2019: Top 10 Board Games

I am a tabletop gamer through and through. While roleplaying games and miniature games have accounted for a lot of my play time, board games are certainly my favorite. They promote social interaction, help people break out of their shell, are versatile for many different types of crowds, and great for many kinds of occasions. The board gaming world has seen an explosion in the past decade, and now some 18 thousand board games are ranked on "The Geek". Games have become better produces, with stunning artwork, and streamlined gameplay. However many older games still stand the test of time in a way that other forms of entertainment often struggle to do. With the decade behind us, I wanted to share my own top 10 board games of all time.

Number 10: Splendor

Splendor fits into a unique category of games where the shear brilliance of the game mechanics takes the forefront. Turns are quick and choices are limited, and yet every action you take delicately effects the choices of every other player. I would put this into a group of games including Century Spice Road, and yet this one shines for the stunning ease of play and rapidly build up of tension.

Number 9: Race for the Galaxy

The original master of engine building, the intricacy of card effects and the expressive symbolism of Race for the Galaxy make it withstand the test of time. How you spend your resources to acquire more cards can exponentially grow your capabilities, or can seem like a haphazard mess if not done right. The feeling of accomplishment after growing your galactic empire makes this game stand out.

Number 8: Carcassonne

Beautiful and elegant, Carcassonne makes for a nice introduction to tile placement. The theme and gameplay draws out feelings of exploration and cooperation as you build a puzzle with the other players. At the same time the competition for the best meeple and tile placement offer a competitive experience.

Number 7: Ascension X: War of Shadows

I am not a fan of deck builders. However this one does it right by offering diverse card affects and strategies, keeping the competition high but the "take that" element low.

Number 6: Photosynthesis

Stunningly beautiful, the competition in this game is only outmatched by the amazing forest that comes to life as you play. The ebb and flow of available resources as the sun rotates and the forest grows and thins can be used in a multiplying fashion, propelling you to victory. However just as you seem to be doing well, balancing mechanics prevent exponential success allowing other players to take over.

Number 5: Ticket to Ride

The amount of strategy in this game, combines with it's capability to be used as an introductory game, gives Ticket to Ride a high spot on my list. I can enjoy this game in a relaxed or competitive setting. The mechanics are streamlined and yet the options and tactics seem to always have new layers of subtly.

Number 4: Copenhagen

Copenhagen is the type of game that you can sit back and relax, strive to do your best and yet applaud whoever wins. It is elegant to look at and relaxing to play. It seems to combine the best of streamlined play, non confrontational competition, and diverse options and player powers.

Number 3: Merchants of Araby

This is simply the best trading and merchant style game that I have played. The key to success is not the mechanics or the rules, but competitive cooperation with other players. You simply cannot succeed without cooperating with others, and yet your goal is to get the better deal off of every interaction. The ways you can work are unlimited, and to get the right deal might require three or four people each being a part of a complex trade.

Number 2: The Castles of Burgundy

Another example of non confrontation competition mixed with a high degree of strategy. A theme is unraveling of the types of games I like best. You want to win, but if someone else wins you are equally impressed by their skill. This one multiplies game mechanics and routes to victory, creating a network of strategies to employ, conditioned by the circumstances that evolve as the game unfolds.

Number 1: Viticulture Essential Edition

Everything that I said about The Castles of Burgundy could also be said about Viticulture. However this one simply does it better, with more intricate and engaging core mechanics with planting fields, harvesting grapes, and creating and selling wine. Understanding that process is the first step to learning the game. Developing a strategy for how to do it efficiently is the key to victory and is the process that is fun to go through time and time again.

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