Zen Of Design

The design and business of gaming from the perspective of an experienced developer

My Top 100 Tabletop Games Right Now (2017 edition)

There’s something about a top 100 list that makes you want to say ‘bullshit’ and make your own.  For me, the list were the various top 100 lists that Dice Tower put out, which had many entries that made me want to write nasty things in the YouTube comments (because that always works).  But then I remember, hey, I have a blog.  Maybe I should use it.

So I’ll roll out the list over the weekend.  I figured it was a good enough reason to get me to think about games and to do some writing about game design.  Because I decided that one of the things I wanted to do was include at least one reason that I, as a digital game designer, like the design of the pile of cardboard in front of me.

Other notes:

  • I’ve played most, but not all, of these games at least twice.  The older ones have a lot of plays, but the newer ones have fewer because I have a toddler, which limited my board game playing time (and not coincidentally, also turned a room of my house into the Horrific World of Choking Hazards.
  • I made no effort to weed out the ones that are out of print.  I think that includes at least 2 in my top 20.
  • I made an effort to list at least one interesting mechanic or other reason I love a game.  In many cases, it’s not the first game that has implemented that mechanic, but usually it’s the best example I’ve seen of it.
  • No, I haven’t played everything.  Yes, there are whole classifications of games I’m not a big fan of.  Doing research for this little project HAS added to my ‘I gotta go play that’ list, though.
  • Images, when visible, is stolen shamelessly from somewhere.
  • This list is as of right this second.  Been working on this in the background for a month, and even last night, 2 games fell off the list and one fell 40 places.  I’m sure if I made this list again in February, it’d shift again.

Anyway, do enjoy one game designer’s desperate excuse to dive back into his collection, and fall back in love with some games he hasn’t played in quite some time.

The list: 

100. Colony

99. Hostage Negotiator

98. Las Vegas

97.  Dragon Rampage

96. Red November

95. Tsuro

94. The Gallerist

93. A Game of Thrones: The Board Game

92. Prime Time

91. Valeria Card Kingdoms

90. Android Infiltration

89. Nothing Personal

88. Majesty: For the Realm

87. Saint Petersburg

86. Catan

85. Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords

84. Twilight Imperium

83. Bora Bora

82. Kill Doctor Lucky

81. Cosmic Encounter

80. Argent the Consortium

79. Hey, That’s My Fish!

78. Defenders of the Realm

77. Dead of Winter

76. Twilight of the Gods

75. SET

74. Battlestar Galactica

73. Citadels

72. Courtiers

71. San Juan

70. Evo

69. Carcassonne: the City

68. Suburbia

67. Tiny Epic Galaxies

66. Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age

65. Fury of Dracula

64. Pandemic

63. Codenames

62. Ghost Stories

61. Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game

60. Imperial Settlers

59. Anachrony

58. Fortune and Glory: the Cliffhanger Game

57. Elder Sign

56. Tokaido

55. Imperial 2030

54. Kanban: Automotive Revolution

53. Guillotine

52. Aeon’s End

51. Roll for the Galaxy

50. Cards Against Humanity

49. Puerto Rico

48. Yamatai

47. Castles of Mad King Ludwig

46. Java

45. Bang! The Dice Game

44. Dominion

43. Blueprints

42. Firefly: the Game

41. Transatlantic

40. Sheriff of Nottingham

39. Dominant Species

38. Star Realms

37. Shadows Over Camelot

36. Castles of Burgundy

35. Arkham Horror: The Card Game

34. King of Tokyo

33. Azul

32. Caverna: the Cave Farmers

31. Mombasa

30. Blokus

29. 7 Wonders

28. Millennium Blades

27. Lords of Waterdeep

26: Raiders of the North Sea

25. Stockpile

24. Tyrants of the Underdark

23. Scythe

22. Porta Nigra

21. Fields of Arle

20. Yedo

18. Forbidden Desert

18. Eclipse

17. Merlin

16. Yokohama

15. Alien Frontiers

14. Tzolk’in the Mayan Calendar

13. 1960: The Making of the President

12. Sagrada

11. Star Wars: Rebellion

10. Francis Drake

9. Mission: Red Planet

8. Kingsburg

7. Power Grid

6. Chaos in the Old World

5. Terraforming Mars

4. Trajan

3. Pandemic Legacy: Season One

2. Clank!

1. Magic The Gathering

And that’s all she wrote!  If you have complaints, feel free to put them in the comments here!

1 Comment

  1. So, I get the impression we are very different board gamers, so this might just be me liking heavier games, but I’m very surprised to see both Roll versions of Through the Ages and Race for the Galaxy, but not the original games themselves, as well as a lack of any Vlaada Chvatil games other than Codenames.

    Are these too inaccessible too make the list?

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