MY TOP 100 BOARD GAMES 2020 EDITION – 20 THROUGH 11
This is it, the penultimate list in my Top 100 games. What will have risen, what might have dropped out of my Top 10, you’ll have to see. If you need to catch-up, I have links below.
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
20. Letter Jam
Most word games aren’t cooperative and they tend to be the person who has the biggest vocabulary or maybe in some games it’s pattern recognition. This one has some of that in it, but it isn’t based off of who knows more words since everyone is trying to use deduction to figure out what their letters are and then unscramble them to figure out what word they have. This game is really clever in that you can see one letter from everyone else but you can’t see yours. So you are having to deduce what letters you have based off of the words that people are creating and the letters you can see. For example, if I have a “Z” and I can see that other players have an I, Px2, E, and R, I can now slightly to narrow down what letter I have. Granted, that’s not a great clue because I don’t know mine so it could be a “TIPPER”, “DIPPER” or something of the like. Plus, not only am I trying to figure out my letters so I can unscramble them to figure out my word, I have to be helping everyone else doing that as well. The game just works really well and it’s very puzzly. I also like the game because it can handle a larger group of players without it feeling bogged down because hopefully, everyone is in on the clue word being given to help deduce their letters. Finally, I really like how this game forces you to think about the clue you’re going to give and give a good clue. You want to make it so that at least someone can basically lock in a letter or at least really help them narrow it down so they can make an educated guess.
Last Year: 27
The highest pure two player game on the list, Hanamikoji is a really fun and fast abstract game. In this game you are trying to win the favor of Geisha so that they will visit your restaurant. Do to this, you are giving them gifts and winning their favor. But how you give gifts is what makes this game really shine. Each player has four actions they can do a round, and they have to do each of the actions once. So they can discard two cards, face down, and they won’t be used for winning favor. They can put a card face down that will be used for winning favor. They can put out three cards face up and their opponent picks one and those are immediately used for winning favor. Or you can put out two sets of two cards, face up, and your opponent picks one and you get the other set for immediately winning favor. The game has a great push and pull feel to it as you fight for favor, and you use your cards to hide some information from your opponent as well as let them make the tough decisions for you when you split and they choose or they pick one of the three. It’s a very thinky game and really is wonderful as a two player filler game.
Last Year: 13
Some games just look amazing on the table, and Sagrada is really one of those games. The translucent dice really give you the feel of the stained glass window that you are creating. And the game itself is a great dice drafting game. In this game you are making a stained glass window, and depending on the difficulty of your window, you need some certain numbers and colors in certain locations. And you can’t have the the dice orthogonal to the one you placed match the number or color, that is up and down and left and right. So you have to plan things out, you can’t place in the orthogonal spots a three if you are locked into having a certain number, a three, in a location on the board. There’s some strategy to the game, some luck, and the luck is actually mitigated quite nicely by the fact that you every game you have some tools out, there tools can allow you to draft two dice at once, or maybe move a die after it’s been placed, draw out a new die and use that one, there are a lot of different things all which help you mitigate the luck. Plus, the scoring is variable as well. You don’t get points for completely filling in your window, but you do lose points for empty spots, and you have a secret scoring objective as well as three public ones, which might be no repeated colors in a column gets you 6 points, or something like that, and you can score each column. The game is very variable and works really well.
Last Year: 20
Dropping all of 11 spots, this is mainly because I haven’t gotten this game to the table in a little bit, I really do need to as every time I play the game I really enjoy it. In this game you are playing through linked scenarios that tell a larger story, campaign style. You have a deck for an investigator, that you’ve constructed based off of deck construction rules, that you are using to fight monster, get clues, and figure out what it happening in the story. What works so well in this game is that the scenarios can vary wildly. Even n the base box, in the first scenario you are going to be fighting some and looking for clues, second scenario, you don’t want to fight much and you are trying to find as many cultists are possible. And depending on what you do, you might get access to certain cards, scenarios might be harder or easier, the game is just really well designed that way. And you can also change your difficulty level really easily as there is a modifier bag, and you can scale how difficult or easy you want it based off of what is in there. And the story can branch based off of what you’ve done, now it might not branch massively, but you can make a difference in how easy or hard or where the story goes based off of what you do in previous scenarios. This is one that I really need to play more of.
Last Year: 6
Now, I talk very often about how I don’t like social deduction games, this is one that I really like. There’s one huge reason that I really like the game and that’s because you can immediately start accusing people and trying to figure out what is happening in the case. In most social deduction games you’re basically taking a stab in the dark the first round or so as you guess who might be a traitor and who might not be a traitor. But in this one, the second the forensic scientist puts out the first report, you have something you can actually work with. In this game one person is a murder who picks from the four clues and murder weapons in front of them, one of each that they, the forensic scientist, and if there’s an accomplice know. The person playing the forensic scientist ends up then passing up reports, such as murder location, and with that, you can immediately start to talk and come up with what of all the clues and murder weapons would make sense there. So you are immediately doing something as players and immediately doing something meaningful. This game also lends itself to way more story that just comes naturally from the mechanics of the game which also make it more enjoyable. Dropped a little bit, but that’s more because other things have moved up, this is an amazing game for big groups.
Last Year: 10
Another one from the Top 10 that has dropped and this again has to do with it not being played all that often recently., I have an expansion for this game that I haven’t even used yet, so I want to get it to the table, but it’s been a hard year to play a ton of games, and deck builders are not games that work well via Zoom. in this game you are going into the most secure location on Lord Eradikus’ ship stealing his treasure. Along the way you’ll make noise, things will go clank, and he’ll realize someone is on his ship. Can you get in and out before he gets you and with the best and most valuable treasure so you will win? This game is an improvement, in my opinion out of the base box on the fantasy themed Clank!. The game definitely doesn’t take itself seriously, and it has fixed an issue I have with Clank! where you can rush in grab a treasure and leave and rush the end of the game, here you can do that kind of but not nearly as effectively, so it’s worth it to push for a better treasure, if you can. The theme is fun and they keep it super light, and I love deck-building, so an easy game to put high on my list.
Last Year: 9
14. Welcome To…
Highest roll and write or flip and write on the list. Welcome To… is just a fun game for me, I like the strategy that goes into it as you race for various scoring cards and you still building and upgrading your scoring the best you can. This game is all about building your perfect 1960’s neighborhood with white picket fences, 2.5 children and dogs, well, those last two aren’t in the game, but you are filling in streets, putting in house numbers, building parks and swimming pools. What makes this game really work for me is that you’re using one of three combinations of a house number and an ability on your turn. And you can see the upcoming abilities for the next turn, but you won’t know the house number. You’re trying to balance filling in streets, getting more scoring by having more parks or pools, but also getting the points from the objectives as well. There game isn’t complex, but it’s a good time and great for large groups.
Last Year: 12
Another deck building game and another one that has dropped out of my top 10, does that mean I like them less? Nope, there’s just so many good games. I really like XenoShyft: Onslaught because it is a cooperative deck building game where you are fighting off wave after wave of bug monsters with your force of troops on an alien planet. What I like about this game is that you have your hand of cards, but you always get a free money card to add to your hand every turn, so you are never short on money. But to go with that, you also are able to help other people as they prepare their defenses, so if I have the armory as my location that I’m defending, it means I can get weapons at a discount, so maybe I have too many weapons and not enough troops to deal with a wave, so I might give someone else a weapon from my hand, and maybe that person has the barracks and has more troops and they will put a troop into my row. I like how each role a person can take feels different and can help the group in different ways. And I like that you can bolster someone else’s deck as well. Now, this is a tough game to win, but one that is a lot of fun and for fans of deck building is working quite well.
Last Year: 7
12. T.I.M.E. Stories
Another dropper from the Top 10, and this one I have actually played several times since last year’s list, I think this is dropping more because of other games moving up than anything I have an issue with. This is still an amazing puzzle game where you are trying to go through the story and figure out everything that is happening and how to stop the time incursion that is threatening to change up the world. They do a great job with just basically using cards of making the game feel really different depending on the scenario that you play. And while the story isn’t always the strongest on a given scenario there is basically always something unique and different to try. I also like how you do multiple runs, sure that means you are repeating stuff sometimes, but it allows you to really explore the world and it feels thematic to how the world and the technology works. I know a lot of people way that this drops off in some of the scenarios, but through five now, I’ve enjoyed them all, and while there could be a better and bigger story unfolding through all of them, I like all the scenario stories.
Last Year: 5
11. Lords of Hellas
New game alert, now this is actually a game that’s been out a couple of years, but I just got it last year and got it to the table in February of this year. Lords of Hellas is a big minis game, but actually plays really smoothly with some euro style mechanics being blended in with amerithrash. In this game each player has a hero who leads their troops and moves around the board building temples, fighting monsters, building statues, and conquering lands. In this game you have a number of different ways to win, you could fight and defeat three monsters, you could hold five temples, you could conquer two regions and all their territories, you could control a completed statue, the game gives you a lot of ways to win, and even with that, in a five player game, we had three of the five a turn away from winning when the game ended, and the other two players were two turns away from winning. The game has a lot of fun mechanics, and your hero has their own unique ability and as temples are built, your faction gets more and more unique abilities that helps you focus how you are going to play the game and how you might win. This is game that I want to play more, it’s just a bit of a beast to get to the table and it doesn’t really play over something like Zoom, so it might have to sit on my shelf for a while, because I feel like there is a lot of variability and a lot of cool things to be done in the game.
Last Year: Not Ranked
So, we have a bunch of movement here. 5 from the 2019 Top 10 are now in this section of the list, and we have at #11 a game that I hadn’t even played last year that has rocketed up the boards. This of course means with the Top 10, we have 5 new games to that section of the list, are they new games, or are they games that are just on the rise as I’ve played them more, we’ll have to wait to see. But your guesses for my Top 10 games in the comments below, and let me know your favorites on this part of the Top 100.
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