BGG Top 300 Games - Recategorized
BGG ranking is sometimes very useful but it can be misleading to new boardgamers because it mixes all different games into the same list.
Here, I present categorized version of the list. In this list, each game is assigned to a category that best represents the game.
Board Game: Star Realms
[Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:87]
[Average Rating:7.63 Unranked]
Competitive Games (Very Light)
These games usually can be played within a short time frame (less than 90 min) and have relatively simple rules. Thus, they are often great games to introduce boardgames to people who haven't played them before. Often have BGG weight less than 2.0.
1. Star Realms
2. Ticket to Ride
6. Sushi Go Party!
7. Battle Line
8. Love Letter
11. King of Tokyo
12. Century: Spice Road
13. For Sale
15. Colt Express
16. Lost Cities
Competitive Strategy Games (Light)
Here, I list lightweight competitive strategy games. Games with BGG weight of 2.0-2.6 belongs to this list. These games are on the border of "family game" and "gamer's game". Personally, I think these games also greatly works as gateway games for people who are willing to learn things. Most of games here can be played within two hours but as always, it is entirely possible for slower players to delay the whole game.
Although most of games here aren't very complex, many of these games often requires one to understand basic rules of games before the beginning of the game. Finally, many of ones featured here are often called "strategy games" or "eurogame". These games tends to have low direct conflict among players and emphasizes efficient player decisions rather than relying on luck.
1. 7 Wonders Duel
2. 7 Wonders
3. Lords of Waterdeep
4. Dominion (Series)
5. Clank! A Deck Building Adventure
6. Stone Age
9. Champions of Midgard
12. Alien Frontiers
13. Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
14. Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
15. Mission: Red Planet
17. San Juan
18. Raiders of the North Sea
19. Saint Petersburg
20. Modern Art
21. Tiny Epic Galaxies
23. Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation
26. Airlines Europe
29. Tyrants of the Underdark
Competitive Strategy Games (Medium)
Here, I list medium weight competitive strategy games. Games with BGG weight of 2.6-3.2 belongs to this list. These games often hit a sweet spot. They still can be finished in two hours but offers interesting choices throughout the game and don't become stale after repeated plays. Also, these games aren't too difficult to learn assuming the host can explain the game well.
As mentioned above, these "strategy games" or "eurogame" tends to have low direct conflict among players and emphasizes efficient player decisions and optimizations. Many of BGG's favorite games belong to this category.
1. The Castles of Burgundy
2. Viticulture EE
5. The Voyages of Marco Polo
6. Race for the Galaxy
7. Five Tribes
8. El Grande
9. Roll for the Galaxy
10. Castles of Mad King Ludwig
12. Railways of the World
13. Hansa Teutonica
16. Imperial Setttlers
17. Glory to Rome
23. The Manhattan Project
24. Glass Road
25. Notre Dame
26. In the Year of the Dragon
28. The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire
29. The Pillars of the Earth
30. At the Gates of Loyang
34. Glen More
35. London (2nd edition)
37. Evolution: Climate
38. 51st State (Series)
41. Firefly: The Game
43. Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin
45. Taj Mahal
Competitive Strategy Games (Medium/Heavy)
This category has most games that are ranked very highly in BGG. They often have high average rating and just enough number of votes to achieve high ranking in BGG. Here, I included all games that have BGG weight over 3.2 but note that some games have higher weight than others. Still, I think it's safe to say most of these games will take less than 3 hours assuming experienced players. As with previous strategy games, these games have very low luck factor and focuses on efficiency. Player interaction level varies across games. Some games are totally multiplayer-solitaire while some games feature more direct player interactions.
1. Through the Ages (2nd edition)
2. Terraforming Mars
3. Terra Mystica
5. Great Western Trail
6. Caverna: The Cave Farmers
7. Puerto Rico
9. Mage Knight Board Game
10. Power Grid
11. Food Chain Magnate
13. A Feast for Odin
14. Le Havre
15. Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
18. Fields of Arle
20. Russian Railroads
23. The Gallerist
25. Ora et Labora
27. Clans of Caledonia
31. La Granja
32. Age of Steam
33. The Prices of Florence
34. Grand Austria Hotel
36. Lewis & Clark
37. Dungeon Petz
38. Imperial (Series)
39. Bora Bora
40. Gaia Project
41. 1830: Railways & Robber Barons
42. Dungeon Lords
43. Die Macher
44. Trickerion: Legends of Illusion
45. Merchants & Marauders
47. Kanban: Automotive Revolution
48. Lorenzo il Magnifico
53. Bruxelles 1893
54. Road & Boats
56. Millennium Blades
Multiplayer Conflict-Oriented Games (Light/Medium)
These are multiplayer conflict-oriented games whose BGG weight does not exceed 3.2. Unlike "strategy" games, these games focus on direct conflict among players. One player's gain often directly translates to another player's loss. Also, negotiation also plays heavy role in this type of game since one attacking another player often results in benefit for the third/fourth player. Lastly, some of these games utilizes randomness (e.g., dice) for its combat resolution to avoid deterministic combat result. For all these reasons, some people find this category of games fascinating while some people totally avoids this category.
Games in this category often have "area control" mechanic. A player's units on a map control certain area and such game's goal is often related to getting he most area under control. A sub-category of these games is "4x games" about "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate". But note that it's actually common for board games ton only feature only some of four Xs.
One outlier in this category is "Letters from Whitechapel" which is a representative example of "hidden movement" game.
1. Blood Rage
2. Tigris & Euphrates
4. Chaos in the Old World
5. Cosmic Encounter
7. Age of Empires III
8. Xia: Legends of a Drift System
10. Small World (Series)
11. Letters from Whitechapel
12. Cthulhu Wars
13. 1775 Rebellion (Series)
14. Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery
Board Game: Eclipse
[Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:30]
Multiplayer Conflict-Oriented Games (Medium/Heavy)
These are multiplayer conflict-oriented games whose BGG exceed 3.2. Key differences between these games and the above category games is their length and complexity.
Not only these games have substantial amount of rules which often requires a rulemaster but also these games can take substantial amount of time especially with AP players and negotiations. Also, some games have potential to effectively eliminate a player in the middle of the game so it's entirely possible for one player to be left with not much options for the next few hours. For these reasons, I would say these games kinda require specific type of players. Lastly, I'd like to add that these are often games that some people end up selling even without playing.
2. Twilight Imperium (4th edition)
3. Dominant Species
4. A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (2nd edition)
5. Forbidden Stars
8. Fury of Dracula (3rd edition)
9. Here I Stand
10. Sid Meier's Civilization Board Game
2-Player Conflict-Oriented Games (Light/Medium)
2-Player conflict-oriented games are often more cutthorat than multiplayer conflict games because of their zero-sum nature. In other words, in these games, one's gain directly translates to another's loss. Thus, most games in this category are about battles.
There are few different branches of games in this category: pure card games (e.g., Netrunner, Magic: The Gathering), pure miniature games (e.g., Star Wars X-Wing, Star Wars: Armada), conventional wargames with boards and units (e.g., Commands and Colors, Hammer of the Scots) and there are hybrids like card games with maps (e.g., Mage Wars, Summoner Wars).
One important aspect in this category is that many of these games are expandable. Many of these games provide a system for battle and constantly release extra contents (new faction, new cards, etc.) for this established system. Note that these games can often ends up costing much more than its "core set" if one wants to get much of these extra contents.
1. Andorid: Netrunner
2. Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game
3. Commands and Colors (Series)
4. Mage Wars
6. BattleLore (2nd edition)
7. Summoner Wars
8. Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan
9. Magic: The Gathering
10. Star Wars: Armada
12. Blood Bowl (2016 edition)
13. BattleCon (series)
14. Hero Realms
15. Neuroshima Hex
16. Space Hulk (4th Edition)
17. A Few Acres of Snow
18. HeroScape (series)
19. Star Wars: Destiny
20. Hammer of the Scots
21. Game of Thrones: TCG
2-Player Conflict-Oriented Games (Heavy)
This is a category that mostly (with few exceptions) contains "wargames". People have quite different definitions about "wargames" and there has been much discussion about in in BGG so I won't repeat it. These heavy conflict-oriented games often require significant effort for both players since they often have relatively complex ruleset and long playtime. Particularly, some wargames indeed take much more time than any "heavy" strategy games. For example, Path of the Glory, which is considered as a relatively easy "wargame" in the community can take 8 hours for experienced players. Still, there are relatively easy ones comparable to heavy eurogames in terms of complexity/time commitment so if one enjoys heavy eurogames and open to trying conflict-oriented games, I think any of these games is a decent choice. One thing one should be careful about these "wargames" is that their BGG weight scale is quite different from "strategy" games' BGG weight scale. For example, Terra Mystica has BGG weight of 3.95 while Paths of Glory has BGG weight of 3.82. I am pretty sure that no single person would say Terra Mystica is a heavier game than Paths of Glory.
Lastly, BGG top 300 doesn't do much justice for these wargames. These wargames have limited audience and thus often fail to make BGG Top 300 despite having high average rating due to limited number of votes. I'll explain more about this in the later entry.
1. Twilight Struggle
2. Star Wars Rebellion
3. War of the Ring (2nd edition)
5. Path of the Glory
6. Combat Commander
7. Hannibal & Hamilcar
8. 1960: Making of the President
9. Advanced Squad Leader
10. Clash of Cultures
11. Earth Reborn
12. Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001- ?
Cooperative Games (Light/Medium)
These games let players to cooperate to beat the game. Players will win or lose the game together. If your gaming partner does not want conflict or competition, these are the right games to play. One drawback of cooperative games is something called "quarterback problem". Since many of these cooperative games provide the same information to all players, one a alpha player (quarterback) can just try to make decision for everyone and simply let others to execute what he planned. In some ways, this can be a good thing. Even if you have less number of people than ideal player count, you can just let one person to act as multiple players. So these games often also work as good solitaire games as well. The below list contains light/medium (0-3.2) co-op games. Some are much lighter than others so check its BGG weight. These light/medium often contains several randomness to guarantee replayability but this sometimes lead to situations where game's outcome is heavily affected by dice rolls or card draws.
1. Mechs vs Minions
2. Dead of Winter (series)
3. Pandemic (series)
4. Legendary (series)
5. Zombicide (series)
6. Ghost Stories
7. Burgle Bros
8. Flash Point: Fire Rescue
9. Aeon's End (2nd edition)
10. Forbidden Desert
11. Sentinels of the Multiverse
13. The Grizzled
Cooperative Games (Medium/Heavy)
These are relatively heavier co-op games. These games can take substantial amount of times (2-3 hours).
1. Robinson Crusoe: adventures on the Cursed Island
2. Eldritch Horror (series)
3. Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game
4. Spirit Island
Board Game: Codenames
[Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:43]
[Average Rating:7.80 Unranked]
Special Category: Hint & Guess / Bluff (Very Light)
These games usually have a "hint and guess" mechanic. One player provides a hint about something (e.g., picture, word, etc.) and other players guess what he/she is explaining. This mechanic often works better when there are multiple players and thus most of these games are known as "party games". The best example for such game is Codenames.
Another variant of "hint and guess" is called social deduction. These games assign a secret role to each person and they all try to guess each one's assigned secret roles. The most representative example is Resistance: Avalon.
All of these games have very simple ruleset and takes relatively short time. Note that these games heavily rely on social interactions among players. If no one wants to talk or communicate each other, there's not much fun in these games.
1. Codenames (Series)
2. The Resistance: Avalon (Series)
3. Dixit (Series)
5. Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
6. Secret Hitler
8. Sheriff of Nottingham
9. One Night Ultimate Werewolf
10. Time's Up (Series)
Special Category: Abstract Games
These games have common characteristics such as (effectively) no use of theme, no use of randomness, no use of hidden information, and suitability for 2-players. While Chess and Go are most representative examples of this genre, there are many modern abstract games highly valued in BGG. Their rulesets are often quite simple but due to their strategic nature (no randomness, perfect information), they can be very deep games.
Special Category: Dexterity/Real-Time
These games require physical and mental dexterity. Dexterity mechanic is often very popular in children's games but they often tend to score low average rating so there aren't many games in Top 300.
Real-Time games forces players to solve certain challenges within the given time frame. This can be quite chaotic but its chaotic nature is what makes the game very fun.
2. Captain Sonar
3. Galaxy Trucker
4. Space Alert
Special Category: Campaign (Light/Medium)
These games require players to play multiple games and preferably without changing players.For this reason, these games essentially requires a stable gaming group.
In these games, players retain part of their game state (e.g., character growth, items, board state) through multiple different sessions. Also, many of these games contain surprise elements such as plot twist or mechanics and they are revealed during or after certain number of games. For this reason, replaying such campaign games often do not provide the equal experience with the very first play. The extreme version of these have "legacy" mechanics which destroys or damages components making the game impossible to replay. In the below list, I note such games with [Limited Replayability] or [Legacy] tag. Lastly, most of these tends to be cooperative games but there are some exceptions.
Many of these games are very highly ranked in BGG (especially Gloomhaven and PL) but note that there are certain biases which help these games to achieve higher average rating. For example, legacy games will never be stale since it's played once and often never be replayed.
1. Pandemic Legacy (series) [Legacy]
2. Arkham Horror: TCG [Limited Replayability]
3. Kingdom Death: Monster [Limited Replayability]
4. The 7th continent [Limited Replayability]
5. Arcadia Quest (series) [Not Co-Op]
6. Lord of the Rings: TCG
7. Mice and Mystics [Limited Replayability]
8. Near and Far [Limited Replayability] [Not Co-Op]
9. Risk Legacy [Legacy]
10. Pathfinder Adventure Card Game
11. Legends of Andor
Special Category: Campaign (Medium/Heavy)
1. Gloomhaven [Legacy]
2. Star Wars: Imperial Assault [Limited Replayability]
3. Descent: Journeys in the Dark (2nd edition)
4. Shadows of Brimstone
Special Category: Non-Campaign Storytelling
These are games that have "surprise" or "puzzle" elements in the game which limits their replayability but are not campaign games. These games often come with multiple scenarios (either through expansions or not) and it's possible to change players across scenarios because no (or negligble) game states are kept across scenarios.
1. Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
2. T.I.M.E Stories
3. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
4. Above and Below
Didn't make top 300 yet but maybe soon?
Of course there are many games outside top 300 which are great. But here, I list some games that have high potential to make top 300 but released quite recently so just didn't have enough time to make it.
Competitive Strategy: The Colonists, Dinosaur Islands
2-Player Conflict: Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game, Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire
Multiplayer Conflict: Mythic Battles: Pantheon
Co-Op: Too Many Bones, This War of Mine, Sword and Sorcery
Campaign: Charterstone, Conan, Legacy of Dragonholt
Didn't make top 300 because of limited users but still great
Here, I'd like to point out two genres that often does not do well due to their limited number of potential audience.
Some games are just too heavy to appeal to wide audience. Also, some of them aren't even mass-produced enough so their availability are limited as well.
One good example of these games is 18xx games. While 1830 made top 300, no other 18xx games haven't made top 300 yet. Still, there are many 18xx games which are highly rated among its player base. Below, I list few more games that satisfies this criteria (strategy game, high average rating, high weight, low vote count).
1. 1846 (and other 18xx games)
3. Pax Renaissance
4. Three Kingdoms Redux
5. The Great Zimbabwe
Historical wargames often have even more rule complexities and time commitment requirements than heavy strategy games mentioned above. Or, their theme simply does not appeal to broader audience. I can't list all great wargames here but I listed few popular ones. For detailed information, check the wargame subdomain forum.
* COIN Series (Fire in the Lake, Liberty or Death, Falling Sky, etc.)
* Triumph and Tragedy
* Conflict of Heroes (Series)
* No Retreat (Series)
* Herman's CDGs (Washington's war, For the People, Empire of the Sun)
* Columbia Block Games (Julius Caesar, EastFront, etc.)
* Up Front
* Napoleon's Triumph
* Wilderness War
* The U.S. Civil War
* Solitaire Games (often from John Butterfield, Joel Toppen, Dan Verssen)