Top 50 of My Collection
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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Pretty standard fare. I've been compiling this list of my favorite 50 games of my collection for the past few months, adding my thoughts to each game and even reconsidering the order at times. This list is in order from #50 (least favorite) to #1 (greatest game to walk the face of the earth). Hopefully I format this correctly.

These are just my opinions, but I would love to see what you all think. I think it will become clear what my tastes are as you go through the list, especially towards the end.

Happy gaming!
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1. Board Game: Bruges [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:199]
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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#50 - Bruges is a weird game. It's Euro, through-and-through, but the theme actually brings the players into a weird world of interesting people with strange abilities. This world is on the brink of destruction in some way and you've got to be aware of the impending doom that may come via rats, or fires, or floods. All the while, you're building homes, collecting workers, building a canal, and trying to move up the political ladder.

That seems like a lot. But Bruges manages these things with swift card play and simple progression. That's not to say that there aren't difficult decisions, but only to say that the game plays in a medium-light way. You'll probably struggle in some ways to get the points you desire, but you'll get points, nonetheless, in ways you may not have anticipated. It's a game with several elements that work in tandem, almost like a point salad (in typical Feld fashion), but isn't really raining the points down on your head like an avalanche.

I like Bruges as a nice change of pace. With good artwork and engaging gameplay, it sets itself apart from Feld's other games because of its threat of disaster and the theme's integration.
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2. Board Game: The Resistance: Avalon [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:86]
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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#49 - Oh, the nights in college when we used to play Mafia. Those were the good old days. First round, everybody goes to sleep, Mafia wake up, choose somebody to kill, go to sleep, everybody wake up, guess what, you died. That last sentence was so grammatically incorrect, but who cares? It sums up a lot of Mafia games. But, oh, when you actually lasted a few round in Mafia, you'd have the time of your life trying to figure out who the bad guys were or attempting to cover your tracks with insane bouts of logical arguing. Meanwhile the dead folks are sitting on the sidelines, wishing they were in the game.

The Resistance showed up on the scene and changed all of that. No longer would there be player elimination, but instead we were looking at a game of tug-of-war. A game where people weren't eliminated from everything, but may be left out of the missions, either by the spies or by the good guys. Either way, they were still in the thick of it, trying to convince the group that they are, in fact, trying to help complete the missions. All of the juicy bits of Mafia were still intact, without all of the messy parts.

Avalon is my Resistance of choice, because it brings a Merlin into play. Merlin is an interesting hidden role, as he knows the identities of the spies. Merlin can drop clues and be helpful, but don't try to be too helpful, because if the spies lose the mission game, they can guess who Merlin was. If they're right, they win the game! Way to go, Merlin.
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3. Board Game: Splendor [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:118]
Adam Kenney
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#48 - I'm starting to really enjoy these semi-abstract games of choices far more than I used to. They're just so nice to bring out and play with anybody and see those friends that were maybe intimidated by your other games start to melt a little bit and get into the game. Splendor is fantastic at this. The components go a long way towards making the game appealing to all kinds of players, as they are of the highest quality and the graphic design is just so streamlined and appealing.

But it is the actual gameplay that makes the difference here. In a way it feels almost too simple; almost like you've played this game before. It's really just a single mechanic of collection and payment. But it's the choices you make and when you make them that set this game apart from the crowd. It's an engine-building game without the stress of Analysis Paralysis, as the choices you desire to make are usually readily available within only a turn or two. And the game moves at a quick clip, so you're not sitting there waiting and waiting for your friend to make his or her decision. It's small choices that add up to large dividends. That's what makes it a perfect game for anybody.
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4. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:87] [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked]
Adam Kenney
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#47 - Star Realms is an interesting game. I've played a good deal of deck-building games (some are higher on this list), but none that move quite so fast as Star Realms. The harmony that you can create with your card selections is very rewarding when everything snaps into place and you face your opponent with a devastating attack. Or perhaps you create an impenetrable fortress of outposts that slowly chip away at your opponent's fleets. Then nice thing about Star Realms is that, for a small game that comes in a tiny box for a low price, you are getting a far deeper game than at first glance. Strategies will be born out of thin air, as you shape your empire in whatever way you choose.

The game is over far sooner than you'd expect, but you'll be just as ready to continue playing with a new match. You'll see that if you had only tweaked your strategy a little bit, you may have opened up your opponent in a way that wasn't available with the way you had played before. Or maybe you'll focus more energy on fleets that will increase your health. There are many tactics and all of them blend well with whatever your brain may want to try.

In comparing this to the recently released Cthulhu Realms, I'm a little torn. I really like the theme of CR better and I think that the cartoony art-style of CR matches the feel of gameplay a little better, but the iconography of SR is so much better and far less confusing. It's a toss-up in my book, and so I'm honoring the original at this spot on my list.
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5. Board Game: BANG! The Dice Game [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:470]
Adam Kenney
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#46 - I'm tempted to have this one lower on my list in favor of the more strategically deep, the more stunningly thematic, or the more brilliantly tight. However, "BANG! The Dice Game" is another one of these variations on Yahtzee that holds its own because of the unique qualities it brings to the table, reserving a special spot on the shelf.

In large part, I think that is due to the pace of play. Everyone is involved and has a stake in each roll. The hidden identities and motivations of each player, plus the nature of the special abilities make the game tense and simple to comprehend, perfect for non-gamers or introducing younger family members to the fold.

Arrows flying, dynamite lighting, bullets blazing, and beer chugging (root beer for the youngsters, of course) really make the theme pop. It's the relentless attacks and the unpredictability of the dice that sets it up and solidifies it as a strong game for almost any occasion.
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6. Board Game: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:292]
Adam Kenney
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#45 - If I'm honest, this game fluctuates like crazy for me. There are times where I think it's completely too much in terms of set up, dice rolls, and relying on the imagination. It can seem way too dependent on the patience and hope of its players, looking past the card-flipping mechanics and seeing something more. It's one of those games that I don't really look forward to playing.

But, then I play it. And I get into it. And I start to level my characters. And I get a new weapon. Or a new item. Or a new spell. I have a strange encounter at a pub or a festival or a temple or some caves. It begins to grow into something that is more than the sum of its parts.

While other adventure games rely on a fully immersive experience, with movement around a board or more spelled out campaign goals, Pathfinder finds a way to create that sort of atmosphere with the same basic setup every play. While this may make it suffer somewhat in the "wow factor", it doesn't actually lose much flavor due to the design. In fact, it actually takes on a slightly different feel towards theme, where almost anything can be explained with an imaginary depiction, as opposed to the walls and floors that playing on a board would supply. For that strange feat, it's fairly high on my list.
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7. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:137] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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#44 - This game is just like life. Being in the right place at the right time with the right meeple. While not a powerhouse of strategy, the choices in this game are very fun, very competitive, and the board will become a work of art by the time you're done with it.

Easy to teach, Carcassonne comes to life as you start to see the board take shape and see what strategies your friends may be taking. Depending on what they're trying to do, you'll have to elevate your game and modify your strategy, in hopes that you can counter their approach to subduing the progressively growing tile-board. While the game doesn't have much in terms of actual theme, it can be easy to slip into the roles of the different meeples that you are placing and giving more life to the game. What could easily be too abstract of an exercise is lifted to a place of enjoyment by the fun artwork and the whimsical nature of tile-laying. You feel as if you're creating this little world and inhabiting it with people that will be working in the cities and running the roads and farming the fields. Carcassonne plays to its simple strengths and is all the better for it.
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8. Board Game: Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ? [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:294]
Adam Kenney
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#43 - Well, I'm not sure I could teach this game. I'm not sure I fully understand it. However, I do know that the games in which I've stumbled my way to either terrible loss or coveted victory have been pulse pounding and stressful endeavors into politics, military conflict, and uncontrollable events.

After gaining a basic understanding of how to play Labyrinth, it quickly becomes apparent that this game is won or lost on a razor's edge. Every little decision seems to have adverse consequences or immediate repercussions. For those that don't quite keep up on current or recent events, the amount of historical information that Labyrinth is couched in is most impressive and indicative of the minds at GMT. There is simply so much to undertake for each side that it lends itself to the feeling of hopelessness in that region, a subtle but distinct effect.

That's not to say that playing Labyrinth is an entirely sobering and somber proceeding, with failure around each corner. In fact, there are many small victories that will be found throughout the game. These victories are enlivening and hard-fought. It's a remarkable time that we live in for there to be experiences like Labyrinth that go beyond the idea of a "game" and enter into the realms of art and history.
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9. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:127] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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#42 - One of those games that just screams "instant classic". I remember seeing it on the table of the game shop I would frequent when I lived in Seattle, being played consistently. Anybody can sink their teeth into this one and enjoy themselves.

While I find Ticket to Ride to maybe be a little too simple in execution, it gets serious points for being intuitive and easy to teach. There's really no reason not to own this game, since it's a bulls-eye for introducing new people to the hobby. The component quality is rock-solid and the pace of the game is a quick clip, giving just the right amount of time to plan out your next move before it's your turn again.

And, considering how straightforward the game is, it has a decent amount of freedom in strategy. Depending on how things are playing out, it may be best to just try for all of the six train routes, or maybe you're feeling cutthroat and just want to prevent other players from completing their routes. I've even seen a player do a mad grab for more route tickets at the end of the game, in order to hopefully have fulfilled them already. Which worked!

Ticket to Ride may seem like a bit of a relic at this point, but it's status as a go-to gateway game or simple competition isn't a question in my mind.
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10. Board Game: Spyfall [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:409] [Average Rating:7.06 Unranked]
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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#41 - Spyfall is the crowd-pleaser on this list. While not a full blown party game, Spyfall still accommodates up to eight players and is quite simple to teach and understand, especially after a few quick go-rounds. The central premise of the game, in which players ask each other questions and attempt to be vague, without being too vague, is brilliant and elicits many surprising forms of questioning.

Spyfall has been a huge hit with my friends, especially those that don't consider themselves very interested in board games. It makes them excited to play it and see if they can pull one over on their friends or spot the one friend who isn't quite giving the right answers. It also allows for hilarious moments of blind guessing that are instantly memorable when the spy is discovered for an answer that is so painfully not appropriate to the location. And when you are the spy and are asked a divisive question, only to take a risk with a gutsy answer, and see it pay off, the thrill is palpable.
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11. Board Game: Lewis & Clark [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:140]
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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#40 - One of the reasons why Lewis and Clark is on this list is because it brings friends to the table that would otherwise not be too interested in board games. The theme goes a tremendous way towards elevating the mechanics and even introducing some elements that twist the genre of worker placement a little bit.

While the race aspect can have a win/lose feel to it, there are some definite photo finishes that take place which makes the game feel very tight. The hand-building is a fun way of fine-tuning your crew as you race to avoid the trappings of lost time on your way down the trail. It can be very difficult to decide which actions to take, though, and whether or not building the engine that can take you to the end will actually slow you down in the long run. It's a game that is much heavier than it would seem at first glance, if only because the decisions are tough and there is a bit of a struggle to know what the best decision may be at any given time.

Lewis and Clark is a very well-crafted game with a unique puzzly feeling. At times it can feel like the game is too overstuffed with ideas to make upgrading your crew viable, especially when you're tasked with racing your opponents. After several plays, though, you'll start to understand the feeling of the game and take risks that may end up paying off later. I really enjoy Lewis and Clark for the different experience it provides, despite the slightly unwieldy feeling it offers.
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12. Board Game: Castles of Mad King Ludwig [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:82]
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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#39 - This finally hit the table with some friends and I. I had played it through by myself and wasn't sure about the fun factor. The castles were cool, the goals were great, the bonuses were a bonus (which is good and in line with word definitions), and the little bit of Master Builder tomfoolery was an interesting and noteworthy mechanic. However, it wasn't until I actually played it with friends that I saw how the game starts to come to life.

Like most games of this ilk, it is very easy to get caught up in the min-maxing and the focus on Victory Points over everything else, but you mustn't play this way - dear God, don't do that! This is a game that comes to life through the laughter that crazy castles provide. Do, please, think strategically about the points and what may lead you to victory, but don't let it blind you to the fact that you are linking a Queen's Bedroom to a Dungeon. Or the Servant's Quarters to the 9-Pin Alley. These castles create stories. Take a break when the Master Builder token comes back around and look at what everybody has built. Laugh at the ridiculous pairings or marvel at the luxurious Garden Castle your friend has made. It's in these moments that the game really shines.
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13. Board Game: Ca$h 'n Guns (Second Edition) [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:517]
Adam Kenney
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#38 - Truth be told, I played this game wrong the first time it hit the table. I was all excited for it. I had seen the Shut Up and Sit Down video review and thought the game looked exciting and unique and full of laughs. But when we sat down to play it, with my stupid misinterpretation of the rules, it went over like a sad trombone. Some of my friends consoled me, saying, "It was fun! I kind of liked it. It wasn't terrible. It was..."

Some months later, I decided to resurrect the game. Give it another shot. Look that single page of rules over again to make sure I wasn't playing it wrong. I was horrified to see that, yes, I had played it wrong. I played it with my family and we did what never really happens - we played it again! And again! My nieces loved it. My parents laughed and acted like tough guys from the movies. My dad singled me out and...killed me. It was fun!
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14. Board Game: Shadows of Brimstone: Swamps of Death [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:381] [Average Rating:8.09 Unranked]
Adam Kenney
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Washington
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#37 - Lovecraftian Western. Those two words - separately - are appealing and intriguing. Those two words - combined? Now you're speaking my language.

Beyond the execution of the theme, which is brilliantly and often hilariously done, Shadows of Brimstone offers players a gigantic play experience, unlike any other. The dungeon crawling is tweaked with a randomly generating cavern and the special currency is a risk/reward that can make incredible improvements to your equipment, but also turn you into a mutant freak, with terrible or fantastic consequences. Leveling your character brings awesome and unique attributes to an already unique avatar. The cast of characters is imaginative and full of nice surprises that suit the archetype rather than the preconceived notions.

Above all, this is a fantastic team experience, where each player will fill a certain role that becomes more and more their own. You'll be known for certain feats and events that happened with your character at some point. For instance, I am a resurrected gunslinger with a quick draw and a mutant tail that has a hand and can hold a gun. Each of these attributes has a story that all of my compatriots can explain and laugh or shake their heads about.

One knock against this otherwise legendary game is the amount of bookkeeping. There is just sooo much bookkeeping. Add to that the fact that you can buy items from the stores, but the items don't have corresponding cards and you've got a difficult pill for most board gamers to swallow. I think SoB could really use one massive User Experience overhaul that would make it into one of the greatest games of all time.
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15. Board Game: Android: Netrunner [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:42]
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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#36 - Netrunner is that holy grail of card games. The theme is extremely strong (so much so that the lingo is difficult to navigate at first), the gameplay is surprisingly fast, the options are deep, and the artwork is evocative of the setting. Not exactly a pick-up-and-play card game, Netrunner is a strategic battle between two players with asymmetric abilities and decks.

One player is the runner, hacking into servers to sabotage corporate agendas. They are doing everything it takes to create a high-functioning rig that will enable them to crack through any firewalls and survive long enough to have taken down a sketchy and uber-powerful company.

The other player is the wealthy corporation, specializing in gaining assets, launching programs, and establishing agendas. The corporation knows that there are hackers looking to take them down, so they must attempt to set up several servers in order to create revenue and progress in their tech. They can even set up traps and strong firewalls for unsuspecting runners.

The beauty of Netrunner is in its smooth card play and convincing lore. The feel is so grandiose and ingrained in the functions of the game that nothing feels shoehorned, but only natural considering the theme.
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16. Board Game: Gold West [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:688]
Adam Kenney
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#35 - Gold West is fresh in the freshest way possible. It's fresh because it has some of the nicest aesthetic design in board gaming. It's fresh because the mechanics are boiled down to their most basic forms, yet it is not left wanting in terms of depth. It's fresh because I could teach this game to any geek off the street. It's fresh because I did the math and the numbers add up. The freshness resides in the balance of the points systems. The freshness freshens up what could be a trudge through math, through point salad madness, through Analysis Paralysis Hell.

What we're left with, in my opinion, is a game so fresh that it is now THE gateway game for Euros. This game will lead the blind into the darkness of Terra Mystica, the swamps of Trajan, the lunacy of Castles of Burgundy, and the treacherous trade routes of (insert Euro game here) in the mystical Mediterranean.

I'm wholly impressed with Gold West and it will not be leaving my collection unless some crazy old prospector comes with his little mancala machine to loot it from the plains of my shelf.

It's also fresh because it's brand new.
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17. Board Game: A Few Acres of Snow [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:245]
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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#34 - The cover sold me on this. I love the artwork in this game and the feeling of the era that is so well-communicated just through the art design choices. The asymmetry of the British and the French and the variety of win conditions bring a depth to the proceedings that is palpable. A reimagined use of Dominion's deck-building mechanic brings the war genre a built-in system of fatigue and supply.

The design allows for quick and decisive victories or a long, drawn out tug-of-war, depending on smart card play and timely use of natives. The rulebook is slightly obtuse regarding some of the battle/raid mechanics, but once understood, the battles are simple to understand and the raid/ambush abilities become second-nature.

Kudos to Martin Wallace for developing such a streamlined and simple deck-building game with historical weight and feel, that also is easy to digest and simple to play. Once again, this is a deceptively deep game, one that boils down to the players' decisions and not the luck of the draw. Now I just need to try out Wilderness War to see which I like better.
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18. Board Game: Suburbia [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:94]
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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#33 - My feelings about Suburbia have shrunk and grown since I purchased it. I remember watching Tom Vasel's glowing review and thinking it looked like a really fun game, despite some artwork I felt was pretty lacking. I was super excited to get it and I found it hard to locate at first, but after a month or two of hoping to find it, I did. I was so excited to get it home and try it out! It had a solo mode! Woo-hoo!

And I was left wanting. It didn't really live up to my desires. I was bummed. The drab art wasn't helping my feelings about it, either. So, it went on my shelf for months. My friends played it at one point and they all thought it was really fun. What was I missing?

A few months ago I gave it another shot. And it was a blast! Planning the city and focusing on certain goals, while setting up a rewarding economy and building up a unique borough is a lot of fun and a satisfying display. The bidding mechanic is interesting, as is the fact that many of the structures rely on the structures built by other players. There's a surprising amount of interactivity, along with a stellar feeling of accomplishment at the end of the game.
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19. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:284] [Average Rating:7.22 Unranked]
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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#32 - As with many other gamers, Catan introduced me to the world of designer board games. It was a huge hit with my friends, my roommates, my family, and even me. At this point, I think Catan is at this place on my list primarily because of how versatile it is with different audiences and how it has a depth of play while not being unreasonable in terms of understanding and teaching. I say this because I rarely desire to play it.

I've become Cataned out, most likely because I've moved on to greener pastures (with other sheep). My tastes in games have become more clear and I've developed a palate that is more defined, making Catan slip in my regards. Add to that the fact that my brother always wants to play Catan and I've become a little burned out on it.

However, it's a classic, both in the history books and in my mind. I've played enough games to realize that Catan is still one of my favorites, despite my hesitance to play it sometimes. I'm more willing to try new things and introduce a friend or family member to a game that is perhaps a little more thrilling or deep or thematic. All that said, Catan is a splendid game.
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20. Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:104]
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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#31 - GMT games are like crack to me. I want them and I want them to make me feel good about myself, but often they put me in a daze and ruin my life. I think it has something to do with the density of the rulebooks and the sneaking suspicion that I'm playing wrong in some way. However, there is still something about them that keeps me coming back. Combat Commander is a big reason why.

At first glance the game may look stodgy or square or for old people with no taste in the razzmatazz of modern board games. It looks like it should come with a bag of Werther's Originals. However, upon playing the game and seeing the excitement of opportunity fire, random sniping, triggered events, white-knuckle rally rolls, and unexpected swings of fortune, it reveals its true form - that of an unpredictable, yet satisfyingly strategic game of tactical prowess.

It calls to me from the shelf, wanting me to match wits against a worthy opponent and see just what way the twelve scenarios (or countless generated scenarios) may go. It's just a brilliant game that is far more simple than at first glance and far more sweet for it. Just like a Werther's Original hard candy.
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21. Board Game: Tales of the Arabian Nights [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:326]
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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#30 - Strategy be damned! Sometimes you just need to go on a roller coaster ride and see what happens to you. Tales of Arabian Nights shines in the story-telling department, bringing exciting tales of wild success along with depressing and hilarious tales of woe.

With just the slightest "game" structure added for motivation, Tales is really an activity-in-disguise. But that matters not when there are thousands of different story snippets to guide the variety of put-upon heroes, such as Aladdin and Sinbad. Another game that is important to play with a crowd of people just looking to have fun, Tales excels at weaving strange and unpredictable stories.

Add a little extra flavor to the game by having one player make sound effects during a story reading, while another player acts out the events of the unfolding event.
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22. Board Game: Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island [Average Rating:7.95 Overall Rank:36]
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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#29 - How many bad things can happen to survivors on an island? Turns out -quite a few. I mean, we are talking about a cursed island here. Maybe it should be called Cursing Island?

There are survival games and then there is Robinson Crusoe. This isn't your typical cooperative game of trying to get the objective before time runs out. This is a slog. This is a fistfight against nature. Every decision matters and every successful die roll is cause for celebration. The pain starts early and never relents, as you lose health from every direction. That moment you build the shelter is a huge relief. When you finally get the roof up, you'll be dancing around for joy. Every moment in between is a time of nerve-wrecking hair loss.

There are six scenarios that come with the game that wildly change the feeling of how to approach your goals. However, the basic laws still apply and you'll only be successful if you prioritize well and take some risks. Playing safe on the Cursed Island only prolongs your suffering. The theme is incredibly strong, as you find yourself having to choose between food and warmth, between shelter and the wood pile, between morale and construction. The only easy decision about Robinson Crusoe is that you must add it to your collection.
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23. Board Game: Talisman (Revised 4th Edition) [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1187]
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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#28 - Wha? Talisman is this high? But, there's nothing to it!

That's exactly why it's so high on my list. There are those rare games that aren't really games at all, but are exercises in levity and merriment. They are paper-thin and they know it. Luck rules over these kinds of games. The mistake would be to play these games with players who expect a certain amount of fairness or strategy. Sorry, buddy, there's none of that here.

What we do have here is a cleanly designed romp through enchanted lands without a clue as to what may end up happening. That's really the spirit of adventure! The value isn't in the destination, but in the wild and weird journey you have along the way. The stories aren't going to be about how you attained such a resounding victory, but about how you were being followed by a hag for half of your adventure or how you were turned into a frog for that little stint or how you gambled away all of your earnings in the tavern.

The joy to be found in Talisman is the joy of the unknown. You really have no idea what's behind the next corner and you and your friends are probably going to be smirking at the calamity that befalls you. At times, you will really feel like you are going around in circles, because, well, you are!
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24. Board Game: Sheriff of Nottingham [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:244]
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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#27 - A game I regrettably haven't played enough of. Or have I? I don't know, maybe I'm bluffing. Actually, I really haven't. Seriously. I want to play this more. Or maybe I'm bluffing again. You'll have to open the bag to really find out.

Sheriff of Nottingham preys upon our curiosity. From the outside looking in, you might think that the pressure is on the merchants to try and sneak some goods through the Sheriff and into their stall/contraband pile. And, for sure, there is pressure on them to do so. But it's really the Sheriff who has to think carefully in all of this. The impulse is just to see what is in the bag. Will the curiosity get the better of the Sheriff or will it be the undoing of the merchant?

It's this sort of free-form negotiation and social deduction that makes Sheriff so fun. The ever-changing landscape of goods and money creates an atmosphere that goes above and beyond any final scoring. In fact, the scoring structure just lends a bit of foundation for what is really just an incredibly fun social activity.
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25. Board Game: Forbidden Desert [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:265]
Adam Kenney
United States
Washington
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#26 - I think this is the most tense game that I own. Every turn of Forbidden Desert is a nail-biter and it only gets more critical as the game goes on. The nice thing is that the game offers only a few decisions, so that analysis paralysis never really sets in. Especially because there is rarely any way of knowing what the best course may be.

I love the way the sand piles up and the way the tiles move with the sandstorm. The theme really comes alive in this game, as players get more and more desperate to clear sand and the missing valuables become more and more buried in the ever-changing heart and heat of the desert. The deck of cards that determines whether the sun beats down upon uncovered survivors or whether the storm picks up its intensity is a cruel and feisty mistress. Eyes always go wide and passions ignite when its time to draw from it.

Forbidden Desert, while by no means an easy game, is a simple one and I would wholeheartedly recommend it for families and non-gamers. It's a perfect gateway game for those who enjoy abstract classics or puzzles. By no means should this be forbidden from your collection (especially at that price!)
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