Colin's Top 25+ Games of All Time (as of Dec-2017)
Colin Orr
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Connecticut
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Almost exactly one year ago, I published my inaugural top 25 games of all time. I've now updated for 2017. Considering some life and work changes this year, it hasn't been a year of heavy play, but I wanted to make this a yearly thing so I've reflected and updated it anyway.

I noted last year that I was much more confident in my top 10 (or so) than those beyond that. I think this year's changes speak to that. A fair number of "cult of the new" games snuck into the top 25 and a few games with minimal recent plays dropped down or even off of the list. It will be interesting to see if this pattern holds true in future years. Part of me wants to just make this my top 15 instead of 25, but the other part of me thinks its fun and OK to see the changes from year to year.

Like last year, qualified games wound up being ones with 3+ plays (although most have many more) and nothing which is digital only. Also, I again included my "extra" filler/small box and solo lists, but specifically changed the framing this year to make it clear that these are additional games beyond my top 25.

Without further ado, here are my top 25 games as of Dec-2017...

2016 List
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1. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:49]
Colin Orr
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#1
Previous Rank: 1

Includes all expansions, but most importantly Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts (my favorite) and Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm (for solo play).

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Thoughts for 2017:
No surprise to see this here again. Frankly, I can't imagine this ever changing. The iOS app was also very welcome as it makes the game even more accessible.

Original Comment from 2016:
This was a pretty easy #1 as it was my first true board gaming love and my first 10 rated game. Best played with 1 (experienced) opponent and the 2p "advanced" rules (or against the Keldon AI), but I've started dabbling with solo play and that has been great as well. I've played with all of the cards through Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts, but I've had minimal exposure to the additional modules/rules. I love the agony of how to spend cards and when to piggyback on role selections.
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2. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:11]
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#2
Previous Rank: 2

Includes the assorted mini-expansions, but the rank wouldn't change without them.

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Thoughts for 2017:
Like #1, this is locked in pretty solidly. Still playing quite a bit online and can't imagine I'll ever tire of it.

Original Comment from 2016:
One of my early acquisitions after Sit Down & Shut-Up's enthusiastic praise and a good deal on Amazon. I immediately fell in love with the tactics from the dice. It's probably the best execution of euro-style input randomness for my money. Then combine with the combo potential and prefect amount of euro interaction and I was sold. I prefer the lower-player counts, but that is mostly just to minimize downtime.
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3. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:23]
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#3
Previous Rank: 4

Includes Concordia: Salsa and Concordia: Britannia / Germania, but they have little impact on its rating as I haven't explored them much.

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Thoughts for 2017:
Since last year, I've since played a bunch more online and managed a physical play too. I've explored the different maps and expansion modules a bit more and its only added to my love of this game. I don't think they are essential, but I like the variety.

Original Comment from 2016:
The only game on this list which I have only played online (so far), but I'm confident physical plays won't change my love and I just recently acquired a physical copy. I first heard about this game on various board game podcasts and resolved to eventually learn it and try it online. It's amazing how elegant this game is. So much emergent game play in so few rules and mechanisms and just the right amount of interaction for me. In particular, I love the balance of combining the actions and scoring conditions on the cards (especially since they are often at odds with each other).
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4. Board Game: Macao [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:243]
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#4
Previous Rank: 3

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Thoughts for 2017:
No plays in 2017 and I'm worried it could drop more if I can't get it to the table soon. I still think very highly of this game, but I can't keep it in the top 5 on nostalgia alone.

Original Comment from 2016:
Picked this game up on a whim in a trade knowing little about it, except that it was Stefan Feld. However, fell in love halfway through my first play and it shot to a '10' shortly thereafter. The long-term planning and then short-term tactics to deal with it are amazing. It's painful in all the right ways. When I first rated this game, I said it was my favorite Feld (even after having played The Castles of Burgundy). However, after more plays of The Castles of Burgundy, I'm giving that the edge, but its VERY close.
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5. Board Game: Scythe [Average Rating:8.30 Overall Rank:7]
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#5
Previous Rank: 5

Includes the promos from the Kickstarter, Scythe: Invaders from Afar & (soon) Scythe: The Wind Gambit. That said, as of this list, I have not yet played with any expansion content.

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Thoughts for 2017:
Like Macao, this was also not played in 2016 and is in danger of dropping. I'm optimistic about getting it played again soon though and really pumped for the new expansion.

Original Comment from 2016:
This is a hard one for me. First of all, it's probably the game on this list with the fewest plays. Secondly, I normally don't fall for conflict driven games. That said, I can't stop thinking about this game. And it's the game on this list that I'm most excited to play again. The "Cold War"-esque nature of this game has me completely head over heals for it. And let's be honest, the components of my Kickstarter version don't hurt either. This could be one of the more volatile entries on the list in the future, but I'm too excited and optimistic about this game to leave it off. I'm also really excited to try it solo.
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6. Board Game: Mysterium [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:152]
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#6
Previous Rank: 6

Counts as a nod to the original European version and the more recent English Libellud release. And it includes Mysterium: Hidden Signs & Mysterium: Secrets & Lies.

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Thoughts for 2017:
Nothing new to say here. This keeps hitting the table (particularly with my extended family) and its still always a hit.

Original Comment from 2016:
First played an imported Polish version at ConnCon and immediately sought out my own copy. Later, I "upgraded" to the Asmodee version for the components and future expansions. That said, either version is great. It's just so much fun agonizing over the dream cards as the ghost or the psychics. It has really been a hit with just about everybody that I've played it with, including muggles. I still often play with the Polish rules and I can't argue much with the folks who say it's more of an "activity" than a "game", but I adore it nonetheless.
 
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7. Board Game: Snowdonia [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:343]
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#7
Previous Rank: -

I own a few of the small expansions, but I haven't played them yet.

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Thoughts for 2017:
Let's start out with the obvious, this is really high for a game that I've only played a handful of times solo and once with 2p. That said, this is really the first worker placement game that I've fallen in love with. Others have been good (and a couple are great), but I've never really gotten the hype with many beloved worker placement games. Here I think the mechanism really sings. But the high placement on this list is more due to the variable setup elements (including different scenarios) and perfect amount of randomness which allows for excellent replayability and a great blend of strategy and tactics. As the highest ranked new game on this list, it'll be interesting to see how this holds in years to come. Right now, I'm optimistic.

Original Comment from 2016:
N/A
 
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8. Board Game: 51st State: Master Set [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:254]
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#8
Previous Rank: 7

Includes 51st State: Master Set – Scavengers and many of the small promos.

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Thoughts for 2017:
Although I don't play this much, I'm always excited to get it to the table. The minor fall from last year just equates to new games taking some of my attention (Alien Artifacts) and a recognition of my overall lack of plays.

Original Comment from 2016:
Although I was underwhelmed by Imperial Settlers, I was very intrigued by this re-release and pulled the trigger on the pre-order. And I'm glad I did as I enjoy it much more than Imperial Settlers. I'm such a sucker for multi-use cards. It's easier to pick up than it first seems and the weight is perfect for me. Although the cards can be a bit random, figuring out the best path forward each round is very fun and challenging. Can't wait to to play this more and I still haven't fully explored the two included expansion decks.
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9. Board Game: Nations [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:94]
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#9
Previous Rank: -

Although I own Nations: Dynasties, I haven't played it at the time of creating this list.

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Thoughts for 2017:
This was on the "too soon" list last year, but it was the hardest one to leave off. I've now played it a few more times and its clear to me that it belongs in my top 10. As a long time Civilization player, this is still the board game that best represents what I love about the Civilization series. Having recently picked up the Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization app, that is competing a bit, but this is still the one I'm most excited to play again. Solo has been quite enjoyable too. Now I really need to try the Nations: Dynasties expansion.

Original Comment from 2016:
N/A
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10. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:367]
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#10
Previous Rank: 8

This does NOT include any expansions. I've only played High Bohn and I don't feel it added anything worthwhile to the game. Shout-out to sister games Würfel Bohnanza & Bohnanza: The Duel though as I've had a lot of fun with both.

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Thoughts for 2017:
Still a hit in the Orr household and always something I'm happy to jump into. I really need to make an effort to explore other negotiation games...

Original Comment from 2016:
For my money, this is Uwe Rosenberg's best game (gasp!). Although I've been exploring solo boardgaming options, boardgaming is firstly a social endeavor and I feel this game facilitates those interactions so well. It dances perfectly on the line between party game and strategy game. Although I've heard about this game flopping with some groups, I've had nothing but success.
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11. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
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#11
Previous Rank: 9

Includes Pandemic: On the Brink and Pandemic Legacy: Season 1.

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Thoughts for 2017:
Although plays are becoming rarer (and usually with muggles), this is still my favorite coop game. I still adore the overall system and its a great weight and length for me.

Original Comment from 2016:
Although not the first designer board game that I played, it was the first coop. And it really blew my mind that games like this were out there. I love coops and the Pandemic system to this day. In particular, I think the tension of shuffling the discard onto draw pile is fantastic. So elegant yet so brutal. I'm including Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 in this entry as I'm basically rating the system. I think both are great but not different enough to rate separately. Perhaps that will change once I finally finish it. I'd like to explore the later Pandemic expansions and Pandemic The Cure more as well.
 
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12. Board Game: Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck Building Game [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:552] [Average Rating:7.60 Unranked]
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#12
Previous Rank: 10

Includes Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game and Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck Building Game.

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Thoughts for 2017:
I still love deckbuilding, coops and this overall theme/implementation. Unfortunately, it didn't go over well with my wife, but I'm hoping all hope isn't lost there. I recently picked up Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game Expansion and Legendary Encounters: ALIEN Conversion Kit so I'm hoping to get this to the table more in 2018, even if predominantly solo.

Original Comment from 2016:
I'm going to cheat and use this entry for the Legendary Encounters system. I first picked up Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game and fell in love with it as a solo endeavor. Later I picked up Legendary Encounters: A Predator Deck Building Game and although I've only played it a few times, I believe it is slightly superior. In particular, it has keywords which I feel) promote better player interaction. I also can't wait to explore the competitive mode. I feel like I've barely scratched the surface on these games. I have tried Legendary Encounters: A Firefly Deck Building Game once and I was underwhelmed so I'm not really ready to give it the same praise yet. It felt like it added too many fiddly aspects to me. But it's hard to judge on a single play, so I'd certainly play it more.
 
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13. Board Game: Codenames [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:43] [Average Rating:7.80 Unranked]
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#13
Previous Rank: 11

Includes Codenames: Pictures & Codenames Duet since they're all so similar.

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Thoughts for 2017:
Although I'm not enthusiastic about Codenames: Pictures, I still love the base game and I'm very excited to dig more into Codenames Duet. This remains my "go to" party game.

Original Comment from 2016:
Although I've always appreciated party games as a social activity, I've never felt like they were very interesting from a strategy game perspective. Codenames shattered that mentality for me. So much fun, great for groups and yet tons of opportunity for creative word play.
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14. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:134]
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#14
Previous Rank: 12

This entry should be considered to count as both Razzia! and Ra.

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Thoughts for 2017:
This game more than any has continue to increase my feelings towards Reiner Knizia and I continue to seek out his games, particularly his auction games. That said, this remains my favorite.

Original Comment from 2016:
I first played Ra at ConnCon a few years ago and really enjoyed it despite a pretty poor performance. Then I was exposed to Razzia! via the iOS app and considered the theme and lack of disasters to be an improvement. That said, over time I came to see Razzia! as "Ra-light". Certainly not a bad thing, but it helped me respect the "original" a bit more. Regardless of which version is on the table (or mobile screen), I love the auction system with fixed bidding mechanics and the push your luck elements of the set building. Easily my favorite auction game(s), although For Sale comes fairly close.
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15. Board Game: Unlock! Escape Adventures [Average Rating:7.57 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.57 Unranked]
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#15
Previous Rank: -

Should counted as entry for all escape room games.

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Thoughts for 2017:
I really debated excluding escape room games from this list entirely, but I love them too much to do that. Yes, they are single play, sometimes flawed and have so many to chose from, but they also offer an experience like nothing else I can do in my home. As a compromise, I'm creating this one placeholder for all escape room games. So far I've only played the first three Unlock games but the first EXIT: Das Spiel series and Escape Room: The Game are queued up and I'm super excited.

Original Comment from 2016:
N/A
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16. Board Game: Ethnos [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:244]
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#16
Previous Rank: -

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Thoughts for 2017:
When I first started this list, this game was higher than its current location. Upon further reflection, I've since recognized that some of my enthusiasm for this game is probably "cult of the new" hype, so I've moved it down. We'll see how it fairs in future years. That said, I love area majority and multi-use card-esque game play which makes me very excited to continue to play this more. The fact that it was a hit with some muggles is awesome too. I hear the criticisms on lack of theme, mediocre art design and occasional "dud" race combinations but those aren't enough to sway me from including this on my list.

Original Comment from 2016:
N/A
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17. Board Game: Cacao [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:493]
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#17
Previous Rank: 15

Includes Cacao: Chocolatl and some of the mini-expansions/promos.

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Thoughts for 2017:
Similar to Deus below, my love of this game does not seem to be matched by those around me. Its still my favorite tile placement game and I'm still excited to explore the expansions.

Original Comment from 2016:
One of the lightest games on this list, but one of my most played games overall (counting online plays, at least). Easily my favorite tile placement game right now. Very tactical, but very fun and a great option for muggles. I haven't yet played Cacao: Chocolatl, but I have played with some of the promos and I can't wait to add the other modules, particularly the huts.
 
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18. Board Game: Viticulture: Complete Collector's Edition [Average Rating:8.44 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.44 Unranked]
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#18
Previous Rank: 16

Based on the "Complete Collector's Edition" (therefore has Tuscany: Expand the World of Viticulture) and Viticulture: Moor Visitors Expansion.

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Thoughts for 2017:
No longer my favorite worker placement game, but still a favorite. I haven't had a chance to play recently, but I'm confident it will be back on the table very soon.

Original Comment from 2016:
Easily my favorite worker placement game. Although the cards add some luck, I see them as adding more variation and making the tactics more interesting. The theme is really fun and it's also probably the meatiest game that my wife has honestly enjoyed and has even asked to play. I would always play with the first few Tuscany: Expand the World of Viticulture modules, but I haven't yet tried most of the later ones. Nor have I tried Viticulture: Moor Visitors Expansion.
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19. Board Game: Kingdomino [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:185] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Colin Orr
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#19
Previous Rank: -

Counts as Kingdomino and Queendomino.

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Thoughts for 2017:
Pretty big cheat here, but I had to group Kingdomino and Queendomino together. I can't pick a favorite (yet). One is super fast, elegant, borderline filler. The other is a deeper, meatier game with more paths to victory. Looking forward to trying the modes which combine the two as well.

Original Comment from 2016:
N/A
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20. Board Game: Seasons [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:160]
Colin Orr
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Norwalk
Connecticut
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#20
Previous Rank: 18

Includes the cards from the expansions. I haven't played with the added mechanisms.

-------------------------------

Thoughts for 2017:
My "overplayed" sentiment has diminished over the last year and I'm excited to get this played again soon. I still love the mix of long and short-term planning.

Original Comment from 2016:
I actually first left this off my list as it's a bit overplayed for me at the moment. However, after thinking about it a bit more, it was clear that it deserved a place on this list. The card draft plus the dice provide a great balance between long-term strategy and short-term tactics. There can sometimes be a bit too much "take that" for me, but I seem to get over it pretty quickly as I feel it's usually fairly benign when actually executed.
 
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21. Board Game: Deus [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:301]
Colin Orr
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#21-25

21 - Deus
Previous Rank #17, Previous Comments
All digital plays this year since nobody around me likes it, but I still love it. Fun decisions and multiple paths to victory with the perfect length and weight. I'd love to try Deus: Egypt but I can't justify the purchase with the game collecting dust.

22 - 7 Wonders & family
Previous Rank #13, Previous Comments
Oh how the mighty have fallen. I'm still having a hard time getting this to the table, but digital plays of the new app helped ensure this game still had a place on this list. This game is responsible for some of my favorite gaming memories though and that means something.

23 - Trains & Trains: Rising Sun
Previous Rank #19, Previous Comments
Hasn't gotten played in the last year, but it's still my favorite competitive deck-builder. We'll see how it fairs next year with a number of the other deck-builders in the "Too Early" and "Digital" lists below.

24 - Splendor
Previous Rank #22, Previous Comments
Still a hit in my house, especially with my wife and her family. Probably the most played item on this list actually. Its just one that I can't take too much of in a row. But I'm excited to explore Cities of Splendor and mix it up a bit.

25 - Roll for the Galaxy
Previous Rank #14, Previous Comments
Still clinging to the top 25, but fallen pretty far since I haven't played it in a very long time and it frequently gets passed over for other options. But it is what it is, I really have enjoyed all plays of this game and I really wish I could play it more, including Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition.
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22. Board Game: For Sale [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:261]
Colin Orr
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FILLER/SMALL BOX HONORABLE MENTIONS
I enjoy many filler and small box games, but they are almost always situational to me. With the exception of the few debatable fillers above, I'll pretty much always prefer to play larger, "entree" games. Therefore I wanted to honor some filler and small box games that I really enjoy with their own mini list.

So... here are some of my current favorite filler/small box games:

d10-1 For Sale
d10-2 Kakerlakenpoker Royal (and Cockroach Poker)
d10-3 6 nimmt!
d10-4 Coup
d10-5 The Fox in the Forest

Near Misses: Red7, Liar's Dice, Eggs and Empires, Qwixx, Star Realms and Hanamikoji.
 
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23. Board Game: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:66] [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
Colin Orr
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SOLO HONORABLE MENTIONS
Although there are many solo-friendly games in my top 25, they are all ones which enjoy at multiple player counts. I felt it was worth highlighting a few other games that I really love solo, but don't make the cut for the overall top 25.

So... here are my current top solo games not already on the list above:

d10-1 Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases
d10-2 Castellion
d10-3 Limes
d10-4 Onirim (second edition)
d10-5 The Game

And for clarity, the top 25 games that I enjoy solo are: Race for the Galaxy, Snowdonia, Nations, LE: Alien and LE: Predator.

I haven't yet played Scythe and Viticulture solo.


 
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24. Board Game: La Granja [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:113]
Colin Orr
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Norwalk
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TOO EARLY TO RANK
The games below haven't had enough plays to consider including them in the official top 25. That said, I've seen enough of them in my limited play(s) to believe that they have a strong potential to make this list in the future.

So... in no particular order, here are the games that need more plays before they can compete:

* La Granja
* Stockpile
* El Grande
* Eminent Domain
* Captains of Industry
* The Quest for El Dorado
* Arkham Horror: The Card Game
* City of Spies: Estoril 1942
* Yokohama
* Adrenaline
* Alien Artifacts

Currently unplayed, but very promising: Mechs vs. Minions, Notre Dame, Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure, Broom Service, World's Fair 1893 and Downforce
 
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25. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2242]
Colin Orr
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COMMENTARY

Honorable mentions which just missed the top 25... Orléans, The Voyages of Marco Polo, Summoner Wars: Master Set, Karuba and King of New York (including Tokyo & Power Up expansions) likely would round out my top 30 in some order.

Games which fell off of the list this year... Keyflower (#20), Orléans (#21) and Five Tribes: The Artisans of Naqala (#23) all fell out of the top 25 and all 5 in my quick #25-30 are gone. Nothing particularly interesting here and really just highlights how unstable the second half of my list is. These were all games right on the bubble which got bumped, primarily by "new to me" games due to my "cult of the new" tendencies.

Top digital-only games... With one notable exception in 2016, I don't like including games which I've only played digitally. With that in mind, I wanted to highlight Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization and Automobiles as I've really been enjoying those digitally and potentially could sneak onto this list in the future given appropriate physical plays.
 
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