The Ramble Repository Presents - a retrospective on a decade of pretty good games
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I've played a lot of games over the last 10 years. Now seems as good a time as any to hop on the bandwagon and talk about them. I didn't necessarily play all of these immediately upon release, but that doesn't disqualify them from being the best of their respective years. Time is strange that way.

Credit to Martin for his excellent list, which served as inspiration: https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/267519/qwertymartins-deca...
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1. Board Game: Safranito [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1628]
Board Game: Safranito
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Best of 2010

A delicious fusion of dexterity and economic euro that's like nothing else I've ever played before or since. Brilliant component decisions like the holes in the center of the chips and the raised walls around the board elevate it beyond its kin, and the art is gobsmackingly pretty. Joyful to play from start to finish. I've never seen anyone not crack a smile during a game of this.
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2. Board Game: Innovation [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:309]
Board Game: Innovation
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Honorable Mention of 2010

This was incredibly tough to put behind Safranito because both of them are top-10 worthy for me. I've played about 100 games of base Innovation. One game with an expansion was enough to make it clear that I was perfectly happy continuing down that path. It offers so much variety from play to play that I can't imagine ever wanting to overcomplicate it. My favorite Chudyk, and that's a high bar.
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3. Board Game: Yomi [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:1029] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Yomi
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Best of 2011

I got sucked into Yomi something fierce. A card-based fighting game that I could play online without worrying about netcode? Put that directly into my veins. Yomi had its hooks in so deep that I wrote a (now outdated) guide on how to play Rook and put in the work to ensure the strategies in it were bulletproof. They couldn't be, of course, but the fun is in the trying.
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4. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:281]
Board Game: King of Tokyo
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Honorable Mention of 2011

I've since cooled on King of Tokyo a bit, but there's no denying that it was my most played game of 2011 and continued to see a ton of play afterwards. I was absolutely blown away at how much it did with a simple Yahtzee roll. The addition of Power Up gave the monsters the personalities we always thought they had. This deserved all the success it got.
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5. Board Game: Say Bye to the Villains [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:3834]
Board Game: Say Bye to the Villains
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Best of 2012

Love Letter was the Kanai game that made waves, but Seibai is the one that stuck with me years after American audiences grew accustomed to Japanese games. Mechanically it's not the most tuned coop, but that's not the point. What it succeeds at is creating stories. Stories of vengeance, love, loss, redemption. Stories that I remember years after seeing them play out. What this box manages to achieve never fails to impress me.
 
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6. Board Game: Coup [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:467]
Board Game: Coup
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Honorable Mention of 2012

Do you remember how earth-shattering Coup was? I sure do. It didn't just break out of the standard hobby niche, it exploded. EVERYONE who played tabletop games had at least tried it, as had plenty of folks who weren't already part of this scene. Over here in the states it's sold in non-game shops like it's a normal thing and I couldn't be happier about that. Modern classic.
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7. Board Game: Quantum [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:445]
Board Game: Quantum
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Best of 2013

If there was any justice Quantum would have been a blowout success. Few games deliver on such incredible power turns and tactical plays with a ruleset this light, and the variability in setups prevent it from ever getting stale. Some may bristle at the luck present here, but I'm not one of -those- people. Quantum's fantastic.
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8. Board Game: Northern Pacific [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:2913]
Board Game: Northern Pacific
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Honorable Mention of 2013

cube or train

Cube or Train

CUBE or TRAIN

CUBE OR TRAIN

CUBE. OR. TRAIN.
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9. Board Game: Xia: Legends of a Drift System [Average Rating:7.86 Overall Rank:142]
Board Game: Xia: Legends of a Drift System
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Best of 2014

It's not entirely fair to give Xia this slot when the incredible Embers of a Forsaken Star didn't release until 2017, but I'm going to put it here anyway. Even though Embers elevated it to the best adventure board game ever made, it did so by building on the bones of this box. Base Xia is a dice chucking luckfest, albeit a good one. But with Embers? Xia is incomparable.
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10. Board Game: Don't Mess with Cthulhu [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1829]
Board Game: Don't Mess with Cthulhu
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Honorable Mention of 2014

AKA Time Bomb, AKA Tempel des Schreckens, AKA No Touch Kraken, AKA Dirt McGirt.

Social deduction games are really hard to get right. By cutting away at this design until there was nothing left but the barest essence, Yusuke Sato made the best one. There's just enough game to run itself (as opposed to having a moderator) but it never gets in the way of the discussion. Plays are short, so it's never frustrating for long if you get shut out. And it's funny. Genuinely, gutbustingly funny.
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11. Board Game: Fury of Dracula (Third/Fourth Edition) [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:199]
Board Game: Fury of Dracula (Third/Fourth Edition)
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Best of 2015

The best edition of a game that has seen many a tweak and change over the years. It's one of the rare examples of a more rules-heavy design earning and using every bit of what it adds. Yes it's long, and yes it requires a rules explanation beyond hide and seek, but the benefits are significantly better replayability and obstacles for both sides that are far more interesting than "maybe we'll find 'em here". There just isn't another 1 VS all game that delivers satisfaction at the same level as Fury 3rd.
 
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12. Board Game: Xenon Profiteer [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:1868]
Board Game: Xenon Profiteer
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Honorable Mention of 2015

A small box deckbuilder that dares to do something different, and in so doing stands head and shoulders above most of its larger contemporaries. Part tableau builder, part deckbuilder, part bidding, yet completely unique from other games that share those descriptions. An ever-shifting market of contracts and cards make each play feel fresh, and the hard science setting grounds it well.
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13. Board Game: Apotheca [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:2428]
Board Game: Apotheca
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Best of 2016

This is one that's benefited from time. Apotheca went from a game I really liked, to one of my favorites of its year, to one of my favorite games period over many many plays. It lies somewhere between a cutthroat abstract and a match 3 puzzle, with a couple elements of luck adding just enough variability and spice to keep things tense without lessening the impact of skill. It's gone over well with everyone I've taught it to and I couldn't be happier with it.
 
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14. Board Game: Tyrants of the Underdark [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:196]
Board Game: Tyrants of the Underdark
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Honorable Mention of 2016

A hybrid deckbuilder that has you using a second currency to play a dudes-on-a-map game. Timing when to push on the board and when to focus on your deck is critical, and the 6 half decks give it more variability than any other deckbuilder I can think of. Add in that the cards themselves are actually powerful in their own right and brother, you've got yourself a GAME.

Of all the years on this list this was the hardest one to choose a "winner" for. Depending on when you ask me they could flip.
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15. Board Game: Cursed Court [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:3138]
Board Game: Cursed Court
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Best of 2017

A big-boxed card game that makes the absolute most of its big-boxedness. Modern design sensibilities in the way it handles bumping and information, but with a classic feel, as if it's a game from an alternate timeline's past. Exciting, cutthroat, absolutely brilliant. Moreso than any other game on this list it pains me to see it languish in relative obscurity when far worse games of its time soar.
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16. Board Game: Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire [Average Rating:7.87 Overall Rank:583] [Average Rating:7.87 Unranked]
Board Game: Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire
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Honorable Mention of 2017

Warhammer Underworlds came out of nowhere and completely captured my attention for the better part of a year, to the point where I was regularly attending a weekly meetup just to get games in and even placed well in a few tournaments. It was the closest to a lifestyle game I've had in some time, and it was deserving. Unfortunately I fell away from it due to time commitments and frequent reinvestment for less frequent play became difficult to justify. My time with it may be over now, but the enjoyment and enthusiasm this game gave me was something I'm grateful for.
 
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17. Board Game: Root [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:35]
Board Game: Root
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Best of 2018

COIN by way of Redwall, with plenty of Cole Wehrle's trademark interlocking systems to keep things interesting. The asymmetry of Root belies how easy it is to teach and its play is far more interesting than most games where you scoot units around on a board. And that aforementioned asymmetry? It's tremendous. We're not talking the Cosmic Encounter approach of "you have a special rule" here; Root's asymmetry fundamentally changes how players approach its otherwise simple framework. Heap on plenty of high quality interaction and this is basically perfect.
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18. Board Game: Battle for Biternia [Average Rating:8.10 Overall Rank:9969]
Board Game: Battle for Biternia
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Honorable Mention of 2018

A tribute to MOBAs that focuses on the best parts of said genre while trimming all of the fat. Maneuvering your team, setting off perfect combos, and punishing your opponent's vulnerabilities are as gratifying here as the source material. This is shamefully cribbed from my previous writeup, but this is the best kind of nostalgia - something that invokes its inspirations while actually improving on them.
 
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19. Board Game: Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume One [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:1626] [Average Rating:8.15 Unranked]
Board Game: Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume One
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Best of 2019

A card-based combat engine so simple that its short rules explanation surprises seasoned skirmishers, and yet it's just as elegant and deep as it is simple. The spacing and maneuvering gives this a feeling similar to great fighting games, and it does it all without ever asking players to do upkeep or anything other than actively playing. On top of all of that it's drop dead gorgeous. Just amazing.
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20. Board Game: Medium [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:2764]
Board Game: Medium
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Honorable Mention of 2019

Rare is the party game that knows when to get out of the way. Medium gives its players a framework and some words, then steps back and lets the magic happen. And man, is that magic one hell of a trick. When you actually manage to -click- with someone, particularly on the first guess, you're going to feel incredible. What more could one ask of a game than that?
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