Desert Island Top 10
Chris Long
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So after struggling with Derk's Decree, it got me seriously thinking about which games I would choose when I was absolutely forced to, and why I chose them. Ultimately, the points that it brought up were very interesting, and so I thought I'd try to limit myself even further...

So if I was stuck on a Desert Island with only 10 games, which ones would I want to bring?

For the purposes of this list, all expansions to a game can be included in a single choice. So if Carcassonne is your cup of tea, we assume that you can somehow get all of the expansions along with and it only counts as one game. Also, we'll assume that this is a Lost or Gilligan's Island type of scenario where you have plenty of opponents.

Below is my list, but I want to know... what's yours? What makes those games the elite list for you and why would you take them with? How much diversity do you include? Do you have games for various numbers of players, or just two?
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1. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
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This was the first game onto my list and its place was never really in question. The original gateway game, Settlers is very fun, always different, and appeals to a large variety of people. The trading aspect is fairly unique, and the dice make for pretty randomized situations. Lastly, skill will win out most of the time, so more serious players won't get tired of being fate's whipping dog.

In addition, Seafarers and Das Buch would be coming along with me. That would provide a number of additional scenarios and plenty of rules variations to keep us occupied for a long time. That alone would put this game into my top 5 as well.
 
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2. Board Game: War of the Ring (First Edition) [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:82]
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This game would appeal to a much smaller percentage of people, and I'd prefer to only play it as a 2-player game, but I simply couldn't leave this game out. This is another whose inclusion was never in doubt.

I love the simulationist aspect of it, and the pretty critical management of a war on several fronts. This is probably as close as I'll ever get to a real "wargamer" game. Also, because of the differing goals of the two players, and the simple fact that you can't properly manage all fronts of the war in the time alotted, gives this game serious depth and lots of replayability.

The expansion would come along with, but it probably wouldn't see play for several years. I'm quite far from exhausting my strategies within the base game itself.
 
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3. Board Game: Blokus [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:518]
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My very favorite abstract game, and one that appeals to a large base of people who typically don't like abstracts. I love watching new players evolve through the various stages of this game, and I love the challenge of playing against really good players. Lastly, the three-player variant would provide a decent amount of variation to keep this game solidly enjoyable for quite some time.

The last of the games which I knew would be coming along no matter what. From here on out, the decisions get trickier for me.
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4. Board Game: Breakthru [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:8229]
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This is the only other abstract game on my list, and there were a number of games vying for this spot. This game won out over Backgammon, Chess, and Go (in that order) for a few critical reasons:

This was my first introduction to abstract strategy games where the players have uneven objectives, and it has a special place in my heart for that reason. There's a slight learning curve, but not as much as Chess or Go. In fact, I see many similar aspects of those games within this one. It always feels like Chess when I play, and you always have to keep your mind on the various sections of the board, much like Go.

The variable setup of the board, and the fact that each side of the game plays completely differently means that there's a ton of replay-ability to be found here. I've played this game around 30-40 times and I'm far from exhausting my strategies. On top of that, I haven't even tried changing the setup yet, so I feel like this game will easily go the distance.
 
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5. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:16]
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A classic (or eventually will be) resource management game, where the most critical resource turns out to be your number of possible actions. Change one decision in the early rounds and this game can play out completely differently. In addition, the sheer number of cards leaves a lot of variability for extended numbers of plays.

This one was a very tough choice for me. I struggled between this and Puerto Rico. For me, Agricola won out largely because I find more strategies to be found within this game. I love the Puerto Rico, but I've begun to get bored with it and find myself often doing the same things over and over.
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6. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
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THE tile-laying game, this is a fun one to play with anywhere between 2-6 players. Also, the HUGE number of expansions and variations available within this game give near endless variations for replayability. It's not my absolute favorite, but it's a nice simple game with only as much thinking involved as you want. This is definitely a game where the players make what they want out of it, and I particularly appreciate that.

This choice was another tough one for me. Ultimately all of the expansions helped Carcassonne edge out some other competitors like Ticket to Ride and Vegas Showdown.
 
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7. Board Game: Arkham Horror [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:237] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
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The only cooperative game on this list, and probably the longest as well. This is definitely a game you have to be in the mood for, but there are few other games out there which evoke such an experience from the players. For that reason, I had to give this place to Arkham.

The replayability for this game comes largely from the different GOOs, and the large number of cards you use, as well as choosing different roles each time. The expansions will help out a lot as well, and provide interesting variations when the base game gets stale.

Ultimately, it was the expansions which allowed for extended playability that made sure this game got included over other contenders.
 
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8. Board Game: Risk 2210 A.D. [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1019]
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While I do enjoy the Euros, I can also appreciate a good dice-fest, and there are few games that have held up so well over the years as the classic of Risk.

This version in particular brings a few extra things to the game which I think are simply brilliant and give you years worth of strategy exploration. While you may attempt to follow similar strategies, no two games will be the same, and the best players will be the ones that adapt to the changing landscape around them.

But its not just the base game that works so well, you've also got a number of expansions which provide additional rules, variations in maps and abilities, and a hefty chunk of chaos thrown into the mix if that's what you're looking for. And if you're really in the mood for the classic game, you can still play that way too by simply ignoring all the extras.
 
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9. Board Game: Basari [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1368]
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One of my very favorite games, I nearly didn't include this one simply because I worry about the long-term replay value of this one. Its absolutely brilliant, but as the rest of my list suggests, replayability is really important to me in this situation. I mean, presumably these are the only games I'll ever play again.

In the end, I kept it in the list because there just aren't any other games that have quite the same feel, or scratch the same itch for me. I love the bartering back and forth in order to further your position, and the number of different strategies for points that you can try throughout the course of the game.
 
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10. Board Game: Canasta [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:2729]
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Last on the list is Canasta, one of my favorite partner card games. Its simple and straightforward, but after near endless plays with my grandparents, it never got old.

Also, this one is kind of a cheat, because it allows me to play a near endless number of *other* games that involve a deck of cards, so I kind of side-stepped my rules there.

But to be honest, if I could only bring one thing with me on a desert island, it would be a deck of cards. There's no gaming supply more versatile.
 
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11. Board Game: The People's Choice [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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So what would be your list? I'm really interested to know. Of course, my list took me nearly three hours to widdle down to those last 10, but maybe it will be easier for you.

Also, I know I put all of mine in their own entries, but it might be better for reading if you put all of yours into one game entry. That way it won't be as hard to figure out where each one starts and stops.

I look forward to seeing what you think.
 
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12. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.35 Overall Rank:4]
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I'd like to imagine I could pick only 10, but for the hypothetical desert island, I'd bring...

1. Twilight Struggle. Unabashedly my favorite game.

2. Go. Not only is it my favorite abstract, if I had a desert island situation I would have a lot of time to play it and get better. The board can also be used for other games like Go-Moku and Pente.

3. Chess. Another game I like to play, even though I'm just a patzer. And again, it's a game that can be used for other games such as Arimaa.

4. Scrabble. Another of my favorite games, and as others have pointed out, you can play Bananagrams with the tiles. I'd even cheat and have a second set of tiles.

5. Ticket to Ride: Europe. My favorite of the TTR series.

6. Cribbage. A favorite card game. This is really just my way of sneaking in a deck of cards, with which the options are almost endless - Spades, Hearts, Poker, the list goes on.

7. Goa. A nice brain burning game.

8. Louis XIV. Ditto.

9. San Juan. I haven't tired of this game yet.

10. Carcassonne: The City. My favorite of the Carcassonne series.
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13. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:25]
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If I was stuck on a desert island, I think it would be mighty helpful if I had the resources I needed to start building a civilization. A good cup of coffee, a wife, and a game of Through the Ages, and I'd be set for a decent future!



Wake up and smell the coffee, let's go build a civilization together!
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14. Board Game: Buck Rogers: Battle for the 25th Century Game [Average Rating:6.42 Overall Rank:2978]
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I'm a very new gamer, only having really started to get into this stuff for about the last four months. I'm sure if I look back at this in years to come, I'll find it amusing and naive.

But if I had to pick 10 today:

Buck Rogers: Battle for the 25th Century
A nice big epic space battle. There are probably better ones, but this is the one I've played and I loved it.
Carcassonne
Simplistic, brilliant game with millions of possible board layouts.
Fair Means or Foul (Hoity Toity)
Quick to learn, great theme, and fun to try and second-guess your opponents' plans.
Magic: The Gathering
With all the expansions you could build decks till the end of time!
San Juan
I haven't played Puerto Rico, but I think this is great. Loads of great strategy options.
Settlers of Catan
I've only played it once with 2P variant rules, but I can see why this would be such a great game. Huge variation like Carcassonne.
Zooloretto
Great theme which appeals to everyone, simple to pick-up and fun to play.

Then I'd risk three choices on games I haven't tried yet:

1830: The Game of Railroads and Robber Barons
THE train game, which takes lots of players, loads of time and has neat stock market decisions to make.
Dune (Avalon Hill)
Great subject material, long play time and I like the political/diplomatic element. By the sounds of things, a desert island with other gamers would be the only place it would get played!
Yspahan
Just looks so different from any other game I've seen so far, I'm really interested to see how this one works.

Maybe having copies of 1830 and Dune would cause gamers to make more of an effort to find my island!
 
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15. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:45]
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Gotta have my Caylus... it's so nutritious...

So my desert isle 10 would be (in order of BGG rank, and this list is really quite arbitrary - I mean only 10 games???):

1. Caylus BGG Rank = 8
2. Stone Age BGG Rank = 35
3. Antiquity BGG Rank = 75
4. Yspahan BGG Rank = 96
5. Domaine BGG Rank = 146
6. Kingsburg BGG Rank = 154
7. Lord of the Rings BGG Rank = 204
8. Cleopatra and the Society of Architects BGG Rank = 287
9. Gloria Mundi BGG Rank = 1092
10. Helden in der Unterwelt BGG Rank = 2102


If I could have a baker's dozen, then I'd add:

11. Vinci BGG Rank = 119
12. Arkadia BGG Rank = 171
13. Siena BGG Rank = 1222

My tastes run pretty eclectic, I guess...
 
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