Since everybody else is doing these top 100 lists, I’m joining the fun. This is the first installation, stay tuned for the next parts in the next days (I’m not following Mark’s suit and dribbling the list one by one, especially as the lower positions are essentially tied).
How did I make the list? I took all the games I’ve rated 7 or higher and built a big tournament where those games were matched against each other. I made hundreds and hundreds of “this game or that game” choices, each win scoring a point for the winner. Games with a five-match losing streak were eliminated from the tournament to make the lists shorter. I ran over 50 rounds, until I was happy with the results (actually, I had to stop, because my pairing algorithm couldn’t find unused pairings anymore).
Since I’ve played almost 1000 different games (I have ~920 ratings on BGG, if expansions are excluded), this list essentially represents the top 10% of all games. Never mind the rankings, even getting a place on the list is quite the honour, that is. I wouldn’t give too much weight on the individual rankings: they can be a bit random.
So, here we go; within each ranking, the games are tied and presented here in random order.
Lost Cities — a two-player card game classic. I’ve played over 100 rounds of this one during the years, making it my third-most played game ever.
Antike — A rather entertaining resource management and conquest game. I was really enthusiastic about this game and particularly enjoy the way it flows with quick moves. For some reason, it just didn’t get any play. I recently sold my copy, and I think it’s time to drop my rating a bit. There’s a new edition coming out this Essen; perhaps I’ll get a chance to play this again. I would welcome that.
Acquire — I have a patchy history with the game. It’s good, especially for a game of its age, but it’s also quite random, and can at times take way too long. If it always played in 45 minutes, it would be very good.
Modern Art — I used to hate this game, then I realized it’s actually quite good. It doesn’t see any play, though. I’m not sure why, and I’m not sure if I should stick to my copy or not.
Africa — This 2001 release is a bit of a classic for me. I know most people probably don’t care a whit about it, but I’ve always found the game pleasing to play. Not worth owning, really, but always fun to play when an opportunity arises.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Deck-Building Game — The second part of the Lord of the Rings Deck-building game trilogy. This adds interesting cards and new mechanics, but as a whole doesn’t really succeed on the level the first part did. We’ll meet the first part later on the top 100 list.
Rallyman — I don’t really care for real motorsports, but I’ve always had a soft spot for car racing video games (Test Drive, Stunts, F1 Grand Prix, Gran Turismo 3, now I’m waiting for Project CARS). Car racing board games have never been much of an interest for me, but Rallyman is an exception. It is a curious game: a die-rolling race game, but it’s not a roll-and-move game! It’s fascinating.
Ingenious — A very basic Knizia tile-laying game, but one that works quite well. I’ve played more than 30 rounds, thanks to BrettSpielWelt, and while I sold my copy years ago, I wouldn’t mind having a copy so I could play this with my family.
Halli Galli — Speed games have always been my forte, and Halli Galli is one of the best. Too bad the speed games never actually get played. I think the Extreme version is even better, and we’ll meet that later on the list.
Qwixx: Das Kartenspiel — Qwixx is an excellent filler game with dice, and the card game version is not a bad game, either. Not clearly as good as the dice version, though.
Neuland — This is a curious, clunky game. I own the original German version most people think looks awful, but I prefer it to the new edition. The new edition wasn’t a big success, either, it seems to me the new edition made its way to low price dumps quite quickly. Nobody ever talks about the game. And I can see why: it’s charming, but it’s also quite clunky, with sharp edges and rought bits. Not something I’d play often, but I’m really glad to own the game.
The Bottle Imp — The trick-taking game with the best theme ever. The game mechanics are also quite clever, yet for some reason this ended up the lowest-ranked trick-taking game on my list (well, there were many trick-taking games that didn’t end up on my list at all).
Ghost Blitz — This wouldn’t be particularly remarkable, except my daughter really likes it and is quite good in it. I’ve played this quite a bit with her.
St. Petersburg — I used to play this a lot back in the day, and had this rated for a 10 for a while. Then I got rather thoroughly bored of the game. Now I’m thinking maybe this would be nice to play with my son, but as I recall the two-player game wasn’t really the best way to play (passable, sure), and I’m not sure I want to get back to this. But I’m slightly piqued by the new edition, even though it ditches the really nice art of the original version.
Attika — I’ve had this game since it was published in 2003, and it’s still seeing play. That is something. It is quite a good game, too. I played this recently with my son, who thought it was ok, so perhaps there I’ll have a regular opponent for this game (the two-player game is fine, but three would be the best).
Bohnanza — I appreciate this game more than I actually play it. I’d like to play it more often, as I think it does something fairly unique and does it quite well.
Continental Divide — This one surpassed my expectations – I was ready to ditch this unplayed, but fortunately “multi-hour” means about two hours, especially when using the quite helpful web site on an iPad. Five plays in, I think this is interesting, but perhaps starting to feel a bit repetitive.
Taj Mahal — A Knizia gamer classic; I’ve never owned the game, but I’ve always enjoyed playing this chicken race of a game.
Web of Power — I used to like this a lot, but for some reason this game fell out of fashion in 2006 or so. Looks like I’ve played most of my games in 2002. I don’t know why; it’s still quite good. I used to rate this as a 10. I just bought China, and I hope to get it on the table.
Gang of Four — You’ll notice there’s no Tichu in my top 100. This one gets to represent climbing games. I like Gang of Four so much better than Tichu, mostly because it’s not a partnership game.
Impulse — This is based on exactly one play. It’ll be interesting to see if I ever manage another play and what happens then. The game seems fascinating, but also a wee bit overly complex.
La Boca — Very much a family game for me, the kids like to play this. La Boca fell pretty much completely flat with my friends.
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation — I had pretty much forgotten this game, but my son likes it, so it got a new life. It’s mechanically very solid, but not necessarily great fun to play.
Indigo — An impulse sale purchase from a general store, I thought this might be a decent family game. 18 plays later I can confirm that it certainly is. I have no reason to carry this to the weekly game nights, but I often suggest this with my kids.
Clippers — I’ve managed exactly one play of this so far; it was not perfect, but promising. I should probably push this with some more effort.
Lancashire Railways — In a rational world, this game would be ranked exactly the same as New England Railways. Well, it’s not, New England (ie. the same game on a different map) is somewhat higher on the list. The third game in the series, Australian Railways, is even higher, but it has some differences that make it the best of the three. All in all these are a great set of railroad games.
Mhing — Next time I compile this list, Mhing will not appear separate from Mahjong. It is a Mahjong variant played with a pack of cards. Not a bad variant, for beginners, but I’d rather play Zung Jung. What comes to tiles vs cards, I’m fairly neutral.
Lokomotive Werks — A bare-boned Winsome business game. Maybe a bit too bare-boned… This isn’t something I’d always like to play, but every now and then, why not.
Samarkand — A fairly recent purchase, I’ve only managed to plays. It’s promising; not quite as good as the other Samarkand (which you’ll see much later on this list), but certainly the best game I know that’s published the year I was born.
Eclipse — The Finnish pride appears quite early on my list. I appreciate the game and think it’s well done – especially Sampo’s work on the graphic design is great – but in the end it’s not the kind of game I usually like to play.