I was chatting with a friend the other day when I was asked what are my top 5 board games. I thought about it for a bit, but then wasn’t really able to answer it right then. So I sat down, looked at my collection on BoardGameGeek, and started to make some tough decisions.
I am sure this list will flux a bit over the years. I am sure sometime in the future I will end up putting out a new top 10 list for this very subject. It’s hard to predict with the number of games that are coming out which games I will still be in love with and which games will fall a bit out of favor.
Not all of these games are in print anymore, but all of these games are very good.
Here’s Conesy’s top 10 favorite board games of all time. Enjoy
Conan from Monolith Games is one of those mega Kickstarters with crazy amounts of miniatures. There was a point where I was enamored by these types of projects, but over the years I have been more discerning of which projects I back.
This game though has so much more under than hordes of figures. First of all, it’s a game where you get to play as Conan with his fellows and take on adventures. If that wasn’t enough, it also features an overlord vs players (one vs. many) mechanic which I love in games like Gloomhaven, Descent, Star Wars: Imperial Assault, and others.
The most remarkable thing about this game though is the way it uses crystals to power actions. These crystals also serve a second purpose of being your health on these characters. This means as the more damage you take, the less a character has the potential to do. That’s a big deal.
For the overlord player, there is an entire board that features a “river” of bad guys. Each place in the river costs the overlord X number of crystals where X is the place in the river. You want to activate that third monster in the group then pay three crystals. Couple with the fact that the overlord can only activate up to two monster groups when it’s there turn and you get to see the players as they make their moves try to guess what the Overlord will do next.
All in all, a very exciting game. If it wasn’t for the dice used for resolving combats, this would be an even higher ranked game.
9. Cthulhu Wars
Cthulu Wars from Petersen Games is an amazing, asynchronous, territory control, massive miniature board game. You will take on one of the various alien races and play for dominance of the Earth in the base game.
Like many games today, this game has a large number of expansions growing the game to be able to be played (with updated maps as an expansion) of up to 9 players. I have played this game now at least a dozen times and find that each play is unique and fun. While each faction does have a few things that they generally want to do as a faction that make the most sense strategically these do not overlap much from faction to faction.
One of the big draws to this game is the overall size of the Great Old One models. These models might be miniatures, but Cthulhu stands from base to top of wings at something like 10 inches tall. This makes the game look amazing from a distance away and easy for players to see what units another player has in a specific region.
Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game from Fantasy Flight Games is one of the early hidden traitor games that is still a masterpiece of game design and play. Fantasy Flight took the time to really look at the SciFy TV show and captured that feel in a tabletop gaming experience.
At the beginning and midway points of the game players are given a loyalty card. This means that at the start of the game you could be one team, only to discover later that you are playing for the Cylons! This makes it really interesting to see how much you want to commit to helping the human team in the early game since that might just cause you a chance to win later.
During a turn, a player will move to a location and either activate that location or play a card from their hand as an action. There are opportunities to pilot vipers (for pilot characters) and defend Galactica. Perhaps you are lucky enough to play the Admiral, well you get to decide when to deploy nukes on your turn. The President can collect Quorum cards and on their turn use those to help give your fragile fleet small boosts.
At the end of each turn, you have a crisis where typically players will have the opportunity to commit cards (with a couple thrown in from the game) to try to over come it. Fail and the human team will lose some amount of resources. Succeed and the human team is able to move onto the next encounter. If the humans can reach their destination in time they will win. However, run out of resources, Galactica becomes damaged too much, or infiltrator Cylons kill the crew and all will be lost to the Cylons.
This game is especially good when playing with a group of fans of the show. Accusations are sure to run wild as you play and everyone needs to be a good sport. Expect the game to take 5-6 hours to complete though, which is my only ding against this otherwise brilliant game.
Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun is a game I have reviewed on the site. In this dice drafting, worker placement, and resource management game you will work to create the famous Ipet-Isut and the Temple of Ra.
This is an amazing game for 1-4 players. This game from Board&Dice is simply brilliant. If the components included in the box were just a little bit fancier this might have shown up further down on the list. This won’t be the only Daniele Tascini designed game to show up on this list though!
Dominant Species from GMT Games is a game all about survival and eco system dominance of various animal groups during an ice age. Utilizing classic worker placement with map control this game has a lot going on.
Turns are broken into, effectively two parts. First you will have a planning phase where you will place your workers on the board selecting the actions that you will want to take. Then you will move onto a resolution phase where you work your way from the top of the game board to the bottom of the board resolving player actions.
Action spaces include moving yourself up in the evolutionary pecking order, adapting your species to be able to handle more types of environments, adding more of your species to the board for control of areas, adding additional tiles to the board, and triggering scoring events. Look out though, because one of the actions that can be taken is the devestating Glaciate action where a player places a new tundra tile on one of the currently placed land tiles. Species there quickly find their habitat unhospitable and will lose their species cubes if they don’t react quickly!
This is a game I am not able to get to the table nearly enough. It does have a slightly longer play time of around three hours for a full group making it difficult to get out on a weekly game night. It also has some significant player interaction which has triggered some heated conversations at the gaming table.
5. Gia Project
Gia Project is the sci fi updated rules variant of the hit game Terra Mystica published by Zman Games here in the US. During the game you will terraform planets, advance on techonogy tracks, and grow your civilization to be the most powerful in the galaxy.
It’s a bigger box game with a pretty hefty price point. Yet there is an amazing amount of high quality components in the box, including plastic bits for the various structures you will be adding to the board instead of the wooden bits like in Terra Mystica. Another plus to this version of the Terra Mystica is the modular game board that can be constructed in any number of ways to fit the player count and factions that are playing.
The rules do feel slightly refined from the original game. The factions also seem to be slightly more well balanced against each other. The factions are fictional to this universe. Making sci-fi races without substantial background to go with it.
If there’s one thing this game misses its the element of space combat, which for me, would complete the immersion. That element is really not a Euro or Terra Mystica mechanic, but I feel it would really complete this. Here’s hoping to a future expansion!
One of the harder to get games on this list, Russian Railroads from Hans im Glück is one of my all time favorite worker placement games where the points will rack up quickly each round. You will play to see if you can build the most advanced railway network against your opponents.
On your player board you will have three rail lines and one factory line. You will either purchase track advancements, update your locomotives, or build factories to unlock abilities and score points at the end of each round. The game’s first round starts slow, but quickly ramps up as the game goes on.
There are rumors that a reprint of this game is in the works, but it hasn’t been distributed in the US for a long time making it hard to come by and particularly valuable on the used game market.
Mysterium falls into one of those great social experience games that I really love. In this cooperative game, the ghost player will give the psychic players visions in the form of cards that have pretty wild imagery on them.
Over the course of the game, each psychic player will need to identify a person, place, and weapon that is unique to the vision cards that they were given. If all of the psychic players select all three correct, before the time runs out and the group will move on to the final round.
During the final round, psychics will have one chance to select the person, place and weapon where the ghost was murdered. If the group votes correct using a silent voting method then the players win.
This game is always fun, easy to teach, and plays up to 7 players very comfortably. If there was one draw back, it’s that at smaller player counts it just doesn’t work well. In those cases, I would point you at Mysterium Park which is it’s lighter and smaller box re-imagination.
T’zolkin: The Mayan Calendar is another game we have reviewed on the site. It’s actually one of our older reviews. I recently took some time to touch it up with more photos and some cleaned up content.
This is our second Daniele Tascini game on this list. Also our second game from Board&Dice. Really, you can’t go wrong with any of the games from Tascini. This older game though is still my favorite he has done.
As a game, the actions are simple but the decisions are so challenging. On your turn, you will put a number of workers either on the dials or remove them. Placing workers on the dials will cost you some amount of corn that you will also need come one of the feeding phases.
When you take workers off the board, you will be able to gain various resources or score victory points. Keep those workers on the dials for a bit longer and you are sure to snag those key items you really need. Timing when you need to take workers off is a careful balance with keeping enough workers in your supply so that you will be able to collect the resources you really need. Timing is everything after all in T’zolkin.
Terra Mystica is a game where you will play as a fantasy race that needs to terraform the land so that you can construct structures and drive up your influence on the cult tracks.
The game plays over just six rounds and on each turn you will be pressed with multiple decisions. On your turn you will choose from terraforming land adjacent to where you can reach, upgrading your structures, advancing your shipping or terraforming capabilities, advancing on the cult tracks, and triggering one time powers. Of course all of these cost you resources. When you run out of resources or choose to not do anything further in a round you must pass. Start of the next round you will gain your income and be ready to expand once more!
It’s not just on your turn that you will be making decisions. As the other players build structures adjacent to yours you will have the option to collect power. Power allows you to take several one time action spots and also can be converted into precious resources. The choice to gain power is a tough one though as it comes at a cost of points. The more power you gain, the more points you lose.
This careful balance of the game play along with the need to adjust your plan nearly constantly from round to round I find brilliant. While Gia Project, which I mentioned earlier, might be a technically better game I love the theme, art, and feel of this version of the game.
The expansions Fire and Ice and Merchants of the Seas have done alot to help balance some of the faction balance issues that plagued this game early on. If you get the chance I would recommend you check this game out.
- What are your favorite games?
- Is there a game on this list you would like to seem more on?
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