My Top 25 of last year - where are they now?
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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I bought my first designer game (Dominion) back in 2010, and got intensely into the hobby in 2012. Halfway through 2013, I realized that most of the new games I was playing were much better than the ones I had played before. In mid-2013, I wrote my first Top 25 games of all time. This year, I did the same, and realized that I had been a foolish little man before. So this list is the Top 25 GoaT I wrote in June 2013, with my new comments, a bit over a year and half later.

October 2016: Added Top 100 2015 positions
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1. Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons: Conquest of Nerath Board Game [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:1387]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#25 in 2013
What I liked about it:
The battle system was quick and cool (where all units need 6+ to hit, but roll different types of dice); the fact that you could send heroes in dungeons or fight with them; the different event decks for each faction.

Plays in 2014: 0
Position in 2014: unranked
Where is it now: Traded away

My opinion now: This game was pretty cool conceptually, but the 4P game had too much downtime, and when I have 2P, I'd rather spend 3-4h on War of the Ring than on this. Also sort of replaced by Kemet in terms of "dudes on a map" games.

Position in 2015: unranked
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2. Board Game: Timeline: Diversity [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:975] [Average Rating:6.83 Unranked]
Jon Vallerand
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PS: This entry stands in for all games in the Timelines series.

#24 in 2013
What I liked about it:
Quick, interesting, and you learn stuff. Some basic strategy in the order in which you play your card, and, to a certain extent, to splitting gaps that opponents have to play in.

Plays in 2014: 5
Position in 2014: unranked
Where is it now: Never was in my collection

My opinion now: I never feel like playing this game anymore. It is exceedingly random, and being this quick means it's not even a good filler, because it only fills 5 minutes, and is not that interesting 3-4 times in a row. I mean, I'll play it, but it definitely doesn't belong in my Top 75 anymore, and I can't believe it once did.

Position in 2015: unranked
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3. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:322]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#23 in 2013
What I liked about it:
Simple gameplay, so we can focus on the social deduction aspect; multiple paths to victory, and to defeat; interesting decisions in how we'd split the team, and what hazard we'd let hit us.

Plays in 2014: 0
Position in 2014: 72
Where is it now: Traded away my copy, because people own them in both my playing groups

My opinion now: I haven't played this in forever, mainly because none of my groups are big on coop games. I still like this game a lot, and would gladly play it again, soon, if I ever get a chance!

Position in 2015: unranked
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4. Board Game: Louis XIV [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:541]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#22 in 2013
What I liked about it:
Worker placement meets area control in a clever way that maximizes blocking and interaction; the mission gives special powers, which is cool; the cards limit your choices at an optimal point: more choices would lead to AP, and less, to randomness having too big an impact on the result; the intrigue cards also add lots of tension to the game, by allowing you to add markers to a particular spot after the round ends.

Plays in 2014: 4
Position in 2014: 17 (one of two games to have gone up since last year)
Where is it now: Still in my collection

My opinion now: I still love this game. It is great with both 2, 3, and 4 players. I love how many decision points are in the game, and the tension in it. Plus, I don't remember ever losing at this game!

Position in 2015: 48
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5. Board Game: Dice Town [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:722]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#21 in 2013
What I liked about it:
Fun light game. Deciding how many dice to keep is interesting, and then showing them can totally destroy your plan. Lots of laughs and trash talk.

Plays in 2014: 1
Position in 2014: unranked
Where is it now: Still in my collection

My opinion now: I like Dice Town. I should play it more, with my parents and such. One hit against it is the fact that it's in a big box, while being a light, short game, which means that we don't think about it when looking for a filler.

Will try to play this one more in 2015. It definitely has a shot on next year's Top 100.

Position in 2015: 96
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6. Board Game: Glory to Rome [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:148]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#20 in 2013
What I liked about it:
Cards being used in different ways; different paths to victory; getting special powers during the game; many cool combos are possible; so many different cards in there leads to all games being different.

Plays in 2014: 12
Position in 2014: unranked
Where is it now: Still in my collection

My opinion now: I think I've played this game too much. Of the 12 games this year, 9 were 2P games against the same opponent, and they all ended up being the same. Some cards are much stronger then others, and so we always go for the same ones. I feel, right now, that I don't need to replay it ever. I should, because man did I like that game when I first played it.

That happened with all Carl Chudyk's games I've played (also Innovation and Impulse): I LOVE them after my first play, and then like them less and less with every play, until I start HATING them. I don't know what it is... I hope Red7 will be different!

Position in 2015: unranked
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7. Board Game: Nothing Personal [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:783]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#19 in 2013
What I liked about it:
Interesting area control, where everything is dynamic: the gangsters you influence shift and get promoted, and then die or get busted and leave; interesting theme in the power vacuum of organizations.

Plays in 2014: 1
Position in 2014: unranked
Where is it now: Traded away

My opinion now: I still would play that game, and only traded it away because I couldn't find anyone willing to play it. I do believe that the game is too slow: I wish each round would be shorter, so that more rounds could be played in the same time, which would make the dynamic nature of the game pop more. As it is, it's a rather long game, without much bang for your buck.

Funny tidbit: In a game, a card presenting a rather masculine woman started out as the Second Guy, and many people found that funny, and took it upon themselves to make that lady the Capo. To this day almost a year later, the term "Second Guy" has become, in that group, a synonym for a masculine female.

Position in 2015: unranked
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8. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:228]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#18 in 2013
What I liked about it:
Dice rolling, special powers, and hitting each other? Giant monsters AND destroying a town? What's not to like about it?

Plays in 2014: 2
Position in 2014: 60
Where is it now: Still in my collection

My opinion now: I love this game. I wish I could play it more often, but it rarely hits the table. This is the weight level I'd usually play with my parents, but they don't like the fighting, and are confused by all the special cards.

Position in 2015: unranked
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9. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:16]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#17 in 2013
What I liked about it:
The level of interaction: selecting roles that help you more than it helps others, blocking opponents' resources in ships, forcing them to discard goods after shipping. Also, the need for efficiency in your "engine" is something I love in games.

Plays in 2014: 1
Position in 2014: unranked
Where is it now: Still in my collection

My opinion now: I'd play it, but not ask for it to be played. It simply doesn't hold up anymore. I still think it's a good game, and I'll probably play it again, but I'm okay not having played it for over a year.

Position in 2015: 57
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10. Board Game: The Pillars of the Earth [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:232]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#16 in 2013
What I liked about it:
The play order mechanism. Such a clever thing. I mean, the worker placement, the resource transformation, that's all neat and stuff, but the bag pulling is great: when you're on the spot, trying to weigh whether you have the luxury of delaying or not, that's rather cool.

Plays in 2014: 2
Position in 2014: 44
Where is it now: Still in my collection

My opinion now: I still like it just as much. I don't get it to play it as often as I'd like because of the Cult of the New, but every time I play it, it's just as fun as before.

Position in 2015: 62
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11. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:79]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#15 in 2013
What I liked about it:
It was worker placement, and back then I had played like three of them. Whether you go all buildings, all cards, or a mixture, led to multiple paths to victory. Sending workers for resources and going for a building on the same turn was a gamble.

Plays in 2014: 2
Position in 2014: unranked
Where is it now: Traded away

My opinion now: Well... There are better worker placement games. Like tons of them. The dice add nothing but randomness, the "starve your people" strategy is stupid, the cards are vastly overpowered, and they cost only wood. It seems to have lacked playtesting, and is not balanced for the actual way people play.

Position in 2015: unranked
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12. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:320]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#14 in 2013
What I liked about it:
Role drafting was unique in games I had played, and is a mechanism I like a lot.

Plays in 2014: 0
Position in 2014: unranked
Where is it now: Traded away

My opinion now: I mean... I still like role drafting, but Citadels was too long for what it was, and the part the roles played was not really all it could be. I felt like the focus of the gameplay was on the buildings, which wasn't strong enough to carry an entire game. All in all, this game was replaced by others which did Role selection better.

Position in 2015: unranked
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13. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:127] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
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PS: This stands in for all games in the TtR series.

#13 in 2013
What I liked about it:
The weight means I could play it with anyone; there is long term strategy, blocking, deduction. The game is the perfect example of the phrase "no plan survives contact with the enemy". As such, the need to be adaptable is a major part of the game.

Plays in 2014: 4
Position in 2014: 32
Where is it now: Still in my collection

My opinion now: Still a game I love, and wish I could play once a month. The map packs bring different flavors of the same game, which leads to lots of replayability. I haven't even played with all the maps, and still have a lot to discover about this.

Position in 2015: 36
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14. Board Game: Mascarade [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:884]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#12 in 2013
What I liked about it:
Chaos. It is not about bluffing and deduction, but about chaos. A laughter inducing game... when played with the right group.

Plays in 2014: 3
Position in 2014: 65
Where is it now: Wasn't in my collection; got it as a Christmas gift

My opinion now: I still like this game a lot, but it is SOOOOOO group-dependent. When played with the wrong group, it falls so flat you regret offering to play it. However, with the right crowd, it is a blast.

Position in 2015: unranked
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15. Board Game: Cyclades [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:132]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#11 in 2013
What I liked about it:
The auction mechanism, and the idea of deciding both turn order and the actions you get to take through it.

Plays in 2014: 0
Position in 2014: unranked
Where is it now: Still in my collection; trying to get rid of it

My opinion now: I realized in my last game (which was over a year ago) that I never had fun while playing this game. All players seem to need the same god at the same time, and so there's no point in going for whichever's cheap, because they won't help you: only the richest player will get the god everybody needs. There's no point in building the first Metropolys, because it will get stolen. There's no point in getting Apollo for the extra cornucopia, because that just means the guy who gets Ares next turn will steal it from you. There's no point in doing anything it seems.

Position in 2015: unranked
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16. Board Game: Lords of Waterdeep [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:51]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#10 in 2013
What I liked about it:
As with Stone Age, worker placement used to be attractive in and of itself. The buildings was something I liked, and so was the D&D theme. The intrigue cards also added something interesting.

Plays in 2014: 3, plus a few on my tablet
Position in 2014: unranked
Where is it now: Still in my collection, but For Trade

My opinion now: This has become an iPad only game for me. I still like to play it every now and then, but I feel like I could never play it again and wouldn't miss it. It doesn't do anything new, and others do what it does better.

Position in 2015: 63
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17. Board Game: Lewis & Clark [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:136]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#9 in 2013
What I liked about it:
Hand building mechanism was neat, especially with the dutch auction. I liked the split between river and mountain spots on the board. I liked how, while resources are usually what's limiting you, they are plentiful in this game, but actions are what is limited: in other words, you can do what you need to do, regardless of what it is, the question is simply "how many actions will it take". And since it is a race, speed is of the essence.

Plays in 2014: 12
Position in 2014: 1st (one of two games to have gone up since last year)
Where is it now: Still in my collection

My opinion now: I love everything about this game. The need for efficiency, the perfect level of interaction, the tension, the cards, everything about it is so great.

Position in 2015: 5
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18. Board Game: Kingsburg [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:267]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#8 in 2013
What I liked about it:
The dice allocation is interesting: do I split them, and risk losing the spot I need, or combine them into a more powerful character? The buildings are cool, as are the characters from the expansion. Each player having different buildings, when playing with the expansion, is also pretty cool.

Plays in 2014: 7
Position in 2014: 28
Where is it now: Still in my collection

My opinion now: I still love the game. It's played less, however, because one player in our group is so dominant at it that he never loses. I mean, I don't mind playing for second place, but it does get old.

Position in 2015: unranked
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19. Board Game: Telestrations [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:225]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#7 in 2013
What I liked about it:
Writing a very complex abstract concept, or having to draw one; the pure laughter it brings everywhere; how powerful an ice breaker it is with people you don't know. I also love to draw, but I'm not that good at it. Perfect for this game.

Plays in 2014: 9
Position in 2014: 15
Where is it now: Still in my collection

My opinion now: The exact same. I don't know of a time I went to a family gathering and didn't play this in the last year. My objective is to try and play it with Cards Against Humanity words, because I'm 6 years old.

Position in 2015: 27
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20. Board Game: Kemet [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:77]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#6 in 2013
What I liked about it:
A perfect "dude on a map": it forces you to attack, the combat resolution is something you can control, and you get cool powers... and MONSTERS. It's also great in its management mechanisms: the pyramid WP is pretty original and cool, the three different pyramid colors leading to different tech trees, and the two different kinds of VPs... All of this makes for a quite cool game.

Plays in 2014: 2
Position in 2014: 27
Where is it now: Wasn't in my collection; bought it

My opinion now: Kemet is for me a perfect game in its category. It's a category I don't like that much, but every now and then, I feel like managing an army, and Kemet delivers.

Position in 2015: 94
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21. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:73]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#5 in 2013
What I liked about it:
A solid, solid coop, just deep enough to sink our teeth in it, and just simple enough that we can focus on the puzzle, rather than the rules. A challenge, and a cool experience. As Zee Garcia says, the best part of the game is that moment at the end where we all stop, and go "if you do this and this and that and this, and then I do this and go there and cure twice, and then...", and then someone goes "no, if you do that we'll run out of card", and then someone goes "oh, but I have this special card!". It's a great puzzle to solve as a team.

Plays in 2014: 3, plus many on my iPad
Position in 2014: 6
Where is it now: Still in my collection

My opinion now: I still love it. It needs the right group, but when we do, we often play until we win (which can take multiple attempts). It's one of the very few games that last more than 15 minutes that I can play multiple times in a row.

Position in 2015: 4
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22. Board Game: Summoner Wars [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:369] [Average Rating:7.31 Unranked]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#4 in 2013
What I liked about it:
The different factions all feel very different, and the tactical combat that ensues is a lot of fun. It's quick, and a great, high replayable experience.

Plays in 2014: 15
Position in 2014: 20
Where is it now: Still in my collection

My opinion now: Well, I still love the game, but I'm trying to cut on the amount of deckbuilding that needs to be done to play it. I haven't played it in a few months, because none of my friends own the game, and the deckbuilding takes as long as the game. I'm in the process of pre-building armies so this can be the quick joust it is meant to be.

Position in 2015: 98
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23. Board Game: Guildhall [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:714] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#3 in 2013
What I liked about it:
It is a perfect example of a simple, but deep game. With the expansion, you have so many possible permutations to use in a game, and you can suit the game to the likes of any group. The special powers are all interesting, and the game can't really go on forever: eventually, sets will be finished, and someone will win.

Plays in 2014: 25
Position in 2014: 22
Where is it now: Still in my collection

My opinion now: I still love this game. Its drop is only due to the fact that I now consider it more of a filler. Still, even as a filler, it is meaty and one of my favorites.

Position in 2015: 49
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24. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:49]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#2 in 2013
What I liked about it:
The simultaneous selection, the deduction of what the other will do, the engine building... In 30 minutes!

Plays in 2014: 14
Position in 2014: 24
Where is it now: Still in my collection

My opinion now: I've cooled down a bit on RftG, mainly because of how much I've played it. It seems that the same combos come out, and the same four or five strategies can compete. The objective tiles of the first expansion help a lot, but I rarely manage to play with them.

Position in 2015: 55
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25. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.66 Unranked]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#1 in 2013
What I liked about it:
I love deckbuilding. I love the story deckbuilding tells. I love how you're basically in the designer seat while playing Dominion. I love how the decisions you make affect the engine you have going, where you're trying to get a good balance. I love how Dominion is a race, to get to that point where your deck can churn points the fastest. It's engine building at its purest.

Plays in 2014: 6, plus about 100 on my phone
Position in 2014: 39
Where is it now: Still in my collection

My opinion now: Quite a drop. I love the game, don't get me wrong, but it is a bit too... pure for my liking. I barely ever feel like playing Dominion, because of all the great games that have come out since then. I think that it won't last very long in my Top games, and might be gone completely eventually... unless the upcoming expansion makes it AWESOME.

Position in 2015: 72
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