Huh! How did I not see this thread after so long?
I must have seen it at some point, and just decided that the futility of selecting my Top 10 board games (…whatever that means) was large enough that I should just block this thread from my consciousness completely, and just carry on with my life oblivious to it.
Only I just happened to notice it today–and realized I needn’t try to establish some sort of Platonic ideal of the best of the best games. Maybe this is a task that’s doable by a mere mortal me!
So, here’s my definition of “Top 10”: these are not necessarily the “best”, most innovative, most influential, or most any other criteria that’s bound to fluctuate wildly based on the minute–these are the games that, when I look inside my game closet, I consistently get the most excited about taking down and putting on the table. The games that most make my gamer heart go pitter-pat. …but keep in mind when I say “consistently”, we’re talking stability based in days instead of minutes, so it’s still not something I’m willing to get tattooed anywhere.
Nearly made it: Shogi–it is by far the best chess-like abstract out there, in my opinion. I sunk some time into learning it with some degree of skill (I’m still not very good), so now there’s always an element of work associated with playing a game, which isn’t always a fun feeling. But, if I had to work at learning a game, it’d be Shogi.
10.Sid Meyer’s Civilization (the good one)–this may be partially my nostalgia for the umpteen hours I sunk into the video games, but the FFG release of Sid Meyer’s Civ is still a favorite. I’ve not played it nearly enough with the expansions, so it may well be as broken as many people claim–but oh well. I’m still teching up to nukes and threatening to flatten your precious humming economic engines. (This slot was nearly the original AH Civilization, which is I think a superior game all in all, but as it takes almost as long as the advent of actual civilization to play–it loses a little bit of luster.)
9.X-Wing Miniatures game–“I can’t shake him! I can’t shake him!” “They came from…behind!” “Get clear Wedge, you can’t do any more good back there!” “He’s switched of his monitor–Luke are you all right?” “I have you now…WHAT?!?” “YEEEEEEEEEHAW!” “You’re all clear kid, now let’s blow this thing and go home!” …I mean, come on. You had fun reading that, you know you’re gonna have fun reliving the iconic move battle scene of our (…or is it “my” already? Ugh…) generation in nerdtacular plastic and cardboard. …Stay on target.
8.Merchants And Marauders–Part of the reason I love games is the puzzle, the strategy, the figuring out how to win–but what I really love is being immersed in a story where I have the power to make things happen, to be a thing I can’t normally be. Yarr, here I be a scurvy skallywag what’s goin’ ta liberate that hold full a sweet tobacco, and there’s naught you bowlegged lubbers can do ta stop me!
7.Wiz-War–It’s chaotic, crazy, more tactical than strategic, but when you dodge a fireball that goes of in your face by morphing into a homunculus and spinning the game board away from your blinking opponent while leaving a cloud of poison gas in your wake–this grandaddy of epic wizard arena battles won’t ever leave my shelf. The slot should probably really go to Mage Wars–but I can play a game (or even two, if people are particularly unlucky) of WW in the time I set up and review the rules of Mage Wars.
6.Talisman–It’s easy to bag on the mechanics, but especially with the right expansions, there’s no better fantasy story generator with a health dose of game hidden inside on the market (at least that I’ve been able to get a hold of–whatever happened to that Prophecy review, SUSD?) You will get stuck in the same corner for 5 turns, you will turn into a toad and lose all of your stuff, you will die–but if you’re not so invested in proving you’re a brainiac mastermind that you can just ride the big messy fantasy wave for an hour or two (if it takes longer and you’re bored STOP PLAYING), it can be a blast. (…play with the Reaper, the Dungeon, and the City, and see the game for the giant wonderful risk/reward exercise that it really is).
5.Risk Legacy–it’s a sham for me to put this in here, really, since my copy sits unplayed on my shelf, waiting for that perfect confluence of people I want to play with to become simultaneously available and interested in playing–but, I have played a couple games with someone else’s set, and it’s truly an experience. I’m one of those people that can see the value in a game of even vanilla Risk (2210 AD and the Revised editions are much better, for sure), but Legacy is an experience of a whole nother order, and I can say that after just two sessions.
4.Cosmic Encounter–I became aware of Cosmic Encounter browsing the boardgame forums on Usenet (…USENET folks! It was the internet before the internet was the internet–for you whippersnappers, imagine if reddit was in monochrome and ascii art). Sadly, it was in that awful gap of time when the Mayfair edition had mostly gone out of print. I halfheartedy tried to track down copies on Ebay or in any comics/game/hobby shop I happened to pass by, but no dice. When the Hasbro reprint was announced, I was ecstatic! And it was fun! Though I was vaguely aware there were a lot of things missing. Eventually I succumbed (succame? …that sounds wrong) and reinvested in the FFG edition and half of the expansions, and couldn’t be happier. Again, you can’t go into a game of CE planning to out-strategize your opponents any more than you can try to logic the person of your dreams into falling in love with you–as a game, it’s equal parts brain and heart, and that’s why I love it.
3.Descent (2nd Ed.)/Imperial Assault–another cheat here, as these are really two different games–but they’re so tightly related that it’s hard to separate them. It might not be perfect, but the system is the current pinnacle of questing/leveling tactical combat game. An adventure in every box, for the intrepid gamer willing to find the time and group to play. Theme is of course different, but then so are different flavors of ice cream, and who doesn’t like ice cream (yes, admit it, even pistachio is good).
2.BattleLore (2nd Ed.)–The more I play it, the more I recognize how clunky the 1st edition was, and how this revision was meant to be. I can’t yet get rid of the predecessor, but once there’s more stuff for 2nd edition, I think it’ll be time. I totally don’t regret spending ten bucks on the app (that’s right, ten whole frivolous semolians…for an app! What’s wrong with me? …BattleLore is awesome, that’s what).
1.Twilight Imperium 3. The Big Daddy. Everything in a box. Epic battles across galaxies. True, I’ve only ever truly played it once, but I’ve been playing it in my dreams for most of my gaming life. If my gaming collection caught on fire, this is the box that I’d jump on and roll around on the ground with first, desperately trying to beat the flames out while little plastic spaceships melted and embedded themselves in my flesh. …okay, not really, I mean it’s only like $70, and I don’t like pain–but metaphorically speaking, I can afford some hyperbole when I’m talking about how much I enjoy Twilight Frickin’ Imperium 3rd edition.
Now don’t get the wrong impression about me–I am an omni-gamer, I’d gladly build imaginary subsistence farms with little wooden blocks, and masticate some delicious point salad offering, and top it all off with a heavy dose of calling you a werewolf (when I’M a werewolf). But, at my hard gaming core, deep in my chest, there beats a heart that sounds less like lub-dub and more the clatter of handfuls of dice, cool plastic minis being tipped over, and improvised explosion sound effects.
…good god, I should see a doctor.