Top 20 Outside 200, 2014 Edition
Brian Bankler
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Several years ago I made a geeklist (Top 20 Outside 200). The idea was to promote my favorite (semi-)obscure games. Let me quote from the original.

Quote:

If I asked people to name the "Five most important bands/singers of Rock and Roll in the 20th century" it wouldn't be that interesting. Really, there's such a dominant consensus ... sure maybe someone would skip The Beatles and Elvis, but would you trust someone who did?. But if you ask people to name the next five ... well, that's interesting.


Tastes change and ranks change; so I'm revisiting my list.

I'm not bothering to list classic games like Bridge/Chess/Poker/, even if they are inexplicably outside the Top 200 despite having hundreds of thousands of people who play.

Games are listed alphabetically. There are some games that maybe don't deserve to be here, but played them quite a bit over the last few years and that says something, even if I never play them again.
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1. Board Game: Air Baron [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:3212]
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The last game by Avalon Hill is much better (IMO) than Rail Baron. I play this with my son from time to time.
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2. Board Game: Arena: Roma II [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:1180] [Average Rating:6.92 Unranked]
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Or the base game. A two player tactical game where you know what actions you might be able to do, but the dice tell you want you can do each turn. And if you don't roll well, there are always some nice default actions.
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3. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:673]
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Because it's a fast fun game that I can play with my kids, nephews and nieces. As if this classic needed a reason.
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4. Board Game: Ca$h 'n Gun$ [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:984]
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Still one of the premier party/strategy hybrids. Always good for a laugh.
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5. Board Game: Caylus Magna Carta [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:740]
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I've actually thrown Caylus (regular) into my bag for game night, but CMC gets played and Caylus doesn't.
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6. Board Game: The City [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1824]
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A mini-San Juan/Race for the Galaxy that takes 10 minutes? Done and done. I suspect this game would shoot up in ranks if it were easily available in English....
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7. Board Game: Colossal Arena [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:835]
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I haven't played this too much either, but it's really too good to drop of the list. I guess I'll toss it back into the bag.
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8. Board Game: Fairy Tale [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:829]
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And not your namby-pamby new set.

The "Card game that takes 10-20 minutes" is such a loaded category, and this is one of the best of the bunch.
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9. Board Game: Fast Food Franchise [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:4392]
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This still hits the table; a good sign for a 20+ year old game.
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10. Board Game: Federation Commander: Klingon Border [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:2073] [Average Rating:7.39 Unranked]
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80% of Star Fleet Battles in 30% of the time? Yes, please.

Actually, the change to move/fire are drastic enough that I think FC feels like a total different game despite having near identical rules, but I enjoy both.
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11. Board Game: Homesteaders [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:573]
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I'm actually surprised this one is rated as high as it is. Pretty much I only see this played when I bring it.
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12. Board Game: Jambo [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:550] [Average Rating:7.03 Unranked]
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And I just picked up Asante, which is compatable! Move over, Roma/Arena, there's another 2 player game in town!
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13. Board Game: No Retreat! The Russian Front [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:707]
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I always put in the token game I'm only going to play every two years (if that). Fiddly, but the classic. I didn't like the North Africa Game, but I should probably check out NR3 (and later).
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14. Board Game: Pandánte [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:6146]
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I haven't yet gotten up a money game, but I'm really enjoying this (and I probably will try, next year). This really is poker + coup with a very clever betting structure (and rules) to encourage bluffing and chasing. Feels like Dragon Poker Omaha (in that where you hand is going is often more important than where it is).
 
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15. Board Game: Phoenicia [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:1722]
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Still great.
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16. Board Game: Puzzle Strike [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1541]
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I've stalled out a bit at forty plays. Puzzle Strike feels much more difficult to grasp than most deck builders. Which means, the strategies aren't nearly as obvious. That does keep it from having the Dominion "Play it again and again and again and again and, why not again" but I enjoy this every now and then.
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17. Board Game: Rallyman [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:804]
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This game spent far too much time in my head over the recent years. I'm not saying it has great staying power, but it's a hell of a ride.
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18. Board Game: Shadow Hunters [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:797]
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Works best with 7. This really does need a starting mechanic to provide a bit of information, but it's still fine. (Just remove the "Show your card to someone else card").

Also, a great fast game for 7 players (the rules work best with 7, IMO).
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19. Board Game: Smarty Party! [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:2796]
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I think I've played all the cards at least once, but it's been so long that I forget. The trivia game I love to hate, because so many of the cards have totally judgment calls instead of actual data. "Twelve Tom Hanks Movies? Not, 12 highest grossing, just twelve?")

In a better world I'd be playing Stage II instead, but that still hasn't been reprinted with more up to date questions.
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20. Board Game: Titan [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:863]
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I refuse to take this off the list, even if I have no opponents.
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21. Board Game: Wits & Wagers [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:559]
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The other trivia game that we play fairly often. It has a lot of good points. The game works well (better) when nobody knows the exact answer and it doesn't take longer with 8 people than with 3.
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22. Board Game: Going, Going, GONE! [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:3007]
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No, this game isn't on the list. But I figured it would be interesting to list the games that didn't make this cut, because I didn't play them much (if all) between the last time I made this list).

7 Ages -- I had a mild fever last time I played it, which may have soured me on this, but playing once every 2-3 years is par for this. I've think I'm finally just tired of 7 Ages, although I wish I loved it more. There are plenty of "Civ in 2 hour" games, but I really want an "Epic game in 6-10 hours." This comes close.

Ave Caesar -- Haven't played this too often either.

The Bottle Imp -- Ditto.

Castle -- I play this in bursts, but it's been a long time.

The Castle of the Devil -- There are many more hidden team/deduction games. This one is a bit too thinky to stay on the list.

Hare & Tortoise -- Good, but not hitting the table.

Lifeboats -- I think I actually played this a year or two ago. But there are faster things that scratch this itch.

Mare Nostrum -- Good old Horse Nose. Haven't played it in years.

Primordial Soup -- I should probably throw this into the bag again...

No Thanks! -- A bit too light to stay on the list.

Shadowfist: Reloaded -- I haven't played 'Fist in years, but I've played 750+ times. Still, not having played it in so long means it's off the list.

Stage II -- Very reluctant to remove this from the list. But it's just too far removed from the time period, too many impossible questions.
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23. Board Game: Coup [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:433]
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This would have easily been on my list, but I see it's now rated #200!
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