Baditude's Top Ten (2011)
eryn roston
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My wife asked me what my all-time top ten games were the other day. I never really gave too much thought to this sort of question before. People (usually non-gamers) often ask me what my favorite board game is and I never quite know how to answer that question. So I thought it would be fun to join the hundreds of other gamers out there who have ranked their favorites and try and put together a list of my own top ten. Also providing my wife with an answer to her question seemed like the polite thing to do.

I like a lot of different types of games, and I wanted my top ten list to reflect that. There are probably a lot of games that would tie for one rank or maybe even supercede ones that are there (if I was rating in terms of pure quality), so in a way this might be more of a "desert island" list than a pure ranking.

I realize that there's not a whole lotta controversial picks here but hey...most of these are top ranked games for a reason right?

Anyhow here is my top ten games of all time (as of 2011).

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1. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.32 Overall Rank:5]
eryn roston
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The reason I love Twilight Struggle and rank it as my number one game can be summed up in one word:

Tension.

I guess "summing it up" means I could end here but I can't keep from gushing about this game.

Twilight Struggle has nearly everything I want in a game. I love a game with a unique and interesting theme -- especially a historical one. I love a game filled with difficult agonizing decisions and games that keep me engrossed till the end. I love a game with many moving parts that work together to create a complex experience.

Twilight Struggle excells at these things.

The thing that keeps TS fresh and makes it stand out from the crowd is that this is quite often a game that is less about "how to I do the best thing with my turn...how do I get the most points and cause the most damage to my opponent", but more about "how do I minimize the damage in this difficult situation, while still pulling out ahead of my adversary".

Twilight Struggle is brilliant. The only down side to this game for me is the fact that its success means I continue to be let down by subsequent games from the same designer. I really wanted to love follow-ups like 1960: The Making of the President, or Founding Fathers, but none of these titles have come close to what I think is a near perfect game in TS.
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2. Board Game: Galaxy Trucker [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:154]
eryn roston
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Number two (and first runner-up I suppose) comes from the man who is probably my favorite designer Vlaada Chvátil. There is a tangible sense of "joy" behind the designs of his games, and fiddly though they can be, they always remind me of what I love about this hobby.

I bought this game before going on a road trip with the woman I would one day marry, and we ended up playing this game all up and down the California coast. The combination of the silly theme, frantic ship building, and the sort of "sand-castle stomping" experience of watching all those carefully laid plans explode delightfully before your eyes made the whole thing irresistable.

It's not the most strategic game in the world, and you have to make sure you keep the second phase (where you resolve all the events) moving quickly but for the most part this game is pure fun.
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3. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:34]
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I've heard people say that this game is too "mathy" (which I dont think is a word actually). Well I hate math and I positively love this game.

PowerGrid was one of the first "modern board games" or "Euros" I encountered. It was described to me as "wheels within wheels", and as I said in my entry for Twilight Struggle, I love this sort of thing. The interaction between the markets, the networks, the auctions, and manipulating turn order provides endless challenge and a deep, rewarding experience.

I also love the theme of this one which still feels fun and fresh even after all these years.

As much as I enjoy Power Grid, I've never played another Friedemann Friese game that I really like.
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4. Board Game: Paths of Glory [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:122]
eryn roston
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I do love wargames. It's a shame that they are so difficult to get to the table. Paths of Glory is like a longer more aggressive version of Twilight Struggle (set in the first world war rather than the cold war), using the same basic idea for a game engine -- namely that it is a "Card Driven Game".

I found this game early in my explorations of war games. This was the first game I played with a CRT (which I still think is a clever convention for a number of reasons). I was also attracted to the theme of the first world war (as opposed to the second).

This too is a tense affair with mind-bending decision to make. I think what I like best about this game is the very real sense of "initiative" and how vital it is to find ways to get your opponent to react to your moves and to play your game.
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5. Board Game: Subbuteo [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:1493]
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I know people love their Crokinole and their PitchCar but to me Subbuteo is the king of dexterity games. It manages to be genuinely evocative of a football/soccer match, provide opportunities for rich tactical play, and rewards skillfull flicking. It's a fast-paced, engaging game and I always have a blast whenever I play it.

My review of Subbuteo is here:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/411655/subbuteo-a-beautiful-...

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6. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:22]
eryn roston
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Ah yes. In days of yore, when I was a younger man, and the world was full of innocence, I picked up a copy of Puerto Rico after registering at Board Game Geek, and learning that it was the highest ranked gamein the data base.

It's been a love affair ever since.

I love Puerto Rico because I introduced it to my friends and THEY loved it. I love Puerto Rico because it brought all of us into this wonderful crazy world of boardgames.

I also love Puerto Rico because I still think it's a great game. Years after its realease and despite countless other Euros that seem to try and capitalize on its success, Puerto Rico still feels special.

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7. Board Game: Lords of Vegas [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:375]
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The newest game on my list. I LOVE Lords of Vegas. Maybe I'd like it less if I'd have played Acquire (which I think is quite similar in a lot of ways to LoV).

This is another design that just exudes enthusiasm. I love how every decision is a gamble and therefore evocative of the theme of the game. I also love the combination of a relatively free trading system along with some highly cut-throat and aggressive strategy gaming.

It's true that there is a lot of luck and chaos in this title, but shrewed players can work together to stay in contention if someone else starts to pull away after a few lucky card draws or die rolls.

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8. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:71]
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I commented to some friends the other day that playing T&E always gives me a sort of warm, fuzzy feeling. This is one of those Euro games that frequently gets accused of being dry and souless but I find it quite thematic. Of course it wont have the chrome of a game like Advanced Civilization or something, but I still find that the ebb and flow of each empire as they shift across the map to be totally entertaining.

In addition the gameplay is deep and involving. Every game seems to play out differently than the last.

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9. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:58]
eryn roston
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It seems like there is a fairly general consensus that nobody quite does area control like El Grande does. I know that games like Chaos in the Old World has its supporters (and with good reason) but for me, I have to be boring and agree with the crowd. El Grande is just too good, to streamlined, and too clever to be ignored.

El Grande is pure, and fun, and pure fun.


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10. Board Game: Space Alert [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:185]
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Space Alert: the second Vladda game on my top ten. It has a lot in common with Galaxy Trucker in that you can feel the "joy" in this design. This one is wonderfull for the pure madness of the experience it can generate. It's noisey crazy fun with a lot of innovative mechanisms that keep the game from being another anonymous co-op.

It's also genuinely challenging and does a great job of forcing players to actually communicate in an effective way. Space Alert is a game where honest to goodness teamwork will be the difference between winning and losing.

I wrote a review of this one which you can read here:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/380268/688-attack-sub-and-tw...


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11. Board Game: Badge of Honor [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
 
eryn roston
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Honorable Mentions (aka Close But No Cigar)

Here are a few games that almost but didnt quite make the list:

Here I Stand(brilliant but tough to get to the table)
High Frontier (Not enough plays)
Nexus Ops (probably number 11 on my list)
Alien Frontiers (It was a toss up between this game and Lords of Vegas. I like them both quite a bit, but ultimately I felt Lords of Vegas was the more interesting game)
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