Top 10 Games Every Designer Should Play (VOTE BY THUMB)
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The League of Gamemakers recently embarked on a mission with Stonemaier Games to find the top 10 games every novice designer should play at least once, in order to learn the craft.

The original goals of the list had three key guidelines:
1. The games on the list should teach a specific design lesson (or lessons).
2. The games on the list should be exemplars of certain parts of the craft.
3. The games on the list should accelerate a novice designer's knowledge of tabletop game design in a short amount of time (30-45 min). (see change below).

Additionally, the league decided the games should be as focused as possible and teach positive, rather than negative design lessons.

For our BGG list, let's open back up the timetable and allow ANY length game.

Here's a link to our blog, explaining our methods of selection among our 12 designers/teams:
http://bit.ly/top10_pt1 - introduction and methodology
http://bit.ly/top10_pt2 - selecting criteria

--

What do YOU think are the top games every designer should play?
If possible, use your thumbs on ONLY 10 choices, and we'll see what rises to the top.

Thanks for playing!
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1. Board Game: Love Letter [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:215]
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Minimalism. The lesson is that tight design and strategic gameplay is possible in ONLY 16 cards. Less is more.

Simple primer on microgames.

Deep strategy can come from a handful of cards. A small number of rules can create lots of bluffing, second-guessing, and unspoken communication.
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2. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
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Strategic tile placement with a variety of expansion options

Simple primer on tile-laying games, demonstrates map building in quick way.
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3. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:126] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
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Great route building and set collection example
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4. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
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This is a cooperative game that requires absolute teamwork for survival.
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5. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:16]
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Simple primer on role selection

BGG top 5, variable, emergent strategy, interactive and competitive. Simple to learn and hard to master, with no one right way to play.

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6. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
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Dominion is THE deck building game. It is streamlined and establishes the fundamental paradigms for the deck building mechanics.

Simple primer on deck building, replayablity through randomization of card decks.

A perfect example of reaching amazing depth with a very simple game system.

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7. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:227]
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on-your-feet player interactivity achieved with awesome monster theme on top of yahtzee-like dice mechanic

The designer would learn about player elimination, highly random results, and variable player powers and how they work together if the game is fast paced and quick.

theme for young players, strategy appropriate for all players
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8. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:281] [Average Rating:7.22 Unranked]
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While not particularly Earth-shattering in its mechanics, it’s a simple and accessible sample of an ideal light Eurogame where players actually help one another to achieve their goals, rather than try to bankrupt or kill each other. It’s high sales make it a fine design to emulate.

Letting players make a key choice to begin the game (where they place their settlements) gives a sense of control to players in a game with a high degree of randomness.
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9. Board Game: Hanabi [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:274]
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Unlike most co-op games, Hanabi operates on hidden information - hidden from self.

Innovative use of backward card mechanic and limited information-based deduction/cooperative decision-making.
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10. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:42]
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Simultaneous Card drafting civ building game in which innovative neighbor mechanic makes it the same with 3-7 players.

Perfectly combining asymmetric player interaction with a variety of integrated mechanics.

simple primer on card drafting.

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11. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:79]
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Light Euro worker placement game that uses dice, randomness, and hidden information to reduce analysis paralysis.

Simple primer on worker placement

early worker placement with unique worker pool building mechanism
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12. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:155] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
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Secrets of success: fantasy theme, addictive boosters, clear color/icon language, unlimited player agency and emergent strategy.

A game that shaped the whole industry, changing the way we think about card games, and expanding the idea of "putting the rules on the cards" to the limit. Also introduced the idea of collectibility in a card game.

The archetypical CCG. One of the most addicting games of all time.
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13. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:62]
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Best traitor game out there. Really brings out the way to secretly manipulate a game to a player's advantage.
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14. Board Game: Dixit [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:196] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
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a casual party game where you must thread the needle between
obvious and obscure with the clues you give
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15. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:504]
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Random elements not needed for cutthroat strategy. Simple, deterministic area control, everything boils down to interplayer negotiations.

Negotiation. You cannot succeed without support. Betrayal is inevitable. This is a classic, brilliant game to study for player dynamics.

Great example of battle without any luck.
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16. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.39 Overall Rank:15444]
Joe Huber

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The most obvious omission, in my opinion.

Monopoly is a very successful game, which has remained in the public eye for more than three quarters of a century. It's part of the public notion of games in the US and elsewhere. But the best lesson is to think, while designing, from the point of view of the audience - their knowledge base and the types of activities they enjoy, rather than your own preferences.
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17. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:12]
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Feld design. Tile drafting and placement game. Players always have a choice that has a benefit. Scoring innovations. "Victory Point Salad"
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18. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:17]
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The classic archetypical worker placement. Most highly regarded worker placement in a survey of designers.
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19. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:210]
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A classic game where tile placement controls corporate mergers and players choose to hold, sell or trade their interest in each company to maximize their wealth.

The defining investment game. This is great for designers to look at because of the apparent simplicity of the game. Complex interaction between players allows them to invest in assets that other players 'control'. But is control really that useful?

Great for teaching shared point mechanics.
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20. Board Game: RoboRally [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:338]
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Implementing programmable actions and a variety of maps
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21. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:50]
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simultaneous Role selection. All players perform actions that each player selects. Engine building.
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22. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:320]
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action drafting.
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23. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:4]
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Create immersive theme w/ minimal mechanics. Influence/control systems are simple, and then the event cards create a deep, historically-flavorful story.
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24. Board Game: Cosmic Encounter [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:101]
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The first game to introduce unique player powers and having most of the rules on the cards.
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25. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:185] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
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Scale-ability, replayability
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