3 reasons why I love...
Matej
Czech Republic
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Just pick one of your favourite games and write down exactly three reasons why you love it. If you want you can contribute with more than one item. Let me start with my favourite.
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1. Board Game: The Voyages of Marco Polo [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:36]
Matej
Czech Republic
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Variability This game provides whole new experience every time you play it. It almost feels like you are playing different game. This is only one example where I love setting it up to see how gameplay will be different. Almost everything is fresh and new each time: random first contracts, city cards, small town markers, bonus city tiles for the first player to build the TP here, contracts for the first round, secret goals for the players and of course characters with special powers. So you have each game different challenge to solve and there is also a randomness in dice rolls throughout the game.

Strategic depth mixed with tactics I love strategy planing in games. But also I don't want to play a solvable game with no uncertainty or some twists during the gameplay. And Marco polo provides both, deep strategy planing and some randomness along the way, so things are fresh and interesting all the time you play this game. You have this overall puzzle to solve, but also each round you are dealt with new challenges and obstacles to overcome thanks to dice rolling and tied board.

Special powers I think those special powers, are the main reason why Marco polo is that popular. They literally destroy the rules of the game and they are all broken, therefore they are all (almost) equaly balanced. And the best thing about them is that you feel that you are different than other players thanks to them. The importance of the right choice of character at the start according to board setup is something I probably enjoy the most in this game.
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2. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:62]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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Reason #1
Pedigree: T&E was designed by one of the all-time greatest designers, at the absolute peak of his career.

Reason #2
Pain: your first game, T&E will make your head hurt. Every subsequent game is an exercise in making the other players hurt.

Reason #3
Punching above its weight: T&E is better than every game ranked higher in the BGG database, and is more richly thematic than most games with ten times the chrome.

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3. Board Game: Pax Porfiriana [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:353]
Australia
NSW
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Historicity
200 cards of historical detail about a truly fascinating era. The designer has his own take on the events but these can be ignored or are simply lost in the sandbox of events and personalities that come up in any given game, which will only use less than half of the cards available. The cards themselves have a heap of flavor text that make for interesting reading.

thematic mechanisms
The game has a reputation as being a bear to learn and a bear with anti-human psychotic tendencies to teach. But I'm not sure how accurate that is - it's actually a pretty straight forward game to me, and a big part of that is how everything makes sense, from the way troops can be used to extort other players enterprises, to the way that if you use slave labour it's inherently risky, to the feel of a depression, to the adjustments made to the economy depending on the political situation.... it's all just a matter of "of course". Which is why even if you ignore the flavor text, you still feel like a landowner hell bent on gaining power any which way, and why a story still gets told every single time.

Machiavellian tactical strategy
No other game provides the same level of careful but risky planned chaos, resulting in amazing denouements that come out of nowhere. It doesn't matter if I have toppled Diaz or my rival has beat me to it, once it's done, I can only marvel at the way it's come about. The tactical adjustments necessary to do do, but the longterm plans that are still required, are perfectly balanced in my view. To win, you must be a truly magnificent bastard.
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4. Board Game: Rialto [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:712]
Matej
Czech Republic
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Card management It all starts with open card drafting and then you are using those cards in auction phase, in order to gain certain benefits. But there is also a bonus wich is gained by that player who played the most card of given type. So, you must decide how many cards are needed to gain that bonus and when is better to save some of the cards for the next round, so you will have better usage of them. And those joker cards are giving another layout to already though decision making. It is true that after card draft, you will make just little amount of decisions, but those are very though and important. And I really like that challenge.

Creating VP value of districts during the game Probably the biggest chunk of victory points is awarded at the end of game for majorities in each of the six districts. And point values of given districts are changing based on desicions players make throughout the game, thanks to putting bridges and gondolas next to those districts. So, if you are leading in certain district, you certainly want to add there some valuable bridges. But that mean you must play most of bridge cards during auction phase, so you must give up on some other aspects. Very cool way how to score points.

Council members management Council members are very clever implemented to other mechanics of gameplay. You need to hire them, so you can put them later on to those districts to grab majorities at the end of game, but also, there is big advantage in not having them, because you can then move them to other districts and you have bigger control over the area control aspect of the game. So, when and where to use them? How many is enough? All depends on constantly changing board and card situation, and I really love cleverness of that.
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5. Board Game: Snowdonia [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:327]
Mystery McMysteryface
United States
Florida
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3 reasons why I love Snowdonia:

Tension - the race against the game and your opponents sets up a delicious tension in this game--which I love.

Meaningful Decisions: Because you don't have the luxury to take your time, every decision is meaningful and can help or hinder you and your opponents.

It works beautifully: The games just works for me in every aspect with a fully integrated theme and challenging gameplay. At the end of each game I can see where I could have done this or that to change the outcome and improve my position.

(Sorry, I am not good at explaining in depth why I enjoy a game, but I gave it a try!)
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6. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:26]
Kevin Garnica
United States
West Covina
California
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1 Elegance of design. I love how much game is crammed into the box. Play a card, do the thing. That's it, no rules exceptions. Each card is related to a different action and there are only a handful of different actions. I appreciate that there hasn't been an expansion that adds a whole new deck of cards with new actions. This keeps the game streamlined. I know there is a small deck of promo cards or something, but it's almost surprising that there hasn't yet been a "new and improved deck of 'sideways' actions" or something ridiculous like that. The game has kept its purity over the years.

2 #discountdeckbuilding. As someone who isn't particularly fond of the mechanic, I can get on board with the implementation here, probably because, ultimately, it's "optional". I like that you have a row of cards to choose from. And it's especially cool that you can control when to refresh your deck. And most importantly, it's great that you get your whole hand, instead of just drawing the top 5 cards or whatever. If I'm never shuffling my deck, and I'm never limited to holding only so many cards, and I don't have to play through all of them before I can have a repeat...is it really deckbuilding?

1+2 Praefectus Magnus (which was my nickname in high school). The inclusion of this card is wonderful. This is its own little mini-game within the game. It only works "half" of the time - during province production - and the rest of the time it's a game of keep away. It's a brilliant little add-on of a mechanic. And it moves counterclockwise, which is something that can potentially have its own rhythm and timing. You're expecting it coming to you any moment, only to realize the player to your left is taking the cash prize instead!

---

There are so many good things about this game, it was hard narrowing it down to just three things. I'll refrain from gushing over how the scoring is tied into the deckbuilding, or how the longevity of the design is aided by all the expansion maps and such, blah blah blip-biddy bloo blah.
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7. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:25]
Greg Gresik
United States
Bolingbrook
IL
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My sons would be shocked if the knew I added this one, as I do resist playing it at times, but there is simply too much this game does well to ignore completely.

Economic Elegance For what is a very deep economic system, the game handles it very elegantly. The first few times I played, I was simply in awe as to how simple, yet effective it was.

Thematically Deep & Epic As a sci-fi game with ships, researching technologies, exploration, alien presence, anamolies, etc. - the game is just an amazingly immersive system well tied to the theme. And it does feel "epic" in the massive scale represented.

Variability/Replayability With the differing factions (and even more with expansions), various technologies that may or may not be available, exploration set up, etc. every game is unique and different - even when playing the same factions you've played before.
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8. Board Game: The King Is Dead [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:1140]
Kevin Garnica
United States
West Covina
California
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A The cards. Eight cards, eight actions, each played once, in the whole game. It's pretty amazing. Gotta make 'em count!

B The fluidity of the turn structure. You can pass whenever you want and come back in long as somebody else played. You can spend 1 card per region if you want, or all 8 cards on a single region. The choice is yours.

C The counterintuitive cube-pulling mechanism.
"I want the blue faction to win."
"Okay, then there has to be the most blue cubes on the board when the game ends.
"Okay."
"Oh, but you have to pull those same blue cubes from the board into your supply if you want to actually win.

*head explodes* zombie
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9. Board Game: Blood Rage [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:17]
Matej
Czech Republic
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Dynamic gameplay You simply do one action on your turn and those actions are perfectly streamlined. And even if it is not your turn, you will do battle stuff.

Drafting depth With drafted cards you are creating your strategic structure for the whole game year. So you try to pick up the best combos... but same thing are doing others, so you must sometimes give up on your combo building and grab some card which really needs your opponent. But cool drafted cards doesn't mean that you gonna win, you must also use them at right time. I really like the fact, that drafting mechanic is only one part of the gameplay and that it is so elegantly and well intergrated with the rest of the game.

Creating your own clan during gameplay In many other games, each player has some special powers right from the beginning. In Blood rage, you are creating your own special abbilities during gameplay, so you can really feel that your clan is developping over the time and also each game is different thanks to that. I love it.
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10. Board Game: Keyflower [Average Rating:7.92 Overall Rank:37]
Ben Bateson
United Kingdom
Ross-on-Wye
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Auction-style player interaction - bumping your mates off that prized tile in the middle is a vital skill. The timing of jumping onto other people's tiles is also critical, because if you can get there first, you can lock the tile to your preferred colour of meeple currency.

Engine building - Gradually, you piece together bits of your village that work together. And then in winter: BAM! Often you'll ignore the tasty treats in the middle because you are too busy using everything in your own little world.

Forming a strategy to match the layout - Did that Green Meeple engine work really well for you last time? Well, tough, dammit - there aren't any on the tableau this game! One of my other favourite games is Dominion, where the whole skill is coming up with an imaginative strategy to match the cards that are drawn. Keyflower echoes this in a more subtle way.
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11. Board Game: Wir sind das Volk! [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:524]
Marc Hawkins
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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Complex (but not complicated) asymmetry
It's amazing *just* how different the East and the West must play. Sivel and Sylvester did an amazing job in producing asymmetrical conditions through a game system in which both sides have access to virtually the same actions. Yet, the way in which each side must attend to the game's three tug-of-war "currencies" (i.e., politics, economy, society) is highly different.

Rich, interconnected decision space
East and West are entangled within this beautifully complex dance in which the West leads but in which the East determines the tempo -- while the West is almost always the assailant, the East gets to respond in a way that determines what its own Achilles tendon is. Should the West place the East's economy under pressure, no big deal - build the wall and get the military police to deal with the social unrest. If you're under social pressure, roll in the Russian tanks, devote yourself to socialism, or bring in the Stazi. The East doesn't often get to take the lead, but has many opportunities to respond -- and if it does get to lead, watch out for unwelcome protests in the West (or a sharp drop in economic output).

Opaque (yet for two!)
Political (i.e., socialist ideology), social (i.e., protest and unrest), and economic structures come to intertwine in a beautiful way. Affecting the valuation of one currency affects the other two as well. For example, dealing a blow to socialist ideology means that there will be less socialists willing to come out of the wood works to deal with social unrest when it surfaces. This means that the games achieves the kind of rich inter-player dynamics that you would usually expect for a game that requires 3+ players, but for two; a design achievement in and of itself.



... of course, this is to say nothing of how richly thematic the game is.
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12. Board Game: Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:157]
James C
United States
Great Falls
Virginia
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Plays in 25 minutes. This is my favorite gamelength. Allows for back to back games inside an hour.

Has lots of replayability with both expansions. We play with the four original building and four expansion buildings.

Over 150 plays (face to face) and I still have fun playing. And that’s what it’s all about for us.
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13. Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:90]
Francis K. Lalumiere
Canada
Brossard
Quebec
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Reason #1: Narrative
Whereas many wargames feel like you're playing chess, Combat Commander feels like you're watching your favorite war movie. The way the game mechanics interact with random events creates stories that transcend every single game session.

Reason #2: Easy to Explain
It's pretty much the only deep wargame I own that I can explain in about 15 minutes. Sure, I'll add some remarks about chrome along the way, but we can sit down, set up, and you'll be good to go in 15 minutes.
Quite a feat, for something with a 25-page, dense rulebook.

Reason #3: Replayability
The game now has a gazillion official scenarios, and if that's still not enough, the base game comes with a random scenario generator that creates engaging, memorable battles.
I've played it 364 times, and I'm still as excited by it as the first time I pushed a counter across map #1...
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14. Board Game: The 7th Continent [Average Rating:8.85 Overall Rank:39]
John Aronis
New Zealand
Christchurch
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Reason 1- A giant world to explore:

It is a world with allot of things happening. At the start, you are just plonked down somewhere with a clue and off you go. Often times I will get somewhere that I explored on a previous quest and can use that information to help my pathway.

Reason 2- The life deck:

I love how the life deck works, letting you control the level of risk (to a degree). It has a bit of push-your-luck to it.

Reason 3- The crafting/idea system:

If you craft items at certain spots they are easier, but you may really want to use them now. And then you get cool things that you can craft with individual character cards and advanced skills.
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15. Board Game: Viticulture Essential Edition [Average Rating:8.15 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.15 Unranked]
Zenith Splendor
United States
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1) When my sister and I play games we put on music in the background that matches the game we are playing. The music we listen to for Viticulture is very relaxing.

2) I like the artwork for the game. It's so beautiful.

3) Work replacement is always among my favorite types of games.
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16. Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:350]
RJ
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Interactive to the point where brinksmanship is necessary and at times encouraged, requiring a keen sense of timing as to when you wish to cut the legs off your opponents and/or jettison your way to victory. This timing is not easy, and the tension is palpable when attempting to anticipate your opponents' responses. Newton's Third Law in boardgame form.

Dynamic, fulfilling experience at all player counts, yet these experieinces all play out differently. Two-player games are the epitome of a game of chicken, where a well-timed bold move can rocket you forward or spell your demise. At higher player counts, it is more chaotic, but rather fascinating: you can see all the varied interactions among Gods and Specialists, and you must learn to maintain a tenous limbo between tactics and strategy. All this while jockeying for turn order at just the right moments to inch yourself towards a chance at victory.

Lean ruleset and open decision space where the sources of variability between games does not feel contrived. Your turn actions are limited, but can create spectacular butterfly effects. Amazingly, this depth is achieved with a remarkably low rules overhead, and much of this is due to the ingenious victory requirement system.
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17. Board Game: Forbidden Stars [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:77]
Dennis _
Germany
Halle
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Plans that go horribly wrong
You can never think of each eventuality involved when several players plan 4 moves in advance, even after many games.

Modularity within each game
The ever-shifting warpstorms make the board look totally new after each round. Safe harbours are suddenly combatted and far-to-reach objectives are within range at once.

Combat without blanks on a die
There's luck involved, yes, but no binary hit-or-miss luck. Generally, you can work with each dice score if you manage to use your combat cards wisely.

(I'd consider balance of factions as a prerequisite and not as something I would emphasise in terms of adorable game components.)
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18. Board Game: Mottainai [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:724]
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Mottainai is my favorite game to play with 2 players because it is:

Deep
There are many, many ways to amass VP and win, and each is totally viable. You can play for the quick rush and try to win the early game, play the long game and amass a ton of VP, sculpt a hand of high-value backorders for a surprise win, etc. If your current approach isn't going to work, you can change tack to adapt to the game state.

Highly Replayable
Due to the variety of powers attainable by completing the various works in the game and the fact that there are no duplicate cards (unless you combine two decks) every game takes on a unique feel.

Streamlined
Once the players understand the rules, the player mats become superfluous. I carry my copy in a clear plastic box in my pocket. Need a player mat? Grab a napkin and a pen...
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19. Board Game: American Rails [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:1059]
Ken Stewart
Macao
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(These apply to Chicago Express too)

True Semi-Coop: Alliances come and go as people buy shares in railroad companies together. There will only be one winner though...

Auctions that Matter: As experienced players can confirm, the meat of this game is in the company share auctions. It is very easy to get carried away with bidding for attractive companies, and holding a large amount of shares never guarantees a win.

Super-Simple Rules: This game only has around two pages of rules. It has one of the highest depth to complexity ratios for any game I've ever played.

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20. Board Game: Scythe [Average Rating:8.30 Overall Rank:8]
Christopher Seguin
United States
Cleveland
Ohio
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Artwork - Absolutely stunning artwork that makes the game very enjoyable for me to play from an aesthetic perspective. The fact that Jamey was able to design a game from someone's artwork is really cool.

The element of surprise - Not so much during the game, as one wonders what will be included in the Encounter Card. No, I am talking about the part of the game, around the midpoint, where you are humming along with 3 stars, building a nice engine, taking over a few locations, and placing buildings, and then "BAM!" someone drops that sixth star and your only response is "WTF just happened?" Every time I have played this game, I have never been able to plan for "Game End" except for the one time that I triggered game end myself.

Balancing Act - This game requires a balancing act between everything you WANT to do and everything you NEED to do, and then trying to figure out what to do first. But the variability of each game (between the faction boards, player boards, and cards) requires you to change your strategy every time.
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21. Board Game: Kingdom Builder [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:431]
Felix Adam
Canada
Saint-Hubert
Quebec
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1. Variability

Even with just the base game, the combination of map tiles + objective is really great, even if you remove some less fun objectives. If you add expansions to the mix, you created a vortex of replayability that is going to be hard to go through!

2. Puzzly

The goal is simple, make the most point depending on the objective. However, how you're going to approach the objective based on your starting card and the possible locations is where the meat of the puzzle is. This will usually not be apparent to most players on their first few games, which leads to...

3. Acquired Taste

This game has a bad reputation because of the hand of one card and the possible bad luck that can ruin your game. I say this is where the "learning curve" (It's not a harsh one for sure!) actually is. After a couple of game, it start to click, and you realize how each location can be used to help with the different objectives, or how to place your pieces to maximize your chances of grabbing more locations in the early game etc. In these days of the cult of the new and where a lot of people don't play the same game often, it can be a hard point to make accross, but don't let the bad taste of a fluke game taint your opinion of the game

Bonus : App version is very nice!
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22. Board Game: BattleTech [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:821]
Ethan Van Vorst
United States
Spencer
North Carolina
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Story and setting. Battletech takes place in an enormous plot of space and the storyline behind the game is immense and filled with lore akin to what you find in massive fantasy books, and an established history that stretches back several thousand years. The BT universe is populated by characters who feel like real people, with enough personality types so that any given player will find someone that they can make a connection with. You have Good factions, Evil factions, those that are driven by money, those that are motivated by religious zeal, or jealousy, or straight hatred. Add to that a mind numbing number of unique planets to play on, each with its own history and ecology that can affect your gameplay.

Wide variety of Mech platforms and modifications make for a game that you can customize to your own tastes. Everything from dozens of Light Mechs for scouting and sneaking around to huge Assault Mechs for pulverizing others with. Each Mech has its own unique background and the original Tech Read Outs (TRO's) included notable pilots and extremely interesting backstories behind the designs of the Mechs as well as what historical battles they most famously contributed to. If Mechs aren't your thing, drive a ground vehicle like a tank or hovercraft. Not your thing? Take the controls of an Aerospace Fighter. There's really nothing here that you can't do.

It is just a lot of fun. I'll admit that with large groups of players it's certainly a time consuming game to play, but when you find the right number of folks to play with, and when the stakes set by the scenario are high, it is a pulse pounding game filled with tactics and personalized strategies by individual players. Add to this the immense number of sourcebooks and scenarios out there and you'll have a hard time I think finding a game with replayability to the degree which Battletech has.

I have never turned down a match of Battletech, and I never will.
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23. Board Game: Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:109] [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked]
Sam Wineinger
United States
Wood River
Illinois
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caravan If you're a Marvel fan, you've almost certainly got some of your favorite characters here (as long as you include all of the expansions). Outside of collectible games like Heroclix, there's no better game for your Marvel universe fix.


caravan It's a deckbuilding game that "fights back" so to speak. Just playing against an opponent and taking turns buying and using cards against each other is fine, I suppose, but I like that this game challenges you back with it's scheme cards and villains moving through the city. If you don't actively and efficiently manage the board, many times you'll lose.


caravan The sheer variety of it. Again, this is mostly if you have some expansions. Between hero, mastermind, villain, henchman, and scheme choices, it is possible to play this game frequently and never play the same game twice.
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24. Board Game: Cosmic Encounter [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:89]
Ryucoo
United Kingdom
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Cosmic Encounter

The Chaos

I love a good Euro, where you functionally and deterministically carry out a series of actions which move you without resistance or chance towards an end goal. But nothing is more fun than being about to turn over your attack card in CE, believing you have won the encounter, when your opponent yells ‘Mirror’, to see your attack strength drop from 30 to 03 – damn, I’ve los…wait! Suddenly from your ally, reinforcements rock up and tip the balance in your favour – only for your opponents ally to use his alien mind to turn the reinforcements around and see them head off home – hang about, now someone else has just power zapped your opponents ally so his mind trick doesn’t work and the reinforcements turn round and win it for us after… NO, STOP someone else has turned both attack cards into negotiates and now it’s a tie anyway! May as well trade a colony for a colony, oh ffs – Dave has just nullified the negotiation so talks collapse and now we both lose 3 ships. Never mind, theres always next turn!

The Powers

With most games that play with a bit of asymmetry, you are lucky to get what, 4, 5 maybe 6 different starting powers? And everyone spends most the game worrying about whether the powers are balanced. CE comes with 50. All unique. All ridiculous. And that’s just the base set – another 15-20 per expansion, we are well into treble figures. Are they all balanced? Nope, and that’s the sheer fun of it. CE is self-balancing – Dave picked up a pretty hardcore alien? Oh dear. In a game of alliances, negotiations, deals and brawls, he’s a target and he’s going down!

The Memories

I love boardgames. I’m a fan of many a game, style and mechanic. But nothing ever beats coming away from the table hearing people (better yet, non-geek/gamer people) chattering excitedly about what went down that evening, as if a game was a blockbuster film you all just saw. No game in my collection or others, ever comes close to providing so many stories, in-jokes, moments, nicknames, laughs, shocks and gasps as CE. For a game of near endless replayability, it’s going to go on providing memories for a long time to come.
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25. Board Game: Spirit Island [Average Rating:8.50 Overall Rank:425]
Jeff Bridgham
United States
West Lafayette
Indiana
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Variability This game has a large variety of spirits you can play each is unique in how it interacts with other spirits, the invaders, the dahan and the board itself. There are four invaders each with 6 difficulty levels, new rules and possibly new victory conditions. 8 scenarios which will change how the game is played! Also there is a large event deck, large decks for minor and major spirit powers. If you play this the same way twice before your 100th play, it will be because you want to!

Co-op done right This game is a co-op and with the different difficulty levels you can find a challenging game for beginners and for the experienced or any combination you have! It avoids the common co-op mistakes: No alpha player because one person can not possibly keep track of what everyone is doing and track every possible thing that the invaders might do. The game isn't repetitive. As discussed above but also once you start using specific invaders they will have different strengths and weaknesses

Thematic You will feel very much like you are trying to repel a colonization attempt which will keep you working out how to use your powers and the dahan to be most effective. But, like in real life, early mistakes make things tough but not unrecoverable. There is a luck element but it is under some control. Your spirits will have fast powers and slow powers with the invaders moving in between. So your fast powers are used to handle immediate problems and slow powers to react to the invaders.

Best co-op ever!!
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