Yay! It's another 'My Top 50' board games Geeklist! (2015 edition)
Chris Marling
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I realise every man and his meeple posts their top 'x' games here in Geek lists - so why should you care about mine?

Still no reason

The idea is to put my preferences out there for people to see, in case they read my reviews (Four-sided Game Reviews) and wonder what kind of standpoint I'm coming from. This simply seems like the best format for that.

I've done the first 20 in order, then grouped the rest in chunks of 10. I could also easily have made this a top 200 - meaning the games in the bottom bracket here are still some of the best I've played (out of hundreds). Plays are 'real life' only, so do not include online or app plays.

Anyway, if you do have a read and think of things you'd think I like, let me know! My better half will hate you, but I'm always looking for new games!

Originally published on my board game blog: http://goplaylisten.com/games/my-top-50-board-and-card-games...

Last year's list here:

BGG: Yay! It's another 'My Top 50' board games Geeklist!
Blog: http://goplaylisten.com/games/my-top-50-board-and-card-games...
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1. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:50]
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No. 1
(last year: 1)

While my plays of this have dropped dramatically after I stopped attending my old regular midweek group, it still sits comfortably at the top of the tree. You may need to be tied to a chair and forced to play 10 games before you really 'get' it, but it is absolutely worth it. (Plays: 245)
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2. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.24 Overall Rank:8]
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No. 2
(last year: 3)

I have played some good medium/heavy euros over the past year, but none of them have come close to Terra Mystica. Pasted-on theme aside, this is a masterful mix of strategy and tactics that's chock full of meaningful decisions from start to finish. (Plays: 10)
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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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No. 3
(last year: 4)

Thanks to its many maps adding just enough variety and rules tweaks to keep things interesting, Ticket to Ride remains my gateway game of choice. Few games can be so easily taught, then played while chatting, but still give you the feeling you've been doing something competitive. (Plays: 102)
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4. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:134]
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No. 4
(last year: 2)

Like Race, my plays of Ra have dropped off since leaving my midweek group and, thanks to not feeling quite so satisfying in plays since, it has dropped a couple of positions. Three-player is its sweet spot for me and I just don't enjoy it as much with four or five – which is how I've played most recently. But it's still the king of auction games for me. (Plays: 50)
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5. Board Game: Deus [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:303]
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No. 5
(new entry)

The stand-out game of 2014 for me, by miles. This is in a similar place for me as Race for the Galaxy, being tactical and card driven, playing out in under an hour and having several routes to victory. But it has a much lower barrier to entry, meaning it is easier to get to the table. (Plays: 10)
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6. Board Game: Endeavor [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:202]
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No. 6
(last year: 20s)

A big jump for Endeavor, which had been a little forgotten in 2013. I've had three hugely enjoyable games since and it is firmly back in the rotation, being enjoyed by everyone in my weekend group. It always feels too short, but that in itself adds to the excitement. And it can be really cut-throat. (Plays: 17)
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7. Board Game: The Downfall of Pompeii [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:445]
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No. 7
(last year: 6)

Gateway game number two – and the only thing holding it back from more plays is the fact it's limited to four players (I have seen variants for 5 and even 6 - I will try them before next year's list!). The switch in game style half way is genius and works brilliantly, moving from placement to mayhem and murder on one fun little step. (Plays: 25)
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8. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:12]
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No. 8
(last year: 20s)

Castles has risen to the position of number one Feld design on the list by dint of being one of Zoe’s favourites (and a game I like to play online). It plays pretty fast for its weight, while two-player it feels very tactical as well as strategic. Yes it's a bit of a point salad but I don't see that as a negative, as importantly it always feels like the best player on the day won. (Plays: 7)
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9. Board Game: Copycat [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:1172]
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No. 9
(last year: 8)

While not the most popular game on this list, I enjoy the way Copycat uses mechanisms I love from other great games and really makes them compliment each other. It plays fast but also thinky, having a great mix of luck, strategy and tactics that I keep wanting to come back to - although would probably get samey if played too often. (Plays: 15)
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10. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:38]
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No. 10
(last year: 5)

While Castles and Endeavor have jumped up the table due to working in my regular groups, Tzolk'in has fallen a little for the opposite reason: some find it frustrating and it can be very punishing score-wise if you play poorly. But I'm still a fan, so it's staying in the top 10. (Plays: 12)
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11. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:27]
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No. 11
(last year: 9)

While I still really enjoy my plays of Through the Ages, I find the power of military in the game a little frustrating at times – but not as much as my inability to be any good at it! Still my favourite three-plus hour game, but there is definitely room in my life now for its successor. (plays: 13)
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12. Board Game: Snowdonia [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:346]
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No. 12
(last year: 14)

While a few euros tumbled a few places due to tough competition (see below), Snowdonia has held its own thanks to the variety of tracks and its simply ingenious 'game plays you' mechanisms. The weather constantly ruins my life, players steal MY actions and I love it every stinking time. (Plays: 23)
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13. Board Game: Pizza Box Football [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:2713]
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No. 13
(last year: 20)

I've had three more plays since last year’s top 50 – one an epic, crushing defeat, one a close defeat after an oh-so-close onside kick failure and the last a ding-dong 26-20 victory. Each game was epic in its own way and no matter how stupid this game may be, it never fails to deliver. (Plays: 10)
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14. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:4]
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No. 14
(last year: 16)

I now own my own copy of this classic, but sadly it has only been played once – must try harder. I'm hoping I've found a regular playing partner, but he wasn't 100 per cent convinced after our first play. But as this is a proper cold war card play classic, I'm sure someone else will step in if need be. (Plays: 3)
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15. Board Game: Bora Bora [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:154]
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No. 15
(new entry)

I skipped this on its release as it looked like a day-glo dog's breakfast, but one play and I was hooked. The dice mechanism is worth the entrance fee alone, but the agonising decisions of which bonuses to give up on as you move forward really makes it shine. I still haven't got around to playing Feld's 2014 releases - why do I do this to myself? (Plays: 6)
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16. Board Game: Notre Dame [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:218]
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No. 16
(last year: 11)

Despite being relegated from first to third Feld, I still love me some Notre Dame. Card drafting is a mechanism I love in theory but in truth this is the only game I own that really uses it well. And it plays fast, every decision counts, and you've never got quite enough to do exactly what you want. And what's all the fuss about the rats? They're hardly a big deal. (Plays: 15)
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17. Board Game: Navegador [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:164]
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No. 17
(new entry)

I'm not sure quite where Navegador will end up in the long run, but right now it is my favourite Mac Gerdts game. It's super crunchy and right now I'm enjoying that – but the jury is out on whether it will become too dry or just right. I love that rondel, but it clearly hates me! (Plays: 4)
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18. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:631]
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No. 18
(last year: 17)

The 80s are still being represented in the top 20 by this evergreen push-your-luck classic. Zoe thrashed me in our last two games but I still thoroughly enjoyed myself. I'm not sure hat says more about me or the game, but either way I'm still smitten by this daft family game. (Plays: 14)
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19. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:22]
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No. 19
(last year: 7)

Gerdts’ momentary meander away from his beloved rondel is still a game I love, but it isn't drawing me to the table quite as much as it was a year ago. I still enjoy the tricky decisions you are forced into each round, but it may be a little too dry and a little too solitary to keep a place in my top 20. (Plays: 7)
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20. Board Game: The Manhattan Project [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:216]
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No. 20
(last year: 13)

The great integration of theme and the clever, edgy worker placement have kept this in the top 20 despite me only getting it to the table once since last year's top 50. And people like it too – what have I been playing at? A game that may well bounce back up in next year's list. (Plays: 11)
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21. Board Game: Acquire [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:209]
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21-30 (alphabetical)

Acquire A steady hold for Acquire, which I still can’t believe is as old as it is and remains the granddaddy of the list. Luck, clever play and speculation all play their part in this light economic gateway game.

Archaeology: The Card Game A big two-division jump for this, which didn't look likely a week or two ago as it hadn't been played for ages. But a few funny, swingy games have reminded me just how good, light and fun it is.

Ingenious A drop from 12 for Ingenious, largely due to a lack of plays over the year. Still a favourite for sure and one that may head back up the chart if I find others who like to play more regularly.

Maori A one division jump for Maori, whose tile-laying charms continue to entice me despite my regular ineptitude at the game. Simple to teach, tough to master – well, it is for me anyway! The fourth and final Feld on the list.

Merchant of Venus A big drop from 10 for Merchant of Venus, again due to lack of plays. I love it, but not enough to set it up! I can't help thinking a shiny new version may break that but I can't justify pulling the trigger…

Port Royal A hold for Port Royal, although it is teetering on a division drop. I still enjoy it but almost feel as if I'm waiting for a slightly better push-your-luck card game to come along. Right now, Archaeology (above) has edged ahead of it.

Reiner Knizia's Decathlon A small jump for this free Knizia game as I now tend to enjoy it a little more than Pickomino (below) if Zoe and me decide to go head to over the dice tower. I still mostly lose, but hey – that's dice.

The Rose King A small drop from 15 for this fascinating two-player abstract, but nothing really to worry about. The thrill has gone a little now that I've finally found my own copy, but I still get a kick out of it when I get to play.

The Boss The Boss is hanging in there, no problem. I've played with several groups over recent months and everyone has been that great blend of initially baffled, then delighted, then crushed once more as they get their head around it.

NEW Yspahan Nine years old, outside the top 250 and I've never seen it on the table anywhere else – but it has captured the imagination with everyone I've played with so far. A very clever design and I look forward to exploring it more.
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22. Board Game: Alhambra [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:397]
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31-40 (alphabetical)

Alhambra The expansions are definitely keeping Alhambra fresh for me, pushing it up a division by giving a new lease of life to this classic tile buying/laying game. I'm not sure the original on its own would still be in the top 50.

Brass: Lancashire A drop in division for Brass, simply due to lack of plays. My opinion of the game hasn't changed: its one of the best heavy euro games out there. But the fact I haven't played it for months has to say something. It may well rebound up.

CV This is another title that's expansion has helped it up a division, but its charm is still very much in tact either way. The Yahtzee style dice mechanism fits the theme really well, while the cards just pile on the charm.

Kingdom Builder The Android app of Kingdom Builder has helped it hold its own, as I haven’t played the 'real' version much. I'm still terrible at this clever and quick area scoring game, but love it all the same – even without expansions.

Macao I think Macao has largely dropped a division under the pure weight of Felds and other good euros. My opinion of it hasn't dropped – its more that games are just slotting in above it in the medium weight category.

NEW Manhattan With three games under my belt now, this is now in my 'must buy' category. Fast, nasty, light on rules and deeply table talk inducing, it succeeds despite looking bloody awful and having no theme. A true classic.

Manila Manilla holds its own thanks to no other game I've played so perfectly blending the betting and racing genres. Lots of luck, sure, but also lots of interesting decisions to make each round.

NEW Oltre Mare This turned out to be a great acquisition, taking the ideas of Bohnanza and adding more strategy, some nastiness and more real thinking to the mix. Must… stop… thinking… about upgrading my perfectly adequate copy.

Pickomino Another hold, this time for one of Zoe's favourites. We don't play as often as we used to, and the chicken gods still hate me, but you can’t beat the look on Zoe's face as she crushes me again and again. And again.

Power Grid Oddly this has gone up a division despite very few plays over the last year – where Brass has fallen for the same reason. I think they've found their level – I was just newer to Brass this time last year and a little jaded on Power Grid.
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23. Board Game: Ancient Terrible Things [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:1414]
Chris Marling
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41-50 (alphabetical)

NEW Ancient Terrible Things Despite being a year older I'd still reach for CV before ATT, hence its lowly position here. But I do very much enjoy it and look forward to exploring its dice-rolling Cthulhu goodness more throughout the year.

Basari: Das Kartenspiel Basari has dropped two divisions largely due to a few lack lustre games, which have seen some of my friends fail to get into it at all. I'm still keen, but everyone needs to be on board to make this negotiation card game truly shine.

NEW El Gaucho Six months ago this clever dice/set collection game may have made the top 20, but multiple plays have become a trickle. Played out? Maybe, but its still in the 50 because I think a break will be enough to reinvigorate it for me.

NEW Johari While I love Johari's mix of gem collection, action cards and turn order manipulation others have been less enthusiastic. I would rate this game higher if I could find some enthusiasm for it in others when we play!

Nefertiti This unique and clever bidding game has dropped down a division purely due to a lack of really fun plays. The game isn't at its best with two and, like Basari, I've struggled to get it played with the right group of people.

Puerto Rico The game that just beat the drop. While I still very much enjoy a play it rarely rises to the top of the pile now and sometimes plays out very poorly, even with people who enjoy the game. A classic, but for me a slowly fading one.

Stone Age Anther 'I love it but others fail to share my enthusiasm' game. I like the random element and big points of this classic worker placement game, but it either baffles or bores most of my gaming pals. A big drop from number 19.

Thebes Another big drop, this time from 18, but for more gamerly reasons. I still enjoy a game of Thebes, but you can't escape the fact that despite it being thematic there is far too much randomness for it to be a 'good' game. But I like it…

Tikal A two division drop for this great area control game, largely because it feels too long – while the 'mini' version we tried was too short. I'll always enjoy it in the right mood, but not often enough for it to stay in my own top 30.

Uruk: Wiege der Zivilisation Another falling from the top 30, Uruk will always be in my collection but is fading a little because of its lack of variety; something that will never be fixed now that the inferior reprint has come along. Still great, but now just occasionally played.
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24. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:238] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Chris Marling
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Cambridge
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Out of the 50

Arkham Horror This was replaced by Dead of Winter earlier in the year – but after a few plays of that I came to the conclusion that Ameritrash games like this simply aren't for me: too fiddly, too luck dependent, too ripe for a poor experience.

Blueprints A good game for sure, but it very rarely hits the table – making it hard to justify leaving in my top 50. I have no intention of getting rid of it though.

Bruges This burned brightly for a short time, but in the end the level of luck/frustration just outweighed the fun factor for me and it disappeared from my wishlist. I'd play it more, but don't want to get my own copy.

Cards Against Humanity Another game I'm glad I own, and will play when the time is right, but that isn't very often and in truth its just bunch of rude words on some cards with a borrowed game mechanic. Top fun, but not top 50 material.

Escape From Atlantis This is another game I'll play any time, and am happy with my £1 charity shop copy, but I need to play with some variants to really find its sweet spot. I like it, but it isn't in the same league as Pompeii, for example.

Hamburgum Again, still a great game – but Navegador simply replaced it in this top 50 as the Gerdts rondel game of choice. Having more than one on the list felt like overkill, especially with Concordia on here too.

Le Havre I played this at the weekend, enjoyed it again, and even won – but it has fallen from my wishlist. For me the games goes just a little too long to fall in love with – the decision space gets a little too big, it becomes work, and I struggle.

Rialto Having had an enjoyable game of this over the weekend it almost snuck back onto the list, but like Blueprints I just find it a little hard to love. Fun on occasion, and very clever, but not quite a classic.

Revolution! Like Blueprints, a lack of plays has seen this fall below the 50. It's a very silly, luck riddled game that I enjoy immensely despite its flaws but it needs three to play and just never seems to be the best choice available.
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25. Board Game: Entdecker [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:2010]
Chris Marling
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Banging on the door

Entdecker, Caverna, Age of Empires III; Africana and Lords of Vegas (both now owned); Sentinels of the Multiverse and Amun Re all impressed me after a single play. They are all games I look forward to exploring more – hopefully sooner rather than later.

Roll for the Galaxy has been fun so far but the jury is definitely out. Maybe its too close to Race to make a big enough impression yet, but it has potential. Red7 I have enjoyed too, and own, but need to play more before deciding just how much I like it. But until next year… I’m out.
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