This year I bring you the first edition of the As a Board Gamer Top 50 Games of ‘All Time’ or as I like to call it: my Top 50 Favourite Games. Fifty games that I love, divided into five chunks, with the last piece, the top 10, coming to you around the weekend before Christmas. Have fun reading it. Here is number fifty to forty-one.
50: Le Havre
The first game of the list and, in fact, one of the first games I bought myself is Le Havre. Before that I already played games like Catan and Carcassonne, but I think, after Dominion, Le Havre was the first game I bought to play with my friends. So you might say that this one helped me dive deeper into the hobby, because as it being my first ‘heavier’ boardgame, it could have easily scared me away if it was a bad one. However it wasn’t, it was very fun.
In this game you collect resources, convert goods into other goods, build buildings and use your or another player’s building to do cool actions. You’ll see every basic building in every game, although they’ll come out in a slightly different order, but there are also special buildings and they won’t be the same every game. Every building does something good, it’s only your job to decide which one does something great for you in this excellent game from Uwe Rosenberg.
49: Puerto Rico
An even older game that I still think highly of is Puerto Rico from Andreas Seyfarth. In this game you select a role and this role allows all players to do an action, but the fun thing is that your action, because you chose that role, is slightly better. You are going to build buildings and plantations to produce goods and you are going to ship them to gain points or sell them to get money.
The role selection makes this game very fun for me and the resource management gives it that classic Euro charm. The rules aren’t very difficult, but the amount of strategy is high. A good one.
48: Carson City
This game also has role selection. At the start of one of the four rounds you pick one and that role gives you something extra. That’s only one part of this wild-west game, the other part of this game is worker placement, you place a pawn on a spot to claim an action. However, unlike many other games, you can fight over almost all the spots on the board. Very thematic, fighting over stuff in the Wild-West.
Yes, thematic indeed. You want to claim land and build buildings to get income, but also to get points.
So, it’s area control, worker placement and role selections topped with a Wild-West sauce. Fight over everything on the board and shoot each other’s plans into ruins. Carson City is a nice combination of solid mechanisms and theme; a good combinations of planning your moves and the randomness of a roll of a die.
I have played this game from Ted Alspach both at the dinner table and on the iPad. I love the solo mode on the iPad, but this game shines to most with more players, face-to-face. It’s a city builder where you build your own suburb with hexagonal tiles. On these tiles you’ll find buildings and the fun thing is that every building has an effect on the other buildings in your suburb and other suburbs and your suburb as a whole. It effects your income and your reputation and, in the end, that determines how many people are willing to live in your suburb.
It’s just a clever game. The way the market works is also very fun. You can see what’s for sale, but if you buy a tile, you slide everything to the right, making the buildings cheaper for your opponents. So, you have to think about that and about where to place your building, plus you have a secret goal that might give you some points at the end if you meet the requirements.
Another game from Xavier Georges, designer of Carson City, that I like. It’s an abstract game about building futuristic cities. It offers several clever things. You do your actions, expanding the city, building buildings upwards, or activating existing buildings, by playing cards from your hand. When you play the ‘building upward’ action you can add the card you used to your tableau, giving you new abilities that you can use throughout the game. Very cool.
The game is not very difficult to learn, it plays rather quickly, but it offers quite a lot in terms of tactics.
45: Valley of the Kings
Valley of the Kings is a pocket size deckbuilder that, apart from its size, has two mechanisms that makes it stand out from other deckbuilders. Firstly, it has a market that looks like pyramid. What’s fun about that you might say. Well, you can only buy the bottom three cards and when you buy a card, the pyramid crumbles, making the top cards move down to the bottom. The second interesting mechanism is the way you earn points. You do that by collecting cards from different sets, the more cards you have from a set the more points you get. However cards are only worth points if you entomb them, removing them from your deck of cards. This gives you the choice every time you have a chance to entomb a card, ‘do I need that card in my deck for its ability or its value or don’t I?’
Valley of the Kings is a fun and very clever deckbuilder. I bought the standalone expansion, Afterlife, at Spiel this year and that one just adds more cards with new abilities, which means more variety.
44: The Resistance
This is the only, pure, hidden role game in my top 50. I’m not a fan of Werewolf, but I like this one, because it’s more streamlined. You’re either good or bad, you want the missions to succeed or to fail. Easy as that. This game is not about the mechanisms, it only offers you a framework in which you talk, discuss and play as much as you want. Act suspicious, distract other players, cleverly play action cards and guess which player belongs to which team. Very fun and, unlike Werewolf, it has no player elimination, which is a big plus for me. So, get your friend and family together and play this excellent party game.
43: Sushi Go!
I like drafting games, it keeps me involved at all times and makes me greedy. Sushi Go! is a simple and very quick drafting game. You can score points by collecting sets of different types of sushi. Every type scores points in another way. You play three rounds and the one with the most points wins in the end.
It’s very simple, but it’s also very fun. The rules are easy, so you can play it with anyone. The game plays very quickly, so if you enjoy it, you can play it again and again. And for gamers it can be a relaxing, but fun filler. Relaxing your brain is very important.
42: Loony Quest
Another excellent family game. A drawing game this time and not the kind of drawing game that you might be familiar with. It’s more like an arcade game, or it tries to be. In the middle of the table you place a picture and every player has to draw a line on a transparent sheet from one target to another. Or shoot certain targets by pinpointing them with you marker, or drawing circles around targets without touching them. It’s more difficult than you might think, you have to do it within a set time, but it’s very fun as well. You get points for completing the mission and if you hit certain items you get a bonus, or an action token to bug your opponents, or maybe a penalty token to make drawing more difficult for yourself. You have to complete the different stages of the level, all have different goals, and the player that collects the most points wins the game. Loony Quest is a bit stressful in a fun way, you can mess with each other and most importantly have a good laugh.
41: Archaeology: the card game
Lastly, my number forty-one. This is a very quick, little, card game from a designer I like; Phil Walker-Harding, the one from Sushi Go!. In Archaeology you try to collect sets of different artefacts. You this by drawing cards and trading cards with the market. Some artefacts are worth more than others, but the ones with a higher value are also rarer than the lower valued ones. More cards from a set means more points, but be aware of the sandstorm that will cut your hand size in half or the thief that gives the other player the opportunity to steal from you.
This game is easy to learn and has a nice push your luck element that provides a healthy amount of tension. It plays very well with two players, plus it’s portable, so an ideal game to take with me on a well-deserved vacation.
See you next week for my number 40 to 31!