In Which I Rank Most of My Collection (A Top 100 List) **WOW, 100 TAKES A LONG TIME!**
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I’m moving from the point in this hobby where I bought too many games with too little thought, and entering the stage where I want to narrow down and refine it to only the games I truly enjoy.

Turns out, that’s a pretty difficult thing for me to do. Every time I tried, I could come up with a handful of easy cuts, but little more.

So, I tried a new approach: Pairwise Ranking. Choose a game at random, then compare it to every other game. Take one of the two resulting piles, repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Get a list of every (played) game (I’m comfortable having an opinion about). And, holy crap, I managed to rank my collection.

Then, out of curiosity, I did it a second time a few weeks later, and while there were similarities, there were some pretty strong differences. Turns out I suck at maintaining transitivity. So, I decided a few weeks after that to do it a third time, then average the three rankings for each game. If I ranked something at 27, 35, and 32, then it averaged to a "score" of 31.33. Ties went to the game that had the single highest ranking. And, like that, I somewhat smoothed out the bumps of individual ranking moods, and got a solid full ranking of about 150 games that I 1) own 2) have played enough to rank.

These are the Top 100 of those games, annotated:
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1. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.35 Overall Rank:4]
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I'm terrible at Twilight Struggle, and my wife has zero interest in it. If at least one of those two facts was different, I suspect it would be much higher on my list. Regarding the second, I'm not changing her mind, so I have no easy opponents for the game. Regarding the first, I could certainly try to play it more to improve (I have the excellent digital implementation on both my computer and iThing devices), but I don't have the will to feel like I'm suffering through playing something to get good enough to actually enjoy playing that thing.

Despite all that, I can't deny the quality of the game, so it barely makes the list. For now.
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2. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:197]
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King of Tokyo is light, chaotic, random, combative Yahtzee. That's not a bad thing, and I understand why other people love it. In the right mood, I like it; I'm just rarely in that mood.
 
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3. Board Game: Star Wars: Imperial Assault [Average Rating:8.16 Overall Rank:22]
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I’m not a miniatures or Ameritrash battle guy. But I am a big Star Wars guy. And I had a chance to grab Imperial Assault for (relatively) cheap.

Honestly, I’ve only played once, a skirmish game with the recommended armies from the base box. And I got beat hard by terrible dice rolls and the most impossibly accurate Stormtroopers ever.

I want to give it another try, and my wife wants a first play. I’m planning on one-vs-one campaign mode...at some point. The game stays in my collection for now, and will either go up the rankings (likely causing a few expansion buys) or onto the sell pile.
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4. Board Game: 10 Days in Africa [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1540]
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The “10 Days” games are a great educational experience first, a solid but not thrilling game second. The puzzle of getting first to complete your route can be pretty compelling with the right audience, though.

I got Africa from this past year’s Origins Math Trade, and my wife was happy for one she’s wanted to own for a while.
 
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5. Board Game: Sushi Go! [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:318]
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Sushi Go is a nice, quick, easy-to-teach practice game to introduce new players to Drafting before you show them 7 Wonders. But there’s not much there beyond basic drafting and straightforward set collection.

This one stays on my shelf as a good light gateway and pleasant travel game.
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6. Board Game: Jaipur [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:96]
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We try to have a good variety of two-player-friendly games at different lengths and complexities, since it’s overwhelmingly my most common player count during evenings at home.

Jaipur is a solid hand management game with just enough mindgamimg between players to keep it interesting. But, honestly, it’s just not meaty enough for us to be higher on the list. It’s on the bubble, and likely to get cut if we can’t summon the energy to play it in the next few months.
 
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7. Board Game: Dixit [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:170] [Average Rating:7.34 Unranked]
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There’s a bit of a theme going with a number of the games sitting in the 90s: they’re nice, but the gameplay is light and secondary to other reasons to enjoy them.

The draw for Dixit? The beautiful cards, and the window into how bizarre your friends’ minds can be. It’s a social activity, with the scoring really irrelevant compared to the basic joy of the shared experience.
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8. Board Game: Tokaido [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:424]
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Tokaido without the expansion nearly plays itself. But the journey of going through it is so darned relaxing that I’m charmed every time.

I hear that Tokaido: Crossroads adds more gameplay meat around the bones. I own it, but haven’t tried it yet. I won’t be surprised to find it move the game up a few spots once we finally do.
 
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9. Board Game: Skyline [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:3215]
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This was a free pot-sweetener added to the Kickstarter of Ground Floor. It turned out to be a solid dice-rolling set scoring game with a light press your luck element. It’s easy to teach, easy to play, with a unique theme of contemporary building construction. This isn’t a game that will ever set the world on fire, but it’s quite enjoyable for the modest enjoyment it’s trying to be.
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10. Board Game: Louis XIV [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:498]
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Louis XIV feels clever. Almost too clever. It’s deceptive, the disconnect between how the game looks on the table and how it feels to play (okay, only once so far). It’s a compelling puzzle to decide how to best allocate your pieces among the different stations in order to win the ones you want at the end of each round, and I want to try that puzzle out at different player counts to see if/how that changes, if only we can get friends to sit down to it.
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11. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:263] [Average Rating:7.24 Unranked]
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Before I was properly introduced to modern board games, we had an invite to a monthly Settlers of Catan game. Always Catan, almost always with Cities and Knights.

It's probably been a decade since I last played this, but I remember it fondly, and still believe it's a very good game, age and dice randomness and minimum player count and elitist snobbery aside.
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12. Board Game: TransAmerica [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:871]
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One of the first bought games in my collection, gained when we were still trying to figure out our interests. Happily, we got it right with this one. It's still a unique light, fast, one-turn-difference-between-winning-and-losing route building game on our shelves. I can't wait until my kid is old enough to play it; I expect a lower age barrier than many others.
 
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13. Board Game: Principato [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:2719]
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Picked up for dirt cheap from an overstock book store (along with another one a little further up the list). So we didn't have the highest expectations.

It's not a complicated game, but the card-based action mechanic is clever, with a touch of getting into other players' heads. The three rounds end with a military themed scoring or penalty reminiscent of 7 Wonders. It's nice, and well worth the few bucks we paid.
 
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14. Board Game: Wits & Wagers [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:488]
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Sure, it's a trivia game. But the trivia is wacky, and doesn't always reward the players who know the most useless information. And the bidding scoring is gamer-friendly. It's a fun end to a game night of more serious fare.
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15. Board Game: Morels [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:551]
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Morels is a small game centered around one of my favorite mechanics: a market that makes old cards(/tiles/etc) cheap on one end, as new ones get added to the other end with an extra cost. Hand limits make set collection a challenge. It's a good light game, but like Sushi Go or Jaipur above, a bit one-note for regular play. I'm interested to see how the imminent expansion sparks extra life into it.
 
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16. Board Game: The Speicherstadt [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:569]
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The other cheap game bought with Principato, and I think it was my introduction to Stefan Feld. The auction mechanic is so simple, but so clever. I may keep it mostly for sentimental reasons at this point, but it can still be a solid simpler auction game with hidden depth.

Very much not the last Feld game on my list.
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17. Board Game: Rolling America [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:2169]
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An excellent travel game. Small enough footprint for an airplane tray, equally satisfying solo and with another player or two, and the game length doesn't overstay its welcome.
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18. Board Game: Spyfall [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:340] [Average Rating:7.13 Unranked]
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83

Another great gamenight ender. Great enough that one or two 10-minute rounds can suddenly become an hour. The premise is simple, and the biggest problem it has is that it needs players committing to making it fun to really shine; I'm really good at getting tongue tied when it's my turn to ask a question to another player, and I'm never alone in that.
 
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19. Board Game: Edo [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:960]
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The action selection tiles are absolutely devilish. They're so well designed to never quite give you the right combination to make great moves, but you can occasionally figure out three tiles to give you a very good turn and feel very smart. You feel like an idiot much of the rest of the time.

The area control aspect, like in most games, doesn't shine until you're playing with a full table, but it still scales well enough to be a satisfying enough game for two.
 
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20. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:160]
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An excellent two player battle, with simple rules but such challenging play. Make three-card poker-like combinations across a row of scoring points, higher "hand" wins each spot, most spots wins the game.

Shame my wife doesn't like it much...
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21. Board Game: Nuns on the Run [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1226]
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80

Hidden movement games often feel so serious, with Detective and Spy themes. Nuns on the Run is wonderful precisely because it doesn't take itself seriously at all; you're novice nuns sneaking ridiculous indulgences like cake or, well, the Necronomicon. The biggest knock I have against it, and the reason it doesn't get played often, is that it shines with the more players you're able to throw at it, which our usual evenings at home just don't provide.
 
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22. Board Game: Guillotine [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:978]
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79

Whereas Nuns on the Run is silly fun with a silly theme, Guillotine manages to make silly, often chaotic fun out of beheadings. It's a small game with a surprising amount of replayability, solely because of the unpredictability of the card action.

We only ever play this with two, and I honestly have no idea what it looks like at higher counts, but as a two player game, it's what light random games should be.
 
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23. Board Game: Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:29]
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Neither my wife nor I are big fans of cooperative games, and we're not great on stressful games either. And Robinson Crusoe is absolutely cooperative and absolutely stressful. Somehow, it still works for me (far less so for her).

At this point, it's a game that I mostly keep if I want a heavy solo gaming experience, playing multiple characters by myself and most likely dying after an embarassingly short attempt...

...But then I can quickly reset the scenario, and try again. (And lose again.)
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24. Board Game: One Night Ultimate Werewolf [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:229] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
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77

Pretty much my perfect Werewolf/Mafia(/social deduction traitor party game). Takes 5-10 minutes and you're done, repeat as much as your group feels like it. The roles are so varied (especially with the Daybreak expansion) and unique that it's entirely reasonable for clever players to figure out roles with only the one set of clues.

The fact that "my perfect Werewolf" is down at 77 is a clue about how I really feel about the genre overall.
 
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25. Board Game: Kingdom Builder [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:436]
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I understand the complaints that Kingdom Builder plays itself when you only get a one card "hand," which limits your placement on a given turn to only a few potential spaces. But it's choosing which potential spaces, setting yourself up and/or taking chances that you'll get the right terrain cards throughout the game, building toward the bonuses and setting yourself up to best use the special actions, all those little subtle things where the game's value really lies. It's a great accessible game with subtle layers that reward clever play; haters gonna hate.
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