Top 100 List (2020 edition) – Games 52 through 49

December 13th. Here we are. The midway point of this Top 100 countdown — and for those of you following your advent calendars, you are just now entering into the 2nd half of those calendars…only 12 days left of socks, chocolate, LEGO toys, etc.

Us? We still have 52 games to talk about and today’s group features a designer who has four titles in my top 50. So, “Let’s get cookin'”

Links to prior posts: Top 100 List

#52 – Notre Dame (Ravensburger, designed by Stefan Feld) [#31 in 2019]

Yesterday, I talked about Amerigo from Stefan Feld. Today, we have Notre Dame [and in six days, we will see one more]. Notre Dame is definitely a tight game, which requires constant management of your coin supply and cube resources, which are very limited. The area control over charity to Notre Dame can get interesting — I’ve played with those who don’t think its worth it…yet, have suffered from seeing other players grab those points.

Where I really think the game shines is in the citizens that can be hired each round. In my opinion, it is really important to manage your coins so that you can have the opportunity to make these hires…I’ve seen penniless opponents who’ve had to groan when the citizen — perfect for their needs — couldn’t be hired.

This is a great, strategic game with a nice, historical theme that is also pretty snappy in its playtime.

#51 – Tang Garden (ThunderGryph Games, designed by Francesco Testini and Pierluca Zizzi) [new to the list]

First off, Tang Garden is a wonderful production! Beautiful artwork on the cards, tiles, and standees.

In regards to gameplay, Tang Garden is a combination of set collection and tile placement — and on every turn, you have to make the decision of which direction you want to act towards. The two are interwoven enough, though, that you can’t expect to just focus on one. You need to work on tile placement to work towards inviting new guests (who will get you key end-game points), but some of those guests will want to see certain items — and the card-draw/set collection portion of the game allows you to help control where flowers/animals/trees wind up in the garden.

Ignore that aspect of the game and you will find that the garden ends up being much more pleasing to your opponents’ guests. This is a very tactical game with beautiful aesthetics and a peaceful ambiance (though the gameplay itself can get a bit “interactive” when you take the tile or the placement spot another player wants — or when you “accidentally” put a dragon scenery where the Emperor is not looking…Oops 😉

#50 – Drop it (KOSMOS, designed by Bernhard Lach and Uwe Rapp) [#17 in 2019]

Drop it is a family favorite and just might be my go-to game to pull out with any group. The action of the game is just dropping colored shapes in a tower, so kids can easily play it…but there is enough choice in each drop to keep it engaging for any age.

Plus, every game seems to have some thrilling physics-defying moments that will get the group laughing and smiling. I mean, seriously….how can that circle piece bounce like it’s a rubber ball one time, and then another can stick its landing like its trying out for the Olympics. Drop it is a top-tier recommend for any gamer.

For more, check out my review.

#49 – Mystic Vale (Alderac Entertainment Group, designed by John D. Clair) [new to the list]

#49 is Mystic Vale — the first game on my top 100 from designer John D. Clair. Mystic Vale is a very simple game, but features some mechanisms that I really enjoy. First off, deck-building…and in Mystic Vale, you aren’t building a deck so that you can battle an opponent or a board state, but just to build a deck that is worth the most points.

Second, I’m a fan of the card-crafting system that John D. Clair has used in a few of his titles. And when you purchase a new card insert…the choice of which card to add it to becomes a key part of your strategy. Focus on building some key, strong cards…or spread out to try and have consistently good hands.

Which leads to the push-your luck aspect of this game. Most of the time you won’t push your luck and your hand will just be as good as can. But you CAN push that luck if you so desire. I just need one more manna…and if you fail, you at least get a small bonus from the effort.

Last, I like games where you have the ability to acquire on-going abilities and some of the Vale cards in this game do just that, at the expense, though, of end-game points. But if you can acquire those on-going cards early enough, I bet they will generate more than just a couple points overall. This is a great title and one that my wife have been able to enjoy in a nice 30-45 minute timeframe.

That’s numbers 52 through 49. Let me know what your thoughts and/or feedback are for these titles. Furthermore, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @boardgamecrock1 and Retweet the Top 100 posts to earn entries into the Fantastic Factories giveaway.

See you tomorrow for the next 4.

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