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Subject: Galaxy Trucker Contest - Courtesy of Czech Games Edition rss

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Larry Rice
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Irvine
California
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For me its really hard to nail down a top five all time as I love spice and variety. Very rarely does a game stand the test of time and maintain an innate ability to wow me for a long period of time, but a few still shout out to me "Pick me! Pick Me!" when I go peruse my bookshelf of games. I doubt I can really place them in order so I will only attempt to list my current top 5 in whatever order my brain haphazardly recalls them!

Factory Fun - I believe I am actually in the top 5 or so on BGG in logged plays on this one. My deep rooted enjoyment of this one is founded on my joy of DC Electricity back in my first year of undergrad at LeTourneau U when I was dreaming of becoming an airplane pilot. There's something I just love about the basics of connecting machines and making a circuit work to produce bonus points in this game which just reminds me of the joy I had in figuring out DC Electricity. This game is different every time just because you do not know which machine tiles will come available each turn and you must do the best with the known information while also trying to prep yourself for what future machines might bring. Love it!

Die Macher - In this long-winded game I never see the time pass me by. I'm always amazed that 4-5 hours have passed when I look up at the clock upon finishing this political duel to the finish. So many details, so many little things to track as you seek to be number one in the land. Some hate the opinion polls, I love them for the chaos they can induce in a region and how those cards force you to react or plan ahead to avoid potential damaging results.

Twilight Struggle - One of the few 2 player games that finds its way to the creme of the crop. This tense struggle to avoid nuclear winter and win world supremacy for your country is literally a struggle for survival that can hinge on the event of a single card. There is nothing more satisfying than making do with a horrible hand of event cards and surviving to tell the story!

Galaxy Trucker - After playing this one three times at GLGs, this becomes a must have for me. There are some similarities with Factory Fun with the added chaos and fun of an event deck which will prove or disprove your ship building skills! Besides, there's nothing more fun than laughing heartily as your opponent loses half his ship due to a large meteor dicing his ship down the middle! Of course, the whimpering and shock when it happens to you might be a tad less, um, fun?...:-)

Indonesia - There's something rewarding about becoming the king of commerce as you seek to grow your crops and/or your shipping companies. Of course, when those aggressive opponents attempt to force mergers on you to steal your companies out from under you, it can be a most frustrating experience if you aren't prepared with a solid cash reserve! This one just doesn't get played enough any more.
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Joe McKinley
United States
San Jose
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When I heard the learn’d astronomer; When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me; When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them; When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with
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much applause in the lecture-room, How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick; Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself, In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars. W.W.
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Will Wright wrote:
Fun is the process of discovering areas in a possibility space.


I really like this concept, and I think it provides a good way to think about why people enjoy particular types of games. To expand on this concept, I'll define three dimensions of possibility space:

Depth or Challenge: This is a measure of the complexity of the paths through the possibility space. Fun is derived from analyzing and predicting the optimal path to take through the possibility space landscape. A deep or challenging game will require a player to look forward beyond multiple forks in the road in order to determine the optimal path to victory. A shallow or simple game will have no or few paths to choose between, will have a simple and quick algorithm for selecting the optimal path, or will have extremely hilly landscape (random events) that the player cannot see beyond.

Width or Variety: This is a measure of the number of distinct routes available through a possibility space. Fun is derived from trying out a large variety of meaningful paths through the distinctly different environments that make up in the possibility space landscape. A wide game with lots of variety provides path choices that make the game feel very different than the same game when played with different choices made. A narrow game with little variety provides routes that don't have much impact on the feel of the play, that are quickly fully explored after only a few times traveling through the possibility space, or whose optimal routes to victory never or rarely traverse alternative pathways.

Height or Atmosphere: This is a measure of how interesting the scenery and terrain is along the paths of the possibility space. Fun is derived from the experience or anticipation of encounters along a path through the possibility space landscape. A high game or a game with atmosphere provides paths that are pleasant to travel through or hilly terrain with up and downs and surprises behind the next bend. The pleasant atmosphere can come from social interaction with fellow travelers, rich thematic scenery that tells a story, and even just elaborate bits decorating the landscape. Tension and anticipation come from the potential dramatic changes in scenery behind the hills of random or unpredictable events along the way and from paths that keep more than one traveler close to victory right up to the end. A low or dry game provides paths with unvarying, sparse, predictable, or dull scenery.

Playing games is a form of fun where people are exploring a possibility space together, taking turns making decisions about what forks to take along the paths. Rules and victory conditions provide boundaries and goals to the exploration. Along the way, each player exploits his or her skills in order to direct the exploration into a direction that ultimately leads to their victory, but with the purpose of deriving fun from the shared exploration.

I believe these are the 10 fundamental gaming "skills".

Analysis
Strategy
Tactics
Diplomacy
Bluffing
Player Reading
Luck
Knowledge
Dexterity
Gamesmanship


Analysis is the skill of orienting yourself in a possibility space, recognizing the paths available to you, and optimizing your path selection based on the probability that subsequents path selections, whether they be made by you, another player, or a random event, will eventually lead you to victory.

Strategy is the skill of developing a long term path selection policy that has a good probability of eventually leading you to victory.

Tactics is the skill of short term corrective path selection planning required when path choices made by other players or random events bring you to a position in the possibility space landscape where your strategic long term path selection policy has become less effective.

Diplomacy is the skill of directly manipulating other players into making path selection choices that benefit your position relative to victory within the possibility space.

Bluffing is the skill of indirectly manipulating other players into making path selection choices that benefit your position relative to victory within the possibility space.

Player Reading is the skill of predicting path choices that will be made by other players.

Luck is the skill of having the path choices determined by random events benefit your position relative to victory within the possibility space. This is the only "skill" where all players are theoretically always on an even footing.

Knowledge is the skill of knowing information that will open paths in the possibility landscape that would otherwise be blocked.

Dexterity is the skill of performing physical feats that will open paths in the possibility landscape that would otherwise be blocked.

Gamesmanship is the skill of appreciating, enhancing, and resonating with the social interaction, creative aspects, and unpredictability of exploring a possibility space with others. It includes the ability to respect the boundaries of the possibility space as defined by the rules of the game and general rules of gaming conduct.

If specific skills are required in order for players to discover new areas in the possibility space, and thus derive fun, players who are deficient in those skills will have a more limited possibility space which will be more quickly explored and cease to be a source of fun.

I will admit to being deficient in "knowledge", "dexterity", and "analysis" to a lesser degree. These deficiencies limit my ability to fully explore and derive fun from the possibility spaces of games that require these skills to a significant degree. These games have a lower effective possibility space for me than they might for other people without these deficiencies.

My favorite games are those with the largest effective possibility space: Challenge x Variety x Atmosphere x Skill Synergy

These are my 5 favorites, in no particular order:

Magic: The Gathering

Magic is of average Challenge, but it probably has the most Variety of any game I have ever played. The huge, and growing, library of cards available make an endless variety of distinct deck strategies viable. The five colors of magic have five distinct play styles. In addition, the fact that it has several completely unrelated victory conditions makes many victorious paths through the possibility space possible. Magic also has a above average Atmosphere. The unknown nature of your opponents deck provides surprises at every play of a card. The synergies between different cards can cause dramatic power shifts. The luck of the shuffle can lead to angst or exhilaration. Its 'take that' play style can lead to good natured social interaction.

Possibility Space Landscape
Challenge (Depth)
Variety (Width)
Atmosphere (Height)

Gaming Skills Required
Analysis
Tactics
Strategy
Diplomacy
Bluffing
Player Reading
Luck
Knowledge (of card library)
Dexterity
Gamesmanship

Misc.
Theme Integration
Rules Complexity
Bookkeeping
Downtime
Scalability

Presentation
Components
Artwork
Rules


Diplomacy

Diplomacy is the ultimate game for testing your skills in manipulating and reading other players. It is not a very Challenging game, and its Variety is limited by its fixed starting position and a lack of any random elements; however, it has the highest Atmosphere of any game I have played. The skill of gamesmanship is an absolute requirement for this game. In order to derive fun from Diplomacy, you must embrace and personify the concepts of betrayal, lying, and manipulation, but you must recognize the boundaries between the possibility space of the game and reality.

Possibility Space Landscape
Challenge (Depth)
Variety (Width)
Atmosphere (Height)

Gaming Skills Required
Analysis
Tactics
Strategy
Diplomacy
Bluffing
Player Reading
Luck
Knowledge
Dexterity
Gamesmanship

Misc.
Theme Integration
Rules Complexity
Bookkeeping
Downtime
Scalability

Presentation
Components
Artwork
Rules


Twilight Imperium (Third Edition)

Twilight Imperium III, with its numerous races, technologies, and victory objectives, provides for a large Variety of paths through possibility space. Its rich theme, player interactions, and dice based combat system provide for a lot of dramatic Atmosphere. It provides just the right amount of Challenge for a 4-8 hour game.

Possibility Space Landscape
Challenge (Depth)
Variety (Width)
Atmosphere (Height)

Gaming Skills Required
Analysis
Tactics
Strategy
Diplomacy
Bluffing
Player Reading
Luck
Knowledge
Dexterity
Gamesmanship

Misc.
Theme Integration
Rules Complexity
Bookkeeping
Downtime
Scalability

Presentation
Components
Artwork
Rules


Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a very tactical game that requires good player reading skills and decent analysis skills. I derive a lot of fun from the prediction of and anticipation of the other player's path selections through the possibility space. The relative lack of Variety in this case is actually an asset, in that it increases player predictability.

Possibility Space Landscape
Challenge (Depth)
Variety (Width)
Atmosphere (Height)

Gaming Skills Required
Analysis
Tactics
Strategy
Diplomacy
Bluffing
Player Reading
Luck
Knowledge
Dexterity
Gamesmanship

Misc.
Theme Integration
Rules Complexity
Bookkeeping
Downtime
Scalability

Presentation
Components
Artwork
Rules


Battle Line

There is always time to play one more game of Battle Line! The bluffing and press your luck elements give this game a lot of Atmosphere. There is constant tension over completing formations. There is some Challenge in determining the optimal card play each turn, but not enough to make your brain hurt.

Possibility Space Landscape
Challenge (Depth)
Variety (Width)
Atmosphere (Height)

Gaming Skills Required
Analysis
Tactics
Strategy
Diplomacy
Bluffing
Player Reading
Luck
Knowledge
Dexterity
Gamesmanship

Misc.
Theme Integration
Rules Complexity
Bookkeeping
Downtime
Scalability

Presentation
Components
Artwork
Rules

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Daniel Brown
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Cumming
Georgia
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But don't be fooled by the radio, the TV, or the magazines. They'll show you photographs of how your life should be but they're just someone else's fantasies.
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Ok, give the prize to Joe McKinley. Wow, I hope that post gets noticed by BGG community at large.
 
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Jonas
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#1 Power Grid- This is a game that I feel takes many diffrent mechanics and combines them into a great game. The way the Market of supply and demand work in this game is fantastic, a great economic game.

#2 The Princes of Florence- This is a game that for a long time was played only on BSW, and it hit my top 10. Then I had a chance to play it Face to Face and it immediately shot up my list. There are several diffrent strategies to winning, and just when you think you have an unbeatable combination it is trumped by a better one.

#3 1960 The Making of the President- The new boy on the block. This is the best 2 player game I've ever played. It is possibly flawless in every respect. With so many diffrent events and methods of play it is suprisingly very balanced. The only true luck based element (Endorsements) in the game is not really a problem since it has the least impact on the game. Plus it's possibly the only heavy or atleast heavier game that my wife really enjoys.

#4 Age of Empires 3: Age of Discovery- This is a game where I feel each step I take to victory is a small move to an explosive ending. You have to adjust your tactics to the buildings you acquire to make the most of your strategic plans.

#5 China- An area control game where it's all about balance. Although it seems that luck of the draw should play a part in you winning or losing the game, it rarely ever does.
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Garry Rice
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Perkasie
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Don't know that I can rank them, but these are my top five:

(1) Roborally - Love the chaotic nature of this game and figuring out a way to make the cards you have work for you (or at least to the detriment of everyone else!). I enjoy wrapping my mind around the board and the cards to hopefully plan my route and trying to figure out where someone may give me a bump.

(2) Factory Fun - I enjoy figuring out how to fit everything on the board and trying to optimize my colors and numbers (and if I grab a piece that someone else really wants, all the better).

(3) Ubongo - Enjoy trying to solve the puzzles in the short time allowed. Still not sure about the scoring mechanism, but I very much enjoy trying to fit all my pieces in the puzzle.

(4) Tongiaki - One of my favorite games when it comes to playing cutthroat - so many opportunities to scuttle another player's plans.

(5) Carolus Magnus - Not a game I've been very successful at, but I enjoy trying to balance building up majorities in the different colors versus using the cubes on the territories to allow me to take a territory over. One of the few abstract style games that I've found I enjoy.
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Doug Garrett
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Mountain View
California
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This week's podcast - Circus Flohcati, Pi Mal Pflaumen, and Pack O Games Set 2
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DANG!

That's an AMAZING post Joe, and earns you an EXTRA entry into the contest. NO, I'm not awarding the game based on length of submission, but if you pull a Joe or a Dave (first page of the thread) then you've gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Quality posts will earn you an additional submission. I get to determine who gets the A+, extra credit bonus entry!

Doug (in Philly right now with 12 of my students at a journalism conference!)
 
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Tim Huesken
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Victoria
BC
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Looking for a copy of Key Town! Got a copy for trade?
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In order to be fair, a TOP FIVE game list cannot be compiled without first considering that opinions accounting for taste are more than often influenced by what is relevant in my life. I can only base this list on the games I know. A game I loved last month might not hold the same thrill next year. So anything I say in regards to this list now could be entirely different after I play Galaxy Trucker! With that disclaimer out of the way, I am excited to ponder on this Top 5 concept. Top 5 games I play most? Top five favorites of all time? Top 5 easiest to teach to my non-gamer friends? Top 5 Games I would take with me to a desert island (assuming I wasn't going to be all by myself)? What are my absolute Top 5 games?

Currently I have 130 games. (131 if I am lucky enough to obtain GALAXY TRUCKER!!! Muuuuwaaahaahhaahahahaha!)

If (and only if), somehow a cruel circumstance made it official that I could only keep 5 games in my collection, and give up all the rest; I would start from my least favorite and work my way up to the cream of the crop. This decision could be painful to ponder. But for the sake of possibly obtaining my own copy (I'd be happy to pay the shipping by the way) of Galaxy Trucker, I will stand up to the challenge and make this list.

Here we go... TOP FIVE ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL GAMES (subtitle: if these are not in your collection by now, I strongly recommend them):



NUMBER FIVE: SETTLERS OF CATAN
Some may groan to see this game on my "essential" list. I know many hardcore gamers who are tired of Settlers, and reluctant to play due to the dice rolling economics. Or, maybe they simply played it to death. But without joking I believe this is an important game. Settlers of Catan is the one game that really hooked me. After playing it for the first time, I immediately wanted to play it again, and again, and again. My friends and I would drop plans just to gather around this game for an evening 3 or 4 nights a week. I loved the variations we invented when building the board - and would make a different island every time. I loved the struggle for resources, trading and bargaining, road building, competing for limited board space. Unlucky rolls could hold you back, but lucky rolls could bring it all together for a victory. I think it's a game well worth its hype and I love it to this very day. I still find this is the game that will hook new comers to the game table as well as a great game to build a new gaming community around. Once your guests love Settlers, the door is wide open for any other games you want to introduce them to. No longer will they try to convince you to have a Risk or Monopoloy night. Well... hopefully not.

NUMBER FOUR: TIKAL
I owned this game for many months before ever playing it. It was part of a buying spree and somehow ended up at the bottom of my "need to play" pile. When we finally got around to cracking it open and learning it, wow... This game became an instant favorite. I bought it because I loved the cover and the backside of the box looked promising with the hex tiles and wooden bits. As well, I have a well established trust with Rio Grande and rarely hesitate to buy their games. If you're new to Tikal I highly recommend playing it with the auction variant. Yes, it does make for a slightly longer game, but it allows the players much more control over their position on the board. At it's heart it's an area control game, but it's also about collecting treasure and utilizing every possible move during your turn. This game is vicious. If you're not careful, all your hard work can be stolen out from under you as your opponent claims the temple you worked so hard to build. Scoring rounds can become opportunities to shift the territories in whole new directions, and stealing treasures can add up to a decent amount of bonus points. The auction forces you to spend your points - so you have to weigh your scoring position against the value of the tile in question. I find this game to be very competitive and always a close finish. It's easy to teach and beautiful to look at. Definitely an essential game in my collection.

NUMBER THREE: UNION PACIFIC
The first time I saw this game brought onto the table I cringed. My buddy was raving about how much fun it is and I was less than anxious. First off, I was apprehensive about the train/stock theme. Secondly, the board and the plastic bits looked boring, and third of all, after the rules were explained I couldn't foresee how this would be fun in any way. Low expectations can often be an advantage when beginning a new game, but with Union Pacific I was beyond delighted. Sure the graphics are dull and the train bits are cheap, but what a fun and exciting game! Every round the game builds and builds and builds. As each player acquires stock and develops their train lines, the level of competition becomes amusing and intense. The intensity thrives on the scoring mechanism. Nobody knows exactly when a scoring round is going to take place, so every player is forced to push their luck and get the most out of their rounds as the game moves forward. I've never had a game yet where a scoring round comes at a perfect time. There is always a groan and everybody announces their regrets the moment we begin adding up points. This is a fast paced game, and very enjoyable. I have yet to find any newcomers to this game who didn't find it as fun as I promised it to be.

NUMBER TWO: ARKHAM HORROR (including all the expansions I've added)
Theme. This game is chocked full of theme. Certainly a tedious game full of reading cards, moving small bits, keeping track of monsters and rolling dice. This game is often 2 to 3 hours long, and usually ends with us defeated. Planning ahead isn't as important in Arkham Horror. You really just need to go with the flow and struggle against the odds as they unfold. I love this game because it is always about the story. Our group really enjoys taking on the identity of their characters and we all take the time to really imagine what is going on in the turn rounds describing the details with enthusiasm. We plot together, relish the events and truly feel the chill of the ghoulish beasts we encounter. Sometimes luck turns sour and you struggle to the very end only to fail as the world ends. However, once in awhile, everything works in your favour and you accomplish huge tasks against all the odds becoming a hero, and saving the day! Arkham Horror is a great adventure. On the right evening, with the right group of people, it is an essential game to have in my collection.


NUMBER ONE: SHOGUN
No game collection is complete without at least one war game. Well, maybe that isn't true. But I personally weighed my final choice based on that claim as I struggled with the choice between Shogun or Arkadia. I love both games for different reasons. Ultimately I chose Shogun because I believe it has more longevity. Shogun isn't a typical war game. It is about area control and you do need to have a territory conquering strategy. Your armies move in and the last army standing is the victor. Shogun is also a planning game. You need to manage your own territories and be sure to balance your depletion of resources and be a fair ruler or else you face revolt from your farmers. Scoring strategies come from dominance as well as your foresight to build temples, theatres and palaces. The cube tower is an enjoyable (and more than fair) way to carry out the battle situations, and the overall aesthetics of this game is outstanding.
I love this game the more I play it. Downtime can be a problem with new players, but once people get the hang of it, this game is very competitive and deep with theme and strategy. I imagine I will still be holding this game in high regards over the years to come. My essential games list may change over time, but I would be surprised to see this game removed from the list anytime soon.

So yeah, love it or hate it, that is my top 5 list. I should also mention that I excluded card games from my choices and strictly chose boardgames. A basic deck of playing cards, Werewolf and Magic: The Gathering deserve recognition.

Thanks and good luck to everyone in the contest. This was a lot of fun to ponder over.
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Matt Sears
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Adrian
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Wow, an English teacher asking for more stuff to read and grade. As a fellow English/language arts/communications arts teacher, all I can say is, Dude.

Anyway, my five (without having read any of the other entries so as to not influence my thinking, sorry for any repetition that may happen as a result.

1. Settlers. I don't know who heard Mark Johnson's recent podcast about the last 10 (or so) years of gaming, but my gaming journey has been very similar to his. Settler's was the first Euro I ever played. This was the Mayfair edition back in 96/97. I think I ordered it from Boulder Games. My wife and I played a lot of two player games of that baby. And it continues to see action to this day (played it yesterday). In the first couple years I downloaded a ton of variants (I know there's a book now), but never played them. A lot has been said about this game, but there's my 2-cents.

2. Catan the Card Game. This is really a place holder for all the games that my daughter loves. (My son's not a gamer yet (may never be).) This is her current favorite. She tends to fall for one and want to play that game and that game alone, until the next one comes around. Past favorites include Hunters and Gatherers, Alhambra, and Nexus Ops. Oh, did I mention she's 7; yes, I'm blessed.

3. Lost Cities. This one covers all the games that my wife will play with me. Presently she's a fan of 10 Days in Africa, 25 Words or Less, and Barbarossa. Past favorites that haven't been out for a long time: Iron Dragon, Illuminati, Daytona 500, and Arabana-Ikibiti. She's not a gamer, but she's very patient with me and is willing to play most of the time.

4. Memoir 44. I want to be a wargamer. I have owned a couple TSR mini war games since I was in high school. But I've never played them (Revolt on Antares and Remember the Alamo). I own A House Divided and another ACW game that I've never played. I love Memoir 44, Battlelore and Nexus Ops. I'm ready to make the move. I think. No, I really am.

5. Santiago. I love this game. It's just fun. So much fun. So is Ca$h 'n Gun$, and Coloretto, and Liar's Dice, and Junta, and Bohnanza. You can't play these games without talking and laughing with each other, and getting to know each other better. That's what I love about games.
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Arden Nelson Jr.
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Ohio
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My Top 5 Games

What makes these 5 my top games? I will be answering based on what my top 5 are this moment not necessarily of all time.

1. BattleLore - This is the game that I would have loved to have played when I was a teenager. I played both wargames and D&D at the time. I was often the DM of the group. I love all of the built in scenarios that come with the game as well as the ability to create new scenarios or try ones that other players have created. Interestingly, I actually haven't actually played a lore adventure with a war council yet. I've used the goblins but that's it so far. Even though I love fantasy I really enjoy the historical aspects. Additionally, I like that the game encourages "sensible play" in that you generally want to move your infantry up together and only bring out your calvary to finish off weakened troops.

2. Ra - Years ago I never would have pictured myself playing and liking an auction game. I love that a particular auction will be valued differently by different players. I love the fact that you are also getting suns as part of winning the auction which form the "currency" that you use for bidding in the next round. Thus, the sun I use to win a particular auction in this round (does anyone really call it an "Epoch"?) could be won by one of the other players and used against me later.

3. Shadows Over Camelot - This brings back memories of the classic Scotland yard. I love that the traitor is kept secret and that it is up to the loyal knights to figure out who it is in addition to everything else they are doing. Sometimes it is actually helpful to not reveal the traitor. Sometimes the game feels like the group is attempting to keep many plates spinning on top of rods at the same time in such a way that none fall. I haven't played it in quite a while but it is one I want to get back to the table soon.

4. Wits & Wagers - I used to be a fan of the "Trivial Pursuit" type of games a number of years ago but I haven't really felt compelled to play any of them lately. This game simply works and is a great deal of fun. I also like the fact that in adult groups it can serve as something that starts discussions with the group both during the actual game and also after the game have been completed. When I saw this game in my local Target I literally got on my cell phone and called the mother of one of the teenagers in my game group to let her know. She had asked to borrow my copy of the game for Thanksgiving. I was willing though I have to admit that I was hoping my family might try it out this year. Trivia knowledge isn't necessary but it can help.

5. Mag Blast (3rd edition) This is definitely a hot game for me right now as well as many in my group. I've blogged about how much of a hit it has been. When we play the game we're often getting a little loud, laughing a lot, and find our group aquiring onlookers. People are intersted in what is causing all of the commotion as well as the fun cartoony look on all of the cards. There certainly is a fair amount of luck in the game. But ultimately, I do believe that strategic play will be rewarded.
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Jose Martos
United Kingdom
Basildon
Essex
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Madrid, November 1988

“This is exciting! I am in my way to buy my first proper board game.
What a year! Last one before University, fun and tough at the same time.
Gosh, my life has change a lot since I met my new friend Paco.
I always like boardgames since I was a kid: Monopoly, Risk, Stratego, Clue…etc but I was bored of them already. But he has introduced me to something that I did not know before: Avalon Hill, wargames and role-play games. Unbelievable, you can be a warrior, fire jet pilot, wizard…etc. The fun never stops and changes from day to day, game to game. All this is like discovering another planet and I think I would play these games forever

Uf…Anyway, I am here.

I walk inside the shop. This is paradise! I froze in front of the shelves full of games. And my eye caught a title: Civilization, Avalon Hill. I grab the box and ask the shop attendant: what it is about? Well, you know! You are in charge of growing an ancient civilization, improving their cultural and technology knowledge but at the same time you are competing for the land and resources with other player.

Wow, this is great. I want it! The only problem is too long, he says. It does not matter, I have as much free time as dreams”

I love Civilization because all the mechanisms that are interlock in a tremendously elegant way. All the processes from starting with just two pieces to a full-grown civilization are great. I agree, it is too long but this was my first own game and always remind me of having 16.

2. Dungeons and Dragons.
I know, it is a bit cheeky to include a role-play game. But this is my first one at the same time that I discover designer boardgames and open to me a completely different way of playing games.
The character building exercise and the nearly free form of play appealed immediately to me.
I do not play role-play games anymore but this always will remind me of a lot of laughing, no worries and friendship.

Leeds, UK, November 1998
“I am been in England for six months already and I can stop thinking everyday: what I am doing here? Unfortunately, I love my job and UK is the best opportunity to do it. Never mind!!
The only real advantage is that it is much easier to find board games. In the last few years I am been a bit away from the hobby. It is very difficult to find good games in Spain and I am still playing the Avalon hill stuff. I nearly kiss the feet of my friends when they gave at my farewell party as a present. The problem is find people to play because my wife is not into the long Avalon hill games.

Suddenly by chance, I find something that I thought it was not possible: a game with lots of decisions, nice components, a boardgame that is different from play to play and that could be finish in 2 hours. WHAT?”

3. Settlers of Catan. Mayfair. The first Eurogame that I bought. I always been fascinated by the clever ideas that are in the game. But mainly by how easy and accessible is to people that never played designer boargames. I introduced it to my best friend and is her favourite game of all time

The construction of the board and the commerce between players are very good. With the years it has go down a few notches for me: sometimes is very frustrating and luck driven but I am still happy to play it.
Always will remind me of the delightful face of my best friend playing it.

4. Carcassonne. The favourite game of my wife…..enough said!!!.
Two players is superb with a continuous “tour de force” between players.

Manchester, UK. Summer 2002
“It is a funny feeling being without a job. The company I was working for went into administration and we all lost our jobs. It is really dull to be at home, looking for jobs and the only thing that keeps my sanity is as always boardgames.

I read on internet about a new game is coming out: Puerto Rico. The reviews are quite good and the theme looks quite interesting. I think I am going to order it!!”

Puerto Rico is my favourite game of all time. First time that I found a game where all the players have their own board. All the mechanisms are so elegant and they are interlock in such clever way. The role mechanism is genius.
Basically, great fun!!
It always will remind me of how to have fun in difficult times.
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Robert Richardson
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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Top five games

#1 - Cosmic Encounter
Cosmic is the only game I will do almost anything to win, but has enough randomness that even when I lose I still enjoy the ride. The heart of the game is figuring out how different combinations of powers, flares, edicts and cards can be used in synergistic ways to create powerful effects. Just a great game that enough flexibility for almost all tastes. Let’s hope the FF’s reprint is as close to the Eon version as possible.

#2 - 1830
1830 combines a great train game with a combat stock round. You can either play it friendly or completely cut throat depending on the mix of players. While it is a bit long it is well worth the effort.

#3 - Blokus
Simple rules (both of them) which allow the game to be taught to a non-gamer in less than a minute, but with enough depth for a gamer.

#4 - Diplomacy
Best played via e-mail, which allows time for well crafted responses. The skills learned playing diplomacy carry over well to other games as well as both your professional and personal life.

#5 - Puerto Rico
My favorite Euro. Plays in significantly less time than say 1830, but provides a very satisfying strategy and planning gaming experience.
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Jeff Sharp
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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I just turned 40 last week and as I reflect back on my gaming career, I'll list my top 5 games by naming my favorite game as best I can recall by decade of my life.

Stratego, Age 0 to 9: I recall in 4th or 5th grade being the class champion as determined during indoor recess when it was too cold to play outside. A close second would be one of the card games (hearts, spades, etc.) with my grandmother. Don't think I quite appreciated that I was a gamer at this point in my life.

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Age 10 to 19: The game of choice with my geeky friends from about 7th grade until 10th grade. In hindsight, it seems like we spent a lot more time thinking about playing the game, though, than actually playing. Regardless, I think I began to manifest my gaming inclinations. Interestingly, other games that were important to me at this time were Pinochle with my grandmother's 70 year old friends and Trivial Pursuit friends and family as I showed off all those facts I learned in High School but have rarely had need of since.

Pictionary, Age 20 to 29: or maybe Hearts. The dark years. Very little gaming and almost always party games if I did game. Lost touch with the gaming geek as college, social life, and early career took center stage.

Magic: The Gathering, Age 30 to 39: Got that academic job and despite being on the tenure track, felt a calling to rediscover my gaming youth and perhaps even my family heritage as passed on to me by my grandmother. Six or seven years later with a rating just over 1800 and after occasionally wandering through the various non-CCG halls of Origins I discover the new and improved world of boardgaming. The Days of Wonder folks were so friendly when I asked about a train game for my father-in-law and it's been a great three year odyssey of discovery since then.

Power Grid, Age 40 to...: As I work my way deeper into this hobby, there's something of a flavor of the month thing going on. I try out a well reviewed game with a different central mechanic and become enamored with each new twist. Currently I am quite keen on Power Grid as I like the resource management aspect plus the auctions. I may tire of it soon, though. Perhaps 1960: The Making of the President will rise to the top with a few more plays. I wonder, though, if there will be a defining game of my 40s as AD&D was in my teens and Magic was in my 30s. Perhaps it'll emerge as I play games with my kids as they grow older and even become teenagers before I turn 50. But will surely have fun along the way.

Jeff

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James Engelhardt
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Champaign
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OK. So this is my first post here. I hope I've done it right.

Like most of us here on the Geek, I played a lot of board games as a kid. Uncle Wiggily. Stratego. Chess. Backgammon. D&D. And then girls happened. And college. Games suffered by comparison. Sure, we had our rounds of drinking games and the occasional D&D variant (something like a live-action Red Dragon Inn), but I thought I’d left board games behind.

I was wrong.

My wife and I befriended a couple who’d just returned from a few years living in Prague. They brought back a passion for games that I’d never encountered before, and I became slowly drawn into their circle of other returning Prague-sters and the games they loved. The first game I learned continues to leap from the table of its own accord and beat me about the head and neck.

Go. You can start anywhere on the board. You can place a stone anywhere on the board. You are free to roam about the intersections. I love this game because it illustrates so neatly the sensitivity of initial conditions and how complex behaviors can build up from very simple rules. You can look over the final state of the board and see exactly where you started to get your head handed to you. The game is quintessentially abstract, but I find almost nothing else absorbs my attention so completely during play.

But I don’t have a lot of chances to play Go. It’s a long game, and something of an acquired taste. Or, of course, it grabs you by the frontal lobes to begin with. Nevertheless, I didn’t do a lot of other gaming for a while, outside of the odd game of RummiKub or some trivia game or other, until I fell in with a bunch of gaming fiends. Mostly, they liked video games and RPGs. Then, at one gathering, one of the guys pulled out a beautiful, square box.

Ticket to Ride is light, yes. I can agree with you there. But I like it. For one thing, my wife will play it. For another, I like the social aspects of the game. I know you can strategize the hell out of figuring out when to pick up more tickets, moving to block people from obvious goals, and hiding your own intentions. But I like seeing the game develop. I like that the random elements of card drafting means that you can’t hate your friends too much; you can always blame the cards. I know I do. Games, for me, are aesthetic experiences as well as puzzles, and I like the look of the board and bits for this game. The game has become important because it has allowed me to bring other people into our gaming group. TtR appeals to a lot of people. Plus, that first night, it was either Ticket to Ride or Munchkin.

Weeks later, Halloween knocked on the door. One of the usual crowd had gone out and picked up Arkham Horror. I had enjoyed the wacky goodness of H.P. Lovecraft (except for the racist bits) as a teen and young adult, and I was entirely delighted by the look and feel of the game. Since the group did a lot of role playing, we selected Investigators we wanted to perform. My wife, though not totally thrilled by the horror setting, was willing to play because of the cooperative nature of the game. And this marked the first time I was aware of the entire concept of game mechanics. I was also intrigued because the last cooperative game—though I should use quotes for this—I had played was the Ungame. Which is nothing, at all, like Arkham. What else is there to love? The dice. The anxiety, even though you’re all playing together. I love the social, metagaming aspects, as each player suggests strategies for defeating these weird, unspeakable monsters. After the game’s over, I like sitting around—as I imagine actual Investigators would—and enjoy a last glass of wine and relive the better, or worse, moments. That is, I like the narrative that gets built.

So after learning the rules to a couple of games more interesting than, say, gin, I was happy to find a game I’d never heard of, Carcassonne, on the shelf at a local coffee shop. I decided I’d read the rules, see if it looked interesting, maybe bring it back to the group like a trophy. I let my work slide while I worked out what to do with a board that gets assembled while you play. How soon do you gamble on a farmer? Should you try building gargantuan castles? I like the modest form of push-your-luck that the game has. I like that a narrative, or the ghost of a narrative, develops around the meeples, their towns and roads and farms. I like the kibitzing not only allowed but encouraged by the rules. The decisions aren’t collaborative, ideally, but the attempt to sway someone else’s decision is always fun. And as with other games I’ve mentioned, the board, once assembled, feels right, as if you’ve followed some kind of geographical logic, though there isn’t any geography at all. It looks especially good under candlelight, which reminds me to mention that this is another game my wife will ask to play.

Getting a significant other to play is one thing. It’s quite another to get your parents to sit down to a game they’ve never seen before. At least, it is for me. When my parents came to visit this past summer, my dad pulled King Me out of the stack. This is a sly game. It’s straightforward. Everyone controls all the pieces as they move from the bottom ranks of the castles hierarchy. You have one several pieces for each player (though not, of course, assigned) plus one extra. A small card tells you which names you want to control, and you move the pieces up five bands that correspond to ever higher stations. When someone reaches the throne, everyone votes, and that piece either becomes king—score your points—or not. This game, for us, took place in almost total silence, which is weird because we’re a garrulous family. You move a piece—is it a feint? are you trying to wreck someone else? or are there not enough “no” cards on the table to thwart you? And then the next person moves. . . We played three games back to back to back. Over coffee the next morning, my dad said, “You know, I’ve been thinking about other strategies for that game.” So we played again that night. And the next. The game is simple, almost easy. It’s everyone else that makes it hard.

So those are my current top five games, in no particular order. But I don’t think I’ll play Uncle Wiggily again. Not even with the nieces and nephews. There’s too much good stuff out there.
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Clay Blankenship
United States
Owens Cross Roads
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My all-time top 5 games, in no particular order

1. Magic. I really enjoy the almost-infinite variety in this game. Deckbuilding and playing both presented interesting challenges. You can build an aggressive deck that has vulnerabilities, or a less-focused deck that is prepared for everything. When you play, you have to decide whether to do an all-out attack, hold something in reserve, or play very defensively. Every deck plays differently, some to the point that it's like a different game.

Caveat: This is with reservations because it has to be played in the right circumstances to really be great (between two experienced players, with well-defined constraints on the card pool). This, combined with the cost of keeping up-to-date means I haven't played this in years. However, the time that I was playing was some of the greatest gaming of my life.

2. Bridge. I am fascinated by the bidding systems and trying to exchange information to get to the best contract while not getting too high, and possibly competing with the opponents while doing so. While the rules of play are simple, the gameplay is very deep. This is a game you can play for years and still learn new skills.

3. Settlers of Catan. This is still the perfect game for introducing people to the world of modern board games. It's constructive, very replayable, keeps players involved, has plenty of interaction (cooperative and competitive), contains a mixture of skill and luck, and has tension and a nice flow from beginning to end. I don't necessarily want to play this all the time anymore, but I have gotten plenty of enjoyment out of it and continue to enjoy it. By the way, I am happy with just the base game. Cities and Knights adds lots of "stuff" and it can be interesting in its own right, but it can drag. The original is very elegant and streamlined.

4. Princes of Florence. So much to do, but only 21 actions to do it in. There is only a little interaction, mostly in the auction, but that auction constrains the rest of your game plan. You have to reassess and perhaps totally change your plans based on what happens in the auction.

5. Power Grid. This game has three interesting systems, perfectly meshed together: the auctions for power plants that get progressively more efficient, the resource market with real supply and demand, and the jockeying for position on the board.

Honorable Mention: Whatever I haven't played yet. I would usually prefer to play a new game even over a favorite.
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Eric Holdridge
United States
Appleton
Wisconsin
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Thanks Doug & Shelly for the contest and the great podcast! I really should give all you podcasters feedback more often, but all your hard work is appreciated by those of us with a commute.

I always have a hard time ranking games as a "favorite of all time" so I'm glad you allowed for the options of "favorites right now". I like to think I like all games, but I tend to think of games in categories. Certain games or categories are played at certain times and in certain moods. In those specific circumstances, I find myself suggesting certain games in certain categories over and over, so I have to admit they are my current favorites.

1 -- Current Favorite Party Game -- Time's Up -- This one is easy. Time's Up and it's two expansion packs have created more hours of fun for such a cheap price that it is amazing. I think everybody who has tried it and isn't allergic to the concept of charades knows how fun it is. You can say that you definitely "need the right group" but I think that is true of all party games, and Time's Up is more versatile than most. You do not have to play with an exactly equal number of people on teams. You can choose the teams with an eye towards balancing them. You can seed the deck depending on the difficulty you are looking for. You can just pull out a small pack of cards and run through them for a quick game. Or for a marathon, you can play the extended version we sometimes like to try which is to play the yellow side and then the blue side of the same cards and total the scores together. When you know you have to use both sides, it adds a little more strategy to choosing which cards to discard. And with people who consider themselves "expert", you can just mix together all the cards from the base set and both expansions and not allow for any discards at all. For a game with so much laughter, you would be inclined to think there is not much game there, but this game rewards knowledge and skill while still providing tons of laughs.

2 -- Current Favorite Abstract Game -- Ingenious -- Also no real contest. Ingenious by Knizia scales wonderfully and has options for team play and solo play. This is one of those rare games that is totally abstract, but that I have had great success with in introducing to people who are not normally very patient or tolerant of abstract games.

3 -- Current Favorite Two-Player Game -- Blue Moon -- This is a game that my wife and I can sit and play for hours, match after match. The outcome is never certain. The caveat with this game is that I am rating it as a favorite having all the available decks. However, if we hadn't liked the base game, we never would have went past that. All of the add-on decks are great, and every time we get a new one, it really rejuvenates our play. We switch between the peoples and switch in the emissaries as we go. We both have developed favorite peoples, but there aren't any decks that I absolutely hate playing. However, there are decks that each of us really struggle to do well with. Strangely they are different decks that give us each trouble. We have already gotten more than our money's worth out of this game (even accounting for all the extra decks) and we haven't even started full-on deck building yet. This game is one that will continue to be played for years.

4 -- Current Favorite "Epic" Game -- Descent -- We have several of what we call "epic" games. These are games that we *really* like to play, but rarely have the time to sit down and play a whole game in one sitting. Others in this category would include World of Warcraft: the Boardgame & TI3 & War of the Ring & Duel of Ages to name a few. Luckily we have a place to leave such games set up, so we can set them up and play them when we can. We play a lot of Descent two-player and each night during the week we try to get in a few rounds. Pleas of "just one more round" abound, which make us sound like the kid, but more often than not we cave and stay up a few rounds too many & regret it the next day. Descent is the favorite by far. This one also has seeming infinite replayability as well. And this doesn't just mean the expansions already released/planned by Fantasy Flight (although we do have and enjoy the 1st released expansion and are hoping to get the 2nd one for X-mas). The support for this game is excellent. From the scenario editor and the downloadable scenarios to the fan-made characters. We have downloaded tons of new characters and fan-made scenarios and have played the heck out of them.

5 -- Current Favorite "Gamer's" Game -- Puerto Rico -- A classic that we were slow to discover, building up to the main game *after* playing San Juan. There's really very little to say about this game that hasn't already been said by people who have played this game a lot more than I have, but suffice to say that this is the one "gamer's game" that I really never refuse to play. Other games I may or may not be in the mood for, but so far this one has not worn out it's welcome and it does not appear likely to happen soon. And I haven't even tried the expansion buildings! (Can you tell I like expansions?)

6 -- Honorable mention for -- Current Favorite On-line Game -- Hacienda -- This is a great game face-to-face and I still play it face-to-face pretty often, but the on-line implementation (available at spielbyweb & yucata) makes this game truly shine. The player made maps (some crazy, some specifically for fewer players, some truly mean!) make this a great game that can be so different from play to play and from map to map as to be almost unrecognizable.

Enough blathering from me. No matter who wins, thanks Doug for the contest and everyone for the great discussion!
 
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Mike Helba
United States
Huntsville
Alabama
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1. Cosmic Encounter - One of my first games outside the wargame and mass market worlds back in the early-'80's. This game never gets old. The concept of different player powers has been copied many times, but never as well as in the original.

2. War of the Ring - The newer Nexus Games version. This game takes an asymmetric scenarios that has defied designing several times and turns it into a perfectly balanced and enjoyable game. As a self-confessed Tolkien freak, I think this game captures the theme of the books perfectly.

3. Power Grid - I bought this game sight-unseen, but that was definitely a good gamble. It's always called for at my gaming group. It's both fun and challenging.

4. Dune - Gotta love those Eon guys. Maybe I spoke to soon when I said that War of the Ring captures the theme of its source material perfectly. Dune does it even better. In fact, I still maintain that Dune is the best book-to-game adaptation ever. That's why I'm disappointed in the upcoming FFG Wheels Within Wheels concept. They may have the mechanics of Dune, but dialing the number of units you sacrifice or moving three spaces if you control a certain stronghold isn't what makes Dune Dune. Being the Fremen and not needing to use the Guild's services, having Fedaykin at your disposal, taking cover from the storm, and riding a sandworm. That's what makes Dune Dune. Are those things going to be in the FFG game?

5. Arkham Horror - I could put a lot of other games in this slot, but for sheer fun I have to go with Arkham Horror. It's an overused cliche, at least in our gaming group, but Arkham Horror positively drips theme. There's nothing more satisfying than sending an interdimensional beasty back to where it came from with a well-placed shotgun blast.
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Greg Wilzbach
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Valencia
California
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Picking five games is REALLY tough. I am one to play many games with relatively few plays each. I have tried to select a wide variety of games. Here they are in no particular order:

Backgammon
I have played more Backgammon in the past years than any other game. In the 70’s there was a big Backgammon craze that was the beginning of my love for this game. It is a great blend of luck, tactics, and strategy...and you do NOT play this game without the doubling cube for scoring. This is often left out of abstract games lists by game geeks.

Twilight Struggle
Being a baby boomer this game really strikes a cord. I have a definite emotional bias toward this subject. The theme is so well integrated with the game that this truly is a winner in my mind. The historical events on the cards add so much flavor to the game creating all those agonizing (in a good way) decisions. One of these days I will actually win a game. 1960: The Making of a President may slide into this spot with more plays: same historical card driven mechanic, same period, same feelings.

Spekulation
A lost gem by Dirk Henn. This clever market trade game is one of those that never got published beyond his self published edition. Lots of interaction between players with a simultaneous card reveal mechanism and a dash of luck from the dice make this game so gosh darn fun. I had to make my own copy: I owe Dirk some money! Anybody know how to get in touch with him?

Lord of the Rings
I like cooperative games and I enjoy Lord of the Rings mythology: BINGO. This series in my opinion is the best of the cooperative games. The boards are nicely illustrated and the variants all add to the experience.


Power Grid
This is my favorite resource management game with a just enough bidding element. I love the look of the game an it scales well. Haven’t gotten around to playing many of the maps. That means more plays ahead!


Man, that was difficult. I keep having second thoughts on all this stuff. SO many games...
 
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I juggle cats.
United States
Indianapolis
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1. Ra
I absolutely, positively LOVE this game. My runaway #1...I'd give it an 11 if I could. Everything about it is perfect - weight, simplicity of mechanics, complexity of play, play time, replayability. I even like playing it with 2.

2. Notre Dame
Fantastic game on all counts. It gets a lot of odd looks when teaching it ("yeah, SURE it's a lot easier than it sounds"), but it's a real winner. Simple, elegant design. Sweet bits & boards. Tough decisions, but not overly lending itself to AP. It even passes the wife test!

3. The Pillars of the Earth
Very good game. Simple patterns, complex decisions. Board and turn structure are laid out very well (the board is it's own player aid!) and the bits are fantastic. My only complaint is it's a bit too long.

4. Elasund: The First City of Catan
Awesome game. Keeps some of the feel of the original (resource acquisition), but different enough to stand on it's own. Plays great with 2, but even better with more. Only thing keeping it from a higher ranking is slightly long playing time.

5. Time's Up!
Fun, fun, fun Party game! When I read the rules and looked the game over I thought, "This doesn't seem that great at all." But you HAVE to play it. By the end of the game, there are SO many "in jokes". Great fun all around.
 
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Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Top 5 of my collection of ~400:

1. Divine Right, from way back in 1979 by TSR. This game covers everything I want in an epic fantasy war game. Monsters, magic, diplomacy, random events, barbarians, sieges, flying creatures. There are enough optional rules to drown a horse, multiple levels of play, all in 20 game turns. Simply the best.

2. Advanced Civilization. King of the Civ games, still Tresham's masterwork. A true epic, rolling out over several hours of intense trade, negotiation, war and evolution. The stories that come from the game are legendary. No dice involved.

3. Dynasty League Baseball. Have played thousands of games. Everything that happens in the real game happens here: balks, wind, turf, pickoffs, 'wild plays', umpire strike zones. And the game plays in 20-30 minutes. No better sports sim on the market.

4. Republic of Rome. Tremendous cooperative/competitive game of negotiation and betrayal. Some of my best moments in gaming have come during the play of good old RoR.

5. American Megafauna. Never have I learned so much from a game. Eklund's masterwork, although Origins: How We Became Human may challenge it. The best evolution-style game out there, every game tells a remarkable story, and makes you pause to think how amazing it is we came out as we are. Small publisher, small audience, awesome game.

I have listed my top 100 (in need of some revision) here http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/19127
if anyone cares to look and tell me why I'm misguided.
 
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Peter Gousis
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Ellicott City
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I submitted mine through e-mail and was looking for it in my outbox so I could add it to the thread. Unfortunately I cleaned up my outbox. So Doug if you want you are more than welcome to add it to the posts here, if you can find it easily. If not I may try and find some time this weekend to re-write it, as close as I can and post it here, just to add to the discussion.

P.S. - Anyone else checking the Galaxy Trucker page every day to see if any new ones are up for trade or sale? Or, if there is a new post telling us that they are on a ship to the US?

P.S.S. - Yes I did send this through a spell checker, I don't want to get a bad grade.
 
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Cameron Iwan
United States
Douglas
Nebraska
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Doug,

I've chosen five of my favorite games, a mix of both current and all-time winners for me. I've chosen them for this contest explicitly because each of them has some interesting (to me, at least) bit of story behind them.

RA.
I love Ra. I loved Ra the first time I heard about it on the Geek, and I will play it any time, any place. I loved Ra the first time I played it, and came in dead last out of five. I loved Ra the second time I played it and came in second to last out of four. I loved Ra the third time I played it and came in dead last out of four. . .

I could keep going, but the bottom line is, I played Ra fourteen times before coming in anything better than third place! It quickly became a running joke in my group that my interest in the game would wane after so long. But upon my triumphant first victory on the fifteenth game, the group sighed a collective tongue-in-cheek sigh and took a moment of silence. To this day, Ra is possibly my favorite all time game.

REEF ENCOUNTER.
This was a game I had on my wish/want list for a very long time. Very Long Time. I could not find it locally, didn't want to buy it online, and was coming up empty at every trade offer. I started playing it on SpielByWeb.com and won my first game (a four player with better ranked strangers, nonetheless!) I kept playing online, winning 12 of my first 20 games. I played a few more games over the next year, and finally, three years and thirty-two online games later, I acquired a copy.

How many times have I played in real life? Maybe two or three.

MAGIC: THE GATHERING.
If it's on the Geek, it counts as a game! I have been playing Magic for over ten years now, sometimes as a serious tournament player, always as a casual player, and generally a very irregular player. I love the game and believe it will always be a part of me, even as I raise my children to learn the game. I only play a few times a year now, but I still keep up with each expansion release, still get giddy at shiny new cool cards, and still keep up on all the latest info on the game.

Magic is what brought me into the boardgame world, and I can't possibly imagine being without. . .


FILTHY RICH.
I randomly received Filthy Rich in a massive trade about a year ago through the Geek and really didn't know anything about it. Obviously I like Richard Garfield (see above), but had never even heard about this game before. Needless to say, my wife and I played it one time and she was hooked. We have played this game as 2-player so many times and I couldn't even count them. We've also played with others, but we seem to be the only two that really get it! Each time we play, it seems special; we often adjust the rules for fun, play it in awkward places (camping, in bed, while in transit, etc), and always remember who won which game.

As an aside, my wife despises Magic. Not so much despises, but has made it beyond clear that I am never EVER to try teaching the game to her, and "really need to stop talking about it, honey". Therefore, I had to hide the fact that Richard Garfield designed Filthy Rich for the first month of playing this game. Once I finally showed her, she couldn't believe her eyes. Nevertheless, I still have to stop talking about Magic. . .

THE HOBBIT.
This game makes the cut solely because of my five year old son. He likes Gulo Gulo, Kids of Catan, and all the Playwright games we have, but this is his "special treat" game. He really loves this game, and I really love playing it with him. The game is very adjustable for different ages, and you can take away and add complexities for whichever group you're playing with. I think it is a children's game that is very overlooked by most parents, and cannot recommend it strongly enough for those parents.

Well, there's five games I like. Thanks for the contest and enjoy!. . .

-Cameron Iwan
 
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Robert Ramirez
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San Antonio
Texas
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My CURRENT top 5..... with a twist

These are my current favorites from my last gaming session....which lasted 5 days! Yes, these are my top 5 of BGG.con 2007.


1. Agricola:
BGG con was a mirror image of what happened with this game at ESSEN 07. The 4-5 copies of this game were being played NONSTOP for the whole weekend. By Sunday you could feel the grimy film on the cards, that only geek hand gunk from lack-of-showering and cheetos provides. (Ok, I am exagerating a bit, but it truly was played CONSTANTLY throughout the convention....and for good reason).

The thing that drew me to this game was that it has everything I look for in a computer game (I'm also heavily into PC gaming): good-looking game, interesting multiplayer elements particularly in the "interactive" version of the game, and LOTS of replayability (there's 3 different ways to play the game each with its unique set of cards, some of which you might never see unless you play it a few times a week for a month). Add to that tried and true euro game mechanics that we all love (mainly drafting actions from a common pool of actions, resource management, etc) that go oh-so-painfully-well with the theme, and you have yourself an amazing eurogame. What's not to like? Oh...and the game can be played in under 2 hrs with experienced gamers, to boot.

2. Brass
Unfortunately we played half of this game with the wrong rules, and it still felt like such a great rail/economic game. I also had a BAD cold that day, so I couldn't really grasp what was going on. Still, I liked it quite a bit after watching another game being played, and am looking forward to getting it in the not so distant future.

3. Neuroshima Hex
Wow, what a neat little scifi-themed abstract strategy game. It's got great components (although I did see a copy with 'shifted' art on the counters), and a great theme, but it's essentially an abstract. There are only 4 possible armies to play with, but they are very unique, and units have all kinds of special powers and attacks that will keep the game fresh even after a good 20 plays. To top it all, the game plays in under 1 hr even with 4 players. Unfortunately, last time I checked, there was no news of this coming to the US (except through funagain, and other 'importers').

4. Starcraft:
We move now to the other end of the spectrum of scifi-themed games, where you'll find long and lavish games like Starcraft. All that you would expect from a typical large box FFG game is here: LOTS of great-looking plastic and carboard pieces, a few innovative mechanics, player interaction, special powers, tech trees, lots of battles, resource management, etc. It lacks diplomacy which is fine in my book. If you want diplomacy in a scifi game, they've already made that game (TI 3). Like other big box FFG, I don't know how much I'll be playing this per year, but I'm hoping lots.

5. Cuba (with Amyitis a close 6):
Yes, it does feel a bit like Pillars (more so than Caylus or Puerto Rico), but is that really a bad thing? Great components, 2 very interesting mechanics (Laws, and the way resouces and buildings are activated in the players' boards), and challenging gameplay all make for a very interesting and fun game. The theme also works really well with this one. Amyitis drops to 6 (eventhough it feels a lot 'fresher' than Cuba in terms of mechanics) only because the manual was a bit frustrating to muddle through.

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Mark Jackson
United States
Goodlettsville
Tennessee
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Am I a man or am I a muppet? If I'm a muppet then I'm a very manly muppet!
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My computer ate my homework.

Really.

I posted here yesterday, then called the Skype line & blathered on about what I'd posted... and now I can't find my post!

So, I'll attempt to recreate the work of genius that was yesterday's musings on the question, "What are my top five games that I will play gladly, whether or not anyone else likes them?"


First on the list was Catan - and I'm not one of those whiny "I only wanna play the base game" crowd, either. I like that the game has multiple expansions & ways to play - meaning that while the base trading/building system anchors the game, the new variants give it life & variety.

The second game I'd pick is Fast Food Franchise... Tom Lehmann's homage to Monopoly takes the roll'n'move outline of the Parker Brothers game and dips into gaming goodnes, adding some control & chances for tactical board play to the "map" of the U.S. that makes up the center of the board. Yes, it has player elimination, but once the first player goes, you're usually within 30 min. of the end of the game.

My third game is, in my ever-so-humble opinion, the best of the Command & Colors series, Memoir '44. Memoir '44 is the easiest to set up, has the best online support, and is probably the easiest of the four games to teach. (Not that I don't love me some C&C - I own all four games. Battlelore is brilliant but a pain to set up & the rules are tricky to teach new players; C&C Ancients is quite good as well, but I do so miss the minis; and Battle Cry was great when there weren't three other games in the system to compare it to... it's like my first girlfriend - I have fond memories of her but I'm glad we're not married to each other.)

Game number four is (once again!) not just a game, but a game system: Return of the Heroes. It combines RPG-lite character-building & fantasy exploration with "designer game"-ish mechanics... and those "two great tastes that taste great together" make for a much better gaming experience than the tired & dated Talisman system or the overly complicated Runebound system.

Finally, my last game is an oddball entry from the guy who designed Lifeboats (aka Rette sich wer kann): Entenrallye. This is a dice-driven racing game in which players race through 12 months of car rallies & vehicle inspections, attempting to gain points by "pimping their ride" (a Citroen) and showing it off. Even when the dice hate me (as regularly happens), I have a great experience every time this game hits the table.

Do I get an extra entry for using paragraph form & complete sentences?! cool
 
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Tim Myers
United States
Salem
Wisconsin
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This is a list of my Current Top 5 Games. These are the games that I would like to play whenever I get the chance. I like games that end at a certain point and most of these games have this. I also like games that either: 1) have little down time or 2) I have enough planning and plotting to do during the downtime that it keeps me busy.

5. A Game of Thrones with Clash of Kings expansion: Diplomacy, Warfare, Secret Orders and Theme are the things I about AGoT. The Clash of Kings expansion adds more with fortifications, siege engines and ports along with the ability to play with 6 players. The game ends on turn 10 or when somebody has the needed number of strongholds.

4. Antike: Empire expansion and development with a little warfare if you want to. I like expanding from the 3 cities and creating your empire. There are several ways that you can earn victory points to win the game and this is another thing I like about Antike. The game ends when a number of VPs determined by # of players is reached by one player. Very little downtime when playing with players not afflicted by AP.

3. Age of Empires III: Wow! There are so many different strategies that you can use to win and none of them is always guaranteed to work. This game has a lot of TOUGH choices and that is another thing that I like in a game. I do not recall any of the games that I have played being the same. Another game with little downtime as the players take turns placing their colonist.

2. Die Macher: One of my favorite games that I unfortunately get to play the least. It is a medium-heavy game and new players are at a disadvantage until they figure out how everything comes together. The people I have played with either really like it or they don't like it, there does not seem to be any middle ground. This is another game of tough choices and planning. It is great when you win an election and all of your plans pay off. It can also be disappointing to lose to a coalition after all of the hard work you did in a region ... but you just have to figure out what you need to do to win the next region. I guess I like the complexity, planning, the tough choices and the payoff when your plans work. Die Macher has more downtime at certain points then some of my other favorite games but there is so much to think about you do not notice.

1. Union Pacific: This is not a game that I win at a lot but I really enjoy it. Union Pacific also has tough choices, do I expand a railroad and take that stock that I want or do I lay down my stock (this is one of my downfalls, holding on to the stock too long). It is tense! In a couple different 3 player games with my wife and son, the controlling player for different railroads kept changing hands as a new player would lay down more stock. In one of those games there was a 5 pt difference between 1st and 3rd, which is not much. It was great.

 
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Nate Johnson
United States
Vernon Hills
Illinois
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1. Ticket to Ride - One of the best things about this game is that I can play it. Aside from monthly game days, a lot of my gaming ends up being online, and I can play a pickup game of TtR pretty much any time, night or day. In person I prefer 1910, but online Switzerland or Europe makes a nice change of pace. Now I just need to get my new computer to cooperate with the software, since the old Motherboard fried itself, sigh. (Anyone have tips on getting WINE to work in Ubuntu 64bit?)

2. Carcassonne: the Discovery (AKA the meeple game) - This also gets high marks because I can play it. But even better I can play it with my son(P), who is 4 1/2, and he can be competitive with just occasional advice. In fact, he may do a better job of managing his meeples. (I keep putting off picking them up, because they *might* be worth a lot more real soon now.) Note that this management is occasionally more strongly influenced by a desire to have some meeples to hide in the wooden toucan puzzle box my in-laws got us while visiting Puerto Rico. (The island, not the game.) P is always thrilled to play games with his daddy, and playing a game like this is fun for both of us, unlike Candyland or the Dr. Seuss ABC game. (The Geisel estate should sue for defamation on that licensing deal, but that rant belongs in some other contest's list, I think.) Just a few moths ago I was able to sit down with my Dad and my son and play a game and there are hints that my wife might be interested in playing, so that makes a nice game for the whole family.

3. Tsuro - This is a great game to have out because it is so gosh darn pretty with all of the path patterns and the phoenix board, but that isn't why it made my list. Nor is it because I got this dirt cheap on clearance at Barnes and Noble last year. This is a great game because it is another one in which my 4 year old can play and do well. It is a quick game so we can play it several times in an evening, and get a balance of wins and losses, which is important because we are working on the concept that you should try to win, but losing is ok, and happens some time. As a bonus, we get to make fun sound effects as we loop our stones along the path. We play open hand so I can make suggestions, but lately, P has been putting tiles down and commenting "that wouldn't be good" when the path leads to "death", then finding a better path, so I can tell he is understanding the different possible plays. He still approaches the game at a strictly tactical level, but eventually he will start looking ahead a turn. And, again, my wife is interested in this game also. And as a final bonus this is a great game to pull out at the end f a gaming day to wind down; you can play up to 8 at a time, and the game is so chaotic with 4 or more (with 2 it is much more strategic, since you play more of the tiles) that it quickly becomes a humorously vindictive game of figuring out who you can drag down with you when you kill yourself off. Any game that can amuse 30-50 year olds and 4 year olds has something going for it, right?

4. Cosmic Encounter (Mayfair) - I started playing with Mayfair, so that is the 'right' version for me. I have friends I have played with for years, though we have not played in a while and we have great fun playing this (typically with "take five, choose three" hidden powers each, Lucre, no Moons). The game provides so many options that you can replay it all the time and not get bored. The hidden power gives us more tension in the game since you can't be sure what powers the other players are holding until they become relevant, but you can also simplify the game and just play one revealed power each, so new players can be introduced to the game in easy steps.

5. Pitch - This a card game, not a board game, but it is the traditional game of my family. Until the article in Knucklebones, however, I didn't know of anyone that played the game to whom I wasn't related. This trick taking game is extremely flexible (It plays three (each for themselves), four (partnership), or five people(call for your partner where each hand has different partners), can be played with 5 points, 7 points or 10 points) and has scoring rules that make every trick matter (one point, "game", is determined by counting values for all cards 10-A of any suit in the tricks that were taken) and other regional variants. The hands are quick, with just 6 tricks each, so even a bad deal doesn't affect you too long.
My family has had this as their default card game since before I was around to play. Amazingly, my mother still hasn't learned to bid high enough. In compensation, my father has extremely optimistic bids. ("I knew my partner would have 2 points to help out." "Dad, you bid three!")

Fifteen years ago this would have had games like Diplomacy, Civilization, Kingmaker, and Eurorails. If I were fifteen years younger and alive today, I would probably have games like Power Grid and Puerto Rico, but those just don't hit the table enough.
 
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