Desert Island Games
Mac Kern
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Florence
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I like to celebrate BGG-related accomplishments, and I recently logged my 1400th play, so I figured I'd entertain myself with a celebratory geeklist. My collection currently sits at 115 games+expansions. If, for some reason, I was forced to narrow it down to 15 items, with no hope of ever adding to the collection again or getting to play games from anyone else's collection, these are the games and expansions I'd hang onto. We're assuming I have at least one reliable opponent in this scenario.

I'll take a quick moment to mention that X-Wing and Android: Netrunner are both in my personal top 10, but neither of them make this list due to the fact that both (in my opinion) require a much deeper investment than the core set to really get the most out of them. On the other hand, I own at least 4 Knizia auction games; not to mention the other auction games in my collection. I love most of them dearly, but I don't think I could justify including more than one or two auction games in such a small list. All this is to say that this isn't just my 15 favorite games, but rather it's a challenge to pick 15 great games from my collection with very little overlap in terms of gameplay. Finally, I'll note that these aren't in any particular order. Without further adieu...


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1. Board Game: Summoner Wars: Master Set [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:144] [Average Rating:7.58 Unranked]
Mac Kern
United States
Florence
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This one was an easy choice. 2 is my favorite player count for most games, and I love 2p only games. I'd no doubt miss the one-on-one tactical battles of X-Wing and Netrunner, I'd be glad to have Summoner Wars as a replacement. This game possesses a lot of my favorite qualities: it plays quick, the rules are simple, and the strategic aspect is reasonably deep. Additionally, the 6 included factions all play pretty differently, which provides a lot of replayability. I haven't checked out the Alliances set yet, but I suspect that could replace the original Master Set on this list, if only due to the higher number of included decks.
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2. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:17]
Mac Kern
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Florence
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I've played Agricola over 20 times now and have barely scratched the surface of the I and K decks. My favorite worker placement; plays well enough at 2 and scales well to 3 or 4. I've only played with 5 once, but I didn't hate it. I think this game is well-balanced and has a high replayability factor, making it an easy inclusion. And no, I haven't played Caverna yet.
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3. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:12]
Mac Kern
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Florence
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Carcassonne and Dominion may have been my first gaming loves, but things got serious when I was introduced to Castles of Burgundy. While it's not my favorite Feld title, it's certainly his most popular work, and for good reason. I definitely prefer Castles as a 2p game, but it works well at higher player counts, too. Additionally, the pace of the game sits right in my sweet spot.
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4. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:71]
Mac Kern
United States
Florence
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Aside from X-Wing, this is my favorite game. I actually think this a much better-designed game than X-Wing, but I don't have quite as much fun playing it. Still, I view this as Feld's masterpiece, and I wish I played it a bit more frequently. If I got rid of most of my other games, I probably would! The mancala aspect makes you feel like a genius when you plan ahead a few turns, and if you screw it up, you can't blame anyone except for yourself. Trajan is not an easy game, but it's another that has a great pace and just enough going on to provide a deep experience that's not too overwhelming.

As a side note, if you're a fan of this game and haven't checked out Aquasphere yet, you need to do that. I've only played it twice so far, but I'm very impressed with it so far. It's different enough from Trajan to justify owning both, but I think they'll really appeal to the same type of gamer.
 
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5. Board Game: Sentinels of the Multiverse [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:272] [Average Rating:7.30 Unranked]
Mac Kern
United States
Florence
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I'm not a huge fan of co-ops, but this one is an exception. Yes, it's simple. Yes, the upkeep is tedious. But it's a great game that takes seconds to explain, and there's a lot of possible hero/villian/environment combinations. In a desert island scenario, I'd want at least one game that could be played solo (Agricola doesn't really count), and I suppose a co-op wouldn't hurt. Sentinels fits the bill.
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6. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:294]
Mac Kern
United States
Florence
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Lost Cities is maybe the only game I'd never turn down a chance to play. It's so quick, it's hard to get dejected about losing. There's a lot of luck involved, but the game is plenty strategic enough to hold my interest. I don't play in person often, but I've always enjoyed the sessions where I have, and I play quite a bit on my phone. I definitely wouldn't be able to part ways with this one.
 
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7. Board Game: Splendor [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:113]
Mac Kern
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Florence
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I've only played this one a few times, but my attitude towards the game is pretty positive. It's easy to teach, but deep enough that it's not boring. Additionally, luck plays a small enough role that it's hard to blame losses on anything but your own decisions. I am more than willing to admit that I'd like this game far less if the included chips weren't so nice, and maybe that would no longer be a priority on a desert island, but I've already made my decision, so you can't dissuade me.
 
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8. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:226]
Mac Kern
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Florence
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Modern Art is by no means a perfect game, but it comes close enough. At times, I've toyed with the idea that I might like Medici a bit more, but this title is much more exciting and provides quite a bit more variety. Modern Art is more lough-out-loud fun to me than any party game could hope to be. Additionally, and I may be crazy, but I think the theme shines through in this game more than almost any other game in my collection. The cards are ugly (I know, I know, it's intentional) and the components are terrible, but Modern Art is one of the best games in my collection.
 
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9. Board Game: Ca$h 'n Guns (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:508]
Mac Kern
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Florence
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I guess this is my party game of choice. I don't love it, but I'll take it over The Resistance or Werewolf any day. I like Dixit, but I think this has more replayability than the Dixit base set. I dont imagine I'll suggest this game more than 2 or 3 times over the next year or two, but when it gets brought out, it more than serves its purpose.
 
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10. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Mac Kern
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Florence
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As far as gateway games go, Carcassonne was my first and is still among my favorites. I think Dominion is a far better game, but I imagine I'd tire of the base game too quickly to include it on this list. Granted, I almost exclusively play Carcassonne with at least one expansion, but I can tolerate playing without any, making this a good quick, light choice that can accommodate a fairly broad range of players.
 
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11. Board Game: La Isla [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:730]
Mac Kern
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Florence
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I'm not sure how much staying power La Isla has, but I'm in love with Feld at the moment, and I don't think this title is getting the attention that it deserves. It's much more tactical than strategic, and luck is more prevalent than in Castles of Burgundy or Trajan, but I'm glad to have La Isla in my collection and don't see that changing anytime soon.
 
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12. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:70]
Mac Kern
United States
Florence
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My inclusion of this game is rather hopeful. I hardly ever play T&E, but when I was first getting into board games, I played on my phone all the time. I do plan to introduce this classic to my gaming group soon, and hopefully that will lead to more regular play. I think Tigris benefits a lot from repeated plays; the rules aren't too hard to grasp, but the strategy isn't readily apparent.

One of my favorite things about this game is how quickly it plays with 4.
 
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13. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:309]
Mac Kern
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Florence
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I've played Taj Mahal quite a bit less than most of the games on this list, but it's definitely left a pretty solid impression on me. It's an auction game with very atypical auctions, and the area control aspect is a neat inclusion. I recently read that Taj Mahal did points salad before Feld did points salad, and I can't disagree. Despite the fact that it doesn't play 2, I'd be happy to take this to a desert island.
 
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14. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:29]
Mac Kern
United States
Florence
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Okay, yes, this is another auction game. But Power Grid isn't JUST an auction game. I like PG because the rules are pretty intuitive, but the strategy is as deep as you want it to be. It also handles high player counts really well. I recently purchased the robots expansion, but haven't gotten a chance to try it out yet. I imagine it'll help get Power Grid to the table more often, as I typically play 2p games.
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15. Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish! [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:676]
Mac Kern
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Florence
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This was a tough choice, because I know at least 4 other people that have this game. Still, the rules state that I can't use that as a reason not to include a game on my list, so here we are. Played 2p, HTMF is a vicious pure strategy game, played with 3 or 4, it's an inoffensive game that's still reasonable deep and only takes a few minutes to play. I prefer this to Hive, but I definitely want to look into The Duke, as I've heard great things.
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