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Fifty great games outside the BGG 500
Trent Hamm
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I love undiscovered gems.

Games that didn't get that big marketing push behind them, but are incredibly exciting and enjoyable. Games that were released thirty years ago that would be incredibly popular if released today. Games that have one relatively minor flaw that obscures an otherwise incredible game.

I spent several hours digging through page after page after page of games outside the BGG 500, thinking about games I've played that fall into this category.

Here are fifty very worthwhile games that fall outside the BGG 500. If you're ever itching to try something a bit different than the same old, same old, this is the place to start. I tried to include lots of different genres and mechanics and themes on the list, so there's something for everyone.

I've left the list open for people to add more after my 50.
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26. Board Game: Mississippi Queen [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:1201]
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It won the SdJ several years ago. It's a race game that's played blindly - the only unknowns are unknowns shared by all players.
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27. Board Game: Pinochle [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:1415]
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A very unusual and distinctive trick-taking and bidding game that also includes elements of rummy in a single package. You only need two ordinary decks of playing cards and there's not an overabundance of rules and conventions.
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28. Board Game: Axis & Allies [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:974]
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This game introduced a million gamers to proper wargaming and is still incredibly popular today (as witnessed by the several variations of the game on the market).
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29. Board Game: Frank's Zoo [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:892]
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Perhaps the ultimate filler game, as it's fast, accessible, incredibly simple, and yet rewards a bit of thought.
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30. Board Game: Apples to Apples [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:1779] [Average Rating:6.10 Unranked]
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A party game that rewards outside-the-box thinking as well as diplomacy. If I'm in a "party game" situation, A2A is my preferred choice.
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31. Board Game: Fauna [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:454] [Average Rating:7.12 Unranked]
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An interesting bidding game with tons of strategy, reminiscent of Wits & Wagers but with substantially more meat on the bones. Nominated for the SdJ this year.
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32. Board Game: Hearts [Average Rating:6.42 Overall Rank:1232]
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One of the classic trick taking games, Hearts rewards careful maneuvering and planning. It's a classic for a reason.
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33. Board Game: Hellas [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:1685]
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A wonderful two player game that combines tile-laying and area control with fervent combat and tactics that will leave you carefully considering your options. Very comparable to Battle Line and perhaps superior to it.
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34. Board Game: Focus [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1943]
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This is the single most brain-busting game I've ever played - yes, even more so than chess and go. Like those two, the rules are incredibly simple, but they result in such complex situations that you're left pondering for hours.
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35. Board Game: Canasta [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:2147]
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Yet another delicious trick-taking game that's stood the test of time, yet is often brushed aside by the "cult of the new." Canasta has several interesting mechanics: the ability to hone your hand as the game goes on, signaling, clever combinations that enable powerhouse scoring, and so on. It's bloody fun!
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36. Board Game: Venture [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:1974]
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An incredibly enjoyable, yet mentally challenging card game designed by Sid Sackson. It involves set collecting, negotiation, and a careful balance of the values of cards which change depend on whether they're used individually or as a set. This, to me, is a perfect example of a game that suffers due to the "cult of the new," as it's a barrel of fun.
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37. Board Game: 500 [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:2055]
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For my wife's extended family in northern Iowa, this is THE game of choice. It's a slightly more accessible version of bridge that plays a bit faster as well.
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38. Board Game: Rummikub [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:1386]
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The game itself isn't important. Spending time intellectually jousting with likeminded folks is the real reason to game.
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An older SdJ winner that may be suffering a bit from the "cult of the new" on here. It's essentially a set-collecting game, but with some clever mechanics built in that make the game progress in an incredibly exciting fashion as your options multiply based on what sets other players play.
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39. Board Game: Slide 5 [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1487]
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Slide 5 is exactly the same game as the classic 6 Nimmt!, which is well inside the BGG 500 (in the 200s, in fact). Perhaps this one hasn't garnered enough votes, but it's a very enjoyable mix of timing, strategy, and luck with very simple and accessible rules.
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40. Board Game: Fortress America [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:931]
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This may have been my favorite of the Gamemaster games, based on theme alone. The fact that it had very enjoyable cooperative play (it has an X versus 1 mechanic) and thoroughly enjoyable combat and choices.
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41. Board Game: Quo Vadis? [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:1280]
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An unusual Knizia game where the focus is on negotiation, not on building sets or combinations as Knizia's game usually goes. For us, this often winds up playing like a shorter version of Diplomacy without all the gnashing of teeth.
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42. Board Game: Trans Europa [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:859]
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TransAmerica is well into the BGG 500. TransEuropa is the same game with a better map.
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43. Board Game: Warhammer 40,000 (fifth edition) [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1250]
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WarHammer 40K is the *only* Games Workshop game I've played significant amounts of - and it was thoroughly enjoyable, from the quality of the pieces to the theme and the game itself.
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44. Board Game: Ubongo: Duel [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:1043]
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Ubongo Duel takes the puzzle-solving mechanism of the original Ubongo and translates it (winningly, I might add) into a two player game.
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45. Board Game: Mystery Rummy: Murders in the Rue Morgue [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:1506]
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If you've never played a Mystery Rummy game, you ought to play a Mystery Rummy game. This one is perhaps the most well-rounded of the lot.
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46. Board Game: Metropolis [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:2644]
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A very tempo-oriented Sid Sackson classic that rewards both careful planning and negotiation. A top-notch reprint of this would cause this game to utterly skyrocket.
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47. Board Game: Samarkand [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1793]
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This Sid Sackson classic from the early 1980s is pretty much a prototype of the modern Euro game. Lots of indirect player interaction, plenty of planning ahead, and not overly long, but still incredibly enjoyable.
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48. Board Game: Palazzo [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1051]
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Iowa
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A wonderful little Reiner Knizia tile-laying game. It's fairly short (45 minutes), but mixes together an interesting group of elements into an enjoyable little game.
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49. Board Game: Mamma Mia! [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:964] [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
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A very fast, highly enjoyable filler game oozing with theme that reminds me of Bohnanza - possibly because it was designed by the same person.
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50. Board Game: Nottingham [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:1774]
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Another flavorful card-based game from Uwe Rosenberg, but this one involves a clever "steal from other players" mechanism that, combined with the theme, makes for a great way to spend thirty minutes. I've passed up meatier games to play this one before.
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