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Top Ten Board Games

I hesitated to write one of these, mostly because I was afraid it would feel gimmicky. But with nothing ready to review this week, I needed a fallback and so today you’re going to get my current top ten list of board games.

10. Imperial Settlers

Imperial Settlers is a really new game, but it’s high up on my list already. The game is easy to teach and easy to play, but there are lots of important decisions you make as you play. The four civilizations each play differently and have their own strategies for getting points. The game is even designed with future expansion in mind, both for the existing civilizations and the possibility of new civilizations. It scratches the civilization building itch without a massive time commitment and that earns it a place in my top ten.

9. Cheaty Mages

Cheaty Mages is a small filler game. Five monsters enter the arena to duke it out. You’re not playing the monsters though, you’re playing wizards who are betting on the fight and maybe helping or hindering certain monsters. Some cards are secret, increasing or decreasing the monster’s power. Other cards are visibly modifying the monsters. Complicating this all is the judge who limits how much mana can be on a single monster. Exceed that and the spells will be dispelled or the monster may be ejected entirely, so there’s a small push-your-luck element in the game. The game is great filler and has gone over well with everyone I’ve played it with and I’ve continued to enjoy it even after repeated plays in a single day, which is rare.

8. Eldritch Horror

I owned almost everything for Arkham Horror back in the day. The investigative theme and us-against-the-Mythos worked for our group when the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game did not. Then Eldritch Horror came along and Arkham Horror was traded away. Eldritch Horror does everything that I wanted Arkham Horror to do in a much tighter and easier to understand package. I have yet to win a game yet and the time commitment keeps it from the table as much as I would like, but it’s a game I will always be willing to play if I have the time.

7. Sentinels of the Multiverse

Sentinels of the Multiverse is a game I had heard a lot about, but hadn’t had the chance to try for a while. Superheros is a genre that I adore and so the game interested me for that alone. Then I finally managed to acquire a copy and played it. This game is a great cooperative game and the theme works really well for each person playing a hero against the villain. There are quite a few expansions for the game which add a lot of variety in heroes and villains. My wife even enjoys it, which means it ranks high in my book.

6. Descent: Journeys in the Dark, 2nd Edition

The first edition of Descent was a breath of fresh air for me. I was a roleplaying gamer by temperament and discovering a game that brought that world into board games in at least some regard was wonderful. The second edition tightened up the game a lot and cut down on the set-up and play time of the individual adventures. The inclusion of a campaign system was another wonderful advance over the previous version. This doesn’t get to the table as often as I would like, but it’s one game I will never turn down.

5. Doomtown Reloaded

Doomtown Reloaded is the revamp of a CCG that I loved several years ago. The revamp kept everything that I loved about the old one and brought into an LCG-style model which I much prefer. The days when I would willingly buy expensive game boosters in hopes of getting the cards I needed are gone. I’ve always loved the Deadlands setting though and this brings it roaring back. The game has a steep learning curve, so it isn’t for everyone, but once you learn it I think there’s a lot of meat in the game.

4. Among The Stars

I hesitated to put Among The Stars on my list as I’ve had it only a very short time. My wife and I both really liked it when we played it though and I’m chomping at the bit to play it again, so I felt it deserved a place on my list. This game combines two mechanics I love: drafting and tile-laying. And while the two-player rules require some additional complexity that the three and four player rules don’t, it still works really well as a two-player game. I actually liked it enough that I’m contemplating sleeving the game, which is a rarity for me.

3. Suburbia

Suburbia is a game that I heard about and thought it sounded intriguing. Then I acquired a copy and once I played it, the game impressed me. Tile-laying is a mechanic that I like and Suburbia handles the spacial element typical to tile-laying, but also incorporates tiles that get better as your opponents lay tiles in their own cities. That turns what could have been a collection of people playing solo games into a much more strategic enterprise where I have to watch what you’re playing and building to ensure that I’m not leaving behind tiles that could help you out. Suburbia has a permanent spot on my living room shelf and I don’t see it ever being relegated to the game closet.

2. Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game

Legendary is a great deck-building game in one of my favorite genres: superheroes. Deck Building is probably my favorite mechanic in board games and Legendary does it with an excellent theme. The expansions and the sister game, Legendary Villains, have only strengthened my love for this game. Add to all this that it’s a game my wife actually requests to play on occasion and you’ve got a recipe for a winner. I’m a little ambivalent about the point-counting at the end of what feels for the most part like a cooperative game, but it’s really a minor quibble with an otherwise excellent game.

And now… the number 1:

1. Thunderstone Advance

I was introduced to the original Thunderstone by a lunch time gaming group that I had at a place where I worked. The combination of deck-building with the fantasy dungeon-delving theme won me over and blew away Dominion which is the original deck builder. Alderac took what they learned over the life of Thunderstone and brought out Thunderstone Advance. Thunderstone Advance takes everything that was good about the original Thunderstone and improves upon it. The starting decks are more useful, the heroes and items more interesting, and the setup for monsters and town cards are structured in such a way to still provide a good challenge while minimizing awful game setups. Thunderstone Advance replaced Thunderstone for me in every way and holds a permanent spot on my living room shelf.

Final Thoughts

I’m hoping in writing this list that I communicate a better idea of my gaming preferences. Gaming preferences always inform what we think about to at least a certain extent and I’m hoping that by sharing my own preferences in the form of this list, that you will see if my own preferences come closer to your own and you can determine whether my opinion is likely to match your own. Come back next week for a review of Machi Koro from IDW Games.

Categories: Board Games
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