Tiberius Foster's Top 50 Games of ALL-TIME, 2017 edition
Tiberius Foster
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Hi all:

I posted my first ever Top 50 list on Christmas last year. So, in keeping with this new Yuletide tradition, I am posting this new list on Christmas Eve this year.

Last year, I simply opened up a spreadsheet and entered my games one by one in the order I preferred them. This year, I used the [geekurl=http://www.pubmeeple.com/board-game-ranking-engine/]Board Game Ranking Engine[/geekurl], a site where you enter your games, then they ask you to choose your preference between two of them many, many, many times, until they come up with a ranking. Oddly, it gives you A LOT of ties. I had 6 ties, including my entire top 10, which came out to be 5 ties! (I broke these by simply deciding which game I like the best.)

I think the list definitely reflects a change in my gaming opportunities over the last year. 2016 was a year in which the vast, vast amount of gaming I did was with my wife alone. So most of what I played was light to medium weight 2-player only games, or games which played well with 2. This year, in addition to my games with Kim, I have been regularly attending a bi-weekly meetup, where I play 3-, 4-, 5-, and even-more-player counts. I've also befriended a couple of great guys from the group which has led to playing heavier games for 2 or 3. I think it definitely reflects in the new list.
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1. Board Game: Bye-Bye Black Sheep [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:6503]
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The following are the games that fell off the list this year:

Honorable mention - 1st & Goal, which actually came in at 60 last year, but I gave honorable mention to because I felt it would have come in pretty high except Kim hates it so i never got to play.
48 - Hanabi
47 - Sushi Go
46 - Kahuna
45 - Blokus
44 - Descent 2.0
43 - A Few Acres of Snow
42 - Incan Gold
37 - Can't Stop
34 - Coup
33 - Love Letter
31 - Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
30 - Cranium
24 - The Resistance
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2. Board Game: Margin for Error [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:10203]
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Before I proceed, I must admit to literally forgetting about 2 games!

Citadels - This came in at 28 last year. This year, I simply forgot to put it on the list. I have no idea how that happened. But at least, it isn't as bad as what I did to...

Jaipur - I was showing Kim my list, and she pointed out that Jaipur wasn't on it! When she asked me where it was last year, I looked it up and saw that Jaipur wasn't on that list either. I literally forgot this delightful little 2-player game, the quintessential couples game, TWO YEARS IN A ROW!!

Which makes this entire a list a travesty, I know.
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3. Board Game: Riga: Honorary Citizen [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
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My honorable mention this year goes to the game in my collection that I think has the best chance to crack my top 10: Time of Crisis. This is an area control game from GMT that just came out this year. Takes place during the late Roman Empire. The players are all trying to gain power and influence by balancing military, economic, and political power. Hoping to get this to the table soon. I really think my gaming group would love it.
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4. Board Game: Wyatt Earp [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:818]
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#50

Wyatt Earp

Last year: NEW!
Change: N/A
Reason for change: New to me this year

Wyatt Earp is from the "Mystery Rummy" series from Mike Fitzgerald. (I'm not sure why this isn't called "Mystery Rummy: Wyatt Earp". i think maybe it's not technically part of the series. But it is nevertheless a Mystery Rummy game, for sure.) Kim and I own 3 games in this series and - spoiler! - all 3 make this list. The Mystery Rummy series are, basically, the traditional card game of rummy with a few twists thrown in based on the particular theme of that game. In Wyatt Earp, each suit represents a bad guy from the Old West (Butch Cassidy; Billy the Kid; etc.) Players play cards that make the rewards for capturing these bad guys go up. You can earn the whole reward, or split it. Just a fun card game!
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5. Board Game: The Manhattan Project [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:214]
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#49

The Manhattan Project

Last year: NEW!
Change: N/A
Reason for change: Played for 1st time this year

When making this list, I promised myself I would only include games I've played at least a few times. I'm only 2 games in, and I'm already breaking that rule. My friend Nate brought this to our Monday game group once, so I have only played it one time! Manhattan Project is a worker placement/engine building game about building nuclear weapons. For some reason, this game really clicked for me and I managed to eek out a victory slightly ahead of Nate. I really enjoyed it and hope to play it again.
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6. Board Game: Dead Man's Draw [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:929]
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#48

Dead Man's Draw

Last Year: 29
Change: -19
Reason for change: not played

Well, we finally get to a game that has returned. This is a really fun little push-your-luck filler. I have played it with 2, 3, or 4, and it has worked great with all those counts. Unfortunately, I haven't really played it this year. I don't really know why, other than I have had the opportunity to play meatier games and have taken full advantage of that. Some games that fit into the filler category have suffered as a result. Still, a great game, though, and one I will always keep in my collection.
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7. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:294]
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#47

Lost Cities

Last Year: 40
Change: -7
Reason For Change: noise

This is one of the two 2-player Reiner Knizia card game gems on the list. Most people, I am sure, are familiar with this game, so there's no reason to go into an explanation.

Rather, let me tell you all a little story:
Coincidentally, as I was writing this list, Kim suggested I take a break and we play Lost Cities. Just as I was about to list Lost Cities! She was beating me by 47 points after two games, so I had quite a bit of catching up to do in the rubber match.

Which I did.

Except for some reason, I threw down a white 9 when I still had the 7 and 8 in my hand...with 2 handshakes already down! I immediately - and I stress IMMEDIATELY - realized my error. But Kim simply would not let me change my play. It cost me 45 points, and I lost by 11.

Had this happened before the list, I'm not sure if it would have made my top million, let alone Top 50.

And Kim, god bless her, has set a dangerous precedent. Like all good marriages, this is now war!!!
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8. Board Game: No Thanks! [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:392]
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#46

No Thanks

Last Year: 27
Change: -19
Reason for Change: movement away from fillers

Like Dead Man's Draw at 48, this game has dropped 19 places. I believe it is for the same reason: I'm simply playing small fillers like this less than I used to. A classic, though, which will stay in my collection forever, and I am sure when the pendulum swings back to fillers at some point, I'll be playing more of this.

This game has a special place in my heart. My mother wasn't much of a gamer. Rummy 500 was her thing. But after she got sick, I played this a few times with her and her aide, trying to keep her from slipping too far cognitively. Not being used to modern boardgames, she laughed throughout, and kept saying "this is the dumbest game I've ever played!" It's a fond memory of a pretty bad time.

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9. Board Game: Carcassonne: The Castle [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:494]
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#45

Carcassonne: The Castle

Last Year: 50
Change: +5
reason for change: a heavy Carcassonne year!

The second of several Knizia games on my list. This one just barely snuck onto the list at 50 last year. This year, it's risen a bit. This is definitely because Pat, one of my gaming friends, absolutely loves Carcassonne. As a result, I've played a lot of Carcassonne titles this year. You'll see a new ones added to the list, and the others already on the list will rise a bit.
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10. Board Game: Mystery Rummy: Escape from Alcatraz [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:3021]
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#44

Mystery Rummy: Escape From Alcatraz

Last year: New!
Change: N/A
reason for change: new to me this year

And now we have the 2nd Mystery Rummy title to make the list. This one is based on Escape From Alcatraz. The idea is that the players are trying to foil escape attempts, which are represented by the different suits. Once again, I really admire the way Mike Fitzgerald is able to keep the basics of rummy while adapting them to fit the different themes he has come up with. Great game!
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11. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Napoleonics [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:295]
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#43

Commands and Colors: Napoleonics

Last Year: 49
Change: +6
reason for change: just noise

Kim and I really like the whole C&C system. We own 7 games in the series (I think). Three are on this list; the other 4 haven't even been played yet!

Last year, for some unknown reason, I combined Napoleonics and Ancients together into the same entry. But they really should be separated out. I haven't gotten to play any of them very much this year, but they remain a favorite of ours.
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12. Board Game: Ghost Stories [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:191]
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#42

Ghost Stories

Last Year: 41
Change: -1
reason for change: noise

This is a great, great co-op. I'm not the biggest fans of co-ops, mainly because of the alpha-gamer thing. And for that reason, this doesn't really get the play it deserves. Still, a great game, though, with a great theme that really comes through.

Here's hoping it gets out more often in 2018!
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13. Board Game: Carcassonne: The City [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:503]
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#41

Carcassonne: The City

Last Year: New!
Change: N/A
reason for change: the year of Carcassonne!

And here we round out the first 10 on my list with the second Carcassonne title. As I've already stated, this was sort of the year of Carcassonne for me, with the base game getting played a lot more often (both with and without expansions), and some of the stand-alone games getting the attention they haven't gotten the last few years.

Like "The Castle", this is a more gamer-y version of Carcassonne and if you feel as though you've outgrown Carcassonne, do yourself a favor and check this out. I'm expecting to play this a lot in 2018.
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14. Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:258]
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#40

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation

Last Year: 20
Change: -20
reason for change: just not liking it as much anymore

Eleven games in, and we've already come across our third Knizia game. (It won't be the last.) I can't say if he is definitely my favorite designer. There's another designer who has a good number of games on here who might be my favorite.

As for The Confrontation, I have the edition that came out in 2005, which I think they call the Deluxe edition. First of all, I have to say, the cards might be my favorite art in any game I have. I mean: wow!

It's a real clever little 2-player game. Sort of a Stratego-on-steroids feel. Unfortunately, even Stratego on steroids is still, ultimately, Stratego. The choices are still fairly limited. It's as if the game promises so much and just can't deliver on it.

I will probably play this a lot less in the coming years. And I expect it to fall out of my top 50. Still, a really good game that I hope to fall back in love with after we take a little break from each other.
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15. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:179]
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#39

Battle Line

Last Year: 36
Change: -3
reason for change: noise

The 12th game on my list, and the 4th from Herr Doctor Knizia!

A seemingly simple 2-player card game with a lot of depth. Very similar to his other game Lost Cities. I just like Battle Line a touch more than Lost Cities, so it's a few spaces higher on my list.

This will always be in my collection and I can see breaking it out years and years into the future.
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16. Board Game: Suburbia [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:92]
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#38

Suburbia

Last Year: 19
Change: -19
reason for change: lack of play

I really like Suburbia. It's one of those games that, even when I haven't played in awhile, I'm impressed by its design. There really isn't any reason why it hasn't gotten more playing time lately. My only guess is that it takes up a lot of space, what with everyone building their own city. I'm going to make a conscientious effort to get this one to the table more often in the coming year.

I haven't played many city-building games. But there is one other on this list.
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17. Board Game: Tammany Hall [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:573]
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#37

Tammany Hall

Last Year: 4
Change: -33
reason for change: lack of play

And now for the game with the single biggest drop on the list: 33 spaces!
I LOVE this game (even though I suck at it)! Look, last year, I said there were only 3 other games in the entire world I liked better than it. But it simply hasn't gotten the play this year.

At heart, Tammany Hall is really an area control game. But whereas most area control games are about war, this is about political power in New York City in the 1800's. There is a lot of negotiation in this game, and it is really, really cutthroat. I think at heart that is why it hasn't gotten out this year. It's simply too mean! And most of my gaming is done at a meetup with people I don't know really well.

Therefore, I don't read too much into its drop. I fully expect this game to be in my top 50 for ever and ever and ever.

And, by the way, I LOVE the components in this game!
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18. Board Game: Splendor [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:111]
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#36

Splendor

Last Year: New!
Change: N/A
reason for change: new to me

I was introduced to this game at my meetup and loved it so much I went out and bought a copy. It's not often I buy a game that I know I can play on a regular basis anyway. That's how much I loved it.

I love engine-building games, and that's exactly what Splendor is. It's really light, though, I think. Almost a filler, except it's just a bit too long. There aren't many games I can sit and play again and again and again.

I'm also lucky in that Kim loves it as much as I do, and it plays real well with only 2.

I've heard mixed reviews about the expansion, and can't wait to check it out.
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19. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:70]
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#35

Tigris & Euphrates

Last Year: 16
Change: -19
reason for change: hasn't gotten to the table, for some reason

OK. 16 games. 5 from Knizia. But this is the last one of his, promise. I don't even know what to say about this game. I truly believe it is pure genius: your final score is whatever area you are WEAKEST in!

This game is essentially a civ-building game. Except, most games, when you build a city, it is your city. In this game, you need to be willing to abandon that whole concept. What you are really trying to do is influence cities, and you've got to be willing to abandon them for better opportunities.

I've only ever played it 2-player, with Kim. I am really looking forward to breaking this out with my gaming group, or at the meetup, to get a good 3- or 4-player experience.

I fully expect this to climb again next year.
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20. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
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#34

Pandemic

Last Year: 25
Change: -9
reason for change: I'm not the hugest fan of co-ops; plus, pandemic legacy has sort of ruined vanilla Pandemic for me

Pandemic is a great game, there's no arguing that. Unfortunately, I only ever really get to play this with Kim. My gaming group aren't really into co-ops. And with Kim, she ends up sort of getting all passive and letting me alpha-game the thing. Which just makes me feel bad.

Still, I expect this will always be in my Top 50. I can see it settling down here in the mid-30's and staying there, basically, forever.
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21. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:98]
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#33

Commands & Colors: Ancients

Last Year: 49
Change: +16
reason for change: good number of plays this year

I don't know why, but I played Ancients a lot more than Napoleonics this year. On last year's list, I had combined the two into one entry. This year, I decided that was stupid.

I do honestly believe the two are interchangeable, though. There is really no logical reason for this to be so much higher than Napoleonics. I just happened to grab Ancients off the shelf and end up playing it more. They could just as easily switch places next year.

Will it remain on my list forever? I'm not sure. Although, I bet there will always be SOME C&C game on here. Like I stated before, I have 7 C&C games, but Ive only played 3 of them. All 3 are in my top 50 (spoiler). The other 4 have real potential to get on here.
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22. Board Game: Dice Town [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:718]
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#32

Dice Town

Last Year: 26
Change: -6
reason for change: noise

I really love Dice Town. It uses the Yahtzee mechanic - roll a bunch of dice, save some, reroll others - and a Wild West theme. Short, fun, will always be in my Top 50, I feel. I still don't have the expansion, but look forward to getting that someday. I know they just came out with a 2nd edition, so I hope to see it start getting more love on BGG. A real similar - but, I think, superior - game to King of Tokyo.
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23. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Tiberius Foster
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#31

Carcassonne

Last Year: 38
Change: +7
reason for change: more plays

As I've already stated, this has been set of The Year of Carcassonne for me. It is my friend Pat's favorite game. I've therefore, played it a lot more often than in the past. And I've played it at all counts, with and without expansions. I've even played the stand-alones. As a result, both this and The Castle rose on the list this year; The City cracked the Top 50; even The Discovery, while not making the Top 50, came really close.

There are other versions of the game I'm also looking forward to trying.

Up until this year, most of my plays have been 2-player with Kim. This is the first time I've ever played it really competitively, which is even better. I love that versatility. I fully expect Carcassonne to be in my Top 50 forever, probably settling down right about here.
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24. Board Game: Fields of Arle [Average Rating:8.17 Overall Rank:55]
Tiberius Foster
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#30

Fields of Arle

Last Year: New!
Change: N/A
reason for change: new to me

And here we finally get to my other favorite designer, Uwe Rosenberg. This is definitely my favorite purchase of the year. This game killed Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, knocking it out of my Top 50.

What I love about this game - as is common with all of Rosenberg's big games, really - is the many different paths to victory. I really think the replayability here is off the charts and I expect it to be in my To 50 for a long time.

A word about Rosenberg vs. Knizia:

Knizia has 5 games in my Top 50; Rosenberg has 3.
BUT..Rosenberg's 3 are all higher than Knizia's 5.
Furthermore, Rosenberg has a few other games that would land in my Top 100: Bohnanza, Patchwork. Knizia has none.
Knizia has some real stinkers: Times Square; Formula Motor Racing.
Rosenberg has more games that I haven't played yet but look great: Feast for Odin; etc.

What does this all mean? I don't know. Just that they are my two favorite designers, and I really don't know who has the edge.
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25. Board Game: Dixit [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:193] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Tiberius Foster
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#29

Dixit

Last Year: 23
Change: -6
reason for change: noise

What an incredible, creative, unique game. I really can't say enough about this. What incredible, incredible art! I'm actually a little surprised it wasn't higher on my list. But I am SURE it will always be here somewhere.
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