I turned 40 and these are my top 40 games
Samo Oleami
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Well, I turned 40 in February 2019 and the plan was to make 3 geeklists to celebrate. One with 40 least favorite games, one with 40 most favorite games and another one that's currently stuck in development hell. I made the bottom 40 list immediately. Easy peasy. I mean, it was grueling to decide which of the games I never want to see again I would run away quicker, but it was done. However top 40 list - this list - took longer.

Because.
Uhm.
It's easier for me to articulate what I dislike... blush

However, I decided to rank games (using pubmeeple engine) again this autumn and used the data for this list - which now includes three new-to-me games from 2019. Bonus!

Right.
What else?
Yes, I actually do like games.
I mean some games.
These games.
Well, of course, I'd say you can only like something if you dislike something else, it's the cosmic yin-yang thingy.

The other list is here:
I turned 40 and these are my bottom 40 games
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26. Board Game: Summoner Wars: Master Set [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:197] [Average Rating:7.53 Unranked]
Board Game: Summoner Wars: Master Set
Samo Oleami
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#16

Favorite 2 player ameritrash.

Hybrid or a streamlined ameritrash?
Or is streamlined ameritrash already a hybrid?

The magic of SW is how simple and streamlined an AT game with developed theme is. And how deep it is, while having a lot of odds/luck to manage. Armies have a simple structure, but it's all in the gameplay, not in deckbuilding. You play same deck differently depending on what you're up against. And depth means - rules are simple and you're figuring stuff as you go along and as it should be. However this did turn several cultists of the new off of this game - or how I got my almost unplayed 2nd hand copy for cheap.

Given how rarely I play 2 player games anyhow Master Set probably suffices. Maybe I'd try to get Cave Goblins + Guild Drarwes expansion too. It's a pity this game took so much time to get to Europe and then went quickly out of print. Oh, well. We will rely on its depth then.
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27. Board Game: Ca$h 'n Gun$: Yakuzas [Average Rating:6.53 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.53 Unranked]
Board Game: Ca$h 'n Gun$: Yakuzas
Samo Oleami
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#15

should be cult classic
highest ranked game I don't own


Cash and Guns story is sad tale of how a game inspired by [i]Reservoir Dogs[/i] ended up being closest to Tiny toon adventures spin off in the case of executive meddling. Instead of the showdown at loot distribution we got ... err, removal of tension as it's harder to kill people and easier to calculate risk, but now with added intensity of set collecting subgame for all the eurogamers who can't feel human-to-human intensity but intensely invest their emotions into ways to get more points. As for bland visuals, the game deserves them.

But Yakuza expansion of the first game, brings us to the glory ... of a bloated bloated, overambitious sequel. Vision! Complications! More deaths! More rules! Foam shurikens that do. not. work. But. There's team work. It's one of the most fun and intense partnerships games (and I have a soft spot for these). In particular the secret meeting of each group at start of the game and halftime (hehe). Sure, there's additional rules, there's more powers, there's special weapons (that kill everyvun! almost). Sure there's overhead, but you add each new thing one at the time. As you should play this as a whole day event multiple times in a row.

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28. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:296] [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked]
Board Game: Arkham Horror
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#14

1/2 of my first hobby game purchase
2nd highest rated bloat with soul
2nd highest co-op


"Hey Samo, but don't you prefer simple games?"
"I prefer games simplified to what's really needed to create the type of experience the game strives for. In case of AH this means a heap of cards, chits, dice and whatnot."


AH is an immersion vehicle. Into the atmosphere. Into the characters. Into the freedom to do what you want as the end isn't nigh just yet, so you can totally spend couple turns in stores to maybe find some cool item. Or further your own narrative while other players get nervy. The game has a surprising ability to tell different stories with each play while giving players decent amount of authonomy and co-op aspect conjuring tangible tension. All this with even those few cards in base game. AH balances between the collective journey aspect (which Eldrich Horror expands upon) and the collective work of a decent co-op. Result being quite satisfying as there's a nice tension between individual player's agenda to make their own narrative in their mind and the collective camaraderie.

What you need to play:
- Rules master that takes care of most of the rules, so you can play with complete nongamers. Player aids help too,
- Players willing to take over some of bookkeeping and read flavour text out loud.
- Find that inner feeling that needs to know all the rules of a game and lock in a sound isolated space. This isn't an euro. Finding out correct rules in 5th play of it is fine.


I also wrote a review of it in which I explored tension between collective effort and camaredirie and individual imagination. It also (co)won me the first Voice of experience contest.
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29. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:287]
Board Game: King of Tokyo
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
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#13

Richard Garfield's tour de force of boardgame design

Ah, yes, the game that single-handedly made player elimination cool again. And the ameritrash with proper weight - light, yet still having all the drama of the genre. Of course there are naysayers that will claim this is basically just Yahtzee, but we'll let their comment speak for their level of understanding of games. The core of the game is the sentence I say when I teach the game - and I've been teaching it countless times at kids boardgaming workshops - that "you win by getting 20 points or by KILLINK EVERYVUN ELSE!". Their eyes lit up. I got their attention.

The core of the game is king of the hill mechanism which means A) - you can't attack Joe because he owns the game and therefore is the desired target, but you can only attack into or outside of Tokyo. A nice structure that obliterates many of social biases players tend to bring with themselves into games. B) because of player elimination you are always pushing your luck against other people and their evaluation of situation. FUN! Ah, the fine art of groupthink deduction that point to which of the victory conditions to go for. And if you've played Garfield's MtG you know - life is a resource.

It really is an AT game streamlined to its essence - if you look deep into it you'll see player elimination glisten at its core. And nothing says "I know how to design games" than Garfield just inventing new cards on the spot by writing rules with sharpie on cards for eager fans - because the game's structure was strong enough to carry them.

I always play with zee peenk Bunny Rabbit explainink vith zees voice hyu hov hyu shall bee annihilated. Und vith zee fear in hyur eyez dice shall fall in mein favour. Mwahahaha!
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30. Board Game: Haggis [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:853]
Board Game: Haggis
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
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#12

#1 climbing game

I'm amazed how this game has the vibe of organically grown traditional card games. While the rules are simple, the game isn't elegant, there isn't a simple core that connects all the dots. Rather, while playing it seems the passage of time and generations of players have rounded its edges and brought its parts together in one solid conglomerate. What happened though was a long creative process in which Sean Ross had the destination (2 player Tichu) but no other requirement and let the statistics of countless computer simulations show which combos should be included in the game for proper tension.

If somebody asks me of MtG substitute - this! It has combos! It has tension! It's war, but because of suits and numbers nobody can tell. Their loss, though. The game is also a splendid example of graphic design that functions as user interface - cards which aren't part of the deck have different backs, points cards score are printed on them, cards that form a bomb have a different visual style. And at same time, it's a game that asks geeks, look, really? This game could be played with a normal deck of cards, but it had to be published as stand alone game to get traction. Yup, that is zee hobby vee are in.
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31. Board Game: Mamma Mia! [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:1477] [Average Rating:6.47 Unranked]
Board Game: Mamma Mia!
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
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#11

#1 Uwe
#1 memory game
#2 2 player game


Whenever I'm faced with explaining this game I have no clue how. Preprogrammed set collection? Push your luck against other player's memory? In any case a game to be played fast and with your gut, intuitively pushing your own grasp of situation to the edge and over it. There's hand management, there's stupidity, there's gutsiness, there's ... "eh don't worry about it, it will work out" . And then reveal feels like we're all watching a game show.

Probably the game I've played the most with my SO. We like silly.
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32. Board Game: Android [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:1212]
Board Game: Android
Samo Oleami
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#10

highest rated bloat with soul

The game so overbloated with so high overhead you'd probably need 2 brains to play it - one for creative a narrative in your mind, the other, positronic brain, for rules and strategizing. The game is crumbling under its own weight as you try to play it, but sorta kinda still works, if you squint a bit - qualities of a proper a cult classic: barely playable, yet actually worth the bother, if you want your bother to be paid in a strong narrative and dense atmosphere.

"Hey Samo, but don't you prefer light games?"
Actually - I want games to be as light as they can be for the experience they provide. Nothing provides an experience like Android, ergo...


It's 3 games put together in one box, it's a novel cut into pieces and glued onto take-that cards, it's a resource acquiring game where you can lose everything you worked for 2 hours in one turn and has no notion of balance to speak of. It's an experience vehicle through and through - best consumed with a nice 1990s drum and bass (as that's what we were told cyberpunk is about). I'm that good that I'm able to teach it in 1 hour. It's not supposed to be accessible. Or suitable for different gamers. Nope. It's one of a kind (as nobody is that stupid to make something like it again). And it's mine!
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33. Board Game: Wiz-War (eighth edition) [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:744]
Board Game: Wiz-War (eighth edition)
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
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#9

Best take that game

Not elegant, not simple, nothing clever about it, yet easy to learn and intuitive. And stupid. Totally stupid. If stupid seems like fun, you'll love this.

About strategy: Strategy schmategy. Who needs strategy when you've got fireball? Impulse control was never a strong point for a wizard.

What sets Wiz War apart from Munchkin and other "play a card that does this to another player" is the map. We get the scenery and spatial positioning on which the theme of stupid wizards running around the place throwing fireballs at one another makes creates a fascinatingly cohesive experience. Theme is tangible, visceral, you can eat a wall, go through and throw a fireball around a corner at another wizard's behind.

I always played as closely to original edition as possible (FFG tried to nerf the game as they couldn't know at the same time KoT would make player elimination cool again). It's amazing how with the loose mishmash of stuff thrown together,unregulated multiplayer combat and player elimination there's a strong sandbox feel and refreshing sense of directness.
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34. Board Game: Werewolf [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1500]
Board Game: Werewolf
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#8

#1 social deduction

I look at your Resistance and clones and shake my head in disapproval. Apart of Win, Lose or Banana this is the only social deduction I'm willing to play, and by play I mean: moderate. I'm not talking about you daddy's Resistance. I have a special breed groomed through years of birthday parties - I've had guests who didn't know each other, so some socialisation event was in order.

This was used as a starting template: Wolfen.pdf
1. No player elimination. No role reveal. Characters die, but players stay in the game as ghosts that are allowed to talk.
2. Specific 2 rounds voting. Everybody, even the dead, can nominate people for hanging - 2 of them get to the final vote. In 2nd round only people alive can vote. (I've simplified this process from how this is moderated in the file).
3. Emphasis on light storytelling. My setting being remote, but widely known resorts in Slovenian Alps - in 1919, just after WW1 and start of the Yugoslavia. Players introduce their characters with a sentence ("I'm a milkmaid"), likewise nominations for hanging must be elaborated on - even with fictional excuses such as "she's walking around my cowshed in the middle of the nights".
4. I added some roles, some tweaks. They work fine, unless played with gamerz

"This isn't balanced! What I'm supposed to do?"
Lie!
"How do you mean...?"
It's a Werewolf game, if there's an issue, lie through your teeth.


Was quite successful in creating memorable moments to the point of people talking about certain events for years.
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35. Board Game: The Mind [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:567]
Board Game: The Mind
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#7

#1 co-op
#1 2 player game
new to me in 2019


Oh, yeah!

The Mind shifts the focus of players away from the mind into an awareness that is both bodily and group oriented. Forget about establishing a distance from others, or throwing yourself into the rules. It's collective, it's visceral and very intense, both on the level of adrenaline and mental focus required.

If you're looking for a game that will throw you away from everyday problems into its own orbit, this is the one.

Yes, it's a team building exercise, yer it's a improv or dance exercise taken into a card game form. But. It is a boardgame and one which in these desolate solipsistic boargaming times emphasises the group and the connection of people to one another. You need to listen and to be able to give sings and then the gist of the game is players synchronising with each other.

And then, as you reach higher levels you can scream: "We're awesome telepathic ninja bunnies!"

samo's additional ponderings wrote:
When you're improvising - let's say you're dancing (freestyle), or you're doodling, or you're actually doing musical improvisation, theatre improvisation, or maybe you just got home, there's some stuff in the fridge and you're improvising a lunch - what exactly is a decision. Sometimes, in dance or music, you're following others, sometimes you're making initiatives, sometimes you're switching between those two modes and listening to co-improvisers what you role should be and sometimes you follow this flow and sometimes you break it.

When we talk about things happening in real time. What is a decision? I'm making decisions in The Mind all the times, there's no time I'm not making decisions in. Each second is a choice of playing a card or not and observing others and evaluating these observations of others. What I like about the game is that I had to open the perception and be concentrated on multiple things at once. I had to activate a bodily presence, something not needed for most games (maybe social deduction games, as it helps with lying, and dexterity games).

What is "a guess"? It's an observation, evaluation of observation and then making a decision on this evaluation. The Mind really forces players to be aware of bodily language, pace, all the clues which one can normally ignore in boardgamelandia. And because I have to simultaneously keep track of many sub-conscious or body language signals, it means the amount of data on which I'm making a choice (!) is actually substantial.

The most interesting bit is that the time needed to make a decision or withhold making one is also data for the decision making process. A nice autoreflexive loop.
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36. Board Game: A Fake Artist Goes to New York [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:681]
Board Game: A Fake Artist Goes to New York
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
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#6

#1 drawing game

But Samo, isn't this social deducti... NO! Shutup. It's a drawing game. But... Silence!

The better version of Spyfall: shorter, more structured and more creative (as the Questionmaster can create whatever task they wish). The difference in "try to explain something without explaining what it is" is that:

In talking like in Spyfall it creates odd Beckettian dialogues of
Where were you before?
At home.
What brought you here?
The usual.
Oh?
Yeah.
Hm.
What?


But with drawing you get: spontaneous cubism! Rejoice!
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37. Board Game: Kakerlakenpoker Royal [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:1214]
Board Game: Kakerlakenpoker Royal
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
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#5

#1 game of lying through your teeth
#1 filler game to put in a pocket


Why this game isn't in top 100 is a mystery to me. Oh, wait, BGG, right. Still, it's a travesty. The way I usually introduce a game is that is has a "Slovenian character" - you try to pass critters to everybody else and there's no winner only one loser. (Translation: Slovenes hate anybody who stands out, we're the antipode of meritocracy) Still, doing this in a game, can be cathartic.

Unlike in similar Coup where where you lie around a gamey structure, kakerlakenpoker grows with the group. The more you play with the same group, the more nuances develop, the better it gets - layers of acting, bluff and counter-bluff, constantly developing metagame, trying to predict player's reactions (challenge or pass) and be unpredictable yourself.
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38. Board Game: Celebrities [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:3766]
Board Game: Celebrities
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
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#4

#1 party game

The party game that feels like a party game - loud! There are body movements! (you hear this Codenames and Dixit?) my version is homebrew take on Time's Up! Title Recall!. But would play any variant, or people writing on bits of paper.

The dramaturgy of how it all builds from all talking to all moving is just beautiful. The crucial skill is one of rarely used: listening to your co-player. It's really about establishing a mental link. And using memory. And building up clues in early rounds for later ones. But, who cares who wins really. If you can get adults into silly interpretative dance, you have just done something good for your karma.

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39. Board Game: Chaos in the Old World [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:113]
Board Game: Chaos in the Old World
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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#3

the DoaM that's actually area majority
the area majority that's actually a DoaM



An absolute rarity. (I would say a diamant, but diamants aren't rare, just overpriced.) It's a rare case of FFG game that was finalized and balanced right off the bat. No expansions needed to fix it. (Horned Rat expansion was basically complete re-imagening - for people who need options outlined to understand them, so, it's a downgrade) It's a rare case of a nonbloated ameritrash and FFG design. Of course FFG couldn't help themselves, so the board is illegible. Because: atmospheresomethingsomethingchildishsupposedlydarkhumoursomething.

But. It is brilliant. Like a diamant. An asymmetrically cut one, because, well, that's the shtick. It's a DoaM/Area majority AT/Euro hybrid. With asymmetrical sides. Which are balanced. Uhm. Yes, they are. Shuttup, they are. Look. CitOW is a gem game and as such is to be properly appreciated under very specific conditions. You need 4 players. CitOW does not scale. And the way CitOW is balanced is the way players are supposed to balance it. And the way players are going to learn how to balance it is for the same group of players (which consists as we've established of exactly 4 persons) are going to play it time and time and time again. And then some. So if you say this gem game isn't balanced, it's your fault for not training yourself in balance achieving skills.
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40. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:220]
Board Game: Modern Art
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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Microbadge: Welcome to Zombo.com. You can do anything at Zombo.com. Anything at all. The only limit is yourself.Microbadge: rightMicrobadge: Easily MisunderstoodMicrobadge: leftMicrobadge: Slavoj Žižek
#2

#1 Knizia
#1 auction game
#1 euro
a game that's not really a stock market game, but it really is


The economy is entirely player driven, there are shared incentives and cards in your hand are kinda your stocks. What this all means is: groupthink, oh the glorious groupthink.
And the exploitation thereof.
Tee hee hee.

In the constant evolving situation you need to think on your feet, you need to evaluate the groupthink and adapt to it. Variety of auctions means variety of challenges, which muddies the waters and creates exploitable situations. And you're always playing against other people directly, or rather their evaluations which can be driven by herdign instinct.

But it's also about art!
Because I'm in art, well in contemporary performing art(close enough). While Modern Art could a theme of connecting anything where the marker sets the price - and it does (like, yawn collecting stamps) there's something about modern/contemporary art theme that makes it more than the sum of mechanisms and a theme pasted on them. Combination of player driven economy where things are worth what players think they're worth combined with contemporary art turns it into a parody.

Admittedly into a parody of what people who don't understand contemporary/modern art think of it: that it has no intrinsic value and its value is just randomly given to it by the art market. This is, of course wrong,but, we in contemporary art like to laugh at ourselves, don't you? The Pegagus/Matagot version I have pronounced this, having parodies of artists on card, not actual (established or upcoming) artists. Plus, I play with a tiny storytelling variant in which sales pitches must be made and they create tales of quirky artists doing quirky art.
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41. Board Game: Cosmic Encounter [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:132] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
Board Game: Cosmic Encounter
Samo Oleami
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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Microbadge: Welcome to Zombo.com. You can do anything at Zombo.com. Anything at all. The only limit is yourself.Microbadge: rightMicrobadge: Easily MisunderstoodMicrobadge: leftMicrobadge: Slavoj Žižek
#1

The pinnacle!
(Things only went downwards since!)


When you stand in your boardgaming comfort zone and see zee hobby speeding away from you with warp speed, it's only natural to embrace a game that's not of this world. Cosmic Encounter is a game from a different planet, a different culture, namely from 1977. A time when playing boardgames was still a playful endeavour, when quality of a boardgame was still measured by decibels and laughter, when players were allowed to enter game's space, when stupidity was still allowed and embraced and when small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were still small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. Cosmic is a funky game. And it's not just powers that break the rules and it's not just the bluffing or the negotiating or weird random stuff that may happen. It's in the groove, it's in the chaos that flows through all the pores of the game.

But the cleverest trick Cosmic pulls is in implementing a restriction - on who to attack - which throws the gates to freedom (read: utterly stupid decisions) wide open. Hence no alliances last more than a blink of an eye and herding instincts are torn to shreds in fractal patterns of chaos. It's a game that doesn't acknowledge future or past, it's just this turn right here and it's this moment in the wild ride we all share together and everybody's invited to grab their surf board and try riding the chaos.

And regardless what modern gamers claim (whine) chaos can be ridden.
Oh, yes!
Well, mostly.
Just this once!
I can make this work, surely!
Who wants to ally with me?

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