David M's Top 25 Games of All Time -- 2018 Edition
David M
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This is my first Top 25 list.

I was inspired by all the lists I've seen recently on BGG. I've noticed many of the lists are dominated by big meaty games -- gamer's games.

I'm a family gamer and couples gamer. That means I like games that:

I can teach quickly
Family members and friends enjoy
Play well with two
Play quickly (under 30 mins is ideal)
Have themes that give me or my partner a lot of joy (often this is farming)

I also like some bigger, meatier games if the theme is right.

Gaming for me is as much about the emotional experience as about the intellectual experience or the game mechanics. My favourite games are ones that bring back happy memories.

I hope you enjoy this list, which is quite different to anything else I've seen.

Please let me know if you discover any new games that you'd like to try on this list. I'd love to hear from you!

Here they are:
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1. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:11]
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Honourable Mention

I'm burned out on Castles of Burgundy because my wife loves it so much! We've played it a lot. It is the perfect couples game, and one of our most played games.

Plus the theme is lovely, it has farms and buildings and boats and goats!

Thankfully Mrs. M. enjoys the fiddly set up.

Other games we've burned out on as a couple are:

Bohn To Be Wild! (which has the best 2 player rules for Bohnanza)
W├╝rfel Bohnanza (Beans plus dice!)

Good for Couples

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2. Board Game: Pandemic: The Cure [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:259]
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#25

One of my favourite games to bring out at family gatherings. It's easy to teach, and I'm learning that co-operation is often better than conflict when it comes to playing with family.

Everyone gets their own unique set of dice, which makes every player feel special.

It's very tense and still seems difficult to win. And I like all the dice!

Good for Families

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3. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:16]
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#24

Agricola will always have a special place in my heart, because it was the first meaty strategy game I every bought.

At the time I'd just discovered BGG, and I wanted to know "What's the #1 game in the world?" The answer was Agricola. So we ask for it as a Christmas gift.

Plus it's on our favourite theme, farming! It's just that we've found other farming games that are better for couples, quicker to play and/or easier to set up.

We played it a lot, but never got much into the Occupations or Minor Improvements, which I've heard are what really make the game shine. At the moment it's a little neglected, but maybe we'll come back to it and take a look at all those cards.

A Gaming Classic

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4. Board Game: 30 Rails [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:3959]
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#23

I've got into roll-and-writes this year -- I like that they play quickly, and dice and pencils are two tactile things that just feel so good in your hands.

30 Rails blows my mind -- I feel like "How is it possible to do so much with two dice and a pencil". It's great solo, and plays in just a few minutes, so it's really worth a try. Plus it's a free print and play!

Build Railways with Dice

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5. Board Game: Pickomino [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1068]
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#22

Another dice game that's a blast. It plays well with two, and is excellent with more players (up to 7).

It's quick to teach, and has a "take that" element to it without getting nasty. Plus the silly theme (chickens collecting BBQ'd worms) is completely charming.

Good for Families

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6. Board Game: Odin's Ravens [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:1067]
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#21

I'm lucky enough to own a first edition of Odin's Ravens, where you race Odin's Ravens. It's quick to play, and very, very tense. It goes right to the wire.

Good for Couples

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7. Board Game: Bausack [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:820]
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#20

Bausack has received a warm welcome at every party I've taken it to -- with requests for return visits. It's tense, hilarious and addictive. Plus there are so many variants, you never run out of ways to play. My favourite is to play in teams. 15 people can easily enjoy this game at once, if not more.

Perfect for Parties

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8. Board Game: Santorini [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:74]
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#19

I'm completely in love with Santorini -- from the beautiful board to the 15-minute playtime to the almost endless possibilities for battles between different gods.

Alas, I've yet to find someone I know who shares my love for it. I guess it's a game you have to play a lot to enjoy, and when I'm seeing my nearest and dearest there are other games they prefer.

Just Gorgeous

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9. Board Game: La Granja: No Siesta [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:1224]
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#18

Roll-n-write PLUS farming! With pigs and donkeys and wheat and markets. And it plays best with two. There's very little conflict in this game, as you mainly get on with developing your own farm. But there's lots of player interaction as you take turns to choose dice, and compliment one another on your farms and dice combos.

The advanced version introduces more conflict, and Mrs. M. dislikes this way of playing due to the extra conflict.

Good for Couples

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10. Board Game: Grand Austria Hotel [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:103]
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#17

Every time I play this, I feel like I'm sitting down to a relaxing afternoon eating strudel and drinking black coffee in a luxurious Viennese coffeehouse. Even though I'm the one managing the coffeehouse, making the cakes and serving the coffee!

We like it because it has a lot of depth, while playing in under an hour.

Good for Couples

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11. Board Game: Nautilion [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:1578]
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#16

As I mentioned in the introduction, it's often an emotional connection that gives me all the feels for a game.

One of my favourite books as a young child was Ted and Dolly's submarine surprise... which had a "real" submarine which travelled through the pages.

The artwork and design of this game are so immersive, they take me right back to being in the submarine with Ted and Dolly. I enjoy playing on my own or co-operatively, and there are plenty of difficult decisions in every game. I like that it's relatively easy to win, because I want it to be a relaxing when I play.

Submarine Dreams


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12. Board Game: Beyond Baker Street [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:1126]
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#15

A co-operative deduction game along the lines of Hanabi, but with more depth, and a theme that actually makes sense.

Lots of "No, don't do that, you've ruined EVERYTHING!" moments.

Good for Families


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13. Board Game: Rhino Hero [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:605] [Average Rating:7.02 Unranked]
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#14

This is everything Jenga and Uno could (and should) have been when I was kid. So simple to teach. Kids and adults love it. And the flying Rhino is adorable.

Whatever you do, don't knock the table!

Good for Kids
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14. Board Game: No Thanks! [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:392]
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#13

A push your luck game where you're pushing your luck against the cunning of other players, rather than the randomness of a deck of cards/the roll of a dice.

This is the game I wanted For Sale to be (I didn't like For Sale at all, it was just flat). It distills the best part of Monopoly -- the bidding wars and fighting over cards -- and makes it 10x better! Because the cruel twist is that you don't want the cards... but you have to pay to refuse them.

It's a mind game as much as anything. Can you get away with charging a "stupidity tax" (i.e. making people pay more on a card that you actually want, because they'd be stupid to take it). Or will you be the stupid one when you push your luck just a little too far?

Good for Families
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15. Board Game: Codenames Duet [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:125] [Average Rating:7.89 Unranked]
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#12

This has become my favourite in the Codenames series (though I love all of them) because it plays so well with two. And it gives you that wonderful feeling of being co-conspirators in a plot to save the world.

Good for Couples


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16. Board Game: San Juan [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:228]
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#11

We've not played this one a lot yet, because it gave me the feeling "This is the perfect card game, it doesn't get any better than this". And I don't want to go back to it in case I discover any flaws. Anyway, I'm planning to play it again this year.


Good for Couples


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17. Board Game: PitchCar Mini [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:1012]
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#10

All the joy of a funfair in a small box. There are so many different tracks you create. And it's one of the few games where four year olds playing for the first time have as much of a chance to win as adults.

Good for Kids


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18. Board Game: The Great Heartland Hauling Co. [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:993]
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#9

My love for this game is because of the theme -- it's all about the lorries for me. The cover art is lovely. And it's a big game in a small box.

The gameplay is okay, though I'm hoping to find a better implementation of pick-up-and-deliver. Cinque Terre is in my sights if I can find a copy at a reasonable price.

Lorry Heaven


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19. Board Game: Scythe [Average Rating:8.30 Overall Rank:7]
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#8

I can't yet decide whether Scythe is an incredible game, or if it gives the illusion of being an incredible game. For now, I'm taken in.

There seems to be a lot of depth to explore, though it always leaves me a little bit dissatisfied and craving more. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it won't keep its high rating if it doesn't start to reveal some of its secrets.

Almost Everything it's Possible to Get in a Game in One Box
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20. Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:238]
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#7

One of our favourite farming games (and we love farming games). It just feels so good to grow big fields of vegimeeples, then sell them at market. Especially when you find the perfect power-combo so you do everything in one turn.

The only shortcoming is the lack of animals.

Good for Couples
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21. Board Game: The Institute for Magical Arts [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:3203]
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#6

I am baffled as to why this game hasn't stormed up the charts. It's like Battle Line with bonus magic, and whatever spell was cast on it makes it the better game.

I'm a big fan of Dr. Finn, and to me this is his masterpiece.

Good for Couples
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22. Board Game: Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:176]
David M
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#5

Ticks every box:

Farming
Comes with animeeples!
Plays in under 30 minutes

One of our most played games, and we still love it. All other games we've played this much have burned us out.

It's an inspired distillation of Agricola, and due to the quick set-up and play time, it's better than the original.

Good for Couples
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23. Board Game: Fidelitas [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:3361]
David M
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#4

Fidelitas is like Ticket to Ride designed for busy, sleep-starved parents:

Disney-style art
Missions to complete
Plays in 20-30 minutes
Feels so much fun to play

It's light, the decisions are relatively easy (while meaningful). When you're tired and busy, this is a very good way to finish the day.

Good for Couples
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24. Board Game: StreetSoccer [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1681]
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#3

As a kid I used to dream of being good at football (soccer). I didn't want to play in the World Cup, just to be picked for the school team. Later I got addicted to football management computer games. And there's part of me that wants to be good at chess (I'm terrible at chess).

This game gives me all those things. Tactics. Skills. A little bit of luck. And every goal you score feels as amazing as scoring a goal in real football.

Plus it's just a beautiful thing.

Goal!
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25. Board Game: Fields of Arle [Average Rating:8.17 Overall Rank:55]
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#2

It was almost impossible to track down an English edition of this game, and I'm so glad I did. It's a farming game, designed for two players, that lets you do everything you could dream of on your farm, and more. It just leaves you happy to have played -- and even happier if you win.

You feel like "I got all those points and built this amazing farm. And I did it so differently to how you got your points and built your farm. And it worked!"

Lovely in every way.

Perfect for Couples
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