Friday, May 21, 2010

Top Ten Favorite Board Games-2010 Edition

Almost a year ago, I wrote about my top ten favorite board games. I think I might need to do this list on an annual basis, because a year apparently makes a big difference! Half of last year's list is no even on the list this year. This shows two things. First, my exposure to board games has greatly increased in the past year. Second, I am easily attracted by new and shiny things, which is why doing this list annually might be a great idea. So for this year anyway, here are my top ten favorite board games:

10. Ca$h 'n Gun$
If I am going to play a game with six people, then I want it to be this one. With rules explanation the game takes 10-15 minutes tops. This game is all kinds of fun, because it is all about pointing guns at each other. Seriously, take a look:
The whole idea is the players just robbed a bank, but since everyone is a greedy bank robber guns do the talking. Every turn everyone points their gun at some most of the time people are bluffing. Cowards can back out, and then the bullets fly. Whoever is left standing gets a share of the loot. . . if it splits evenly. The game is incredibly fun to play.

9. Havana

It is hard to say why this game appeals to me, but I really like it. In Havana, the players are building buildings for points. However, to build buildings players have to collect resources, money, and workers. To do this each turn players select two roles that serve various functions. One of the neat wrinkles is that the roles determine turn order, so not only do players have to play roles they want they have to also consider what happens if they do not go first. There is a lot of trying to outguess an opponent in this game without any direct conflict. This game knocked Citadels, which is also a role selection game out of my top ten. I prefer the dual roles and the sense of building something more in Havana.

8. Stone Age
This game got knocked down a couple of spots from last year, but it is still one of my favorites. Along with being a pretty game as the picture shows, Stone Age is a worker placement game. I tend to like worker placement games. If one of the main mechanics of a game is placing workers to do actions to win, then there is a good chance I will like it. I especially like Stone Age because it is easy to play, uses dice really well, and has multiple paths to victory. The biggest reason for the drop is because I have not gotten the opportunity to play this game as much as I would have liked in the past year.

7. Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game

Last year, when I made this list my brother was a little ashamed of me because it lacked Zombies!!! Last Night on Earth sort of fixes that omission, as it is the better Zombie game.
The game pits survivors against a zombie player, and does a great job at creating a narrative. Every game is different, and every game is fun as it creates a B-movie narrative. For example, last time I played it with my brother he was the zombies and I was the survivors. I had lost two survivors to the horde, and the other two were filling up the truck so they could get out of dodge before the sun set. Both of my survivors were wounded on the very last turn of the game a lucky shotgun shot took out every single zombie that was about to kill me and I escaped. It was rather epic.

6. Warhammer: Invasion

I use to really be in to collectible card games (especially Star Wars). I loved the idea of creating and tweaking a deck and the card interactions. However, CCGs are money pits as their are inevitably multiple copies of cards that will never ever get touched. Warhammer is a new model of customizable games, where there are no random booster packs. Their are regular 40 card expansions, but they can be bought knowing exactly what is in them. However, out of the base box Warhammer plays great. Warhammer is a mix between a CCG and a board game. It has the card combos and direct combat of CCG but it also has more board game style resource management and base building. In a lot of ways Warhammer Invasion is, on paper, my perfect game. The most amazing part is that Abigail actually likes it!

5. Agricola

Agricola is a game about farming. Seriously. The game is all about raising animals and planting crops.
That picture may look intimidating, and the first time the game is intimating. It has a lot of little parts and a lot going on. At it's core Agricola is a worker placement game about farming. The addictive part of this game is that there is NEVER enough workers to accomplish what you want to get done. This means that even after winning and having a successful farm full of vegetables and livestock I want to play again because I always feel like I could do just a little better. We got this game a couple of months ago and it has already been played multiple times. In a year, this might even go a little higher. . .

4. Small World
Last year when I made this list, this game was really new to me and it has moved up. I really like Small World. In this game players control a race such as elves, orcs, etc. Each game the race has a different power so one game it might be peace loving elves and the next it might be ransacking elves. Each player uses their race to conquer territory, but the world is to small so players run into each other fairly quickly. Each race can only expand so far, so the tricks is letting go of your race at just the right time to take a new one and start conquering all over again. Small World plays really well with 2-5 players, and I am always up for a game of it.

3. Dominion

A lot changed in my favorite games in a year, but my top three have not changed as number three is still Dominion. Dominion is hard game to describe. Theoretically the game is about players competing to increase their small European lands. However, the game is really all about mechanics. In Dominion each player starts out with a deck of some money and small victory points. They then use this money to buy more money of higher value and action cards that allow them to do more things. Each card bought is added to the deck that continues to grow, the whole point is buy more victory points eventually. The cool part about Dominion is that for any game there are 10 cards to buy, out of a possible twenty five.
This adds a lot of variety. In the past year, three expansions have come out for this game, increasing the amount of available action cards to 90. I will let someone else do the math, but I think this puts the possible combination of cards available into the trillions.

2. Memoir '44

Memoir '44 is a war game made easy. It uses a neat system that mixes cards and dice, as well as hitting the perfect blend of strategy and luck. One of the things I really like about Memoir '44 is that it uses terrain hexes to make the board, so it can be set up for a wide variety of scenarios. Recently, I finished getting the Memoir '44 expansions and this included Operation Overlord stuff. Overlord is a different way to play the game that uses maps the size of children.
I have not yet had the chance to play on one of these big things yet, but I am really, really looking forward to it.

1. Race for the Galaxy
Race for the Galaxy remains my absolute favorite game. One of the reasons why it is my favorite is because it the game that Abigail and I play together the most. I have played the game 148 times in the past 17 months and most of those have been with Abigail. Race for the Galaxy is a a card game about building a space empire with planets and developments. The game has multiple paths to victory and plays fairly quick. The game is all about taking what luck throws at you and making the best of it. The game has three expansions and we have them all. Each expansion adds a new layer, and the game is to the point where I think it might be impossible to teach the game with expansions to someone who has never played it, but we still love it!

So those are currently my favorite games. Who know, it will probably change by next year. So the only question left, is who wants to play a game?


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