Happy Valentine’s Day!
What a fitting day to share the love I have for my Top 5 Games.
We’ve reached the end, those of you who have been holding your breath to see what my Top 5 games played are. Hopefully you didn’t hold your breath so long that you went blue in the face!
I’ve heard there are problems with that.
Anyway, these are my 5 favourite games, and is it any surprise that all of them have reviews on this site (other than one, which said review is coming but I didn’t want to spoil the list by posting it first)?
It’s been fun doing this list, also knowing that most of these games wouldn’t really be on anybody else’s Top 25.
I like being unique.
As I’ve said in every entry, please keep in mind that this is only out of a total of 296 games, so it’s very possible that your favourite game is one that I haven’t played.
So why don’t we get on with this before I get a bunch of Aladdin fans swarming the blog commenting on Will Smith (I’ve heard they’re kind of like Islanders fans…)
5) The Networks (2016 – Formal Ferret Games)
Designer: Gil Hova
Artists: Heiko Günther, Travis Kinchy
Review can be found here, so I’ll just summarize.
Players are running a television network trying to get the most viewers (i.e. victory points) by choosing shows to produce, stars to put on them, acquiring ads to attach to shows and make money, and creatively scheduling shows so that they don’t become shells of their former selves, bringing in only a few viewers such as Grandma who can’t figure out how the remote works.
I love so much about this game.
I love the artwork. I love the funny names to the shows. The Network cards that can give you a special ability, either throughout the game or maybe just a one-time thing. Or maybe endgame scoring?
I really like how there is a final scoring round after the 5th season, where your shows have aged again before doing it. This really makes you have to think about that 5th round. Maybe that show is going to get you 20 points in the 5th round, but then when it ages for the final scoring round, it will get you 6.
Time to replace it! Even though those 20 points would be great. A new show has to be better in the long run.
There are so many great decisions in this game.
And it’s fairly straightforward to teach as well, though players inevitably miss the genre bonus goal no matter how many times you try to explain it to them until they see you pull one off.
The base game was getting a bit samey and I hadn’t played it in a while, but the Executives expansion adds asymmetrical powers that really liven up the game!
This might have fallen out of my Top 5 if it hadn’t been for the expansion.
The Networks is a great game that’s well worth taking a look at.
4) Architects of the West Kingdom (2018 – Garphill Games/Renegade Game Studios)
Designers: Shem Phillips, S J Macdonald
Artist: Mihajlo Dimitrievski
Is anybody really surprised that this game is this high on the list? It was easily the best “new to me” game played in 2018 (as I noted) and it just surpasses so many of the other games that I’ve played.
A review of this one is definitely coming, but as I said, I didn’t want to spoil this list because I knew it would be pretty obvious. Give it a couple of weeks for that.
In the meantime, this is a game with so many avenues of winning and all of our games have been very close so it doesn’t feel like any of these avenues is overpowered.
You can build in the cathedral and try to live a virtuous life. Or maybe you want to be a scumbag and spend a lot of time in the Black Market. When you do that, you get tax breaks! (just like the real world).
You can also do a heavy building strategy, which combines to give you points, fill up the Guild Hall from those who are doing the Cathedral, and can give you a lot of other benefits (some of those buildings are awesome).
It just all works well together, and I love the rather unusual worker placement mechanic of building up the power of a site depending on how many workers you can get there. Especially when somebody else can take an action to capture them and perhaps make some good money at the Guard House.
The artwork by the Mico is just as awesome as ever and it gives that bit of continuity with the North Sea trilogy of games (there’s a reason Raiders of the North Sea is also on my Top 25!)
I’m anxiously awaiting the Kickstarter for Paladins of the West Kingdom as I’ve seen a preview of it and it also looks amazing.
I’m beginning to wonder if Shem Phillips can design a bad game (not to discount MacDonald, of course, but Shem being involved with two of my favourite games is saying something).
You owe it to yourself to try this game.
(Edit: I forgot to add, but the review is up!)
3) Clank! In! Space! (2017 – Renegade Game Studios)
Designer: Paul Dennen
Artists: Rayph Beisner, Raul Ramos, Le Rastislav, Nate Storm, Franz Vohwinkel
Please note that I’m running out of exclamation marks, so I will no longer be typing them in the name of this game. This has been a public service message from Save Our Punctuation Marks, the latest UN non-profit organization.
The full review of this game can be found here.
I love deck-building games. I love them even more when you do more with them than just build your deck (as my Top 3 will attest…damn it, spoilers!!!!) .
In Clank in Space, you are a renegade (hey, this is published by Renegade Game Studios…I get it now!!!) who is trying to get aboard Lord Eradikus’ ship, get into his personal chambers, and steal a valuable artifact.
In order to do so, you need to hack computers in two different modules of the ship to let you get past the security screen.
You start out with 10 cards and will be acquiring more cards as you go, trying to get boots to move around as well as attack to defeat enemies in the card row.
Of course, as you go through the ship, you’ll be generating Clank because you’re making noise. When certain cards come out, all of that Clank will be thrown in a bag and some cubes will be drawn out. If any of yours come out, you add to your wound track and get that much closer to death.
I’ve played the fantasy Clank and while I enjoyed it, it didn’t do a whole lot for me. While Clank in Space does take a bit longer than its predecessor (2 hours instead of 1), I find it much meatier with the different factions on the cards, the requirement to move around the ship hacking before actually stealing anything, and I just find the cards better (though some are definitely the same cards as in the original).
I love the sci-fi parodies on the cards (as in the Exterminator above).
The artwork on the cards is great, I love the modular boards (double-sided with the ability to be randomized).
Clank in Space by itself is awesome, but the Apocalypse expansion just makes the game even better. The addition of schemes to make use of the black cubes drawn from the bag is simply amazing!!!
The new cards help too, of course.
Clank in Space is just such a wonderful game that I will never turn down a chance to play it unless I don’t have two hours.
Some will complain that it’s possible to spend that two hours and accomplish nothing, but then some people spend hours binge-watching the Bachelor, so there you go.
I can’t say enough wonderful things about Clank in Space!!!!!
(Editor – There are some guys from Save Our Punctuation Marks at the door)
Oops. Sorry guys. I’ll tone it down.
(Edit: the review of the expansion is up)
2) Tyrants of the Underdark (2016 – Gale Force 9)
Designers: Peter Lee, Rodney Thompson, Andrew Veen
Artist: Steve Ellis (Yay, he’s credited on BGG now! I remember when it said “N/A” and Steve commented on my review that he did the box cover, but I’m still not sure who did the art on the cards)
Another deckbuilder with a board mechanic, this one is area control rather than stealing stuff.
Don’t like “take that” games or player conflict?
Tyrants of the Underdark is not for you, then.
Ruling the Underdark ain’t beanbag!
In this game, you are acquiring more and more powerful cards for your deck, but you are also trying to exert influence throughout the cities of the Underdark by sending your troops out to destroy…well, everybody else.
Good thing there are neutral (white) troops to kill as well as other players.
Again, there are different avenues for winning depending on what you like to do. You can try to build a great deck and “promote” cards for a bunch of VP. Or you can try to take over the entire board (not going to succeed at “entire,” but you can try). Killing troops gets you a point for each one, so you could just go on a rampage too.
Scores are usually kind of close, so no strategy is overpowered, which really helps as well.
There are a ton of things wrong with this game, though.
The cards and artwork, while beautiful, are definitely murky and dark.
They’re also not of the best quality, and the expansion cards are totally different quality than the base game ones! Sleeving helps with that, and I don’t find it that big of a deal, but it’s definitely an issue.
Also, whoever thought of these player colours should be shot (with darts of annoyance, I mean…).
At least there are no red-green colourblind issues, but man is it hard to tell the dark purple and the dark blue/black apart unless you’re in good light.
Yet it’s my #2 game.
What the hell?
For me, the gameplay in Tyrants of the Underdark is just so good that I don’t care about any of these issues. They are overridden by just how much damned fun this game is.
Deckbuilding with area control where you are actively fighting the other players?
If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right. You can eat crackers in my bed any time, Tyrants. We are one of a kind, a pair of fools…
(Editor – you’re really dating yourself with these Barbara Mandrell songs. Please get back on track)
Suffice to say that Tyrants of the Underdark is a brilliant game that I will play anytime, anywhere.
1) Time of Crisis (2017 – GMT Games)
Designers: Wray Ferrell, Brad Johnson
Artist: Rodger B. MacGowan
Players: 2-4 (soon to be 1-4 when the expansion comes out)
My full gushing review (and I, personally think, funniest) can be found here.
We’ve reached #1, and it’s another deckbuilder!
Time of Crisis is just a brilliant game about the chaotic period of the Roman Empire (235-284 AD) where there were almost more emperors than there were years.
Each player is a faction vying for power over the Empire, trying to install their own Emperor for personal gain, as well as controlling provinces and fighting off barbarian invasions in the process.
The game is played over a map of Europe and the Mediterranean Sea, divided into separate provinces where you can install your governor, build an army, and maybe vie for the Emperor’s throne!
I love the deckbuilding mechanic in Time of Crisis. Not only are you potentially buying cards to strengthen your deck and get better actions (and more points to do actions), but there is no randomization in it.
Each turn, you choose the five cards you want in your hand next turn, based on what’s still in your deck. Once they’re in your discard pile, you have to wait until you get through your deck to use those cards, but you don’t just draw 5 random cards.
You can plan your turns out, as long as you don’t get stuck with only Populace cards in your deck when you want to go on the war path. That’s just bad planning, bub.
While the first couple of turns can feel a bit samey, the game quickly develops into a back and forth tug of war with wonderful tension. It is up to everybody else to keep the Emperor in check, though, so if you get one person who goes off by themselves, you may have trouble with a runaway leader.
I love this game so much. It’s a three-hour game easily and I’ve played it multiple times, which just doesn’t happen that often for me.
The expansion, The Age of Iron and Rust, will add new cards, mobile emperors (you can send your Emperor out onto the field to get glory!), and also bots for solo play or to make up for missing players so you can always have a 4-player game if you wish.
It ships later this week, and it sounds amazing.
I have a feeling this game will be my #1 for quite a long time.
So that’s it! We’ve finally reached the end of this list, and it’s been a fun exercise. I enjoyed ranking the games (I’m up to 304 now) and writing about them.
It seems like a nice celebration of this blog as well.
I really enjoy doing this, even though I have my days (ok, sometimes weeks) where I feel like I don’t have anything to say.
You, dear readers, are what keep me going when I start to get down on myself.
I hope you enjoyed this list, and let me know what your top games are in the comments.
Maybe I’ll do another one of these when I hit 600 games (so probably a few years).
Incidentally, as I said in my earlier post, the Top 10 games on this list are also my Top 10 Games played in 2018 (since they were all played in 2018). Come back next year (wait, come back sooner than that please!) for the Top 10 Games Played in 2019 and it won’t be part of some other ‘Top” list.
Top 25 Games Played of All Time (25-21)
Top 25 Games Played of All Time (20-16)
Top 25 Games Played of All Time (15-11)
Top 25 Games Played of All Time (10-6)
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Indeed, you were right, I like your Top 5 games! Especially number one, which is lately one of my favorite light wargames! (https://theboardgameschronicle.com/tag/time-of-crisis/)
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I had a feeling you would. 🙂
Great lists with some real surprises : ) Nice mix of lighter fare with a little heavier. Some of these I have never paid attention to (much less played), but I’ll need to give them a stronger look now. Thanks for putting this together!
There are a couple copies of Architects of the West Kingdom in the current BGG math trade, so now I need to go adjust my trade lists accordingly….
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Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed them. Architects is just so good. It’s my new hotness (at least until the Time of Crisis expansion arrives).
And thanks for making me not feel too bad for posting these over on Stately Play. 🙂
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You shouldn’t feel bad about that at all! I would be very surprised if anyone at SP was remotely bothered by it. I appreciate the reminders to come read what you’re posting. I wish I got as much gaming time each month as you, but at least I get the fruits of your labors : )
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I’m glad that you appreciate them. 🙂 Thank you!
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Great to see the conclusion! And I’m ever more impressed by your varied playing: Eurogames, thematic games, wargames, and all kinds of hybrids 🙂
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I am an eclectic person. 🙂
Thanks for being such a regular reader, Clio.
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