The Top Five Games of the Year, 2007-2017
Edwin Nealley

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Pennsylvania
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Many BGG Users have shared top 10 lists, or top 100 lists, some publish top 10 lists for the year past around New Year's.

I find different presentations to interest me, so I would like to share my rankings of the top 5 games for each year from 2007-2017, with my current personal overall ranking.

In general, when I rank games I try to determine how well the game works, and if the game offers something over and above other similar games, assigning ratings with a rating +/-0.25, rather than any more detailed averaging method. If I decide the jury is still out on how well a game needs to be rated, I avoid rating it until I have a good feel for the game.

For games of similar score, I then look at my number of plays: How much do I enjoy the game, judging by how many times it has been pulled out and played?

For games with a similar number of plays and score, I give the edge to the older game by publication, because it continues to offer something special to me, not just the "latest hotness".

Given these general criteria, here are my Top Five Games of the Year, 2007-2017.
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1. Board Game: Codenames Duet [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:125] [Average Rating:7.89 Unranked]
Edwin Nealley

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2017: The Top Five Games:

............................................Overall Rank
1. Codenames Duet.........35

2. Azul......................................40
3. C.O.G....................................93
4. London (2nd Ed.)..................108
5. Ex Libris...............................109

Codenames has quite taken social gaming by storm, and the Duet version makes it a perfect game for two or more. It's a perfect introduction to gaming with nearly everyone, and has had a huge number of plays here. An improvement on an already terrific game.
 
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2. Board Game: Scythe [Average Rating:8.30 Overall Rank:7]
Edwin Nealley

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2016: The Top Five Games:

............................................Overall Rank
1. Scythe........................06

2. Pandemic Iberia....................11
3. Guilds of London...................17
4. Terraforming Mars.................19
5. YOKOHAMA..........................23

It's the art. ;-)
Scythe is truly a beautiful, eye-catching game, featuring a terrific efficiency engine, and epitomizing Stonemaier's attention to details. Scythe is an area control game where conflict has to be carefully rationed, and where the most effective timing is greatly rewarded. A fascinating game.
 
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3. Board Game: The Institute for Magical Arts [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:3203]
Edwin Nealley

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2015: The Top Five Games:

............................................Overall Rank
1. The Institute for Magical Arts..43


2. Paradox...............................48
3. Mombasa.............................52
4. Evolution..............................53
5. The Front Nine......................80

Steve Finn continues to deliver well-crafted, enjoyable games for two or more which are greatly entertaining. Play time here is focused on a continual tug of war for the resources to win control of a magical school. It's a head to head battle for two which I think is among his best games.
 
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4. Board Game: Five Tribes [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:51]
Edwin Nealley

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2014: The Top Five Games:

............................................Overall Rank
1. Five Tribes: The Djinns of Naqala..47

2. Paperback............................60
3. AquaSphere.........................90
4. Patchwork............................91
5. Panamax............................106

Five Tribes is an enjoyable lifting of the mancala mechanism set in a colorful land out of the 1001 nights. The Days of Wonder production is beautiful, the game play interesting at a resource allocation level and also on a tactical level, and yet it is still accessible to casual gamers. A masterpiece from Cathala.
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5. Board Game: Eldritch Horror [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:46]
Edwin Nealley

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2013: The Top Five Games:

............................................Overall Rank
1. Eldritch Horror...........29


2. Bruxelles 1893......................32
3. Cuba Libre...........................55
4. Bruges.................................61
5. The King of Frontier...............63

Boiling down the massive Arkham Horror experience into a game that finishes in a timely manner, Eldritch Horror widens the narrow scope of most of Lovecraft's original stories to the world-spanning stage of Derleth's continuations. For fans of the first open access common fantasy platform, this makes an attractive repackaging.
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6. Board Game: Keyflower [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:42]
Edwin Nealley

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2012: The Top Five Games:

............................................Overall Rank
1. Keyflower..................04

2. Suburbia.............................34
3. Snowdonia..........................46
4. Terra Mystica.......................53
5. Yedo...................................69

Keyflower takes the careful placement and actions of Breese's Key series, and adds a compelling interactive resource struggle to the mix by territory bidding with the very workers players need to accomplish their tasks. Bleasdale and Breese improve on the 4-round struggle of Brain's Key Market, and the lovely art of Juliet Breese makes this an especially wonderful addition to the Key games.
 
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7. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:71]
Edwin Nealley

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2011: The Top Five Games:

............................................Overall Rank
1. Trajan.......................10

2. Eclipse...............................21
3. Ora et Labora......................22
4. Core Worlds........................36
5. Gardens of Mars..................37

Powered by the continual puzzle of the mancala player board, Trajan challenges the player's to effectively achieve the best mix of points in various thematic activities set in Roman empire's glory days. Trajan was one of four wonderful games from Stefan Feld released this year, and it's mind-meltingly good.
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8. Board Game: Innovation [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:277]
Edwin Nealley

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2010: The Top Five Games:

............................................Overall Rank
1. Innovation.................08

2. Alien Frontiers......................15
3. Hanabi.................................18
4. Washington's War.................26
5. Key Market...........................27

Chudyk offers all the madcap super-combos of Glory to Rome, combined with a new kind of tableau building, and a Civilization theme. If the comic art of Glory to Rome was just too much, and the wait for the Black-box edition too long, an even better Chudyk game makes interactive action combos even more appealing.

 
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9. Board Game: Macao [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:243]
Edwin Nealley

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2009: The Top Five Games:

............................................Overall Rank
1. Macao........................39

2. Automobile...........................51
3. Steam: Rails to Riches...........65
4. Inotaizu...............................67
5. The Resistance....................103

Feld's Macao offers several paths to gather points, and hypes up the pain for failing in one or more of the areas. The windrose makes players build their future resource engine and then provides the limited fuel to accomplish as many of the actions as possible while racking up the most points. Simply one of his best games.
 
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10. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Edwin Nealley

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2008: The Top Five Games:

............................................Overall Rank
1. Pandemic..................13

2. Preu├čische Ostbahn.............50
3. Stone Age..........................68
4. Warriors of God.................129
5. Magnate...........................143

Leacock didn't invent the co-op game, but he certainly perfected the malevolent engine which players race to defeat. Thematically and mechanically, this game changed the way that games can fight back against the players and turned a segment of game design on it's head- in a good way.
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11. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:49]
Edwin Nealley

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2007: The Top Five Games:

............................................Overall Rank
1. Race for the Galaxy...01

2. Brass..................................07
3. Agricola..............................41
4. Scripts & Scribes..................73
5. Thebes...............................94

Race for the Galaxy expands on shared idea from Puerto Rico, where the players choose roles, and that choice determines the available actions, and makes that more elegant by using cards to represent the tableau builds, the cash for the builds, and the goods that are consumed to fuel the victory point engine. It speeds up the process, sets it in a wildly different sci-fi scenario, and it makes everything even clearer with terrific rule sets, and cards with icons that immediately reveal what each card does.

The short gametime combined with the variability quickly made this my most played game, and have kept it my most-played game year after year. Each of the arcs has it's own flavor, and I enjoy them all.

Plain and simple, this game has earned being my number 01 rated game, and it still rewards me play after play.
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