My Top 10 Games

A short while back Steve (I think Steve Sexton, though I’m not sure) asked me to post my all-time top 10 games. Here they are, but I’m not even going to try and post them in order – how do you rank For Sale against Combat Commander? While there is a tad cult-of-the-new flavor to this list, there are certainly some old classics here as well.

  • Magic: the Gathering – You don’t need to empty the piggy bank to enjoy this game, though it is worth spending $30-$50 each year to try out new expansion theme decks. Or… watch eBay and buy theme decks in sets from a few years ago and lag behind the new releases. I don’t think there’s ever been a more innovative gaming system design than Magic, and this game is the reason why I got back into the gaming hobby exactly 13 years ago this week while spending Christmas in Vegas with Julie’s mom and brothers.
  • Antike – While this game is far from perfect there are so many things I like about it and it is always a blast when I get to sit down and play it. The human factors and graphical design are first-rate. The rondel was a significant innovation in action-selection mechanic. It plays very fast with minimal downtime – how many build/explore/conquer games have that trait?
  • For Sale – My favorite filler, this is a game you can play with kids, non-gamers, and hardcore gamers. My parents have a copy and we hope to get some games in during our Christmas Florida trip.
  • Amun-Re – This is my favorite Knizia game and every time I play it I’m reminded of how much I miss seeing new heavy Knizia games. While there are many who think this is a weaker entry in Knizia’s list of games, I don’t think I’m out of line putting this on my list as it continues to stake out a top 50 spot on BoardGameGeek.
  • Twilight Struggle – I’m very enamored with card-driven games right now so I figured I should put one on the list. While TS is my favorite so far, I think Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage could easily replace this game if I can manage to get a few more plays in.
  • Combat Commander – Along with Twilight Struggle this is a newish game that perhaps needs more time to stabilize, but Jacob and I just played this again with one of the new paratrooper scenarios (25a I think, morning on the ghost front at the start of the Bulge) and loved it. It took a little while to re-acquaint ourselves with the rules, but nothing like what we’ve gone through in the past with other squad-level wargames (ahem, ASL?).
  • Ticket to Ride: Europe – The Ticket to Ride family of games are the best gateway games out there, and TtR:Europe is my favorite of the crop. I like the tighter board and use of stations, plus the geography makes for a more interesting game for us ignorant Americans.
  • Wallenstein – If I had to choose a single favorite game, the next three would all be candidates. Wallenstein (and the newer release Shogun) was probably the first heavy Euro game I played and is a game I will play just about anywhere, anytime. I’ve logged a ton of plays on Spielbyweb but there’s nothing quite like the real-life experience of dropping wooden cubes into a tower and seeing what falls out.
  • Acquire – I never played this back in the 70s and 80s when I was hooked on Avalon Hill wargames and APBA sports games so my experience is more recent with the Hasbro/Avalon Hill edition. This game is simply a masterpiece of design that stands the test of time and holds up against all modern challengers.
  • 18xx – I’m a newcomer to 18xx games and play with a very friendly (read: not cut-throat) crowd and have grown to love the system and its games. The mechanics and rules just feel natural and right to me, probably because the games are decent simulations of real-life business with very few abstractions getting in the way.

Well, there’s the list! Feel free to challenge entries or omissions in the comments.

Salishan Gaming 2007

I hosted another fantastic weekend of gaming about a weekend ago at Salishan. We enjoyed our largest crowd ever, peaking at about 15 people, and though things were a bit crowded the gaming action was non-stop and very fulfilling. You can see more photos at my Flickr site. You should also check out Mike’s posts on day 1, day 2, and day 3.

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As for the games I played, there seemed to be a higher percentage of heavier games than in years past. Here’s the list:

  • Duel in the Dark
  • Lost Cities (these first two were actually played at my home with Mike while we awaited KC’s arrival for the carpool)
  • Vegas Showdown
  • Race for the Galaxy (x4)
  • Ra
  • Tichu
  • R-Eco
  • League of Six
  • King of Siam
  • Power Grid (with new power plant deck on the USA map)
  • Mordred
  • Limits
  • To Court the King
  • Conquest of Paradise (x2)
  • Razzia
  • Magic: the Gathering
  • Indonesia
  • Zing
  • Canal Mania (x2)
  • Cuba
  • Antike
  • Brass

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I was thrilled that Jacob came along and spent much more time boardgaming than Wii- or XBox-gaming. He and Brandon stayed very engaged with us boring adults throughout the weekend and each won their fair share of games.

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Not that there wasn’t any Wii action going on.

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KC (and sometimes Jacob) and I entertained (?) everyone with some acoustic guitar playing and singing. KC and I have a nice partnership going – I choose the songs, strum the simple chords, sing lead vocal while KC improvises solo lines while singing harmonies.

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New game highlights for me were League of Six and Conquest of Paradise. I did very poorly in League of Six but enjoyed the mechanics and tension in the game, though it may be a bit too chaotic with 5 players. Conquest of Paradise is a very nice exploration game with just enough conflict to keep wargamers interested.

Thanks to my guests for being such nice… guests, and thanks to the cooks for preparing meals for all of us. Until next year!

Our Family Christmas Special

This may rank as the dumbest, most inane video you watch this year so feel free to just move along. Really, there’s nothing to see here.

Still here? Enjoy the show. This was done over about a 1 hour period a few nights ago using GarageBand and some basic audio equipment. Jacob did a nice job on electric guitar and I especially appreciate the hard work Gabbi put into her vocal performance. That solid percussion section and backup vocal work you here is from none other than Julie and Matthew.