Austin’s Top 100 Modern Tabletop Games of All Time!!! (#70-61)

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 70-61:

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70. MOGUL (2015) (2nd edition) Designed by Michael Schacht; Published by Rio Grande Games/ for 3-5 players – A revamped version of an older game, this small bidding game sure packs a wallop!  Players are bidding on different stocks of railroad companies, which increase their worth, and also building train depots across the country.  You must also recognize the right time to sell your stocks.  I love the bidding mechanism here, which has players tossing little silver chips into a sturdy wooden bowl.  The person who wins gets to choose which action to take.  Either to buy a share or sell all of their shares of one stock.  The price of a stock is determined by how many shares of it are face up on the board in front of other players.  This game has a real nice flow, and has really turned me on to bidding games.  And there’s something really satisfying about tossing a chip into that thick wooden bowl.

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69. SHAKESPEARE (2015) Designed by Herve Rigal; Published by Asmodee/ for 2-4 players – You get to control a theater troupe trying to perform the best play for the Queen.  Players recruit actors and crew that give them special abilities. They also must create their set, which will score them points.  This all revolves around a rehearsal track that is the main scoring mechanism of the game.  Though it’s a bit abstract, the theme and the artwork really make the game come to life.  The gameplay itself has a really nice flow to it as well.

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68. THUNDER ALLEY (2014) Designed by Jeff & Carla Horger; Published by GMT Games/ for 2-7 players – My favorite racing game!  There’s no dice here!  Everyone gets to control a racing team made up of 7 cars or so (depending on the player count). You advance around the giant racetrack by playing cards from your hand which allow you to do certain types of movements.  You can move cars by themselves or move them as a group.  You can even attach yourself to an opponents group as well.  I really like the strategy in this game, as it’s not really random at all, like most dice rolling racing games.  You really have to plan your turn out.  Depending on which place each of your cars finish, you will get a certain amount of points.  So you really want all of your cars to finish in the upper half, you don’t want to leave any of them behind.  Very cool game!

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67. THE GALLERIST (2015) – Designed by Vital Lacerda; Published by Eagle-Gryphon Games/ for 2-4 players – Possibly the heaviest game on the list, in this  one you own an art gallery competing to get more visitors than your opponent.  Plus you also get to discover artists, commission a work of art, buy and sell pieces of art, help an artist get more known, and bid on an international work of art.  There is A LOT going on in this one, which may take an entire game (or two) to grasp all of its concepts.  As a worker placement game, you only have 4 spaces to choose from to go to,  but making all the moving parts work in your favor can really rack your brain, which I love.  I really enjoy having objective cards to work towards throughout the game, which determine what kinds of artwork you want to sell and which you want to display in your gallery.  The theme is unique, the artwork is gorgeous.  A beautiful presentation of a game that is a fantastic, complex design.  If you like your games meaty, then look no further.

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66. TSURO (2004) Designed by Tom McMurchie; Published by Calliope Games/ for 2-8 players – Now this one is probably the lightest game on the list.  A simple game where all you are doing is laying tiles on a board that create a path for your player piece to travel on.  However, you do not want to run into other players or fly off the board.  The last player remaining on the board wins.  This is my number 1 go-to game when introducing modern tabletop gaming to newbies.  If they’ve never played a game before, then this is the best game to teach.  It’s about as a simple of a design as you can get, but yet, it’s very elegant.  The board creates this kind of zen-like atmosphere that really makes the gameplay pleasant.  If your mission is to get more people into gaming, than this is a must have for your collection!

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65. SPECTER OPS (2015) Designed by Emerson Matsuchi; Published by Plaid Hat Games/ 2-5 players – This one has a super cool theme!  One player controls an agent trying to collect data from an evil corporation while the other players control hunters hired by the corporation, who are trying to find the agent and eliminate him.  This is a hidden movement game, meaning the agent player does not move his figure on the grid-like board.  Instead, they have a grid sheet of the board, and write down their movement on it.  If the agent can be seen at the end of anyone’s turn, then they are seen and the hunters can take a shot at them.  I think this game works best at 2 and 3 players.  4 players isn’t bad, but with 5 you add a traitor element that just doesn’t work too well.  Anyway, this game is full of tension no matter which side you’re playing.  In my plays, there have been many close calls, with the hunter only a space or two away from me.  I know it, but they don’t.  It’s pretty intense.  I also love that every character from both sides come with special powers.  My favorite is the Prophet who can find out which space the agent was on 2 turns prior.  In every game I’ve played, the theme really comes to life.  Lots of fun!

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64. AUGUSTUS (2013) Designed  by Paolo Mori; Published by Asmodee/ for 2-6 players -This is pretty much Bingo for gamers, but it’s super fun!  Players are trying to gain influence in the Roman Council by collecting cards from different regions and gaining the support of senator cards.  Some cards even have special abilities to use.  Every player has 3 cards in front of them (which all have a certain number of victory points on them), then one player draws a token from the bag and it will have a symbol on it.  If that symbol is on one of your cards, you get to place one of your Roman pieces on it.  If you cover up all the symbols on any turn, you yell “Ave Caesar” (not Bingo!) and claim that card.  Once a player gets their seventh card, that’s the end of the game.  Even though the theme could be considered dull, the gameplay is anything but.  Even younger kids can get the hang of this one.  Bingo can get repetitive, but it’s still satisfying when you win.  This game doesn’t feel repetitive though because of the different cards and abilities you can do (like have another opponent lose a card, etc).  And it’s really fun to shout “AVE CAESAR”!.   Again, this is one that’s easy to teach to newbies.  Everyone understands Bingo.  And yet, I think gamers will find it a nice little filler too.  This one if great for casual game nights.

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63. RUSSIAN RAILROADS (2013) Designed  by Helmut Ohley & Lonny Orgler; Published by Z-Man Games/ for 2-4 players – Not a train game really, but a worker placement game where you use your workers to build different colored rails on 3 different tracks, upgrade locomotives, build factories, and hire engineers to give you special actions.  What makes this game fairly complex is figuring out which colored rails to move on which of the 3 tracks.  There are 5 different colors of rails and they are each worth different points.  The first one you put on is worth nothing, but the last one you put on is worth 7 points, per space it’s on.  And you only score the spaces if your locomotive is upgraded enough to reach those spots.  I know it sounds mega complicated, but it’s really not that bad once you get the hang of it.  I’m finding out that I love games where you’re advancing on an assortment of tracks (I love building factories to advance even further on the Industry track).  And I also love worker placement games, so I really find this one fascinating trying to make everything work.

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62. ALCHEMISTS (2015/ U.S. RELEASE) Designed by Matus Kotry; Published by Czech Games/ for 2-4 players – Players are wizards trying to figure out what ingredients make which potions.  There’s actually a lot more to it than that, but it’s kind of hard to explain.  The main concept of the game is fascinating, and a little hard to wrap your head around at first.  Players use an app on their phone to mix 2 potions together, and it tells you what it makes.  Then you have to figure out what that means, by keeping track of what every combination makes on your own personal player sheet.  Again, once you play a few rounds of this you should get the hang of it.  You feel so good when you actually get to figure out what one of the ingredients is made out of.  But, you could also be wrong if you made a miscalculation.  Players also sell potions, publish theories on certain ingredients, try out potions on themselves and even have an apprentice try it.  The theme is really strong here, and the design is a really cool one.  Definitely not just a gimmick.  There’s a real game here!

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61. QUEEN’S ARCHITECT (2015) Designed by Volker Schachtele; Published by Queen Games/ for 2-4 players – I need to get this one to the table more!  Players are constructing buildings around town to impress the Queen, hoping she’ll hire you to construct her new castle.  You get to hire workers to put on a kind of roundel.  Each time you use them to build, they will rotate.  All around them are numbers, which shows the skill level they are, depending on where they are in the rotation.  This one is really cool how you’re building up your little carpentry business.  On your turn you hire workers, earn money, make a worker last longer by having them go to the tavern, and construct buildings to advance on the Queen’s track.  This one is a race to get to the top of that track, so players are constantly moving their caravan around the board, trying to complete structures before the other players, all the while maintaining a strong team of workers.  I love the worker roundel mechanism, trying to figure out which workers to rotate and at what time.  The theme is a fun one, the gameplay has just enough strategy to engage you the entire time, and it has a nice presentation overall.

That’s it for now!  Stay tuned for numbers 60-51, coming soon!

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