Those of you who know me know me as a solo gamer. And, as a solo gamer, the peoples choice top 200 over on BGG is a high point of my year. And, to be clear, I have never voted for the top 200. I fully expect to vote next year.... But so far I never have.
For those of you who haven't seen it, you can find it here.
This was a remarkably rich year for that list. I was very interested in the list as a whole. And, I was blessed to see the large variety of games that made the list.
As far as me, personally, I have played only 15 of the games on the top 200. They are all very good, though my experince with them has varied.
I decided, though nobody asked me to....LOL to offer some commentary on what I have played on the list, and some of the games that I noticed/was intrigued by.
Firstly, starting with the games I have played on this years list. These are all games that I have played, solo only. There are a number of games on this list that I have played multiplayer, but have not played solo. I will not be commenting on those.
Starting with number 151, #Under Falling Skies. This is a game that I printed and played. It is a solid little dice allocation game. I enjoyed it, but wasn't blown away by it.
Coming in at 138 we have #1862: Railway Mania in the Eastern Counties. This is a new game to me, and a new game to the list. 1862 is a 18xx game recently published by GMT. And GMT included a solo mode in the box. 4 people voted for it as their number one solo game. I just recently got my hands on a copy. I have played two solo games with it so far. I have been totally blown away. This is a really really compelling experience for me.
Next, at number 105 comes #Star Trek: Frontiers. This is a retheme of #Mage Knight. And, quite frankly, I think that its ratings suffer from that. MK is a chunk older.... and by the time STF came around I don't think that MK fans felt like they needed another MK. That being said, I have never played MK. I got STF because the theme appealed to me much more than MK did. It is a mindblowing game. Last year it was my number one solo game of all time.
At number 89 we have #Pax Pamir (Second Edition). This is something I have only recently started playing. This is a great game. I honestly expect to see it climb quite a bit in next years list.
Following at number 85 we find #Navajo Wars. This is a new game for me. I have played it only three times, two of those this week....LOL. This is punishing game, it is a long game, it is a game that carries a certain amount of emotional burden. But..... It is such a compelling game. I think this will be a game that I will keep for a long long time.
At number 76 we find #Agricola. I am not a huge fan of beat your own score solo variants. And Uwe Rosenberg is guilty of putting those in his games. But, I do enjoy Agricola. I think it is the spectacle of my completed farm at the end that keeps on bringing me back to this.
Number 67 is #Root from Leder Games. This is another new one for me. I have only one play of it. But, it does strike me as a really fun solo experience, and one that I can see climbing into my top 10.
#Deep Space D-6 is what we find at number 63. This is a solo only dice allocation/threat mitigation game. I find it quite nice for what it is. If I do have a complaint, I would say that it tends to run just a little bit longer than it wants to. Also... the #Deep Space D-6: The Endless Expansion is almost essential.
We find #Race for the Galaxy at number 30. I have played the physical version solo only once. You need the #Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm expansion to play solo physically. It is a really clever little bot that works amazingly well. I have also played a number of multplayer games, and a number of games on the computer. This is a great great game, whether you play solo or not.
Number 27 brings us #Onirim I liked this in app form. It was a fun little game. And then, I played the physical version.... now I don't like any of the two versions. It just wasn't fun.
#Pandemic is at number 25. I played it solo once. I have played it multiplayer several times. This game is one big meh for me. Generally I want something heavier even if it might take more time.... Or something lighter that takes less time. It is just in a dead zone that I have no interest in.
Last year #Scythe was my number 1 game of all time. But, I recognize it as great because of it's multiplayer aspect, not necessarily because of it's solo aspect. That being said. I do think that it does merit it's spot at number 8 on this list. It is still an engaging experience with the provided solo bot. And, it is an experience I am happy to engage in.
Coming in at number 1 on the peoples list is #Spirit Island. What a great game. I think that this is a game that will stay in the top 1 or 2 spots for several more years at least. I do think that maybe the invaders get a little bit procedural and that is a problem for some people. The only real problem with this game,and what keeps it from getting a perfect 10 from me is the end game. Often you just win, and it feels like the game just quit with a whimper. The gameplay, the components, the experience are all great, until you get to the endgame.
What in general stood out to me on this list?
Generally speaking solo gamers speak out against "beat your own score variants. However, Uwe Rosenberg, has more games on the top 200 than any other designers. And, I could be wrong, but I think that is all that he does for his solo variants. I think that speaks to the fact that the community, as a whole, are more interested in a well designed game than one that fits all their desires exactly.
The huge majority of the games on that list got at least one person that picked it as their number one solo game of all time. That is mindblowing. There are games on there that I would never think of as solo games, but, there are solo gamers that like them.
"War games" seemed to rank fairly high when people voted for them. But, not many people voted for them.
Somebody, I think maybe Jason Perez??? said that the solo gamers list averaged about half a point of complexity higher than BGG top 100. I don't know if that is true or not, and I cannot find that quote at the moment.... But, it seems about right.
There were not a lot of roll and writes on the list. I counted only 4, the highest of which was #Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale. Now, I may have counted wrong... But, I really expected there to be more roll and writes. they seem like they would be a stereotypical solo game. I dont' really like roll and writes as a generall rule. So, I am not unhappy to see that the list is not dominated by them. That being said, I have played a roll and write recently that really really impressed me. That is #Super-Skill Pinball: 4-Cade by Geoff Englestein. I am going to call it right now.... It will be on this list next year. And, it might even make my list of top ten solo games. That is saying something for a person that doesn't really like roll and writes.
Most importantly..... What sort of shopping list did I compile from this list? I don't know that I added any new games, for sure to my list, but it did cement some that were already on. These inlcude:
- #Gandhi: The Decolonization of British India, 1917 – 1947: This is a COIN game from GMT. And, it uses a new style of bot that sounds quite intriguing. Furthermore the subject and the fact that it inlcudes a nonviolent faction interests me.
- #Comancheria: The Rise and Fall of the Comanche Empire This is a sister game to #Navajo Wars. Soon as I played NW I knew I wanted this, badly.
- #Nemo's War (Second Edition): I am not a violent man. I promise, but, here is another war(ish) game that I really would like to have.
- #Renegade This is described as a love letter to Mage Knight. I imagine I will get it sometime when it comes back into print.
- #Ottoman Sunset: The Great War in the Near East 1914-1918 Another fascinating angle, of a interestesting subject.... Sign me up.
- #Roads & Boats: 20th Anniversary Edition. It's big, It's ugly, It's supposedly really great.
The several that keep on flickering on and off of my wishlist, and that BGG's top 200 make me think I should consider more include:
- #Fields of Arle This is another Uwe Rosenberg game, and it actually looks really good solo as well.
- #CO₂: Second Chance One of the cheapest big box Lacerda's. I should maybe just get this sometime.
- #Underwater Cities
Anyhow, I'm curious what commentary you had about the list. Did you have any surprise on the list?