Someone a few months ago posted a blog post or tweet thread looking at their favorite games from the BGG top 1000. I think they picked their favorite of each 1000 games. I don’t remember who it was or I’d link to it here, but I thought I’d try my hand at this. I’m planning this as a 5 part series looking at my favorite game from each 100 games, as well as a couple of honorable mentions. Feel free to leave a comment saying if you like my choices or if you’d pick something else.
The top 100. The “best” games and the group everyone cares about. There are certainly a lot of good games in this category, and also a lot of games I have little interest in playing. In some ways, this was the easiest section to choose from. There’s a lot of games I do like meaning it was easy to find some I like. That won’t always be the case coming up.
#4 – Ark Nova: I like this one a lot. I admittedly don’t like games that typically come with a giant deck of unique cards like Wingspan and Terraforming Mars. That’s why I was so hesitant to play this for a long time. But a friend convinced me to give it a shot by promising it isn’t what I don’t like about those games. And he was right.
What I don’t like about those games is you typically have a huge deck of cards and plan your strategy on just the right card coming out to solidify it all together, which for me rarely does. What Ark Nova does differently, is it’s more tactical. There’s a variety of ways you can accomplish your goals. Sure you might need the right symbol to come out, but often those symbols are repeated enough that you can get there from a variety of ways. It feels like a more forgiving deck and it allows me to formulate a couple possible strategies and follow the ones that work best at any given time.
The picture is my shamless plug for my laser cut insert design which can be found at Thingiverse.
#54 – Crokinole: The classic of Canadian board gaming. I played Crokinole a couple years back at Kitsch Con and fell in love with it. Last year for my birthday I picked up a board from a Canadian shop that was unfortunately closing up for good. I got the last one in this style.
The thing I like about Crokinole is you can be as serious as you want. You can play singles or doubles, track each and every point over a span of games. Or you can just sit around flicking discs at each other and having a good time.
We had our holiday party this year and two games were played. This was one of the two and had a good group just chatting and having fun. Exactly the game I need in a situation like that.
#78 – Fields of Arle: This is one of the three games I’ve owned twice. I played a friends copy, loved it. Picked one up for my own. I didn’t play it that much because of life at the time, and decided to trade it off. I didn’t enjoy what I got in trade and ended up regretting the trade. Fast forward a couple years and I snag a great deal on an unopened copy with the expansion from our local flea market and I’m so happy to have it back. It’s just a great open sandbox game. I know some others prefer games like Feast for Odin, but this one is the one for me. There’s something about just going after a thing and working towards it while trying to boost up something else along the way that I love.
This one was hard. For as many great games as there are in the top 100, I had a hard time finding games in this section that I really liked. Once again a lot of games I haven’t played here too. But some of the games I have didn’t stick with me. Luckily it was still pretty easy to choose, just the pool of choices was a little smaller for me than the last one.
#123 – Cartographers: For this, I’m lumping in all the expansion content as well even though Heroes is its own entry on BGG. I like drawing, I like polyominos, I like planning and hoping that things work out. I’ve played this in groups, I’ve played it solo. It’s just a game I really like to play.
There’s so many options in our box now that no two games ever have to be similar. The maps all do something different, though some are more interesting that others. The scoring goals are anywhere from fun to really challenging. The solo variant of add your score, then subtract the goal cards from it to find your actual score is a bit confusing, but when there’s that much variability it is a nice way to kind of even out the final scores to be fairly consistent across different set ups. If you never played but would like to get a copy, I would probably tell you to start with Heroes. The monsters and heroes in that set are a bit more interesting that the base game, but just barely.
#125 – Parks: I love Parks. But more importantly, I love Parks with the Nightfall expansion. In fact, unless this is a learning game for you, I would never set up the base game alone. Nightfall adds exactly the strategy and depth the game needs. There’s more decisions to be weighed and considered as you adapt and plan over the four seasons.
I enjoy the tug of war over the camera, how you block or don’t block based on where you’re at, and whether playing your campfire is worth it to you right now. The artwork is fantastic and always a pleasure to look at while playing. The pieces are really nice too.
It’s also got a pretty good solo mode that keeps you on your toes and forces you to plan in a different but equally interesting way to the multiplayer game. I have yet to add in the Wildlife cards, but it feels like a good set of more of the same.
My only complaint is they didn’t release a big box for this one. I have two expansions, and the game has such a nice insert it was hard to split it. But I eventually designed my own laser cut insert to get around that. Still I wish I had one big box that had as nice an organizer as the base game had but also fit all the expansions inside.
#141 – Rajas of the Ganges: This is a very good game as well. I like the games designed by the Brands and this has a lot of the good feels I like. It has a tile laying puzzle, a dice worker puzzle, and a worker timing puzzle that really works for me.
This was the first game I played that had the dual scoring tracks where you’re trying to get them to meet and it’s been a mechanic I’ve really enjoyed. It gives you an interesting balancing act. You could invest fully in just one type of point, but it’s probably better to diversify. Especially in this one where you can unlock workers and bonuses depending on the track you’re climbing.
We also have the roll and write version, and while that’s a separate game I’ll mention it’s also really fun and enjoyable and gives me the same feel just in a shorter time span. My wife actually prefers that version, and I might as well. But there’s something about the big board and all the moving pieces that makes the game more enjoyable.
And that wraps up the BGG 1-200. Next week I’ll be back with my favorite games from the top 201-400 games. As I said earlier, get in touch if your list is different and what games stand out to you from this set.