdoms over the course of three Ages. Each Band can have a Leader, and only the Leaders can tap into their tribe’s special abilities. After three Ages of political maneuvering and battles, peace between the six Kingdoms will be restored under a new ruler.”
Reviewer(s): Melody Vasel (#58), Quinns Smith (unranked), Zee Garcia (#70)
Description: “Inspired by the medieval fortress in southern France of the same name, Carcassonne is a tile-laying game in which players fill in the countryside around the fortified city. Players choose from tiles that depict cities, roads, monasteries, and fields; each new tile placed creates an ever-expanding board on which players can then add their followers. Players score points by having followers on features as they’re completed. The player who makes the most strategic placements of tiles and followers will score the most points and win the game.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Sam Healey (#82), Zee Garcia (#40)
76. Glory to Rome
Description: “In 64 A.D. a great fire originating from the slums of Rome quickly spreads to destroy much of the city including the imperial palace. Upon hearing news of the fire Emperor Nero Caesar races back to Rome from his private estate in Antium and sets up shelters for the displaced population. Reporting directly to Nero you are responsible for rebuilding the structures lost in the fire and restoring Glory to Rome. Glory to Rome is a card-based city building and resource management game with a novel mechanism. Each card may act as a building a patron a raw material or a valuable resource frequently forcing players into difficult decisions regarding how each card should be used. In addition much of the game is played from the discard pool giving players some control over what cards are accessible to opponents. Scoring is a combination of completing buildings and storing resources with end-of-game bonuses for storing a diverse assortment. Game length is player-controlled and is triggered in a few different ways. The lighthearted artwork and slim rulebook belie the strong strategic and tactical elements of Glory to Rome.”
Reviewer(s): Chris Miller (#32), Jamie Keagy (#2), Jason Levine (#84)
75. Architects of the West Kingdom
Description: “Architects of the West Kingdom is set at the end of the Carolingian Empire, circa 850 AD. As royal architects, players compete to impress their King and maintain theirnoble status by constructing various landmarks throughout his newly appointed domain. Players will need to collect raw materials, hire apprentices and keep a watchful eye on their workforce. These are treacherous times. Rival architects will stop at nothing to slow your progress. Will you remain virtuous, or be found in the company of thieves and black marketeers?
The aim ofArchitects of the West Kingdom is to be the player with the most Victory Points (VP) at the game’s end. Points are gained by constructing various Buildings and advancing work on the Archbishop’s Cathedral. Throughout the game, players will need to make a lot of moral decisions. However, only at the game’s end will their virtue be judged. A few underhanded deals here and there might not seem like much, but fall too far and you will be punished. The game ends once a set number of constructions have been completed.”
Reviewer(s): Jarrod Carmichael (#30), Sam Healey (#13), Tom Vasel (#74)
74. Bunny Kingdom
Description: “Peace has come at last to the great Bunny Kingdom! Lead your clan of rabbits to glory by gathering resources and building new cities across the land!
Draft cards and pick the right ones to position your warrens on the 100 squares of the board, provide resources to your colonies, build new cities to increase your influence, and plan your strategy to score big at the end of the game. Settle in lakesides or fields to collect water and grow carrots, gather mushroom sin the green forest, and climb the highest mountains to discover rare and precious resources… Secretly rally rabbit lords and recruit skillful masters to make your cities and resources even more valuable at the end of the game.
After each turn, your groups of contiguous warrens grant you points depending on the cities and different resources they include. The game ends after 4 turns, and the player with the most points wins the game.”
Reviewer(s): Jonathan Cox (unranked, rated 9 on BGG), Melody Vasel (#52), Tom Vasel (#60)
Description: “The robots of the Robo Rally automobile factory spend their weekdays toiling at the assembly line. They put in hard hours building high-speed supercars they never get to see in action. But on Saturday nights, the factory becomes a world of mad machines and dangerous schemes as these robots engage in their own epic race. In this board game, it takes speed, wits, and dirty tricks to become a racing legend! Each player chooses a robot figure and directs its moves by playing cards. Chaos ensues as all players reveal the cards they’ve chosen. Players face obstacles like industrial lasers, gaping pits, and moving conveyer belts — but those can also be used to the player’s advantage! Each player aims to make it to each of the checkpoints in numerical order. The first player to reach all of the checkpoints wins.” (Source)
Reviewer(s): Jarrod Carmichael (#75), Jason Levine (#11), Quinns Smith (unranked)
72. Lords of Hellas
Description: “Lords of Hellas is a fast-paced territory control game with adventure elements for 1-4 players. The game is set in the Dark Age of Greece, an era shrouded in mystery. This unique setting, combining classical Greek mythology with Sci-Fi elements, creates an amazing aesthetic with miniatures, great 2D art and other components.
Players choose a unique hero to control and compete with one another for victory which can be achieved in multiple ways: from classical territory control, to adventure-style monster hunting.“
Reviewer(s): Jarrod Carmichael (#25), Sam Healey (#29), Tom Vasel (#53)
Description: “Shogun is a strategy game by Dirk Henn. Japan during the Sengoku period: each player assumes the role of a daimyo, a feudal lord, and his armies, trying to unite the country under his banner. They conquer provinces and develop them by building temples, theaters and castle. Once a battle ensues, it is decided by the unique cube tower mechanism: both armies are thrown in together, the cubes that fall out again are the survivors of the battle.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Sam Healey (#79), Steve Spang (#19)
Top Board Games, 70-61
|70||Escape: The Curse of the Temple||3||33|
|69||Ticket to Ride||3||32.66666667|
|68||Clank! In! Space!||3||30.66666667|
|63||Castles of Mad King Ludwig||3||27.66666667|
70. Escape: The Curse of the Temple
Description: “You are a team of adventurers – trapped in a cursed temple. Together you must activate the magic gems in the temple chambers in order to banish the curse. Look out for one another. Some tasks can be accomplished only as a team – and you have only 10 minutes before the temple collapses! Escape is a cooperative real-time game, that is not played in rounds. Instead, each player rolls as quickly and as often as he can with his five dice.”
Reviewer(s): Melody Vasel (#97), Quinns Smith (unranked), Richard Ham (unranked, rated 10 on BGG)
69. Ticket to Ride
Description: “October 2, 1900 – it’s 28 years to the day that noted London eccentric, Phileas Fogg accepted and then won a bet that he could travel “Around the World in 80 Days.” Now, at the dawn of the century, some old friends have gathered to celebrate Fogg’s impetuous and lucrative gamble – and to propose a new wager of their own. The stakes: $1 million in a winner-takes-all competition. The objective: to see the most cities in North America – in just 7 days. Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure game. Players collect train cards that enable them to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who can fulfill their Destination Tickets by connecting two distant cities, and to the player who builds the longest continuous railway. For 2 to 5 players ages 8 and older. Playing time: 30-60 minutes.”
Reviewer(s): Melody Vasel (#31), Tom Vasel (#28), Zee Garcia (#39)
68. Clank! In! Space!
Description: “The evil Lord Eradikus has all but conquered the galaxy, and is now on a victory lap across the sector in his flagship, Eradikus Prime. He may rule with an iron grip, but his most prized artifacts are about to slip through his cyborg claws. You and your fellow thieves have challenged each other to sneak aboard his ship, hack your way into its command module, and steal from him.
Along the way, you’ll recruit allies and snatch up extra loot. But one false step and – Clank! Careless noise draws the attention of Lord Eradikus. Hacking into his command module and stealing his artifacts increases his rage. You’d better hope your friends are louder than you are if you want to make it to an escape pod and get out alive…”
Reviewer(s): Chris Miller (#12), Jamie Keagy (#46), Sam Healey (#34)
67. Specter Ops
Description: “An agent of A.R.K. has infiltrated a top secret Raxxon facility and must complete 3 mission objectives before attempting to escape! Not uneasy task with genetically modified Raxxon Hunters on a mission to seek out and destroy the agent. Which side will you choose.”
Reviewer(s): Melody Vasel (#21), Sam Healey (#55), Steve Spang (#14)
Description: “Welcome to the world of Alchemists! Perform experiments to discover the magical properties of your ingredients. Demonstrate your knowledge by selling potions. Use the money to buy artifacts that further your research. Publish, publish, publish! Earn grants. And expose the fallacies published by those fools who think they can be your rivals. Alchemists is a game of strategy, risk assessment, and deduction. Do you experiment to get more knowledge or do you publish now to get more points? Pay to endorse the latest theory of toads or save your money for an artifact? And should you really be selling that potion to the large axe-wielding barbarian when you aren’t quite sure of its effects? The choices you make will prove whether you are the world’s greatest alchemist. This game is designed to be played using an app that turns your tablet or smartphone into an ingredient card reader. The app is available for free. Supported operating systems are: iOS, Android, Windows.”
Reviewer(s): Jason Levine (#74), Melissa Delp (#6), Melody Vasel (#6)
Description: “Build like a mortal, win like a God in the game of Santorini, the strategic family board game by Gordon Hamilton. The objective is simple: Be the first player to build, block, and climb your way to the top of a tower three stories high. Sounds easy? Not so fast! Santorini requires tactical maneuvering and retains novelty with the addition of extra powers via “god” cards. With thousands of possibilities and unlimited replay value, each round of Santorini is exciting and new! Set up the island of Santorini and challenge your friends and family to construct the iconic city! Both kids and adults can play this game that tests the bounds of mortal intelligence. Join the pantheon of winners in the game of Santorini!”
Reviewer(s): David Waybright (#4), Jarrod Carmichael (#51), Steve Spang (#29)
64. Forbidden Stars
Description: “The shifting Warp Storms that surround the long lost Herakon Cluster have finally abated, leaving the ancient treasures and planets within this sector open to the rest of the galaxy. Now, the great factions of the galaxy mobilize their fleets and race to establish a foothold. The reward for successful domination surpasses all other concerns, and the price for conquering this sector will be paid in lives.
Forbidden Stars challenges you and up to three other players to take command of a mighty fighting force: the Ultramarines chapter of Space Marines, the Eldar of Craftworld Iyanden, the Evil Sunz Ork clan, or the World Eaters Warband of the Chaos Space Marines. Each faction offers unique armies and play styles, but your goal remains the same – to claim the key objectives selected for your faction. These objective tokens are scattered throughout the Herakon Cluster, but your opponents are sure to defend your objectives against you. You need to build massive armies and command them in unending war to best your enemies and claim your objectives. The fight for the Herakon Cluster is brutal and bloody, and you will either stride triumphant over the bodies of your fallen foes, or they will do the same to you.”
Reviewer(s): Edward Uhler (#43), Jamie Keagy (#3), Steve Spang (#38)
63. Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Description: “In the tile-laying game Castles of Mad King Ludwig, players are tasked with building an amazing, extravagant castle for King Ludwig II of Bavaria…one room at a time. You see, the King loves castles, having built Neuschwanstein (the castle that inspired the Disney theme park castles) and others, but now he’s commissioned you to build the biggest, best castle ever — subject, of course, to his ever-changing whims. Each player acts as a building contractor who is adding rooms to the castle he’s building while also selling his services to other players.
In the game, each player starts with a simple foyer. One player takes on the role of the Master Builder, and that player sets prices for a set of rooms that can be purchased by the other players, with him getting to pick from the leftovers after the other players have paid him for their rooms. When a room is added to a castle, the player who built it gains castle points based on the size and type of room constructed, as well as bonus points based on the location of the room. When a room is completed, with all entranceways leading to other rooms in the castle, the player receives one of seven special rewards.
After each purchasing round, a new player becomes the Master Builder who sets prices for a new set of rooms. After several rounds, the game ends, then additional points are awarded for achieving bonus goals, having the most popular rooms, and being the most responsive to the King’s demands, which change each game. Whoever ends up with the most castle points wins.”
Reviewer(s): Jarrod Carmichael (#46), Tom Heath (#36), Melissa Delp (#1)
62. Space Cadets
Description: “Congratulations on graduating from Space Academy and receiving your first assignment! Given your academic performance we are sure that you are just as surprised as we are. Because of the number of classes you missed, we thought you would appreciate a refresher on the basics of the way your starship operates. Please pay attention carefully, as any damage caused to the ship will be deducted from your salary and those of your next of kin.
At the start of the game you will select a mission and difficulty level. The object of the game is to move around the map and accomplish the mission goals. For example, in Mission 1 the ship must use Tractor Beams to collect three crystals and then jump out of the sector.
The game is played in a series of turns, and each turn is broken down into 9 steps. Some of these steps are timed using the sand timer.
There are nine Stations on the ship, and each player will be in charge of one or more. Here is a brief overview of each Station and how it works. Each Station has its own section in the rules where you can see the full details.
Space Cadets is a cooperative game, so the players win or lose as a team. Good luck Cadets!”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Melody Vasel (#15), Jarrod Carmichael (#65)
61. El Grande
Description: “Five powerful members of Spanish nobility, Grandes, vow to spread their influence throughout the various regions of 15th century Spain. Players will recruit and deploy Caballeros, influence the King’s movements, and participate in intrigue that will shape the country of Spain for centuries to come.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Tom Vasel (#63), Jason Levine (#16)
Top Board Games, 60-51
|58||The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire||3||23|
|55||Xia: Legends of a Drift System||3||16.33333333|
|54||Race for the Galaxy||3||16.33333333|
|53||Food Chain Magnate||3||16|
60. Arkham Horror
Description: “The year is 1926, and it is the height of the Roaring Twenties. Flappers dance till dawn in smoke-filled speakeasies, drinking alcohol supplied by rum runners and the mob. It’s a celebration to end all celebrations in the aftermath of the War to End All Wars.
Yet a dark shadow grows in the city of Arkham. Alien entities known as Ancient Ones lurk in the emptiness beyond space and time, writhing at the thresholds between worlds. Occult rituals must be stopped and alien creatures destroyed before the Ancient Ones make our world their ruined dominion.
Only a handful of investigators stand against the horror. Will they prevail?
Arkham Horror Third Edition is a cooperative board game for one to six players who take on the roles of investigators trying to rid the world of eldritch beings known as Ancient Ones. Based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, players will have to gather clues, defeat terrifying monsters, and find tools and allies if they are to stand any chance of defeating the creatures that dwell just beyond the veil of our reality.”
Reviewer(s): Jarrod Carmichael (#28), Jamie Keagy (#35), Chris Miller (#13)
Description: “Re-live the adventures of Conan, Shevatas the thief, or Hadrathus the mage. Fight monsters, necromancers, or Picts led by Zogar Sag. Travel at the side of Bêlit, the Queen of the Black Coast, and her crew of pirates. Take part in great battles in packed inns or ruined castles.
The one among you who will lead the troops of the Overlord will face the Heroes, who are united to survive and reach their objectives. Their victory or defeat will depend on the strategic choices made by both sides, and the ability of the Heroes to cooperate. Each scenario will take you to a specific area and a different game configuration.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Jamie Keagy (#32), Steve Spang (#41)
58. The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire
Description: “World War 2 has become a memory, and global power is shifting as modernization changes the world. Nations scramble to upgrade their energy production to keep up with the rapid growth. The price of oil is going up, and nuclear energy is the wave of the future. In Energy Empire, each player takes control of a nation vying for power in the second half of the 20th century. They build up their nation’s industry, commerce, and government by acquiring resources, building structures, and tapping new sources of energy. MP: Energy Empire is a stand alone game based on the popular Manhattan Project board game by Minion Games.”
Reviewer(s): Jarrod Carmichael (#39), Tom Heath (#29), Richard Ham (unranked, rated 10 on BGG)
57. Rococo (aka Rokoko)
Description: “Welcome to the Rococo era during the reign of Louis XV when it’s safe to say that holding lavish balls is quite trendy. Important personalities wrap up in noble coats and dresses, anxious to outshine one another. As the biggest event is coming up in just a few weeks, everyone is turning to you with their requests: an elegant coat here, a stunning dress there, or a donation to fund the fireworks at the event. Soon you realize that it’s not just about your dressmaking business anymore – it’s about managing the most prestigous ball of the era…and now it’s time to ro(c)k! Rococo is a Eurostyle board game with an interesting take on deck-building. Each turn you play one of your employee cards and let that employee perform a task: hire a new employee, buy resources, manufacture a coat or dress, or invest in the ball’s decorations. But not every employee is up to every task, so you must choose and lead your employees wisely – especially since each employee grants a unique bonus and some of these bonuses generate prestige points. After seven rounds, the game ends with the big ball and a final scoring. Then you gain prestige points for certain employee bonuses and for coats and dresses that you rent out to guests at the ball as well as for decorations that you funded. The player who collected the most prestige points wins.”
Reviewer(s): Edward Uhler (#31), Tom Heath (#25), Chris Miller (#4)
56. Galaxy Trucker
Description: “Corporation Incorporated, the galactic leader in sewer system construction, is looking for can-do guys and gals to haul materials to remote regions of the galaxy. Must be willing to fend off meteors, smugglers, and pirates. Experience working with aliens a plus.
Earn copious cosmic credits with bonuses for speedy delivery.
The game consists of three rounds. In each round, the players begin by rummaging through the Warehouse, trying to grab the best components and build the best space ship. Once the ships are under way, the players try to avoid snares and obstacles, while grasping financial opportunities, each hoping to be the first to finish with an undamaged ship.
It’s possible that you will end up with an insurmountable debt and finish your days panhandling on the streets of Deneb III, but if Lady Luck should smile upon you, you just might find yourself among the 10 billion richest people in the Galaxy!”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Melody Vasel (#10), Tom Heath (#39)
55. Xia: Legends of a Drift System
Description: “Xia is a 3-4 player sandbox style competitive space adventure. Each player starts as a lowly but hopeful captain of a small starship.
Players fly their ships about the system, completing a variety of missions, exploring new sectors and battling other ships. Navigating hazardous environments, players choose to mine, salvage, or trade valuable cargo. Captains vie with each other for Titles, riches, and most importantly Fame.
The most adaptive, risk taking, and creative players will excel. One captain will rise above the others, surpassing mortality by becoming Legend!”
Reviewer(s): Melody Vasel (#7), Jarrod Carmichael (#17), Chris Miller (#25)
54. Race for the Galaxy
Description: “The players all compete to explore the galaxy by exploring new worlds and developing new technologies. Each turn each player chooses one action, but the others will share in the actions chosen. In the end, the player with the most points is the winner!!”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Tom Vasel (#43), Melissa Delp (#5)
53. Food Chain Magnate
Description: “Food Chain Magnate is a heavy strategy game about building a fast food chain. The focus is on building your company using a card-driven (human) resource management system. Players compete on a variable city map through purchasing, marketing and sales, and on a job market for key staff members. The game can be played by 2-5 serious gamers in 2-4 hours.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Jason Levine (#3), Edward Uhler (#44)
Description: “During the late middle ages, the French city of troyes was a center of western European conflict. It witnessed the marriage of a French Queen to an English King, Joan of arc’s crusade to liberate France, the black Death, the arrival of the gypsies, the birth of arthurian Romance, and more — all before a tremendous fire destroyed the city and its ornate cathedral, consigning the greatness of troyes to history. You can experience the greatness of this medieval French city in the board game troyes. Combining the unpredictability of dice with a tight economy and plentiful player interaction, troyes challenges you to lead a Group of citizens through a tumultuous time and compels you to make tough strategic decisions in every round. Will your citizens become archers or artisans? will you help build the cathedral, or battle Heresy? above all, how will you survive the constant attacks, skirmishes, and battles of the hundred years war, and earn your family some fame during this tumultuous era?”
Reviewer(s): Tom Heath (#31), Richard Ham (unranked, rated 10 on BGG), Jeremy Salinas (#1)
Description: “The year is 1870. For centuries, sails have ruled the seas, but now the steam engine is beginning to dominate. Shipbuilders are experimenting with new designs, competing for the prestigious Blue Riband, which honors the fastest ship to cross the Atlantic. Their efforts are watched closely by the world’s imperial powers; for the strength of every empire depends on its commercial and military fleet. It is an exciting time to run a shipyard.
Found a company. Build a fleet. Show the world that your ships are the fastest, the safest, and the best.
You take the role of a shipyard owner. Your goal is to build the best ships within the allotted time. As your completed ships leave the yard, they are evaluated on many criteria and your company’s stock rises. You decide whether to build fast merchant ships, trans-ocean steamers, or small sailing yachts, while keeping in mind the bonuses you can receive from your secret government contracts.”
Reviewer(s): Edward Uhler (#18), Tom Heath (#13), Richard Ham (unranked, rated 10 on BGG)
Top Board Games, 50-41
|48||Arkham Horror: The Card Game||3||5.333333333|
|47||Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King||3||4|
|45||Tales of the Arabian Nights||4||49|
|43||Mechs vs Minions||4||39.5|
50. Brass: Birmingham
Description: “Brass: Birmingham is an economic strategy game sequel to Martin Wallace’ 2007 masterpiece, Brass. Birmingham tells the story of competing entrepreneurs in Birmingham during the industrial revolution, between the years of 1770-1870.
As in its predecessor, you must develop, build, and establish your industries and network, in an effort to exploit low or high market demands.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Edward Uhler (#17), Jamie Keagy (#14)
Description: “How will you lead your nation? Conserve your resources, or spend on military? Send your people to work, or invest in their national heritage? Avoid famine and war, hire workers and architects and raise wonders that will stand the test of time. In the end, only one nation can rise to the top. A deep, challenging game, Nations will force players to make difficult decisions and deal with unpredictable events. Balance future growth with the need for current resources. Deploy your people as soldiers or laborers. Invest in progress or hire architects. Create new buildings or establish colonies. Hire advisors to take you through the ages and create a nation to outshine all the rest.”
Reviewer(s): Tom Heath (#7), Richard Ham (unranked, rated 10 on BGG), Jeremy Salinas (#8)
48. Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Description: “The boundaries between worlds have drawn perilously thin…
Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a cooperative Living Card Game® set amid a backdrop of Lovecraftian horror. As the Ancient Ones seek entry to our world, one to two investigators (or up to four with two Core Sets) work to unravel arcane mysteries and conspiracies.
Their efforts determine not only the course of your game, but carry forward throughout whole campaigns, challenging them to overcome their personal demons even as Arkham Horror: The Card Game blurs the distinction between the card game and roleplaying experiences.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Zee Garcia (#2), Jarrod Carmichael (#13)
47. Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
Description: “Isle of Skye, one of the most beautiful places in the world: Soft sand beaches, gently sloping hills, impressive mountains: the landscape of Isle of Skye is breathtaking and fascinates everyone. In this tile-laying game 2 to 5 players are the chieftains of 5 famous clans. The players try to build their little kingdoms to score as many points as possible. But in each game only 4 of the 16 scoring cards will be scored. Each game is different and leads to different tactics and strategies. To have enough money is useful in all games: In each turn the players can buy a tile from another player. The seller determines the price, but to do it wisely is the most interesting part of this game: A high price will lead to wealth, if someone buys this tile, but if there’s no buyer, the seller will lose the money spend on this tile. And in the end the player with the best kingdom will become the sovereign of the island, not the richest player! Isle of Skye is a gateway game for the whole family. With a playing time around 45 minutes, a huge variability and easy rules it’s a perfect game for all players. The awesome illustrations by Klemens Franz brings all the atmosphere of the Scottish island on your table.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Jonathan Cox (unranked, rated 9 on BGG), Gary Chumbley (#9)
46. Dungeon Petz
Description: “‘What this town needs is a pet store.’ No one knows which imp said it, but every imp recognized the idea was pure genius: “A pet shop for dungeon lords? What a great idea! Yeah, and no one else is doing it! No competition! We’ll be rich!”
And now you have just opened the first pet shop in town. Right next door to the other first pet shop in town. Across the street from two more.
Buy baby monsters! Feed them and watch them grow! Clean their cages!
Yes, running a pet store is exciting for an imp. But it can also be mentally challenging: What is the smartest way to win the upcoming exhibition? Which pet is best suited for your dungeon lord customer? How strong a cage do you need, and if you guess wrong, how many family members will be maimed?
Win or lose, you are sure to enjoy the grand opening of Dungeon Petz.”
Reviewer(s): Melody Vasel (#2), Tom Heath (#8), Richard Ham (unranked, rated 10 on BGG)
45. Tales of the Arabian Nights
Description: “In Tales of the Arabian Nights, you are the hero or heroine in a story of adventure and wonder worthy of legend. Travel the land seeking your destiny and fortune. Along the way, you’ll encounter interesting people and strange creatures, learn stories, and gain wisdom to share with others. While there is a winner in Tales of the Arabian Nights, the game is less about seeing who wins and more about enjoying the unfolding and telling of great stories!
Enter the lands of the Arabian Nights alongside Sindbad, Scheherazade, Ali Baba, Zumurrud, and other legendary heroes. Travel the world encountering imprisoned princesses, powerful efreets, evil viziers, and marvels such as the Magnetic Mountain and the Cave of Wonders. Encounter a new creature or place every turn, but know that the choices you make will shape the rest of your travels. You might stumble upon hidden treasure and become wealthy beyond your imagination, or you could become accursed with your fate placed in the hands of another player! With an entire deck of encounter cards and the massive Book of Tales shaping how each encounter plays out, no two stories will be the same.
At the beginning of the game, you determine what skills your character has. These skills unlock story options as you make your way through the world. Become a master of magic, an expert swordsman, a master wordsmith versed in courtly graces—or all three!—as your story progresses and your skills evolve. Make the right choices and your skills will reward you, revealing additional choices in your encounters and even the opportunity to draw one of the thirty Treasure cards. Play to your strengths and you could be handsomely rewarded!
In addition to facing encounters each turn, players also receive quests that ultimately contribute to their legend. As each game progresses, players acquire Story and Destiny points for completing quests and having successful encounters. The game ends when a player fulfills their destiny by reaching a combination of Story and Destiny points of their choosing. Even though that game may be over, all the players have tales to tell that will challenge, amuse, astound, and spellbind them for years to come.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Melody Vasel (#82), Jarrod Carmichael (#89), Chris Miller (#24)
Description: “Plan, build, and develop a small town into a major metropolis. Use hex-shaped building tiles to add residential, commercial, civic, and industrial areas, as well as special points of interest that provide benefits and take advantage of the resources of nearby towns. Your goal is to have your borough thrive and end up with a greater population than any of your opponents.
Suburbia is a tile-laying game in which each player tries to build up an economic engine and infrastructure that will be initially self-sufficient, and eventually become both profitable and encourage population growth. As your town grows, you’ll modify both your income and your reputation. As your income increases, you’ll have more cash on hand to purchase better and more valuable buildings, such as an international airport or a high rise office building. As your reputation increases, you’ll gain more and more population (and the winner at the end of the game is the player with the largest population).
During each game, players compete for several unique goals that offer an additional population boost – and the buildings available in each game vary, so you’ll never play the same game twice!”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#73), Jarrod Carmichael (#38), Tom Heath (#43), Chris Miller (#22)
43. Mechs vs Minions
Description: “Rumble has invited four intrepid Yordles (Heimerdinger, Tristana, Corki, and Ziggs) to his school to learn how to program and pilot their newly crafted mechs against an army of marauding minions threatening the safety of Runeterra.
Mechs vs Minions is a cooperative tabletop campaign set in the League of Legends universe for you and up to three of your most genius-ish yordle friends. You’ll program and pilot your new mechs through 10 minion-mashing missions, each of which will take around 60-90 minutes. What do you mean this doesn’t look safe?”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#52), Melody Vasel (#44), Tom Heath (#38), Steve Spang (#24)
42. Captain Sonar
Description: “Get on board a state-of-the-art submarine and team-up! Every role is important and the confrontation is merciless. Be organized and communicative! Because a Captain is nothing without his crew: the First Mate, the Radio Operator and the Engineer!
Captain Sonar is a teamwork game where cooperation will be crucial!”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Tom Vasel (#17), Sam Healey (#89), Jarrod Carmichael (#49)
41. Arcadia Quest
Description: “Arcadia, the sacred city that holds the balance of night and day in the world, has been plunged into darkness by the vile Lord Fang.
Arcadia Quest is an exciting new adventure board game for 2 to 4 players created by a quartet of designers, including Mr. Eric Lang. Each player controls a Guild of 3 Heroes, competing to be the liberators of the city of Arcadia and, more importantly, to become the richest and most powerful Guild in the land!
Arcadia Quest is a game that combines PvE and PvP gameplay, as players battle not only the monsters that populate the board, but also the heroes controlled by other players. The monsters react to the players’ actions, so there is no need for one player to be stuck with the role of “game master”, everybody gets to play as heroes.
The game is played through the multiple scenarios that make up a campaign. Players can choose the path their campaign takes, ensuring that no two playthroughs are ever the same. As their heroes defeat enemies and accomplish quests, they get new weapons, loot and abilities that will make them gradually more powerful and resourceful!”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#19), Melody Vasel (#30), Chris Miller (#33), Steve Spang (#16)
Top Board Games, 40-31
|39||Deception: Murder in Hong Kong||4||20.5|
|34||War of the Ring||4||5.25|
|33||Great Western Trail||4||4.75|
|31||Lords of Waterdeep||5||45|
Description: “Find adventure in a marvelous asymmetric game. Root provides limitless replay value as you and your friends explore the unique factions all wanting to rule a fantastic forest kingdom.
Play as the:
Marquise de Cat: Dominate the woods, extracting its riches and policing its inhabitants.
Woodland Alliance: Gather supporters and coordinate revolts against the ruling regime.
Eyrie Dynasties: Regain control of the woods while keeping your squabbling court at bay.
Vagabond: Seek fame and fortune as you forge alliances and rivalries with the other players.
Each faction has its own play style and paths to victory, providing an immersive game experience you will want to play again and again.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Tom Vasel (#33), Edward Uhler (#30), Steve Spang (#25)
39. Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
Description: “A social game of deduction and deception. Who among you can see through the lies? Who is capable of getting away with murder?
Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is a game of deduction and deception for 4-12 players which plays in about 20 minutes. In the game, players take on the roles of investigators attempting to solve a murder case – but there’s a twist. The killer is one of the investigators! While the Investigators attempt to deduce the truth, the murderer’s team must deceive and mislead. This is a battle of wits! Find out who among you can cut through deception to find the truth and who is capable of getting away with murder!”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Zee Garcia (#22), Sam Healey (#6), Melody Vasel (#53)
38. Puerto Rico
Description: “Prospector, captain, mayor, trader, settler, craftsman, or builder? Which roles will you play in the new world? Will you own the most prosperous plantations? Will you build the most valuable buildings? You have but one goal: achieve the greatest prosperity and highest respect! This is shown by the player who earns the most victory points. He will win the game!”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#44), Jason Levine (#2), Edward Uhler (#20), Melissa Delp (#9)
Description: “As skilled members of a disease-fighting team, you and the other players work together to keep the world safe from outbreaks and epidemics. Only through teamwork will you have a chance to find a cure.
Pandemic is a cooperative board game in which players work as a team to treat infections around the world while gathering resources for cures. First published in 2007, the game’s unique combination of cooperative gameplay, engrossing premise, and compelling design have proved a hit with everyone from hardcore gamers to casual players. The Pandemic game line now includes multiple expansions and stand-alone titles.”
Reviewer(s): Zee Garcia (#1), Jarrod Carmichael (#71), Tom Heath (#2), Richard Ham (unranked, rated 10 on BGG)
Description: “The realm of Kingsburg is under attack! Monstrous invaders are gathering at the borders, aiming to conquer the realm and plunder its riches. King Tritus has chosen you to take charge of a province on the border and prepare its defenses. Build your territory and earn your place on the Royal Council in Kingsburg, a game of city building and courtly intrigue. In Kingsburg, each player can develop their province as they see fit and this definitive edition provides as much variety as possible. Including the base game, all five modules from the To Forge a Realm expansion, as well as the new Alternate Advisor Rewards module, players have more options than ever before. Every year that passes sees your city grow, but danger is always lurking on the horizon. After winter’s harsh weather, an army invades. With goblins burning your settlements and dragons destroying a turn’s worth of victory points, you must find ways to protect your province. If you can impress the King with your political agility, he may reward you with a place at his side. You have just five years to rise above your counterparts and prove your worth!
Luckily, you aren’t entirely alone on the border. The King and his seventeen advisors are willing to aid you with resources, military intelligence, soldiers, or political clout. But each advisor is only willing to help one provincial governor per season, and they don’t often work well together. To gain their benefits, you must exert your influence over them using Kingburg’s innovative way of using dice: each player rolls their dice, then claims the resources bestowed by as many as three advisors, numbered 1-18. But since each advisor can only be used once per season, clever players will apply their dice rolls strategically in ways that simultaneously benefit themselves and vex their opponents, quickly snatching up advisors and cutting off their opponents, leaving them without resources and holding useless dice. Carefully apply your dice and scheme your way into the King’s inner circle!”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Sam Healey (#18), Melody Vasel (#18), Kevin Delp (#2)
35. Gaia Project
Description: “For centuries, your civilization has yearned to take to the stars and explore unknown worlds. Now you finally have the technology to take your first steps into the cosmos. In Gaia Project, one to four players are invited to forge their own galactic empires. Each player takes command of one of fourteen unique factions competing to colonize the galaxy. Spread your influence by claiming new planets, building structures to produce resources, developing new technologies, and uniting your planets in federations. As your empire grows and your economy becomes more diverse, you’ll unlock powerful abilities that help you gain an advantage over your competition. There are many possible actions you can take and you must determine the best way to combine those actions to build your empire. Every option offers tantalizing possibilities, but always remember: In the end, only the most advanced faction will dominate the galaxy.
The galaxy is vast and the planets you find there come in many varieties, from harsh desert to the mild terra. Each faction in Gaia Project has different environmental needs to survive on a planet. In order to expand across the galaxy, you must commit resources to terraforming planets to meet your faction’s specific needs. But some planets will be harder for you to terraform than others. With a limited number of planets available and competing factions vying for control, it’s up to you to determine which planets to target and which to leave to your opponents. Gaia Project features modular space sector tiles that allow for many board configurations, giving variety to your games. Construct your own galaxy and compete with your friends or even strike out on your own with the rules for solo play. The galaxy is yours to explore in Gaia Project!”
Reviewer(s): Jason Levine (#14), Jonathan Cox (unranked, rated 9 on BGG), Jamie Keagy (#13), Chris Miller (#3)
34. War of the Ring
Description: “The War of the Ring has begun… The WAR OF THE RING is a grand strategy board game that allows its players to immerse themselves in the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s THE LORD OF THE RINGS and experience its epic action, dramatic conflict, and memorable characters.
As the Free Peoples player you command the proud hosts of the most important kingdoms of the Third Age. From the horse-lords of Rohan to the soldiers of Gondor and the Elven lords of Rivendell, you lead the defense of the last free realms of Middle-earth. Face the evil minions of Sauron on the field of battle in a desperate attempt to delay their onslaught, while you lead the Fellowship of the Ring in the Quest for Mount Doom.
As the Shadow player you lead the hordes of the Dark Lord and his most powerful minions as they try to bring darkness to Middle-earth. Legions of Orcs, Trolls, Wolfriders and the dreadful Ringwraiths await your command. Hunt the Ring-bearer and bring the precious Ring to his Master, or crush your enemies with your unstoppable armies.
This is your chance to forge the destiny of an age…”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Jason Levine (#7), Jarrod Carmichael (#6), Jeremy Salinas (#7)
33. Great Western Trail
Description: “In Great Western Trail, you are rival cattlemen in 19th century America, herding cattle in a circular trail around the state of Texas. Your cattle are then shipped by train, earning you money and victory points. Hire capable staff, such as cowboys to improve your herd, craftsmen to build your cattle posts, or engineers for the railroad line. Upon each arrival at the destination station, have your most valuable cattle in tow. The winner is the player who manages their herd best and exhibits good timing in mastering the opportunities and pitfalls of the Great Western Trail. This game is designed by Alexander Pfister (“Mombasa”).”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Jason Levine (#4), Elaine & Efka (#6), Gary Chumbley (#8)
32. Rising Sun
Description: “Rising Sun is a board game for 3 to 5 players set in legendary feudal Japan. As the Kami descend from the heavens to reshape the land in their image, it is up to each player to lead their clan to victory. Use politics to further your cause, negotiate to seek the most profitable alliances, worship the Kami to gain their favor, recruit monsters out of legend to bolster your forces, and use your resources wisely to be victorious in battle. Created by acclaimed designer Eric M. Lang, Rising Sun reunites the same creative forces responsible for the smash hit Blood Rage, with stunning artwork by Adrian Smith and intricate miniatures sculpted under the direction of Mike McVey.”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#18), Zee Garcia (#87), Sam Healey (#51), Jamie Keagy (#49), Steve Spang (#44)
31. Lords of Waterdeep
Description: “Waterdeep, the City of Splendors—the most resplendent jewel in the Forgotten Realms, and a den of political intrigue and shady back-alley dealings. In this game, the players are powerful lords vying for control of this great city. Its treasures and resources are ripe for the taking, and that which cannot be gained through trickery and negotiation must be taken by force!
Lords of Waterdeep is a strategy board game for 2-5 players. You take on the role of one of the masked Lords of Waterdeep, secret rulers of the city. Through your agents, you recruit adventurers to go on quests on your behalf, earning rewards and increasing your influence over the city.
Expand the city by purchasing new buildings that open up new actions on the board, and hinder—or help—the other lords by playing Intrigue cards to enact your carefully laid plans”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#64), Melody Vasel (#73), Jarrod Carmichael (#61), Kevin Delp (#9), Steve Spang (#18)
Top Board Games, 30-21
|26||Caverna: The Cave Farmers||5||32.4|
Description: “It is a time of unrest in 1920s Europa. The ashes from the first great war still darken the snow. The capitalistic city-state known simply as “The Factory,” which fueled the war with heavily armored mechs, has closed its doors, drawing the attention of several nearby countries.
Scythe (1-5 players, 115 minutes) is a board game set in an alternate-history 1920s period. It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation and valor.
In Scythe, each player represents a fallen leader attempting to restore their honor and lead their faction to power in Eastern Europa. Players conquer territory, enlist new recruits, reap resources, gain villagers, build structures, and activate monstrous mechs.”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#8), Sam Healey (#91), Jarrod Carmichael (#47), Kevin Delp (#11), Jamie Keagy (#37)
29. Twilight Struggle
Description: “On November 9th of 2009, the world marked the 20th Anniversary of the conclusion of the Cold War. That was the day that the Cold War’s most tangible symbol — the Berlin Wall — was relegated to the ash heap of history. Unlike the 20th Century’s other great conflict, the Cold War did not end in an explosion of neutrons, but rather, an explosion of human freedom and optimism. We had avoided what many thought inevitable — the destruction of mankind through armed conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States. Overnight, the face of Europe had changed. Suddenly, all things were possible. That was 20 years ago. Sadly, we all learned that the end of the Cold War was not “the end of history.” Mankind would find new ways to divide itself.
While the threat of nuclear holocaust disappeared, newer and more sinister forms of conflict would take its place. Where once superpowers bestrode the globe, decentralized networks and even individuals now command the world’s attention.This Deluxe Edition of Twilight Struggle seeks to capture the feeling of that earlier era.
Twilight Struggle is a two-player game simulating the forty-five year dance of intrigue, prestige, and occasional flares of warfare between the Soviet Union and the United States. Using the card-driven game mechanics pioneered in such award winning games as We the People and Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, Twilight Struggle recreates the conflict between the most powerful nation states the world has ever known. The scope of the game covers the entire world as it was found in 1945. Players move units and exert influence in attempts to gain allies and control for their superpower.
As with GMT’s other card-driven games, decision-making is a challenge; how to best use one’s cards and units given consistently limited resources? Event cards add cover a vast array of historical happenings, from the Berlin Airlift, to the Vietnam War and the U.S. peace movement, to the Cuban Missile Crisis. This Deluxe Edition of Twilight Struggle marries world-class components, with the sort of world-class game play for which GMT is already known. We cannot think of a better way to commemorate this vital piece of world history. We invite you to relieve an era with the words uttered by one of its most iconic statesmen: “Now the trumpet summons us again, not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are – but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle” – John F. Kennedy”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#29), Sam Healey (#63), Jason Levine (#47), Jarrod Carmichael (#1), Steve Spang (#43)
28. Cosmic Encounter
Description: “Who—or what—is out there?
Eons ago, your ancestors searched the black void of space for intelligent life. Their search proved fruitless. They were alone. Desolate, they used their technology to send the seeds of life to inhabitable planets across the galaxies. Over millions of years, the alien species evolved, but before the ancestors could see the fruits of their labor, they disappeared.
To aid their children, your ancestors left behind a legacy of advanced technology and hyperspace gates- gifts to encourage communication and harmony between their children. But without the guide of an elder, you and your distant alien cousins must learn to communicate, negotiate, and coexist.
Welcome to the Cosmic Age. The open skies of countless worlds are filled with speeding spaceships, and a panoply of alien species compete to populate the galaxy. Will your people choose to occupy undefended worlds, create peaceful civilizations, or ruthlessly conquer foreign planets? In the quest to colonize the vast cosmos, there are as many paths to victory as there are aliens seeking it. Peace, war, negotiation, betrayal—you never know what will happen in the next encounter!”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Tom Vasel (#2), Zee Garcia (#61), Sam Healey (#77), Melody Vasel (#34)
27. Ghost Stories
Description: “Many fell putting an end to the reign of terror of Wu-Feng Lord of the Nine Hells. The funerary urn housing his ashes was buried in the cemetery of a village in the Middle Empire. Years have passed and the cursed legacy has been forgotten by the living. Hidden away in Hell Wu-Feng has forgotten nothing. His incessant research allowed him to locate the receptacle. The shadow of his former incarnation already extends to the villagers who are unaware of the danger threatening them. Fortunately the Fat-Si (Taoist priests) keep watch guarding the border between the dead and the living. Armed with their courage their faith and their powers they will try to return the reincarnation of Wu-Feng to Hell. Ghost Stories is a cooperative game. The players play as a team against the game. Either they share a common victory or suffer the same defeat. Ghost Stories provides 4 levels of difficulty: Initiation Normal Nightmare and Hell.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Tom Vasel (#30), Zee Garcia (#7), Melody Vasel (#46), Jarrod Carmichael (#82)
26. Caverna: The Cave Farmers
Description: “In this game, you are the bearded leader of a small dwarf family which lives in a little cave in the mountains. Together, you cultivate the forest in front of your cave and dig deeper into the mountain. You furnish the caves as dwellings for your offspring as well as working spaces for small enterprises. It’s up to you how much ore you want to mine. You will need it to forge weapons, that allow you to go on expeditions to gain bonus items and actions. While digging through the mountain, you may come across water sources and find ore and ruby mines that help you increase your wealth. Right in front of your cave, you can increase your wealth even further with agriculture: you can cut down the forest to sow fields and fence in pastures to hold your animals. In the end, the player with the most efficiently developed home board will win the game. Play the solo variant of this game to make yourself familiar with the 48 different furnishing tiles for your cave.”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#12), Sam Healey (#61), Melody Vasel (#9), Jarrod Carmichael (#37), Chris Miller (#43)
25. Summoner Wars
Description: “Summoner Wars is the exciting card game of fantastic battlefield combat that puts you in the grandiose role of a Summoner. Strategy shapes the composition of each deck of cards and how they are used. Tactics determine the effectiveness of those cards in battle. Call walls of stone to protect you in combat and serve as magic portals for you to summon your warriors. Call your forces forth and send them in a surging wave against your enemy. Cast spells that bolster your forces and cut down those who would oppose you.”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#6), Zee Garcia (#67), Sam Healey (#38), Jason Levine (#29), Melody Vasel (#8)
24. T.I.M.E Stories
Description: “It has been a grueling training regiment at the Academy, but you’re finally ready for your first mission as a full-fledged T.I.M.E. agent. You and your team will travel back (or forward) in time to prevent some cataclysmic event. But don’t waste a moment. Every second counts! In T.I.M.E. Stories, you will work cooperatively with a team to solve a mystery taking place in a different era. Each team member will enter a shell of someone alive at the time and gain their physical strengths and weaknesses. If you can’t complete the adventure in time you’ll be sent back to the start of the mission for another attempt. Each T.I.M.E. Stories deck is a new scenario waiting to be discovered! When are we this time.”
Reviewers(s): Tom Vasel (#57), Sam Healey (#72), Melissa Delp (#3), Kevin Delp (#4), Steve Spang (#11)
23. Power Grid
Description: “Power Grid is the updated release of the Friedemann Friese crayon game Funkenschlag. The latest cooperative publishing effort from Friedemann Friese and Rio Grande Games, removes the crayon aspect from network building in the original edition while retaining the fluctuating commodities market like McMulti and an auction round intensity reminiscent of The Princes of Florence.
The object of Power Grid is to supply the most cities with power when someone’s network gains a predetermined size. In this new edition, players mark pre-existing routes between cities for connection, and then vie against other players to purchase the power plants that you use to supply the power. However, as plants are purchased, newer more efficient plants become available so you’re potentially allowing others to access to superior equipment merely by purchasing at all. Additionally, players must acquire the raw materials, like coal, oil, garbage, or uranium, to power said plants(except for the highly valuable ’renewable energy’ wind/solar plants), making it a constant struggle to upgrade your plants for maximum efficiency while still retaining enough wealth to quickly expand your network to get the cheapest routes.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Sam Healey (#70), Jason Levine (#25), Jarrod Carmichael (#44), Kevin Delp (#6)
Description: “The two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their CODENAMES.
The teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin.
Codenames: win or lose, it’s fun to figure out the clues.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Jason Levine (#35), Melody Vasel (#95), Melissa Delp (#7), Kevin Delp (#5)
Description: “Anachrony is a competitive Euro-style strategy game set in a post-apocalyptic world rebuilt along four different ideological Paths. The game is played through a series of turns called Eras, with past ones reachable through time travel later in the game. Players assume the roles of iconic leaders of the four Paths, striving not only for the supremacy and well-being of their people, but also their survival. After the fourth Era, an asteroid impact shakes Earth, threatening to destroy the World Capital, Earth’s last independent city. The Paths should prepare for the coming cataclysm, and when the time comes, take their part in evacuating the collapsing Capital. In the end, one of the Paths will be the new home to the reformed World Council, and lead humanity into a new future.”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#50), Melody Vasel (#33), Jarrod Carmichael (#7), Jamie Keagy (#23), Chris Miller (#9)
Top Board Games, 20-11
|18||Mansions of Madness: Second Edition||5||14.2|
|17||Star Wars: Rebellion||5||13|
|14||Fury of Dracula||6||32.16666667|
|11||Roll for the Galaxy||6||20.16666667|
Description: “Manage a civilization in Ancient Egypt: maneuver your troops to defeat your enemies, control the best territories and enter the legend thanks to your military feats!
A game in the same vein as Cyclades, with a strong atmosphere which will transport you through the ancient times.
Between battles and magic, be the finest of all the strategists!”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Tom Vasel (#13), Sam Healey (#47), Elaine & Efka (#8), Chris Miller (#23)
Description: “During the medieval goings-on around Orléans, you must assemble a following of farmers, merchants, knights, monks, etc. to gain supremacy through trade, construction and science in medieval France.
In the city of Orléans and the area of the Loire, you can take trade trips to other cities to acquire coveted goods and build trading posts. You need followers and their abilities to expand your dominance by putting them to work as traders, builders, and scientists. Knights expand your scope of action and secure your mercantile expeditions. Craftsmen build trading stations and tools to facilitate work. Scholars make progress in science, and last but not least it cannot hurt to get active in monasteries since with monks on your side you are much less likely to fall prey to fate.
In Orléans, you will always want to take more actions than possible, and there are many paths to victory. The challenge is to combine all elements as best as possible with regard to your strategy.”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#27), Jason Levine (#41), Gary Chumbley (#3), David Waybright (#1), Chris Miller (#2)
18. Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
Description: “Fight for your life in Mansions of Madness Second Edition, the app-assisted horror game inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. From the makers of Eldritch Horror, this fully cooperative game takes you and up to four other players on a harrowing adventure through the dark and desolate halls and alleyways of Arkham. Much like the original Mansions of Madness game, the second edition offers a number of thrilling and confounding scenarios, each with a unique and unpredictable map, intricate puzzles, and bloodthirsty monsters.”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#49), Jarrod Carmichael (#11), Jamie Keagy (#4), Chris Miller (#5), Steve Spang (#2)
17. Star Wars: Rebellion
Description: “The actions of a handful of men and women shape the course of the Galactic Civil War in Star Wars™: Rebellion, a board game of epic conflict between the Galactic Empire and Rebel Alliance for two to four players.
In Star Wars™: Rebellion, you control the entire Galactic Empire or the fledgling Rebel Alliance. You must command starships, account for troop movements, and rally systems to your cause. Featuring more than 150 plastic miniatures and two game boards that account for thirty-two of the Star Wars™ galaxy’s most notable star systems, Star Wars™: Rebellion aspires to be as large and sweeping as the Star Wars™ universe itself.”
Reviewer(s): Sam Healey (#9), Jason Levine (#8), Jarrod Carmichael (#5), Jamie Keagy (#42), Steve Spang (#1)
16. Five Tribes
Description: “Crossing into the Land of 1001 Nights, your caravan arrives at the fabled Sultanate of Naqala.
The old sultan just died and control of Naqala is up for grabs!
The oracles foretold of strangers who would maneuver the Five Tribes to gain influence over the legendary city-state.
Will you fulfill the prophecy? Invoke the old Djinns, move the Tribes into position at the right time and the Sultanate may become yours!”
Reviewer(s): Zee Garcia (#3), Jason Levine (#53), Melissa Delp (#2), Gary Chumbley (#4), David Waybright (#2)
Description: “In Agricola (Latin for “farmer”), you’re a farmer in a wooden shack with your spouse and little else. On a turn, you get to take only two actions, one for you and one for the spouse, from all the possibilities you’ll find on a farm: collecting clay, wood or stone; building fences; and so on. You might think about having kids in order to get more work accomplished, but first you need to expand your house. And what are you going to feed all the little rug rats? Agricola is a turn based game. There are 14 game turns plus 6 harvest phases (after turn 4, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 14). Each player starts with two playing tokens (farmer and wife) and thus can take two actions per turn. There are multiple options, and while the game progresses, you’ll have more and more: first thing in a turn, a new action card is flipped over. Problem: Each action can be taken just once per turn, so it’s important to do some things with high preference. Each player also starts with a hand of 7 Occupation cards (of more than 160 total) and 7 Minor Improvement cards (of more than 140 total) that he may use during the game if they fit in his/her strategy. This amounts to countless strategies, some depending on your card hand. Sometimes it’s a good choice to stay on course, sometimes you better react on what your opponents do. Agricola can also be played without cards (family game) and can even be played solo. Designed by Uwe Rosenberg.”
Reviewer(s): Jason Levine (#44), Edward Uhler (#6), Tom Heath (#3), Kevin Delp (#3), Richard Ham (unranked, rated 10 on BGG)
14. Fury of Dracula
Description: “It is 1898. London has returned to peace for eight years following Count Dracula’s thwarted plans, or so they thought…
In Fury of Dracula, one player is Count Dracula secretly traveling the European countries, turning humans into vampires with his gruesome bite, and laying deadly traps for those hunting him. The Count’s opponents are the Hunters who must find the bloodthirsty villain and destroy him before his undead thralls claim the night as their own.
This WizKids print of the classic hidden movement vampire hunt includes a new and improved rule book; larger, poker-sized cards; and fully painted figures for Dracula and each of the Hunters. This updated and improved version of this thematic classic is a perfect addition to any board gamer’s shelf!”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Zee Garcia (#92), Sam Healey (#48), Jason Levine (#32), Jamie Keagy (#15), Steve Spang (#5)
13. 7 Wonders
Description: “A game of 7 Wonders is divided in 3 ages. These ages are played similarly, each player is given the opportunity to play 6 cards to develop his city and build his wonder.
To play a card, you select one from a hand of cards and you lay it in front of you.
Then, you give the remaining cards to the next player and you receive cards from the former player.
At the end of each age, each player compares his military strength with the one of their neighboring cities, players to his right and his left.
When the third age is over, players score the points given by their cards and the military conflicts. The winner is the player with the most points.”
Reviewers(s): Zee Garcia (#57), Sam Healey (#53), Jason Levine (#38), Melody Vasel (#24), Richard Ham (unranked, rated 10 on BGG), Jeremy Salinas (#5)
12. Twilight Imperium
Description: “Mecatol Rex. The center of the known galaxy and seat of the former Lazax Empire. Scarred by the flames of betrayal, Rex is a specter of a fallen empire and of ages long forgotten, yet it remains an object of reverence— and desire—in a galaxy of conflict and uncertainty.
Once, the great city that spanned its surface was the pinnacle of civilization. Today, Mecatol City is naught but a blasted shell of its former glory, a grim respite in the toxic Sea of Desolation that covers the majority of the planet.
Even so, its parabolic history of decadence and destruction does little to deter those who would seek to harness its power. The Winaaran custodians who dwell within the remnants of the city maintain what is left of the former capital, waiting for one of the Great Races to step forward and take up the mantle of the former Emperors.
But who among the races of the galaxy could fill the void left by the Lazax? To lay claim to the throne is a destiny sought by many, yet the shadows of the past serve as a grim warning to those who would follow in their footsteps…“
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Sam Healey (#2), Jarrod Carmichael (#55), Elaine & Efka (#2), Jamie Keagy (#19), Steve Spang (#48)
11. Roll for the Galaxy
Description: “Roll for the Galaxy is a dice game of building space empires for 2-5 players. Your dice represent your populace, whom you direct to develop new technologies, settle worlds, and ship goods. The player who best manages his workers and builds the most prosperous empire wins!
This dice version of Race for the Galaxy takes players on a new journey through the Galaxy, but with the the feel of the original game.”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#55), Jason Levine (#42), Jarrod Carmichael (#12), Tom Heath (#6), Melissa Delp (#5), Richard Ham (unranked, rated 10 on BGG)
Top Board Games, 10-1
Top 10 Board Games
|10||The Castles of Burgundy||6||12.83333333|
|6||Pandemic: Legacy (Season 1 and Season 2)||7||20.14285714|
|5||A Feast for Odin||7||11.57142857|
|2||Escape Room Games (Genre)||9||19.44|
10. The Castles of Burgundy
Description: “The Hundred Years’ war is over and the Renaissance is looming. Conditions are perfect for the princes of the Loire Valley to propel their estates to prosperity and prominence. Through strategic trading and building, clever planning, and careful thought, players add settlements and castles, practice trade along the river, exploit silver mines, farm livestock, and more in this classic Stefan Feld Eurogame.
How to Play: 1. Players take turns rolling two dice and choosing to move goods tiles from the game board to their player boards; from their player boards onto corresponding numbered and colored regions of their playing fields; to deliver goods in exchange for silverlings; or to take worker tiles. 2. Play continues, with players completing additional actions and noting victory points for each tile placed. 3. Five turns are taken per round, with additional victory points awarded for unused money and workers, undelivered goods, and percentage of settlement complete. The player with the most victory points after five rounds wins the game.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Jason Levine (#37), Edward Uhler (#26), Tom Heath (#9), Richard Ham (unranked, rated 10 on BGG), David Waybright (#3)
Description: “2,000 years ago, the Roman Empire ruled the lands around the Mediterranean Sea. With peace at the borders, harmony inside the provinces, uniform law, and a common currency, the economy thrived and gave rise to mighty Roman dynasties as they expanded throughout the numerous cities. Guide one of these dynasties and send colonists to the remote realms of the Empire; develop your trade network; and appease the ancient gods for their favor – all to gain the chance to emerge victorious!
CONCORDIA is a peaceful strategy game of economic development in Roman times for 2 to 5 players age 13 and up. Instead of luck of dice or cards, players must rely on their strategic abilities. Be sure to watch your rivals to determine which goals they are pursuing and where you can outpace them!”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Jason Levine (#22), Elaine & Efka (#5), Jonathan Cox (unranked, rated 9 on BGG), Jamie Keagy (#9), Chris Miller (#36)
8. Le Havre
Description: “Le Havre is a game about managing a harbor, building ships and constructing buildings. On each turn, players must decide whether to take good of one type or to carry out a building action. The number of goods on offer varies from turn to turn. New goods of each kind are added regularly, building up until a player takes them. Wood, clay and iron are building resources. Fish, grain and cattle are used to feed your dock workers. Actions in buildings allow goods to be upgraded — just turn the tokens over to show the reverse side. At the end of the game, the player with the largest fortune is the winner. This is the total of the player’s cash and the value of his or her ships and buildings. Le Havre can be played by 1-5 players, either in a shortened version or as a full game, ensuring that it provides the right level of challenge for any game table.”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#9), Sam Healey (#92), Jason Levine (#12), Melody Vasel (#17), Jarrod Carmichael (#70), Edward Uhler (#14), Jamie Keagy (#27)
Description: “This is a set of 250 cards: all the basic Victory, Treasure, and Curse cards from the Dominion games and its expansions. It does not include any Victory or Treasure cards that are Kingdom cards. All cards bear new graphics and are compatible with Dominion and all its extensions. These cards can be used to replace the basic cards from Dominion or Dominion: Intrigue or they can be used with the expansions that contain no basic cards. The set also includes a new Trash card, also with new graphics. We expect this set to be released in early March. It will come in a small box without a plastic liner for storage as we expect many players will simply transfer these cards to one of their other Dominion games.”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#45), Jason Levine (#30), Melody Vasel (#69), Tom Heath (#12), Melissa Delp (#4), Kevin Delp (#10), Richard Ham (unranked, rated 10 on BGG)
6. Pandemic: Legacy (Seasons 1 and 2)
Season 1, Description: “It starts simply. A virus tougher than the rest. Nothing your team can’t handle. But as January turns to February, things take a turn for the worse. This is no ordinary virus. What results is a year that will never be forgotten. Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 is a unique and epic cooperative game where your decisions in one game carry over into future games. Over the course of the campaign, you will open sealed packets, reveal hidden information, and unlock secrets that will change your world in unexpected ways. Characters will gain scars, cities will panic, and diseases will mutate. Adapt to each new challenge and save humanity before it’s too late. The world will never be the same again.
Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 begins like a the original Pandemic, but soon morphs into something more. Pandemic Legacy has a story arc that occurs over the course of year. Each passing month brings new objectives, new challenges, and even new rules. Trigger certain events and you’ll unlock tools that reveal strategies for dealing with each new problem. Throughout, the clock is ticking. You have only two chances to win a game during a month before moving on to the next, so be careful. Your actions have a permanent impact on the world, for better or for worse.
As your Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 campaign continues, the world you are fighting to protect becomes uniquely your own. Characters are affected by their experiences battling the global pandemic and cities feel the weight of the outbreaks and epidemics that sweep through them. Even the diseases themselves evolve as you play. These developments have a direct impact on the game itself. Cities panic and become harder to travel to as the infection spreads. Characters’ abilities are diminished as outbreaks take their mental toll. Your team is all that stands between global catastrophe, and you decide how it evolves. Enhance your characters’ abilities or add powerful new event cards to the player deck. Many options exist, each of which will shape the course of your campaign.
The world is on the brink of collapse. The coming year in Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 will determine the fate of humanity. Gather your team and prepare for a campaign full of epic twists and evolving gameplay. There are many paths to follow. No two worlds will ever be alike!”
Season 2, Description: “The world almost ended seventy-one years ago. A virulent plague came out of nowhere and ravaged the world. For three generations, small groups of survivors have struggled to keep the world alive. Operating from floating stations known as “havens,” they have maintained a loose network of the largest cities by delivering supplies to the mainland. But their efforts are no longer enough. Cities are falling off the grid and supplies are running low. The world needs a group of heroes to emerge and lead it through this crisis. In Pandemic Legacy: Season 2, this task has fallen to you. You must reestablish supply lines and get the world back on its feet. Along the way, the decisions you make affect future games. As you play, you will unlock new components, make new discoveries about your world, and stumble upon secrets that could change the course of history. No matter what happens, though, the world is counting on you. You are humanity’s last chance.
Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 is a dynamic experience that sweeps players up in a desperate fight for survival. With a story arc that unfolds over the course of a year, the game takes players on an epic journey filled with dramatic twists and shocking revelations. Initially, it is your task to keep the mainland running by providing the cities on the grid with the supplies they need to fend off the plague. But soon you must venture into the unknown, scouting areas beyond the grid. As you do, new areas of the board become open for you to explore. These new regions bring you closer to learning what happened to the world and how it can help you complete your objectives. They also contain new threats that alter the course of your story. As the months pass, you must adapt to each new challenge if you want any hope of saving the world.
Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 is a dynamic experience that sweeps players up in a desperate fight for survival. With a story arc that unfolds over the course of a year, the game takes players on an epic journey filled with dramatic twists and shocking revelations. Initially, it is your task to keep the mainland running by providing the cities on the grid with the supplies they need to fend off the plague. But soon you must venture into the unknown, scouting areas beyond the grid. As you do, new areas of the board become open for you to explore. These new regions bring you closer to learning what happened to the world and how it can help you complete your objectives. They also contain new threats that alter the course of your story. As the months pass, you must adapt to each new challenge if you want any hope of saving the world.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Sam Healey (#71), Melody Vasel (#55), Elaine & Efka (#10), Jonathan Cox (unranked, rated 10 on BGG), Jonathan Cox (unranked, rated 10 on BGG), Gary Chumbley (#2)
5. A Feast for Odin
Description: “In this epic game, command a band of Vikings to trade, hunt, raid, pillage, and plunder in search of wealth and glory for your tribe. A Feast for Odin is a saga in the form of a board game, from acclaimed designer Uwe Rosenberg. In this strategic worker placement game for one to four players, you will experience the Viking way of life. Each player explores new territories—and raids the villages they find there—to increase their wealth and glory, while also taking part in day-to-day activities such as gathering food to feed their band of hungry Vikings. In the end, the player whose possessions carry the greatest value is the winner.
Delve into the land of Vikings as you determine which tasks your band will perform. Send some of your Vikings to produce goods such as wool, spices, and silver, then send others to trade these goods for more valuable resources. Or send a ship to explore new lands, adding more boards—and even more options—to your home board. Your goal is to fill your home board with a horde of goods collected from the activities chosen. The goods tiles come in different sizes, however, so make sure you can find room for them on your board. By placing tiles strategically, you can cover spaces that reduce your final score and raise your income to increase your wealth.
The heartiest Viking can’t perform raids or produce goods on an empty stomach. You’ll want to make sure they have enough food for their feast at the end of each round. From simple beans to hearty plates of meat, your Vikings must be well-fed or you must take a penalty. In A Feast for Odin, you must strike a balance between accumulating wealth through raids and providing for your tribe’s basic necessities. The Viking chieftain who can best maintain this balance will emerge victorious.
Blending worker and tile-placement game elements with intriguing puzzle aspects, A Feast for Odin provides an unforgettable experience. With an entire action board’s worth of possibilities each round, every new game presents unique challenges, opportunities, and paths to victory. Take command of your Vikings, sail into the unknown, and write your own saga in A Feast for Odin!”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Tom Vasel (#10), Jason Levine (#36), Melody Vasel (#5), Tom Heath (#19), Jeremy Salinas (#3), Jamie Keagy (#7)
4. Blood Rage
Description: “Blood Rage is a Viking board game created by acclaimed game designer Eric M. Lang. In this fast-paced yet highly strategic game, 2 to 4 players take control of Viking clans, invading, pillaging and battling in a quest to gain as much glory as possible before Ragnarök finally consumes the land!”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#23), Zee Garcia (#47), Sam Healey (#1), Jason Levine (#21), Jeremy Salinas (#6), Gary Chumbley (#1), Jamie Keagy (#40), Steve Spang (#28)
3. Terraforming Mars
Description: “Corporations are competing to transform Mars into a habitable planet by spending vast resources, and using innovative technology to raise temperature, create a breathable atmosphere, and make oceans of water. As terraforming progresses, more and more people will immigrate from Earth to live on the Red Planet.
In Terraforming Mars, you control a corporation with a certain profile. Play project cards, build up production, place your cities and green areas on the map, and race for milestones and awards!
Will your corporation lead the way into humanity’s new era?”
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#14), Jason Levine (#26), Melody Vasel (#3), Jarrod Carmichael (#2), Jonathan Cox (unranked, rated 9 on BGG), David Waybright (#7), Jamie Keagy (#41), Chris Miller (#10)
2. Escape Room Games (Genre)
Description: Escape Room Games represent a whole genre of tabletop games that seek to replicate the puzzle of real world escape rooms. Popular titles in the genre include Escape Room The Game, the EXIT series, and the Unlock! series.
Reviewer(s): Tom Vasel (#5), Zee Garcia (#88), Melody Vasel (#22), Melissa Delp (#10), Elaine & Efka (#4), Jonathan Cox (unranked, rated 9 on BGG), Steve Spang (#20), Steve Spang (#17), Steve Spang (#7)
Description: “Gloomhaven is a game of Euro-inspired tactical combat in a persistent world of shifting motives. Players will take on the role of a wandering adventurer with their own special set of skills and their own reasons for travelling to this dark corner of the world. Players must work together out of necessity to clear out menacing dungeons and forgotten ruins. In the process they will enhance their abilities with experience and loot, discover new locations to explore and plunder, and expand an ever-branching story fueled by the decisions they make. This is a legacy game with a persistent and changing world that is ideally played over many game sessions. After a scenario, players will make decisions on what to do, which will determine how the story continues, kind of like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Playing through a scenario is a cooperative affair where players will fight against automated monsters using an innovative card system to determine the order of play and what a player does on their turn.”
Reviewer(s): Quinns Smith (unranked), Tom Vasel (#3), Jason Levine (#61), Jarrod Carmichael (#21), Tom Heath (#1), Elaine & Efka (#1), Richard Ham (unranked, rated 10 on BGG), Jonathan Cox (unranked, rated 9 on BGG), Jeremy Salinas (#9), Gary Chumbley (#6), Steve Spang (#12)
Notes about Data and Methodology
The aggregated lists contained a total of 667 unique board games. The ranking methodology was relatively simplistic in nature. Games were ranked first based upon frequency, and then based on average rankings.
There are some limitations to this data. For instance, several of the lists are slightly outdated, others were unranked, and some were inferences based on ratings on BoardGameGeek.
Lists that were unranked were given identical rankings. All of Quinns’ were ranked 1, all of Rahdo’s were ranked 1, and JonGetsGames were either ranked 1 or 2.
Sometimes reviewer listed groups of games. For instance, Tom Vasel included an entire genre of game, escape rooms, in his top 10 list. I determined that some of these games were similar enough to warrant grouping. Games that were grouped, include Pandemic: Legacy, any escape room games, any games where a specific edition was specified (no one mentioned an older edition of game where there was one available), and any games where an expansion was specified.
- Edward Uhler, Heavy Cardboard (Top 50, 2019: Source)
- Tom Heath, Slickerdrips (Top 50, 2019: Source)
- Tom Vasel, Dice Tower (Top 100, 2018, Sources : Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10)
- Sam Healey, Dice Tower (Top 100, 2018, Sources: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10)
- Zee Garcia, Dice Tower (Top 100, 2018, Sources: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10)
- Jason Levine, Dice Tower (Top 100, 2018, Sources : Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10)
- Melody Vasel, Dice Tower (Top 100, 2018, Sources : Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10)
- Quinns Smith, Shut Up & Sit Down (Top 136/137 Unranked, 2019: Source)
- Jarrod Carmichael, 3 Minute Board Games (Top 100, 2018: Source)
- Melissa Delp, Tantrum House (Top 10, 2017: Source)
- Kevin Delp, Tantrum House (Top 10, 2017: Source)
- Elaine & Efka, No Pun Included (Top 10, 2018, Sources: Part 1, Part 2)
- Richard Ham, Rahdo Runs Through (Top 18, 2018, Unranked and Based on Games Rated 10 on Board Game Geek: Source)
- Jonathan Cox, JonGetsGames (Top 18, 2019, Unranked and Based on Games Rated 9 & 10 on Board Game Geek, Sources: Part 1, Part 2)
- Jeremy Salinas, Man Vs Meeple (Top 10, 2017: Source)
- Gary Chumbley, Man Vs Meeple (Top 10, 2017: Source)
- David Waybright, Man Vs Meeple (Top 10, 2017: Source)
- Jamie Keagy, The Secret Cabal (Top 50, 2019: Source)
- Chris Miller, The Secret Cabal (Top 50, 2019: Source)
- Steve Spang, The Secret Cabal (Top 50, 2019: Source)
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