jmoline's Top 100 Games - 2018 Edition
James Moline
United States
Tampa
FL
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My 3rd annual top 100 games rankings.

Previous entries have only ranked the top 50, but I've played over 600 games all time, so I thought it was time to expand the list to 100. I had no difficulty coming up with enough games, and I can attest that I do in fact very much like every game on this list.

Just like last year, I used the ranking engine at Pub Meeple (https://www.pubmeeple.com/board-game-ranking-engine/). It's a solid tool for this kind of thing. There were a few items that ended up out of order, but I chalk that up to my own inconsistency, rather than any flaw in the engine.

Previous lists:

jmoline's Top 50 Games - 2016
jmoline's Top 50 Games - 2017 Edition
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1. Board Game: Bruxelles 1893 [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:251]
James Moline
United States
Tampa
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Rank: 100
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 3(+1)

Bruxelles 1893 is a wonderful mix of mean and heavy that is, unfortunately, not always easy to get to the table. The art is a turn off for some, but I quite like it. The mix of area control and action selection is interesting and, at times, really difficult to plan around. I was happy to get it played this year, and I know at least one person who has been asking to revisit it, so I look forward to that. It may end up being a once or twice a year game, but I like it well enough to keep it around for that.
 
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2. Board Game: The Big Score [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:5109]
James Moline
United States
Tampa
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Rank: 99
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 1(+1)

I don't own this one, and I've only played it once, so we'll see if it sticks around. I really enjoyed this mix of drafting and push-your-luck. Planning out which jobs you want to work on each round and hoping that others will join you is fun and interesting. The game moves really quickly, which is good because I'm not sure I'd enjoy the luck element as much if it overstayed its welcome. Definitely looking forward to playing this one more.
 
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3. Board Game: AquaSphere [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:374]
James Moline
United States
Tampa
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Rank: 98
Position Last Year: 24(-74)
Total Plays: 3(+0)

This is another victim of my limited gaming time with my wife. I do have one other friend who enjoys it, but we're usually playing games with others who are less keen on it. I still very much enjoy it, though, and hope to continue exploring it.

In 2016 I wrote:
Aquasphere is climbing very fast in my estimation. It's a bit of a pain to set up, which means it doesn't make it to the table as often as I'd like. It plays well with 2, though, which is a good recipe for a Feld game to get played in my house. I love coordinating the actions of the scientist and the engineer. They are, on their own, simple pawns with only a few options available, but when combined, the puzzle they represent is really fun (and challenging) to work through and optimize.
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4. Board Game: Bärenpark [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:325]
James Moline
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Rank: 97
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 4(+4)

Is this my favorite polyomino tile game? I think it is. I also enjoy Cottage Garden, Indian Summer, and Patchwork (and Feast for Odin, but I think of that more as a worker placement game). I'm a little surprised that there aren't more of them in my top 100, because I really like the puzzles in all of them. I guess that's a pretty good indication of how much I like all of the games on this list, though.

Barenpark is my favorite, mostly for the variability added by the end game scoring tiles. The puzzle is great in all of them, but that little bit of a nudge giving you something different to think about each play is what elevates this one for me.
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5. Board Game: Crokinole [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:76]
James Moline
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Rank: 96
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 32(+1)

Crokinole is my favorite dexterity game. It plays quickly and you can play one on one or with teams. I'm not good at it, but it's always a lot of fun.
 
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6. Board Game: Troyes [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:68]
James Moline
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Rank: 95
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 13(+1)

Troyes is a game that I've gone back and forth on a little bit. I really liked it at first, but then started to feel like it was a little too abstract and convoluted. Some of that may have been due to having to re-learn it over and over again, because I didn't play it for a few weeks. After playing it a decent amount, though, and getting a better feel for how everything works, a lot of that feeling has faded, and I'm back to really enjoying it. I have the Ladies of Troyes expansion, but haven't had a chance to try it.
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7. Board Game: Glass Road [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:211]
James Moline
United States
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Rank: 94
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 11(+0)

Glass Road was ranked 40 in 2016.

In 2016 I wrote:
I honestly don't know why Glass Road isn't higher on this list. Maybe it's hurt by the fact that I can't really think about the strategy when I'm not playing it? So it doesn't really build my anticipation that way. It's a very strategic game, but with the variety of buildings that can come out make it impossible to predict what any given game might entail. Even after 11 plays, I don't think I've seen all of the buildings, and because I usually only build a handful, I probably haven't really grasped what a lot of the buildings I have seen do.
 
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8. Board Game: Dimension [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1515]
James Moline
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Rank: 93
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 3(+0)

When I first heard someone describe this game to me, I thought it sounded like Fluxx: The Ball Stacking Game. It's better than that, though, and I really like the spacial puzzle of it combined with the speed element. It's light and simple to teach, which is a plus sometimes, too. Sadly, it hasn't made it to the table recently, but making this list has put it back on my mind, so hopefully it will be back on the table soon.
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9. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:38]
James Moline
United States
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Rank: 92
Position Last Year: 42(-50)
Total Plays: 9(+1)

I've played this one once this year, but I'm hoping to get it to the table more often. I do have an insert now, so it should be easier to get to the table at our meetups.

Last year I wrote:
I've really been wanting to get back to this one. In a Meeple Realty AMA a while back, they said they were going to be releasing an insert for this and I'm really looking forward to that, because I think it will help me get it to the table more.


In 2016 I wrote:
Tzolk'in suffers a bit from being a game that you have to be familiar with to do well. I've played it 8 times, so that shouldn't be a problem, right? Well, it turns out that there always seems to be sufficient time between my plays that I have forgotten just enough of the strategic lessons I've learned to be back near square one. I really like the game, though, and I hope to one day figure out how to do well at it.
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10. Board Game: A Study in Emerald (second edition) [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:1046]
James Moline
United States
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Rank: 91
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 2(+0)

A Study in Emerald was ranked 38 in 2016. I need to re-read the rules and get it back to game night. Some of them members didn't enjoy it, but enough time has passed that they want to give it another try.

In 2016 I wrote:
A Study in Emerald (second edition) is another of those games that maybe doesn't deserve to be here yet. I've only played it twice, and I haven't truly made up my mind yet. All I really know is that I was really excited to play it, and, after two plays, I'm still really excited to play it.
 
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11. Board Game: The Palace of Mad King Ludwig [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2130]
James Moline
United States
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Rank: 90
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 1(+1)

I've only played this one once, but my wife and I both enjoyed it enough to pick up a copy, so I think it will get played again soon. This is another one of those spatial puzzle games that I love so much. This one has a more interactive element than some of those other games, though, which can be both good and bad. It doesn't produce the same fantastical floor plan as Castles of Mad King Ludwig does, but I kind of the prefer the simpler tile selection mechanism in this game, versus the price setting aspect of Castles. I think this one might work as a coffee game, too (although, our schedules have made playing games over coffee more difficult lately).
 
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12. Board Game: Dice Town [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:734]
James Moline
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Rank: 89
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 8(+0)

Dice Town is one of the best lightweight games I have. Everyone always enjoys the dice rolling, and collecting poker hands. It's easy to teach and plays quickly. I've never had it not go over well.
 
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13. Board Game: Strasbourg [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:746]
James Moline
United States
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Rank: 88
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 2(+1)

I got to play this one again just recently after languishing on the shelf for over 3 years! I really enjoy this Feld auction game, and the people I play it with always seem to enjoy it, too. Something about it makes it difficult to get to the table, though (theme, maybe? I don't know). We've recently been digging into and enjoying more auction games, though, so I think that will help this get played in the future. I've never regretted ordering this one from amazon.de, but I'd definitely like to get it played more often.
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14. Board Game: La Granja [Average Rating:7.73 Overall Rank:122]
James Moline
United States
Tampa
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Rank: 87
Position Last Year: 26(-61)
Total Plays: 5(+0)

Last year I wrote:
This fell quite a bit, but I still love the game. It's really just a matter of only really getting to play it with my wife (my other regular groups are less interested), and our game time has been kind of sparse this year.


In 2016 I wrote:
Multi-use cards, resource conversion and management, goal scoring, dice drafting... La Granja is really a hodgepodge of great mechanisms, but they all work really well together! This is really very much like a game by Stefan Feld, and, at least for the moment, I enjoy it more than any of Feld's designs.

The core of the game is really in the cards. Each card has 4 different possible uses, and choosing between them is usually pretty difficult. I love the tension of wanting to get an order going, so that I can score points, but needing more fields to produce, or wanting to improve my ability to make deliveries or get more money. On top of that, though, there's a nice logistics puzzle that you have to solve.

La Granja has really captured my interest, and I'm pretty much always excited to play it.
 
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15. Board Game: Factory Fun [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:918]
James Moline
United States
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Rank: 86
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 5(+4)

Factory Fun is actually on its way out of my collection, but only because Factory Funner is on its way in. I don't like the speed element of this one, but that was easily fixed with some suggestions from the variants forums. The spatial puzzle (there's that description again), is definitely worth it, though. I love figuring out how to design my factory floor to pump this element into that machine and then from that machine to this other... It's fun and challenging in a really good way.
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16. Board Game: 6 nimmt! [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:592]
James Moline
United States
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Rank: 85
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 26(+7)

This is one of my favorite fillers. It's chaotic, but a lot of fun, and your decisions absolutely do matter most of the time, even if it feels pretty random at times. I've never had anyone dislike this game, and I'm pretty much always up for a round or two.
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17. Board Game: Reef [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:968]
James Moline
United States
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Rank: 84
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 7(+7)

Reef is a new one (we've only had it a couple of weeks), but we've already played it a bunch. It's quick and fairly light, but there's some depth there with trying to chain your cards together in the best way to maximize your points. I think it gets compared to Azul sometimes (perhaps because of the publisher?), but feels pretty different to me.
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18. Board Game: Rococo [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:196]
James Moline
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Rank: 83
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 7(+0)

I need to play Rococo again, especially since I've had the Jewelry Box expansion for a while now and have yet to play it. The game is beautiful and the mechanics of it make for some really interesting decisions and strategy. It can run a little long at the higher player counts, but it plays really well at the lower counts, so that is only a little limiting.
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19. Board Game: Galaxy Defenders [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:915]
James Moline
United States
Tampa
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Rank: 82
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 12(+0)

This was 22 in 2016. My friends who own this one have the expansions for it, and the follow up, Sword & Sorcery, but our schedules haven't been able to sync up for a while. I'd still very much like to revisit this one some day.

In 2016 I wrote:
I played through the Galaxy Defenders campaign with a couple of friends a while back. The story was fine, but the progression of our characters was really great. I also really enjoyed the way each mission changed things up and required different strategies and tactics. It took us a couple of plays to realize that just killing everything on the board was not the best way to win.

It says something about how much we like the game that we were actually able to complete the entire campaign. I have tried to do this with many other games (notably Imperial Assault, Level 7: Omega Protocol, and Undercity), but haven't quite been able to repeat that accomplishment.
 
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20. Board Game: Haggis [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:715]
James Moline
United States
Tampa
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Rank: 81
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 5(+0)

Haggis is a rare thing: a really good ladder climbing game that actually works well with 2 players. I don't get to play it very often, because my 2 player gaming has been greatly reduced over the last couple of years. When my wife and I get back to regular gaming/go on vacation, though, this is one that will likely see a resurgence. We both really enjoy it. The decisions and strategy are both fun and interesting.
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21. Board Game: Welcome To... [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:339]
James Moline
United States
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Rank: 80
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 6(+6)

I had given up on "roll and write" games. I'd played a bunch of them, but never found any that caught and held my attention. Then a while back I played Noch Mal! and I came home and told my wife that I had found my favorite of the roll and writes. Then I played Welcome To... (and Ganz Schon Clever) the following weekend. Welcome To... has easily become my favorite in the genre (call it "flip and fill" or whatever, it still belongs in the same category in my opinion). I love planning out my street addresses and deciding what boxes I'm going to focus on to score more points. This is a great game, and I'm pretty much always willing to play.
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22. Board Game: ZhanGuo [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:412]
James Moline
United States
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Rank: 79
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 1(+1)

Another What's Your Game? game, another purchase after my first play. I haven't been able to get my own copy to the table (except for one attempt that had to be called for time). I really enjoyed the choices and engine building here, though, and imagine it will continue to be on the list after more plays.
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23. Board Game: The Resistance [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:188]
James Moline
United States
Tampa
FL
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Rank: 78
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 4*(+2)

I'm a big fan of social deduction games, and I'll play just about any of them at least once. The more I play them, the more I find that I lean towards those that are more simple and elegant. The Resistance is definitely that. I have the re-themed role cards from Avalon, and that is primarily how we play. I do like the plot cards, but I think they take a little more skill and familiarity to use well. Otherwise, they just make the game seem more chaotic.
 
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24. Board Game: It Happens.. [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:3096]
James Moline
United States
Tampa
FL
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Rank: 77
Position Last Year: -
Total Plays: 12(+0)

It's very light for Stefan Feld, and it probably has way more luck involved than a lot of Feld fans would like, but I really enjoy this dice chucker. It reminds me a bit of Roll for It! which I also enjoy, but the choices here are a little more difficult. I wouldn't look for a lot of skill or control here, but I always have a good time with it.
 
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25. Board Game: In the Year of the Dragon [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:225]
James Moline
United States
Tampa
FL
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Rank: 76
Position Last Year: 50(-26)
Total Plays: 5(+2)

I need to bring this one back to my weekly game night. There are at least a few people there who enjoy playing it every now and then. This is maybe the most oppressive of the Feld games I've played, but that planning and disaster mitigation ends up being a fun experience you go through with your opponents.

Last year I wrote:
I've only been able to play this a few times so far. It's one of those games that everyone at my weekly meetup enjoyed playing, but never seems to get back to the table. I really enjoyed it, though, and I think my wife will also when I get the chance to play it with her. The game is punishing, but it's punishing to everyone, so we can all laugh about our misfortunes. The design is elegant and the action selection is interesting. I really hope to play this a lot more in the future.
 
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