Austin’s Top 100 Modern Tabletop Games of All Time!!! (#50-41)

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 50-41:

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50. ELYSIUM (2015) Designed by Brett Gilbert & Matthew Dunstan; Published by Space Cowboys/ for 2-4 players – This set collection game really sets itself apart from the rest.  First of all, the theme is super cool.  Greek Gods?  Awesome!  Played in just 5 rounds, players must choose cards from the middle of the table to complete different sets (either by color or by number).  You can use the cards for their ability in your domain (above your player board), or you can transfer them to your Elysium (under your player board) to score victory points for the end of the game.  There are 8 different sets of Greek God decks you can use, but you only play with 5 per game, and each set has their own feel.  What’s really neat is you have to be careful how to choose your cards, because you must pay for them with different colored columns, and each card require that you have a specific colored column in your play area.  For a “simple” set collection game, there is a lot to it!  Very satisfying, and the artwork is just gorgeous!

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49. VALLEY OF THE KINGS (2014) Designed by Tom Cleaver; Published by AEG/ for 2-4 players – This was the one that got me into deck-building games.  Players are Egyptian nobles preparing for their death by entombing different items into their tomb.  It’s another set collecting game, but this time deck-building is the main mechanic.  You purchase cards from the pyramid in the middle of the table, and then you can use them for either money, their special power, or entomb them.  Each card belongs to a certain group (statues, amulets, books, etc.), and the more you have from each group, the more points you will score at the end.  But you will only score points if they’re in your tomb at the end of the game.  Really neat card game with a very nice flow!  It’s also educational, as each card has text on the bottom, telling you what the item is and what it means.  This small games packs a pretty big punch!

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48. STAR WARS: IMPERIAL ASSAULT (2014) Designed by Corey Konieczka, Jonathan Ying & Justin Kemppainen; Published by Fantasy Flight/ for 2-5 players – If you love Star Wars, then you NEED this game in your life.  One player is the empire who plays against the other players who control the rebels. The rebels get to pick their characters and get to customize them and buy them weapons and special items throughout the campaign-based game.  The Empire player gets to control tons of storm troopers, bounty hunters, tusken raiders, and even Darth Vader!  Han Solo, Boba Fett, and Luke Skywalker may even make an appearance.  This one really captures the Star Wars theme like no other game!  Right now, there are 3 campaigns to playthrough, plus a 2-player skirmish mode.  This one is worth your time and money!

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47. JAIPUR (2009) Designed by Sebastian Pauebon; Published by Gameworks/ for 2 players – A great 2 player game that has players collecting goods and selling them to the marketplace.  It has a really nice back-and-forth aspect going on, and the game can be played in 20 minutes, with teaching.

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46. SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM (2014) Designed by Sergio Halaban & Andre Zatz; Published by Arcane Wonders/ for 3-5 players – A bluffing game that has players trying to smuggle goods to the town square, without the Sheriff knowing.  The players take turns playing the Sheriff throughout the game.  Everyone has a sack to put a number of goods in.  There are legal, and illegal goods.  Players must announce what they have in their bag and hand it over to the sheriff.  If the Sheriff believes you, then you get your bag back and get to keep the goods you put in there.  But if the sheriff doesn’t believe you, then he can open your bag and inspect it.  If you were lying, you pay him a penalty. If you were telling the truth, the sheriff pays YOU the penalty.  Players with the most coins from their goods at the end is the winner.  This is one of the best social games out there!  Players constantly second guessing each other, wondering if they’re telling the truth, or bluffing.  You can also attempt to bribe the sheriff, but that could also blow up in your face.  It’s always surprising (and amusing) when the nicest person ends up smuggling several illegal goods past the sheriff.  Great game to play with friends!

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45. CASH N GUNS (2005) Designed by Ludovic Maublanc; Published by Asmodee/ for 4-8 players – Another party-style bluffing game!  This one has the players taking on the roles of bank robbers who have just pulled off a heist.  But just before they’re about to share the loot, people are getting itchy trigger fingers.  Players point guns (made of foam) at each other.  Everyone has 8 bullet cards.  3 of them are bangs while the rest of them are clicks.  If the person pointing at you has a bang card, then you’re out of the round and don’t get to share in the loot (plus you get a wound; 3 wounds and you’re out of the game!).  But if they were bluffing, and it was only a click, you’re safe.  You can also choose to back down before the bullet cards are revealed.  Sure, you won’t get to share the loot that round, but you also won’t get a wound.  I thought the game was pretty silly and fun when I first played it, but after the newest expansion came out last summer, this one shot up to be my favorite party/social game.  It adds special character cards, and even different types of guns!  Who doesn’t want to point guns at each other?  This one is a hoot.  Lots of laughing and shouting during this one.  Great for parties!

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44. FORBIDDEN DESERT (2013) Designed by Matt Leacock; Published by Gamewright/ for 2-5 players – Improves on Forbidden Island in every way (and I love that game too).  Players are working together as they search for a flying machine in the middle of the desert, during a ferocious sandstorm!  I love how the storm moves in this game, shifting tiles as the sand piles on top of them.  Finding the different parts for the flying machine is much more satisfying the finding the 4 treasures in Forbidden Island.  Here, it actually feels like you’re searching for them.  A great, thematic co-op game that adds more depth to the genre!

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43. LANTERNS (2015) Designed by Christopher Chung; Published by Renegade Games/ for 2-4 players – A beautiful tile-laying game.  Players are placing Japanese Lantern tiles to collect different colored lantern cards.  Then you can trade in sets of lantern cards for victory points.  There’s an interesting strategy here due to the fact that when you lay a tile, not only do you get a lantern card, but every other player does too.  Depending on where they’re sitting determines which card they get, since the tiles have 4 different possible colored lanterns.  Very simple and easy to teach, but with a nice amount of depth to it.  And I love the Japanese lantern theme.

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42. PAGODA (2014) Designed by Arve D. Fuhler; Published by AEG/ for 2 players – Another Asian-themed game.  This one has 2 players constructing Pagodas by playing different colored cards to place different colored columns and floors to create the pagodas.  The way you turn in cards to place columns and tiles reminds me a bit of Ticket to Ride.  But then there are special powers that each colored floor can give you when you build them.  It’s a nice asymmetrical game that has a cool 3-D element going on.

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41. THE PRODIGALS CLUB (2015) Designed by Vladimir Suchy; Published by Czech Game Editions/ for 2-5 players – Players are rich people who are sick of being respectable, so they’re trying to lose everything they have…. mainly because they’re bored.  It’s such a silly theme, but the game play is rich and complex.  Players compete to sell all of their possessions for cheap, lose votes in an election, and go down on the respect track.  What I really love about this game is that you are trying to lose the most points!  The thing is, you can’t just tank on one track, you have to balance it out for all three areas (possessions, election, respect), because your highest score from the 3 tracks will be your final score.  And then the lowest score wins!  That is very cool.  The game is very well-balanced.  Every game I’ve played of this has been extremely close.  The ridiculous theme really comes through in the artwork.  It does take a while to set up and teach, but once you get past that, it’s easy to get the hang of.  A very well designed game that is balanced nicely.

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That’s it for now!  Stay tuned for numbers 40-31, coming soon!

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