Jon's Top 100 of 2015
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
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So for the first year, I'm posting my top 100 to the public. First time I do it ahead of time enough. Also, technically, it's the first time I actually do a top 100: two years ago was a top 25, and last year was a top 75.

You might notice that I'm very much "cult of the new". Well, to be fair, I did get into the hobby 4 years ago, and only focused on it (rather than RPGs) two years ago, after I found stable game groups. So yes, most of the games I play are very centric to this era. Also, comparing my top games in previous years will show you how volatile these are for me: this is mainly due to the short time for which I've been a board gamer. Contrary to the 2013 list, I expect these 100 to always be games I enjoy, and the top 40-50 are games I cannot imagine not making my top 100 ever.

I also want to point out that I'm very much a Euro gamer. I do play some Amerithrash, but these games are few and far between. I am a believer that theme in games is like dip with chips: it can make a stale game bearable, or a good game better if they fit particularly well, but it is in no way necessary to enjoy the product.

And I do know we're in 2016. This is still my 2015 list: I did not change it since December 31st, I only seriously underestimated how long it would take me for the write-ups under each game.

With each entry, I will give its position in 2013 and 2014 (if it placed in the top 25 or 75, respectively), my favorite mechanism about it, and, if there is one, a memorable moment playing that game.
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1. Board Game: Taluva [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:420]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#100

#40 in 2014

A game I play only with 2-players, and one of the few abstracts I like.

Why the drop?: Lack of competition? I don't own the game, and always play with the same friend who owns it, and... he sucks at it. It's no fun to destroy him anymore.

Favorite Mechanism: The 3 differents paths, first to finish 2. Very rich.
 
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2. Board Game: Las Vegas [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:482]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#99

New to the list

A dice-rolling majority game, played at breakneck speeds. Chaos, tactical decisions, and lots of laughs in this 15 minutes filler. Especially fun on a gaming table where you can roll the dice right onto the other side.

Favorite mechanism: Ties cancel each other out, which means there's always a point in putting on dice somewhere, just in case of an unlucky last roll.
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3. Board Game: Summoner Wars [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:381] [Average Rating:7.30 Unranked]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#98

#4 in 2013, #20 in 2014

A small-room, tactical skirmish kill-the-leader game, with 16 factions to choose from. Cool, simple dice combat. Every unit has a special ability, and they're all rather intriguing. I love that all 16 factions play differently, and with 2 leaders for some of them, lots and lots and lots of replayability!

My favorite factions are the Swamp Orcs, which infest the board with Vine Walls they can climb on; the Cloaks, with their Summoner who can copy a minion's power, are a close second, and the Filth, who can upgrade their cards instead of summoning new ones, the third.

Why the drop?: The deckbuilding has gotten out of hand. I like this game a lot, but 15 minutes of deckbuilding for a 30 minute game is just ridiculous. Also, partially replaced by another 2-player Amerithrash higher on this list.

Favorite mechanism: I like the simple combat system: roll Xd6, hit on 3+. Too simple on its own, but mixed with the special ability, it makes for an interesting but quick system.
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4. Board Game: Famiglia [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:1506]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#97

#62 in 2014

A short 2P filler hand building game, in which you acquire cards from a middle row by playing a pair of cards of the same color, but a level lower. Each color also has special abilities, which spice the game up and gives each player their own "specialty".

Why the drop?: There are simply richer 2P games out there. Yet this one is a very quick one, and a highly interactive one.

Favorite Mechanism: The entire game is one mechanism: the upgrade-deckbuilding is a very cool twist on DB, and I wish it could be part of a bigger game. It seems tailor-made for sports game, for example.
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5. Board Game: Dice Town [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:729]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#96

#21 in 2013, off the list in 2014

A dice-rolling filler, where the majority in each of the 6 faces gives a special action, and the best poker hand gives point cards. Rinse and repeat. Makes for a fun time, it feels rewarding, and we can play this with just about anyone.

Why the drop?: It didn't get played in 2014, mainly because the big box means we don't look at it when looking for a filler.

Favorite mechanism: The "pay money to keep more dice", coupled with "when one player's done, only one roll left". It means that you get information from each player's hand at different speed, and a variable number of rolls makes for interesting push-your-luck. I also like to have the option of paying 4$ to keep my initial roll and make others panic.
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6. Board Game: Balderdash [Average Rating:6.42 Overall Rank:1544]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#95

New to the list

I love the various categories, and the craziness that comes out of here. I love that it lets your imagination run wild, and that the hilarity comes from players, not pre-made cards from the game.

Memorable moment: Writing a long, believable, dramatic description of a movie, and all 4 other players answering "it's a porno".
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7. Board Game: Kemet [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:75]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#94

#6 in 2013, #27 in 2014

Another Amerithrash I like a lot, mainly because of its Euro framework. While I love the tech trees and monsters, my favorite thing about this game is that there's no turtling: points are gotten by attacking, and everyone is always right at your doorstep. This makes for a highly dynamic game, one without downtime.

Why the drop?: I simply don't enjoy dudes-on-a-map games as much anymore. Also, the turn order mechanisms are very annoying to me, especially in the end game.

Favorite mechanism: The card combat system. I wish more deckbuilding was possible, but the card combat, mixed with the three stats, make an intriguing system.
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8. Board Game: Mundus Novus [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:1505]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#93

New to the list!

A nice filler that goes up to 6, has some meat, some special powers which makes the game different each time. It is a bit hard to wrap your head around, but a neat trading system makes this card game a hoot to play. Plus you've got much special powers, and 3 different win conditions.

Favorite mechanism: The fact that the line of available developments also determines upcoming events, which means which events come up is, to a certain extent, under the players' control.
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9. Board Game: Piece o' Cake [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1515]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#92

New to the list!

Perfect family filler: a minute to explain; funny, approachable theme; easy to grasp but deep central mechanisms (I Cut You Choose, and Majorities). Not only do I play this with my family and have loads of fun, but it's also great with gamers.

Favorite mechanism: Eating your piece. When you select your cut, you can keep the pieces to compete for a majority, or eat them for straight points. This makes every kind of cake at least somewhat worthwhile to everyone, which makes the game less cutthroat, which is good for a family game. It also gives you an extra layer of decision: do I push my luck and try to go after Jim in chocolate? Is 2 apricot enough to get the majority? Good stuff!
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10. Board Game: Beasty Bar [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1077] [Average Rating:6.85 Unranked]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#91

New on the list!

A quick card game filler with a zany theme: getting animals of your color into the bar. Each animal has their own powers, and chaos ensues. A very nice game, quite a discovery I made!

Favorite mechanism: the scoring line. When you reach 5 cards in the line, the front two give their owner a point, the back one is discarded, and the other two stay there. A very interesting concept, an original one, which opens up lots of design room.

My favorite animal power is the possum, which changes the entrance of the bar. Coupled with the hippo and croc, it can lead to a blood bath. Put a zebra in there, and seeing the big guys being blocked off is hilarious!
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11. Board Game: Poseidon [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:1376]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#90

New to the list!

A bit of a guilty pleasure, this is a very dry 18XX game about starting companies, buying stocks, and managing multiple companies' finances, and yours, at the same time. This is the only game of that type that I've enjoyed, probably because of its pace: it's usually simple enough to go quickly, and even with 4-5, the downtime is limited.

Favorite mechanism: the divide between company and player. The goal is to be the richest player, but you do so through a third party (the companies). It's not an original thing, but I find that fascinating.

This game is much, much better with the Gods expansion, which allows companies to get special powers. It adds just enough spice to the game.

Prediction: Now that I have Power Grid's Stock expansion, this might not ever touch the table again.

Post-diction: Now that I've played Power Grid Stock Companies, I was right: this is going straight to the prototype bits box.
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12. Board Game: Mysterium [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:171]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#89

New to the list!

When I heard of this game, and all the buzz around it, it turned me off. It seemed like another artsy fartsy game, a Dixit adaptation to the coop craze. I played it, thought "it's not bad, but this is not Game of the Year material." Then I played it a few other times, and each time I liked it more. I could care less for how pretty the pretty pictures are: what I like is the communication puzzle this places upon you. As a ghost, how do you adapt the Dreams you send to what the mediums are saying? As a player, that moment when it all clicks together is so rewarding. I still think it's overhyped, but this was a delightful surprise for me.
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13. Board Game: Dream Factory [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:601]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#88

New to the list!

A bidding game about making movies. While I don't usually like bidding games, this one doesn't bog down and is still fast paced. Half of the fun of the game comes from the movie-actor-director combos you make (so I'm making Star Wars, with Gwyneth Palthrow and Sylvester Stalone, directed by Woody Allen!), or cracking jokes about the quality of music (one star? that's already better than in real life!) you put in.

Favorite mechanism: The star tokens. When you finish a movie, you count up the stars, and get a token with that amount on it. If it's already been taken, you take the one right below; if that one's also taken, you go down like that until you can get one. It makes you want to go go fast, and sometimes forces you to get just one more star, to get an 18 instead of a 12.

Memorable moment: One of my shy, even-tempered buddies, presenting his movie: "Silence of the Lamb, starring Jim Carrey, with lots and lots of EXPLOSIONS!... and smooth jazz in the background. Something erotic."
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14. Board Game: Havana [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:960]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#87

New to the list!

A solid hand management, resource gathering game. At the beginning of the game, you have two cards on the table, and each turn you replace one of them with a new one, but activate both the one you just placed, and the one you didn't replace. Also, each card as a number from 0-9, and the two digit number they create determines who plays first.

Favorite mechanism: Well, the replace-one-of-two-cards is my favorite mechanism, but I'll talk about another interesting aspect of the game: the resource pool. Instead of giving you a fixed amount of goods, many cards make you affect the pool at the center of the table. After everyone's played, we add three random cubes and three bucks to the pool. If it hasn't been tampered with for a while, it because very interesting, but as cards stay in play for multiple rounds, the pool is drained quickly when people start tapping into it.
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15. Board Game: Grimoire [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:2208]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#86

#52 last year

In this game, you have a spellbook, and you each choose a spell which has an effect, and an initiative number associated to it. In turn order, you then take cards which either give points, or special abilities. These special abilities usually give you a direction for the game, and spice things up just enough, without making the game more complex.

Favorite mechanism: Increasing Availability. In the beginning, only 5 or 6 spells are available; then, every turn, a new one is added. It makes explaining the game a breeze, explaining spells one at a time, and only a handful in the beginning.
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16. Board Game: Battle Sheep [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:1215]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#85

#71 in 2014

A cool abstract game about making each other curse. You take a pile, split it in two, and go off until you run into someone (or a wall, but we tend to avoid that). Then, someone's pissed, and we laugh at them!

Favorite mechanism: The fact that you must go as far as you can. We played without that rule in the beginning, and this makes the game. First, it limits your options to a more manageable amount, and it makes turtling harder, which means more in-your-face-ing.
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17. Board Game: For Sale [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:261]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#84

New to the list!

Interestingly, this is the first time it makes the list, despite the fact that I've owned it since the beginning. This is a quick filler about reading your opponents, a Vizzini-type game if there ever was one. This is my go-to 10 minute game.

Favorite mechanism: what I call the "split". In a given set of cards, what matters is not the absolute value, but their relative value to one another: bidding is much more important if the cards are 1-3-4-22 than 26-27-28-29; the same can be said of the cheque cards.
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18. Board Game: A Few Acres of Snow [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:251]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#83

#35 in 2014

I love deckbuilding, but especially in this game, where it is so thematic. Everything that does on in the game mechanically, can be explained thematically: "wow, that platoon I asked for is taking a long time to get ready!", or "I grew too fast, it's getting impossible to manage every single thing, I need a governor!", or "wow, in time of peace, this enormous army is really sucking up my time... let's start a war, just to keep the soldiers busy!"

And Halifax Hammer, Shmalifax Shmammer. Never read about it, never came up. I play this two, three times a year, and it's just too good a game to ruin by reading about something like this. And if I don't know, it doesn't ruin it.

Why the drop?: Most of my gaming used to be 2P, but now it isn't. The list is therefore more skewed towards multi player games.

Favorite mechanism: the deckbuilding, with all its twists: drawing up to 5 cards, instead of discarding all of your hand; the two card types being acquired in different ways; the reserve; the symbol-based use; the ways keeping cards out of your deck. Little twists which make this game very different from other deck building experiences.
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19. Board Game: If Wishes Were Fishes! [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:2171]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#82

New to the list!

A quirky little game where you must catch magical fishes, either to release them and get a wish (a one-time special ability), or keep it to sell it at the market. Between the area majority in the stands, the movement of customers to control the prices of different types of fish, and the multiple different powers, this game is highly interactive with lots of stuff to do.

Favorite mechanism: the Small World-like card line, where you must put a worm on each card you pass over, and you get all the worms on the card you select. This is a way underused mechanism.
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20. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:136]
Jon Vallerand
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St-Basile-Le-Grand
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#81

New to the list!

Another Knizia auction game, I love the push-your-luck aspect to calling Ra at the end of each round, I love how each tileset scores differently, and rewards different things. But most of all, I love...

Favorite mechanism: The Sun Tiles. Instead of bidding set amounts, you bid one of your Sun tiles, which are numbered from 1-16. If you win, you put that tile on the board, and it will be part of the next lot to be auctioned. This twist on auctions is one I love, because it limits your options, which greatly increases the pace of the game, but also makes your decisions much harder sometimes: if the bet is at 9, but your tiles are 2-7-15, does the lot deserve a 15? Also, managing your money for the following round is an important aspect of which lot you will bid on. A solid, solid system!
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21. Board Game: Blueprints [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:739]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#80

#33 in 2014

I love the drafting of dice, the different things you can go for, and the rapid pace at which the game is played. I like that building good buildings is not necessarily the goal, but to reach "artistic" objectives is what scores much points.

Favorite mechanism: The objective cards. Being able to go for something different each turn as opposed to only going for the best building, is an interesting thing.
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22. Board Game: Baseball Highlights: 2045 [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:372]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#79

New to the list!

I love the back and forth of this game, and the retro-futuristic universe. The deckbuilding, while simplistic, adds a nice touch to the game as (1) both players become more and more different over the course of the game, and (2) each game is different from the one before, thanks to that enormous player deck.

Favorite mechanism: Baseball's scoring system. While not original to baseball fans, I never thought it could be so well implemented to board games! It's so different, deep in its strategy, and opens loads of design room for different players.
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23. Board Game: 12 Thieves [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:2119]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#78

#67 in 2014

In this game, you use cards to move guards and thieves into palaces, and when you reach a certain number of thieves in a palace, they steal the treasure. First to five treasures wins!

Favorite mechanism: the puzzle aspect of the card play. Cards represent one of the palaces (color coded for your convenience!), and can be played in multiple ways an combinations. Figuring out how to use your hand each turn is the key to the game, but also so much fun.
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24. Board Game: Alien Frontiers [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:169]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#77

#26 in 2014

A very cool worker placement with dice, I love that the number you roll is not the main focus on the placement, and that you can modify your rolls rather easily. I like the scoring system, which is simple and straightforward.

Why the drop?: I've grown annoyed by the downtime in this game. Your dice are blocking spaces on the board, and so you only roll them at the beginning of your turn, and then can start thinking of what you do. It didn't hit me in the beginning because in most games, I was teaching someone new, and so would explain to them what was going on outside of my turn, which kept me busy I guess.

Favorite mechanism: The Agenda cards, which are from the expansion, but I never play without them. There is an objective which can be completed in game, and one which is evaluated at the end of the game. Very rarely are they related. This means that you have to keep your options open until you think the point is safe, or you'll spend too many resources on them. They also give you direction in a game where all areas seem the same to many newbies, and often forces confrontation.
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25. Board Game: Dungeon Petz [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:147]
Jon Vallerand
Canada
St-Basile-Le-Grand
Quebec
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#76

New to the list!

This is Amerithrash for Eurosnoot, and I love it. It is one of the rare games that I love mainly for its theme, yet its interesting twists on the worker placement make it a tight Euro. And in adition to the WP:

Favorite mechanism: the Need cards. Distributing your creatures' needs, trying to optimize for the contests and clients, keeping rarer cards for future turns, this makes for a much nicer game than a stale, overused "feed your stuff". Decisions to be made, optimization to be implemented, fun to be had!

Memorable moment: Every time I teach this game, I make the joke I stole from the rulebook about why you can't send gold pieces to town on their own. Once, I was called out for it!
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