My First Top Ten

 If you've ever spent more than a week or so on any Facebook board gaming page, you've most likely seen a stranger's top nine games using the Pub Meeple ranking engine. It is interesting to gaze upon the three-by-three grid to see if some anonymous person on social media has similar tastes in games that you have, and I've been thinking about trying my hand at it- or finger, as it turns out. This simple to use system pits two games in your collection (or games you've played, among other criteria) head-to-head and asks you to simply select which game you prefer. After several hundred (or more or less) choices, the games are put into a numerical list that, in theory, represents the order in which you enjoy your games.

I have now gone through my collection using this ingenious little algorithm for the first time. Below, I submit to you, dear reader, my top ten (or more) games of all time (as of this moment).

#10 Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion- Cephalofair Games

When I first entered the hobby of board gaming, there was a monolith of gaming known as Gloomhaven. Wait, did I say there was a monolith of gaming? It is a monolith of gaming still, currently residing in the top spot on Board Game Geek's greatest board games of all-time! The first time I gazed upon the massive, ponderous box in a local game store was a jaw-dropping experience. That box (and, let's face it, the price tag) was completely overwhelming to a newbie. Enter Jaws of the Lion- a much more compact version of Gloomhaven with a gradual increase in learning the rules and concepts as you play. The introductory scenarios were brilliant. All of its intricacies make this game tense and exciting. It is difficult to get to the table- even with the spiral bound book replacing bulky cardboard locations, but it's one my brother and I look forward to each time we can make it happen.

#9 Barenpark- Lookout Games

Do I like bears? They're ok. I would have preferred big cats myself. Do I like this game? It's fantastic! Take a tile that you have and place it on your grid. If you cover up an emblem, you get to take a tile in that category. The game ends when a player completes four grids that represent their bear park. Some tiles are worth points, but there are also additional ways to score, adding extra re-playability. And if you play with people who need an easier experience, you can always ditch the extra ways to score and limit it to only scoring the tiles you laid down. That's the way I play with my family. It's still wonderful.

#8 Clank!- Renegade/Dire Wolf Digital

While I first played the In Space version where there is considerably more humor packed into the cards aboard Lord Eradikus' ship, I prefer the fantasy theme of Clank! over that of space. I love how you use the cards to move through a dragon's underground lair, fight monsters, and purchase new cards to add to your deck. Clank ingeniously interweaves press-your-luck and dials up the pressure knowing that if too many of your color cubes come out of that bag, you're toast.

#7 Wingspan- Stonemaier Games

A game about birds? Really? Those were my very unoriginal thoughts. However, when I finally saw a review, I was taken back by how gorgeous the game was. After I learned how it was played, I was intrigued. Intrigued enough that I shelled out the cost at a local Barnes and Noble (minus my 20% educator's discount). It was $48 plus tax well spent! This one becomes more and more loved with everyone as their understanding of how to play it grows. Having my cube travel from bird to bird in a particular habitat and accessing their powers is dopamine hit every time.

#6 Quacks of Quedlinburg- Northstar Games/CMYK

This one has grown on me and the people I play it with the more it hits the table. At first, people didn't care for this silly, making-a-potion themed, push-your-luck game because someone (I'm looking at myself here) taught it wrong. I guess you could say I blew it (what a terrible joke). Now, when I introduce this game to new people, they all say they want to get a copy. Some even go as far as trying to purchase it as soon as we finish playing our game. I'd like to give my impeccable teaching of the game the credit here, but it all belongs to the zaniness and excitement of Quacks of Quedlinburg. 

#5 Forgotten Waters- Plaid Hat Games

This game is absolutely dripping with theme. It's nigh impossible not to get wrapped up in the perfectly narrated story as it unfolds like a giant octopus stretching out after a good nap. The mechanics are light, which matches the mood created by the dialogue, but are fun and interesting. Players must make quick decisions on what to do that round by placing their workers on certain spots inside the lusciously illustrated locations book. While it's not a campaign game, the fact that each scenario can take around four hours to complete might be a turn off to some players, but that time goes by so fast. As they say, time flies by when you're having fun.

#4 Viticulture- Stonemaier Games

I had this game on my wishlist for a long time as it seemed like a lovely game. It was certainly well-regarded. Here is a game, I thought, that my wife would enjoy as well. When I played it for the first time- online with a friend- I removed it from my wishlist. I didn't purchase it, I just deleted it, glad that I hadn't taken the plunge and spent money on it. That was a disappointment to me, but I kept playing, determined to finish the game I had begun. After the game was over, I put it back on. Somehow my opinion completely changed in that final half. This game is as peaceful as a vineyard sunset while supplying the pressure of an unopened champagne bottle. I can't wait to play this one with my wife again!

#3 In the Hall of the Mountain King- Burnt Island Games

While it might not be apparent on this particular list, I really enjoy tile-laying games- particularly those with weighty decisions. In the Hall also has a heartbeat of resource management, making this a complex multi-level puzzle that feels different from other games I've played with similar, isolated mechanisms. Oh, and trading in one resource type for another feels so good!

#2 Century: Golem Edition- Plan B Games

Of my top ten, this is the one I've played the most. Century: Golem is fun, fast, intuitive, beautiful, and with great components right inside the box. The limited choices that players can take each turn make this quick. When playing with others who know what they can do and are planning ahead, there is practically no wait time between turns, which makes it easy to get to the table.

#1 Scythe- Stonemaier Games

As soon as I finished playing this game for the first time, I wanted to play it again. And I would have if I hadn't been trying to rid myself of unplayed games on my shelf. Scythe went from unplayed popular game to a game where I wanted everything- upgraded components, metal coins, expansions, you name it. I've even perused Etsy for ways to further improve the gaming experience. The Rise of Fenris expansion became a must have, and I began to shop around for it the very same day. Apparently it is currently out of print and difficult/expensive to get a copy. Very excited to see that Stonemaier is expecting it to be back in stock sometime before November!

Thoughts and Notes on the List (and 11-15)

  • There are three games on my top ten that I have only played once. Do they really deserve a spot on my top ten? I say yes. My family is my main play group, and while they are usually willing to try new games, there is definitely a lower threshold for complexity. That means that some of these games aren't experiences that would be appreciated by my family, and would actually drag down my overall feelings on them.

  • In a related note, my game days/nights with my gamer friends are few and far between. There are so many great games to play, that these times are often filled with new games that aren't necessarily suitable for family game nights. Too many games? That depends on who you ask, but I think the real problem here is that there are too few opportunities to play with my friends.

  • I enjoy deck building and worker placement, but while those games might appear more simplistic they are deceptively tricky. Yes, the text on a card might be easily deciphered, and yes, the worker placement spot tells you exactly what you can do, but finding combos and synergies between those cards/worker placement spots can be overwhelming for new players. So can the sheer number of choices. 

  • Scythe has me absolutely mesmerized! I've never been so enraptured by a board game before. It is very reminiscent to how I felt when I first played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. 

  • I'm really surprised that there are three Stonemaier games in my top ten and zero Grey Fox Games.

  • Which brings me to 11-15:
    • 11- Bang! The Dice Game (dV Giochi)
    • 12- Champions of Midgard (Grey Fox Games)
    • 13- Run, Fight or Die: Reloaded (Grey Fox Games)
    • 14- Deception: Murder in Hong Kong (Grey Fox Games)
    • 15- Downforce (Restoration Games)

  • Deception: Murder in Hong Kong has been the game that I'd always say was my favorite, even as I knew it was slipping. Fourteen is probably accurate.

  • Speaking of Deception, that and Bang! The Dice Game are the two games that are most responsible for getting me into the hobby.
Have you ever used Pub Meeple before? What are your top ten games? What do you think of my top ten? Leave your responses in the comments below!


  1. Hehe as always an awesome post my Brother. I thought there'd be Very Fox Games too. All of them great games. No bad choices here in your collection.


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