$10.00
The 10 Very Best Games in Each of My Groupings
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Several people, notably joelbear, give us their top games from time to time. Sometimes, these games are restricted to a particular genre (card, party, etc).

Well, I took my data about three or four weeks ago and calculated the best games based on my ratings and how often I play said games. After all, I may say a game is great (10) and never put it on the table, so does that mean it's truly great?

Anyway, I then took the results (1523 games, 824 of which I still own) and broke them down into my own little groupings, which are as follows:

Party (272 titles)
Logic and/or Press Your Luck (47)
Word (56)
Family (49) [includes kids, but enjoyable by adults]
Train (40)
Racing (35)
Kid (110) [specifically purchased for youngsters, not adults]
Sports (67)
Economic (31)
Card (35) [this means a card game, not a game which happens to have cards]
Strategy (507)
Election (11)
Abstract (39)
Middling Family (114) [buy for children, not kids, not adults]
Dexterity (10)
Conflict/War (134)

Now, plenty of games fit more than one category, but I allowed each game to fit into only a single category. And it turns out that the list above is ranked somewhat into how I rated each category overall.
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Randy Cox
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The category of "Party Games" includes 272 games in my "BGG collection", only 150 of which I have either played or rated. Of those I've played, I have almost played them an average of 2 times each. Smarty Party is the leader in frequency, with 16 plays. However, the collective group of Murder/Mystery Party/Dinner games have been played 13 times.

Normally, I'd only list the Top 10, but this is such a huge category, that I'm going Top 15. You'll note that my top games don't necessarily align with my ratings, because as I stated earlier, if I like a game but don't play it that says something about it's true relative ranking against a game I like a little less but play a lot more.

Title----------------- MyRate [BGGR] My Known Plays
Murder/Mystery Parties-- 7.63 [6.40] 13
Telestrations----------- 10.0 [7.54] 6
Compatibility----------- 10.0 [6.57] 5
Wits & Wagers----------- 9.55 [7.15] 12
What Were You Thinking?- 9.50 [7.12] 14
Eye To Eye-------------- 9.50 [6.71] 5
Smarty Party!----------- 9.25 [6.73] 16
Cluzzle----------------- 9.20 [6.58] 2
Charades---------------- 10.0 [4.80] 1
Personal Preference----- 9.70 [6.21] 1
Beyond Balderdash------- 9.00 [6.81] 9
Catch Phrase------------ 9.00 [6.50] 8
Coyote------------------ 9.00 [6.59] 4
Taboo------------------- 9.50 [6.41] 1
Guesstures-------------- 9.50 [5.97] 1


What can I say here? Either you're one who enjoys party games or you are not. If you do like them, there's not a bad one in this list except for the possible exception of the top entry--some people just don't cotton to "play acting" and some even think these types of games should be migrated over to the RPG side of this world (yikes).
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2. Board Game: Black Vienna [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:1591]
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Now I found a good many games in this analysis that fit into either "logic" or "press your luck" and for reasons that probably only make sense to me, I grouped them together. Even with that strange combination, there are still only 29 games in the category which I have played and/or rated (played an average of 2.6 times each). And here are the 10 best:

Title----------------- MyRate [BGGR] My Known Plays
Black Vienna------------ 9.50 [7.05] 6
Can't Stop-------------- 9.20 [6.92] 6
Take it Easy!----------- 9.00 [6.75] 6
Circus Flohcati--------- 8.75 [6.67] 20
Timbuktu---------------- 8.25 [6.84] 1
Code 777---------------- 8.00 [6.99] 2
Eleusis----------------- 8.00 [7.54] 1
Scotland Yard----------- 8.00 [6.58] 1
Incan Gold-------------- 7.80 [6.88] 1
Mosaix------------------ 7.80 [6.70] 1


Black Vienna, Code 777, and Eleusis are classic logic games where you're just trying to figure out the solution. Can't Stop, Zirkus Flohcati, and Incan Gold are straight press-your-luck, though all with a firm grounding in probability (hence, the logic connection). The others fall in between or in some sort of "puzzle it out" category. I think all of these are fine games, as is the 11th entry Orient Express.

If you like these sorts of "thinky" games, give 'em a try.
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3. Board Game: Scrabble [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:1122]
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To those of you waiting to find all the Martin Wallace and Reiner Knizia games, be patient. We'll get to the lesser, but huge, category of "Strategy" games later. Until then, let's meander through some great groupings which are even better.

Like word games.

I have ranked 47 of these games and played them an average of 5 times each, hugely skewed by the 120+ plays of the top-ranked in the mix:

Title----------------- MyRate [BGGR] My Known Plays
Scrabble---------------- 10.0 [6.51] 124
Boggle------------------ 9.75 [6.26] 3
Scrabble Scoring A\grams 9.50 [6.85] 2
BuyWord----------------- 8.50 [6.34] 12
MooT-------------------- 8.15 [6.33] 6
Tuf-abet---------------- 8.50 [5.77] 1
Montage----------------- 8.20 [7.82] 1
My Word!---------------- 8.00 [7.91] 3
Plext------------------- 7.80 [6.53] 2
LetterFlip-------------- 7.60 [5.78] 6


Now, Scrabble is a classic for a reason. Whether or not BGGers appreciate it, it's simply the standard-bearer for a reason. It's an excellent game. Plays very strategically with two, but still a very good (and much shorter) game with three or four.

The first four titles on this list are pure word games. Lexical games, I'll call them. Tuf-abet and Plext fit in that group as well. And LetterFlip and My Word combine logic with straight wordsmithing. Only Montage (crossword hints) and MooT (word trivia) fall outside of what I'd consider true word games.

If you're so inclined, give these a try. If you only like colorful wooden cubes, best not venture here.
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4. Board Game: Blokus [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:356]
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Here we find my 4th most likable group--Family games. Now, I'm a bit persnickety about what should be in this group. If Grandpa (age 73), daughter (42), and two college-age grandkids are playing a game, it is not necessarily a Family Game! It has to be a game which can be played with kids (and kids are under age 10, otherwise they're tweens or teens or chillins) but isn't torture for adults. May have even been designed primarily for adults. But to qualify for this group, it has to be playable by kids and not murder on the associated adults.

Title----------------- MyRate [BGGR] My Known Plays
Blokus------------------ 9.00 [7.25] 22
Mad Dash!--------------- 9.00 [5.88] 12
Careers----------------- 8.00 [5.77] 17
10 Days in Africa------- 8.00 [6.69] 8
Rack-O------------------ 8.00 [5.63] 3
Heimlich & Co.---------- 8.00 [6.44] 2
10 Days in the USA------ 7.80 [6.59] 9
10 Days in Europe------- 7.80 [6.67] 4
10 Days in Asia--------- 8.00 [6.86] 1
Travel Blokus----------- 7.50 [7.18] 4


See. These are games which truly are for the 1950s-style Robert Young family. We'll see non-traditional family games later.

Note that all four of the main 10 Days series (even the stinker--Europe) make it into this group (I'd like to add The Americas, but haven't played that yet). There are a couple of Bloki here, too. And do not miss that jewel from many generations ago: Careers.
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5. Board Game: Streetcar [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:1410]
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Of the 40 train games in my list, I've played and ranked a little over half of them.

Here are the Top 10:

Title----------------- MyRate [BGGR] My Known Plays
Linie 1----------------- 9.25 [6.57] 7
Santa Fe---------------- 9.25 [7.01] 1
Ticket to Ride---------- 8.50 [7.54] 12
Metro------------------- 8.25 [6.47] 2
Santa Fe Rails---------- 8.00 [6.98] 4
Ticket to Ride: Europe-- 8.00 [7.60] 3
Volldampf--------------- 7.50 [7.02] 2
Ticket to Ride\n Edition 7.20 [7.49] 1
India Rails------------- 7.00 [7.07] 1
TransAmerica------------ 6.50 [6.70] 4


It's a bit of a cheat to include both Santa Fe Rails and Santa Fe, so adding number 11 brings in:
Empire Builder---------- 6.50 [6.92] 2

But that's a cheat, as it's the forerunner to India Rails. Thus, we bring in number 12:
Union Pacific----------- 6.25 [7.45] 1

Now, even our Cult of the Newbies out there will have to agree that Ticket to Ride is a great game. If they haven't experienced the pleasure of Linie 1/Streetcar and Santa Fe(Rails) they really should. For the life of me, I don't know what I was thinking in giving Volldampf a 7.5 and allowing it into this list. It truly sucks and should allow number 13 to appear on the list. Sorry, I was thinking of that thing Railway Rivals became, not Volldampf.
Silverton--------------- 5.04 [7.14] 1
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6. Board Game: Bingo [Average Rating:2.62 Overall Rank:10978]
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I have played 87 of the 110 Kid Games on this list. Now, a Kid Game, as opposed to a family game, means the game is designed for little 'uns. Kids. The under 10 set. And it's usually not a fun game for adults. Here are the top ones in that group.

Title----------------- MyRate [BGGR] My Known Plays
Bingo------------------- 9.00 [2.53] 11
Round-Up---------------- 8.90 [6.70] 3
Fantasy Forest---------- 9.50 [5.71] 1
Crazy Mixed Up Zoo------ 8.75 [5.61] 29
Madeline---------------- 8.10 [5.68] 2
Then There Were None...- 8.20 [8.24] 1
Taxi-------------------- 8.20 [6.68] 1
Battling Tops----------- 8.20 [5.88] 1
Hedbanz for Kids-------- 8.00 [6.84] 17
Flowers are Forever----- 8.00 [8.04] 2
Bus Depot Diner--------- 7.75 [5.79] 11
Game of the States------ 8.00 [4.59] 1
Sorry!------------------ 7.80 [4.62] 1


Now, I list Bingo at the top, but it requires explanation. I have only played "non reader" Bingo with little kids. Specifically Thomas and Friends characters. Just have the kids match the exposed card and cover it with a token. That's a lot less painful and doesn't require reading skills.

After that, you'll find a lot of crappy games (from an adult perspective, buy my rankings are always for the targeted age audience) and a lot of pretty decent cooperative games from Family Pastimes.

If you've got kids, some of these will not make you long for your scheduled colonoscopy.
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Randy Cox
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Another small group that is typically shunned by BGGers are Sports/Athletics Games. Of the 67 games in my BGG collection, I've played and ranked 36, though I give them only an average of only 4.86 (ouch).

Title----------------- MyRate [BGGR] My Known Plays
Sports Illustrated\eball 10.0 [7.33] 13
Box of Golf:\ Board Game 7.15 [6.46] 4
Football Strategy------- 7.00 [6.31] 2
Sher-co Baseball-------- 7.00 [7.04] 1
APBA American Sadd\acing 6.80 [6.45] 1
Paydirt----------------- 6.75 [6.90] 1
Bowling Solitaire------- 6.40 [6.49] 1
March Madness----------- 6.25 [6.20] 1
Sports Illus\p Golf Game 6.10 [5.96] 1
Strat-O-Matic Co\ootball 6.00 [6.54] 1


There are three baseball simulations here, the best ever (SI Baseball) and a decent, but statistically flawed system (Strat), plus the purely fun Sherco-II where you get to move fielders around. Paydirt and Golf are also SI offerings from back when SI meant something other than "Avalon Hill games riding the Time, Inc gravy train." Other than the baseball stuff, the only really decent game on the list is Football Strategy, which is a grand RPS game.
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8. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:144]
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Thirty-one Economic games in my list and I've played 19 of them. Which are the best?

Title----------------- MyRate [BGGR] My Known Plays
Acquire----------------- 10.0 [7.49] 15
Giganten---------------- 7.00 [6.90] 3
Crude: The Oil Game----- 7.00 [6.99] 1
Spekulation------------- 7.00 [6.82] 1
Airlines---------------- 7.00 [6.78] 1
Falsche FuFFziger------- 7.00 [6.51] 1
Fast Food Franchise----- 7.00 [6.49] 1
Stocks & Bonds---------- 6.50 [5.54] 1
Buy Low Sell High------- 6.30 [6.32] 1
Marracash--------------- 6.25 [6.91] 1


It's a no-brainer to say that the original 'German' style game is the top dog in this litter. It has stood the test of time and is always challenging and doesn't overstay its welcome. Acquire is nearly the perfect game.

Much more interesting are the next two on my list. I've always enjoyed Giganten, but Number Two! I was shocked to see that the numbers put this one next in line. Even more shocked to see that a game I have played only once--and years ago at that--is number three (McMulti).

Now, since my numbers are based on rating and number of plays, if I were one of those hoodlums who will put in fictitious plays because they "just know" they played a particular game a few times, then both Spekulation and Airlines would be higher in the rankings because I've played them both more than a single time. Same is true for Marracash and Fast Food Franchise and, particularly, for Stocks & Bonds which I have played many times.

Anyway, these are all good once-in-a-while games.
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9. Board Game: Mü & More [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:515]
Randy Cox
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Nineteen card games on the list that I have played and another nineteen I haven't. Now, in my past, I was not a fan of trick taking card games. I liked Rook as a kid for the social aspect. I tolerated Bridge as an adult because you're supposed to. But mostly, I hated counting cards. Still don't care for that aspect much, because I just don't have a great memory.

See, like all other abstract games that... wait, that was not what I was talking about. See, there it goes again. Faulty memory.

Back on track, card games. However, I am privileged to be married to not only the greatest person on earth, but a fan of the card game Mu. I had avoided playing it from the time I purchased it (when it first came out) because it was too long and cumbersome. But my at-that-time-not-yet-wife liked it and liked the aspect that every hand is a new game. You can shoot from the hip and enjoy the hell out of this game.

And that was my transformation into one who enjoys card games much more. Still can't card-count worth crap, but I don't need to. A general understanding of the lay of the land is good enough for me. Sure, partners will get pissed if you don't play the perfect lead (hint: avoid Bridge) but if you don't let that bother you, it can be a great genre. Here are the best in show:

Title----------------- MyRate [BGGR] My Known Plays
Mu & More--------------- 10.0 [7.29] 8
Spades------------------ 8.00 [6.86] 1
Monad------------------- 6.60 [6.54] 9
Drive------------------- 6.60 [6.60] 1
No Thanks!-------------- 6.40 [7.05] 2
Sticheln---------------- 6.50 [7.05] 1
Was sticht?------------- 6.00 [7.12] 1
Mystery Rummy: J\ Ripper 6.00 [7.10] 1
Oh Hell!---------------- 6.00 [6.75] 1
Null & Nichtig---------- 6.00 [6.14] 1


The first three are great. Downright great. If you haven't played Monad, do so. It is wonderful once you figure it out.

Drive is cute and No Thanks is barely a game. But then Sticheln and Was Sticht redeem the list as they are superb games which I truly should play more.

Tichu fans out there, you may wonder where that game falls. Well, eleventh (out of only 19, not so good):

Tichu------------------- 5.50 [7.78] 1

I just didn't see anything at all special the one time I played Tichu. More telling is the fact that it's only three spots above the perfectly atrocious Octrix.
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10. Board Game: Alhambra [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:309]
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OK, Cultists. Eurosnoots. Whatever people are calling folks who like "These Games of Ours" these days. Here's your list.

By far the largest chunk of my list is category S--Strategy games or, as I prefer to call them, Adult Social Strategy games. There are 507 games in this list, of which I've sampled 301. Therefore, I'll go at least 20 deep on this list.

Title----------------- MyRate [BGGR] My Known Plays
Alhambra---------------- 9.75 [7.12] 16
Aladdin's Dragons------- 10.0 [7.06] 3
Kunst Stucke------------ 9.25 [6.61] 9
Manimals---------------- 8.80 [6.29] 2
Puerto Rico------------- 8.75 [8.33] 13
Showmanager------------- 8.75 [7.37] 6
The Big Idea------------ 8.75 [6.42] 1
Modern Art-------------- 8.50 [7.47] 1
Medici------------------ 8.25 [7.28] 1
The Downfall of Pompeii- 8.00 [7.19] 6
Holiday----------------- 8.00 [6.63] 4
Edel, Stein & Reich----- 7.82 [7.10] 5
The Princes of Florence- 8.00 [7.85] 2
The Hanging Gardens----- 7.65 [6.86] 119
Oasis------------------- 7.75 [6.88] 3
Bazaar------------------ 8.00 [6.55] 1
Thebes------------------ 7.90 [7.34] 1
Ubongo Extreme---------- 7.77 [7.07] 1
Uptown------------------ 7.25 [6.85] 3
Quandary---------------- 7.20 [6.65] 5
Extrablatt-------------- 7.50 [7.23] 1
Hoity Toity------------- 7.50 [6.66] 1


I must say that I'd be quite pleased to play this list at a game convention. These are good games. A couple are probably questionable to some of you. I mean, Manimals seems like a family game and could be labeled as such. Probably should. Some might say that Ubongo Extreme is either family, party, or logic/puzzle. I can't deny that. A couple of posers got into the list and I'm still OK with it.

You'll see that I do consider BGG's top, um third, um second ranked game (Puerto Rico) to be a good game, though I haven't played it in ages. And I've played Hanging Gardens a ton, but that still doesn't overshadow the fact that it's only a mediocre game, when compared against the creme de la creme.

Gems you may not have played from this list: Kunst Stucke, Holiday, Bazaar, and Extrablatt. Those four games are from only two designers--Karl-Heinz Schmiel and Sid Sackson. Not bad.
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11. Board Game: Die Macher [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:94]
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I have only eleven Election games in my list and only ten dexterity games, so I'll present both of those short lists here:

Title----------------- MyRate [BGGR] My Known Plays
Die Macher-------------- 8.85 [7.85] 3
Mr. President----------- 8.00 [6.51] 4
Campaign Trail---------- 7.50 [6.44] 1
Campaign Manager 2008--- 6.87 [7.34] 3
Free Choice------------- 7.00 [6.38] 1
Koalition--------------- 6.50 [6.38] 1


After the first three games on the list, things fall off in a hurry in the election game realm. Nonetheless, if you haven't tried Free Choice (from Canada covering the US election) it is worth a giggle or two.

In the dexterity realm:

Time is Money----------- 7.50 [6.24] 1
Sorry! Sliders---------- 6.78 [6.77] 3
Bamboleo---------------- 6.00 [6.58] 1
Spinball---------------- 5.75 [6.95] 1


I can't really say much about any of those. They just aren't all that great, though I do remember enjoying Time is Money.
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12. Board Game: Würfel Bingo [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:2258]
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I've played 21 of the 39 Abstract games on my list. The to of the heap is one I've played only on pencil and paper. No, wait, I think I did play on the official version once at a convention. It's great either way.

Title----------------- MyRate [BGGR] My Known Plays
High Score-------------- 8.10 [6.79] 6
Ingenious--------------- 7.45 [7.42] 5
Tsuro------------------- 7.00 [6.52] 4
Tendix------------------ 7.00 [5.73] 1
Blokus 3D--------------- 6.60 [7.05] 3
Phoenix----------------- 6.75 [6.53] 1
Pente------------------- 6.00 [6.65] 1
Sisimizi---------------- 6.00 [6.46] 1
Moonstar---------------- 6.00 [5.28] 1


Of course, if Blokus weren't such a great family game, it would head this list. After the top 5, however, things fall off the cliff in a hurry. I couldn't even allow myself to put the 10th entry (Feurio) on the board.
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13. Board Game: Finger Ball [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:6838]
Randy Cox
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Clemson
South Carolina
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Here's a category you probably don't think of--Middling games. A game falls into this group if you buy it not for kids and not for adults. It's for those folk in the middle.

Of 110 such games on my list, I've tried 59 and here are the best:

Title----------------- MyRate [BGGR] My Known Plays
Finger Ball------------- 8.65 [6.59] 5
Eagle Eye Agency-------- 8.60 [5.99] 6
Walk the Dogs----------- 7.00 [6.32] 1
Dino Booom-------------- 7.00 [5.98] 1
Skittle-Bowl------------ 7.00 [5.92] 1
Stop the Presses!------- 6.88 [5.48] 1
Skip-Bo----------------- 6.60 [5.26] 2
5ive Straight----------- 6.50 [6.30] 2
Survive!---------------- 6.45 [7.20] 1
Ka-Ching!--------------- 6.40 [6.65] 1
StreetSoccer------------ 6.22 [6.79] 1
RattleSnake------------- 5.75 [6.07] 4
Crossbows and Catapults- 6.00 [6.39] 1
Mille Bornes------------ 6.00 [5.75] 1
Diceball!--------------- 6.00 [5.26] 1


Now, Finger Ball is just Stephen Glenn's neat implementation of RSP (or, Scissors Paper Stone, as I was taught it). Other than that, only a couple of sports games are of note on this list. Funny, even counting Finger Ball, the decent games here are sports oriented.
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14. Board Game: Civilization [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:136]
Randy Cox
United States
Clemson
South Carolina
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This group of 134 nominees (of which I've tried 70) includes wargames or any other games of conflict. My average rating (3.68) is mighty low, which is why this is so far down on this geeklist.

Title----------------- MyRate [BGGR] My Known Plays
Civilization------------ 8.00 [7.63] 1
Mythology--------------- 8.00 [6.61] 1
Advanced Civilization--- 6.00 [8.01] 1
Battle Cry-------------- 6.00 [7.34] 1
Lost Worlds------------- 5.80 [6.48] 1
Dune-------------------- 5.50 [7.70] 1
Britannia--------------- 5.00 [7.38] 1
History of the World---- 5.00 [7.23] 1
Sixteen Thirty Something 4.50 [6.06] 1


Only the top five of these score in the top half of all the 1500+ games on my master list. But those three are very good games.
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