That's a Palm Pilot on the left, and a pink iPod mini on the right. Yes, I've been doing BGTG that long!
Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames
Am I a man or am I a muppet? If I'm a muppet then I'm a very manly muppet!
Stephen Glenn and Mark Jackson rejoin me (Mark JOHNson) to continue this series. In 2012, these two guys polled a number of experienced gamers (a few designers, many reviewers, all enthusiasts) for their top games, consolidated their answers, and asked to come on my podcast to count down the results. I was pleased to be part of the poll, and doubly pleased to have them on Boardgames To Go. I really like how Stephen describes this:
"a fun list to discuss over coffee & pie."
The poll was for our favorite games, not necessarily the best games. We even got to submit a top fifteen, which took the usual tough request for a top ten and gave us the breathing room for five more titles. I know in my case, it made it easier to add some very recent games to my longstanding favorites. On each podcast we're counting down a bunch of titles until we get to a final show with the Top Ten. I'll be interspersing 100 Great Games countdown episodes with my other podcast episodes.
As you may recall, Stephen, Mark, and I already finished our countdown of 100 Great Games in an earlier episode. However, for a long while we'd planned to do one more episode together--this one--where we talk about our own picks, surprises, disappointments, trends, and so on. I foolishly thought this would be posted before Christmas! Will I never learn?!
We started by going over our own individual picks, listed below. I've highlighted the ones on our lists that never made it into the 100 Great Games list, and we each get a little time to trumpet our appreciation for these favorites.
Mark Johnson's picks
2. A Few Acres of Snow
5. Settlers of Catan
9. For Sale
12. Magic: The Gathering
15. Harry's Grand Slam Baseball
Mark Jackson's picks
1. Memoir '44
2. Race for the Galaxy
3. A Brief History of the World
4. Summoner Wars
5. Settlers of Catan
6. Fast Food Franchise
9. Risk Legacy
10. Puerto Rico
11. Princes of Florence
12. Um Reifenbreite
14. Lord of the Rings
15. The Rivals for Catan
Stephen Glenn's picks
2. Euphrat & Tigris
4. Navia Dratp
6. Settlers of Catan
9. Ticket to Ride
11. Through the Desert
12. 6 Nimmt!
13. Midnight Party
Gold, Silver, Bronze
With all of this data, it's only natural to look at them and count up which designer featured most prominently in the 100 Great Games. We can also look at the most popular years of publication, and the publishers. In this case I simply counted up the number of mentions for each. One could make a good argument that there should be more consideration for appearances near the top of the list instead of the bottom. Nonetheless, I think the "awards" look right, and am pleased by the outcomes.9
(If anyone wants to crunch the data and provide alternate results, it's here on Google Docs.)
Then & Now
We also compared this list (compiled in 2012) to the earlier edition Mark & Stephen did (in 2005). Which games appeared on both lists and made the biggest jumps forward? Which went the other direction? Again, the position on the list should really be factored in here (but wasn't). It takes a lot more oomph to climb from #12 into the Top Ten than it does to climb from #92 into the 80s. Nonetheless, more interesting topics for your second cup of coffee, and slice of pie.
Big gainers: Vinci/Small World, 6 Nimmt!, War of the Ring, Ave Caesar, Can't Stop, Mystery Rummy, Wallenstein, Carcassonne, Lost Cities
Big drops: Too many! So many good games are published every year that many other good ones get pushed off a list like this. The guys did the first list seven years before this new one we discussed on the podcast. A full 44 new games entered the list, pushing out an equal number of old favorites. That's what happened to some classics like Union Pacific, I'm The Boss, Smarty Party, San Marco, Taboo, Chinatown, and many more.
What might have been
In the Top Ten episode I posted a poll that asked my listeners for the recent (post 2012) games that might have joined the 100 Great Games list if we'd conducted the survey a short time ago. Are there any instant classics to make their way onto the list? No doubt there are. I was surprised to find the listeners only settling on a couple, however (and no one suggested a write-in I might have missed in the poll). Those two newcomers would be Android Netunner & Terra Mystica.
One a related note, the guys & I considered what recent games we might have been tempted to put on our individual lists, above. We spared ourselves the difficult choice of deciding which personal favorites would've been pushed out. (It's not always the bottom of our lists, since some of these games "take the place" of established ones. Or, at least, they could.)
Mark Jackson thought he might have to make room for Clash of Cultures. Stephen suggested Tash-Kalar and Machi Koro. I think I would have to make room for Hanabi and possibly Pergamon.
And that, finally, brings the 100 Great Games project to a close. I felt honored to be asked my favorites as part of the first time Stephen & Mark did this a decade ago, and again in 2012. The chance to discuss it all on my podcast was a big endeavor, one that probably took too long for everyone involved, but was also great fun. I can tell from the download stats & comments that it was a favorite for my listeners, too. For all of these things, I'm grateful to Stephen & Mark, to those listeners, and to our wonderful hobby. The list project on the podcast has really been a kind of celebration for all of us. Thanks for listening.
(It's also my second-to-last episode before my big break. One more to go, and that's scheduled to be recorded tonight...)
____________________________________________________________________________________________________Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames