MY TOP 100 BOARD GAMES 2020 EDITION – 10 THROUGH 1
We’ve made it through another list this year. No spoilers as to what’s to come, what might have moved up, what might just be a new game on the list, so let’s get into this.
Plus a few notes on how I’ve put together the list:
- These are my favorite, you want what people consider best, see the Board Game Geek Top 100
- If a game you love isn’t on the list, it might be be coming, I might not have played it, and if I have, it’s 101
- If a game looks cool, I have links to buy it from CoolStuffInc or Amazon, or you can grab most at your FLGS
- There are a few games, Destiny 2 Player versus regular Destiny where if they are basically the same thing, I only do one of them
Starting here, we have a game that has dropped a little bit for me. Some of that is because I haven’t played it recently nor is it one that I can play more often than once every three or four years, because it is a legacy game. So there is a story element to the game that even when I played it the second time, I generally remembered the story and when the moments happened, though not always perfectly. The game play is really good, and even though it’s a legacy game, it is very much worth playing. It is a good building off of the main game, and it adds in surprising moments and some good twists along the way. The game is mechanically sound as well with nothing really throwing the game out of balance. Overall, it’s a game that is a great experience every time you pull it out while playing through the story, and at the end, even though you can’t use the board game, it doesn’t feel like a waste and you feel satisfied with how much you’ve played it.
Last Year: 3
9. Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon
New comer to the list, and one that I want to get to the table more. It might be the game that we play next after Gloomhaven because I think we’ll be able to play it pretty well over Zoom. In Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon, this is a dark fantasy game where you are exploring story, going across maps and finding new lands, fighting monsters, all of this while trying to survive and keep giant statues, Menhir, lit, to hold back the Wyrdness that is threatening the land. This game has so much story to it and it is really well written, the minis are great in the game, the game mechanics are really interesting, most of them are pretty straightforward, but the combat and diplomacy encounters are done in a really interesting way. This game really shines because of how much it offers in story, and with two more expansions coming from this Kickstarter, there is going to be tons of hours of game play to get through the whole story of this world. I’m very excited to get it back to the table.
Last Year: Not Ranked
This one shot up a long way, but I think that last year while ranking, I might have left it lower because it is just a light and silly game. But ICECOOL is a game that I love playing every time I get to the table. Whether it is just having a goofy time at a board game night or playing it somewhat more seriously at GenCon in a tournament, ICECOOL is always a blast. What is basically just a little flicking game, this game just works so well. The box is incredible as it comes apart to make this 3D high school (Ice cool, get it). The little penguin pieces are really nice, and the whole flicking thing just works so well. This is really a kids game, but it’s a lot of fun for adults, for kids, and for basically any setting. This is one that I’d definitely recommend to anyone, gamer or not, as a really fun time.
Last Year: 21
7. Dice Throne
Another one shooting up the list, this is one of my more played games last year. And it helps because there is a nice TTS (Tabletop Simulator) version that works well, and I was bummed because I was hoping to do a tournament of this game this year amongst my friends, but with Covid that hasn’t happened. Dice Throne is a battling dice chucking game where you are playing different types of characters, you might be something as simple as a Barbarian or a Paladin, you you can play a Seraph or an Artificer. While core mechanics might be similar in what you are trying to roll or what rolls are better, the game play for each character seems different. You’re looking for different things and trying to get that set-up right and the statuses on players at the right time or get them off yourself before you’re taken out. I like this game at two players probably the best, but I’ve been playing a lot of “King of the Hill” style with three players and that has been amazing as well. The game plays fast, and you feel engaged with it throughout. I am also really excited to see this battling style board game turned into more of an adventure game in Dice Throne: Adventures coming real soon.
Last Year: 19
Another new game to the list, and almost into the top 5, I’ve played Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game exactly 5 times, once for each case in the base box. And with that, I can’t really play the base box again. Well, I could, but I would more have to run the game for other people, which I think could be a lot of fun, make it into an almost role playing style experience for them. But even with that this game has expansions, I have two of them, and the game play and story itself were so good. You feel like you are in an NCIS or some sort of show like that, but while watching 13 season of something like that can get dry and repetitive, these feel unique and interesting. This is much more than just a procedural sort of mystery, it’s an experience as you unravel story old and new, and the database that you use, being able to look up real events online, and the story deck, all of it just works so well. If you like deduction/mystery style games, I cannot recommend this one highly enough, and if you want something that is easier than five tied together stories, there is a Season One with fewer cases and ones that aren’t intertwined as well.
Last Year: Not Ranked
Moving up a few spots, we have Mansions of Madness: 2nd Edition. This game, every time I play it, shows me something different. Yes, I can play different scenarios that are obviously going to be different, but even playing the introductory scenario, while I might know the story, how the places are laid out is different. This is my highest ranked Lovecraftian game, though I do want to try Death May Die, and I have Arkham Horror 3rd Edition waiting to get played on my shelf. This one I love because you have stand alone scenarios of different lengths and difficulties, and you can just pull out an app and tell it what you have, it’ll show you what scenarios are available and you can jump into playing so quickly. Now, there is some work when it comes to the set-up of characters and you’ll have to spend time to the board, but the app walks you through that and you discover and explore more as you go. This game has just been consistently good for me, even though my win loss record isn’t that great.
Last Year: 8
Now for a lot of people, this game will seem way to high. There are scenarios that aren’t that well balanced, it’s true. If a betrayer has all the good items or none of the good items, it’ll be over quickly when the haunt happens, also true. But there is just something about this game that I like so much and that just works for me. Some of it is because it just feels like a campy horror film as a group of misfits whom never should have gone into a haunted house together just have everything go horribly wrong and find something disturbing around every corner. And I like both parts of the game, the exploration part and the haunt when it happens. This game just scratches that bit of a horror in gaming itch that I have pretty often and that most games can’t scratch.
Last Year: 4
New one to the list, will be it be the highest, yes it will. But Marvel Champions has been a wonderful game for me. I won’t lie, I have a little bit of bittersweet feeling around it, though I do love it every time I play it, because it was the last time playing a game at a game shop before everything got stopped because of Covid. Even with that, I have played it a few more times, and I most certainly have picked everything up for it. This game is the superhero game that I wished Marvel Legendary was and completely knocked Marvel Legendary off my list. It’s not that I don’t have room for multiple superhero games, I do, and I love the Marvel theme, this one just makes you feel like you are playing a superhero instead of having a team of them that you build kind of at random. Here you can still have allies that help out, but you’re really playing Spider-Man/Peter Parker or Black Panther/T’Challa. You can flip between the two sides, hero and alter-ego, and you can play them in different ways. I haven’t gotten into the deck construction yet, but I know that’s something I want to explore as well. This game just is what I’ve been looking for in a superhero game.
Last Year: Not Ranked
2. Blood Rage
Not moving at all from last year, we have Blood Rage. This game is just an amazing game. There is area control, there is conflict, and there is card drafting, you go on missions, you recruit monsters and send them in to wreck your enemies, all of this while trying to balance out increases to your action points and to be able to get more troops on the board and get more glory for the battles that you’ve won. I also like that there are some different strategies you can take in this game, maybe you can draft missions well and end up scoring a lot, maybe you’ll get many a point in victory in battles. Or maybe you’ll do the Loki strategy and get into battles and let your clan die and go to Valhalla and get points from them when they leave. Depending on what you draft, that can determine what you’re going for in an age, and while you might want to focus on something, the other players can also draft to block you. This game is always fun for me and even having played it a number of times now, it feels like there is still so much more to explore.
Last Year: 2
Staying at #1 as well is Gloomhaven. This game is just about perfect to me, and most of the issues that I have are from the Forgotten Circles expansion which I’ve just about wrapped up, we’re on the final scenario. This game has so much that I love, there is a massive story campaign, there is a dungeon crawl focus and interesting monsters. It’s fully cooperative, and fighting in a given scenario is so interesting based off of the character that you have. You level up your characters getting different combat cards in, unlocking new abilities and generally changing up how you play until you retire and then you play a new character and get to discover everything they can do and how they play all over again. I think I’ve played over 200 hours of this game, probably easily over 200 pushing 300 at this point, and we haven’t done all the side scenarios or all the scenarios and story in the expansion, so there is just so much in this game. I can’t say enough good things, and honestly, I hope by the time I’m doing this next year, this is bumped to #2, because I’m so excited for Frosthaven and the city building piece of that as well.
Last Year: 1
So we have the top 100, I’m going to be putting up another article today with links to all the Top 100, look at what is new on the list, what is are the biggest movers and ask you your favorites overall. But in my Top 10 games, what are your favorites?
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!