50 FAVORITE GAMES, 2014 EDITION

Since the end of the year brings out numerous Top 100/50/25/10 Games of All Time Lists, I thought I would throw my hat in the ring.

My list is a little different, it is my favorite games, listed alphabetically.  While I do have games that I like better than others, not in all situations.  As an example, Mage Wars is a top 10 game for me, if played with two people,  With 3 or 4 people, it doesn’t make the top 50.  How much time there is to play, who I am playing with, how many people I am playing with, how much table space is available, and lighting all cause games to move up and down the list or off the list.  Plus, its my list and I can make it any way I want to.  So it is alphabetical.

I have some games or game types that I have listed in my Hall of Fame, published here previously.  Some games have been important to me as I have aged, and while they might not make the list of my current 50 favorite games, felt they needed a nod.  As an example, Monopoly was in the top 5 played games in each decade of my life except for the 2010’s.  Will I play Monopoly now, sure, but I don’t want a steady diet of it.  How can I not show it some love when it has been so important to me in my gaming life, hence, the Hall of Fame.

I had one criteria for games to make the list, I must have played them at least twice, and most 5 times, although I broke that rule several times for games that I felt were deserving.

Some numbers to help put this list in perspective, I started logging games on Boardgame Geek on 6/30/2012.   I have played 100’s of different games 1000’s of times previous to that date.  As of 11/9/2014, I have 1585 logged plays of 284 different games.

On to the games!

7 WONDERS – 14 plays –  A fantastic drafting, set collection game.  Looks great, civilization building with several unique ways to build victory points.  Plays well with 2 to 7.

ALHAMBRA – 21 plays – A great tile laying game with a unique buy mechanic.

ASCENSION – 13 plays –  A tight deckbuilder.  This is an example of a game I did not like after my first playing session.  Came back to it 18 months later, and my opinion changed, maybe because I had been exposed to many games by then.  In my opinion, the best game to teach the deckbuilder concept to gamers.

BIBLIOS – 3 plays – A neat little drafting, bidding card game.  A fast game that needs to get to the table more.

BLOKUS – 18 plays – No, it is not Tetris the board game, even though at first glance it looks like it.  Colorful, easy to teach, great for kids.  One of the best spatial relationship games.

CAN’T STOP – 11 plays – The father of push your luck games.  Easy to teach.  Great for kids, helps them understand probabilities.

CARCASONNE – 74 plays – THE tile laying game, great replayability.  Numerous expansions available.  One of the Classics that would be in my list of essential designer games.

CASTLE PANIC – 18 plays – A great cooperative game with Orcs!  Great theme, defend the castle.  Easy to teach.  Good game for kids, made better by its expansion, The Wizard’s Tower!

CORE WORLDS – 6 plays –  A deckbuilding civilization game with a space theme.  Good artwork.  Definitely needs more table time.

DEAD OF WINTER – 4 plays – The newest game on my list, survivalist zombie game set in Alaska.  Dripping with theme.  A semi cooperative game with a traitor possibility.  Neat mechanics, especially the crossroads mechanic.  Needs more plays.

DOMINION – 8 plays – The deckbuilder that made deckbuilders popular.  No theme, but very fast game once you learn it.  Great replayability with numerous tableau options.   Has numerous expansions, which I don’t have any of, since I have barely scratched the surface of the different options in the base game.  Another game that needs more plays.  Another Classic.

DUNGEON COMMAND – 11 plays –  A good looking D&D based battle game.  Beautiful, painted miniatures.  Modular set up.  Five different factions, but needs another “good guys” faction, having only one.  Great head to head battle game that doesn’t get enough love.

EONS –  3 plays – A deckbuilder with a great theme, universe building.  This game definitely needs more plays.

FIREFLY – 4 plays – A good looking game dripping with theme.  Misbehavin’, smuggling, pirates, pick up and deliver, and Reavers all make this a great game.  Takes a while to set up and play, takes up a lot of table space, but worth every second!

FLASHPOINT FIRE RESCUE – 11 plays – Being a firefighter in a box.  Great theme, cooperative, with OK art work (some hate it), that can be very tense.  Several expansions available.

FORBIDDEN ISLAND – 10 plays – A great looking cooperative game, easy to teach, great for kids.  Great replayability as the board is different every time.

GAME OF THRONES, THE LIVING CARD GAME – 3 plays – I love deckbuilders and Game of Thrones, so this one is a no brainer.  Great art work.  I have a problem not being able to get two player games to the table enough, and this one is a perfect example.  This would be very high on my number of plays list if I had the opportunity to play it more.

HANABI – 6 plays – This is a love it or hate it game, trying to make sets of fireworks while not being able to look at your own cards while seeing every one else’s.  Needs the right group of people to play.

HIVE – 11 plays –  Great 2 player game, with awesome Bakelite pieces. This is a game that is a true Classic.  I love this game and lost it the first 9 times I played it!  Definitely needs to be played more.

KING OF TOKYO – 20 plays – A great dice chucking game, with giant monsters hammering each other in Tokyo.  Quick, easy to teach, great for kids, this game is destined to become a classic.

LEGENDARY ENCOUNTERS, AN ALIEN DECK BUILDING GAME – 5 plays – The name says it all, any game in space, with THE Aliens, Ripley and Hudson is going to get a thumbs up from me.  Cooperative, easy to learn, nice art work, it has it all going for it.  Very replayable, with the first four Aliens movie versions.  LOVE THIS GAME!

LEGENDARY; A MARVEL DECK BUILDING GAME – 28 plays – Awesome artwork, super heroes, evil mastermind villains, this game rocks.  With the Aliens game above, Upper Deck, a baseball card company, has two FANTASTIC games that I just love.  A very tense game.

LORD OF THE RINGS, THE LIVING CARD GAME – 24 plays – Can be played either as a cooperative game or solo, and both are great plays.  Very tense, with great art work.  Would love to get it to the table more with 2 or more players.

MAGE WARS – 9 plays – A great game with great art work in which you get to build your own spellbook.  Each Mage is very different in feel and play.  A FANTASTIC 2 player game!

MUNCHKIN – 4 plays – I know lots of people HATE this game, but not me!  The ultimate in take that, stab your buddy in the back game.  MUST be played with the right people.  Doesn’t get to the table enough!

PANDEMIC – 33 plays – THE cooperative game.  Very thematic, running around the world trying to stop plagues, can you say Ebola? Nice art and components.  Very tense.  A Classic.

PATHFINDER, THE ADVENTURE CARD GAME, RISE OF THE RUNELORDS – 10 plays – A deckbuilder in which you carry your character on from one scenario to the next.  Can be very tense, with a feel of adventuring against the evil hoards.

POLICE PRECINCT – 17 plays – A cooperative game that has a lot of theme, trying to solve a murder while dealing with robberies, street gang violence, car accidents and general mayhem.  Playing this game gives me a feel for what it must be like to live in Chicago!  Duck!

QIN – 8 plays – Another area control spatial relationship tile laying game.  Not much theme, but tense, and the game can change drastically with one tile placement.

QUARRIORS – 10 plays – A dice building game, based on deck builders, with dice!  Building up a bunch of dice and chucking them, two of my favorite things.  A great game that doesn’t get enough love!  Or enough table time!

QWIRKLE – 14 plays – A unique set collection game, with a spatial aspect.  Plays equally well with 2 to 4, destined to be a Classic.

RACE FOR THE GALAXY – played 22 times – A civilization deck builder in which you get to feed off of other players decisions.  A Classic that doesn’t get played enough.

REVOLVER –  4 plays – A two player asymmetrical western game.  You are either the sheriff and his posse or the outlaw and his gang, trying to eliminate the outlaws or catch the train to escape if you are the outlaws.  I love westerns, and this definitely has not seen the table enough!

RUNE AGE – 18 plays – Another deckbuilder, set in a fantasy universe.  I have only played this solitaire, but it can play up to four.  I got this based on the game Rune Wars, which was fair, but I liked the universe.  Would love to play this with 2 or more.

SAY ANYTHING – played 5 times – A great party game, best played with people who know each other, then all of the inside jokes and call backs are even more funny.  Still fun with strangers, but again, better with close friends and family.

SENTINELS OF THE MULTIVERSE – played 55 times – A cooperative super hero game that is loads of fun, and often very tense.  Fantastic replayability with all of the super heroes, villains, and locations, thousands of possible combinations.  A great game!

SETTLERS OF CATAN – played 8 times – Wood for Sheep?  The Classic that started the modern board game craze, it is still a fun game that stands up well.

SMASH UP – played 12 times – A unique card game  ‘smashing” two factions together, such as Robot Vampires, Ninja Zombies, Giant Ant Wizards and so on.  Great fun, with tons of replayability. since there are so many factions available.  Definitely needs to get to the table more.

STAR REALMS – played 113 times – My most logged plays on Boardgame Geek.  A quick, space themed head to head deck builder with direct attack on your opponent.  Has two great solitaire versions, which is why it has jumped to the top of the most logged plays list.  Looking forward to the expansion decks coming soon.

STAR TREK FLEET CAPTAINS – played 3 times – This is definitely Star Trek in a box.  Exploration, missions, spying, attacking, Klingons, Romulans, Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Picard, Data, this game has it all!  Not a cheap game, with an MSRP of $100, I would have gladly paid another $20 for better components.  Wiz Kids produced a great game, but better card stock, tile stock and painted miniatures would have made this THE game for me.  It is still visually stunning, and when we have pulled it out at the game store, it has drawn the most questions and onlookers.  If you love Star Trek, this is the game for you.  The game that more than any other, needs to be on my table more often.

STAR WARS, THE LIVING CARD GAME – played 8 times – My favorite LCG, not played near enough.  Nice art, great fun, although there are some stretches in logic, such as a Rebel Commando taking out a Star Destroyer.  FFG, the publisher of this and all of the other LCG’s have done a great job with the line.  In addition to Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones, I also have Warhammer Invasion, Call of Cthulhu, and Conquest Warhammer 40k.  The only one I don’t have is Android Netrunner, which I have played.  I won both times I have played, but I am not a fan.

STAR WARS: X WING MINIATURES GAME – played 6 times –  A great miniatures game that has beautiful mini’s.  Easy to teach and learn, and pretty quick play. Feels like flying a combat mission!

STONE AGE – played 4 times – My favorite worker placement game.  Beautiful components, and great fun.

SUMMONER WARS – played 5 times – A great 2 player game that, like many others, does not see enough table time.  Plaid Hat Games has done a great job making each of the factions very different.  Great replayability.

THUNDERSTONE ADVANCE – played 6 times – A semi cooperative deckbuilder, set in a fantasy setting.

TICKET TO RIDE – played 73 times – This game has been called the new Monopoly.  I’m not sure I agree with that, I don’t believe any of the designer games will see the widespread exposure that monopoly has.  A great set collection route building game, easy to teach and learn.  A great starter game, and a Classic.

TIMELINE/CARDLINE – played 50 times – A family of games based on the same premise, more or less than what is on the card line.  Very easy to teach and play, but not great for kids in most versions, because most are based on historical dates.  The animals versions are kid friendly.  Great filler game.

TIMES UP – played 6 times – The best party game in my opinion.  Easy to teach and learn, I have seen quiet people get really animated while playing this game.  A ton of fun!

TOUCH OF EVIL – played 2 times – I love the Sleepy Hollow genre, and I think this game portrays that very well.  Great fun, and can be very tense.  The only game on the list I don’t own.

TRAINS – played 3 times – A deckbuilder with a unique twist, a map where you are building your railroads.

ZULUS ON THE RAMPARTS – played 27 times – A solitaire only game that is very tense.  You can loose on the second turn if the wrong cards come up.  I probably only win one out of 3 times.

There you have it, my 50 favorite games.  I am sure the list will change next year, as I get more plays in of games I already have, and play some new ones.

What are your favorite games?
Jeff Chattin

Great Gaming Gang!

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