The Secret Cabal - Jamie's Top 100 Games of All Time - 2016
Secret Cabal Jamie
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Hey now! I'm Jamie of the Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast and I'm updating my top games of all time. In the past two years I did my top 50 games of all time but this year I've upped it to 100. In these lists I'm not usually commenting on the quality of a game overall, I'm listing them in order of how much I like them. That typically takes into account my desire to play them and the amount of fun I typically have playing them - really it is a list of my favorite games ranked from 1 to 100.

If you're seeing this and arent a listen of The Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast, please check out out on itunes or at www.thesecretcabal.com

Here is last year's list of you'd like to compare..
The Secret Cabal - Jamie's Top 50 Games of All Time - 2014
The Secret Cabal - Jamie's Top 50 Games of All Time - 2013
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1. Board Game: Glory to Rome [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:136]
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I don't even know where to begin telling what I love about this game. My favorite game mechanic is in it - cards that have multiple uses. There are so many card combos to discover it's staggering. To this day I still find and see new combos being created. This game sets a benchmark for game design for me, it's unique (or at least was early on), deep, complex (but only has a few kinds of cards) and above all amazingly fun. The theme is great and being a graphic designer, the Black Box artwork is perfect. One thing that I love about it is that it's unabashedly over powered around every corner. Every card combo seems broken, but thats what is great about it, discovering that killer play that will skyrocket you to the win. Its nearly impossible to get at a reasonable price but I could honestly say I would pay it to get this game if I didn't already have it. I consider this the perfect game.
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2. Board Game: Forbidden Stars [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:78]
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I love Warhammer 40k. I love epic space combat games. I love starting a game you'll still be playing at 1am. I love beautiful artwork and tons of plastic minis all over the table. This game has EVERYTHING that I love and it does what it does exactly the way I want it to be done. This game feels different from other space combat games and those differences keep me coming back over and over again. The combat system by itself is a better game than Dice Masters and the like. I will never get board with this one and I will buy every single expansion that comes down the pike without even looking at whats in the box.
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3. Board Game: Runewars [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:130]
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Everything I just said about Forbidden Stars... read it again and you got what I love about Runewars (except the 40k bit). They're not dissimilar games really but something about this one has sparks and chemicals activating in a different part of my brain. This is one that I used the expansion right out of the gate and I'm very glad I did becasue it just adds more of everything you want more of. Clever game, well designed, beautiful productions and above all massively fun.
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4. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.28 Overall Rank:7]
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Hands down the best euro I've ever played. This one magically builds a bridge between euro players and an ameritrash players without being an ameritrash game at all. Lots of complexity, lots of depth, so many options on every turn. There are tons of races in the core box that completely change the way you approach each game. And despite what many will tell you, the theme is terrific.
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5. Board Game: Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:154]
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Best civ game ever. The abstractions that this guy implements are right on target. So many civ games try to be so literal but then you get the same old dudes on a map game with a watered down tech tree that every other civ game has. This one tried something different and triumphantly succeed at both giving you the feelings of all four X's (explore, expand, exploit and exterminate) and making it feel like a different game at the same time... oh, and it's tons of fun too. Get both expansion and dump all of it right in there becasue it only makes it better.
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6. Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories [Average Rating:7.97 Overall Rank:36]
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I am so completely confused at why this game wasn't designed 30 years ago. When we played it for the first time it was like a light bulb flicked on -- THIS is how to make an adventure, co-op, story game work. The immersion is so deep and the stories written so well. It whisks you away to another time and place and you're living there for 3 hours. Great great game.
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7. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:27]
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Concordia feels like a legendary classic euro from 15-20 years ago. The art of euro game design is changing but this one feels out of time in the best way possible! It reminded me of what I love about games like Tigris and Euphrates, Puerto Rico and El Grande. If you can get past that ugly woman on the cover, you'll find one of the best euros ever inside.
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8. Board Game: Fury of Dracula (third edition) [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:148]
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I've been championing Fury of Dracula since I got the previous edition years ago... it is the best, THE BEST hidden movement deduction games ever. The theme is exactly what I want, playing Dracula is thrilling and being a hunter chasing him across europe is exciting. Lots of card play and combat and careful co-operative planning trying to take down Drac. I love it so much and the new edition take away all the small blemishes it had before and makes it hit the right spot.
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9. Board Game: Stronghold [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:511]
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Can someone please tell me who to contact to get on the committee of people who are in charge of picking the greatest designer of all time? Because Ignacy Trzewiczek is their man. Every time this guy comes out with a game I think, what the hell government experiments were done on him to create a super game designer? I believe he must have been bitten by a radioactive Sid Sackson. Anyway, about Stronghold I've never seen a game like this before and I dont think I've seen anything like it since. Completely euro but every bit as exciting and fun as any shoot'em up ameritrash combaty game. THAT is a sign of an excellent design, you have to think (and think hard) about every move you make and every resource to take and spend. You're on the edge of your seat every minute. I love this game.
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10. Board Game: A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:691]
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This game isnt the best designed game ever... as a matter of fact it has the worst game mechanic ever in it - roll and move. WHAT?? Who the hell's idea was that? Well listen, nobody could argue that "fun" trumps all, right? Well this game packs a fun wallop like most other games could only dream of. I know fun is in the eye of the beholder but for me this one hits every mark. Great story happening on the table, awesome theme and so many variations inside the box (lots of monsters to play against). This one is worth every penny I spent on it and all of it's expansions. I've played it TONS of times now and I still have tons of stuff to discover from it. Well done Flying Frog making a game that has everything going against it (like the stupid photographic card art, the dumb glossy everything, roll and move, random everything) and turning it into one of the awesomest adventure game ever.
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11. Board Game: Mythotopia [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:1173]
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First Martin Wallace on the list. Nobody thinks like this dude does. All of his games scream, "I WAS DESIGNED BY MARTIN WALLACE". I love a designer who has style and this guy's got it. Mythotopia flew under the radar and even got a new sour comments from reviewers - well I'm here to tell you that they are all very very wrong. I love this game. Despite it's kinda ugly... well everything, there's an amazing fantasy battle game under it all. The deck building is very cool and implemented as a clever way to customize your kingdom's culture. The variable VP goals make the game slightly different every time but isnt too complex to relearn each time you play. Mythotopia is a real winner in my cool book.
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12. Board Game: Horus Heresy (2010) [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:1025]
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Horus Heresy is a game I dont get to play much. It's kinda long and is only 2 players. Some of the coolest games and some of my best memories of games are two player experiences. This is an excellent game with a lot of moving parts. Its one of those war style battle games in which there are 2-3 different "stories" being created in different parts of the board. Again 40k helps this one be so high on this list but the gameplay really is terrific. The asymmetry is awesome too. It's kinda like The Battle of the Five Armies only better (for me at least).
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13. Board Game: Carson City [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:306]
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I've had this game for years and it's one that makes it way to the table all the time. I love construction - building something is a great experience and is what makes me like this game so much. There is a great story told from the start with wide open spaces with ranches and mines and then at the end of the game you have a thriving city that ate up all of that land. And meeples can fight... that is so cool.
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14. Board Game: Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:29]
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I will be so bold as to say that this might be one of the best games ever designed. There are things done in this game that seem so "common sense" yet no other designer ever did anything like it before (at last that I've ever seen). The reason they seem common sense is becasue they are so elegantly woven into the story this game creates. It seems effortlessly designed but it most obviously wasn't. Ignacy outdoes himself again.
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15. Board Game: Blood Rage [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:17]
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Ameritrash? Euro? What the hell is this game? Who cares. It's just plain fun. There are so many things to love about this game from the minis to the artwork to the card drafting mechanic to the expansions that add so much replayability. Monsters, I cant forget monsters. Thematically it feels so viking and gameplay-wise is really hard to touch. I believe this is Eric Lang's best.
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16. Board Game: City of Iron [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:769]
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The first of many Ryan Laukat games on this list. I was so late to the game discovering Ryan Laukat and Red Raven Games and I'm so glad I wasted no more time collecting nearly all of his games. City of Iron is a euro that bleeds theme. The complexity is relatively low considering there are like 4 million things you can choose to do in the game. It feels like a battle game and a construction game and an exploration game but yet... it all boils down to getting majorities in resource collection. Funny how harvesting turnips can be the goal and you never even notice that that's all there is... because what you have to do to get those turnips is awesome.
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17. Board Game: Chaos in the Old World [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:88]
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A lot of people compare Blood Rage to Chaos in the Old World. Yeah they are similar in some ways but Chaos just has so much going for it that there's no way Blood Rage could possibly kick it off the shelf. Ignoring the fact that it's Warhammer Fantasy (can you tell by now that Games Workshop's IPs are in my blood?) its just a really solid game. Honestly I wrestled with putting this above Blood Rage - Blood Rage is just newer and getting more attention right now. Maybe in a year you'll see them swapped. The mechanics that are in Chaos that arent in Blood Rage are actually what make it stand out from the crowd. If only it had minis as cool as the other games that are similar.
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18. Board Game: Brass: Lancashire [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:30]
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The second Martin Wallace game on the list and most likely technically better game design than Mythotopia but whatever. This is about whats fun. Brass is a game with a lot of depth. The choices in this game are a real brain burner. Player interaction is amazing as you can share VPs with other players by building symbiotic industries. The two halves of the game add a great wrinkle to the life of the game that is fun to plan for throughout the first and leverage in the second. I do not play this game nearly enough, it's not pretty enough for everyone else to want to play and it's a shame.
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19. Board Game: Legends of Andor [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:273] [Average Rating:7.31 Unranked]
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I cant get enough of this game. There are only like 4 adventures in the box but I've played them all at least 6-8 times each just becasue they're fun. The story plays out in a clever way and completing the mission successfully is a real puzzle. Thematically it cant be beat. Michael Menzel put together a whole package game (game design and artwork) that is an amazing experience.
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20. Board Game: Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:693]
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So dumb but yet so much fun. I was a huge Indiana Jones fan when I was a kid and this lets me live that lifestyle in my basement. The mechanics are pretty bad but who cares... its all about enjoying a jet-setting romp across the globe killing Nazis and raiding temples and tombs. We howl with laughter at the goofy situations your characters can get into - like fighting a Nazi tank... and then sharks... and then cultists... and then a pack of dogs all in Alaska. Great stuff.
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21. Board Game: Arcadia Quest [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:77] [Average Rating:7.94 Unranked]
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Super fun minis, great take-that combat, fast paced action. Arcadia is so much fun to play. It's a quick play so you can get 3-4 games in in an evening and everyone's chomping at the bits for more.
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22. Board Game: Caverna: The Cave Farmers [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:12]
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I had very little love for Agricola... I had bad experiences with it when we were early into euro gaming but I could always tell it was awesome but had a few fatal flaws that always bugged me. Caverna takes all of those annoyances away and gives me 2 billion other things to do. Its an epic euro game and thats rare these days. I love it.
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23. Board Game: Heroes of Normandie [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:677] [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked]
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One of my favorite hobbies in miniatures gaming and I dont get to partake in it very often anymore but Heroes of Normandie lets me scratch that itch so so well. It's got minis but they're flat! I thought I would hate that but no way, the art is gorgeous. The theme of being in an old WWII movie playing movie type heroes is great. Not only is the game a blast to play and thematically awesome the mechanics are so well done. They thought of everything they needed to think of and made it pretty easy to get into and remember between plays. And it has more expansions than you can shake a stick at so there's always more to play
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24. Board Game: Suburbia [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:82]
Secret Cabal Jamie
United States
York
Pennsylvania
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City building! One of my favorite kinds of games and the way Suburbia uses proximital synergies is amazing. I love to puzzle out the best score and execute.
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25. Board Game: A Study in Emerald [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:561]
Secret Cabal Jamie
United States
York
Pennsylvania
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Another Martin Wallace game and this one is a masterpiece. I cannot tell you how incredible this game is. The only reason it's not higher on the list is that it's so damn hard to remember how to play each time! There's so many things you can do and ways to interact with other players that it's daunting! It's worth every bit of the slog though.
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