After a steady couple of days (thanks, Reddit!), it’s time to get back to the real business of this blog.
fashion shows board games!
Apologies for the delay in getting back to the Best Games Played of All Time after a rollicking start, but let’s just say that I hate colds (Editor – Wow, what a controversial stance to take. You should make placards).
Anyway, let’s rectify that by jumping into the Top 15 with five more games that I just love to play.
Before continuing, let’s make everything clear as usual.
I have played 296 games as of the time I ranked them (I’ve reached 300 now), so some “classics” aren’t going to be represented because I haven’t played them.
Don’t get your underwear in a knot if your favourite classic from 2005 isn’t on here.
With that being said, are we ready?
Ok, now that that’s we’ve covered that (nice hair, dude)…
15) London – 2nd Edition (2017 – Osprey Games)
Designer: Martin Wallace
Artists: Mike Atkinson, Natalia Borek, Przemysław Sobiecki
I picked this game up on a whim when I saw it on sale on the Book Depository web site. Free shipping anywhere in the world? A Martin Wallace game I hadn’t heard of?
Sign me up!
When it finally arrived, I broke it out, looked at the cards (Editor – Be honest, you sniffed them too), and couldn’t wait to play it.
When it got to the table, I was in love.
You are rebuilding London after the Great Fire, and you do that with intricate card play and loans.
Among other things, of course.
We actually have a Martin Wallace design that punishes you in not just one way (loans), but in two.
The card play is interesting in that you are setting out a tableau of cards for your city that will, eventually “run” as an action. When you run your city, you get the benefit of each top card in your tableau (the University of London gets you one point and removes one poverty, for example). You may have to turn the top card over once you’ve run it (like Stock Exchange & Brewing above) or you may not (the University is timeless).
But you also then get poverty for each pile of cards you have in your city.
Poverty, of course, is bad, but in Martin Wallace’s London, it’s only relatively bad. You don’t lose points at the end of the game for how much poverty you have. You lose points at the end of the game for how much more poverty you have than some other player’s London.
The decisions are just so interesting. You may want a big city because each card will benefit you, but then you’re drowning in poverty so maybe that’s not a good thing?
And it’s Martin Wallace, so you will likely have to take a loan and be penalized for that as well.
How do you mitigate all of that?
I’m a big Wallace fan, and this is probably my favourite design of his.
14) Last Will (2011 – Czech Games Edition)
Designer: Vladimír Suchý
Artist: Tomáš Kučerovský
Who wouldn’t want a play a game where the objective is to spend as much money as possible (so obviously you play a board gamer)?
In Last Will, you and the other players are heirs of a rich uncle who left a bunch of money for you.
However, the caveat is that the only one who gets the money is the one who can go broke the fastest.
You do this in a variety of ways. You can spend money on property that will depreciate in value so that you can sell it at a loss. You can hold outrageous parties, or go out to dinner with your horse (don’t ask).
There are tons of cards in this game representing a bunch of things, from the events that you will hold to helpers who will aid you in spending your money (an Old Friend who will let you do additional actions, for example).
I find myself being very good at this game, which is definitely a plus that adds to my enjoyment.
But it’s just so fun with multiple avenues for success. The game does not reward spreading your options over multiple things, but if you concentrate on one or two, you can be successful.
Even better, the game doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. You can choose (or randomize) your starting money level which will shorten/lengthen the game.
Who knew being a deadbeat could be so fun?
Last Will is even better with the Getting Sacked expansion (you have a job you’re trying to get fired from!), but the base game is more than enough.
I haven’t played it in a couple of years, but that’s mostly been lack of opportunity rather than disinterest. That, and there’s a game I prefer more that’s higher on the list (next post anticipation!).
That doesn’t mean it’s not in my Top 25 games, though. Because this one is simply a blast to play.
13) Teotihuacan: City of Gods (2018 – NSKN Games) (Now called Board & Dice)
Designer: Daniele Tascini
Artist: Odysseas Stamoglou
I played this for the first time in late 2018 and immediately fell in love enough to buy the game (ok, I bought the game on pre-order before I played it, but it took so long for it to arrive that I had already played it by the time I got it).
The designer’s previous game, Tzolkin, just hurts my brain when I play it.
However, this one is relatively simple to play, it’s just really hard to play well.
It still has temples, it still has feeding your workers (who are dressed up as dice in this game), but the rondel movement is actually pretty interesting (on your turn, you can move one of your dice up to 3 spaces around the board and then do the action on that space, or worship at the temple on that space).
The artwork is simply gorgeous, I love the “improve your dice until they ascend and go back to 1” mechanic, the pyramid building where you also try to match symbols is really cool.
It all comes together into a package that works.
I haven’t had the chance to play this again since October, but I’m really dying to.
The fact that it weaseled its way into my Top 25 after only one play says something about how great this game is.
It does have so many different ways to concentrate your strategy that I find myself pulled into too many different directions.
But that’s a good thing in this case (Editor – unless you want to do something novel like, you know, winning)
12) Raiders of the North Sea (2015 – Garphill Games/Renegade Games Studios)
Designer: Shem Phillips
Artist: Mihajlo Dimitrievski
I don’t know how much more I can gush about this game than I did in my review, but I’ll try.
The main attraction for me in this game is the unique worker placement aspect where you have to place a worker in an open spot and then take another worker from a different spot, doing both actions.
You have to do them in that order, though, so you’re often left wishing you could do the “pickup” action first. I want to pick up that guy to get money so I can then place a guy to hire crew! What do you mean I can’t do that? Argh!!!!!!
Spreading the loot around to different raiding locations does add some variety to the game, which is nice.
A major part of the appeal of the game for me, though, is the artwork by the Mico. The board is lovely, but the cards are where it’s at.
It’s very distinctive, and maybe not for everybody, but I love it.
As I note in the review, this is not an engine-building game where you are building something that will keep improving as the game goes on. Some people don’t like that. It can also get a little bit samey at the end of the game, but it’s not too bad.
But the design is interesting, you do have a great many choices on how you want to do things, and I will sit down and play this thing whenever anybody asks.
It’s that good.
11) Fort Sumter: The Secession Crisis, 1860-61 (2018 – GMT Games)
Designer: Mark Herman
Artists: Knut Grünitz, Rodger B. MacGowan
Another game that I did a gushing review over.
My opinion has not changed, even after multiple plays.
This a fantastic Card-Driven-Game (CDG) with area control where you are exerting political influence in a certain number of pivotal issues that led up to the Civil War. There are Politics, Secession, Public Opinion, and Military areas where you are using the cards to place your influence cubes and control them.
The game plays really fast, making it a wonderful lunch-time game at work.
While play is driven somewhat by the cards, you do have to keep a number of things in mind when you’re playing. You have to figure out what your opponent is doing and then decide if you can let them do it while doing your own thing, or if that will negatively affect you.
The cards are interesting and historical, the artwork is basic but really good. The board is clean and easy to understand.
It’s just a game that I love and will continue playing (almost hit 10 plays now!). My friend and I who play 2-player games at work will often try out new games (I need the plays to do reviews).
But if there are no other extenuating circumstances, this is the game we keep going back to.
I love it, and it’s just outside my Top 10.
Hopefully there won’t be a week’s delay before entering that Top 10.
What will be there? Will there be a Stronghold Games game in there?
(Is there any doubt?)
What do you think of these games? Or what’s in your Top 15?
Let me know in the comments.
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Teotihuacan is still in front of me. Fort Sumter was kind of positive surprise – I have many Mark Herman games, but that is very light, quick but with interesting strategy dimension. I am using it for quick tournaments with my colleagues – it is really fit for this.
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That’s a great idea! Fort Sumter would be great for that.
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So now we also know that you are great at spending money 😉
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Sadly, I’m too proficient at that.
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