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Airjudden's Top 100: 2018
Judd Vance
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I try to make one of these every year.

This is really a snapshot in time. The highest ranked games rarely change. The others may go up and down based on how I recently I played them. There are games I like a lot that aren't on here because they haven't been on the table for awhile or I need to explore them more deeply.

Probably no surprise, but the majority of my gaming is solo wargaming. I also play Euros and fillers with the family and Ameritrash with a buddy in town. This year, I tended to play shorter games, so those games that I did play got pretty big bumps.

I also have an ongoing Top 10 lists of various categories that I am always adding on to as I play through more of my collection and re-visit it.


Comments are welcome.

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1. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:186]
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#100

Reiner Knizia took moneyless poker and made it fun. I'm still not sure how he pulled that one off. The theme is thin but the decisions are excruciating.

Last Year: #96
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2. Board Game: Operation Pegasus [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:11100]
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#99

A golden oldie from the early 1980s that remains the gold standard for helicopter logistical fun. That sounds like an oxymoron, but it's not. You have to experience it. Loads of fun and bluffing in this fairly complex pocket game. Fortunately, I created a flowchart (in the BGG Files section of this game) to simplify it.

Last Year: #99
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3. Board Game: Arena: Roma II [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:1108] [Average Rating:6.93 Unranked]
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#98

There's a lot to like in this, but you have to house rule it to get there. For example: no forums on the bribe space and lay your cards face-down at the beginning. It's like there was no play-testing at all for this.

Fortunately, it's not that hard to salvage.

Last Year: #72
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4. Board Game: Field Commander: Alexander [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1986]
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#97

I am in the minority, but I think this one stands head and shoulders above the other Field Commander games by DVG. The Raze/Govern options along with insight and prophesy add a lot more over the other Field Commander series games in my opinion.

Last Year: #91
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5. Board Game: Summoner Wars: Master Set [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:160] [Average Rating:7.56 Unranked]
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#96

A really great Ameritrash chess-like game with various factions that are asymmetrical. The decisions are tough when it comes to allocating your cards and trying to save enough to get a champion. I need to play the phone app and get more experience with this. It has been awhile since Aaron and I have played.

Last Year: #98
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6. Board Game: Battles of the Bulge: Celles [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:3538]
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#95

Battle of the Bulge games are a dime a dozen, but this is worth taking a look at. It has a fresh feel to it with innovative chit pull ideas that do a solid job of capturing command & control as well as air power and fuel logistics. This only covers a small portion of the campaign and that is fine because there are plenty of big games that cover the whole enchilada, and I don't think this game would work as a 14 hour monster game, but for a relatively quick (2 hour) folio game, it is jam-packed full of game.

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7. Board Game: A House Divided [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:1016]
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#94

It takes awhile to play, which is really the weakest point of the game, but is very simple and does a solid job of capturing the Civil War in a few pages of rules. The components (in the edition shown) are excellent, also. If the person is a fan of the topic and has the time, it is an excellent beginning wargame.

Last Year: #76
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8. Board Game: Lee Takes Command [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:9230]
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#93

I only wish the games in this series had some type of solitaire capability, because these are really fun. Chris and I both think the combat system needs a small tweak. If we could do this, this game would go much higher despite it's solitaire limitations.

This is the best game I have ever come across on the peninsula campaign, but like I said, tough to play, despite the Vassal module that I created for this game and every other game in the system.

And the Rick Barber map is fantastic!

Last Year: #45
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9. Board Game: Red Barber's Big League Baseball Game [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
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#92

In every way, save one, Strat-O-Matic Baseball is the better game by far. That one exception is nostalgia, and that is a powerful one, indeed. I grew up on a homemade replica of this and back when my greatest desire was to play third base for the Yankees, this game was my obsession. I played it again at this year's Barteus Con and you never forget your first love.

Last Year: Not Ranked
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10. Board Game: New York 1776 [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:6581] [Average Rating:7.07 Unranked]
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#91

The game makes for a bad history lesson (although the British objectives in this game SHOULD have been their objectives in this battle), it still makes for a fun game involving maneuver. The history is so far off that I would normally not keep such a game, but it is so darned fun that I keep enjoying it.

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11. Board Game: Rommel in the Desert [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:1104]
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#90

Nearly 40 years later, it is still fresh. Great combat system and supply system with heaping helpings of bluffing. I sold my copy this year because it won't solo and the guy who plays it with me owns the game, but I hope we get to play it again soon. This ranking is not indicative of just how good this game is: it might very well be the greatest block game ever made as well as one of the best WWII games ever, but the inability to get it played prevents it from being higher on the list and my inability to play it solo caused me to sell my copy this year. I've already bugged Aaron about playing it next year.

Last Year: #79
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12. Board Game: Wilderness Empires [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:7626]
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#89

I like this one a lot. The map is bland but the rest of the game is gorgeous (Don Troiani art!). I do wonder how necessary the blocks are: Worthington seems to want to slap blocks on to every game, whether they need them or not (prime example: First Bull Run: 150th Anniversary Edition, Blood of Noble Men: The Alamo, and Victoria Cross). Great combat system and interesting card play.

Last Year: #78
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13. Board Game: Ottoman Sunset [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:1862] [Average Rating:7.39 Unranked]
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#88

A very solid State of Siege game and the only one I have won more than I lost. This one was designed by the guy who created the system. This covers the declining Ottoman Empire in WWI yet shows how the rest of the war effected them. If things are going badly for Germany, it affects you.

Besides fronts advancing toward the middle, this offers a "National Will" as another way to the lose the game and offers "pay 2 actions now, get a bonus action later" investment. It also offers markers that represent combat in off-map areas (Eastern and Western fronts) that would affect this one. The "Running the Straits" mechanic is the greatest part of the game, though, as you spend action to build up your defenses to prevent the British from taking you out in a single decisive blow.

Last Year: #93
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14. Board Game: Imperial Stars II [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:6101]
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#87

A small box, but tons of fun and replayability. It has 4 maps and the system markers have an inverted side bonus, an since they are mixed up, this creates for a lot of variability between games.

If you love 4X, but want it in a game that is easy to learn and only takes a couple of hours to play, this is a big time winner.

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15. Board Game: Astra Titanus [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:3505]
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#86

This is an exceptional solitaire game with a strong space theme. It is something of an homage to the old classic Ogre, except this is way better than Ogre. It offers plenty of scenarios and units on both sides for replayability, along with a deck of cards that define movement and firing priority, so that it is very difficult to predict the movement of the artificial intelligence. Smart design by one of my favorite designers.

Last Year: #100
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16. Board Game: Star Wars: Rebellion [Average Rating:8.45 Overall Rank:6]
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#85

This is how you Star Wars. Not much more need be said other than that. It did for Star Wars what War of the Ring did to Lord of the Rings. I only played it once a couple of years ago. If Aaron and I could play this a couple of times per year, it would probably be top 25.

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17. Board Game: Pacific Typhoon [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:2399]
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#84

I like trick-taking games and this is my favorite one. With the right group, it has excellent table talk. Don't expect a war game: it's really not one. It is a trick-taker with a WWII/Pacific theme pasted on to it.

Last Year: #71
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18. Board Game: Catacombs [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:731]
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#83

Flicking heroes in a dungeon: life is good.

Seriously, I don't like dexterity games, but I love this one.

Last Year: #95
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19. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:71]
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#82

A really solid Euro design. I got on board late to the train last year. It has pretty deep strategy and the tile draw keeps it just random enough. I don't think I played it on my phone this year, which is sad.

Last Year: #82
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20. Board Game: Cruel Necessity [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:1688]
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#81

One of the heavier State of Siege games with a GREAT combat system and numerous improvements to the base system, such as opposing resource tracks, victory point cards that can be bought if criteria are met, and fortresses whose control are vital because each one supplies an action point each turn, as well as an option to play 3 shorter scenarios or a linked campaign.

Last Year: #46
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21. Board Game: Deep Space D-6 [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:1326]
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#80

A great little dice distribution game. Random as all get-out, but I don't care. It's really fun.

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22. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Europe [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:96] [Average Rating:7.57 Unranked]
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#79

I like this so much because I don't know the map that well, whereas I know the American map a little too well. Plus the nice additions (tunnels & train stations) give you extra options.

Last Year: #75
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23. Board Game: Star Realms [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:87] [Average Rating:7.62 Unranked]
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"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
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#78

After over 6,500 plays, you would think I would start to tire of this: guess again.

I play it every day and after trying out most expansions I settled on the Bases & Battleships Expansions, because it seemed to be the only one that added strategy without a "You win" card.

Last Year: #43
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24. Board Game: Birth of a Legend [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:8861]
Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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Who's the master?
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"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
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#77

There are plenty of games covering Lee's 7-day campaign, but the Area-Impulse mechanic handles it quite smoothly, especially when the master of the genre (Michael Rinella) is in charge of it. He easily and elegantly handles the lack of Confederate coordination along with George McClellan's very real fear of the susceptibility of his supply line that led to him giving up the campaign.

Last Year: Unranked
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25. Board Game: Struggle for the Galactic Empire [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:4388]
Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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#76

A solid game with clever mechanics: you try to maintain your empire from threats: internal and external. But you don't feel like you are micro-managing the artificial intelligence.

If you ever wanted to feel like Darth Sidious from Star Wars, play this game, because you REALLY wish you had a Death Star to keep those systems in line.

Last Year: #84
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