My collection so far...
Mark Thomason
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Washington
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So I've not done a geek list before, but in a quest to earn enough geek gold to one day get an avatar, and in order to do as others have done and organize my collection without separate entries for expansions, I thought I would put this list together. So here's my list of games that I own, in order of preference.

This is mostly for my friends and those who are going to be joining me for a game, so that you all can get an idea of what games you might want to play, and what my thoughts are on my games. I've also found as I put it together that it's helping me get a handle on what I really think overall - I'm adjusting my rankings a bit as I realize that the game I rated a 5 I'd actually rather play than any of my 6's, so maybe I need to up the rating... that kind of thing.
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1. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:63]
Mark Thomason
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10 points for my current favorite game. I love collaboration in games and working against the game itself, and the treachery aspect keeps me entertained, ready to play anytime I've got 4 hours and 3-5 friends to join me.
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2. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:317]
Mark Thomason
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My rank: another perfect 10.
I include the Merlin expansion (which adds quite a bit to the game, not the least of which is the travel cards). Love this game, won't ever turn down a game of it, and next to BSG can't think of a game I'd rather play. Biggest advantage over BSG is that I can get less hardcore gamers to join in, it's a lot easier to explain the rules, and it takes less than 2 hours to play through the whole game, including rules explanation.
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3. Board Game: Ca$h 'n Gun$ [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:884]
Mark Thomason
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My rank: 9.2
One of the best light, goofy games, this isn't one you play seriously. It's a lot of fun and almost anyone old enough to know the difference between real and foam guns is able to play. Ironically, if you're not playing with special powers, it's pure strategy - like poker without the randomness of the draw. I don't think I've played a game that took more than 30 minutes to play, and I know I've never played a game that didn't result in a fair bit of giggling and laughter.
 
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4. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:411]
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My rating: 9

Okay, I'm not a big fan of bidding games. I don't really care for Power Grid, despite several of my closest friends loving it. But for whatever reason, I really like Vegas Showdown. I like the different size rooms and the complexity of arranging them to complete your hotel; I like the way the prices drop and the way funds are earned. If I have a choice between this and a big collaborative game, or an epic game like Diplomacy, I'm not going to vote for Vegas, but otherwise I'm happy anytime. I just know I'll get to play this a lot, as it's pretty brief, and I don't always get to play the epic games.
 
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5. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
Mark Thomason
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My rank: 9
The original game that opened the doors to the new golden age of games - at least for me, most of my friends, and most of the US.

I have the base game and Seafarers, plus 5-6 player expansions and two small expansions, The Great River and Fishermen. Love the game, though lately I won't be the one to suggest it as I have too many games that I've gotten to play very little- and I've played hundreds upon hundreds of games of Catan. I can usually get anyone to play it, and most to enjoy it. Its biggest weakness is it can be overly competitive and someone getting cut off from expansion early on can make it less enjoyable.

Eventually I need to get Cities & Knights, which I enjoy a lot... but it has a much higher entry barrier, requiring more experienced players.
 
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6. Board Game: Sid Meier's Civilization: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:6770]
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My rating: 9

Yeah, I know. It rates low on the Geek, yet I give it a 9. You know what? I don't think it's geek rating is fair, because it wasn't released in a large enough printing or with high enough production values to reach enough people to get a real score.

It was a bonus for those of us buying the special edition of the video game collection, and personally I bought it just for the card game after a friend had bought it and we played once.

I love it. It gives me that fix for building up a country and developing your little world just like the video game, and it's simple and quick enough to play at work on our breaks. I can carry it with me easily (I admit I replaced the box with a plastic box to make it more portable) and it doesn't take much space in my bag. It's not exactly high-end production, but since it was a marketing ploy more than anything else, it's pretty darn good.

And it plays fine with 2-4 players, scaling nicely.

I just want an expansion!
 
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7. Board Game: Axis & Allies [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1184]
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My rank: 8

I really enjoy this game, but like many similar games, it requires a bit of dedication to find time to play. Hectic schedules need not apply.

I've actually played more of this game on my computer (which is a lot easier to find time and space for than pulling out the whole game) than I have in person, but I've played a good bit in person too. Mostly because I've had this game for a long time. As is my usual preference, it requires teamwork (if you have more than 2 players, that is). I like the theme, being the grandson of a WWII hero, and the strategy is strong. The great bits and pieces make for a beautiful game, and there's enough control over the randomness to feel like strategy makes the difference, but enough randomness that strategies don't stay the same from game to game.

I've actually grown tired of playing against the AI on my computer version, as it's not smart enough to be a real threat. Real people are much smarter, but harder to find...
 
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8. Board Game: Notre Dame [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:216]
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My rating: 8

So I got this one mostly on a whim. It sounded interesting, though it bothered me that Notre Dame Cathedral, the centerpiece of the game board, isn't on an island or even near a river...

Clearly the game was developed with a different city in mind, but despite the weird titling, it turns out to be a brilliant game. The rules took me a while to get when I read through them, but once I figured it out I've been able to explain it very quickly and well to anyone who wants to play. It's actually one of those masterful designs that has pretty simple and basic rules, but creates a massive amount of possibility, strategy, and complexity from that simplicity. Plus, it can play with experienced players in under 30 minutes. Hard to beat that for a quick game now and then, and I can talk my wife into playing 2 players when no one else is around to play with.
 
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9. Board Game: Zooloretto [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:606] [Average Rating:6.86 Unranked]
Mark Thomason
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My rating: 8

I'm a little surprised at how my nieces and nephews didn't get into this one. I mean, sure, the truck selection part of the game is a bit abstract, but building your own zoo I thought would be a hit with the younger set. Not so much.

I like it a lot though, as does my wife. I like how it scales, and as with many of my favorite games, it's not particularly combative; if you make choices to hurt someone else instead of helping yourself, you'll end up losing out. At the same time, sometimes your best move is the one that will actually help others too.
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10. Board Game: The Great Dalmuti [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1149]
Mark Thomason
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My rank: 8

A light-hearted random card game, the joy in this game is mostly due to the group you play with. Best with a lot of people, even more than the rules say can play, the way to have fun with this game is to play up the role-playing to the hilt. Get goofy hats for each role, get a nice comfy chair for the Dalmuti and make the peons sit on the floor. Have the peons get drinks for the Dalmuti, fluff his or her pillow, etc.

Just a warning; any spoilsports that won't get into the spirit of the game can pretty much ruin it. Though I've found that some people I was expecting to be spoilsports warm up to the game and play along when least expected.
 
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11. Board Game: Timber Tom [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:3389]
Mark Thomason
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My rating: 7.8

One of the best-looking, most well-made games ever. A beauty to look at, and the game is deceptively simple; basically you are trying to climb several mountains to the top and then return to base camp in the valley, racing your opponents. But as you move, depending on where you are you'll place a number of trees to block your opponents' path and open yours up; use your chainsaw and axe and you'll clear your path but don't run out or you could end up stuck!

2-4 players and a lot of fun; I look forward to coming expansions.
 
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12. Board Game: Colosseum [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:351]
Mark Thomason
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My rank: 7.5

Very pretty game. Love Days of Wonder for how their games look. I love the theme and concept too, despite feeling a little like I'm at work when I play! (For those who don't know me, I'm not sure why you're reading this list, but I am a Theatre Technical Director and a good chunk of my job is producing shows, or working with people who produce shows.)

Anyway, it's a lot of fun and I look forward to more games, but it seems a little too quick to play. Not that the hour+ is too short, but that it feels like another turn or two would make the game feel more complete. An early bad guess about which route to take for developing your shows can make you feel like you're out of the game. I need to play more to figure out if varied strategies will work well enough to keep it different and interesting with subsequent games.
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13. Board Game: Lord of the Rings [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:698]
Mark Thomason
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My rating: 7.4

This is one of those games that I always enjoy just a little more than I was expecting. Theme aside, the game when I think about it, always seems a little too luck-based. Drawing the wrong tiles at the wrong time can just destroy even the best strategies. But once I start, I always have fun. I wish there were a way to mitigate the tiles a bit occasionally, but I sure can't come up with a better way to do it.

I have the Friends & Foes expansion, which I like a lot. It pushed the game up a bit for me in the ratings, after a couple of games. Even though I lost them both.

I also have the Sauron expansion, which we haven't tried yet. Haven't had a chance since I got it recently, and it does require/add one more player. 3-6 instead of 2-5.
 
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14. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:124] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Mark Thomason
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My rating: 7.4

I haven't actually played it since I got it, but then again I've played it a lot beforehand, and I still have several games I haven't played ever. I do really like the game, and I play online quite a bit. (though not as much as I play Settlers or Vegas Showdown).

It's probably my first choice for 'gateway game' of anything I can think of. No learning curve, the rules are straightforward, and it scales from 2-5 really well. Only reason I wouldn't play this is if I'm playing something more in-depth or something new.
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15. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:415] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
 
Mark Thomason
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My rating: 7.1

In some ways I'm tempted to rate it lower. Because most of the time, I'd pick something else to play when I have a choice. But really, there are few games I really love to play with only 2 players; I like multiple-player games better. And the only reasons I don't choose Chess as a first choice are because 1)It's not the best game for those of disparate ability levels, and 2)Like playing hearts or rummy, I've played it thousands of times and see a future with many opportunities to play. Most of my more modern boardgames I'll choose first given the opportunity, because I've not played them as much, and am less likely to have many opportunities to play again.
 
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16. Board Game: Rocketville [Average Rating:5.08 Overall Rank:15113]
Mark Thomason
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My Rating: 7

This one is underrated by far. Apparently the designer created Magic: The Gathering or something like that, and so when it was a light, simple, quick game of bidding for political influence, it didn't meet all the hardcore gamers' expectations.

It's not a masterful game, but it's fun. It's a little goofy, and the bidding mechanism combined with the way the areas are broken out for electoral votes makes for an intriguing strategy game. It plays 3-5 and lasts about 30 minutes; rules explanation is less than 5 minutes. Good for when you're waiting for the rest of the group to arrive.
 
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17. Board Game: Cleopatra and the Society of Architects [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:757]
Mark Thomason
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My rank: We'll put this as a 7 for the moment, but I haven't actually played yet.

It's a gorgeous game, and I love the concept of the winner being most likely the guy in second place. But as it's 3-5 players, and I got it at the same time as I got several other great new games, I've not gotten to play it yet. It's not one I can play during breaks at work since I can't pull out all the pieces and everything and it's not likely to be too quick, and I can't play it with just the wife since it wouldn't really work without at least 3.

But hopefully I'll get to play it soon!
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18. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:501]
Mark Thomason
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My rank: 7 until I can actually play it and see how I like it.

I've had this game for a while, but it's hard to find time to play it. The only way I'll ever get to play it is if I plan it out for specifically a day of Diplomacy, and invite just those friends who will want to join in. I think I will enjoy it a lot, but like Axis & Allies, it takes dedication to pull off a game.
 
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19. Board Game: Murder, She Wrote [Average Rating:6.00 Overall Rank:9483]
Mark Thomason
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My rating: 6.5

Okay, I know what you're thinking. Jessica Fletcher? Is this a game for my grandparents?

Honestly, for the mid 80's, this is a pretty amazing game. Yes, it's based on a mediocre show. Yes, the pieces and artwork are pretty dated. But seriously, this is a great deduction game, a cross between Scotland Yard, Clue, and a collaborative/traitor game like Shadows Over Camelot.

Basically, all players but one are dealt investigator cards, and that one gets a murderer card. That person has to kill someone immediately, then kill several more people and escape from the island. It's a roll-and-move similar to clue, but with the murderer knowing they're the murderer. It's not a collaborative though; the investigators can't reveal their status, and aren't working together. To win you have to be the one to identify the murderer, unless you're the killer yourself. Better deduction game than Clue or Mystery of the Abbey.
 
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20. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
Mark Thomason
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My rank: 6.4

Okay, so for me this is probably a more overrated game. I know it's way up on the list, and it can be fun, but it's just not thematic enough or interactive enough a game for me. I want boards and bits and story lines I guess. I have been playing it a bit though, because it's quick and easy to pull out, and I can play with just 2 players, and there's very little setup. Good one for free time at work, as the whole game can fit on my desk and play during our dinner break.

Well, at least in theory. The last game we played took a while, but I suspect we're just slow (and maybe had a slow set of cards) as we're still learning the strategies.
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21. Board Game: Risk: The Lord of the Rings [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:3574]
Mark Thomason
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My rating: 6.3

Basically, it's Risk in Middle Earth. I don't like that they didn't ever create the intended expansion, which would have added more players (currently it plays 2-4) and the rest of the Middle Earth board. Instead they came out with a new game that had the whole map and amounted to this game plus the never-made expansion in one.

That said, I do actually like this, and not just because the pieces are elves and orcs. What I like is that it's faster than most any other game of Risk, because you're limited to a time frame; the One Ring moves along a track every few turns, and when it moves off of the board (on its way to Mordor, one presumes) the game ends, and whoever has the most control at that point wins the game.

Nice feature; I like playing Risk a lot, but usually not enough to play for the length of time it would take to play. This fixes that problem.
 
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22. Board Game: Apples to Apples [Average Rating:5.90 Overall Rank:3149] [Average Rating:5.90 Unranked]
Mark Thomason
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My rank: 6.2
Fun, light game that even Grandma will play. Younger players might struggle with some of the more historical references on some cards, but that won't keep them from winning. Not overly competitive, and there's really no limit to the number of players you can play, as long as you can fit them in a circle in the room.

I'm not likely to suggest it with a group of gamers, but when with the family or with a less adventurous group, it goes over well and the rules are grasped in seconds. It's not that I don't like it, it's just that I'd rather play something more thematic or complex if I've got the time and the players.
 
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23. Board Game: Pictionary [Average Rating:5.82 Overall Rank:3856]
Mark Thomason
United States
Washington
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My rating: 6.1

Fun game, works with just about any group. I like it, I just don't like it as much as a lot of other games. I also got to play this a lot as a kid, as my father knew the designer and we had a copy before it was actually published. So I'm a little played out on this one, but it's still a decent game.
 
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24. Board Game: The Farming Game [Average Rating:5.83 Overall Rank:7138]
Mark Thomason
United States
Washington
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My rank: 6

So for an old-school roll-and-move game, this one is one of the best. I might be biased since I was born in the area it takes place (Yakima, WA) around the time the designer was finishing the game. But the collecting of crop fields and tractors and cattle and so on, combined with the way the dice rolls result in moving through the year, with random events and weather, hints at the way games would develop in the future. Still a lot of randomness, but far more fun than Monopoly.
 
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25. Board Game: Castle Risk [Average Rating:5.46 Overall Rank:14681]
Mark Thomason
United States
Washington
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My rank: 6
One of the best versions of the original classic Risk. The castles and flags are pretty cool, and the way the Admiral and his fleet, along with the Castles, change the game, cleans up a lot of the weaknesses (players getting stuck with no hope of recovery and hanging around for 2 hours when they already know they've lost, for instance) without really being that different of a game. It's still Risk, so if you're looking to get rid of luck or really up the strategy, you'll want to pass. But it's fun to pull out now and then.
 
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