The first part of my top 10 is a heavily euro-centered list. Will it continue? Let’s find out, shall we?
Number 5 – Terraforming Mars
Terraforming Mars is a strategy game that is based on hard science. This game was published in 2016 by Stronghold Games here in the United States. Terraforming Mars was designed by Jacob Fryxelius, with artwork by Isaac Fryxelius. The game has numerous expansions, including one coming out later in 2019.
This is one of the two games that Beth and I share on our top 10 lists. Terraforming Mars is one of our most blinged out board games. The components in the box, especially the player boards, really needed to be upgraded, so we bought player board overlays to help compensate for the thinness of the player boards. So, if I do not love the game for its components, why do I love it?
I love the game play mechanics – the cards that you are using to build your strategy, trying to figure out how to make the cards that you choose every turn work together so that you can both terraform the planet and beat your opponent. Now, Beth and I are care bear players, so we do not use the mechanic of stealing plants (or other resources) from each other, but we love the game anyway. Supposedly the balance of the game is affected if you do not use the stealing mechanic, but we have never found it to be so. Maybe that is just us and our play style!
Number 4 – Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island was originally published in 2012 by Z-Man Games in the United States, although it was reprinted two years ago. Robinson Crusoe was designed by Ignacy Trzewiczek. The version of the game that I have features artwork by Tomasz Bentkowski and Mateusz Bielski. Robinson Crusoe is a survival game that you will likely not survive.
One of the best things about Robinson Crusoe to me is the story telling aspect of the game. I love games that tell stories and Robinson Crusoe does it so very well. There are numerous scenarios to choose from and they give the players the framework for the story that they are going to tell.
Another thing that I appreciate about Robinson Crusoe is the amount of support that the game has received through the years. The game has another big box expansion coming out in 2019, but Portal has supported the game with numerous mini-expansions, primarily through Portal’s website.
Number 3 (Tie) – Mage Knight: The Board Game
I simply cannot choose between Mage Knight and Shadowrun: Crossfire, so there is a tie at position 3 on my list. Mage Knight: The Board Game was published originally in 2011 by WizKids and is designed by Vlaada Chvatil. The artwork was done by J. Lonnee, Chris Raimo, and Milan Vavron. The “Ultimate Edition” of the game came out in 2018 and it consolidates the base game and the expansions as well as adds several new cards.
Mage Knight is one of the games on my list, the other being La Granja, that I play almost exclusively solo. Beth does not care for this game and although my daughter C does, she is rarely home these days as she is off at college. Mage Knight is a terrific solo experience. There are numerous scenarios available for the game, both in the base game and in the expansions.
One of the biggest draws for Mage Knight to me is the exploration aspect of the game. Players are faced with a map that contains monasteries, ruins, mage towers, etc. You know that they are on the map, but have no idea what they contain. Will your forces be enough to overcome the enemies that are there? You will never know until you explore!
Number 3 (Tie) – Shadowrun: Crossfire
Shadowrun: Crossfire was published in 2014 by Catalyst Game Labs. There are several designers listed for the game, but the lead designer was Mike Elliott. The game was illustrated by Victor Perez Corbella.
Shadowrun: Crossfire is an adventure card game. It initially came with one primary mission, the Crossfire mission, but an expansion was released that gave further scenarios to be played, including Beth’s and my favorite, Extraction.
It is hard for me to explain my love for this game. I love that the game is a cooperative game. I love the futuristic, science fiction setting of the game. I love the stories that you can tell as you play through the game. I love that the game is not easy to win – it smacks you upside the head and leaves you begging to try again.
Number 2 – Macao
Macao was published in 2009 by alea in United States. It was designed by the marvelous Stefan Feld and illustrated by Julien Delval and Harold Lieske. Macao is another strategy game by Feld that features dice. This is another of Feld’s “point salad” games in which the player will earn points for shipping goods, taking actions with the cards that are acquired throughout the game, and managing their assets wisely.
I love euro games that incorporate elements that they typically do not use, such as Macao’s use of dice. In Macao, you are rolling 6 dice, choosing 2 of them to use to plan actions for the future.
That is what I love about Macao – you have to plan for now and later. You have partial information available to you all through the game – there are 24 cards placed face up around the board that all the players can see. You do not want to get stuck with buildings on your board that you cannot place, so planning well is really what this game is all about. I am terrible at it, but love the game nonetheless!
Number 1 – Arkham Horror, Second Edition
Arkham Horror (Second Edition) was published in 2005 by Fantasy Flight Games. It was designed by Kevin Wilson and Richard Launius and illustrated by a myriad of artists. This game is in no way a euro game – it is pure Ameritrash.
Arkham Horror is probably not a game that you would think I would love, but I do. It is one of the first games that I bought when I was introducing my girls into modern board gaming. Beth is not a fan, but my daughter C is. The theme of the game is based on the horror novels and short stories of H.P. Lovecraft. Horror is typically a genre of both games and books that I shy away from, but Arkham Horror is the one notable exception.
So why is this my number one all-time favorite game? For the sheer game experience! For me, this game provides me experiences that are unmatched by any other game. I only get to play this when C is home – I refuse to play it solo although it can be played that way – but the experiences that she and I have together as we play are unmatched by any other gaming experience.
So, does my top 10 list surprise you? Do you agree or disagree with my list? Please comment!