My Top 100 Board Games – 30 to 21
It’s getting so close to the end of this board game list. I’ve had a ton of fun writing it and I’m curious to see how much it’ll change next year, as I’m planning on doing this every October now that I’ve done it once. I had wondered at the beginning when I was doing the rankings if I’d really like my #100 game, it was fun to see that I’ve played enough games that I do like my #100.
These rankings are the opinion of yours truly, and if you don’t like them, that’s okay. We all have different tastes in games and that is great. There are some games that I’ve only played as a demo, and I felt like I got enough of a feel to put them on the list, thanks GenCon for all the demos. These are living rankings so next year I’m sure that things will change, so I’ll probably be doing another one next year. Thanks to Board Game Geek for letting me enter/rate my collection and games I’ve played. Thanks to Pub Meeple for creating a tool that pulls in those games that I’ve rated and creating a ranking tool. Again, the numbers and names will be linked to Cool Stuff Inc and Amazon if you’re interested in the games.
30 – Star Wars: Imperial Assault
We’re back into a bigger and heavier game. In Star Wars: Imperial Assault, you can either skirmish two sides against each other, but the more fun way to play it, in my opinion, is to play through the missions. In the game, you can play through missions either as a one against all game where one person controls the Empire who are trying to hunt down the Rebels, or you play as no name Rebels who are trying to survive. You can play through different missions, like a Jedi finding a lightsaber, maybe, or more. Either way, if the players win or lose, the story progresses in some way, because the Empire’s objective isn’t always to just kill off the rebels. Or, you can use an app and basically play the same thing, but instead of it being a situation where one person is the empire, the app takes care of that and directs their activations and the players move them on the board using a set-up that lets them know what actions to take based on distance. The game has a lot of little pieces to it, but the game feels like Star Wars, and feels like you’re part of a big story. If you’re a Star Wars fan, it would be a good one that is worth checking out.
29 – Village Attacks
There are a lot of games where you play the villagers or heroes who are going out to defeat the monsters. But do you ever really think about those poor monsters? Maybe they are just trying to live their lives and the villagers are just in the way, do they really deserve to be attacked by these villagers with their cruel intentions with pitchforks and torches? The answer is probably yes, but in this tower defense style game, you play as the monsters who are fending off hordes of villagers who are trying to complete some objective or attack the heart of the monsters lair, which would of course cause the whole building to crumble, bringing doom to the monster and all those around. This is a fun miniature, dice combat, tower defense game. I got to play a special scenario made at GenCon, and then I found out that it wasn’t available, which was annoying, because I really enjoyed it, and the cooperative play is always a good thing. Thankfully, it is back on kickstarter, so the pack that I got for the game with that scenario and some other goodies won’t go to waste and I’ll eventually be able to play the game. If you like playing as the bad guys, this game does a good job with that, but also without it feels too grim.
28 – Photosynthesis
Photosynthesis is one of those aesthetically pleasing games, not to say the others on this section of the list aren’t, but with Photosynthesis, it jumps off the table as being pretty. In the game, you are growing trees, collecting light points to help your trees going more and hoping that you’ve set stuff up correctly so that you will be able to harvest your trees when they are old in order to get points and then start the process again. The game is really an abstract puzzle as you figure out where to place your trees and how to grow them, but it does have some thematic things as well. The sun travels around the forest, so that at some points in time, certain spots will get sunlight and spots won’t. That part is cool, and how you tell if an area doesn’t get sunlight is if there is a shadow being cast on it, which you can tell by where the sun is, and how tall various trees are on the board. This game can actually be a little bit mean, because you are probably going to be blocking other peoples trees at times from the sun and they doing that to your trees, so it’s possible to get no sun points if you are unlucky. But the game itself doesn’t feel that mean, because the theme of growing trees isn’t that confrontational. I really have enjoyed playing this game. I think that all the pieces look great and the concept of it works really well and even manages to feel thematic.
27 – Letter Jam
Letter Jam, when I saw it played, was going to be a game that I loved. I knew it. It’s a word game and a puzzle as you are getting clues about what letters you might have and trying to guess them as time goes on to figure out the word that you have. So I demoed it at GenCon, and the experience was bad. It was the first day at GenCon, one of the other people demoing didn’t want to be there, the person running the demo didn’t want to be there, and one of the people, because of the person running the demo didn’t realize the game was cooperative until half way through. So that was a poor experience, but then I tried it again with a different person running the demo, and it was a ton of fun to sit down and play the game, I was just sad that they were sold out at that point. In Letter Jam, you have a word made of between 4 and 6 letter cards (I believe), that are face down on the table. At the start of the game, everyone puts one upright away from themselves, and then people give clues as to what the letters are. So to do that, you spell out a word using tokens that are placed in front of peoples letters. But, of course, you can’t see your letter, only the other players, so you might get the word “F*IGHT”. If you got that word, and your letter is the asterisk, you can guess that your letter is probably an “L” or an “R”. Once you think you know what your letter is, you can flip it down and go to your next letter trying to figure out your word. But everyone is trying to do that, so everyone has to give clues. The game is a ton of fun, plays quickly, and I really love word puzzles.
26 – Hats
Another GenCon release, this one I did pick up. I wrote a TableTopTake on it a while ago. This is an Alice in Wonderland themed game that is a bit trippy, which is something that I am always looking for. In the game you are at the Madd Hatter’s tea party, and you are trying to get the best scoring collection of hats. To do that, you are playing down a hat from your hand and putting it in place of a hat on the Madd Hatter’s table. The trick is, to replace a hat, you need to either have a matching color or a higher number. And the scoring of the game is interesting as well. You only score the colors of hats on the Madd Hatter’s table, and it’s possible that certain colors won’t end up on the table at the end of the game. So the work that you did collecting them might be worth nothing if you can’t hold back a card so that you can make sure that color is being scored at the end of the game. The other trick to the game is that the cards in your hand are cards you might not use for scoring for yourself, in fact, your opponent(s) might get all of them. So how do you manipulate what is in your hand to end up with the scoring that you want and to use what is on the table to help drive your strategy. I feel like every game of this is different and a really good puzzle.
25 – Sword & Sorcery
And after a small game in Hats, we have Sword & Sorcery, a massive dungeon crawler with characters with cool powers who are heroes of old and brought from the past in order to stop something that is horrible that is happening now. There’s a lot going on in the game, and you can find information about that in my TableTopTakes post. But it’s a dungeon crawl game where you are rolling dice to fight monsters, looking for soul gems to level up your characters or to bring them back if they turn into ghosts. The game has a book of secrets as well that helps the story unfold without making it linear in each scenario because you have different things that you can do. And I’m not sure, maybe some of the choices you make in the earlier games can influence the future, we finally had something that felt like it might do that, or possible two things in this past scenario. The game, I wouldn’t say, is extremely difficult, or with a little bit of luck in terms of what treasure you get, it can make it easier. We’ve also done a good job rolling dice, so getting lucky, that has made them easier, but it’s still a lot of fun to play through the game, think about combat and go through the scenarios. If you want a big dungeon crawl where you are chucking dice, this one is good,.
24 – Small World
Small World, as I normally put it, is Risk, but fun. In Small World, you are trying to control areas with your fantasy race, collect coins, and at the end of the game, have the most coins. But, Small World is a ton of silly fun. In it, you are picking from various fantasy races, like Elves, Dwarves, Giants, Tritons, etc. and they are paired up with a power. So you might have something like Seafaring Elves or maybe you have Wealthy Dwarves or Flying Giants. These combos change up every time, which makes the game really diverse. You place your race tokens on the board taking over territories and once you’ve expanded or been attacked enough that you can’t go any further, you put them into decline and then pick a new race. The game is good silly fun, because, unlike Risk, if you get wiped off the board, you can always come back in. And if people are attacking you, you can put your race into decline and then come in with a new strong race and attack the people who attacked you, and that’s going to happen in every game. It’s fun to figure out all the different combos and which one might be the best from those available. This is another good gateway game and a gateway game for people who like Risk but maybe find it too long or too mean.
23 – Criss Cross
The smallest game on the list, Criss Cross is a little roll and write. However, it is one of my favorite roll and write games. In Criss Cross you are placing different shapes onto a five by five grid based off of what comes up on the dice. There are two tricks to this game. The first being that you are scoring symbols that are next to each other in both the columns and the rows. So if you pay too much attention to the columns, you won’t score well in the rows or vice-a-verse. The other thing is that when the dice are rolled, and everyone uses the same die rolls, you have to place the two symbols next to each other. So you might end up with two symbols that work perfectly or you might end up with one symbol that you really want and one that you really don’t. So you have to figure out where to put them to give you the most scoring chances and also make sure that you don’t accidentally end up with a space by itself, because if you do that, on the last roll, you won’t be able to place the dice symbols since they need to be next to each other. The game goes by really quickly and I rarely play less than two games in a single sitting. I would say that this game is a bit tricky too teach, because you can place the dice symbols anywhere, but the two symbols need to be next to each other, and people either think that you have to always put the symbols next to another symbol you’ve written, making their game harder, or they try and split up the dice, or they forget that symbols score when they are next too each other. It’s not a complicated game once you get it down, teaching this simple game, for some reason, is just tricky.
22 – Just One
This should be the highest party game on my list, and the newest party game on my list. In Just One, it’s cooperative and you are all working together but separately to get the guesser to guess their one word answer. Maybe they picked, unknown to them, the word “Emergency”. All the players, separately, have to write down a one word clue. So everyone does that and then, without the guesser looking, the players compare their clues, and any of them that are duplicated are hidden, so say, for “Emergency” that two people wrote down “Hospital”, the guesser won’t see either clue of “Hospital” and will be left with whatever other clues might have been given. The game plays fast, but it’s a fun challenge. in many ways, it has a bit of a Scattergories feel where you are trying to be clever with your clue, but not too clever so that no one can guess the word from it, or too clever that you match up with someone else with went that clever route. And you don’t want it so that, in the case of the word “Emergency” that no one puts down the helpful clue of “Hospital”. It leads to some great moments where people guess a word based off of way fewer clues than you would think that they could. I remember the first time that we played it, a friend guessed the the word “Karate” based only off of the clues “Discipline” and “Style”. Those moments make this game work well, and with the limit set on how long the game is, 13 word cards total, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.
21 – Ice Cool
I had Ice Cool 2 lower on the list, but Ice Cool is almost a top 20 game for me, and I would play it anytime. I love how silly this game as you are flicking around penguins trying to either catch those silly penguins who are skipping class or the class skipping penguins trying to get their fish snacks. I’m waiting until my son is old enough to play this, probably 3 years from now, where we can just flick the penguins around and have fun with it. But the game is also a blast with adults. I’ve had it out at several board game nights and it’s always a success. I love that you can now combine it with Ice Cool 2 and play a massive eight player game. Since I’ve talked about this before I don’t have as much to say, but if you want a game that is just a lot of silly fun, Ice Cool is amazing for that, and the fact that you can get the penguins to jump over walls, if you do it right, or you can put spin on them and get them to go through multiple doors or a spin towards a penguin who is skipping class who thought they were safe, it’s just a blast. I know this game won’t work for more serious gamers, but if you have a group that is up for a fun time, I highly highly recommend this game.
I get to play one of these games tonight as my bi-weekly Sword & Sorcery game will happen. I’m excited to get it to the table, and now I want to play some of these games again. Maybe I can make a way to work them into the next board game night coming up in a few weeks. I really love all of these games and hopefully you can find some on here that you want to try as well.
Thank you for keeping up with this list with me. Let me know in the comments below if there any of these games that you love or that you really want to try.
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