‘Twas the day before the day before the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
(Certainly not this blogger.)
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Vital would soon be there.
(Hopefully with a game that doesn’t make me catatonic with indecision.)
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar-meeples danced in their heads.
(That’s not normal, is it? I mean the dancing, as I think sugar-meeples should be a thing)
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled down for a long Winter’s game of Here I Stand.
(Really, 12 hours sometimes?)
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my chair, accidentally bumping the table, to see what was the matter.
(The British were losing anyway…)
Away to the window, I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
(Then the wind knocked over the rest of the pieces. Mamma was pissed)
Anyway, we’ll leave it there (that’s a long poem!) and instead allow me to welcome you to the next installment of the BGG Top 200!
We’ve reached #120-111, which means we’re just about done.
Maybe by the new year?
Eh, probably not.
Since this is the last post before Christmas, I just wanted to wish all of you who celebrate it a joyous Christmas, and I hope those of you who don’t are enjoying whatever you do celebrate.
Oh, before I forget, this list is taken from the BGG Top 200 as of September 20 the order may have changed since I did this. I’ve made note of the changes.
Let’s get this show on the road so I can start the celebration!
#120 – Age of Steam (Eagle-Gryphon Games) – 2002
Designer: Martin Wallace
Artists: Sean Brown, Peter Dennis, Paul Niemeyer, Ian O’Toole
Was this one of Ian O’Toole’s first?
This has dropped one space to #121 now.
Another train game, and another game that I haven’t really played, though it’s very similar to Steam, which I have played, so does that mean I’ve played it?
Anyway, let’s say that I haven’t played it, because nobody actually opened a box that says “Age of Steam” on it when I played.
In that case, let’s blurb this because, you know, I’ve never played it (and the last time I played Steam was probably 4-5 years ago).
“Challenges that await you:
Competition is brutal, with the game usually going to the player who plans most carefully.”
Yeah, that doesn’t really help much, does it?
I have played the Steam app some, but I’m not going to assume they are the same game, so I won’t relate my experience with that (and my one play of the actual tabletop game) with Age of Steam.
Instead, I will say that I’d be willing to give this one a try but it’s not high on my list of games that I need to play.
Compared to 18XX, this would be high on my list to play, though!
That may not be saying much…
#119 – Chaos in the Old World (Fantasy Flight Games) – 2009
Designer: Eric Lang
Artists: Tim Arney-O’Neil, Kevin Childress, Andrew Navaro, Brian Schomburg, WiL Springer
This is a game that I have no frame of reference for. It’s a complete unknown to me!
I haven’t even seen it played at any convention that I’ve been at (that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there, of course, and I vaguely remember seeing a game that might have been this though I’m not 100% sure).
In the game, you are a god!
No, not a “real” god, but a god that’s probably out of something Lovecraftian (or maybe I am completely off-base on that…somebody correct me please?)
Let’s blurb it since it’s another one I haven’t played!
“Chaos in the Old World makes you a god. Each god’s distinctive powers and legion of followers grant you unique strengths and diabolical abilities with which to corrupt and enslave the Old World.
Yet, as you and your fellow powers of Chaos seek domination by corruption and conquest, you must vie not only against each other, but also against the desperate denizens of the Old World who fight to banish you back to the maelstrom of the Realm of Chaos.“
Whenever there’s chaos involved, it’s usually Lovecraft, though maybe not this time!
(Though it probably is…)
This is an intriguing game that I wouldn’t mind giving a try one time. Now that I think about it, I think I did wander past an organized table at OrcaCon or some other con where they were playing this.
Maybe I’ll sign up for it next time!
Or maybe I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing and just fantasize about it.
It’s only 1-2 hours, so why don’t I?
I think Eric would like me to try it.
#118 – War of the Ring (Fantasy Flight Games) – 2004
Designers: Roberto Di Meglio, Marco Maggi, Francesco Nepitello
Artists: John Howe, Matteo Macchi, Fabio Maiorana, Mizio Mencarini, Bob Naismith
This one has fallen to #120, but considering it was down even further at one point while this post was in production, it’s making a comeback!
Believe it or not, we have reached the last game in this list that I haven’t played.
War of the Ring sounds like a really cool game, but it’s old enough that nobody I know of even has it. Is it available somewhere?
Not that I’m aware of, but I haven’t really looked for it.
This is a game that tells the story of J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it’s not just about the adventure of the ring-bearer (though he is in there).
In War of the Ring one player is the Shadow Armies (Sauron’s forces and others like that) and the other player is the “Free Peoples” (it’s a 2-4 player game, so I think there are sub-factions for each that you can split off if you have more players).
The Free Peoples may be reluctant to join the war unless attacked by Sauron or unless Gandalf can convince them to join the cause.
Let’s do a blurb, because it can definitely give you a lot more information than I have for it.
“The game can be won by a military victory, if Sauron conquers a certain number of Free People cities and strongholds or vice-versa. But the true hope of the Free Peoples lies with the quest of the Ringbearer: while the armies clash across Middle Earth, the Fellowship of the Ring is trying to get secretly to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring. Sauron is not aware of the real intention of his enemies but is looking across Middle Earth for the precious Ring, so that the Fellowship is going to face numerous dangers, represented by the rules of The Hunt for the Ring. But the Companions can spur the Free Peoples to the fight against Sauron, so the Free People player must balance the need to protect the Ringbearer from harm, against the attempt to raise a proper defense against the armies of the Shadow, so that they do not overrun Middle Earth before the Ringbearer completes his quest.”
This sounds extremely neat!!! (like my whiskey).
I’ve heard many good things about this game, so much so that I’d really love to play it at a convention or something (since there’s no way any of my regular players will be doing it with me).
For some reason, I’m thinking either Grant or Alexander from the Players’ Aid blog have a copy? If so, what if I make it to Origins? Hint hint…
Anyway, I doubt I will be playing this any time soon, but it’s not for want of trying.
#117 – Ticket to Ride: Europe (Days of Wonder) – 2005
Designer: Alan R. Moon
Artists: Cyrille Daujean, Julien Delval
This one has fallen a little to #118. Still quite respectable!
Believe it or not, I haven’t really played much Ticket to Ride on the table, and the Europe edition I’ve only played once! Though I have played it on the app a few times.
I do really like this version though.
Sadly, my only play of it was back in 2013, so I don’t have any pictures of it.
What is Ticket to Ride? It’s a game where you are using set-collection cards to build train routes between two cities by turning in the cards. On your turn you can either draw cards or you can play the cards to lay down your route.
Some routes have two different sets which allow multiple players to take the same route (unless you are playing with 3 or fewer players).
The Europe “expansion” (which is also a standalone game) has routes connecting various European cities.
It also introduces “ferries,” which require the use of wild cards to lay down a route. Tunnels may require extra cards depending on the random draw.
It adds a few elements that make me like the game more than just “basic” Ticket to Ride though I would be willing to play any of them to be honest.
Other Ticket to Ride expansions/standalone games add even more gameplay elements, almost to the point where the system is getting kind of diluted.
But Ticket to Ride: Europe?
This is one of the best.
#116 – Vinhos: Deluxe Edition (Eagle Gryphon Games) – 2016
Designer: Vital Lacerda
Artist: Ian O’Toole
This one has jumped a space to #115!
Wow, #100-200 really move around a lot.
Or maybe I’m just a slow-ass poster.
This is the thinking-person’s winery game (as opposed to Viticulture, which is certainly a great game, one of my faves, but doesn’t burn the brain like this one does).
It’s a Vital Lacerda game, so you know it’s going to break your brain somewhat.
Vinhos is a trading and economic game about wine-making. None of this “oh, let’s draw some visitor cards and get a bunch of victory points” stuff here.
No, this is a hard-ass game (it’s a Lacerda, so of course it is) where you have to really plan out your moves so that you don’t get caught at a point where you’re thinking “I really did that badly.”
Since it’s been almost 4 years since I’ve played it, let’s blurb it so I don’t look like I’m talking out of my ass (though I am quite talented doing that)…
“Vinhos (the Portuguese word for “wines”) is a trading and economic game about the business of wine making. Despite its small size, Portugal is one of the world’s leading wine producers. Over six years of harvests, cultivate your vines, choose the best varieties, hire the best oenologists, take part in trade fairs, and show your opponents you are the best winemaker in the game.
As winemakers in Portugal, the players develop their vineyards and produce wine to achieve maximum profit. The object of the game is to produce quality wines that can be exchanged for money or victory points.”
It’s a really cool game and I really enjoyed my one play of it.
It just hasn’t hit the table again.
Which is sad, because I really do like Lacerda’s games. I really need to play one of them a couple of times in a 3-week span, just so I can both understand the game and maybe actually do well.
Otherwise, it will be like The Gallerist where I get what’s going on but I have no idea how to do things efficiently.
If this came up, either at a game day (I don’t think my friend has gotten rid of it yet, though I could be wrong) or at a convention, I would definitely give this one another go.
#115 – Istanbul (Alderac Entertainment Group) – 2014
Designer: Rüdiger Dorn
Artists: Andreas Resch, Hans-Georg Schneider
This has fallen to #117. That means something must have jumped up!
First, I have to say that Istanbul has a stellar app version, though I do wish they would get the expansion in there (or at least one of them)
I actually really like this game, and I wish I had the chance to get it to the table more often.
Especially with at least one of the expansions, which I’ve heard are very good.
A series of locations are placed in a random grid (unless you do the “starter” set-up in which case everything is in its own location) and you are moving your Merchant around to try to collect gems.
You may be collecting resources to then get gems or maybe you might be able to get them right off the bat (after some maneuvering, anyway), but ultimately whoever gets 5 gems is going to win the game.
I really love the mechanic of how each time you move your Merchant, you will either be dropping off or picking up one of your assistants. You have to do one or the other, so if you don’t have any assistants, you can’t go to a location that you can’t pick up from.
The modular board really helps with this one, though I do appreciate that they have a suggested starting setup of tiles so that you can try to understand the game before having everything be totally random.
The app of this game is amazing, as Acram Digital has done a wonderful job (though it really needs at least one expansion or it gets a bit boring after a while).
I think one reason I like this game is because it’s something that I’ve actually won (never underestimate the power of actually having done well in a game to make you like it more) but it’s also just such a great design.
You can only move your piece a certain number of spots and if you’ve dropped off all of your assistants, then you may be in a bit of a pickle, having to waste a move just to pick one up.
It’s been a while since I’ve played it (over 2 years), but I would play it again in a heartbeat.
#114 – Endeavor: Age of Sail (Cranio Creations) – 2018
Designers: Carl de Visser, Jarratt Gray
Artists: Josh Cappel, Noah Adelman
I’ve never played the second edition to this game that just came out a year or two ago, but I do remember my one play of the original game very fondly.
First, I have to laugh that there is no “u” in Endeavor (it should be “Endeavour, goddammit!!!)
Secondly, obviously I have no pictures of the new edition of the game, though apparently it looks wonderful.
My only 2 plays of the game were before I was taking pictures, so sadly I don’t even have a picture of the original.
This is a game of colonization and trying to spread your influence across the known world.
Let’s blurb this since it’s been 6 years.
“In Endeavor: Age of Sail, players strive to earn glory for their empires. Sailing out from Europe and the Mediterranean, players will establish shipping routes and occupy cities the world over. As they do so, players will leverage their growing industry, culture, finance, and Influence, building their engine and extending their reach into the far-flung regions of the world.
In this second edition, players will experience:
This sounds even more cool and I’m sad to say I haven’t had a chance to try it out!
That being said, the blurb doesn’t really say much.
I remember that this game was a bit of a brain-burner because of how you had to spread your empire.
One thing I really like about the game is that it acknowledged that slavery existed during this time period. In fact, you can even take part in the slave trade.
You’re going to take a few hits for it as it’s still morally wrong. However, if you have built up a cushion for it, slavery may very well help you.
It’s not very “in your face” but it forces you to acknowledge the trade-offs with the whole concept, which I really like.
In my two plays of this game, needless to say I really sucked at it.
But it was an enjoyable game and I’d really love to try the second edition.
Maybe one day.
#113 – Dead of Winter: a Crossroads Game (Plaid Hat Games) – 2014
Designers: Jonathan Gilmour, Isaac Vega
Artists: David Richards, Fernanda Suárez, Peter Wocken
This one has fallen to #116, almost like a zombie is waiting for it at the higher levels so it’s making a tactical retreat.
I love this kind of semi-cooperative game. Not only are you just trying to be “the best of a bunch” like in Marvel Legendary, but you may actually be working against everybody, at least when it comes to fulfilling your personal objective.
In Dead of Winter, all of the players are facing off against (yes, you guessed it) the zombie hordes.
This may sound old hat, but there are a couple of twists that make this a really interesting game.
First, each player has a personal objective.
Some of them are rather benign, so maybe you can complete them even as you help the human settlement prevail against the zombies.
However, some are totally the opposite of helping, and you have to walk a fine line between having everybody die (which means the game wins) and helping the settlement win while still fulfilling your own objective.
If you can do that, then you can win!
I’ve only played this game twice, so I’m not sure I can really comment on its quality, but it was fun both times I played.
The interesting thing about Dead of Winter is the Crossroads cards.
Each turn, a Crossroads card is drawn. If your move happens to coincide with the card, then the player next to you reads the card and you have some decisions to make.
Do you read the whole card, including the options? Or do you just read the situation and let the player make the decision without knowing the consequences?
That may be a question for the ages.
I really did enjoy this game the two times I played it. If somebody I knew in our game group had the game, I’d love to get another play or two in. Sadly, I don’t think anybody does.
In addition to the crossroads card and trying to win the scenario, each turn has a task that players must contribute cards to if they want to pass it (and thus have no detrimental effects). You can contribute cards to the issue and then it’s discovered that somebody contributed tools to the food task.
Somebody must be the traitor!
Or maybe somebody just really need their food cards.
I love this mechanic, where you don’t really know what’s going on.
That’s why I don’t think I would like this game with fewer players. I love the option of having a traitor, and I don’t think smaller player counts actually have a traitor.
I really need to get another play of this game in to solidify what I feel about it.
For now, it’s a game that I see a lot of potential for and I want to have more.
#112 – Legendary Encounters: an Alien Deck-Building Game (Upper Deck Entertainment) – 2014
Designers: Ben Cichoski, Daniel Mandel
Artists: N/A (but probably lots!)
This game has moved up to #111! Must be all of those rampaging aliens pushing it forward.
I’m a huge fan of Marvel Legendary, which has been rekindled so much recently that I’ve bought almost every expansion that has come out since I stopped buying with the Deadpool expansion (which my wallet has cried about recently).
However, this was the first of a couple of “Encounters” editions of Legendary based on different franchises.
The Alien game is based on the four movies and it’s cool that you can play each movie as its own game.
This is a full coop game (rather than the semi-cooperative nature of Marvel Legendary where you are trying to defeat the game but if you do, the person with the most points is ultimately “the winner”). You are the crew of the various spaceships in the Alien franchise as you face off against the face-huggers and other alien creatures trying to wipe you out.
My only play of the game was before I was habitually taking pictures of my games played, so I can’t actually add any visual component to this post.
However, there are cool aspects to the game, like the “Cooperate” mechanic, which lets you help the current player with a card and then draw another card so that your own hand isn’t badly effected (though you may draw a worse card, and then it sucks to be you!).
This was added to one Marvel Legendary expansion as well.
One of the options in the game is that, if your character dies, you actually join the Alien side (I think only if you were taken over and not actively killed, but I could be wrong).
This lets you play on the Alien turn.
My one play of this game, that happened to another player in our game fairly quickly.
It wasn’t really fun facing off against him and the game itself, and we ultimately failed to win the scenario.
It’s not something I would like to repeat, but then again, maybe we just played badly?
It’s hard to say when you have a deck-builder with random cards. Is it possible to “play badly” and thus make the game an automatic loss?
That’s for somebody with a bigger brain than me to decide.
In the meantime, I bought this game but never got it to the table. I ultimately traded it for something that I think I did get to the table (though I don’t remember specifically what it was for) so I think it’s a win-win.
I’d like to try it again (or one of the other Encounters games, like Firefly) just to see if our one experience was an outlier.
However, I’m not chomping at the bit for it.
#111 – Star Realms (White Wizard Games) – 2014
Designers: Robert Dougherty, Darwin Kastle
Artist: Vito Gesualdi
This game has fallen a little bit, to #113, but don’t despair. That’s still pretty good!
I semi-lied above when I said there weren’t any more games that I haven’t played.
I have only played the app version of Star Realms, but boy have I played it a bunch. I’m in two regular games plus I’ve done games with other people occasionally.
I have probably played this game almost 500 times at least.
Star Realms is your basic deckbuilding card game where you are trying to reduce your opponent’s “health” (in this case, “Authority”) to zero before they do the same to you.
You have a starting deck of cards that will give you a little strength to reduce Authority as well as money to buy more cards from the center row.
There are four “factions” in the game, and some of their cards will give you more power or money or other effects if you play them with other cards of their faction.
There are bases that you can play that stay out until they are destroyed. Outposts (with the black shield in the bottom right instead of a regular shield) have to be destroyed before you can hurt your opponent’s authority. The regular shield bases can be ignored, though you probably don’t want to because they do have their abilities that take effect every turn.
Some of the expansions have factionless cards that can actually be chosen to be any faction when you play them. Those are quite powerful cards.
Whoever reduces their opponent to zero Authority first wins the game!
I love this game so much, though I have to say I like some of the twists on the concept done by other games even more (Shards of Infinity, I’m thinking of you).
This is so simple to play though and it really shines on the app.
You don’t stick with a game at least 500 times without their being some staying power there.
The expansions do help, though. I’m not sure how much I would still be playing without those.
I highly recommend this game!
Another post is in the books and we’re up to the last one in the series next.
When will it be published?
Like I would know that?
In the meantime, what do you think of these 10? Which ones have you played? Which ones would you really like to play? Or which ones do you hate with the passion of a blinding sun (which happens to be making it’s rare showing in Vancouver right now)?
Let me know in the comments.
Posts in this Series
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Pingback: Boardgame Geek Top 200 – Play or Played – #140 – 131 – Dude! Take Your Turn!
Pingback: Boardgame Geek Top 200 – Play or Played – #150-141 – Dude! Take Your Turn!
Pingback: Boardgame Geek Top 200 – Play or Played – #160-151 – Dude! Take Your Turn!
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Pingback: Boardgame Geek Top 200 – Play or Played – #190-181 – Dude! Take Your Turn!
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This time 3/10 for me: Ticket to Ride (one of my first boardgames ever, feel pretty nostalgic about it), Vinhos (great “theme” game, played twice, always with glass of wine and it was so great- both game and wine 🙂 ), Istambul (surprisingly interesting Euro, with some not-so-common mechanics)
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Glad there were some in there for you! Hope you’ve had a good Christmas
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Lots of interesting games in this one! I’m surprised you’ve never met anyone who owns the War of the Ring – I know several people with a copy (myself included). It’s an excellent game (if one likes LotR) – the gold standard of board game adaptations of intellectual properties, if you ask me.
P.S.: My next 12-hour Here I Stand game (online) is scheduled for January already 😀
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I’d love to give it a try sometime! and I look forward to hearing about your 12-hour Here I Stand game. LOL
Hope you’ve had a great Christmas.
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Dead of Winter- bit meh but it is ok.
Chaos in the Old World- played it just once but loved it. Would happily play again.
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