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Mark's Top 25

Mark Huberty (General Trashy Meeples the Ambigamer)
United States
Cottage Grove
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Microbadge: Depression and Mental Health AwarenessMicrobadge: My wife beats me.Microbadge: MinnesotaMicrobadge: University of Notre DameMicrobadge: First Minnesota Historical Wargame Society member
I thought I could break back into the blog-writing game by doing something easy: making a top 25 list. Sure it's trite but we all still seem to love it (They say the internet is like 60% porn, well I would guess the other 40% are top whatever lists). I hope to make this a series in which Todd will also make an appearance and we will invite similar lists from other users. Hopefully we can get some nice, healthy flaming going on in the comments. Call me an idiot at your leisure. Here we go,

25) Hanabi - Antoine Bauza is a genius of unique games with a broad audience. This is, in my opinion, his best. A simple twist, you can look at every hand but your own, and restrictions that demand clue-giving efficiency make this challenging deductive cooperative the best in the business

24) Planet Steam - Though the FFG production chrome may fool you, this one is all Euro. Excellent market mechanisms provide a believable economy and some real angst.

23) Goldland - Underrated Kramer title. Perfect thematic integration (treasure hunting) and a really interesting pick-up and deliver mechanism in which carrying more of the necessary items in your backpack slows you down. Provides engaging decision making while remaining accessible to all gamers.

22) Acquire - Mechanically elegant design from the American grandfather of Eurogames. Fun and tense strategic investment and tactical tile placement.

21) Race for the Galaxy - Addictive gameplay. Streamlined the angsty role-selection of Puerto Rico. Surprising depth in such a slim, quick playing game.

20) Saboteur - Uproarious party game. Deduction, bluffing and backstabbing at its finest. Always hilarious with a group that knows each other well and can throw the accusations around good-naturedly.

19)Chicago Express - Lean, quick, nasty game. Stock-holding and route-building without the commitment 18xx requires. Elegant designed mechanisms. Can play a little scripted but makes up for it with all the shenanigans that are possible.

18)Age of Steam- Tight game, incredibly satisfying albeit gamey pick-up and deliver mechanism. Deeply engaging struggle for profitability. Highly replayable. One of our hobby's greatest and most versatile designers at his very best.

17) Bohnanza - Another example of genius in simplicity. Uwe Rosenberg may get more accolades for Agricola, Le Havre, Ora et Labora and Caverna but his single greatest design decision was the prohibition on hand rearrangement in Bohnanza. The highly volatile economy that results makes this the best trading game out there. We like to play with liquid victory coins and debt securities.

16) Bananagrams - fast and furious word game. Scrabble is too contemplative for me, make it real-time and I'm much happier.

15)Dungeon Lords - First, kudos to Vlaada for all of his zany themes. Second, that there are deep games impeccably integrated with those themes justifies the hype he receives. Dungeon Lords adds another layer of timing and anticipation to the classic worker placement formula and then incorporates a delightful programming puzzle. I cannot recommend this one enough.

14) Troyes- The cream of the en-vogue dice-allocation action selection games. Plenty of disparate and balanced strategic avenues and deliciously wicked dice-swiping opportunities.

13) Dixit - Stretch that other hemisphere of your brain! The art is beautiful, the game demands greater creativity and is less prone to in-joking than its well-known cousins, and you learn something new about your gaming companions every session.

12) Chess - I'm not very good, but I doubt I'll ever tire of playing. Remains my favorite mental exercise. Many other abstracts could slot in here but Chess is the one to which I keep coming back.

11) High Frontier - The complaints are valid. This isn't really a game. The rules are deliberately opaque. All of that said, this is the best gaming sandbox there is. Mr. Eklund allows me to live out my childhood dream in all of its chrome-y glory. Adding to the simulation value are all of the wonderful references to actual scientific publications included in the rules.

10) Android - Kevin Wilson's odd, convoluted masterpiece. There is no other game like it and because of that I think it receives more criticism than is deserved. As ambitious a design as there is in the hobby, it was always going to be flawed, but in a manner redolent of certain great works of literature. The degree of narrative immersion is second to none, the asymmetry is engaging and challenging, the plots and flavor text are wonderfully thematic, the placing of evidence and directing of the conspiracy puzzle are fresh and engaging mechanisms, and the result is a beautiful, disjointed, hysterical, dark and demanding game.

9) Scotland Yard - SdJ winner with staying power. Deduction game perfectly distilled. I love working the logic puzzles as the detectives and desperately try to bluff my way past as Mr. X. Boy, this game makes me sweat.

8)Caylus - Undefeated champion of the worker placement world. Plenty of variety on offer. The building of the road, the ownership of the action spaces and then the denying of access to actions via the provost represents a confluence of intelligent design. Plays very differently every time and is quite difficult to master (at least for my feeble intellect). Now if only Attia were a bit more prolific.

7) Time's Up - Few gaming experiences can rival the fun that Time's Up provides in a big group. A few tweaks of a public domain game was enough to take it to will-drop-anything-to-play status. Many great memories.

6) Discworld: Ankh-Morpork - Martin Wallace again, this time much lighter and goofier, which is a testament to his range. The victory conditions dictate that different players will be playing different games and this adds a nice element of bluff and conflict. Filler with surprising replayability. Great fun.

5) Container - The perfect economic game. No fluff, straightforward ruleset. The players are largely free to manipulate supply and demand. Clean, elegant and immensely enjoyable for gamers and non-gamers alike. I'd really like to sample more of Delonge's tragically short ludography.

4)Tichu - I love more traditional card games and Tichu is the finest in that space (yes, even more so than Bridge). It strikes the right balance of challenge and accessibility and marries climbing and partnered trick taking perfectly. Alleged to be the most played game in the world, it certainly deserves to be.

3) 18xx - Okay, this is kind of cheating but I'm more familiar with the system than any particular title. You would be hard pressed to find a game family that features as much breadth while retaining the spirit of the founding games. Probably the best non-abstract for depth/complexity ratio. I'm still a neophyte but I've got the bug. Even getting crushed is an unforgettable experience. I truly feel like a 19th century rail baron. Few (maybe C.S. Roberts and Sid Sackson) have done more for board gaming than Francis Tresham.

2)Hansa Teutonica - In my opinion, the most well-balanced, dynamic mechanical design there is. Confrontational, featuring many different knife-edge paths to victory. Demands flexible strategy and intelligent tactical play. Needless to say, I am terrible at it. In spite of that, you can't keep me from a game.

1)Breakout: Normandy - I've recently developed a taste for wargames and while I remain a pretty devoted proponent of eurogames (take that; Dr, Jason), as demonstrated above, Breakout Normandy has ascended to the loftiest height. Don Greenwood designed the perfect wargame. How often can you play a 5-8 hour game and immediately want to go again? How many games do you dissect by email almost daily? How many games give you that pleasant feeling of complete mental exhaustion? There are infinite depths to explore, excruciating prioritization and palpable tension. It is impossible to play this game sitting down.
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