I’m continuing my annual countdown of my top 50 board games of all time! If you missed the first post, you can find it here:
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#40 - Under Falling Skies (NEW)
I have never really considered myself a solo board gamer, and over the years I have only tried solo variants a few times, often only to learn a game before playing it multiplayer. Over the past year, I have finally realized that solo gaming can be a great way to get that board gaming “fix” when there isn’t the opportunity to play with a group. I’ve enjoyed a few solo variants of games that were already in my collection, but Under Falling Skies is the first purchase I made specifically for solo play; in fact, it is a solitaire-only game! It is a very clever space-invaders-themed puzzle that has a shocking amount of variable content for a relatively small-box game. It is challenging, but most of the randomness is “input randomness” where, after the initial roll of the dice, you have a lot of control over how each round plays out. The ease of getting it to the table (only have to convince yourself with a solitaire game, ha!) has led to it being my most played game so far this year, which is evidence that I’ve really been enjoying it.
#39 - PitchCar (-6)
It has been far far too long since I’ve played a game of PitchCar. I’ve had so many great sessions over the years, but it becomes harder and harder to rank games when you are relying on memories that are over a year old. That said, I can remember pretty vividly how much I have enjoyed playing PitchCar, and those experiences are enough for it to hold its own on this list. It’s simple flicking fun, but the variety of tracks and opportunity for amazing shots just really adds up to an experience that is unique among dexterity games. I will need to make a point of getting it played this next year!
#38 - Space Base (-9)
Space Base is one of those games that is just inherently entertaining to play, as each roll of the dice is a chance of triggering the bonuses that you yourself have configured. There is nearly no downtime since you are impacted by the die results on every player’s turn, and the randomized market helps to push you towards different strategies each time you play. I also enjoy the tension between building up your engine and going after victory points, as success is really dependent on knowing when to choose one or the other. I can also now say that I have successfully pulled off a win with the “auto-win card.” 😉
#37 - Escape: The Curse of the Temple (+7)
Escape: The Curse of the Temple is one of the older games in my collection, and one that has quite the history of bouncing around on my list. This year, it manages to climb 7 spots, which really is a result of it getting played more than in recent years, and those sessions reminding me of how consistently fun it is. The game is light, no doubt, but it just packs so much enjoyment into a 10-minute time frame. The Illusions and Quest expansions have been vital to its longevity in my collection, as they help each game to feel different and keep the temple layouts fresh. I had the opportunity to play Project E.L.I.T.E. this year as well, but there were a few things about that experience that didn’t click for me, and it actually reminded me of just how good Escape is.
Read My Full Review:
Board Game Review: Escape: The Curse of the Temple
Escape: The Curse of the Temple is a cooperative game of frantic dice-rolling as players work together in an attempt to explore and escape the temple before it collapses, trapping them inside. The game is played in real-time with a 10-minute soundtrack, and players will all be moving simultaneously to try and overcome the time constraints.
#36 - Millennium Blades (-14)
One of the most unique experiences in my collection, Millennium Blades has you “wheelin’ and dealin’” as you buy and sell cards in real-time in pursuit of building a deck that can compete in the upcoming tournament. It is all about rapidly scanning through tons of cards and making connections that could combo together into an effective deck, while also focusing on tangential goals like building a collection of cards that can be sold. It isn’t a game I always feel like playing, but there is nothing like it and (especially with all the expansion content I have) it is a lot fun to just wing it and try new strategies or try to build a deck around specific cards. It is a game that has a very safe place in my collection, because there just isn’t going to be another game that scratches the same itch.
#35 - The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine (-8)
I enjoy trick-taking card games and I enjoy cooperative games, so it should come as no surprise that enjoy The Crew. The varied win conditions that come with each mission keep the challenge fresh, and I have enjoyed slowly going through the campaign simultaneously with three different groups. I am very much interested in the new Mission Deep Sea edition, especially since it will likely be a better option for sporadic plays that aren’t necessarily with one of my “campaign groups.” It feels like a modern classic to me, and I look forward to many more plays in the future.
#34 - Cartographers (-2)
Cartographers combines two of of the most-used mechanisms in the modern board game industry: the roll/flip-and-write genre and polyomino spatial puzzles. But the result is just so satisfying to play! I love that every game has different objectives, and it’s been fun playing through some of the expansion maps that came with the Collector’s edition that I backed on Kickstarter. It’s one of those games that I enjoy at such a basic level that my enjoyment hasn’t waned at all after 23 plays, and I don’t anticipate it fading as I continue playing it more. If there is one downside to the Collector’s edition, it is that the bigger box moves away from being a “small box” game, but the extra content has definitely been worth it.
#33 - Bunny Kingdom (-2)
Bunny Kingdom kind of lands in an awkward spot in my collection… On one hand, it is a fairly easy-to-learn drafting game that has a great spatial element and balance between short-term and long-term goals. On the other hand, scoring the game is pretty involved and the In the Sky expansion, while very fun, makes it even a little harder to get to the table with new players. But this is my list, and I still really enjoy Bunny Kingdom even though it didn’t see any play in the last year. I love that each turn allows you to draft two cards, and it is just fun to try to build up groups on the map to try to score the most points. I’ll make sure it gets played this next year!
#32- Roll for the Galaxy (+3)
I only played Roll for the Galaxy once in the past year, but as I was playing I was reminded, “man, this game just has a nice addictive flow to it!” The simultaneous play as each player allocates their personal dice pool and then perform the triggered phases before buying dice for the next round just has a great rhythm with no downtime and plenty of interesting decisions. While I wasn’t really a fan of the objectives module in the Ambition expansion, I really like all of the other additions and it gave the base game a nice boost in replay value. I may still enjoy its older brother even more (sorry, spoilers), but Roll for the Galaxy has really earned its place in my collection as a 30 minute filler for when I am looking for something more strategic.
#31- Gloomhaven (-3)
Campaign and legacy games are always hard to rank each year, as they typically have a strong push when they are new and actively being played, but fade over time as I complete the campaigns or simply don’t play them as much. Even when I was actively playing Gloomhaven, my enjoyment had come down a notch as the novelty wore off and it settled into a very similar cooperative puzzle each session. But that cooperative puzzle is still excellent! Enough to push Gloomhaven above many other games on this list that I really really enjoy. I don’t know what my future with Gloomhaven looks like, but it has provided many hours of enjoyment and there is a reason that it is beloved by so many board game hobbyists.
Continue to the next set of 10!