Austin’s Top 100 Modern Tabletop Games of All Time!!! (#30-21)

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 30-21:

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30. STAR REALMS (2014) Designed by Robert Dougherty & Darwin Kastle; Published by White Wizard Games/ for 2-4 players – A wonderful 2-player deckbuilding game, that plays in about 20 minutes (sometimes less).  Players are buying fighters from different factions to attack the other player, and also buying bases to protect themselves from attacks.  What I really love about this is how you can get bonuses if you play cards from the same faction.  It’s pretty cool how the game starts slow (only being able to do one or two damage per turn), then builds up to an exciting conclusion, which usually ends up with one player having a ridiculous combo and being able to obliterate their opponent in one swift stroke.  Being able to play this multiple times in an hour really helps get this one to the table often.

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29. THE BATTLE AT KEMBLE’S CASCADE (2014) Designed by Anders & Olle Tyrland; Published by Z-Man Games/ for 2-5 players – Remember those old sci-fi arcade games from the 80’s like Space Invaders and (especially) Galaga?  Well, this is pretty much a board game version of those types of games, complete with 8-bit graphics and a scrolling board.  Players are competing to see who can get the most points by destroying enemy ships, and how much damage they can deal to the big boss at the end.  You can upgrade your ship with cool weapons and boosters too!  The way that this game emulates a scrolling screen is simply brilliant.  It really feels like those arcade games!  And the way the boss comes out at the end is super cool!  There’s 4 different bosses that can come out too, so you can play this multiple times without it feeling completely the same.  And the name of the currency in this game is called Balonium!  So there’s that too!

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28. PORTA NIGRA (2016) Designed by Wolfgang Kramer & Michael Kiesling; Published by Stronghold Games/ for 2-4 players – Great Euro game that has players contributing to 4 famous buildings in ancient Rome.  First of all, the components of the bricks you get to build with are pretty nifty.  But it’s the card play that really won me over here.  The main mechanic is playing a card, then choosing 2 or 3 of the actions listed on the card to do that turn.  Like building a structure, collecting different colored bricks, gaining money, and other things.  I think it’s neat how the brick component can count for a number of different bricks depending on where you buy the brick from.  This is a really well designed area control game, that feels like you’re REALLY doing something while playing.

 

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27. QWIXX (2013) Designed by Steffen Benndorf; Published by Gamewright/ for 2-5 players -This is the game that I’d rather play than Yahtzee.  On your turn you roll six dice (2 white, one red, one blue, one green, and one yellow).  You also have a score sheet that has 4 rows (one for each of the colors, except white).  The goal is to cross out numbers from left to right in each row.  The number of how many you crossed off at the end of the game, will determine how many points you’ll get in each row.  Very simple, and very satisfying.  It plays very fast too, and appeals to all ages.  Easily my favorite straight-up dice game!

 

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26. THE GAME (2015) Designed by Steffen Benndorf; Published by IDW Games; for 2-5 players – This is the second game by Steffen Benndorf on my list in a row.  He creates really cut and dry games that appeal to a wide range of players.  This one is a co-op game where players are trying to empty the main card deck to 4 different piles.  2 ascending and 2 descending.  You can never tell anyone what you have in your hand, and you must always play at least 2 cards.  There’s also a way you can bring a pile up or down, which is crucial.  This game really forces players to work together, when to be selfish, and when to make a sacrifice.  I think it’s a great team building game, and when you actually win the game (by emptying the deck and all the cards in your hand) it really feels satisfying!  A great abstract card game!

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25. AZTACK (2014) Designed by Brad Ross & Jim Winslow; Published by Blue Orange Games/ for 2-4 players – This entry is going to be a real head scratcher for most people.  What can I say, this game came to me at the right time.  I was just getting into gaming and I picked this up on a whim.  It’s an abstract stacking  game in which players are trying to get rid of all of their domino-like pieces from their hand, and onto the temple area.  First one to get rid of their pieces win.  You have to match either the symbols on your domino, or the color of the symbol of the piece you are building on top of.  There really isn’t much to it, but I just love how the structure takes on different shapes and can go different ways.  The temple everyone creates by stacking their dominos looks different every time.  It got pretty much lukewarm reviews by everyone who reviewed it, but it really grabbed me.  I can just play this one over and over again without getting sick of it.  It’s satisfying to me building a temple out of dominos.  A really good game for families and new gamers….. and maybe for hardcore gamers who want to unwind in between the heavy stuff.

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24. DEAD OF WINTER (2014) Designed by Isaac Vega & Jon Gilmour; Published by Plaid Hat Games/ for 2-5 players – One of the best thematic games out there!  Players are working together, trying to survive a zombie apocalypse.  There are several different scenarios to play, most of them has a the players trying to achieve a specific goal (like collecting medicine, killing a certain number of zombies, etc.).  Each player controls at least 2 (sometimes more) survivors, and they travel to different locations searching for food, weapons, gas, avoiding zombies, etc.  There’s a cool story aspect to the game by having events happen if certain things trigger them.  And…. one of the players also could be a traitor!  The mechanics themselves aren’t anything special, but what makes this a special experience is the player interaction.  That makes the game!  Players constantly second guessing their teammates adds a great amount of tension to every game.  And the feeling of impending doom is always there.  I also really enjoy all the different surviors you get to play.  They all have a different feel to them.  The theme really comes to life here.  It definitely feels like you’re in a movie while playing this one.  Awesome!

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23. CARCASSONNE (2000) Designed by Klaus Jurgen Wrede; Published by Z-Man Games/ for 2-5 players – One of the all time classic gateway Eurogames.  This is the one that introduced the Meeple component!  A very simple, but satisfying tile-laying game that has players completing roads, buildings and monasteries.  It’s easy enough for the youngest player to understand, but can also be played in a very strategic way.  It’s a staple for every board game collection.

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22. AQUASPHERE (2015) Designed by Stefan Feld; Published by Tasty Minstrel Games/ for 2-4 players -One of the most complex games I’ve ever played is also one of my favorites!  Players are scientists working in an underwater facility, sending out submarines to do research, collecting unknown crystals, removing pesky octopods from the lab, and expanding their lab.  The actions are relatively simple, but you must program your bots to perform the actions you want to do, ahead of time, which can be quite tricky to get the timing of the actions right.  I love the circular board, the wacky theme, the wooden pieces, and the brain burning strategy that you must apply to achieve your objectives.  I love how everything works together here.  It’s a difficult game to master, but I find it absolutely fascinating!

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21. PATCHWORK (2014) Designed by Uwe Rosenberg; Published by Mayfair/ for 2 players – One of the best 2 player games available, that can be taught to just about anyone.  You are constructing a quilt on your own player board by purchasing pieces from the middle of the play area.  The pieces are kind of like Tetris pieces that you are trying to fit on your board, creating few empty spaces as possible since each empty space is negative 2 points at the end of the game.  I love that buttons are the currency in this game, which is a nice touch and adds a good amount of flavor to the theme.  It has a cool buying mechanic that has players only being able to choose from 3 pieces at a time.  There are also ways to have multiple turns in a row, by the way your player piece moves on the time board.  There is a good amount of strategy mixed with a puzzle-like, building aspect.  I’ve played this with heavy gamers, and with people who have never played a modern board game in their life.  Everyone I have shown this too has fallen in love with it.  I really can’t think of many other 2 player games that are better than this one.  It’s easy to teach, super fun to play, and is just the right length (around 20 minutes).

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That’s it for now!  Stay tuned for numbers 20-11, coming soon!

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