Once upon a time I wrote a series of posts on the top ten games on Boardgamegeek. Between the time the posts went live and now much has changed. Here’s a quick look at the best ten board games in the world now and then, and what places them where they are on the list.
Before jumping into the actual analysis, let me quickly refresh some of the facts from two years ago – and by “some of the facts” I mean the BGG top ten list from May 2014. So, here it is:
Also, if you want to dig deep into the forgotten lands of the old NSKN Games Blog, you can follow this link to get to the then-current analysis divided into five parts. Don’t worry though, this time it will only take me three posts to get through the whole top ten.
Is everybody up to speed? Great, let’s dig in.
Le Havre is a solid game, and it is a design of Uwe Rosenberg, the man behind Agricola which once occupied the coveted first place on the list. Today it’s been bumped to position 23, and its place is occupied by 7 Wonders Duel.
Antoine Bauza’s second entry into the speed-civ genre has thus surpassed the original game it grew from, and honestly, it’s no surprise. While 7 Wonders had really used the full potential of card drafting to create a 30 minute epic, Duel expanded the drafting mechanism creating an absolutely new way of making it work for two players. Plus, it’s a tight, polished design, and a spinoff of a game that had arguably become a household brand.
Here’s an interesting swap. Castles and Mage Knight were both published the same year, and while there’s nothing strange in a solid game losing some of its popularity (Mage Knight sits still proudly on position 13), it does not often happen that it is succeeded by a game that is not significantly newer, and one that did not make the top ten two years ago.
That being said, Castles of Burgundy is a game that definitely deserves its current spot. By many it’s considered the best Stefan Feld design, and it’s certainly one that manages to balance entry difficulty and gameplay depth. Plus, it is a game from a specialized division (Alea) of an industry giant (Ravensburger), so it will always have a leg up when it comes to the number of gamers it reaches.
Another interesting swap. Interesting, because it now houses Agricola, which is on its way to leave the top ten, and it used to house Power Grid; a great game but one that now has rightly left the top ten. And before I’m put to fire and pitchforks, I want to say that it is “rightly” out, because it seems there is no more place among the best for games that require a minimum of three players. Don’t worry, I’ll come back to this in the final post of this small series.
Now, as for Agricola, Mayfair has already signed the death sentence, by dividing the once (but not future) king of board games into two separate products. This effectively makes this version of Agricola and out of print game, and these do not tend to stay in the top ten for very long.
Here’s a relatively new game I’m personally happy to see in the top ten. Rebellion shows once again how tight, solid and inspiring an Ameritrash (or is it Amerithrash already?) design can be. An impressive blend of theme, randomness and strategy, Rebellion manages to recreate the emotions and narrative of the movies, and still be a great game in its own right. With the power of the Star Wars brand, and the FFG/Asmodee behind it, sky is the limit for Rebellion.
As for Eclipse, it’s a game that created a lot of buzz and proved that the space 4X genre is far from dead. It’s clever design keeps it still at a respectable 18th position, but the existence of strong competitors that come closer to the iconic Twilight Imperium (without replicating its length), will forever dilute Eclipse’s fan base, and keep it out of the top ten permanently.
With positions 7-10 covered, it’s already clear that the top ten has changed significantly over the last two years, as our tastes are constantly shifting. Plus, as evidenced by games like 7 Wonders Duel, completely new things are sometimes introduced into the world of gaming, making a really big splash.
Join me next time to continue the walk through positions 6, 5 and 4.