Friday, February 17, 2017

The Top 200 Games: #190 - #181

#190: Animal Upon Animal (2005)

I own 4 different versions of this game... and enjoy all of them. It's possibly the best balancing/dexterity game for non-gamer families out there. My review of Animal Upon Animal: Balancing Bridge is here; my review of Animal Upon Animal: The Duel is here.

#189: The Secret Door (1991)

Speaking of family games, this may have weak production but the memory/cooperative gameplay is very, very good. My entry for my Kid Games 100 is here.

 #188: Lotus (2016)

A stunningly beautiful card game that manages to subvert the "don't help the guy on your left" problem by giving you an incentive to help him when it helps you.

#187: Smash Up (2012)

Sometimes the "take that" nature of the game gets under my skin, but the splicing together of factions and the card combos that ensue can make it a lot of fun. I do not recommend playing with 4 players - the downtime is too much for the weight of the game.

#186: FITS (2009)

Tetris as a board game... and since I like Tetris, this works for me.

#185: Kayanak (1999)

I'm not sure it's a great game - but I have a great time playing it. The ice-fishing mechanic(ism) at the heart of the game is just cool. My entry for my Kid Games 100 is here.

#184: Zoff im Hühnerhof (2006)

Another great dexterity game from HABA... silly but fun. And there's nothing quite like it - thematically (flinging chicken feed) or structurally. My entry for my Kid Games 100 is here.

#183: Patchwork (2014)

It’s clever, it’s pretty to look at, and the subtle interaction between players is flat out delicious. I'm reminded of another shared favorite – Flowerpower… not so much because they are the same game mechanically but the feeling you get when playing it and building your tableau.

#182: Klunker (1999)

Uwe Rosenberg creates yet another "wacky use of cards" card game. It doesn't hit the table often, but it's still a brain-twister when it does. My Game Central Station article on the game is here; my 2010 Top 100 entry is here.

#181: Small World (2009)

This has fallen a long way - I still like it better than Vinci, but I'm not playing it very often. It remains an excellent bridge game to take non-gamers into gamer territory. My review of some expansions is here; my 2014 Top 100 entry is here.

A trio of editorial notes:

  • The BoardGameGeek entry for the game is linked through the date of publication.
  • When appropriate, I've linked to content I've written about the game. 
  • For #200-#101, I'm only going to post pictures of the highest ranked game in each set.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Top 200 Games: #200 - #191

#200: Impulse (2013)

One more weird (and enjoyable) Carl Chudyk game where the cards do multiple things - this time in space.

#199: Dastardly Dirigibles (2016)

A pleasant set-collecting game that's easy to introduce to non-gamers... with a nicely realized steampunk theme. My review is here.

 #198: Epic PVP: Fantasy (2015)

The boys & I enjoy this one enough that we've bought both the expansions to increase the variety of combinations. Balancing your hand size and ability to play cards is tricky.

#197: Olympia 2000 (v. Chr.) (1994)

A nearly 25 year old classic game from Stefan Dorra... it's a light simultaneous selection game with a cute theme.

#196: Tiny Epic Kingdoms (2014)

The first game of what has become a Kickstarter juggernaut... I like the small footprint of the game. I think it's a decent game with just the base game that is improved by the addition of the expansion. My preview of the KS is here.

#195: Machi Koro (2012)

It's bloated with both expansions in... but the base game is a good little city-building dice game with some nice twists.

#194: Batik (1997)

I'm not sure whether to call it a dexterity game or an abstract game - but it's the game I keep on my desk at work. (It was a gift from Stephen Glenn...)

#193: Mole in the Hole (1995)

A Ravensburger game that was marketed to kids but actually has some nifty tactical considerations and an innovative multiple level board.

#192: Blöder Sack (2014)

It's "use dice to claim cards" - but the way you place dice to win majorities and the ability to push out someone else's dice makes it fun. The drawstring bag makes it portable.

#191: Im Reich der Jadegöttin (2007)

The first of a planned trio of Entdecker-based games... sadly, only two of the three were published. This is the more family-friendly of the pair that saw the light of day.

A trio of editorial notes:

  • The BoardGameGeek entry for the game is linked through the date of publication.
  • When appropriate, I've linked to content I've written about the game. 
  • For #200-#101, I'm only going to post pictures of the highest ranked game in each set.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Mark's Top 200 Games 2017... Twenty by Ten

Later this week, I'll start posting my top 200 games in sets of ten (thus, the 20 by 10 reference in the title.) I chose to do 200 rather than 100 because

a) I'm a glutton for punishment.
b) I was curious.
c) I like a lot of games and wanted to make sure more of them got some recognition.

I'm using the same basic process I used to make my 2014 top 100 list.
  • Since I rate pretty every game/expansion I play on BGG (here's a link to my collection), I chose to download all of those games I rated 7 or better. That gave me a list of over 1000 games & expansions.
  • After removing all of the expansions, I was left with 665 games.
  • I "shuffled" the games and began pitting one game against another...
    • "Which of these games do I want to play more?"
  • That created two piles:
    • like
    • not as much
  • I then shuffled the 'not as much' pile and pitted those games against each other, putting the positive response games into the 'like' pile and creating a new 'not so much' pile.
  • When finished, I once again shuffled the 'not so much' pile and ran the process one final time.
  • The games that ended up in the final 'not so much' are dropped from the system...
  • And then it starts all over again...
Here are the parameters:
  • Unlike previous top 100 lists, this DID include what I lovingly call "kid games". (If you're interested in kid games, my Kid Games 100 would be some great reading material.)
  • The list was actually compiled in November of 2016 - when we get to the end, I'll do a post about the games I've played since then that I think would probably have made it on here.
  • It's not the "best games ever made" - it's my list of the two hundred games I most enjoy playing right now.
  • With that said, there's a lot of flex in the list. Don't invest too much in any individual ranking - if I'd sorted the list on a different day, many of them could be in a different order.
You are welcome - no, encouraged! - to comment, kibitz and/or vehemently disagree... that's part of the fun! The first set will show up very soon!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The World You Want (aka "Welcome to 2017")

I'm kickin' up the pieces
I'm trying out adhesives
I'm trying to fix a place that feels broken
All my words they fail me
My voices don't avail me
I'm trying to say the hope that's unspoken

Is this the world you want?
Is this the world you want?
You're making it
Every day you're alive
Is this the world you want?
Is this the world you want?
You're making it

The world feels so malicious
With all our hits and misses
Feels like we're in the business of rust
It's when I stop to listen
All the moments I've been missing
I finally hear a voice I can trust

You change the world
You change the world
You change the world
Every day you're alive
You change the world
Honey, you change the world
You change my world

You start to look like what you believe
You float through time like a stream
If the waters of time are made up by you and I
If you change the world for you, you change it for me

What you say is your religion
How you say it's your religion
Who you love is your religion
How you love is your religion
All your science, your religion
All your hatred, your religion
All your wars are your religion
Every breath is your religion yea

Written by Jon Foreman • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, The Bicycle Music Company

Note: I received this album for Christmas... and was listening to it New Years Day as I drove to be part of the set-up/tear-down team at church. This song floored me.

Yes, I know that Switchfoot is no longer the cool, young, hip band. Their big hit album (The Beautiful Letdown) was released 14 years ago... and I've been listening to them since their first album (The Legend of Chin) back in 1997. That's right, 20 years ago. 

I'm not cool or hip - now or two decades back. (I was younger.)

But regardless of my personal status as a oh-so-trendy setter of trends, the song is what I needed to hear as I face the personal circumstances of my life and the larger issues that face me as both a citizen of the U.S. and a citizen of heaven.

Give it a listen.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Brothers & Fools

We must learn to live together as brothers
or perish together as fools.
Commencement Address for Oberlin College
By Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
June 1965, Oberlin Ohio 

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

It's Still Personal - My Five & Dime List for 2016

Hey, campers... I may have stopped collecting the Five& Dime stats for everyone else - but I haven't stopped collecting my own!

Here's my own personal Five & Dime list (the games I played 5+ and 10+ times in 2016).
Games with an asterisk [*] were on my Five & Dime list last year, games with two asterisks [**] have been on my list for the past two years, games with three asterisks [***] have been there for three years, games with four asterisks [****] have been there for 4 years, games with a plus [+] have been there 5 years... and games with a plus & an asterisk [+*] have been there (wait for it) for the past 6 years!

  • Star Realms 29 **

  • DC Comics Deck-Building Game: Rivals - Batman vs The Joker 19
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse 19 ****
  • 7 Wonders Duel 16
  • Summoner Wars 14 +
  • DC Comics Deck-Building Game:  (includes Teen Titans) 13 **
  • Descent: Journeys in the Dark (2nd edition) 13
  • The City 11 ****

  • Colony 9
  • Fabled Fruit 9
  • Favor of the Pharaoh 9
  • Among the Stars 8
  • 7 Wonders 8 *
  • Epic PVP: Fantasy 8
  • Race for the Galaxy 8 +*
  • Bear Valley 7
  • Can't Stop 7 **
  • Codenames 7
  • The Dragon & Flagon 7
  • GUBS: A Game of Wit & Luck 7 *
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Deckbuilding Game 7
  • Pandemic Legacy (Season One) 7 *
  • The Pursuit of Happiness 7
  • Skip-Bo 7
  • Twilight Struggle 7
  • Dastardly Dirigibles 6
  • Qwixx 6
  • Snow Tails 6
  • Stellar Conflict 6
  • Blöder Sack 5 *
  • Catan 5 *
  • Cry Havoc
  • Fast Food Franchise 5 ****
  • Machi Koro 5 **
  • Quarriors 5
  • Roll for the Galaxy 5

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Intersection

Here we stand on this busy street corner
At the intersection of memories and tradition

The traffic circle where what we believe
and what we hope for
and we hope in


And yet the temptation is to rubberneck

To look at the pretty lights
Tear open the carefully wrapped presents
Admire the Nativity sets for their beauty
rather than their meaning

And while there's nothing wrong with
enjoying the scenery
Perhaps it would help to remind ourselves
that the ultimate destination
of this Baby's journey
is the Cross
and the Tomb

And we are here at the intersection

of God's grace
and our sin

The traffic circle where His love for us
and our hopelessness without Him


poem by Mark Jackson