Games I Can't Live Without - One for Each Year of My Life
Ben Stanley
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I love gaming. I have a huge video game collection, spanning every iteration of old school Nintendo (Zelda, Metroid, and Mario) to modern classics like Ninja Gaiden, Halo, and the Burnout franchises. I have every form of Rock Band, Resident Evil, and dozens of other games.

And I have a ton of board games. One of our inside jokes amongst my friends, though, is that every new game I play I love, and just because I enjoy all good designs so much, I have hundreds games that I claim are my "all-time favorite." The challenge, then, is to narrow down the list and pick the ones that really are my favorites!

So, the arbitrary list length I have selected is 33, since I just celebrated my birthday. Here we have 33 games that I adore and cannot live without. Needless to say, the longer I live and more experience I gain, the more I will get to add to this list. And it is always conceivable I will replace some games on the list over time. I firmly believe games are getting better year after year, as designers explore new ideas and incorporate all the lessons from the past. You will notice that my list favors recent games in some places.

You can comment on the list and the individual items, but not add new games to the list.
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1. Board Game: Caylus Magna Carta [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:671]
Ben Stanley
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This is my perfect gamer's game. So portable, so deep, so much fun and strategic. I can play it in 30 minutes with some friends and several hours with others, and never tire of it.
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2. Board Game: Endeavor [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:202]
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I love how fast this game plays, how it is randomized in the set-up, but open information every game, and how it grows right along with the players. The first few rounds are really short, but by the end there are lots of tough choices to be made.

Further, I think the brilliance of the slavery deck and the shipping lines to open new areas of the map are underappreciated. I own and enjoy games like Power Grid, but it is so artificial to block off part of the map, whereas Endeavor automatically and seemlessly auto-adjusts to the number of players
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3. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:17]
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#1 here on BGG for a reason. Few games offer so much in terms of puzzling, planning, and customizing a strategy. I remember when I first got the game and spent many fantastic late nights optimizing the solitaire game.
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4. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:320]
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Plenty of strategy and bluffing, very scalable, and just generally a lot of easy pick-up-and-play fun.
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5. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
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This one obviously has its detractors, but the design is so clever and the game is so easy to teach and enjoy, that it makes my list.
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6. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:180]
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Brilliant two player pseudo poker game. We play the "pure" way, without the tactics cards, though it is nice to have them available for variety.
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7. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:50]
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Race, San Juan, and Glory to Rome all have a lot in common, each with something different to really recommend it, and are all amazing games, but I choose Race as the one for the list.

Fast, deep, interesting, strategic and tactical, the game is spectacular. This is an excellent computer AI, and I really wish I could get this one (along with all the other games on this list) on the iPhone.
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8. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
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My favorite co-op for its speed, elegance, and fun theme. Plus with the On the Brink expansion, you get lots of different ways to play that add some of the tension of hidden information and a not completely cooperative game.
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9. Board Game: Ra: The Dice Game [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1120]
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This is my favorite dice game. The beautiful dice and elegant scoring model straight from Ra give it some strategic depth and real charm. I enjoy the possibilities and the balance to the randomness of dice with a fast game that I tend to win, confirming to me that there is some real skill involved.
 
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10. Board Game: Samurai [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:172]
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I really enjoy the scoring system and the fact that everyone has the same 20 chips to use. The game is fast and tight and yet clever timing of the use of kanji'ed tokens can make all the difference. I prefer perfect information games, and often play without the screens, though that also tends to really slow down players prone to analysis paralysis.
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11. Board Game: Fairy Tale [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:747]
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Here is a beautiful, simple, strategic game that my whole family loves. Lots of ways to undermine other people's plans with the way you draft your cards each round. I didn't realize there was a new reprint. I may have to pick up another copy.
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12. Board Game: The Battle for Hill 218 [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1489]
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Another fast, deep, tough, inexpensive, and highly portable game. Perfect for two, I really enjoy this one.
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13. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:121]
Ben Stanley
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Here is a game with loads of depth and that can scale with variants to satisfy most groups. It scratches my Great Dalmuti itch with even more interesting options, can be played with a dozen people (or more, really), and yet offers a perfect, challenging partnership game, too.
 
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14. Board Game: Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:799]
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This one is a recent acquisition, but I find the strategies enjoyable and the theme just awesome. The little historical details on the cards and the fully realized mystery game on top of the rummy game make this a treasure that my wife and I tremendously enjoy.
 
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15. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:421] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
 
Ben Stanley
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No game offers more historical significance, beauty, challenge, and thrill. I can play a game in five minutes or over five days and love every second of it.
 
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16. Board Game: Biblios [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:290]
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Here is a very simple game to understand, that combines a card draft with a subsequent auction to provide an exceptional set collection experience. Easy to teach, very fair and balanced gameplay, and a fast playtime, it is good to know this one is going to be reprinted for more to enjoy.
 
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17. Board Game: In the Year of the Dragon [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:220]
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A brilliant boardgame where everyone feels like their plans are failing, their people are dying, and decay is occuring far faster than they would like. Who can mitigate the damage the best, and is it worth the sacrifices to control the risk a little bit and fight to go first?

I cannot say enough good about this game, though I may have mathematically solved it and maximized the possibilities.
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18. Board Game: Mr. Jack [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:414]
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An amazing game that feels like a deductive puzzle in every round. It plays so fast and offers so much that I can never turn down a game.
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19. Board Game: Court of the Medici [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:2184]
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Another recent aquisition that has really charmed me. There are so many creative ways to play it, even though the rules are very simple. Manipulating the game end to ensure victory has never been more interesting or fun.
 
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20. Board Game: Intrigue [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:1808]
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My favorite almost pure negotiation game. It is hilarious every time we play, and it is all about just working out good deals, forming alliances, and then burning your friends. The rules are very simple, but the space to negotiate is limitless.
 
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21. Board Game: Risk Express [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:2797]
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Sometimes you really do just want to conquer the world, but if you are going to play a game where strategies exist, but they cannot really be called deep and luck plays its role, too, you might as well get a version that plays really fast, is tons of fun, and is highly portable.
 
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22. Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish! [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:676]
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I have never played with anyone who did not immediately understand and deeply enjoy this clever, fast, fun game.
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23. Board Game: Traders of Osaka [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:943]
Ben Stanley
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Excellent, exceptional game with two, and still a lot of fun, even if more chaotic, with more players. The cards represent goods, storage, wealth, and victory points. The game is small and fast and deep. It doesn't get better than that.
 
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24. Board Game: Hive [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:204]
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An ideal game. More portable than most and nearly as deep as many of the best abstracts. Highly addictive, too.
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25. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:26]
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Long, deep, detailed, and varied. The mechanisms and strategies make sense and provide a thoroughly enjoyable heavy gaming experience.
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