Austin’s Top 100 Modern Tabletop Games of All-Time!!! (#90-81)

I decided to make a Top 100.  My personal favorite tabletop games of all time.  I’m doing this for a couple of reasons.  1. Because it’s fun for me.  And 2, because it gives my readers a chance to learn my tastes in games, which will hopefully give them an idea of what games they’ll enjoy from what I review. 

Keep in mind, I just got into the hobby about 2 and half years ago, so a good majority of the games on this list will be from the last few years.  Also, there are many modern classics I have still not played.  Like El Grande, Alien Frontiers, Roll for the Galaxy, Twilight Imperium, Twilight Struggle, Terra Mystica, Eclipse, Battlestar Galactica, Arkham Horror, Notre Dame, Puerto Rico, Power Grid….. and a few others.  I plan on making a Top 100 around the same time every year, so as I play more games, the list will drastically change throughout the years, I’m sure.  My cut off for this list was April 1st, so if I played a game after that date that I thought is worthy of the list (and there is at least one), it won’t be on until next year. 

But for now, these are my 100 favorite games.  I’ve only played over 500 modern tabletop games, but I have enjoyed most of them.  I love nearly every type of game, with Medium Euros being my sweet spot.  So take that with what you will.  There are still several what I consider “great” games that did not make my list, so don’t get hung up on a game that’s “only” 98.  If it’s on my list, I consider it a great game! 

Okay, enough rambling.  On to my favorite games of all time. 

Numbers 90-81:

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90. PARADE (2010) Designed by Naoki Homma; Published by Z-Man Games/ for 2-6 players – A short card game with an Alice in Wonderland theme.  There are 6 different suites based on characters from the famous story, and you are trying to get the lowest cards of each suite by the end of the game.  The lowest score wins.  What’s neat about this one is how you collect the cards from the center of the table.  You either collect all of one number, or all of one suite, but there are ways to manipulate how many cards you pick up.  It’s very mathy, but it’s a good one.

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89. CINQUE TERRE (2013) Designed by Chris Handy; Published by Rio Grande Games/ for 2-5 Players – What I like about this one is that it’s objective is really simple.  This is a pure pick up & delivery game.  Each player has a wooden cart that they move clockwise around the board, harvest different kinds of goods from one spot, and then sell them to different villages on a different spot.  I like how different colored dice (which represent each kind of good)  randomly determines the market price at each village space.  Players race to complete order cards which are next to the game board.  I like that you can try to collect as many order cards as you can, or just try to sell goods at the village that’s willing to pay the most.  It’s simple, but there’s still is a lot to think about in order to get everything to work in your favor.

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88. TIMELINE CHALLENGE (2015) Designed by Cyril Demaegd, Frederic Henry; Published by Asmodee/ for 2-10 players – What started as a small trivia game, was given a big boxed board game version last year, and it’s excellent.  Players compete by guessing when specific events happened.  This version has a few categories that you play in.  Sometimes you have to guess the exact year, and sometimes you have to guess in what order did 4 random events happened.  The events can be anything from creations of inventions, historic wars, or when a certain film came out.  You can also use any of the previously released Timeline cards with this game.  Since the events are so diverse, anyone has a chance to win.  Probably my favorite trivia game of all time!

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87. HANABI (2013) Designed by Antoine Bauza/ Published by R&R Games/ for 2-5 players – Thematically, it’s pretty ludicrous.  The rulebook says that players are fireworks factory workers trying to put on the most amazing display of fireworks.  But really, this is just an abstract card game.  Players work together to make 5 sets of fireworks (each a different color).  Each set needs to have 5 cards, numbered 1-5, laid out in numerical order.  Sounds easy, right?  The catch is, players do not get to look at their own hand of cards.  They are faced so that each other player can see them.  On your turn, you can either play a card from your hand onto a set of fireworks, or give a player a clue as to what they have in their hand.  Only thing is, you can’t tell them any specific card.  You can only tell them a number or a colored card from their hand.  It sounds more complicated than it is.   But it’s also a very difficult game to do well in.  What I really love about this game is that it’s all about building a strong communication bond between all the players.  Terrific for team building.  This is a great interactive game.

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86. KING’S FORGE (2014) Designed by Nick Sibicky; Published by Game Salute/ for 2-4 Players – This game grew on me, if only because my 12 year old daughter always wanted to play it.  Players are blacksmiths competing to craft the most magnificent things (like goblets, swords, jewelry, etc.) for the king.  To do this, players must collect an assortment of dice, which stand in for the resources needed to craft certain things.  Then once you have the proper dice, you must roll a specified minimum number to successfully craft the item.  This is NOT a dice rolling game.  I mean, you roll the dice once per round, but that’s it.  It’s really a “dice building”game.  You collect dice cards which help you obtain dice for yourself, plus giving you special abilities.  It’s a pretty light, and often random game.  But still, I find a satisfying amount of strategy in deciding which cards to pick during the drafting phase.  The artwork is great, the dice look pretty, and the theme is really easy to get into.  I mean come on, to craft nifty items for the king himself?  Awesome!

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85. RUM & BONES (2015) Designed by Michael Shinall; Published by Cool Mini or Not/ for 2-6 Players – Really just a 2 Player game (with team options), players get to control a team of pirates who are trying to destroy their opponents ship.  That’s pretty much it.  Simple objective.  But add in a ton of cool looking miniatures, cool player powers, and a kraken that can attack both ships….. and you’ve got a pretty kick ass game!  It’s got my least favorite mechanic in a game (dice rolling combat), but the theme is super strong here, and the gameplay is swift that I don’t mind the dice rolling at all.  Probably the best pirate game out there (at least that I’ve played)!

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84. BATTLE MERCHANTS (2014) Designed by Gil Hova; Published by Minion Games/ for 2-4 players – Don’t let the lighthearted artwork fool you, this is a hefty strategic game.  Players take on the roll of a weapons salesman selling weapons off to different factions (drawfs, hobgoblins, elves, and orcs), hoping to make a clean profit.  During the game you get to craft weapons (axes, swords, etc.), sell weapons to a faction in the battlefield, even upgrade your weapons to vorpel!  But what I really like about the game is that you have to carefully plan out which leveled weapon to sell to which race.  Because during the battle phase, the higher level weapon will win, and if it’s yours, you’ll get more money.  I think this theme is great, but it’s also a really good game, full of plenty of satisfying choices to make.

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83. TANTO CUORE (2011) Designed by Masayuki Kudou; Published by Japanime Games/ for 2-4 players – This deckbuilding game is extremely similar to Dominion, but I prefer this one over that.  The reason?  Simply because this theme doesn’t bore me to tears.  Okay, so it’s a house full of scantily clad anime maids and you are “employing” them to “serve” you.  Some will probably find the theme icky or even offensive.  Me? I find it pretty hilarious.  I don’t think you’re supposed to take it seriously.  Anyway, I really enjoy the deckbuilding mechanic here, and the different expansions available add a whole lot of variability to the game.

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82. FORMULA D (2008) (new edition) Designed by Eric Randall & Laurent Lavaur; Published by Asmodee/ for 2-10 players – A great racing game.  You get to pick your own car, and then you get a gear box which allows you to switch gears.  The higher the gear, the higher sided die you get to roll!  And the board is huge!  It doesn’t get more fun than this crazy, fast-paced game.  Be careful around those turns, cause you can crash and get eliminated from the game.  You can play it casually, or you can even play a certain number of laps complete with pit stops!  And the board is double-sided, so you can play a street race variant on the other side.  There’s also numerous expansions that will allow you to play this several times without ever losing it’s freshness.  Just a blast!

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81. TRAGEDY LOOPER (2014) Designed by Bakafire; Published by Z-Man Games/ for 2-4 players – Easily the most unique game on this list, one player is the mastermind controlling a number of characters, making them move to different locations.  The other players are time loopers who must stop the mastermind from making bad things happen to the characters.  Once a bad event happens (like a murder or suicide), the game resets, and the loopers must prevent that event (and other bad events) from happening again.  The more loops you play through, the easier it is to figure everything out.  This one is a very hard game to explain, and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was liking it at first.  But after myself and the other players got the hang of it, I really started to appreciate the genius of it.  There’s a very steep learning curve here, but if you’re patient and willing to give it a fair shake, I feel like this game could really be worth your time.  I have only played as the mastermind, but I really like the challenge of trying to fool the other players. And it’s fun to mess with them too.   It’s not that easy though, as I’m sure the other players felt the same way about their challenge.  It’s pretty cool that at the beginning of the game that the looper players have no idea what’s going on, but as the game continues, they grow smarter.  The gameplay is fairly abstract, so I can see that being a turn off to some players, but if you truly want a unique experience, then give it go!

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That’s if for now.  Stay tuned for numbers 80-71, coming soon!

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