If I had to ... cutting down to 25 games
Albert Jones
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Sam Hillier
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St. Albert
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for the idea, and to
Gergo Tothmihaly
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for the meta-list.

Here are my picks for the top 25 games I would keep on a deserted island. I have tweaked the categories to go off mechanics and instead to focus on the different moods or purposes different games serve for me and my gaming group.
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1. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:5]
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Two-Player - endless strategy discussions

This game lends itself to strategy discussions. If you don't believe me, have a look at the website called 'Twilight Strategy'.

This would be ideal on a deserted island for its ability to keep the group discussing and distracted rather than focusing on our terrible fate of being stuck on a deserted island.
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2. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:48]
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Two-Player - fast, efficient, repetitive play

This game, when each player knows how to play, is fast, and any luck of the draw elements are equalized over several plays. This game can be played with more players, but its sweet spot in my collection is as a fast-paced two=player game. I would have to include my player mats though, as they make if much easier to see the other player's set-up and closeness to end game without counting.

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3. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:73]
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Gate-way Game

The original gate-way game for many gamers was The Settlers of Catan, but in 2015, I think that role has been taken by Pandemic. The co-op nature of this game makes it easy to teach, and the theme of the game is captivating. It is a nice introduction to cube management and makes a lot of other Euros far less scary to try.

There is no guarantee that all the people on the island will be gamers, this game will help fix that. And it is just fun to play too!
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4. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:15]
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Shorter Euro-game

This game is the post-gateway game to complex Euro-games. It is short, can be played with 2-4 players comfortably (the 5-player game has some problems), and is a classic in trying to find various different ways to win. Many have made the claim that this game is broken, but I cannot agree. It has its faults, but it stands up to the test of time and is still better than many more modern Euros coming out today.

If you love this game, check out my review.
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5. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:125]
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Traditional-ish Card Game

This game is just fun! It has a good balance of strategy depth without slowing the game down or causing Analysis Paralysis. It can be played almost anywhere and with almost anyone, and, it can be played over and over again without getting boring. A great game for a deserted island.
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6. Board Game: Poker [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:871]
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Traditional Card Game

I am not sure what we would be betting on a deserted island, maybe coconuts? What I am sure of is that playing poker would help us pass many hours in concentrated fun. This game has had a real Renaissance in the twenty-first century that is waning somewhat, but it is a classic game that will stand the test of time.

Preferred format: Texas Hold'em
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7. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:46]
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Worker Placement Game Mechanic

Worker placement games have come along way since Caylus. It is not the first game of this type, but it is a classic that re-invigorated the genre. Personally, this is not my favourite type of game, so I haven't invested in very many board games of this type, and most I have traded away, but it needs to be represented for the other players in the group who like this style of play.

My close second: Pillars of the Earth
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8. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:126]
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Area Enclosure Game Mechanic

I was tempted to include Through the Desert, as it is very helpful for teaching people how to play Go, however, on a deserted island, I would finally have the time needed to play this game even half-decently. This is not an easy game to get even a little bit good at. The rules are super simple, but how to beat someone even moderately experienced on the big board is super tough.
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9. Board Game: Mahjong [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:636]
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Set Collecting Tile Games

As a kid, we played Rummy Tiles fairly often. Later in life, I was introduced to Mah Jong and really took to the game. It is complex, and I definitely haven't learned all the more complex melds, but on the island we would have time for that. We would need either a very good meld guide or teacher though. I am always a little surprised this game hasn't really caught on in North America's gaming culture?
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10. Board Game: Axis & Allies [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1196]
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Ameritrash, Gobs of Dice Rolling Goodness

I know that there are better games out now that have improved a great deal on this classic World War II dice-rolling game, but, this is a game I play religiously once a year just to recall the many, many hours dedicated to this game.

Currently, I have been thinking of buying Tide of Iron to replace Axis in my collection, but the infrequent number of times this sort of game gets played in my group means I haven't yet been able to convince myself it will be worth the money.
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11. Board Game: Cards Against Humanity [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:2510] [Average Rating:6.08 Unranked]
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Party Game

This game is definitely not for everyone, but it can be a huge laugh. I can just imagine around the campfire on our deserted island this game being played over-and-over, especially if someone figures out how to ferment the coconuts into some sort of liqueur.
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12. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:71]
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Stefan Feld Game

This isn't necessarily Stefan Feld's best game, but it is my favourite, right now. I love the Mancala mechanism to the role selection. It adds another layer of consideration and complexity to a game that would otherwise just be another role-selection point salad game.
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13. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.66 Unranked]
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Deck-Building Mechanic Game

I personally have gotten a little bored with this game. But that is only because we have played it over, and over, and over, and over again. Anyone on the island who hasn't played the game, and its many expansions, will get tonnes of enjoyment out of this game, and I'll happily play it a few hundred more times myself.

My current expansions:
Dominion: Intrigue - was 'borrowed' and never returned
Dominion: Prosperity - our favourite expansion as it adds money & points
Dominion: Cornucopia - our least favourite, not 100% sure why
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14. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Europe [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:92] [Average Rating:7.57 Unranked]
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Makes a Board Game Collection Complete

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Has said, on one of his many podcasts, as part of the Dice Tower Review series, that no board game collection is complete without a Ticket to Ride game. Europe is my favourite iteration of the game, though I have played and enjoyed most of the titles in the series. This is an easy, enjoyable game to play.

On a deserted island, we may want one of those 18X train games I have heard so much about but am a little fearful to play. With all the time in the world they might fill many an hour, but in my life to date, there just ain't that many free hours in a day to go that deep.
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15. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:137] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
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Tile Laying Mechanic Game

This is game is getting a little older, but it has been played A LOT and will hopefully continue to see the table in the years to come. It has been struggling to keep up with the games coming out over the years since it was a mega-hit, but I still love it and still want to play it on the island.

Some of the expansions seem a little gimmicky, and over the years we have gravitated back to the just playing the original game, mostly two-player. The fact both players can know and recall all the tiles diminishes the luck factor by making the probability of each tile knowable and therefore quantifiable.

I have played one tournament, got third, and would love to play some more. The format was two four-player games, with total points leading to sudden-death two-player elimination rounds. Super fun and a way to keep the deserted island competitive and having fun together.
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16. Board Game: Taluva [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:409]
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Under-rated Game

While there are several problems with this game, most markedly the first player advantage, this game can be a lot of fun, particularly two-player, and especially if you play a variant.

My favourite variants are:
a) You have to use all your pieces, not just two types, making your timing much more important.
b) Put two Taluva games together to make a super-large game where the tiles run out less frequently and the island really grows to a large and very aesthetically pleasing dimension.
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17. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:184]
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Simple Game that is a lot of fun

I fear with this game I am showing how often I play games two-player! That being said, this is a fun little game that I have played often by the fire on a cold winter's day. There is a fair bit of strategy, but the games are quick and the rules are nice and simple.

I actually play the older version, Schotten Totten, and if I am being perfectly honest, I play a print-and-play Aliens version, printed on card stock and sleeved. I am not a big fan of the special cards and just play the simple three-card melds version.
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18. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:70]
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Sophisticated Euro-Game

I got this game quite late, far after the hype and the craze had died down. So much so that I think the on-line game is gone too? Even still, I really like this game. It is abstract, but themed just enough to not be completely dry. This is a game that I want to explore and get better at. I am pretty sure reading strategy pages would ruin a game like this, so I need other noobs to play with so we can explore and discover the game together.
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19. Board Game: Legends of the Three Kingdoms [Average Rating:5.83 Overall Rank:9016]
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Traitor, Battle Cards, Interaction Mechanics Game

I learned this game from some Visa Students from China. The game in Chinese is called San Guo Sha; there are now many different versions in China, but few have been translated to English.

What I love about this game, similar to Bang!, is that each player is a different role (King, King's helper, Enemy of the King, Spy), but at first nobody knows who each other are. Through game play, you discover who is who and you use your special powers, in combination with the cards, to either save the King or kill the King, or be a successful Spy. It is really fun with 10 people who know what they are doing, or 6, but some player counts don't work as well.
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20. Board Game: Sequence [Average Rating:5.95 Overall Rank:3072]
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So My Wife Doesn't Divorce Me Game

This is my wife's second favourite game, favourite being Pandemic. I am hoping she is on the island too, so I better bring this game along. It is simple, fun to play two-player or three-player, or even four and six player. You start off thinking there is no real strategy, but after you lose three of four times in a row, you start to suspect otherwise. Not especially deep though.
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21. Board Game: Bridge [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:510]
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Yet another Card Game

IN my youth, card games were the jouer de jour. We played a lot of cards. I was tempted to put Euchre, or even better Pepper, but on a deserted island I could finally be able to get younger (as in below 50 years old) people to learn and play Bridge.

I love the bidding conventions and the planning involved in making a bid. This is a fun game that I learned in University, but then have never played again since because, well, it is not exactly easy to learn. I will have to remember to bring at least one bridge book along too!
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22. Board Game: March of the Ants [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:1642]
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Kickstarter Game

My first kickstarter game was Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia, but I bought the retail version after playing the kickstarter version. I ended up trading it for Tigris & Euphrates because I was less enamored with the retail version, and I am not a huge fan of neither dice, nor worker placement games.

It did, however, spur me on to back a kickstarter game. So far, I successfully have backed two, Historia and March of the Ants. I have only played each game twice, so far, so I am not sure they are must have games, but I want to play them more, and, so far, March of the Ants is narrowly beating out Historia as the game I would take to a deserted island.
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23. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:518]
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Negotiation Mechanic Game

This game may make us all hate each other on the island, but it would at least give us something to do for entire days at a time. This is a game that I always want to play, but almost never actually play as it needs 6 players and 6 hours to be played in its best version.

I like the games with the wooden pieces
rather than the chits.
I also prefer the game that needs to be six-player, rather than the version that can be played two-player.
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24. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:43]
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Simultaneous Actions, Quick Many Players Mechanics Game
This game has seemed to lose the love it held. At one time, it was beloved, but many are finding it just doesn't make the table as much as it used to. However, whenever I have a bigger group and we want a nice, simple game to play, this is the one. It plays fast with large numbers and is a fun game.

I was tempted to buy expansions for this game, but with the limited plays it gets due to its relegation to the niche of large groups I don't think it is worth it?
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25. Board Game: Thurn and Taxis [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:348]
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Route Completion Mechanic Game

There are several games better than this one in this genre, I just don't own them as I don't really enjoy them as much as other games. This game I have owned for a while now and it sees fairly frequent play whenever a game like this is wanted. It does the trick, is easy to teach, and relatively fun. Not huge praise. This was a hard pick, as it meant a number of other games were left off the list, but it was in a genre of its own and the others had a more wanted game.
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