Monday, May 16, 2022

The Comprehensive List of Mark's Top 100 Games (Spring 2022)


Here's the list... from #1 to #100 + the Honorable Mentions and the five "MIA" games that should have been on there at the end.

If you'd like to read more commentary on the list, check out my article about it on the Opinionated Gamers website.

The Top 100
  1. Memoir 44
  2. Race for the Galaxy
  3. Clash of Cultures
  4. Heroscape
  5. Armageddon
  6. Dungeon Alliance
  7. Catan
  8. Unmatched: Battle of Legends
  9. Im Reich der Wüstensöhne
  10. Pandemic Legacy: Seasons 1 & 2
  11. Zooloretto / Aquaretto
  12. Anno 1701: Das Brettspiel
  13. Ticket to Ride
  14. Lost Ruins of Arnak
  15. DungeonQuest
  16. The Quacks of Quedlinburg
  17. Marvel Champions: The Card Game
  18. Imperium Classics/Legends
  19. Africa
  20. Xia: Legends of a Drift System
  21. Res Arcana
  22. Dune: Imperium
  23. Undaunted: Normandy/North Africa
  24. Favor of the Pharaoh
  25. StreetSoccer
  26. Mystery Rummy: Al Capone and the Chicago Underworld
  27. Ascending Empires
  28. Monopoly: Tropical Tycoon DVD Game
  29. Minigolf Designer
  30. Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit
  31. Dungeon Lords
  32. Quantum
  33. Wildlands
  34. Eminent Domain
  35. Jump Drive
  36. Trails of Tucana
  37. Tales of the Arabian Nights
  38. New Frontiers
  39. It's a Wonderful World
  40. Era: Medieval Age
  41. Thebes
  42. Can't Stop
  43. Core Worlds
  44. The Princes of Florence
  45. Baseball Highlights 2045
  46. Innovation
  47. The Taverns of Tiefenthal
  48. Risk Legacy
  49. Showmanager
  50. Claustrophobia
  51. For What Remains
  52. Bärenpark
  53. Ra
  54. CloudAge
  55. Cartographers
  56. Clank!
  57. Tobago
  58. Septikon: Uranium Mining
  59. O Zoo le Mio
  60. Nexus Ops
  61. Keltis: Der Weg der Steine Mitbringspiel
  62. Lord of the Rings
  63. Impact: Battle of Elements / Strike
  64. Roll Player
  65. My City
  66. The Downfall of Pompeii
  67. Tanz der Hornochsen!
  68. Downforce
  69. Die Schlacht der Dinosaurier
  70. Vom Kap bis Kairo
  71. Suburbia
  72. Trains
  73. Starship Catan
  74. Galaxy Trucker
  75. Giro Galoppo
  76. Gingerbread House
  77. Around the World in 80 Days
  78. Rhino Hero: Super Battle
  79. Diamant
  80. The Dragon & Flagon
  81. Zahltag
  82. Traumfabrik/Hollywood Blockbuster/Dream Factory
  83. Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar
  84. Wurfel Bohnanza
  85. The Quest for El Dorado
  86. Survive: Space Attack!
  87. Bohnanza
  88. Arctic Scavengers
  89. Anno 1503
  90. Mississippi Queen
  91. Agricola
  92. Canyon
  93. Route 66
  94. Flamme Rouge
  95. Kauchuk/Rule the Realm
  96. Entdecker
  97. Dice Town
  98. Marrakech
  99. The Rivals for Catan
  100. Columbus
MIA Games
  • 7 Wonders Duel
  • Basari
  • Drôles de Zèbres
  • Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North
  • Jamaica
  • Medici
  • Port Royal
  • Rattlebones
  • Snow Tails
  • Witch's Brew

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sunday, May 15, 2022

                                                                                                                                                                                                      MIA from the Top 100 2022: Terraforming Mars


                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm not sure what happened... but five games that SHOULD have been in my top 100 somehow got missed. So, I'm blogging about them now. Sheesh.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Terraforming Mars

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • rank: 5
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • rating: 8.4
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • published: 2016
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Print Status
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • available
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Why It's On The List
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Despite my attempts to avoid Terraforming Mars for a number of years, this game sucked me in. It combines hand management, resource management, engine-building, leeching off other players work, racing to complete goals, and even a bit of take that. And it works.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Tips & Tricks:
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • While I get why some people like it with a full complement of five players, I think I enjoy it more with 2-3 players or as a solo game.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Resist the urge to throw everything into the game for first-timers... there's a lot to process. It's also helpful to explain why you are doing what you are doing during their first game - just not in an obnoxious manner.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • It's important to build the engine you have/draw rather than the one you wish you had. It's a long enough game that wishing you were doing something different can make seem unending.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Extras
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • There are a LOT of expansions for this game system - I own all of them. The only two I think are really necessary, though, are Prelude and the Hellas/Elysium alternate map.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Thanks to the generosity of a good friend, I also own the 3D pieces... and they are a delight.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • I would recommend a better play mat for each player than the one provided... something that makes it less likely that a table bump would end the game.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Saturday, May 14, 2022

                                                                                                                                                                                                          MIA from the Top 100 2022: Sentinels of the Multiverse


                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm not sure what happened... but five games that SHOULD have been in my top 100 somehow got missed. So, I'm blogging about them now. Sheesh.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sentinels of the Multiverse
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • rank: 477
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • rating: 7.2
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • published: 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Print Status
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • available - but there's a new edition in print (which is actually really good... and if you're new to the game, I'd start with the Definitive Edition)
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Why It's On The List
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • A cooperative comic book game that uses multiple card decks (heroes, villain, environment) to tell the story of a "battle royale". It's enhanced by a well-developed mythos and a plethora of sly references to various "real" (read: DC/Marvel) superheroes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Tips & Tricks:
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Some games have the potential to divide gaming groups into "wow - love that! let's play again" and "I'm pretty much done with that one after one play" - Sentinels is definitely one of those. I get to play a lot because both of my boys and one of my best friends LOVE the game.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • When teaching new players, you MUST let them get to know their hero decks on their own. Avoid the temptation to tell them which cards to play - it will kill their enjoyment of the game... and shortchange them of the joy of "discovering their superpowers".
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Building a good superhero team is a little like building a good D&D party - you need a variety of skills to take on different situations.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • One of the skills that is difficult to master is creating a challenging but not impossible game - the right combination of heroes, villain & environment. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Extras
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • There are a LOT of expansions for this game system - we own pretty much everything that has been published because part of the fun is getting to take on a new challenge each time. However, the game out of the box is quite enjoyable.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • OblivAeon is the final expansion for the game... and it's a table-eating 3.5-4 hour slugfest against multiple foes. It's an attempt to recreate the full-on nuttiness of the original comic book Crisis on Infinite Earths... and it succeeds. It's not for the faint of heart... but my eldest son and I love it. (Out of 6-7 plays, we've only won once.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • My boys & I created a way to play that we really like - The Bloodsworn Arena. Basically, you send one team up against one weak villain after another and see how long you can last. My younger son managed to get ALL of Unity's mechanical golems in play - which is an impressive amount of firepower. (The picture here was taken during that game... and Collin is pictured with his plushy Mr. Chomps.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • I don't think the Sidekick app is necessary - I've found it to be as fiddly as using tokens. (I have added some more generic tokens to my set for marking Nemesis status and Setback's Unlucky pool, etc.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • OTOH, I think that the Sentinels app is a fantastic addition to my iPad gaming library... we have all the expansions in digital form as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Friday, May 13, 2022

                                                                                                                                                                                                              MIA from the Top 100 2022: Nemo's War


                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm not sure what happened... but five games that SHOULD have been in my top 100 somehow got missed. So, I'm blogging about them now. Sheesh.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Nemo's War


                                                                                                                                                                                                              • rank: 276
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • rating: 7.9
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • published: 2017
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Print Status
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • in print
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Why It's On The List
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • A solo "wargame" that is brimming with thematic touches (from the event deck to some of the unusual ship choices)... and an impressive level of variability created simply by changing Nemo's objective.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tips & Tricks:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Nemo’s War was designed as a solitaire game – everything from the unidirectional layout of the board to the theme of the game scream “low player count”. That said, there are variants in the rule book to play with more players… but I frankly have no interest in messing up what has been a delight as a solo game with extra people.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Nemo’s War reminds me a bit of old school wargames – ships have attack and defense values, there are a lot of dice rolls, and there is even a printed CRT on the board for the various actions. At the same time, it incorporates action expenditures, bag draws, ways to mitigate bad die rolls, etc. from the more modern game designs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Each objective demands different play styles and trade-offs, which I find endlessly fascinating. So far, I’ve proven to be the most successful at exploration – while all-out war with the nations does not seem to be my forte. I must also note that I play on the lowest difficulty setting – I cannot imagine cranking this up to the highest level… I’d be fish food in a few turns.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • The game runs about 90 minutes now that I’ve internalized the rules and the order of play – it isn’t unusual for me to play a couple of times in a night if I’m stuck in a hotel on a business trip. And I’m always eager to play it again.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Extras
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • There are multiple expansion packs available - I sprung for all of them. The Bold & Caring pack adds 2 new objectives, which makes the game even more varied.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • The Journey's End expansion just shipped... and it's well worth your time & money!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thursday, May 12, 2022

                                                                                                                                                                                                                MIA from the Top 100 2022: Fast Food Franchise


                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm not sure what happened... but five games that SHOULD have been in my top 100 somehow got missed. So, I'm blogging about them now. Sheesh.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Fast Food Franchise
                                                                                                                                                                                                                BoardGameGeek
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • rank: 6,094
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • rating: 6.3
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • published: 1992
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Print Status
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • really out of print
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Why It's On The List
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Imagine if the designer of Race for the Galaxy decided to take making a roll'n'move that both gamers & non-gamers could love... that combined some very Monopoly-ish elements with tactical board play. And then you can wake up & play it, because this is actually Tom Lehmann's first game design!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tips & Tricks:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Despite initial appearances, all of the companies are viable options for strategies to win Fast Food Franchise. (Some require you to open a second company - particularly those that grow quickly but don't generate cash from other players.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • That said, you must watch your cash flow - relative both to your own building needs and the increasing costs of paying your competitors.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Rookie mistake? Not advertising.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • There are two expansions that exist (note: I don't use the word "available"): 2 more companies (Tacos Today & Noodles to Go)... and a set of old skool fast food worker hats for each of the companies.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Extras
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Fast Food Franchise was one of the 138 Games to Play Before You Die over on the Opinionated Gamers website.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Here's what I wrote about the game for The One Hundred.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • I talked with Tom a few years back about the chances of this getting reprinted... he is continuing to try to make that happen, which will make a number of my friends very happy. (But don't hold your breath.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wednesday, May 11, 2022

                                                                                                                                                                                                                MIA from the Top 100 2022: 7 Wonders


                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm not sure what happened... but five games that SHOULD have been in my top 100 somehow got missed. So, I'm blogging about them now. Sheesh.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                7 Wonders


                                                                                                                                                                                                                • rank: 78
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • rating: 7.7
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • published: 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Print Status
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • in print
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Why It's On The List
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Card drafting meets civilization building... and it's playable with 3-7 players in a pretty consistent 45 minutes. No "wonder" it got all those awards... 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tips & Tricks:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • You don't have to jump on the science train to score big points - but you do need to burn up science cards for cash or wonder building to prevent others from doing it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Military still doesn't make sense to me - the worst point loss you can take is -6... and it can be less than that if you can talk your neighbor(s) into a truce.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • The new edition is nice - I've only had a chance to play it online but the symbols are easier to teach/use. (They are based on the system used for 7 Wonders: Duel - another game I highly recommend.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Extras
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • I'm a big enough fan to picked up all of the available expansions - including the oddball stuff like the Wonder Pack, the Anniversary Leader & Cities cards, and the Catan wonder. And with experienced players, I like playing with all of them, though it is a bit overwhelming.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Cities is the easiest expansion to add to the game - and it contains the rules for team play, which is actually pretty cool. (Note: team play will allow you to play with 8 players.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Armada is quite enjoyable - and adds some nice twists to the game that require players to pay attention to more than just their immediate neighbors.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • The laws portion of Babel and the Leaders expansion are the two most difficult expansions to add to the game - they have lots of new symbols that can confuse players.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Here's my first look at the Cities expansion after I played the prototype.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • I wrote a preview of the Babel expansion back in 2014 as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tuesday, May 10, 2022

                                                                                                                                                                                                                #1: Memoir '44 (Mark's Top 100 2022)


                                                                                                                                                                                                                Memoir '44
                                                                                                                                                                                                                BoardGameGeek
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • rank: 156
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • rating: 7.6
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • published: 2004
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Print Status
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • in print
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Why It's On The List
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • The best (and best supported!) of the Command & Colors games... it combines a wonderous toy factor (plastic army men & tanks!) along with remarkably evocative recreations of WW2 battles. This is the perfect collision of all the eras of my gaming life: it's got enough warfare &; tactics for the chit-pusher in me, the gorgeous plastic bits remind me of the day we cracked open Axis & Allies for the first time, and the speedy gameplay fits my current lifestyle. The plethora (si, Jeffe) of scenarios is a definite point in favor of Memoir '44, as well as one of the cleverest 'fog of war' mechanisms ever - the command deck.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tips & Tricks:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Memoir '44 is splendid right out of the box... though the first couple of scenarios are probably the weakest and don't show off the game as well as they could. (They do a good job of getting players used to how the game works.) Don't give up on it until you've played some of the later scenarios.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • There are a LOT of expansions... and I personally own at least one or two of each of them. (Point of fact: my Memoir '44 collection weighs over 30 pounds now.) There are no duds in the set... though probably the least valuable to a casual player is the Terrain Pack.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • BoardGameArena is currently working on an implementation of Memoir '44!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • My favorite way to play is 2 player Breakthrough (using the Breakthrough deck included in the Winter Wars expansion). Close behind that is playing in Overlord (multi-player team) mode or playing a campaign (using one of the Campaign Books).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Extras
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • I've written a number of reviews (review copies provided) of Memoir '44 expansions over the years:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Here's what I wrote about it for The One Hundred - both personally & for the group.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • In just a couple of weeks, I'll be playing in the Chattanooga Open, a Memoir '44 tournament - I promise to report back and blog about my experience!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Monday, May 09, 2022

                                                                                                                                                                                                                #2: Race for the Galaxy (Mark's Top 100 2022)


                                                                                                                                                                                                                Race for the Galaxy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                BoardGameGeek
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • rank: 69
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • rating: 7.8
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • published: 2007
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Print Status
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • in print
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Why It's On The List
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • After you climb the iconography mountain to figure out the game, Race for the Galaxy is an amazing adventure in hand management & reading your opponents' mind - made even better by clever card design & interaction as well as great sci-fi art.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tips & Tricks:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Learning Race for the Galaxy can be a bit of a chore - of course, since I've ranked it #2 on my list, you know I think it's worth it - but there are some things you can do to make it easier.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • First, don't add any of the expansions.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Second, the first time you play, play two games in a row.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • The first game should be open-handed & use the preset hands from the base game.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • The second game can be "normal".
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Third, don't get obsessed about winning your first few games. Use them (they're short!) to explore the gamespace & see how cards can work together.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • There are five expansion sets available for Race for the Galaxy, all of which add numerous cards to the deck:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • The Gathering Storm (which adds a fifth player, goals & a robust solitaire system)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Rebel vs. Imperium (which builds on the previous expansion, adding a sixth player & rules for takeovers)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • The Brink of War (which builds on the previous two expansions, adding prestige & the prestige/search action)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Alien Artifacts (Alien Artifacts does NOT build on the previous expansions but instead is meant to be combined solely with the base game. It adds a fifth player & a new mode of play in which you explore the Alien Orb.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Xeno Invasion (the newest expansion - again, a stand-alone addition to the base game that adds the potential for a non-player adversary attacking all players.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Between the iOS app powered by Keldon's AI and the version of Keldon's AI online, I'm comfortable estimating that I've played Race against an AI over 2k-3k times.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • My favorite way to play is 2 player advanced with goals & prestige... and no takeovers.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Extras
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • I'm surprised how little I've written about Race for the Galaxy - evidently, I've been too busy actually playing the game to blog about it!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • This is the fifth of five Tom Lehmann games on my top 50 countdown!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sunday, May 08, 2022

                                                                                                                                                                                                                #3: Clash of Cultures (Mark's Top 100 2022)


                                                                                                                                                                                                                Clash of Cultures 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                BoardGameGeek
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • rank: 356
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • rating: 7.6
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • published: 2012
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Print Status
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • the original edition is out of print... but the new edition (which includes the impossible to find expansion and a number of tweaks) is available
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Why It's On The List
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • My favorite civilization-building game... the free-wheeling tech-tree and relatively simple mechanics make for an excellent play experience with 2, 3 or 4 players.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tips & Tricks:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Playing an online game of the Tresham version of Civilization a couple of years ago makes me like Clash of Cultures even more. The tech tree decisions are more interesting, the random events aren't earth-shattering, and the gameplay has more variety. I'm pretty much done with classic Civ.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • There are multiple ways to win Clash of Cultures - we've had games that focused on military build-up and games where trade was king. The direction of the game is often affected by the layout of the board.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • The expansion is highly recommended for the original edition - it not only adds cavalry & elephants & extra buildings, it adds historically based civilizations to the game. But good luck finding a copy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Extras
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • I have not played the new edition... but one of my persistent opponents at Gulf Games shared numerous photos and rule summaries with me, so I'm generally very positive about it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • I have not written a lot about Clash of Cultures... I need to fix that!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Saturday, May 07, 2022

                                                                                                                                                                                                                #4: Heroscape (Mark's Top 100 2022)


                                                                                                                                                                                                                Heroscape 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                BoardGameGeek
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • rank: 405
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • rating: 7.4
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • published: 2004
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Print Status
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • out of print... which is so very, very sad
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Why It's On The List
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Heroscape is the ultimate blending of board game & miniatures game... and, in a slick move that allowed them to make lots of cool figures, a great blending of genres, as all the characters are warriors sucked through time & space into the world of Heroscape. So, you've got Matrix guys & Braveheart & dragons & robots & kung fu monks & gorillas with guns... yep, it's the ultimate boy game. (And while kids can start with this one at 7-8 years old, there's enough going on that you keep playing it well into your adult years - in my case, age 57 & counting!)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tips & Tricks:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • While I have a complete set of figures (including many double & triple sets of squads) as well as two of each terrain expansion, I'm a relative lightweight in the realm of serious Heroscape players.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • A tough side effect of our huge life change back in 2013 (three states/two moves/most of our stuff still in storage) had been the boxing away of the Heroscape armies... which was finally solved by three rolling carts .
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • When designing boards, remember that "it looks cool" and "it plays well" can be totally different things.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • If you get a chance, find someone and play this. (Alternately, watch garage sales & the BGG Marketplace and start your own collection!)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Extras

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Friday, May 06, 2022

                                                                                                                                                                                                                #5: Armageddon (Mark's Top 100 2022)


                                                                                                                                                                                                                Armageddon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • rank: 4,284
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • rating: 6.6
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • published: 2016
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Print Status
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • out of print... but not difficult to find at decent prices on Amazon & Wal-Mart
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Why It's On The List
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Imagine a three-way collision between the Mad Max films, an auction game and a worker-placement city-building game. Throw in a little Notre Dame-ish fend off the invaders (marauders instead of rats)... and allow players to use people as currency in the auctions as well as workers to keep your post-apocalyptic settlement running.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tips & Tricks:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • The artwork is evocative without leaning too hard into the dystopian grimness… and the iconography is very clear once you get the hang of it
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • I’ve found that it takes players 2-3 rounds (roughly half a game) to get acclimated and then they’re ready to defend their very tiny barb-wire encrusted empire.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • The auctions are double-layered... they are "get to choose first" auctions for buildings and for equipment. In addition, the winner of each auction gets a small bonus, and the loser gets a penalty. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Extras
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • I've been working on a review (complete with fiction sections) of Armageddon for years now... short version: I think all of the elements fit together to make a really satisfying and enjoyable game experience.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • I also think this is a criminally over-looked game... and I said as much in a really good Opinionated Gamers article you should check out.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • This is the third of three games on this list designed by David Thompson.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thursday, May 05, 2022

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  #6: Dungeon Alliance (Mark's Top 100 2022)



                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dungeon Alliance

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • rank: 1,956
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • rating: 7.6
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • published: 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Print Status
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • in print
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Why It's On The List
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • A think-y, puzzle-y dungeon crawl that's dripping with theme and story. The designer (Andrew Parks) mixes deck-building with tactical movement on the board to create a rich world for competitive, cooperative, and solo play.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Tips & Tricks:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Dungeon Alliance is not for the faint of heart - there's a lot going on here - but it's incredibly involving. In complexity, it is in the same range as the Mage Knight Board Game.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Speaking of Mage Knight (which I used to own)... I think they're both brilliantly designed games, but Mage Knight didn't hit the table after I got Dungeon Alliance.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • While the game works with up to 4 players, there is a substantial increase in playing time with that many players. We have liked it better with 2 - smaller dungeon, less down time.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • It really shines as a solo game as well.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Extras

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wednesday, May 04, 2022

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    #7: Catan (Mark's Top 100 2022)


                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Catan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    BoardGameGeek
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • rank: 447
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • rating: 7.1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • published: 1995
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Print Status
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • in print
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Why It's On The List
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • The game that launched the European "game" invasion... the first true "franchise" game for Kosmos & Mayfair... a game so simple & yet so innovative that it could inspire devoted play with almost any crowd. This infinitely variable game of trading & building is still a personal favorite, even when way too many gamers have left it behind.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tips & Tricks:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • While your first game may take 90+ minutes, it's not unusual for experienced players to knock out a game in 60 minutes or less. A lot of that depends on how quickly trading goes and how "aware" the people you're playing are - example: it doesn't matter how many times you ask for "brick", if we haven't rolled it in two rounds, it isn't there for trade. Sigh.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Our local group prefers playing 5 player with the slightly larger board and the "build around" rule.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Extras

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tuesday, May 03, 2022

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    #8: Unmatched: Battle of Legends (Mark's Top 100 2022)


                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Unmatched: Battle of Legends
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    BoardGameGeek
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • rank: 241
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • rating: 7.9
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • published: 2019
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Print Status
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • in print
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Why It's On The List
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Take the basic card combat idea behind Star Wars: Epic Duels... add in the brilliant LOS board configuration system from Tannhäuser...and infuse the game thematically with a "mix of characters across time & reality" vibe from Heroscape... and then do a top-notch production job... and you've got Unmatched.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tips & Tricks:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • One of the biggest issues in Epic Duels (the need of some characters to turtle for multiple turns in order to make decent attacks) is fixed here... both by better balancing the decks AND by instituting a "getting to the end of your deck" penalty.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Each character/team has different strengths and weaknesses... you cannot play each character the same way and be successful.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • The character receiving the least love out of the gate was King Arthur... but I've managed to pull off some wins with him by playing the cards in his deck, not the cards I wish he had.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Some of the newer boxes (and there are a LOT of them) have more complicated decks - but I'm happy to have the variety in play styles and characters.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Extras
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • This is the seventh of eight (8!) Rob Daviau games that will appear on my top 100 list this time around. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Some quick thoughts on the various boxes - all of which are stand-alone expansions:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Robin Hood vs Big Foot - the best introduction if you're not sure about the series... two great characters and two great maps
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Cobble & Fog - two more great maps with four excellent characters - though three of the four characters are not quite as straightforward to play
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • InGen vs Raptors - my least favorite map, though both characters are fun to play
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Buffy the Vampire Slayer - two more excellent maps... don't love the Buffy character in 1v1 play but otherwise a fan of this box
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Volume II - a great map and four excellent medium-difficulty characters
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Bruce Lee - a solo character (no map) that's a lot of fun to play
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Little Red Riding Hood vs Beowulf - Red is tricky to play but really rewarding when you get it right
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Marvel: Redemption Row and Marvel: Hell's Kitchen - the beginning of 3 hero boxes... and the interesting twists of the Marvel maps. These were just released.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • My boys & I have been playtesters on 3 released boxes (Vol. II and the two Marvel boxes) as well the unreleased Marvel boxes and other stuff which I can't talk about (yet)!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • I've written a review of the system for the Opinionated Gamers... and followed it up with a review of Buffy & Little Red.