A Mediocre Gamer's Completely Unqualified Top 100 Games of All Time
Daniel Schwartzkopf
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Hello there!

I'm a Mediocre Gamer at best - I rarely win games, mostly I enjoy just learning new ones. I'm fascinated by the way rule sets create these intricate machines called games that we are so blessed to be able to play these days!

I'm Completely Unqualified to present my Top 100 to you because I've only rated 339 games here on BGG. I really don't have the breadth of knowledge to make an informed decision to boldly state These Are the Best Games of All Time.

But I'm doing it anyway. These are the best games of all time that I've played and you should take heed!

This is my third attempt at creating a top 100 geeklist. I actually made one in 2015 and another in 2016, but I never published them. I found writing something about every single game took up way more time than I had expected, and just submitting a list of games seemed pretty boring. So this year, I was determined to get through it, and I have. I'm not sure if anything I wrote is particularly interesting, informative, or anything other than me just trying to finish writing something about every game on my list - interesting be damned! But it's finally finished after three and a half months of starting and stopping.

Enjoy?

Oh and, to make things interesting, if you leave a comment on your favorite game or on a game you can't stand I'll enter your name into a little raffle, the winner of which will receive a small something in the mail. It might be candy, hand drawn pictures of pokemon from my kids, a postcard, or possibly a game. It probably depends on how much it costs to ship to the winner, but the winner will get something, I promise!
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1. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:117] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
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2015 - #99
2016 - #83
2017 - #100

Memoir '44 was one of the first dozen or so games I ever purchased, and I had a lot of fun playing through the first handful of scenarios. I never did find a regular enough partner to go through some of the deeper scenarios, unfortunately, and I tired of playing the introductory scenarios with new players all the time. Eventually I gave the game away because my main 2 player gaming partners just weren't interested. Still, the recollection of the fun times is enough to keep this one in the top 100. I should probably pick up a copy again...Until then, I have a couple other Borg games sitting around that I need to try!

7.25
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2. Board Game: Covert [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:1189]
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2017 - #99 New!

Inside one of the most beautiful boxes I have ever seen lies an underappreciated gem of a game. With all the attention lavished on games with gorgeous covers, I'm surprised that this game never made it on to the hotness.

Inside the box is a game themed as a spy vs spy game with a clever dice placement/action selection mechanic (I'm not going to go into rules in this top #100 list, so my apologies if my statements are not always clarified here). This game rewards players who pay attention to what the other players are able to do and correctly guessing their intentions. I love those kinds of games. And this one gives plenty of opportunities to thwart the plans of others through tactical play, but not in a way that feels overtly "take that"-ish.

Check this one out if you haven't heard of it. It is worth a look.

7.25
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3. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
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2015 - #84
2016 - #73
2017 - #98

Moving on from one game that most people probably haven't heard of let alone played and on to a game most people have played and everyone has heard of - Dominion. Once upon a time this was my number 1 game of all time. I played hundreds of games. My wife and I left the game set up nearly constantly after the birth of our first daughter, and we would play together or with any friends or family who would stop by to see our little girl. I picked up Seafall Seaside and loved the game even more...

...And then one day I just stopped wanting to play. My dad continued to collect all the expansions, so I played his, but I just grew weary of it all.

Ok so this isn't a glowing endorsement, but it is still a really good game. And I've found that after some years distance, the game has creeped up on me again. It will never regain that status it once held in my collection (there are just too many deckbuilders out there that are simply better), but for now it still enjoys a place in my top 100!


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4. Board Game: Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:380]
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2016 - #50
2017 - #97

I'm not very good at card games that require deck construction. I'm pretty bad actually. I can do OK if I netdeck - that is, looking up deck lists online and playing with those - but that just sucks some of the fun out of it for me at least.

This game fixes that for me. The game comes with several pre-made decks that are so finely tuned that deck-building becomes optional rather than mandatory. Just grab a deck and play a friend! And expansion decks come pre-made as well.

The game also fixes the problem of bad hand draws by letting you pick your starting hand - that's pretty awesome.

Netunner is probably my favorite deck construction game, but I don't play because my skill level can't keep up with my play partners. But with Ashes I feel like I'm on more even ground and it is more accessible - easier to get to the table. That said, this dropped 47 places largely because I haven't played it in the past year - hopefully I will remedy that soon.

7.25
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5. Board Game: Roll Player [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:338]
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2017 - #96 New!

The theme of this one intrigued me - a game about creating a character for an RPG campaign? How would that even work? Who cares - what a cool, albeit weird, theme!

I will say though, the theme turns out to be a very very thin veneer on top of an otherwise interesting game. This game is all about manipulating dice to match personal target totals and patterns for scoring, supplemented by some optional set collection. Its a pretty neat little puzzle experience.

I said at the onset that this is an "unqualified" top 100 list - and this fits in that category. I've only played the game once, so it could easily fall out of my list, but for now I think there is MORE to enjoy here after repeated plays, not less. So here it sits at #96!

Who else would dare to put a game he has played once in the top 100? No one! And there are more to come as well! (the nerve of this guy)

7.25
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6. Board Game: Mafia de Cuba [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:1266]
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2017 - #95 New!

This is one of the few party games in my top 100 (most fall just outside of it). Another social deduction party game - I've played my fair share, but this one does ONE thing that none of the others does. The game lets YOU select what role you are going to be. Games like The Resistance and Deception: Murder in Hong Kong (both great games) force you to take a random role. In every group of people you are always going to find those people who HATE being the murderer or spy or whatever because they are bad at lying. This game will let you be a "good guy" (loyal henchman) every time if you really want to and still be fully engaged in the game with everyone else, which makes it easier to play with a varied group of people. It's been a hit with my non gamer friend groups.

Great party game.

7.25
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7. Board Game: London [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:262]
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2016 - #80
2017 - #94

This game has quite a history in my house, and I've only played it twice. London sat on my shelf unplayed for YEARS, but not for lack of trying. The first time I set up the game to play, my mom was watching my kids so my sister and I could have a two player game day. Just as we started the rules, my eldest daughter became violently ill with what turned out to be E-Coli (she's fine now, but it was rough). So needless to say the game was not played that day. The second time I set up the game some years later my sister got really sick and we had to cancel the game as well. Something about that game just makes people want to throw up in my house, apparently...

Anyways, eventually it got played a couple of times. And it was a lot of fun to build an engine and run my city. It's been a while since I've played it, so details are a LITTLE fuzzy. But you can understand my apprehension about setting up the game to play again, can't you?

7.25
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8. Board Game: Russian Railroads [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:67]
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2015 - #55
2016 - #64
2017 - #93

Russian Railroads is a game I have never won. It isn't for lack of trying, though, and I break it out every now and then to take another crack at it. This is really high on my wife's list of games she enjoys, so that helps it get to the table.

It's a brutal, meaty euro - the kind my wife loves to win and I love to try to not lose too horribly at.

The game continues to fall in my rankings, even though I know it's a great game. At some point, losing no matter what you do wears you down, you know? Oh well - for now it still has a place in my top 100!

7.25
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9. Board Game: Coal Baron [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:470]
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2015 - #61
2016 - #62
2017 - #92

An enjoyable exercise in efficiency. A fun one that plays fairly quickly with great components and artwork. A step above a family game with some meat on it.

I don't have a lot to say about this one - it plays quickly and smoothly and just does everything "right", if that makes sense.

7.25
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10. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:26]
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2015 - #86
2016 - #86
2017 - #91

I haven't played this in years. In fact, I only played it once years ago, and it has been sitting on my shelf ever since. However, it was such an engaging, enjoyable experience that it solidified itself in my imagination, and my top 100 for now at least. I need to pick up the new edition at some point - the first edition is just freaking ugly as heck.

7.25
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11. Board Game: Notre Dame [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:216]
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2015 - #78
2016 - #81
2017 - #90

For some reason the end of my top 100 is full of games I've only played a couple of times like this one. But don't worry, as we get higher and higher in the list plays go way up.

This is a great euro. I enjoy boring cubes on a medieval city, what can I say? Card drafting is one of my favorite mechanics, so this gets a boost from that for sure. Watching those rats adds some great tension as well. Not my favorite Feld, but solid. I was waiting for a reprint, and it's finally here, so I expect this one to go up with more plays soon!

7.25
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12. Board Game: Takenoko [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:212]
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2015 - #41
2016 - #69
2017 - #89

This an an absolutely gorgeous game on the table, one that attracts a lot of attention from gamers and non-gamers alike. The art, over-the-top components, and graphic design are all incredible. This is a cupcake of a game - light with lots of sweet frosting on top.

Takenoko is one of my go-to gateway games, and everyone I have introduced the game to has enjoyed it. Like I said before, it is a really light game. There is a bit too much luck involved with drawing cards - you can score a lot of points from pure luck of the draw - but this is a minor nitpick. This lightness and randomness is what makes the game accessible.

7.5
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13. Board Game: Five Tribes [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:51]
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2016 - #47
2017 - #88

Another fine Days of Wonder game. Beautiful artwork, colorful and interesting looking on the table - overall a really good game (I should really stop saying that - I mean, of course I think these games are good, right?)

A solid medium weight Euro with lots of replayability. Each setup is a little puzzle to solve. Long term strategy is basically impossible, at least in regards to planning out the exact next turn - as the other players are going to so radically change the game state from round to round. This can lead to longer turns for AP prone players who cant plan between turns, but I don't ind because I'm a fly by the seat of my pants kind of player. I suck at long term planning!

7.5
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14. Board Game: KLASK [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:478]
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2017 - #87 New!

Who knew that a Target-bought tabletop dexterity game would make it into my top 100? This game looks like little more than a tiny version of air hockey with magnets, and if that's all it was it wouldn't score very high for me. Two ingenious additions to the basic "hit it in the other goal" kind of game set this one apart. First, the "goal" is a recessed hole on your end of the board - if the ball goes in there your opponent gets a point. But they also get a point if you're damn fool enough to get your magnet-controlled striker stuck in the recessed hole as well. It happens to me more often than I like to admit, and it's pretty damn funny and frustrating when it does! The other clever addition to the gae is the three white magnets in the middle of the board - get two of those stuck to your striker and your opponent gets a point! My favorite way to play is to try and knock those magnets onto my opponent's side. I love it!

Tons of fun, quick to play - we do tournaments with some non gamer friends and everyone has a blast. My kids , 6 and 7, love to play as well!

7.5
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15. Board Game: Arcadia Quest [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:86] [Average Rating:7.90 Unranked]
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2015 - #48
2016 - #70
2017 - #86

I've only played this twice, but both times were an absolute blast. Its a dice fest, to be sure, but chucking dice, killing monsters and other players makes for a good time. The miniatures are fantastic and really fun. This was the first miniature heavy game I ever owned, and it inspired me to try and paint as well. While I haven't finished painting mine, I hope to some day soon. I really want to get this to the table again soon. I somehow seem to keep picking up expansions for this also even though I haven't played in a bit, its a bit of an addiction all that plastic!

7.5
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16. Board Game: Hanamikoji [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:317]
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2017 - #85 New!

What a gorgeous little game. As soon as I saw smoox post up a picture of it last year I had to have it. Hilko Drude was nice enough to send me a copy from Essen (he's a real mensch, that guy) - this was before I knew that it was picked up for distribution in the US as well. Anyway, the game plays a bit like battle line. You have to read your opponent a bit in this one, though, which is really fascinating. The "I split, you pick" mechanic is always interesting, and makes for some agonizing decisions in the game.

Quick 2 player filler that I carry with me any time my wife and I slip away for a coffee date.

7.5
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17. Board Game: Three Kingdoms Redux [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:916]
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2016 - #84
2017 - #84

This is deep, immersive euro - one of the more interesting games in my collection. This ONLY plays with three players, so its already a niche game. It is also a really long game - usually around three hours or so. But it is an engaging game - I never feel bored.
Anyway, this is a really amazing design, especially when you consider it is the first game from designers Yeo Keng Leong and Chsristina Ng Zhen Wei (who, by the way, are two of the nicest people you could ever come across on BGG). I'm glad it got a release stateside, an I'm glad I have my original Starting Player version with art book! Can't see ever parting with this one.

7.5
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18. Board Game: The Resistance: Avalon [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:85]
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2015 - #35
2016 - #19
2017 - #83

This is the best version of The Resistance - I like the King Arthur theme better than the original dystopian future, and the roles are well suited for the characters. While I still enjoy The Resistance, those around me have moved on to other Social Deduction games, prefering to play One Night Revolution, Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, or Mafia de Cuba. That accounts for the game's huge drop.

Still a rock solid game for a large gathering of friends or family - some of my best gaming memories have come from sessions of Resistance.


7.5
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19. Board Game: Bruges [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:198]
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2015 - #74
2016 - #76
2017 - #82

This is the second Feld of the list so far, and there are more to come. I really enjoy games that employ multiple uses for cards, and this game incorporates that wonderfully. The hand management is fascinating - you need to make sure you pay attention to what colors you need to play as houses, as personalities, and even income. The use of dice to randomize the value of certain actions and generate threat markers that can cause catastrophes is very clever - you want some high die rolls, but not too many! All in all a very good point salad of a game, and one I enjoyed quite a bit. My copy had sat neglected for some time before I gave the game away to someone in the PiFF geeklist. I'll pick it up again eventually if a re-print comes out, otherwise I have access to a friend's copy if I have the itch.

7.5
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20. Board Game: Champions of Midgard [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:118]
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2017 - #81 New!

Another new addition to the list this year is Champions of Midgard. This was pitched as "Lords of Waterdeep, but better." I'm not sure I can get on board wit hthat statement, but it does have its similarities. Actually, this doesn't beat Lords of Waterdeep for me, but it does replace Yedo (another similar game). The best feature of the game is the dice-as-resources bit. You recruit different fighters and roll the dice to see how powerful they will be when fighting creatures/objectives. There is way more luck in CoM than LoW, but there are ways to mitigate it, and for some people the added luck makes the game more enjoyable. This is only slightly less good than LoW, and certainly different enough to warrant a spot in the collection and the top 100.


7.5
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21. Board Game: Santorini [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:74]
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2017 - #80 New!

Another new addition to the list, and one of the few abstract games you'll see on this list. the game can be played in a couple of different ways, but I greatly prefer one to another. The first way is to play without the god power cards, and the game is a pure abstract game, one that could be studied and mastered after hundreds of hours of play. The second, and more fun way to play, is with the completely asymmetrical god power cards. Each player gets a unique ability or win condition dealt to them and you commence play. The random combinations of powers could easily be unbalanced, but the games play quickly so that isn't a worry. But on the whole I've found that the powers are generally balanced quite well. I love the puzzle of figuring out how my power can both hinder my opponent and garner me victory each game. Love this little game. Unfortunately my wife isn't a fan, so I don't get to play nearly as often as I like, otherwise this could go higher.



7.5
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22. Board Game: CO₂ [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:537]
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2015 - #66
2016 - #77
2017 - #79

This is a medium-heavy euro from Vital Lacerda. The rules are not that difficult, and there are far less moving parts than in other Lacerda games like Vinhos and Kanban. This game gave me the same vibe as Brass, actually, in regards to the brain-burny goodness of a soul-less euro. I need to explore the game some more, but I'll probably wait for the second edition to come out later this year. Also, that box art - one of the best box covers of all time. Gorgeous.

7.5
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23. Board Game: Murano [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:830]
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2016 - #58
2017 - #78

This is a clever little medium weight Euro (maybe slightly lighter) that is easily overlooked, but shouldn't be. The outside of the board is a huge rondel with various actions you choose by moving gondolas around. Because the gondolas can't move past one another, you get this stuttering log-jam of actions throughout the game that both intrigues and frustrates me (in a good way). Working through the puzzle of available actions to fulfill your goals makes for an engaging game experience on its own, but the hidden VP goals make the game even more fun. Essentially players must reveal some part of their hidden goals by announcing they want to score a particular island during the game. You don't know WHAT they want to score at the end of the game, but after playing a few times and watching what they do, you can make a good guess. I like trying to figure out what other people are doing ind game and try to mess up their plans. Any game that let's me do that always intrigues me!

7.5
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24. Board Game: The Staufer Dynasty [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:876]
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2015 - #27
2016 - #72
2017 - #77

A solid medium euro, one that doesn't get enough love, even from me. I really need to get it out and play it again (seems to be a theme with all of these euros languishing in the bottom quarter of my top 100...). The game only gives you a couple of choices of actions to take on a turn, but those actions are meaningful and deep. This game is all about setting up your next turn, manipulating the game state to favor your end game goals or snatch that treasure chest before your opponent. But it all takes advanced planning, the kind im not terribly good at. I'm much better with making off the cuff tactical decisions, not long term strategy. So this game is a real challenge for me, but it manages to make me want to play more instead of walking away completely, which has to mean its a good game, right?

7.5
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25. Board Game: Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:176]
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2015 - #59
2016 - #31
2017 - #76

Agricola was my favorite game of all time for several years, and even though it has dropped somewhat I still really enjoy it. When I heard that Uwe was coming out with a scaled-down two player only game that felt somewhat the same I was immediately drooling over the possibility of getting the Agricola experience in a shorter, smaller package. And this game mostly delivers.

This is a wonderful little coffee house game for me and my wife. While I HAVE played Agricola in a coffee shop with my wife before, this is immensely more practical in that setting, and requires less chairs-full-of-bits-and-boards than the full game.

The game is a lot of fun, but multiple games with the same partner burned the base game out quickly. The lack of round escalation and randomization, not to mention the lack of cards, found in Agricola proper leave only the propensity of your gaming partner to change a chosen strategy to provide a dynamic gaming experience from session to session. My wife and I found ourselves falling into typical patterns from game to game, so it became less fun. The added building expansions help this somewhat, but the real solution for us it to just play the game less often. The more time between plays the more we forget the patterns.

Anyway, this game still scratches the farming itch in the time it takes to finish a white chocolate mocha, and that's awesome.

7.5
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