2017 Top 50 update
Matthew S.
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Fairfax
Virginia
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2017 has been a tough year. Both my wife (and primary gaming partner) and one of my children have been very ill, so I have had both many fewer game days and less two-player home plays than I might have hoped. Many of the games on the list last year haven't been played again, through no fault of their own. Changes in rankings for them are therefore based more on how sad I am not to have gotten them to the table again rather than more play experiences.

Meanwhile, the shelf of shame is much larger than it might otherwise have been. The following games have not yet been played and are therefore ineligible:

A Fake Artist Goes to New York
Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar (the recidivist on this list)
Insider (edit 12/17/17 -- would have been around #27 if I'd waited a bit)
Tao Long
Trickerion
Watson & Holmes

I also expect Brasil, Clinic, and possibly Key Flow to make the list once they are published or republished.

As always, Go is ranked 0/Emeritus, because I think it is the greatest game ever created, but I have never played it in person, though I was 4 kyu on KGS when I more-or-less retired from it before getting back into modern games.

Link to October 2016 list: Prismattic's top 50, as of October 2016
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1. Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:44]
Matthew S.
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#50

Previous rank: 22 (-28)

I am generally not a fan of fully cooperative games. I make an exception for experiential games where we (usually my fiancee and I) are working together to solve a puzzle. The theming of this game is also great, even if the necessity of running through the scenario from the beginning repeatedly does start to wear thin after a while.

2017 update -- The puzzle aspect was great, but the time mechanism, especially the dice randomness, grates more and more on my memory. Have not sought out any expansion modules (which would require borrowing my friend's copy of the base game as well).
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2. Board Game: Samurai [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:171]
Matthew S.
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#49

Previous rank: 39 (-10)

My opinion of this game is somewhat ambivalent. The basic tile-laying battle is amazing, and the game would be much higher on this list if that was the only consideration. But the wonky Knizia scoring fell a little flat with everyone I brought this to the table for.

2017 update -- Yeah, the peak/end split here is really extreme. While you're playing it's great, but the scoring is anticlimactic.
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3. Board Game: RoboRally [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:336]
Matthew S.
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#48

Previous rank: 19 (-29)

Laughter is healthy, and this game produces it pretty reliably. It's also mechanically quite clever. Richard Garfield is a talented man. (Magic: The Gathering is not on this list, but would have appeared in my top 100.)

2017 update -- Haven't had an opportunity to play this, and haven't missed it as much as I expected.
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4. Board Game: Warrior Knights [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:837]
Matthew S.
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#47

Previous rank: 37 (-10)

I love the sprawling expanse of interconnected sub-games here. Unfortunately, I've discovered that I rarely dudes-on-a-map as much as a I expect, because I find non-binding negotiation and diplomacy tiresome and stressful. The game is also bit clunky by the standards of more recent epic Ameritrash (one of which will appear higher on this list).

2017 update -- SOLD/TRADED (my painted copy). And yet, unlike the previously higher-ranked Forbidden Stars, I am occasionally nostalgic for this.
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5. Board Game: Codenames [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:43] [Average Rating:7.80 Unranked]
Matthew S.
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#46

Previous rank: 43 (-3)

There are only two party games on this list; it's really not my thing. But this is a thinky party game, so I make an exception for it.

2017 update -- Haven't gotten to play this; debating whether I should get Duet for more play opportunities.
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6. Board Game: Millennium Blades [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:273]
Matthew S.
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#45

Previous rank: NEW TO LIST!

I found this game fascinating in spite of not generally enjoying real-time pressure in games. The ridiculous set-up and clean up dissuade me from actually obtaining my own copy of this, though.
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7. Board Game: Madeira [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:300]
Matthew S.
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#44

Previous rank: 42 (-2)

I like heavy Euros. Unfortunately, I don't really like dice-rolling. But this is still a strong game overall, which is how it can get this high on my list despite featuring the "feed-your-people-or-suffer" mechanic, which I am not fond of.

2017 update -- I don't own and haven't played this, but do occasionally think about giving it another chance.
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8. Board Game: YINSH [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:131] [Average Rating:7.70 Unranked]
Matthew S.
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#43

Previous rank: 38 (-5)

Thanks to boardspace.net, I have played a lot of abstract games. Yinsh was one of the only ones great enough that I was motivated to buy a physical copy. (Though I have since parted with it, as no one I might have played with was equally enamored of it.)

2017 update -- occasionally sad that I didn't really have anyone to play this with.
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9. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:316]
Matthew S.
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#42

Previous rank: 31 (-12)

I have owned this game since 2003, longer than anything else still in my collection (except Chess). I have played approximately 80 games of this, with a variety of different people. I don't like pure social deduction games, but social deduction plus tableau building is a combination that works for me. Game should be played with 3-5 people for best effect.

2017 update -- I don't think this got played at all in 2017, though I've played it probably 80 times in the past. I'm still a little sad not to see it come out, so it hangs on on this list.
 
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10. Board Game: Blood Rage [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:21]
Matthew S.
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#41

Previous rank: 26 (-15)

This straddles the Euro/AT line, which inclines me to like it more than the actual Ameritrash games on this list. I would probably rate it higher if it was Rochester draft rather than draft and pass.

2017 update -- A fun theme, but I haven't played in 2017 and there are many things ahead of it on to-play-again list.
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11. Board Game: Omen: A Reign of War [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:946] [Average Rating:7.39 Unranked]
Matthew S.
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#40

Previous rank: 29 (-11)

(Olympus Edition, plus the expansions released later with the Omega edition). This game is just plain clever, and there is a lot of replayability in a small box. I recommend using a draft, because it's really painful if random draw leaves one person without any oracles, in particular.

2017 update -- Nothing new to say here.
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12. Board Game: Patchwork [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:56]
Matthew S.
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#39

Previous rank: NEW TO LIST!

My kids like playing this with me on the phone when we're stuck in waiting rooms and such. An excellent "thinky filler".
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13. Board Game: Caverna: The Cave Farmers [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:14]
Matthew S.
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#38

Previous rank: NEW TO LIST!

This game would be much higher up the list, but got displaced for most situations by another game I tried shortly thereafter. A meaty puzzle. I haven't played Agricola, so I'm not going to offer an opinion on that debate, other than to say that I like fantasy and therefore much prefer Caverna's theme.
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14. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:71]
Matthew S.
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#37

Previous rank: NEW TO LIST!

I am not a huge Stefan Feld fan. I thought Amerigo was okay and I disliked Aquasphere. Trajan is solid, though, and certainly the best of the three mentioned.
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15. Board Game: High Treason: The Trial of Louis Riel [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:3335]
Matthew S.
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#36

Previous rank: NEW TO LIST!

Note that Twilight Struggle has never made my list. This removes the aspects of that game that I found most frustrating, while adding a more interesting theme and more reasonable playing time for the type of game it is.
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16. Board Game: Rajas of the Ganges [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:418]
Matthew S.
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#35

Previous rank: NEW TO LIST!

This is less complicated than it appears, which has made it appealing to my children, while still having enough depth to hold the adults attention and including the construction of one's own village board, something both my wife and I typically enjoy.
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17. Board Game: Whistle Stop [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:1059]
Matthew S.
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#34

Previous rank: NEW TO LIST!

A step up from Ticket to Ride, with the added joy of building the map, not just your own routes.
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18. Board Game: Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:142]
Matthew S.
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#33

Previous rank: 34 (+1)

I don't have a lot of war games or simulations on my list. I really enjoy the hand-management driven action of this one, however. And even after several plays, I'm still coming to appreciate some of the depth of this game.

2017 update -- Still sounds about right.
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19. Board Game: King of New York [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:424]
Matthew S.
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#32

Previous rank: 36 (+4)

There isn't a lot of Ameritrash on my list. But this an excellent opener or closer for a game day. Also, my younger daughter loves this game. I typically dislike dice-rolling, but I mind it less when the Yahtzee mechanic is present for mitigation.

2017 update -- I've since played King of Tokyo, and count me in the apparently small minority who has no desire to own that and considers this clearly superior.
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20. Board Game: The Manhattan Project [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:214]
Matthew S.
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#31 (also subsuming TMP: Chain Reaction)

Previous rank: 32 and 45 (+1, but Chain Reaction was separately ranked)

I enjoy the light-hearted presentation of a serious theme. Unlike nonbinding or permanently-binding negotiation, I love the binding-for-one-turn negotiation of this game. The game does drag a bit as player turns get longer and longer with more workers, or this might be higher on the list. But with less than the full five players, this is one of the games I would use to introduce people to worker placement.

Although (spoiler) I don't like TMP:CR quite as much as the original board game, it is much faster and I can play it with my children. As will become clear through this list, I love hand management with multi-use cards. This is the only light game I know that features that.

2017 update -- The card game is probably in my top 5 solo games, too.
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21. Board Game: Guilds of London [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:1152]
Matthew S.
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#30

Previous rank: 21 (-9)

I love multi-use cards. This game may have the best implementation of that mechanic out there. The aesthetics are also gorgeous, though the iconography is not as user-friendly as I would have liked (and I say that as someone who thinks Race for the Galaxy is easy to grasp).

2017 update -- This hasn't dropped so much as been pushed down by various other great games I've discovered in the past year.
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22. Board Game: Archipelago [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:283]
Matthew S.
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#29

Previous rank: 24 (-5)

The best semi-cooperative game I've encountered. I prefer the competition-with-collective-action-problem type to the hidden traitor type. (I haven't played CO2 yet.) It doesn't hurt that the game is beautiful, either. Worth working your way through the somewhat dense rules.

Christophe Boelinger is one of my top three designers.

2017 update -- I got my own copy of this early in the year, but have yet to have a chance to play with it.
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23. Board Game: Paperback [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:305]
Matthew S.
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#28

Previous rank: 25 (-3)

I should note here that I do not like Dominion, which strikes me as a mechanic in search of a game, as well as being dry as dust. But it did enable the appearance of games like Paperback, which is an actual game and not dry at all. This is a Scrabble killer.

2017 update -- That still pretty well sums up my feelings.
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24. Board Game: Arboretum [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:360]
Matthew S.
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#27

Previous rank: NEW TO LIST!

I'm not a big fan traditional card games; this is an exception (it's basically like a traditional card game with better art). Possibly the most painful hand management of any game, in a good way.
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25. Board Game: Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:151]
Matthew S.
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#26

Previous rank: 30 (+4)

I would not have predicted this before I started amassing games, but I really like auctions. And I love the I-cut-you-choose pricing mechanic. (Isle of Skye pushed Castles of Mad King Ludwig out of consideration for this list, but I enjoyed that, too.)

2017 update -- This is now my #1 gateway game for introducing new gamers to the hobby.
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