Australian Railways — The third Early Railways Game on the list. The three games are almost identical, but this one’s different, and the best: it features organic link growth. So, instead of railroad links appearing in the middle of nowhere, they form a contiguous network. That’s pretty clever, huh. This is a good game of railroads, auctions and debt.
Indonesia — A Splotter classic, I bought mine directly from the Splotter guys at Essen in 2005. This gets played rarely, but it’s a fascinating game. I’m not sure how I’d feel about it if I played it more often, but at least rarely played it is a pleasure.
Eurorails — The GCL Amoeba discussion group and Eric Brosius in particular encouraged me to try crayon rail games, and for me Eurorails was the obvious choice. It turned out to be a very pleasant game; sure it’s not as exciting as the 18xx games, for example, but it plays reasonably fast (at least if you keep the player count low) and is fun to play.
Stich-Meister — Too bad there hasn’t been an English edition of this one. This is a rather entertaining trick-taking game, with all the special rules. Sometimes you get a bit pedestrian rounds, as the default scoring rules are boring, but with a good set of rules the game can get really interesting. I think this is a must for trick-takers.
1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight — One of the best 18xx games in my opinion. A bit like the good old 1825, but with interesting twists. There’s an added bonus that this works really well with just two players.
Catan — Talk about true classics. This was the game that introduced me to the euro board game revolution, so even though I went through the mandatory period of hating Catan, I still think fondly of it. These days I actually enjoy playing it, as well.
Ta Yü — I generally hate connection games, but not this one. I’m happy to own the original Kosmos edition – I purchased it when I went to the second recording of my Who Wants to Be a Millionare stint and knew I’ll end up with some serious money. It was a bit expensive for my student finances otherwise. Anyway, I’ve enjoyed this game for years, and I think has some serious staying power, it’s such an elegant and fun game.
Linko! — A very solid filler card game. It’s a bit odd and unlike other games, but once it clicks, it’s good fun. This one’s a staple game that I’m almost always carrying with me.
Battle Line — I played this for the first time in 2000. The tactics cards were involved and the explanation left me a bit hazy, so I didn’t like the game, but fortunately I gave it another chance. I’ve played over 80 games since. But never with tactics cards!
Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper — I’ve so far tried two of the Mystery Rummy games. Jekyll & Hyde is pretty awful, but Jack the Ripper is excellent, particularly with two players.
Schnäppchen Jagd — An old Uwe Rosenberg game from 1998, I got this really late – but it did turn out to be one of the better trick-taking games for three players (not that there’s a lack of good three-player trick-takers).
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio — 2008 was a good year for Winsome: Gulf, Mobile & Ohio and Preußische Ostbahn. What a duo of games! Both are excellent, among the best Winsome has ever made.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Deck-Building Game — This has been popular in our household; I’ve only played this once with my gamer friends. It’s a bit luck-heavy and swingy for a deck-builder and the theme is somewhat silly, but the game is fun.
Sticheln — Really clever and mean trick-taking game, particularly with three players. There’s game for larger player counts, but I’ve specialized in three-player games.
Preference — The Russian variant. This is a fun trick-taking game for three players. It has a traditionally convoluted scoring, but the basic idea is simple: bid for leading rights, then try to reach your goal. Works well.
Crokinole — The classic dexterity game. I got my board in 2003, and played a lot – but then came the kids and the board ended up in storage. Now I dug it out, and will get back to it. I learnt it’s a bit too difficult for the kids, though. I should probably come up with easier rules for the kids.
The Great Zimbabwe — This is one of the finer Splotter titles: clever, not too complicated, challenging enough. Too bad this fell pretty flat on my group, because I’d like to explore this further. The rules have a really nice Leonard Cohen reference.
Antiquity — Another Splotter title right away. This has always been my favourite Splotter title (and it is the highest on this list: Roads & Boats didn’t qualify, not to mention other Splotter games). I used to rate this as 10, but I’ve since dropped the rating. This is a gorgeous game that tends to leave me thinking about it for couple of days – but it’s also very hard to get on the table, and apparently if you’re used to the game, it gets quite straightforward. I’m glad I own the first edition with the blue box, that box graphic idea is just too neat.
Splendor — New and hot: this has gathered already 25 plays this year. There’s more to come, as this is one of our regular games with my son. And why not – we can crank a match in about 10 minutes, which is pleasantly effective. The game is easy to teach, fun to play and looks great. A winner!
Trains — This was the hot stuff from Essen 2013, and I paid through the nose to import the game from Japan. Was it worth it? Probably. At least it was very hot for a while, but has been mostly forgotten since. That’s a bit of a shame, because it’s a fun game: I like what the game does with Dominion, and in most cases would probably prefer this to Dominion. It’s just that I mostly play Dominion with my son, who can’t read English. Hence, we’re not playing Trains.