It’s that time of week again.
The sun’s out (kind of, though it’s supposed to rain by the time this actually posts) and we’re into Summer. Yet the temperature’s in the 60s in Vancouver and I’m really enjoying it.
I don’t need it to be hot and totally sunny in order to enjoy the weather. In fact, I don’t mind having it be overcast and raining (as long as I don’t have to be out in it).
Speaking of raining, how about raining games?
Yes, because we are raining games in this batch of the Top 100 on Boardgame Geek. Sure, I haven’t played that many of them, but there are a bunch of interesting games here.
And one or two that I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole (Editor: and now you’ve lost all of your two young readers)
Yes, I am allergic to Uwe Rosenberg games where you have to feed your people.
I literally break out in hives (he says figuratively).
Anyway, why don’t we just get started before I drive away the rest of my reader?
(That is not a typo)
#30 – Mansions of Madness (2nd Edition) (Fantasy Flight Games) – 2016
Designer: Nikki Valens
Mansions of Madness is yet another Arkham game, taking place in the same universe as Elder Sign, Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror.
Yet somehow all of these games are different. I now have two of them in my collection (the Arkham Horror card game and Elder Sign) because they play differently even though they have some of the same ingredients (same investigators, etc).
I believe (please correct me if I’m wrong) that this game started out as a 1 vs Many game where one player was the evil archfiend that’s haunting the mansion while the other players were trying to stop them from doing whatever the scenario said they were doing.
This new 2nd edition (“new” being relative for a 2016 game) is controlled by an app, so now it’s fully cooperative.
Once again players are banding together to stop the ancient evil from manifesting and destroying everything.
I haven’t had the chance to play this one, however.
So let’s blurb instead.
“Mansions of Madness: Second Edition is a fully co-operative, app-driven board game of horror and mystery for one to five players that takes place in the same universe as Eldritch Horror and Elder Sign. Let the immersive app guide you through the veiled streets of Innsmouth and the haunted corridors of Arkham’s cursed mansions as you search for answers and respite. Eight brave investigators stand ready to confront four scenarios of fear and mystery, collecting weapons, tools, and information, solving complex puzzles, and fighting monsters, insanity, and death. Open the door and step inside these hair-raising Mansions of Madness: Second Edition. It will take more than just survival to conquer the evils terrorizing this town.”
This looks really cool, and I’d definitely be in for trying this one out. There are quite a few expansions adding new scenarios to the mix which will just add to the fun.
I think a couple of people in my game group would like this (we love Eldritch Horror), so maybe I might go ahead and get this at some point once we can all get together and play games again.
#29 – Agricola (Z-Man Games) – 2007
Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Artist: Klemens Franz
Ah, the original. There’s something to be said for the original of something when a new version comes out.
For Agricola, you can say that the original is so far ranking much higher than the 2nd Edition!
That doesn’t mean it’s a better game for me, though.
I’ve played the app version a few times but haven’t actually broken this one out.
This is Rosenberg’s first (he says, talking as if he actually knows what he’s talking about) “feed your people or pay the consequences” farming games, and it has just never gelled with me.
It’s way too constrictive. Some people swear by it, but I find it way too easy to get stuck to where you can’t really do anything. I much prefer its sister game (which may be coming up sooner than we may think, he said cryptically and as if he didn’t know what was ahead).
In Agricola, you’re running the family farm, placing workers out to get resources to either build up your house, maybe some food that you can plant to make more food (amazing how that works), or some animals that you can breed to get more animals! (I think there must be a stork flying around or something).
You can grow your family too, but then you have another mouth to feed (but also have another “worker” to place out on the board).
Agricola just seems like too much work for me and not enough enjoyment.
I know (especially given it’s #29 right now!) a lot of people disagree with me.
It’s amazing how many people can be wrong at one time.
(Editor: ooooooo gauntlet thrown!)
#28 – Food Chain Magnate (Splotter Spellen) – 2015
Designers: Jeroen Doumen, Joris Wiersinga
Artists: Iris de Haan, Ynze Moedt
Food Chain Magnate is a game that just kind of scares me.
It looks so nice, sitting there with the lovely waitress wanting to take your order and the really delicious-looking (which is actually kind of creepy considering you’re going to eat it) piece of pie also looking at you.
But from what I understand, this game is brutal.
I’m sure many games are like this, but this is the first game I ever heard the “you can literally lose this game on the first turn” phrase about.
And apparently you can. If you don’t make the right choice out of the gate, you could be in for 3+ hours of knowing that there’s no way you’re going to win.
You’d better put on your “I’m just playing to do as well as I can and learn how to play the game better” pants and be ready to know that you’re not going to win.
Sometimes the joy is just in playing the game, learning the mechanics, and maybe taking notes for how to do better next time.
Some people can’t do that.
What are you doing in Food Chain Magnate? Well, you are…a food chain magnate, trying to build a chain of fast food chain stores to get a bunch of money, maybe corner the market on chicken nuggets, and build the most successful chain that you can.
pad the word count do another blurb:
“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.”
Yep, that’s pretty much what I said.
I think it’s cool that the map is variable, and I know some friends who do enjoy this game.
I don’t know if I would ever get into it, but I wouldn’t mind trying it once.
Maybe one day.
#27 – Caverna: the Cave Farmers (Z-Man Games) – 2013
Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Artist: Klemens Franz
And here it is, finally, ahead of its predecessor.
Caverna is the game that I much prefer over Agricola.
I enjoy Caverna more because it’s a bit easier to make things work. You still have to be efficient if you’re going to do well, but you’re a lot less likely to be getting begging tokens because you didn’t have your engine built up properly.
In this game, instead of farmers in some kind of medieval Europe, you are dwarves trying to build up your caves as well as making farms to feed your people (you’re always having to feed your people).
You’re building new rooms in your tunnels (or maybe just paths to other rooms) as well as fencing off areas above ground for your animals or for your fields.
It has a similar worker placement action area as Agricola does, with new actions coming out every round, but the ability to use gems as wild items to turn into food (or any other resource that you need), as well as the ability to go adventuring and get stuff from plundering…wherever it is you’re adventuring to…makes the game a lot easier.
You still have to plan well to score points, but at least you don’t feel like you’re not accomplishing anything.
I played this 7 times in 2014-2015, but haven’t played it since.
So while I do like it better than Agricola, that’s not saying much.
It’s still too fussy for my tastes and I have really grown to dislike the “feed your people” mechanic, though many games I do like have it. The trick is, it’s not a major part of the game and you can usually mitigate things pretty well.
Hell, even Rosenberg’s A Feast for Odin makes it fairly easy to feed your people.
Hmmm…I wonder if that might be relevant soon?
I wouldn’t avoid this one like I would Agricola, but I would never suggest it.
#26 – Orleans (Tasty Minstrel Games) – 2014
Designer: Reiner Stockhausen
Artist: Klemens Franz
Wow, another game on this list with Klemens Franz art work! You’d think his arms would have worn out by now. Three of the first five games just in this post are his.
I guess that says something about his quality.
Orleans is a game that I would really like to play again. I did enjoy my first play of it, but it’s never come to the table again since then, and that makes me kind of sad. It’s been almost 3 years now.
It’s not that it’s not a fun game. It definitely is. I love the bag-building concept where you are essentially adding people to your bag (ew, that sounds kind of gross) that you will then be drawing from at the beginning of your turn.
These people will be different professions and will do different things for you.
Here, it’s been a while, so let me do a blurb because I’m having trouble remembering how to play it.
“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.”
There is a bit of a sideline activity where you are trying to establish trading stations by moving your merchant around the board and getting goods as you do so.
There is a lot going on in this game, and I wish I had taken a picture of the player boards where you are going to be playing your followers, because maybe it would make more sense.
It’s an intricate game, with many paths to victory but it doesn’t reward scattering your strategy. You have to have a bit of focus to do well.
Needless to say, I didn’t do well (Editor: Focus is not your middle name)
I’d love to play it again, but it would have to be retaught to me again since I don’t really remember much about the mechanics other than placing your follower discs in your bag and drawing some of them each turn to play on your board.
Somebody please bring this to game day again! When we can have one, anyway.
#25 – Puerto Rico (Ravensburger) – 2002
Designer: Andreas Seyfarth
Artists: Harald Lieske, Franz Vohwinkel
Ah, Puerto Rico. The classic action-selection game that everybody seems to love unless you’re somebody who has played with people who don’t know what they’re doing.
This is the only game where I’ve seen it said that if you’re playing with newbies, you have an advantage depending on where you sit at the table because there is almost a set way to play it.
If the newbie does something that’s against what would normally be a good play, you can greatly benefit.
Why would this be considered good?
I don’t know, really, but my one and only play on the table resulted in that. We had two experienced players along with 2-3 newbies (I don’t remember how many actually played that night) and the experienced player who sat next to me got to benefit from my newbieness (yes, I like making up words).
I play this game on Boardgame Arena with some friends, but I’m not a big fan of the game overall, mainly for that reason. I much prefer the action-selection card games based on it, like San Juan or Race for the Galaxy.
This one doesn’t do a lot for me.
The colonialism aspect doesn’t bother me that much, but it is interesting that the “colonists” are essentially slaves that are going to be working your plantations (or maybe your buildings too, which is where the “slavery” aspect falls down just a little bit, but it’s still there).
Yes, the choices of actions that are available to you are kind of interesting. On your turn you choose an action and as the person who chose it, you get a bit of a bonus (building a building will give you a one money discount, getting a plantation will give you a second plantation, etc).
But I just don’t really enjoy the game that much, and I don’t feel like I need to play it on the table again. In fact, the idea of “experienced player benefiting from being seated next to the newbie) aspect of the game just grates on my nerves.
Still, a lot of people love this game (obviously) so maybe there is something I’m missing.
Or maybe I’m just smarter than them (Editor – you really shouldn’t go there)
#24 – Mage Knight: the Board Game (Wizkids) – 2011
Designer: Vlaada Chvátil
Artists: J. Lonnee, Chris Raimo, Milan Vavroň
I have to admit right now that I have no clue how this game plays or what it’s about.
I know the blurb on Boardgame Geek and apparently it has some deck-building mechanics, but I don’t know how they work or what they’re for or anything like that.
“The Mage Knight board game puts you in control of one of four powerful Mage Knights as you explore (and conquer) a corner of the Mage Knight universe under the control of the Atlantean Empire. Build your army, fill your deck with powerful spells and actions, explore caves and dungeons, and eventually conquer powerful cities controlled by this once-great faction! In competitive scenarios, opposing players may be powerful allies, but only one will be able to claim the land as their own. In cooperative scenarios, the players win or lose as a group. Solo rules are also included.
Combining elements of RPGs, deck-building, and traditional board games the Mage Knight board game captures the rich history of the Mage Knight universe in a self-contained gaming experience.”
I have never even seen this game in the wild. I have not had the chance to play it at all and I haven’t even watched a playthrough of it.
Yet I know some people love the game and I’m kind of intrigued.
A game that can be cooperative, or competitive, or a little of both. Maybe it can be like Highlander? “There can be only one!”
I think if I played this, I’d have to speak with the accent of a Scotsman trying to sound Spanish.
(let’s see how many people get that joke).
I’d love to try this game, just to say I did. Whether or not it’s something I would enjoy more than once, I can’t tell.
#23 – A Feast for Odin (Z-Man Games) – 2016
Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Artist: Dennis Lohausen
Another Rosenberg game where you have to feed your people! Though it’s not quite as annoying as the other ones. I think Rosenberg has decided to take it a little easier on the players than usual.
And it doesn’t have Klemens Franz artwork! Was he busy that day?
Funny how A Feast for Odin shows up in the same post where I was talking about how much more lenient it is than the other Rosenberg games.
It’s almost like I wasn’t reading ahead!
In A Feast for Odin, you are vikings (I would have thought they’d be Amazons with a name like that)
“In this game, you will raid and explore new territories. You will also experience their day-to-day activities: collecting goods to achieve a financially secure position in society. In the end, the player whose possessions bear the greatest value will be declared the winner.”
Yeah, you’re going to be raiding (kind of, but not like Raiders of the North Sea) but really you’re going to do what Vikings did in that golden age of raiding Northern Europe. Yes, that’s right, fitting Tetris-like pieces onto a board to try to fill up as many spaces as you can.
That’s actually the interesting thing about this game. You’re trying to fill up space with treasures that you’ve raided, or weapons crafted, or whatever. And you have to fill out the space in a certain manner.
Given my love for Tetris-style games (I almost said that with a straight face), that just adds to my love for this game!
Ok, that’s overstating it a bit. Compared to many other Rosenbergs, I really do like this game. That’s not saying much, though. The tetris-like thing adds to my frustration a bit, but you can fill it up with a lot of single-square things (like I did) so that you don’t lose those points.
It’s just inefficient as hell.
But that’s how I play Rosenbergs!
I wouldn’t mind playing this again, but I’m not going to suggest it.
#22 – The 7th Continent (Serious Poulp) – 2017
Designers: Ludovic Roudy, Bruno Sautter
Artists: Ludovic Roudy
The 7th Continent was the big thing back in 2017. It was a huge Kickstarter and I remember a lot of people raving about it.
This is sort of a “choose your own adventure” type game where you’re exploring a lost continent, trying to solve its mysteries and coming out ahead.
“In The 7th Continent, a solo or cooperative “choose-your-own-adventure” exploration board game, you choose a character and begin your adventure on your own or with a team of other explorers. Inspired by the Fighting Fantasy book series, you will discover the extent of this wild new land through a variety of terrain and event cards. In a land fraught with danger and wonders, you have to use every ounce of wit and cunning to survive, crafting tools, weapons, and shelter to ensure your survival.
Unlike most board games, it will take you many, MANY hours of exploring and searching the seventh continent until you eventually discover how to remove the curse(s)…or die trying.”
Yes, it’s a cursed land.
It sounds like a really neat game, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever get the chance to play it.
Unlike a campaign, this sounds like just one really long game where you can “save” it at some points.
Which is actually pretty cool, but I don’t think that will help me get it to the table.
Which is sad.
Because who can’t love a game where the cover looks like some weird guy flexing his muscles or surrendering?
Believe me, once you’ve seen that, you can’t unsee it.
#21 – Viticulture Essential Edition (Stonemaier Games) – 2015
Designers: Morten Monrad Pedersen, Jamey Stegmaier, Alan Stone
Artists: Jacqui Davis, David Montgomery, Beth Sobel
As the final game in this batch of 10, we have a very awesome game that I haven’t played in 3 years, but I played a ton of for a year and a half.
I played this game 5 times between February 2015 and November 2016 and I really enjoyed it. It was one of the few Euros that I actually ended up winning more often than not.
But for some reason it stopped coming out to game days, or at least it came out when I was already engaged with something else.
That love for the game has been reinvigorated because of the app from Digidiced that just came out a couple of weeks ago.
I’ve played against the AI in that game at least 6 times, which is unheard from me. I usually play a couple of games to learn it and then stick to asynchronous multiplayer games (which this app does really well too).
This is a game about running a vineyard. It’s not necessarily about making and selling wine, as many people seem to think and then complain about when they actually play it.
It’s about running a vineyard.
Some vineyards don’t fulfill a lot of wine orders. Instead, they do other things to
get victory points make money. That’s why the visitor cards are so important in Viticulture.
Yes, the Visitor cards are important as they can help you do things more efficiently or they could even give you a bunch of victory points if you’re not careful.
I really do like this game, and I’m sad that it’s taken me so long to actually play it again in app form. I’d like to play it on the table again.
Not only that, but I’d love to play the Tuscany expansion which almost every Viticulture fan says is almost mandatory.
I did play with Tuscany once, but it was filling in for somebody who had to leave so I didn’t count it as a play.
It was pretty cool, but I’d love to see it from the beginning.
In the meantime, the app is a lot of fun.
And that’s it!
We only have 20 more to go, but the first 80 have been quite interesting.
This week, we have 5 games played as well as one electronic only (and that last one I probably will never play on the table unless I’m drafted.
That makes 37 out of 80! I’m pretty sure that I’ll easily make the 40 out of 100 that I predicted.
Forgive me if I celebrate a bit for that prediction.
What do you think of these 10 games? Any that you love that I didn’t like? Or that you hate that I love? Or something you would give exceptional social distancing to?
We’re down to the Top 20. How many of the “best” games will I have played?
I guess you’ll start finding out next week!
Thank you again for the reception to this series. I’m really happy with what we’ve seen, and I love talking about some games that I wouldn’t normally talk about.
Let me know in the comments what you think of all this.
Posts in this Series:
Pingback: Boardgame Geek Top 100 – Played or Play? #40-31 – Dude! Take Your Turn!
Pingback: Boardgame Geek Top 100 – Played or Play? 50-41 – Dude! Take Your Turn!
Pingback: Boardgame Geek Top 100 – Played or Play? 60-51 – Dude! Take Your Turn!
Pingback: Boardgame Geek Top 100 – Played or Play? 70-61 – Dude! Take Your Turn!
Pingback: Boardgame Geek Top 100 – Played or Play? 80-71 – Dude! Take Your Turn!
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Pingback: Boardgame Geek Top 100 – Played or Play? 100-91 – Dude! Take Your Turn!
Not so bad for me 6/10. And Agricola is a real nostalgia title – my first serious EURO, very demanding and so much re-playable!
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6 out of 10? Nice! I’m glad you like Agricola. What is it about it that appeals to you?
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I like its replayability, possibility to create interesting combos, very thematic play. And great digital app!
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You get bonus points for the Highlander/Sean Connery reference : ) Well done, sir!
5 out of 10 played for me–I think that’s my best tally yet for this.
I have had the same experience with Mage Knight as you–which is to say zero experience. I’m not sure why, but the game just has never felt interesting to me. I feel the same way about Gloomhaven.
Orleans, on the other hand, I have never played, but it’s long been one I want to play and have watched How to Play videos about and everything.
I like Agricola (I love the app), but Caverna is better for me, for the same reasons you have iterated. I also far prefer San Juan to Puerto Rico. And new gamers pick up SJ a lot faster and with more enthusiasm than they do with PR. 7th Continent is a good game, I do enjoy it, but I have only played it solo, which makes me feel slight buyer’s remorse (because it’s rather pricey, and I’d prefer to spend big on games that the group will play–they’ll play Near & Far, but not this…sigh).
Mansions of Madness 2E is excellent. A top 10 game for me. I was skeptical of an app-driven game, but this really works well, and the challenge level is just about right. You won’t be sorry about picking it up.
May have to try the Viticulture app–I somehow was not aware that the board game had such high reviews, as it’s never made it to my radar. Or, living not far from Napa, I find vineyards very boring.
I’m glad somebody got the Connery reference (though I know it wasn’t that hard).
My wife picked up San Juan fairly easily, but I know she would hate Puerto Rico, so the ease of learning is definitely there.
Too bad about 7th Continent! I would hope that a game group would at least try it, but then again I’ve had some games that I bring every week to see if it will get out on the table and they just don’t.
I really do have to give Mansions a try. Maybe I will pick it up once I’m done getting the Arkham Horror card game cycles.
So in a few years. LOL
Viticulture is amazing! The app is very good too.
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A thin decade for me. I’ve only played Viticulture, but that is one of my favorite euros!
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I’m glad there was that one at least! 🙂
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