2013 Recap Rankings
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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This past year has been a good one for gaming. My wife and I have found a great group of friends through our church and have played many games with them. While the preferences of some are still the lighter party games and gateway games, there is a core of 5-8 of them that seem excited to see what the gaming realm has to offer. In the light of the group I've been playing in, my collection has slightly changed as have my opinions of certain games. I'm still capping my collection at 100 games due to storage space and monetary considerations, however, I keep about a dozen games at the school where I teach and I have 2 large plano boxes with 6-8 games each (because they don't take up space at home, they don't count against my 100 game self-imposed limit).



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The criteria that I'm using for this whole list is the level of satisfaction I feel while playing the game. The more satisfying the experience is (fun, thought-provoking, thematic, etc.), the higher ranked it is.

So, without further ado, here is the list of the games I own, from the games barely hanging on to stay in my collection, all the way to my top game of the year at #1!

I've also given out gold awards (top 10 games of the year), silver awards (16 specific niche category awards, not in the top 10), and bronze awards (16 random minor awards, not in top 10) to certain games, so keep out an eye for those.
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note: At the time of creating this list, there are 5 games in my collection that still haven't made it to the table quite yet:
War of the Ring
Chronicle
Space Cadets
Vanuatu
Spartacus
Key Harvest
Krosmaster
Lewis & Clark



Previous years:
2011 Recap Rankings
2012 Recap Rankings
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1. Board Game: Word on the Street [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1449]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#117


Plays in 2013: 1
Total plays: 9


Pros:
Clever tug-of-war with the letters makes you want to take your maximum amount of time to come up with the perfect word for each and every category.

Cons:
As is true with other games like this, it can be completely ruined by contentious people who want to rules-lawyer you to death on whether or not an answer truly fits in a category. Once this game turns contentious, count me out.

Thoughts:
Here is the (perceived) bottom of the barrel of my collection. Still, I have very much enjoyed this game with certain groups, and have absolutely despised it with others. For the future, my plan is to be the moderator so there is always an impartial third party for making any necessary rulings. As it is though, I've put this game up for trade.


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2. Board Game: Winner's Circle [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:678]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#116


Plays in 2013: 0
Total plays: 2


Pros:
It's a betting game where you're betting on a horse race, that's actually a pretty cool theme. The payouts all make sense, and the secret betting segment works well.

Cons:
But the actual part where you take turns moving one horse each just makes for way too much downtime (seriously people, how long can you take to choose a horse and roll a die?), and makes it so that you have no real control over anything in the race. Add on top of that a really weird first-player problem which further hurts the game.

Thoughts:
With all of those negative, there are just too many other good games out there that I'd rather play, so this one is good to be traded away.


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3. Board Game: Mü & More [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:825]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#115


Plays in 2013: 0
Total plays: 1


Pros:
A really great 5-player card game where the teams are ever changing depending on how much the current leader thinks you can help him. The pre-play betting cards thereby making them visible to everyone is very interesting.

Cons:
It's a straight-up card game that pretty much needs exactly 5 players. Not a niche that I have to fill very often.

Thoughts:
I was hoping to introduce this to my family who loves playing Buck Euchre with usually 5 or 6 players. Perfect, I thought! But no, this has too many rules, and the scoring ambiguity is quite hard to grasp, so this was a no go. Still, it fits in one of the big Plano boxes (thereby not counting against my self-imposed 100 game limit..... does that kinda count as lying to myself?), so I have no reason to get rid of it.


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4. Board Game: Guillotine [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1001]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#114


Plays in 2013: 3
Total plays: 4


Pros:
Crazy unique theme. Lots of card interactions, both with what you have in hand and what nobles have come out on the table.

Cons:
There is absolutely no strategy in this game. When it's your turn, you just simply make the best move for you at that moment. There's no consideration for next time, and rarely any consideration for your next opponent.

Thoughts:
As a purely tactical, card-slinging game, this one is relegated to the role of time-killer for me. I'll play it if we're waiting for others to arrive for the real game, but this would never be a game that I suggest to the group.


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5. Board Game: Quelf [Average Rating:5.31 Overall Rank:15198]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#113


Plays in 2013: 1
Total plays: 6


Pros:
I'll be honest, with the right group, this can be tons of fun. Lots of laughs, goofy rules, weird goings-ons, etc. all make for a riotous good time.

Cons:
It's a party/trivia game through and through. If that's what you're in the mood for, perfect. If you really need a strategic outlet, this isn't going to be it.

Thoughts:
Every collection needs several crazy party games, and this is the craziest that I've seen (and still enjoyed). As such, this will probably always stay around in the collect for those times when the occasion calls for something a little off-the-wall.


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6. Board Game: RoboDerby: Express [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:4150]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#112


Plays in 2013: 3
Total plays: 16


Pros:
Cool concept with the programming of moves, robot dice, and modular board.

Cons:
Since I had to make the components, they aren't the greatest.

Thoughts:
This is a pretty solid filler game that I've since brought into my classroom for my students to play. They really seem to like it, but it doesn't work great as a classroom game because the dice are loud. So I have to solve that problem if I want to keep it at school I'm afraid.


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7. Board Game: Tsuro [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:774]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#111


Plays in 2013: 1
Total plays: 9


Pros:
Easy to teach to people of all ages. Plays very quickly. Is definitely fun to play as you try to outlast all of your rivals.

Cons:
There's not much in the way of strategy here, just try to not box yourself in the best you can with the two (two!) options you have on hand.

Thoughts:
While I don't play this hardly ever, nor do I really wish to, this game has been a huge hit with my students. It's so easy, semi-confrontational, and doesn't outlast their sometimes microscopic attention-spans. It's a winner.


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8. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:294]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#110


Plays in 2013: 0
Total plays: 2


Pros:
Easy to teach and quick to play. Additionally, the re-theme that I've done for this adds some much needed interest to an otherwise very dull game.

Cons:
Is this really even a game? There's so much luck, easy risk calculations for the mathematically inclined, and no real long-term strategy here. I don't see much draw to this game.

Thoughts:
It takes up so little room I don't see the reason to get rid of it. Plus, I made all the cards myself, so I'm attached to it. But yeah, that's pretty much the only reason it's sticking around.


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9. Board Game: Clash of the Gladiators [Average Rating:5.88 Overall Rank:4554]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#109


Plays in 2013: 0
Total plays: 1


Pros:
It's a lighthearted dice-fest of a game with a really cool theme. The pieces are nice, the chariots to hold your teams are neat-looking, and the building-your-team segment of the game is pretty fun as you think through what the possible combinations will mean on the arena floor.

Cons:
And then you have to play the game. It's not interesting; it's just throwing dice with very little strategic decisions to make throughout the entire game.

Thoughts:
Even after reading the reviews here on BGG, I thought to myself, it's a Knizia, how mindless could it really be. Answer: really mindless. I'm sure with a house rule or two or three (or four), it could end up as a satisfying dice-chucker of a game, but as it is, there really is no redeeming quality to make me ever want to play this one again. So, it's up for trade for any sucker who doesn't read this list.


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10. Board Game: Hive [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:204]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#108


Plays in 2013: 22
Total plays: 61


Pros:
It's so portable and easy to pull out and play. It's quick enough that it's not a huge consideration to get even multiple plays in. On top of all that, it's easy to teach and the bugs are easy to remember.

Cons:
It's just an abstract at the end of the day. Also, maybe it's just me, but the game gets really repetitive; I haven't seen a ton of different strategies yet.

Thoughts:
This is the ultimate fast classroom game. Beats the heck out of checkers and chess, and the kids seem to love it.


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11. Board Game: Cleopatra and the Society of Architects [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:757]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#107


Plays in 2013: 1
Total plays: 1


Pros:
Wow, the board and pieces and everything in this game looks amazing. It's one of the few games that I felt I wanted to paint to do it justice. The faceup/facedown mechanic of the cards being dealt to the piles is pretty cool, and the most-corrupt-person-dies thing is great and I wish they would use it in more games.

Cons:
Wow, the actually game is really boring. The main mechanics in the game are taking cards in partially pre-determined sets, and playing them in pre-determined combinations to build things. There's really no strategy here other than how many corruption cards are you going to purposefully take. Just not much game here despite the amazing package it comes in.

Thoughts:
This game falls victim to me expecting way more out of it then it was designed to give. If I had purchased this way early on in my board gaming renaissance, I bet it would have been really good. But now? We've got better games to play so I'm hoping to trade this away soon.


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12. Board Game: Chicken Caesar [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:2602]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#106


Plays in 2013: 1
Total plays: 4


Pros:
The theme plays an important role in this game by reducing the hostility you feel when you get backstabbed, as will inevitably happen. It's hard to get too worked up when your opponent kills your head rooster as opposed to invading your nation after years of buildup. The external pressure from the foxes is also a nice touch.

Cons:
Ultimately, all mechanics aside, this game will be won by the person who does the most wheeling-and-dealing and probably ends up negotiating there way to a position where they can stab someone in the back and bank off of it. That's not my most favorite type of game in general.

Thoughts:
I wanted to like this game so much more than I do. Don't get me wrong, it's still a good game, but my expectations for it were way high when I backed this on KS, and it hasn't lived up to the hype for me.


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13. Board Game: Rum & Pirates [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1925]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#105


Plays in 2013: 2
Total plays: 2


Pros:
Cool pirate figurines.

Cons:
The game just isn't that interesting. On your turn, you get to pick which way to go from the current intersection, and that's pretty much it.

Thoughts:
Because I love so many of them, I've decided to collect the games that Feld has made. This is the bottom one of those games, but even this game will have its place once I have kids who are ready to graduate past the CandyLand/ChutesAndLadders stage.


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14. Board Game: BANG! The Bullet! [Average Rating:6.96 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.96 Unranked]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#104


Plays in 2013: 4
Total plays: 38


Pros:
Cool theme, and the hidden role genre really works best with a strong theme. There's enough variety in the character cards to keep things interesting for multiple plays. Any game where you can be loud, boisterous, and obnoxious is a good game in my book.

Cons:
Because there's such an open structure to the game, it can lead to some pretty degenerate things such as a player getting eliminated before even getting a turn, or a player only drawing bang cards for 23 draws in a row.

Thoughts:
In the hidden-role spot in my collection, this game has been bested by Shadow Hunters. Because of that, I'm probably going to eventually trade this one away.


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15. Board Game: It Happens.. [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:2957]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#103


Plays in 2013: 2
Total plays: 2


Pros:
Fast-playing kids game that has a wacky theme, is easy to teach, and has moments of strategy.

Cons:
Lots of the game isn't very strategic, but that can be mitigated by a couple house rules that add a lot to the game.

Thoughts:
Since we already have a small child, with possibly more in the future, having a few good kids games is going to be a must. Might as well start having a couple on hand now I guess.


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16. Board Game: Alhambra: Big Box [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#102


Plays in 2013: 0
Total plays: 13


Pros:
Easy to teach, almost at the old-family-classic-standby level of difficulty. Despite being so easy to teach, the game actually has some strategic value as you decide which properties are worth actually purchasing and as you try to hedge your majorities without overspending. The myriad expansion options that come in the Big Box are a nice touch as well, adding as much additional craziness as you could want within the basic context of the game.

Cons:
I never really suggest to play this one. I don't know how to quantify that, because it's a pretty good game as I sit here writing about it, but there's always something more interesting that I'd rather play. I guess that despite being a pretty solid game, nothing really stands out.

Thoughts:
As a new parent, I'm seeing visions of a future where I'd like to spend quality time with my kid(s), and if board games are a part of that, I'll be ecstatic. As such, I'm not planning on getting rid of games that are too bland or not challenging enough in the hopes of leading more people into the hobby (my kid(s) or otherwise).


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17. Board Game: Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:173]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#101


Plays in 2013: 0
Total plays: 8


Pros:
Huge amount of decisions; where do you want to put your city? Which building do you want to add to the city this turn? Or would you rather produce a unit? Which technology would you like to research this turn? What government would best suit your strategy? Do you want to aggressively harass the other players with your military unit? And the list goes on and on.

Cons:
There are three things that end up absolutely killing this game for me. One, there is too much downtime when it's not your turn. Sure this can be mitigated by playing a bunch with the same people (possibly), but it's been a problem each time I've played. Two, the game takes way to long. I only have a very precious few times where I can play a game that takes longer than 3 or so hours, so this has very stiff competition. And, three, I dislike the combat. Not the cards and how combat is resolved like everyone else; I dislike how political it turns. Depending on who player 3 attacks will directly pull that person's resources, time, and board position. I don't like that that kind of selective targeting in a three or more player game.

Thoughts:
While I certainly recognize the great depth to this game, I never feel satisfied (or even like I've had a ton of fun really) in this game. There have been a couple exceptions when I played this as a two-player game, but with anything more, this was definitely not my cup of tea.


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18. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:119]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#100


Plays in 2013: 0
Total plays: 5


Pros:
The decisions of when to call "Tichu," how to pass card, how to support your partner, and in which combinations to actually play your cards makes this one of the top pure card games for me.

Cons:
It's a straight card game, purely abstract, so it doesn't get brought out a lot.

Thoughts:
This is a game that I absolutely love, but have only found one other person who even seems to enjoy it. I wanted to introduce this to my family and friends who love Euchre, hoping that they would really take to this game, but after playing a time or two, showed that they definitely didn't like it because it was too complicated for what they wanted.


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19. Board Game: Arena: Roma II [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:1038] [Average Rating:6.93 Unranked]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#99


Plays in 2013: 0
Total plays: 30


Pros:
Lots of interesting card interactions and little loopholes or strategic advantages to try to exploit. The game definitely feels like a tug of war back and forth, perhaps not quite like a gladiator battle, but still a very tense struggle none-the-less.

Cons:
Man, is this game chaotic! There are cool cards and combinations as previously mentioned, but without modifying the rules and adding in some additional layers to the game, I'm still convinced that it is largely a luck-fest. Some people single out the luck of the dice as a major culprit, and I do not agree with that; it is the luck of the cards (who's going to draw the most Forums?) that drops this one down in the rankings for me.

Thoughts:
Even if this isn't my favorite game, it's quick and portable nature (and the fact that it is a Feld game) make it so that I'll keep it around and try to get it to the table every now and again.


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20. Board Game: To Court the King [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:1404]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#98


Plays in 2013: 1
Total plays: 4


Pros:
Rolling dice can be fun if you're in the right mood. Also, gaining cards thereby expanding your abilities is fun to see as it builds.

Cons:
It seems that there is only one type of card that is good to buy, the ones that give you more dice. The manipulation dice are not nearly as good, so it kind of ruins the game that there's not a better balance.

Thoughts:
This game is a good time filler, but doesn't offer much more than that. If you've got a few minutes to fill, and don't want to really think that much, this actually is pretty enjoyable.


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21. Board Game: Libertalia [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:297]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#97


Plays in 2013: 4
Total plays: 4


Pros:
Fun, chaotic card game where you get to make lots of pirate jokes, and get to talk like an idiot.

Cons:
The game is too long for what ultimately boils down to either pure luck, or rock/paper/scissors. If it could go way quicker, it would definitely be a great filler.

Thoughts:
A possible great filler does not make a good full-length game. This one is up for trade.


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22. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:320]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#96


Plays in 2013: 0
Total plays: 11


Pros:
The hidden traitor makes the game tense, and the theme comes across well in this game.

Cons:
The actual mechanics of this game are very simplistic and definitely lend itself to the problem of an alpha-gamer taking control of the group.

Thoughts:
There are just better coop games and traitor games out there now. This one is definitely up for trade.


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23. Board Game: Merchants & Marauders [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:198]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#95


Plays in 2013: 0
Total plays: 4


Pros:
If you want theme, this is your game.

Cons:
But, the game is pretty much the opposite of elegant.

Thoughts:
So, yes, this game is a good game that makes you feel like you're sailing the high seas, possibly turning to a life of piracy. The complications of the rules, and the lengthy play time make it so that I'm not likely to play this game very often.


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24. Board Game: Pergamon [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:963]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#94


Plays in 2013: 3
Total plays: 3


Pros:
Great theme and great components. The main decisions of where you're going to dig (and consequently how much money you'll get and how deep you can dig) is very tense and is great when it pays out the way you hope it will.

Cons:
Besides that initial decision each turn, there really isn't much to this game. The collection of artifact pieces is cool, but it's not tough to figure out your best plan of action, so that portion of the game ends up not being captivating for me.

Thoughts:
This is a good gateway game that I would have no qualms about trading away. Again, it's not that it's bad, it just isn't good enough to stick around for me.


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25. Board Game: Fleet [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:695]
A.J. Sansom
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
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#93


Plays in 2013: 3
Total plays: 23



Pros:
With multiple ways to use each card, hand management needs to be carefully thought through in order to do well in this game. Also, I really like the theme here and feel that the game does a good job in making you feel like you're building up boats and increasing your fishing empire.

Cons:
It plays a little long for a filler, and the strategic level is just a bit short of what I'd like to see in a full-on game. It is fun, but just doesn't fit any niche roll real well.

Thoughts:
It doesn't take up much space, and it is fun after all, so I'm not trying to get rid of this game, but I'm not sure when I'd suggest it, so we'll see what happens to this game in the future.


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