Mattias' top Competitive Games
Mattias Elfström
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In my view the BGG ratings for games fail to give a fair reflection of how good a game is. Part of the reason for this is that many games are not directly comparable since they cater to different gaming interests. How can you, for example, compare Love Letter to Advanced Squad Leader on the same scale?

I would prefer game ratings to be divided into categories so that games are more comparable. Some games may even belong to several categories.

Competitive Games: These games can be played as a competition and reward strategy and skill. Competitive Games are well balanced and provide a level field, even if starting positions or abilities are asymmetrical.

Multiplayer Games: Multiplayer Games allow for lots of players. In many cases the game gets better as more players are added. The winner of a Multiplayer Game should be decided by how good the player is at making deals, manipulating his opponents or outmanoeuvring them. Player interaction should be high. Multiplayer Games need not have perfect balance. It might even be considered a challenge to play an inferior position in such a game.

Wargames: Wargames deal with historical (or believable) situations of conflict. The game should have a simulation aspect and provide logical outcomes. The winner of the game should be the player with the better strategy. Playing time varies greatly and downtime may be long or short. Wargames are well balanced, but have varying starting positions and can be asymmetrical.

Experience Games: These games are almost always multiplayer. Who wins an Experience Game is less interesting compared to how fun it is to play the game. Experience Games have great themes and may in many cases take fairly long to play (long playing time being an asset in these cases). These games also tell a story that will live on beyond the gaming session and be retold over and over by the participants. Experience Games need not have perfect balance. It might even be considered a challenge to play an inferior position in such a game.

Two Player Games: Two Player Games emphasise game mechanics. Who wins a Two Player Game should be decided by who is the better player and who is capable of the better strategy. Two Player Games should be well balanced to allow a tight and exciting game.

Cube Pusher Games: Cube Pusher Games have ingenious mechanics and often invite competitive play, but they are low on direct player vs player interaction. Many of them can be thought of as ”multiplayer solitaire”, where all players just try to maximize their score irrespective of the moves of the other players. The theme of a Cube Pusher Game can feel ”pasted on” and seldom has any real influence on the game mechanics.

My top games of the different categories all have their own geek list:
- Competitive Games (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/190487/mattias-top-compet...)
- Multiplayer Games (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/2537/mattias-top-multipla...)
- Wargames (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/190519/mattias-top-wargam...)
- Experience Games (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/190418/mattias-top-experi...)
- Two Player Games (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/2489/mattias-top-two-play...)
- Cube Pusher Games (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/218102/mattias-top-cube-p...)
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1. Board Game: Advanced Squad Leader [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:206] [Average Rating:7.96 Unranked]
Mattias Elfström
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Description: Based on the classic Squad Leader, Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) is without competition the greatest game ever made. It is, contrary to what some may believe, quite simple to learn and play and is infinitely replayable. I will keep returning to this game forever. The game consists of various modules covering all nationalities and locations of WWII. Of particular note is the Red Barricades module with its historical maps and great campaign game.

Rules: The rules were very well structured in the first edition of ASL. Parts of the rules are admittedly complex, but depending on which scenario is being played not all rules are always in effect. The current second edition of the rules are a bit less clear in some regards.

Tempo: The game plays quickly and there is a lot to engage both the active and inactive player.

Components: The ASL components are somewhat dated, but very functional.

Winning: The best player will usually win the game, but as in real combat luck plays its part.

This game is also on my Top Competitive, Wargames and Two Player Games lists.

Check out my Complete Advanced Squad Leader core module list at http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/2809

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2. Board Game: Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:279]
Mattias Elfström
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Description: One of the best modern games in all categories, Spartacus is based around the great TV-series. The game provides cutthroat interaction between the players and is often decided by the thinnest of margins. Both expansions are great add ons. The first expansion adds many cards and opens the game for up to six players, which is very good in this case. The second expansion adds new cards and a seventh player.

Rules: The rules are clear and easy to learn from the provided manual.

Tempo: Playing time is adjustable, but the best experience is to be had when the complete game is played. Downtime is at a minimum, since player moves are very short and interactive.

Components: Components are state of the art and the photos from the series serve to carry the theme.

Winning: The game rewards negotiating and good strategy and is most often decided by skill.

This game is on my Top Competitive, Multiplayer and Experience Games lists.
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3. Board Game: Mega Civilization [Average Rating:8.27 Overall Rank:827]
Mattias Elfström
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4. Board Game: Advanced Civilization [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.02 Unranked]
Mattias Elfström
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Advanced Civilization is a lot of fun for a large group of players. I have probably played this more than most games in my collection.

Advanced Civilization was sold as an expansion to the classic Civilization. ACiv tweaks a few rules making the game a little more streamlined and forgiving, while adding a few more paths to victory.

The game is best with a large number of players and will take a long day to play through.

Components are of high quality and very well designed to support the brilliant game mechanics. The trading cards may wear out over time since they are handled intensely.

Good strategy and an ability to make deals will carry the day and luck plays a very minor role.

This game is also on my Top Multiplayer Games list.
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5. Board Game: Storm over Arnhem [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:1570]
Mattias Elfström
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This is a great competition between two players. It is the game that introduces area movement and interactive impulse turns to wargames.

The game plays quickly and there is almost no downtime.

Components are great and the nice map is an accurate depiction of the real battlefield.

The best strategy will usually win the game and luck plays a very minor part.

This game is also on my Top Wargames and top Two Player Games lists.
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6. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:17]
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Description: This is a great "euro game" with lots of strategy and a minimum of luck. It is the archetypical worker placement game where player interaction is not very high and deal making almost non existent. The Farmers of the Moor expansion makes the game even greater.

Rules: The rules are fairly straight forward, but the rulebook may not be the best vehicle for learning how to play.

Tempo: The game plays quickly and there is almost no downtime even with the maximum player count.

Components: The components are great (even if some printings of the game doesn't contain the cute "animeeples") with brilliant illustrations.

Winning: The best strategy will usually win the game with a minimum of luck from card draws.

This game is on my Top Competitive, and Cube Pusher Games list.
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7. Board Game: 1830: Railways & Robber Barons [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:167] [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
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8. Board Game: Florenza [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:1152]
Mattias Elfström
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9. Board Game: War of the Ring (Second Edition) [Average Rating:8.38 Overall Rank:14]
Mattias Elfström
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This is a great game for two players that takes the basic principles from the classic SPI game War of the Ring and turns them into a highly playable game.

The game may run for the better part of a day, but is very exciting and thematic.

The components are great (even if the 1st ed original map was a little small and had some easily overlooked symbols).

This game is also on my Top Competitive, Wargames, Experience and Two Player Games lists.
 
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10. Board Game: Letters from Whitechapel [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:183]
Mattias Elfström
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Great deduction game with tight mechanics and beautiful but scary graphics. Might be best with fewer than the maximum number of players though.
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11. Board Game: John Company [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:1694]
Mattias Elfström
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Description: This is a very interesting negotiation game with a solid theme. It was partly inspired by Republic of Rome and shows some similarities.

Rules: The rules are mostly clear, but have some ambiguities and omissions that break the game unless you have access to the FAQ and the rules discussions on BGG.

Tempo: The game plays in a high tempo and has a lot of interwoven mechanics that players need to keep a close eye on.

Components: Components are nice, but a little too small in some cases.

Winning: The player that best combines negotiation with a clever manipulation of the mechanics will prevail.

This game is also on my Top Multiplayer Games list.
 
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12. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:16]
Mattias Elfström
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13. Board Game: Civilization [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:227] [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked]
Mattias Elfström
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14. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:209]
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15. Board Game: Lewis & Clark [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:135]
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16. Board Game: Britannia [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:542]
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17. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:119]
Mattias Elfström
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18. Board Game: Quartermaster General [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:695]
Mattias Elfström
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Description: This is a very original game that provides an interesting competition between two to six players. Two nice expansions provide even more varied play without sacrificing the elegance of the base game.

Rules: The rules are deceptively simple and written in a concise way.

Tempo: The game plays quickly and there is almost no downtime, even with the full complement of six players.

Components: Components are high quality and the artwork is nice. There is however a big problem in that for what seems to be for reasons of "political correctness" some of the historical flags have been replaced by fantasy versions. This detracts greatly from a game that otherwise provides an accurate historical context.

Winning: The best strategy will usually win the game and luck plays a minor part.

This game is on my Top Competitive and Wargames lists.
 
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19. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:4]
Mattias Elfström
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20. Board Game: Age of Conan: The Strategy Board Game [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1343]
Mattias Elfström
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Conan is a great thematic multiplayer game that deviates a little from what usually makes a multiplayer game great. It doesn't involve a lot of negotiating, but rather has a lot of mechanics that forces players to interact.

The components are great with nice miniatures, thick cardboard and high quality cards.

The winner will be the player who lays down the right strategy. Some luck may also be involved when the dice decide various conflicts.

This game is also on the Top Multiplayer Games list.
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