A Gaming Couple's Top 25, Year 3
Eric
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This is the third year of my spouse and I deciding what our top 25 favorite games are. I'll compare how our tastes have changed since Year 1 and Year 2.

We each had 25 numbers (five 5s, five 4s, five 3s, etc) to give out. The combined score determined placement. We will each be providing a little bit of commentary on each game.
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1. Board Game: The Pillars of the Earth [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:230]
Eric
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#25 (11th last year)

WIFE: 1. As much as my husband loves re-assessing our game collection and trading- this is a game that I'm positive will stay in our collection forever! It's a classic to us...our first great worker-placement game!!! It's mushy, but this game holds a special place in my heart for that reason.

ME: 1. True, I don't see us ever getting rid of this one. Plays fast with 2 and is still enjoyable to this day (see our 2 player variant)

TOTAL: 2. A classic, though tough to say if it will survive our 25 list another year.

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2. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:366]
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#24 (18th last year)

WIFE: 2. I never really want to play this game, but I'm happy my husband asks to play it every once in awhile because I really end up having a great time every time I play. I just get really, really into it every time I play.

ME: 1. Normal 2 player Beans isn't really our thing - see our 2 player variant. This is one of the few games on our list I honestly prefer with more players, but it's still fun.

TOTAL: 3. Bohnanza holds a unique place as being the only trading game on our list. Even if it falls off in a few years, it will always be beloved as both a 2P and a multi-player game.
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3. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:124] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
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#23 (22nd last year)

WIFE: 2. I like Europe & Asia (along with Team Asia) the best. Probably like Europe the best if I had to choose, but they are both a lot of fun. There's just something about Ticket to Ride games that never gets old. A definite keeper! When you play Team Asia with a large group, you get to experience the game in a different kind of way... the variety makes this game very re-playable and it's hard to get bored with all the games out to choose from.

ME: 1. Personally I like India the best, but that can be an awfully mean map sometimes, so it doesn't get played quite as often.

TOTAL: 3. For a relaxing game when we're looking for something a little longer than Lost Cities, TtR is a good choice.
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4. Board Game: Mr. Jack [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:411]
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#22 (16th last year)

WIFE: 1. Mr. Jack is fun. I'll play whenever asked to, but this is another one that I just don't ask my husband to play very often. I think it's just that there are so many other fun games. But it's fun to play nonetheless.

ME: 2. I have to say that owning Letters from Whitechapel hurt this game a little bit, since the deduction element is Whitechapel is so painfully wonderful. Nonetheless, the spatial and deductive elements come together well here. I almost always play Jack.

TOTAL: 3. Between this, Mr Jack Pocket, and Whitechapel, we have a deduction game for every time slot and weight we could ask for.
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5. Board Game: Shanghaien [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1963]
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#21 (New from last year)

WIFE: 1. YESSS! Very fun game. Love this game! Don't know why we don't play this one more often... I swear my husband influences my opinions about games by the way he arranges them on the boardgame shelves we have. It's probably even hidden in a box that it doesn't belong with so he can save space for more games!!!

ME: 2. Simply not true - it is on the same shelf with our other card games (Parade, Coloretto, Battle for Hill 218, etc). I cannot win this game to save my life - I never get any of my wife's best colors, and she sometimes steals away some of my colors (seemingly without effort). I cannot claim that dice hate me as a general rule, but in this game they certainly seem to. Nevertheless, fun and fast, with a small 'take-that' element.

TOTAL: 3. We've tried other short dice games (Roma I and II, for example), and this is definitely our favorite. Doesn't overstay its welcome.
 
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6. Board Game: Homesteaders [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:490]
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#20 (6th last year)

WIFE: 2. This game is not one that I want to come home from work and play. It's definitely a weekend game, because as far as I remember it takes some time and requires some concentration to follow through with your plan. It's an awesome game though- it's really fun to strategize and build your up your "system" to win.

ME: 2. It's really amazing the amount of different city combinations you can get from game to game with a relatively small pool of buildings. You certainly need to be on your toes to do well - unlike Pillars of the Earth, this game does not play itself.

TOTAL: 4. Resource conversion, bidding, and clever market mechanics all come together in a very enjoyable package.
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7. Board Game: Innovation [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:277]
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#19 (5th last year)

WIFE: 1. Meh. I swear this game can play out sooo drastically different sometimes, or can go on forever with the same exact outcome (ex. my husband winning by using the same strategies). I sometimes manage to swoop in for a really satisfying win- probably due to luck of the cards- and because of those exciting wins over my sulking husband, this game is definitely worth a play every once in awhile!

ME: 4. Love it! I agree that each game can be drastically different, which is one of the many things I like about it. Having a general knowledge of the cards certainly helps, which is one of the reasons my strategies are somewhat more consistent than my wife's (obsessive personality for the win!)

TOTAL: 5. This is one of our greater discrepancies in ratings, but I insisted it get on the list because we own nothing else like it.
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8. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
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#18 (15th last year)

WIFE: 3. Another great one. Love the variation when your playing different "roles"/characters each game. I wouldn't like this one as much if I had to be the one keeping track of shuffling decks, and reordering cards and whatnot- so I'm thankful my husband likes to do all the hardwork so I can just enjoy the game!

ME: 2. We also own Lord of the Rings, but I consider Pandemic to be the 'only' co-op we own. Very streamlined, easy to play and remember the rules. Especially with On the Brink, you can really tune in the difficulty level you want.

TOTAL: 5. 2 player is certainly our favorite way to play - it feels more like we're working together when we can make quick decisions rather than discussing every move with a table full of people.
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9. Board Game: Sun Tzu [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:1007]
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#17 (19th last year)

WIFE: 2. This game is so simple- and a lot of fun! I was so much better at guessing how my husband was going to play his cards towards the beginning- he used to be so predictable... but now that we are pretty much on the same level (with my husband probably winning slightly more often now), it's a little less fun for me... but still one of the "greats" in our collection!

ME: 3. One of the few games that makes both of us groan in horror and yell in delight. Just when you think you're about to get a quick win, your opponent can foil all your plans and destroy all your hopes and dreams.

TOTAL: 5. One of the very first games we bought as a gaming couple. Another classic we will always love!
 
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10. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:294]
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#16 (23rd last year)

WIFE: 5. I can play this just about every day and not get sick of it. It's so short and sooo easy to play. Sometimes we just ask one another "SPEED LOST CITIES?" And we play in like 5 minutes.

ME: 1. The biggest discrepancy in our ratings. Don't get me wrong, I love Lost Cities - it's in our Top 25 for a reason. However, I have to give my 5s out to games that feel truly great and unique to me, and in the end this is simply a very good card game.

TOTAL: 6. Another of our longest-owned games, and the only one we've played so much we've had to buy a replacement (due to worn-out cards)
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11. Board Game: Lost Cities: The Board Game [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:938]
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#15 (17th two years ago)

WIFE: 5. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOOOOVE. I don't know what it is about this game, but I will never stop my loving it! I can't get enough- it's reminds me of games I used to play as a kid- simple games about collecting stuff and trying to get to a finish line- but it's based on my favorite card game- Lost Cities- perfection!

ME: 1. Another huge discrepancy (can you see the pattern?) See our 2P variant as the original rules lack tension for just 2 players. Not a bad game, I just like many of our other games better.

TOTAL: 6. Yet another Knizia game appears on our list!
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12. Board Game: JAB: Realtime Boxing [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:2694]
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#14 (13th last year)

WIFE: 1. My head feels like it's going to explode when we play this and my husband loses a little bit of the enjoyment from the game because I always mess up the rules when we are playing. Or I forget the rules and ask a question... that's basically a no-no for this game! But it is a very fast game once you get the rules down. It can be a lot of fun! (And a lot more fun when you start playing this on a regular basis so you don't lose time over remembering rules)

ME: 5. THIS is the game I could play every day after our daughter goes to sleep. Energizing, brain-burning, heart-pounding excitement!

TOTAL: 6. As with Lost Cities (in favor of my wife), this is another large discrepancy in the ratings (this one in favor of me)
 
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13. Board Game: Through the Desert [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:435]
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#13 (New from last year)

WIFE: 4. I think we call this "Camels" instead of Through the Desert. I love "Camels" It's so simple. I guess I like simpler games that remind me of my youth- and my husband likes more "takes-concentration" /strategy games. Who wouldn't love placing different colored camels around a board and trying to claim your own camel territories and block off the person (or people) you're playing with? It's fun stuff!

ME: 2. Great area enclosure game. We didn't really get into Go, but this is just right in terms of complexity and fun.

TOTAL: 6. A great abstract game with fun camels!
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14. Board Game: Court of the Medici [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:2168]
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#12 (20th last year)

WIFE: 2. I love this game. A lot of times the ending of the game isn't clear at all- it's just back and forth over and over until someone gets some cards that will work to finally kick butt-but I like to think I'm better at this game than my husband! My husband doesn't argue that- probably because he wants me to continue playing it often.

ME: 4. Feels like a classic card game. We usually play a 2 out of 3 because the games go so fast.

TOTAL: 6. Another classic in our collection - we love to take this when traveling.
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15. Board Game: In the Year of the Dragon [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:219]
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#11 (14th last year)

WIFE: 3. This game is a treat- so different from all of our other games!!! I definitely like how the game changes each time because the schedule of "events" to deal with gets shuffled... I'm always prepared with fireworks

ME: 3. An interesting variety of mechanics here. Certainly one of our 'meaner' games (that is, games that are mean to the players) along with Agricola.

TOTAL: 6. Though this is a good multiplayer game, we prefer it as a 2 player - much faster, and more fierce competition between the 2 players.
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16. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:79]
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#10 (12th last year)

WIFE: 3. Stone Age is a great game. One of my favorite worker-placement games. The game doesn't really change much- there are no twists to make the game interesting, but it's still an all-around fun game. Plus the caveman piece to track who's first player is really cute

ME: 3. Relaxing, and relatively quick with 2. Putting 1 guy into wood to prevent the other player from going there at all is a special 2 player treat.

TOTAL: 6. The flexibility of how you can play makes this a better overall game for us than Pillars of the Earth.
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17. Board Game: Jambo [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:491] [Average Rating:7.04 Unranked]
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#9 (10th last year)

WIFE: 3. JAMBOOOOO! I love saying the name of this game. I really like this game because of how different it can be each time you play. It's filled with variety and with fun!!!

ME: 4. Another one of our oldest-owned games. There is a good amount of variety to the cards, but the rules still manage to stay quite simple (as opposed to trying to learn Magic, for example)

TOTAL: 7. A classic that has managed to stay in our top 10 even after so many years.
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18. Board Game: Jaipur [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:106]
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#8 (17th last year)

WIFE: 5. LOVE. Pure, true, heart-warming love. I loooove this game. It's so fast, really easy, and a lot of fun! It's when you want to play something like Lost Cities, with a little bit more "meat" to it (camel meat).

ME: 3. Occupies a similar space to Lost Cities, but the smidgen of direct conflict (selling a given item before opponent for a better price, taking items you know your opponent needs) makes it better.

TOTAL: 8. A filler that has quickly worked its way into our top 10.
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19. Board Game: Hungry [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:3089]
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#7 (8th last year)

WIFE: 5. Love this game as a two-player. (I think because I always lose playing it 3-player). Again, this game takes only a little longer than lost cities (probably around the same as jaipur). So it's pretty fast, and it's tons of fun to try to guess what cards your opponent has in their hand and decide when to take risks in different spots.

ME: 3. I don't think this deserves to be in our top 10, but my wife loves it. As with Jaipur, the direct competition makes it more interesting than Lost Cities.

TOTAL: 8. Another Knizia! I think we like that guy.
 
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20. Board Game: Letters from Whitechapel [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:182]
Eric
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#6 (9th last year)

WIFE: 3. This game is intense. It takes awhile, but it's really interesting to see how it plays out each game. I feel like it's a brain workout- you won't break a sweat and you'll feel great afterwards!

ME: 5. I go a little insane when I play this game, especially playing the inspectors' side. Simply an excellent game.

TOTAL: 8. Our play count doesn't reflect our love, unfortunately - the length of the game is somewhat prohibitive with an infant daughter.
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21. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
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#5 (3rd last year)

WIFE: 4. Don't have much to say about this game. It's a lot of fun to see my husband and his brother leaning over their game boxes looking at all the card decks they have...putting them away or getting them out, the process looks extremely dorky! I'm always up for a game of dominion, though, because I can play independently and devise my own evil plan to conquer!

ME: 4. Love all the different combinations, especially now that I have the base game and my brother has Intrigue. We also own Seaside, but I'm waiting until we've played out the base game, in order to extend the life of the game overall.

TOTAL: 8. Probably the only deck-building game we'll own in the foreseeable future, another unique game in our library.
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22. Board Game: Biblios [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:288]
Eric
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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#4 (7th last year)

WIFE: 5. Simple, fast, different. This game is so unique. I love that the game is split down the middle and each of the two phases can be fun in it's own way. Giving your partner a "bad" cards, either you or your opponent having very little gold near the end, being really close in a certain color and not knowing it until the end... there's just so much excitement packed in this one little game!

ME: 4. This is another one that I lose at quite frequently. I always seem to keep too much of one color, and give up too easily on another. It's a fine balancing act that always leaves me wanting another game.

TOTAL: 9. Funny that this shares the same weight and time as many others (Knights of Charlemagne, Lost Cities, Jaipur), but for us Biblios is far above its competition.
 
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23. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:48]
Eric
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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#3 (2nd last year)

WIFE: 4. What do I say about Race for the Galaxy? It can be challenging at first, but it's so different every time you play... you'll learn to be better with certain cards than others in the beginning. But sticking with one strategy each time you play will not work for you in the long run, so this game is always interesting!

ME: 5. An easy 5. Once you get past the icons, it can be played very quickly, but with plenty of decisions to be made every turn.

TOTAL: 9. For us, this is the king of its genre (versus San Juan, Glory to Rome, etc).
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24. Board Game: Summoner Wars [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:365] [Average Rating:7.31 Unranked]
Eric
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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#2 (4th last year)

WIFE: 4. My husband loooves this game. So we play it slightly more often than the others because I'm very easily convinced to play games on the weekends. This game can be 20 minutes or an hour long- you just never know how it's going to go! I love playing with different factions for the first time and seeing how it works out with the cards my opponent is playing with... A definite keeper! Very fun! (Although I think I lose more often than my husband because he tends to choose the most evil factions that require a lot more attention to remember the abilities of his cards). I like the jungle elves, guild dwarfs, shadow elves, and the mountain vargath "goats". Those have been my favorites so far...but unfortunately they haven't been successful against some of my husbands newest factions

ME: 5. Perfect for the ex-Magic addict. Favorite factions include Fallen Kingdom (Mad Sirian), the Filth, and Deep Dwarves.

TOTAL: 9. Keep coming out with more SW products, Plaid Hat! I'll keep buying them!
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25. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:16]
Eric
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
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#1 (1st last year)

WIFE: 4. Agricola has everything I could ever want in a game pretty much. The one downside is it can take awhile to play... I don't think we've played much since we had our 1 year old baby. It's definitely my favorite "long" game though. I love to take a break from my day to become a farmer!

ME: 5. Relatively simple rules, nearly infinite replayability - we both love a good 2 player game of Agricola.

TOTAL: 9. Still the king, 3 years running! It's hard to imagine a game that would dethrone Agricola for us, but you never know.
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