15 games I like a lot
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There are a lot of 'My Top {some number}' games here on the geek and I was often wondering how such a list look would for myself. I have quite a broad interest in board games and I cannot even tell which board game is my favourite - this is a really situational thing, depending on who is playing with me and also my mood.

This list is the closest to a Top 15 I could come up with - if I would make another list tomorrow, it could look very different, but some games would probably be present on any such snapshot of a list. Also, 15 games seemed to make sense for me. There are a lot more games I like a lot, but I could not think of a game which I would have liked to add here which would belong to my 'Top 16'.

If there is such a thing as a favorite aspect I have in games, it would probably be focus: I tend to enjoy games which take one aspect or mechanism of board gaming and don't mix it with many other mechanisms. This mixing seems to be a trend in many modern board games which is why many of the games on this list are a bit older. I do enjoy games with a bunch of mechanisms as well though, but they are not as memorable and elegant for me as some of the games on this list are and I tend to forget about them and don't feel like playing them very often.

I did not (and could not sharply) rank the games on this list, but roughly the ones I like most are at the bottom of the list, while the ones which just made it into this list (whatever that might mean) are listed at the top.
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1. Board Game: Space Alert [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:147]
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This is the cooperative game I love the most, but it really only works with certain groups and shines with 5 players. It is an exercise in communication skills and getting to know how other players discuss and pass on information. It is also the chance for people who are usually talking a lot to be a bit quieter and vice versa. This game is full of tension and chaotic during the first plays, but teamwork will be rewarded after many games. A bit tough to get into but worth it in my opinion.
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2. Board Game: Friesematenten [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:6467]
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Friedemann Friese is one of my favorite board game designers and probably the designer whose games I rate highest on average. For me, Power Grid and Fearsome Floors are amongst his best games, but I also particularly love Friesematenten. A pure auctioning game, where the value of the cards are very situational, because some combos are insane. A much underappreciated gem!

(The new version is just as nice by the way, there is no need to hunt down the old one.)
 
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3. Board Game: The Princes of Machu Picchu [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:1070]
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This is such a great and unique Eurogame! You have to walk around the board to activate actions, you can invest in certain actions so that they get triggered for you when other players use them, there are multiple paths to victory and there are two different game ending conditions which drastically change the scoring (and thus the winner) of the game. Very engaging and very tense!
 
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4. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:369]
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Another one of these games which is just the distillation of a single mechanism, in this case trading and the negotiation involved with it. Before I knew Bohnanza, the trading aspect was the only reason I still sometimes wanted to play Catan, but Bohnaza makes it so much better (without many of the other aspects of Catan, which I dislike now). A great little card game.
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5. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:121]
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I love abstracts (as in: two-player combinatorial games, with or without theme) and I could probably easily make a list of my top 25 abstract strategy games. Go has a special place here, because its simplicity and elegance even stands out in to most elegant category there is in board gaming.
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6. Board Game: Village [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:110]
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This is also a great worker placement (if you consider taking a cube as placing a worker, that is...) game, which has several aspects I like a lot: You will invest your family members into certain professions so that these actions become more efficient in the future. Also, many of these family members will die over the course of the game, gaining you access to the village chronicles, which is a major aspect of the victory point total at the end of the game.

The theme is integrated really well and there is a decent amount of strategy involved, without being overwhelming for new players. I particularly like it with the second expansion, Village Port, because I like the travelling action (which this expansion replaces) more there.
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7. Board Game: Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:143]
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I am not that much a wargamer but definitely very interested in them. Sekigahara was the first wargame I played and it is a great entry-level one: The rules are easier than the ones in some Eurogames, the game is beautifully produced and there is a great 1-page rules overview for reference. Very tactical, full of tense (due to a bit of bluffing) and historically very interesting.
 
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8. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:45]
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I love worker placement games and Caylus would be the one I like the best. I played this a long while after I played Agricola (and always thought that that would be my absolute favorite WP game) but Caylus overtook it by a long shot - probably because it has less mechanisms which interlock and feels more like only worker placement and not much else.
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9. Board Game: Churchill [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:503]
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I have a particular weakness for games which are designed for exactly three players - I just love the idea of taking the player count which is arguably the weirdest in most games (most prone to king making, there is always the poor one out when alliances form, ...) and design a game exactly around these aspects. Churchill does a great job at this with the fresh take on victory conditions, which forces players to balance cooperation and competition. The game also gets the feeling across that the players are actually sitting at a conference table and discuss WWII at a very strategic level.
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10. Board Game: Dominant Species [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:52]
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Surprisingly, I like this game a lot. Usually I am no fan of games which just mix different mechanisms, but the worker placement and area control mechanisms interlock so well in Dominant species, that it feels like something new completely. Also, the game is mean, and I like that a lot.
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11. Board Game: 1829 [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:3666]
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Believe it or not, but this is the only 18xx game I have ever played (and I have only ever played it once). I enjoyed the game a lot and might enjoy other 18xx games even more, but it is freaking hard to find other players, at least for me.

For me, the best aspect is that the game is not played in players' turns, but rather in companys' turns, and the player with the current highest stock values does the turn in lieu of that company (obviously sometimes with very selfish interests). The only other game I can think of which uses this as well is Imperial (a very decent game as well), and I think it is a great mechanism!
 
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12. Board Game: Navajo Wars [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:1109]
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One of the best single-player games I have played. Great graphics, very interesting and not-so-often-seen theme and very engaging mechanics: There are always some threats and you can roughly predict what might happen next, but there is also enough randomness so that everything could turn out to be very different.

A big plus also for the perspective of the game: Rather than focussing on the colonization of the land, it is all about defending said conquerors. We need more games like this.
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13. Board Game: TZAAR [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:339] [Average Rating:7.68 Unranked]
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A very elegant abstarct and my favorite game of the GIPF series. I always use a random setup (partly because it is just faster, but I also like that the start is always different). In the beginning, it is all about stacking towers and making sure that your opponenen does not kill the last one of a species of stones, but later on it shifts towards a game where board position is the abolute key, because moves are limited and you have to make sure that you can capture at the beginning of a turn. It is also quite straightforward to learn (unlike DVONN for example, where even after a few games I was unsure what I actually have to do to win) and thus heaps of fun also for new players.
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14. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:54]
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The first game I owned (after having played Catan and nothing else for a year, I just wanted the new 'Spiel des Jahres') and still a favorite of mine. Area control at its finest and not convoulted with other mechanisms. The base game is great with new players, with experiences El Grande players, the second expansion (K├Ânig & Intrigant) adds a lot of depth as well.
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15. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:500]
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When people (non-boardgamers) find out I love board games, I get asked quite often which board game would be my favorite. The answer is not always the same, but most often I would tell them about Diplomacy. It is certainly not a game I would like to play every day or with every group, but with the right group of players, playing this is an unbelievable experience. No other game provokes nearly as many or strong phyical body reactions (caused by tension, fear, excitement, empathy,...) in me. Even the first turn, where you have to go to your fellow players, asking them about alliances or possible common interests, manages to excite me in a way no other game ever did. I truly love this game for its simplicity, and at the same time making you feel that you are really controlling a country, making alliances and stabbing each others' backs. It also plays exceptionally good online / via email. A great experience and distilled negotiation gaming. The most tense board game I have ever played.
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