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My Top 20 Games 2020 Edition

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I went through many iterations when making this list. I at one point had 3 or 4 different lists for different criteria. Solo only, games for my group, games for my family, etc. I eventually came up with a better idea. When ranking my games I went with the "assuming ideal player counts and conditions" slant. This way I was able to eliminate all of those different categories and just rank my top 10 games. Except there are so many good ones I couldn't stop at 10. There are some REALY good games even outside my Top 20. So. Here are my 20 favorite games to play right now. Solo, multiplayer, whatever all mixed together. 

20.#Star Wars: Outer Rim. This game for some reason seems to be continually underrated by many. It's a really good, really thematic Star Wars game. It's a lot of fun. Lots of different paths to take and lots of cool Star Wars-ness. Great solo, great with friends. Definitely needs an expansion though. A lot of Mandalorian content would fit nicely in this game. 

19.#Empires of the Void II. One of the most beautiful games in my collection. A 4X style game that doesn't take all day to play. If only there was a solo mode for this one. Maybe I should check BGG?

18.#Aeon's End: Legacy. A great deck builder with an awesome legacy campaign. Only problem is now that I've finished the game I don't know what to do with it. Sure, it's similar to a base set with an expansion mixed in but after the campaign concluded I don't know how useful that really is. It was a great time playing it though. 

17.#The City of Kings. This is a great game that I just haven't spend enough time with. I really love the randomly generated enemy abilities and the combination of dungeon crawler with worker placement is really unique and interesting. 

16.#Scythe. This is a great game. And I'm surprised to see it way down here. I still love it to bits and would gladly play it whenever. Unfortunately it's just gotten pushed down the list by other games that I love even more. 

15.#Root. We are in the middle of a group of games that are beloved on the forum here that all have surprisingly dropped out of my top 10. This game is phenomenal and the art is incredible. I love this game to bits as well but again it's just getting pushed down the list. This stretch of games is why I expanded this to Top 20 instead of just Top 10. 

14.#Everdell. Oof. Yet another in this grouping of forum darlings that are just outside my Top 10. This game is beautiful. Fun. And relatively fast. I have high hopes to eventually introduce this to my wife and children. The art and theme should hopefully help to draw them in. And the card play and worker placement should help them stay and learn.

13.#Maracaibo. This is where the decisions really started becoming agonizing. Pub Meeple kept matching this one with so many tough questions. How could I pick this over some of the games that are higher up? This. Is. A. Great. Game. Like... really great. Amazing mechanics. Amazing solo mode. Wow. 

12.#Nemo's War (Second Edition). I've written at length about this game recently. It's a unique game in my collection and it's definitely a unique experience. The story elements are amazing. The simple dice roll mechanics are superb. What a great game. (Seems like I can't say anything else but that going forwards)

11.#Paladins of the West Kingdom. Mmmm. This game is: Crunchy. Interconnected. Sublime. This game is phenomenal. And it has a superb solo AI. A game with evocative art and a theme that is stronger than it first appears. Just missed out being in the Top 10.

10.#First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet. Surprised to see this up here? I was too. But it makes sense. So much about my interests beyond board games involve space exploration and Mars in particular that it just fits that I'd love a game like this. Yes, it had some criticism when it first game out. But time has been very kind to this game which is really thematic and challenging. A lot of the bugs in the app and the difficult rulebook have been smoothed over. This is definitely a diamond in the rough. 

9.#Underwater Cities. This game is tight. You have 30 actions to accomplish all of your goals. And you somehow manage to get there. Or at least pretty close. This game creates such a delicious feeling of accomplishment as you progress your engine from start to finish. The last few turns are explosions of activity as you race to the end. A decent solo mode too, with a subtle AI opponent that just manages to get in your way enough. Definitely worthy of its position here. 

8.#Circadians: First Light. The most recent addition to my collection smashes its way all the way up here, driven by an excellent solo mode and clever mechanics tied up in a quick playtime. Give the box art a chance and I think you'll be very pleasantly surprised with how all strong this game is. 

7.#Terraforming Mars. This game features a huge variety of cards with which you will set out to build an engine and terraform Mars. Sure, the art can be a little uneven. But honestly you won't notice as soon as you are engrossed in this game. Amazing solo. Amazing with a group. Fantastic game. 

6. #A Feast For Odin. With#A Feast For Odin: The Norwegians. This game has it all. Mild engine building. Worker placement. Tile laying. And it's just so good! There are so many options - but it's not overwhelming. It's empowering. The game gives you a chance to try a multitude of strategies. Want to go all in on raiding? Or breed horses? Or colonize new lands? Or craft fine goods? Or any other of a huge variety of approaches that fit your plan. The solo mode is so simple yet so clever where you block yourself every round. You'll frequently be cursing the other color for blocking that spot only to remember it was you that blocked it last round! This is such a great game.

5.#Star Wars Imperial Assault. The Top 5. The best of the best. And we are starting off with a bang with this one. Star Wars theme just pours out of this game. It's so much fun. The characters are awesome and the miniatures even more so. The campaigns are great and the app is awesome. Even better is a solo mode that the fans have developed allowing you to play even more campaigns on your own. This game is fun and amazing and awesome and I love it so much. 

4.#Gloomhaven. Yes it's big. Yes it's awesome. Yes it absolutely deserves its spot in the BGG rankings. No, don't be scared by this game. Absolutely, it's the best value game. For a measly $120 you get months worth of content and fun. It's incredible. The card play. The tense moments. The huge hits. The agonizing misses. This is a remarkable accomplishment. 

3.#Gaia Project. This game is so thinky and awesome and amazing and I just want to go play it now. Best solo AI that I have played against so far. Challenging. Huge variety. So much fun. Great theme. 

2.#Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition. The best solo game out there. Don't listen to the people who think#Spirit Island is better. It's not. MK is so much fun. And it's challenging. And it's different every game. And with the expansions from the Ultimate Edition you have so many different scenarios to explore. The ultimate deck builder, RPG style, fantasy themed game. So much fun. Love it to bits.

1.#Star Wars: Rebellion. Anyone surprised? I've talked about this one so much so I won't do much more here. But it's good. It's Star Wars. It's the best Game of all time. 

Honorable Mentions:

Wingspan at 21, Trajan at 22, and Empires of the North at 23. These are all wonderful games that just couldn't quite reach the top 20.

Race for the Galaxy at 30. Due to a recent development this one could be on the rise. Stay tuned for more information!

New games on the way that could shake up this list next year:

#On Mars and#Leaving Earth Im very much looking forward to seeing how these two titles influence my list in the coming year!

Thank you to all for reading!

 

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39 days ago

My top 20

20. #Bohnanza - We've had such amazing experiences with this game. Watching my BIL get frustrated with my boys trading away 1/2 their hands for either 1 card or free drives him nuts, but they usually are competitive or win so its a viable strategy. 

19. #Azul: Summer Pavilion - My favorite of the Azul games.  Love the wilds and carrying items over from round to round. 

18. #The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine - Love this game.  The lack of communication while trying to figure out who to get everyone their necessary cards is such a great puzzle.

17. #Champions of Midgard - A great worker placement/dice chucker.  Love this game.  The #Champions of Midgard: Valhalla expansion is essential.

16. #Terraforming Mars - Am as surpised as you are to see it this low.  Great group game, great solo game.  Really need to pick up the Prelude expansion to move it back up the list.

15. #Pulsar 2849 - Only played twice but really love both plays.  Need to ge to the table again to see if it holds up over multiple plays.

14. #The Quacks of Quedlinburg - How lucky do you feel?  Where are all of my good tokens?  I can't possibly bust on this pull?  The agony of defeat and the joys of victory.

13. #Wingspan - Ease of set up and play time moved this ahead of Terraforming Mars for me.  The game is great.

12. #Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure - Love this game.  Love the two expansions, Love the legacy game.  Was surprised it didn't make my top 10.

11. #The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire - How polluted do you want your environment to be?  Which section of research do you focus on?  Using an extra energy so someone else has to spend extra energy to take an action.  Love this game

10. #Concordia - A fantastic game that I've only played the base game.  I need to look at some of the expansion maps.

9. #Wasteland Express Delivery Service - I may be int he minority here but really love this game.  Love the screwage and the variable setup/powers/end game triggers. 

8. #Paladins of the West Kingdom - Great game, my favorite of the triology.  Awesome solo mode

7. #Orléans - If only set up wasn't such a PITA for this game it might move up my list.

6. #Great Western Trail - Need to own my own copy so it hits the table  more frequently.  Would never turn down a game of this.

5. #Rajas of the Ganges - Love the end game trigger for this game.  I've seen games end in a crazy number of scenarios.  The dice management is super important in t his game.  So, so good.

4. #Kemet - Great game that rewards agressive play.  Love so much about this game.

3. #Blood Rage - My favorite dudes on a map game.  Love the mechanics and drafting.  Love the giant mini's. 

2. #The Godfather: Corleone's Empire - This hits all the right notes for my group.  It is consistently requested.  Love this game.

1. #Gloomhaven - Has to be after all of the time I've spent on this game.  Its amazing.

Honorable Mentions to the following legacy games which I wasn't sure where or how to rank since I've completed them all once; but would happly do a 2nd campaign of any of these again.

#Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 and #Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 were some of my best moments in gaming.  #Risk: Legacy was so fun my group bought it again to re-live the experience. 

Premium User37 days ago

Great list ! A few here that are in my top 20 as well. That Godfather game looks pretty sweet too

36 days ago

If you have a group that either

a) Loves the movie and quoting the movie or

b) Loves to negative player interactions (killing their workers, taking over control of area's, moving workers to differnt spots) then this game is awesome. 

This game gets played probably 4 to 6 times a year within my one gaming group.  Which is a lot considering the 90+ games I own and I try to cycle through as many different ones a year as I can.

Premium User36 days ago

Probably not for who I'm currently playing games with but I could see a few people I know playing this.

Just when I thought I was out..they pull me back in..

Premium User40 days ago

This is great and the "ideal player count and conditions" is what triggered me to do the same with my list with those two ideals in mind.  Your process and format are fantastic!  As I read through the games we've both played I note that we have similar thoughts which drive me to look at the games I haven't played on your list and seriously reconsider some games I've been so-so on.  Doing 20 games was tough but I hammered through and here's what I came up with:

20. #Marvel Champions: The Card Game - I thought this would be a little higher and to some degree it feels a little like #Firefly: The Game which I feel is a great game, tons of fun to play, but has a sort of "niche" spot on my shelf and tends to not rank among my top tier games.  Champions is still a great game, lots of fun, and very engaging.  In trying to consider why it gets bumped down I might argue that the length of play with the ideal play number (3-4?) is fairly long.  Even a two-player game takes a decent amount of time.

19. #Root - I finally got to play a three-player game the other night and the magic of this game came through for me.  I can see this moving up my list over time with more plays.  The "gotcha" aspect of this game is would keep it from being much higher as I tend to gravitate away from such games.  That Root makes this list at all is a testament to how much fun it is.

18. #Castles of Mad King Ludwig - has been in my collection for several years now and remains a staple.  4 players is the best to play with but the other player counts are well balanced and there is a solo option as well.  The market arrangement at the beginning of each round is one of my favorite aspects to this game.  

17. #Terraforming Mars - this was a tough one.  I enjoy this game and it remains an engaging experience when it hits the table.  The solo on this is quite fun as well.  It's been a while since I've played but still makes the top 20 with solid mechanics and gameplay.

16. #Everdell - this was a very very challenging game to place!  I'm not sure if it's the long setup or a slight untightness in gameplay that keep it from being higher.  I don't often have ideal options to play and there are a few "gotcha" cards that drive it down slightly.  The components and art are off the charts and this is one of the few heavier games my entire family will play.

15. #Viscounts of the West Kingdom - is a game that could rise as time goes on.  I taught Becky and she did well on her first game (beating me of course) and this might end up passing #Paladins of the West Kingdom at some point.  This is a deck-building game with lots of crunchy mechanics.

14. #Teotihuacan: City of Gods - was another challenge to rank as I have fewer plays but it has a very engaging rondel and the player interaction on the board is fun and the theme is well balanced with the mechanics.  This is a well-designed game.  The solo mode is quite nice.  If there is a knock on this game it might be the extra setup with dice when you have less than 4 players.  

13. #Tapestry - is very fun with one of the longest setups of any game I have (competing with Everdell) but the components and gameplay are creative and a five-player game is perhaps the most engaging.  I am looking forward to getting #Tapestry: Plans and Ploys and seeing how much that adds to the game.

12.  #PARKS - I wasn't 100% sure this would make the top 20 but with the #PARKS: Nightfall Expansion it moves up past other games and is a relaxing and enjoyable game that feels like a walk in the park.  The art is beautiful and the player interactions are easy going.

11. #Anachrony - Wow...I thought this would be higher but the setup probably shifts it down slightly.  Still, it has a fantastic time travel aspect, great engine building, and asynchronous player boards, make this an awesome game to play.  The solo mode is fun as well.  Takes up quite a bit of space.

10. #Paladins of the West Kingdom - gets the edge into the top 10.  Everything said was spot on.  The solo version is very well designed.

9. #Rococo: Deluxe Edition - I wasn't sure where this would land but it edged out Paladins as I liked the 5 player count and the art and gameplay I felt were the slightest bit better.  It too has a great automa.

8. #Maracaibo - I would not have thought this would have made my top 10 last year but I find myself wanting to play this more and I think a 4 player count with the campaign mode makes this a tantalizing game to play.  The colonialism theme could be a little edgy for some folks but doesn't standout as a focus and the theme is more set in an era than encouraging poor behaviors through gameplay.  

7. #Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island - this is another game I didn't think would make the top 10 but it is a great game with a very hard solo experience.  With four players this game is engaging and incredible to play and I think was years ahead of it's time when it came out with combined components, theme, and mechanics.

6. #Heaven & Ale I had to juggle to decide if this would beat out Robinson Crusoe and decided Heaven and Ale gets the edge.  Excellent euro-game that hits the mark on time, strategy, and intriguing player interaction around the rondel.

5. #Wingspan - is just great at 5 players and remains an amazing game with beautiful art, interactive gameplay, and still gets more plays than any other game in our home.  The solo mode is quite good as well.

4. #Clans of Caledonia - is a great economic resource management game with a nice tight game time and mechanics.  I could probably play this one over and over again using the different clans.

3. #Gloomhaven - such a great game and dollar for dollar you'll be hard-pressed to find a game that gives you more bang for your buck.  Solo or with others this is an amazing game.

2. #Viticulture: Essential Edition - this is a game that shines under the ideal conditions.  Worker-placement with some engine-building, this game is so much fun and the race to 25 points is engaging.

1. #Scythe - gets the top spot.  It checks all the boxes that a game can check for me and with 6-7 players is off the charts fun.  When I first bought this game I thought it would be moderately fun.  After multiple game nights now this game is the bar to beat.  

 

Games that might challenge for spots next year: #The Gallerist depending on set up and how brain-smashing the interlocking mechanics feel.  The solo might factor in as well. #Brass: Birmingham could sneak in there after a few game nights. #Raiders of Scythia feels like a game that could push for a 10-20 range spot. #Obsession feels like it has the best possibility to get into the top 10.  I can see it making a move this year for sure.

Owner38 days ago

Sorry about the delay Wade, but Obsession got shipped out today :(

ended up playing Obsession first, and he and his wife liked it so much that they played two times over the past weekend. He does tend to really like games with high production quality though, so that was the only "downside" for him. 

I'm really looking forward to soloing it and then introducing it to my wife this week. I have a feeling it'll make it into my Top 10.

Premium User38 days ago

lol, so the "downside" for was the production quality?  Does that me he liked it a lot or thought the production quality was lacking?

Owner38 days ago

Downside as in he was left wanting more on the production side of things. He was saying that he'd want to see Stonemaier Games take it and upgrade the experience haha

So far, one of my first impressions is that the creator has clearly put a lot of love into Obsession. You can see the attention to detail and the thoughtfulness behind many of the corners behind the product. It does seem like the rulebook could use a little bit of fine tuning though. It definitely does its job and you can tell the creator has taken extra steps to clarify everything, but it doesn't flow as easily as I would want. Besides that, I'm excited for the upcoming session!

Premium User38 days ago

Ahh, so it's a good English board

Owner38 days ago

It's not production quality of materials or anything. Everything was lovely on that front. I'm more talking about wanting an upgrade of art, graphic design, and component details. It feels like a special game that really needs to have that super amazing art, graphics, and components that I love Stonemaier, Roxely, and Leder games for.

Premium User37 days ago

That makes sense.  I've been pondering of late the challenge of getting good art and design work on a game. Especially a newer one.  As I hone in on the game I'm working on now, I often ponder how to get a good artistic rendering of what I'd like the board and components to capture.  

#Orléans is a game I enjoy and wish it had more compelling components. 

36 days ago

Have you looked at upgrading via the Geek Up Bits via BoardGame Geek: geekup-bit-set-orleans

I occassionaly by upgrades instead of new games so I love these bit sets for games I own.

Premium User36 days ago

I had not seen those!  I do like them!  Hmm.  Will have to seriously consider those this next year. 

Supporter38 days ago

I really would like to give #Maracaibo sometime. I hear so so much good about it.

I am really looking forward to getting my copy of #Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island a try.

Supporter40 days ago

Wow! Thank you for your positive feedback. It really means a lot to me. Your list is great! I think the biggest difference between us is that your game group seems quite a bit larger. My multiplayer group only has 3 total (including me) so high player count games just aren't an option. Also I tend to play the vast majority of my games solo. That's just the stage of life I'm in right now. Plus, Covid I guess. 

Premium User40 days ago

COVID has really put a damper on things for sure. Three is the most I've gotten since starting game nights again due to the 4th or 5th players getting exposed or sick :P.   Before COVID there was a monthly game night at a local bar with lots of playing area. 

 

Supporter40 days ago

That sounds equal parts exhausting and exhilarating. The two halves of my gaming personality in conflict. 

Premium User40 days ago

So this is what's on the menu for when we visit? :P

Premium User40 days ago

Yep, you have to pick from those 20. Or Yahtzee

Premium User40 days ago

**Drives to Denton for board games, plays Yahtzee**

Supporter40 days ago

Yahtzee is still fairly fun. Could be Monopoly instead. 

Premium User40 days ago

The longest game ever or I don't want it

Supporter40 days ago

Sorry honey, this BGA Convention won't be over until this game is done. I'll be home when it's finished!

Premium User40 days ago

Oh she would absolutely be playing too. She approved of the mini BGA conventions so she has to suffer too haha

Owner38 days ago

Hahaha love seeing your enthusiasm. Your list is interesting because it's hard to exactly pinpoint what your preferences are. You just seem to really love a diverse set of games.

Are there other games from that Top 200 list from the solo guild that you're wanting to get the most?

I need to get through a lot of games so that I can easily make up my mind when Trent and I share each other's Top 10's :p

Supporter38 days ago

I do love a lot of different games! That's good, right?