Tabletop Polish - Top 50 Games - 2018 Edition
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Welcome to the 2018 edition of my Top 50 games of all time!

What's New?

First off, yes, I did this list in December. I've since decided to move the list to July instead so that I might have more of a chance to play all the great games releasing at Gen Con and Essen.

BUT! Thanks to Tabletop Simulator, I've had the chance to play a lot of games in the past six months, and there has been a lot of change to the list to reflect that.

TTS aside, the Toddler Effect is still strong with my overall time to play games being way less than it was two years ago. A lot of games are affected by it, so you'll not see many epic long table hoggers on the list these days.

The Leavers

Games that have left the list and their current ranking. Brackets indicate new games that just didn’t get high enough.

51. Euphoria
52. Lords of Waterdeep
53. Ultimate Warriorz
54. (Roll Player)
55. Patchwork
56. Smog
57. (Folklore)
58. Thunderstone
59. Terra Mystica
60. (Hardback)
~. Twilight Imperium


By the Numbers!

Largest Jump (from previous year): BattleCON (+18)
Funnily enough, this had the largest fall last year. Seems like it just climb back a bit better than the others.

Largest Fall (still on the list): Dogs of War (-31)
This really needs more players and that just doesn't happen for me. But also, I needed to sell my copy. It will probably be off the list next year.

Up and Comers: The list of games that might show up next year.

Catacombs & Castles or Catacombs Conquest: As much as I love Catacombs, I just haven't had the chance to play these yet. They both sit there waiting to be cracked open. Soon. Soooooooon.

Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done: I'm in love with the rondel mechanic. I can't wait to get my copy and try it out. I definitely feel like this will breach my list once it's played.

Shockingly, this is it. There aren't a whole lot of great things I'm interested in right now. There are a lot of expansions to games already on the list, but not a whole lot that I'm foaming at the mouth to try.

What's This?

Why top 50?: This answer may change in the future, but it is still true now. I simply can't get past 50 without padding my list with games I only find to be "good". Even now I wonder if 50 is too much. The top 10 are the least changing.

Why make this list?: Beyond the fact that this is just fun for me to do every year, this list is for the people that read my reviews or follow me on the blue bird. I like having this list readily available so that my friends and followers know what sort of games I like the most, thus helping them decide if my opinion will mesh with their own.

How'd you make your list?: Using Google Sheets and Pub Meeple's Board Game Ranking Engine. I put in all the games that I've had on the list for the last two years, added any games I played more than twice this year, and ran the engine three times. I took an average of all three numbers, broke the ties, and moved a couple around until I was happy with the final list.

HOW DARE YOU LIST X SO LOW?: I know! How could I possibly list Game X over Game Y!? Why don't you ask me in the comments?

What is Tabletop Polish?: Tabletop Polish is my title for all my board game work and involvement. I write reviews, you can find a link to all my reviews HERE. I also offer my services as a writer of rulebooks, lore, copyediting, and pretty much everything involving the written word. I also do development on prototypes if desired.

I like your work, let me buy you a covfefe: Ah, thanks, but I don't drink coffee. But I wouldn't mind a sandwich.

----

Last year's list: Tabletop Polish - Top 50 Games - 2017 Edition

----

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1. Board Game: Dogs of War [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:655]
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NUMBER 50


Dogs of War is still a great title and would be higher if I hadn’t sold off my KS copy for the needed funds. The instant and temporary alliances created in Dogs creates a really engaging game experience full of backstabbing and weighted decisions. It might show up again at a higher position later if I manage to find a way to play it again. I’d hate to see it leave the list.

FULL REVIEW

Legacy:
Shift: -31
Highest: #5
Years on List: 4
 
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2. Board Game: Vault Wars [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:1954]
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NUMBER 49


Ah Vault Wars, still sticking around. This is a game where the flavor to mechanics is done so well. Sure it can be extremely random sometimes, but you get exactly what the box is selling.

Legacy:
Shift: -7
Highest: #30
Years on List: 4
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3. Board Game: Dungeon Petz [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:172]
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NUMBER 48


Dungeon Petz is an incredibly complicated game but is tied very well to its theme. It’s funny and light-hearted without sacrificing its complex euro gameplay. Also, there are poop cubes.

FULL REVIEW

Legacy:
Shift: +2
Highest: #12
Years on List: 4
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4. Board Game: Istanbul [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:97]
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NUMBER 47


Istanbul deserved all the accolades it got. I especially like it with the coffee expansion. I especially enjoy how tight of a game it is. It’s a great efficiency race and I wish I had a chance to play it more, but I don’t actually own it!

Legacy:
Shift: -2
Highest: 32
Years on List: 3
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5. Board Game: The Grizzled [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:330]
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NUMBER 46


Such a powerful little game. The strong ties between theme and presentation create a game worthy of discussion. I’ve introduced this to my students to practice their teamwork and my coworker has used it to introduce the unit on WWI.

FULL REVIEW

Legacy:
Shift: -23
Highest: 17
Years on List: 4
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6. Board Game: Istanbul: The Dice Game [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:883]
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NUMBER 45


Why am I adding Istanbul: The Dice Game when I already have Istanbul? Well, because they are highly different games. They really only share the theme, and the Dice version is banking off the praise of Istanbul. That said, I like the dice version more. It’s easy and quick to play and it plays well. Sure, there is a lot of luck, but the strategic elements are missing. I enjoy it as a nice filler game.

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7. Board Game: Raxxon [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:2591]
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NUMBER 44


When I first sat down to play this on Tabletop Simulator I did not expect to enjoy this game so much. BUT, it is perfect for my family. The zombie Dead of Winter theme is perfect for my wife and the grid puzzle is right up my alley. I grabbed this the moment I found a good deal and am happy to have it in my collection.

But good gravy is this game hard.

FULL REVIEW

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8. Board Game: Crystal Clans [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:2196]
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Crystal Clans
NUMBER 43


Yeah, it’s mathy. But it is really cutthroat and gorgeous. The strategy and tactics are so strong, it’s a really great back and forth game. I’m really interested in trying out more clans!

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9. Board Game: Secret Hitler [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:175]
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NUMBER 42


If you’re looking for a social deduction game, this is still the best one available. I play the Secret Voldemort variant, because Harry Potter. I’ve played this with my students and used it as a discussion point on the dangers of fascism. The theme is part of the reason the game is so good, don’t think it just an edgy gimmick.

Legacy:
Shift: -10
Highest: 32
Years on List: 2
 
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10. Board Game: Cry Havoc [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:456]
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NUMBER 41


You’ll find this to be the only real “meeples on a map” game in my list. I’m just not normally confrontational enough to play that style of game. That said, Cry Havoc sits on my list because it has one of the best confrontation systems I’ve found. The way territories are fought works so much better than some simple die roll.

This probably won’t be here next year as I am selling the game to a friend.

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11. Board Game: Bärenpark [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:297]
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NUMBER 40


This game + the excellent app is the reason you won’t find Patchwork on my list anymore. You don’t realize you’re racing until someone is just two turns away from finishing the game and you still have a whole board left to cover. If you like tile laying games, definitely give this one a try.

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12. Board Game: Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:168]
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NUMBER 39


Isle of Skye is such a great game. Easily able to replace Carcassone in its playstyle and its ease of play. The added economic element and the rotating goals make this such a better game. It deserved the buzz it got, but I have zero interest in its expansion.

Legacy:
Shift: -11
Highest: 28
Years on List: 2
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13. Board Game: XenoShyft: Onslaught [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:908] [Average Rating:7.02 Unranked]
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NUMBER 38


Xenoshyft remains as one of the few pure deckbuilders that actually feels distinct among the crowd. The encroaching hoard, the ability to pass around your cards to your allies, and the lack of an economy system that you can control creates a refreshing spin on the genre. And it’s not an easy game, you really have to plan things well and have the right bit of luck.

Legacy:
Shift: +9
Highest: 26
Years on List: 4
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14. Board Game: Glass Road [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:234]
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NUMBER 37


I got to play Glass Roads a few more times this year and it’s still one of Uwe’s best games (just not the best on the list). One thing I really enjoy is how short the game is, but how long it feels. There is so much tension every time someone flips their action, the hope that you’ll get a bonus action from it. It’s a really unique play on the “I choose, you follow” mechanic.

Legacy:
Shift: -15
Highest: 22
Years on List: 2
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15. Board Game: Rum & Bones: Second Tide [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:1101] [Average Rating:7.78 Unranked]
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NUMBER 36


Again, entirely due to the expansion. Rum and Bones 2 is a great MOBA style game with a lot of tension. It’s very easy to come back from a weak position with just the right luck or the right play. I’ve lost many a game where just 15 minutes ago I had a huge lead. The only downside to the game is the imbalance of some of the mercenaries.

Legacy:
Shift: -21
Highest: 15
Years on List: 3
 
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16. Board Game: Scoville [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:590]
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NUMBER 35


I love teaching this game to people that are newer to Euro style games. You need to do a lot of planning, but the ability for other players to cut off your strategy means you need to think on your toes. Yet the loss of your strategy doesn’t feel so detrimental, just requiring a reroute.

Also, the theme and the components always make this game super fun to get to the table.

Legacy:
Shift: -2
Highest: 16
Years on List: 4
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17. Board Game: Roll for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:68]
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NUMBER 34


Toddler effect is still in full control here as we rarely get this game to the table due to how loud it can be. Rolling so many dice can be horribly child waking. But thankfully, you can play online at BGA and it reminded me how good this game really is. One day I hope to get the expansion, but my physical copy would need to not be covered in dust.

Legacy:
Shift: +7
Highest: 23
Years on List: 3
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18. Board Game: Galaxy Trucker [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:156]
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NUMBER 33


It’s surprising to me how a game I haven’t played in so long can still be so high on my list, but Galaxy Trucker is just so fun. I LOVE watching my ships get blown up almost as much as I love building them. Yeah, I shouldn’t like the game. It’s a random mess of hidden information with a time element. But I don’t play to win, I just enjoy the experience.

Legacy:
Shift: -2
Highest: 29
Years on List: 3
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19. Board Game: Adrenaline [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:601]
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NUMBER 32


I can’t wait to see what the expansion will do to this game. I’m really excited for the co-op variant. Adrenaline is one of those games where everything just comes together so well. Its super pretty, the theme is great and gameplay fun. But this, like another game much higher, shines in its way to not beat down the player doing poorly. Getting shot a lot is good for you, dying has minor consequences, and there are very few instances of random mechanics. Adrenaline is the family fun game of shooting each other in the face.

Legacy:
Shift: +8
Highest: 32
Years on List: 2
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20. Board Game: Sheriff of Nottingham [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:295]
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NUMBER 31


In all the four years on this list, Sheriff has never dropped down in ranking. It is a game that stands the test of time, a super fun experience every time I teach it.

Legacy:
Shift: +8
Highest: 31
Years on List: 4
 
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21. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:37]
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NUMBER 30


Ah Tzokin, your gears are so gimmicky but your gameplay so fun. The need to plan so far into the future with this game just makes for a great brain burner. This is not a game of tactics, you’ve got to know your next four turns to do this well. I can’t wait to finally play this again with my wife’s painted cogs.

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Highest: 11
Years on List: 3
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22. Board Game: Thief's Market [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:2146]
Bryan Gerding
Poland
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NUMBER 29


I still wonder why this hits my list every year, but whenever I make my choices I always remember how much fun I have with this game. The stealing and the vengeful glares are pretty funny, but the sneaky wins are dastardly. I suggest you give it a try, it’s on sale on CoolStuff quite a lot for the absolute steal of $5.

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Legacy:
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Highest: 29
Years on List: 3
 
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23. Board Game: Scribe's Arena [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:10109]
Bryan Gerding
Poland
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NUMBER 28


Every year I remember how deceptively amazing this game plays out. It doesn’t have the right to be as fun an engaging as it is. And every year I remember that it isn’t more well-known and is actually terribly hard to get. One day I’ll win the lottery, I’ll buy the rights to this gem, and I’ll find it a proper publisher.

Oh, and I’ll buy a new house. But, you know, priorities.

FULL REVIEW

Legacy:
Shift: -3
Highest: 13
Years on List: 4
 
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24. Board Game: Orléans [Average Rating:8.08 Overall Rank:25]
Bryan Gerding
Poland
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NUMBER 27


I never know where Orleans will end up on my list. It’s such a good game, but there are other deep Euros that I enjoy more. Orleans even has some deeply annoying flaws with regards to player order and random luck of the draw. But here it is, 9 places higher than it was before.

I really need to try the expansions, I’ve heard they’re great.

Legacy:
Shift: +9
Highest: 36
Years on List: 2
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25. Board Game: BattleCON: Devastation of Indines [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:266] [Average Rating:7.99 Unranked]
Bryan Gerding
Poland
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NUMBER 26


Having got to play this more this year, I was reminded how amazing this game can be. Many a game comes down to staring down your opponent and trying to read their play. You’re not playing the game here, you’re playing your opponent. And when you get that right riposte, it’s a stand up and shout moment.

Legacy:
Shift: +18
Highest: 15
Years on List: 3
 
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