Happy December 26th, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas — and just maybe — have some fun new games to play with your family and friends.
Today, I am continuing the coverage of my top 100 games list. Last week, I looked at games 100 through 61 and also discussed the method behind my top 100 madness. Feel free to check that post out if you’d like to get caught up. Otherwise, let’s move into the next 40 games — which I personally think are even better than the games I talked about last week.
#60 – Dice City (2015; Vangelis Bagiartakis)
Build up your 5 x 6 city grid and trigger those buildings based on your dice-roll placement. Will you focus on production, military, straight victory points? A fun, gateway + title with cute artwork as well.
#59 – One Night Ultimate Werewolf (2014; Ted Alspach and Akihisa Okui)
Every time I play Werewolf, I have a blast. Everyone opens their eyes after the night phase and who knows what crazy accusations and statements will start getting blabbed around the table. It’s tough to win as the werewolf, but when you do — it feels so good!
#58 – Chronicles of Crime (2018; David Cicurel)
This game is so much fun! I doubt I’ve ever felt more like a real detective than I have when playing Chronicles of Crime. With the app, plenty of character cards, plenty of evidence cards…the game provides a very open-world / sandbox environment. And if you want to solve the crime in a decent amount of time — you better get your sleuthing hat on real quick.
#57 – Rajas of the Ganges (2017; Inka Brand and Markus Brand)
While the theme of Rajas of the Ganges is pretty light and feels “added on” — the gameplay is top-notch. As of making this list, I had only played the game once — assuming I get some more regular plays in the future, I have no doubt this one should climb up my list. A combo of worker placement and dice placement is very cool. And there’s not really a bad dice roll — every number has value and usefulness. Lots of cool mechanisms in this game that come together in a great package.
#56 – Dice Forge (2017; Regis Bonnessee)
The joy of this game is in the dice-crafting. Turns are quick, points are earned easily, and it is very satisfying when you roll that awesome die face that you spent a lot of resources to craft. I’m hopeful that some future play of the expansion will keep this one in a solid spot in the top 100 going-forward.
#55 – Roll to the Top! (2018; Peter Joustra and Corné van Moorsel)
My #3 game from this list in regards to the Roll (or Flip) and Write genre. I enjoy the decision-making that comes with when and where to use dice rolls. Do you skip a higher number or get aggressive and make it fit on your board to try and get ahead? With several building options, strategies have to get adjusted each game. This one has been a delight so far!
#54 – Set a Watch (2019; Mike Gnade and Todd Walsh)
Set a Watch is equally a wonderful solo and multi-player cooperative game. Regardless of player count, you will be managing four travelers on their journey to battle monsters and keep the fire going. The puzzle of how to use your characters’ abilities to efficiently fight each nights’ horde of monsters is tricky and quite fun.
#53 – Baseball Highlights: 2045 (2015; Mike Fitzgerald)
Ever since I was a young kid, I have loved baseball and Baseball Highlights: 2045 is a wonderful merge of deck-building and a great sport. Plus, I love the idea that you are playing out the highlights of a World Series match-up. I’m looking forward to more plays of this title and maybe even add some small expansions along the way.
#52 – Spirit Island (2017; R. Eric Reuss)
Such a remarkable cooperative game. Fighting against a horde of foreign settlers, yet you are in control of mighty and powerful spirits who — with the right decision-making — can manage to overcome the odds and victoriously defend the island.
#51 – Castell (2018; Aaron Vanderbeek)
What a delightful game. It is pure joy to recruit new castellers and train them so they can begin to perform more creative and exciting human towers. Do you work towards crowd-pleasing stunts or focus on showing up for local festivals? Quick play and very entertaining.
#50 – Takenoko (2011; Antoine Bauza)
I have discovered this year that one of my favorite mechanisms is personal objectives. Takenoko is all about your personal objectives and growing / working the garden in a manner that will quickly achieve those goals. Quick turns and a cute panda bear — lots of fun!
#49 – Fairy Tale (2004; Satoshi Nakamura)
The fairy/fantasy theme surrounding this game does nothing for me, but despite that, Fairy Tale is one of my favorite set collection games. And as a two-player game, the drafting is just as much about denying your opponent as it is strengthening your own collection.
#48 – King of Tokyo (2011; Richard Garfield)
Hey, let’s take the yahtzee-style of play and throw in monsters in a king-of-the-hill battle. Sounds silly, but so brilliant. The push-your-luck is great. Multiple paths to victory. And I enjoy having the power cards that give each monster a unique feeling.
#47 – PARKS (2019; Henry Audobon)
I expected this game to have a fun theme and beautiful artwork. And it definitely nails those two points. I was surprised to discover that this is a fairly deep game with important strategic decisions. It is still a simple game, but not easy to win — you really need to pay attention to your hiker movement timing and resource management. Great new 2019 game!
#46 – The Builders: Middle Ages (2013; Frederic Henry)
I haven’t performed well in this small, city-building game — but I really enjoy the Splendor-esque method of trying to hire workers that can most efficiently complete building projects.
#45 – The Rose King (1992; Dirk Henn)
When I find a 2-player abstract strategy game that is well-made, it can really capture my attention. The Rose King has simple movement, but you get to have some control based on your hand management. The goal is to garner control over large pockets of land, so achieving that while disrupting your opponent is the key.
#44 – Kingdomino (2016; Bruno Cathala)
Kingdomino is a great, light family-weight game. The tiles are so vibrant with some fun surprises on them. Plus, some interesting tile-drafting that will leave you shaking your fist at one of your opponents as they take that perfect tile you were starting to drool over.
#43 – Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates (2019; Don Beyer and Glenn Drover)
As a deck-builder, this is a very light game. The joy of Pirates is in the track movement. There are three paths your pirates will be taking to get to Tortuga. There’s value in moving towards Tortuga fast, but in doing so you may be bypassing the pick-up-and-deliver opportunities to rescue fellow pirates, hire workers, and discover treasure.
#42 – Reef (2018; Emerson Matsuuchi)
Reef hits a sweet spot if you enjoy constant reward feedback. You will be able to achieve goals quickly, earning points often, which feels great. But if you think too short-term, you may ruin your opportunities to effectively complete tasks as the game progresses. Very fun and easy to learn / play.
#41 – Gloomhaven (2017; Isaac Childres)
Sadly, my game group has stalled out on this campaign game (thus its fall from the 8 spot last year) — but the plays we have gotten through confirm that this is a top-notch dungeon-crawl experience. My biggest complaint is that the level-up rewards come at a slow pace in comparison to the hours put into play.
#40 – My Little Scythe (2017; Hoby Chou and Vienna Chou)
I must admit that I have yet to play Scythe, but I assume I’d enjoy it based on the fun I’ve had with the “My Little” version of this title. Furthermore, this game has been a great opportunity to teach my 7-year old son some higher-level gaming concepts.
#39 – Gizmos (2018; Phil Walker-Harding)
I find engine-building to be very enjoyable and Gizmos is ALL ABOUT the engine-building. Plus, you throw in the marbles for tactile fun and this become a very entertaining game. If only there was some ounce of theme in this game.
#38 – Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar (2012; Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini)
Worker placement tied to five rotating gears — such a unique and cool concept. I enjoy planning out my moves to maximize value and that is very important in Tzolk’in. Plus, the expansion helps add variable player powers to the game.
#37 – Evolution (2014; Dominic Crapuchettes, Dmitry Knorre, and Sergey Machin)
Another game that feels “unique” compared to the other games in my ‘played catalog.’ There are lots of interesting tactics related to which animals to focus on — letting some die, but protecting others….dealing with environmental issues….and if you manage to get a carnivore, having fun trying to eat your opponents’ creatures.
#36 – Hero Realms (Robert Dougherty and Darwin Kastle)
I really enjoy Shards of Infinity, but I find the fantasy theme in Hero Realms to be more interesting. I have recently acquired the character packs and expect Hero Realms to get more play in 2020 than it did in 2019.
#35 – Seasons (2012; Regis Bonnessee)
This year, I finally got around to playing Seasons in card-drafting mode (versus pre-assigned hands from the rulebook). With drafting, the game really takes off to a greater level. There are 100 cards in the base game, but only 18-36 (depending on player count) will be available in the draft. Thus, it is very important to be able to draft a hand that can work well together during the 3-year action phase of the game. I love that I have played games with tons of scoring and constant lead-changes, followed by a game with some mean take-that, point removal, and very low-scoring totals. Seasons is 7 years old, but I believe still stands out tall in a crowd of many games.
#34 – Star Wars: Destiny (2016; Corey Konieczka and Lukas Litzsinger)
Destiny’s fall from #6 to #34 on my list is heavily based on its lack of play time in 2019. I’m hoping to get it back to the table soon, though. My son and I have new packs to open, which should hopefully reinvigorate our energy for this game. I love the gameplay and trying to get really cool cards, with dice abilities in my tableau. Such a fun game with a great Star Wars theme.
#33 – Welcome To (2018; Benoit Turpin)
My 2nd ranked Roll/Flip-and-Write game. Every game will have its own specific trio of objectives to achieve, which do a great job of influencing players to adjust their strategies from game to game. Welcome To is not just a great competitive game, but performs well in solo mode as well. I have my fingers-crossed that some expansion packs will be coming my way for this game soon.
#32 – Between Two Cities (2015; Matthew O’Malley, Morten Monrad Pedersen, and Ben Rosset)
City-building with set collection scoring. That alone is fun as you try and build a 4×4 grid with a combo of 1×1 and 2×1 tiles. Throw in the fact that you are actually building two cities — both of which need to be great since your score is based on the lesser city — and you have a very cool game. My 2nd of 5 Stonemaier Games that are in my top 40.
#31 – Notre Dame (2007; Stefan Feld)
I purchased Notre Dame on Amazon a few days after the cathedral fire that took place back in April of this year. I’m glad that I ran with the inspiration, because I really like this Feld creation. Tight resource management and I like trying to figure out which helpful citizen to utilize each round.
#30 – Ticket to Ride (2004; Alan R. Moon)
Ticket to Ride may be considered a go-to game for getting people into the board gaming hobby, but I still think it holds up strong after having played much deeper and heavier games. I love the quick turns and the feeling you get when being able achieve one of your ticket goals. #17 on my list last year, this one held on tight despite a huge wave of new games to compete against.
#29 – Teotihuacan: City of Gods (2018; Daniele Tascini)
I had been hearing great things about Teotihuacan and the game lives up to the hype. This was my first rondel-movement game to play and I really enjoy the mechanism. Along with that, helping build the temple/ziggurat is very pleasing.
#28 – Ex Libris (2017; Adam P. McIver)
I love books and I love sequential organization. Yes, that sentence sounds really nerdy. And yet, here’s a game that combines those two elements….and throws in Monstrous creatures + some fun worker placement. Ex Libris adds a cool element to the worker placement concept by allowing the available worker slots to change from round to round. Be careful, though, competition can get tough when librarians start fighting over important action slots.
#27 – Call to Adventure (2019; Johnny O’Neal and Christopher O’Neal)
My older son and I have had a blast playing this game and it has become one of our combined favorites. We both love story-telling and this game allows you to create fun, fantasy-themed stories — guided by the cards you are able to acquire during play. In fact, it becomes tempting to choose cards based less on their ability to help you win the game, but more on how well they fit into the story you are trying to tell. We have both had a blast — at the end of the game — looking over our 9 cards and spending a minute or two to weave a wondrous tale of how our lowly child managed to transform into something much greater by the end. We recently received the ‘Name of the Wind’ expansion and are very excited to tell some new stories with those cards soon.
#26 – Terraforming Mars (2016; Jacob Fryxelius)
Another game in which I believe the hype is real. Terraforming Mars is a difficult game, but the mechanisms are very fun and it is satisfying to see your tableau grow and to start pulling off big turns in later rounds. And I agree with the majority that Prelude is a “must-use” expansion.
#25 – Wingspan (2019; Elizabeth Hargrave)
Okay, I know I’m getting into games I really love when Wingspan is sitting as low as #25. My wife and I have played this game several times with her brother and sister-in-law — and each play has been exciting and very fun. With expansion content recently coming available, I expect Wingspan to be a game that finds a solid spot near the top of this list for quite some time. There are many strategies to undertake in this bird-themed game, but I must admit…gaining more personal objectives is my favorite.
#24 – Ganz schon clever (2018; Wolfgang Warsch)
My #1 Roll-and-Write game on this list. Some of the best games get you wanting to be able to accomplish “x” amount of items while realistically you can only achieve “2-to-3” notches below that. This is a game in which you can start to develop some solid strategies, but every time you are still going to have to tactically deal with the dice rolls as they become available. And it is so satisfying when you can manage a turn that combos multiple items at once.
#23 – Splendor (2014; Marc Andre)
I realize that many gamers have “moved on” from Splendor, but I’m not there yet. If you can’t tell, I love games with quick turns. And Splendor is a game that forces you to pay attention to your opponents. You can’t let them run away with their own plans — plus getting to a royal citizen card first can make a huge difference. I feel like I’ve still got a lot of enjoyment to get out of this fun, quick game before I’m ready to move on.
#22 – Camel Up (2014; Steffen Bogen)
I play a lot of board games to test my strategic abilities, for the excitement of competition….in hopes of winning. But at the same time, board games should be fun. And if I was to create a list of games that best create moments of Joy and Fun, Camel Up might be at the top of that list. While much of the game is luck-based, there is still a level of strategy that can be attempted — playing the odds…taking safe bets or going after risky rewards…but in the end, I love the moments when its time to stand up and see which camel can get across the line first.
#21 – Outlive (2017; Gregory Oliver)
First off, I enjoy Outlive’s take on the post-apocalyptic theme. While it is still a dreary world, it is not zombie-filled. The game also does a great job of blending –> worker placement, exploration, variable powers, resource management, and even some set collection.
Well, there you have it folks — My top 100 list, games 60 through 21. Come back next week for the finale…my top 20 games overall.
And I’m curious, from the list above, which games would you most enjoy getting to play?