We’re past the halfway point on my top 100 games! I would quantify this as the turning point where I move from games that I enjoy to games that I’m enthuastic about. I worry that over the next couple posts I’ll get progressively more verbose
50 – The Isle of Cats
The Isle of Cats by Frank West is a poly-omino tile laying game where players are trying to lure cats off an island and arrange them on your ship to earn the most points.
Each round begins with cat tiles being placed onto the table from a bag. During the round you draft cards, then choose which you’ll be playing, taking care to not exceed your fish limit. Once cards have been drafted and played, players take turns collecting cats from the centre one by one until either no cats remain, or all players pass. The number of cats you can collect is limited by both your fish and the number of baskets out have.
Isle of Cats is a charming drafting game. It’s light enough to be accessible to a wide audience, assisted by the feline theme that everyone seems to enjoy. The art of the cats lounging in the sun is also charming and makes your ship board look great as it gets filled with content fuzzballs. Isle of Cats is a game I’ve only played once, but I enjoyed it so much. It’s been hard to get a hold of in my neck of the woods, but once I do get more plays in I’m sure this will be moving up the list.
49 – Quadropolis
Quadropolis by Francois Gandon is another tile laying game, this time themed around tasking players with building the best metropolis.
In Quadropolis all the available tiles for the round are placed on a central 5 x 5 board. Each player has four architects in their employ, numbered from 1 to 4. On your turn you place your architect along the outside of the edge pointing inwards. You count the number of tiles in from the edge matching the number on the architect, and take that tile from the central board. You now need to place this tile on your personal 4 x 4 board, but the tile must be placed in one of the districts that matches the played architect’s number.
It sounds like a lot to keep track of, but Quadropolis is a fairly intuitive game, and the player board does a very good job of reminding you of all of these restrictions. Your goal is to build a apartments, shopping centres, factories, docks, parks, and monuments in a way that maximizes the number of points you earn, crowning you as champion metropolis-ier
Publisher Days of Wonder has built a reputation on producing quality games and Quadropolis is no exception. The tiles are thick, the colours are bright and the included insert is useable, which is more than I can say for some other games!
48 – The Great Heartland Hauling Co.
The Great Heartland Hauling Co. by Jason Kotarski is a pick up and deliver game that I absolutely love. I’ve already talked about The Great Heartland Hauling Co. here so I won’t belabour the point again. I love how small the box is, but still manages to deliver a big experience. Also, any games featuring pigs is a big win in my books. Sheep are so grossly over-represented in board games that I’m taking a stand here and now. More pigs in board games!
47 – Container
I did not expect to enjoy Container by Franz-Benno Delonge and Thomas Ewert as much as I did. The box cover looks fairly bland and the theme of producing and delivering shipping containers to a non-descript island and the potential to bankrupt the in-game economy just didn’t inspire wonder within me.
Luckily I put aside my preconceived notions and give Container a whirl. It turned out to be a fascinating puzzle of producing the right amount of goods and choosing when to take money in and out of the economy. Choosing to deliver containers to the island when your opponents are flush with cash, and buying containers at a barging when they’re cash strapped. I really loved my plays of Container, and look forward to playing it some more.
46 – 10 Days in Europe
10 Days in Europe by Alan Moon and Aaron Weissblum is one of my most played games of all time. It’s a fairly small box so it travels when I visit friends and family. It’s easy to teach and play so it gets introduced to dozens of people, and my wife loves it, and will play it enthuastically, which inspires me to play it often.
I’ve reviewed 10 Days in Europe previously, and a new edition was recently released, making it a little more colourful and easier to acquire. This entry could stand in for any of the games in the 10 days series, but 10 Days in Europe is my favourite and I highly recommend breaking it out at every opportunity.
45 – Wok Star
Wok Star by Tim Fowers is a cooperative real time game about running a restaurant. Each player is put in charge of specific dishes and players need to work together to manage their ingredients, do the dishes, and earn enough money to keep the lights on for another day.
Personally, I love real time games. I enjoy the stress and challenge that comes with real time games, and I love the discussion and comradery that comes with co-operative games. Wok Star was a hit for me, but if you’re not a fan of either of these genres Wok Star isn’t going to change your mind. There’s also a significant luck factor, as each player is rolling dice at the start of the round and players need to work together to use them efficiently.
Also, any game with a food/restaurant theme will immediately grab my attention. The timer forces players to rush, and inflicts stress in their lives, which really makes me feel like I’m back working in kitchens again.
44 – Cartographers
I called Cartographers by Jordy Adan the “Best game I’ve never played” due to it being an excellent game, and having never played the physical game. I’ve played the Android app a lot, and my group played Cartographers half a dozen times on Tabletop Simulator and enjoyed every game. It’s fast, full of good decisions, and unlike a lot of flip and write games, offers some level of interaction between the players.
My only complained about Cartographers is that I just want more. I want more monsters, more cards, and more boards. Hopefully my prayers will be answered by Cartographers Heroes releasing later this year.
43 – Thurn and Taxis
I often forget how much I love Thurn and Taxis by Andreas and Karen Seyfarth, and part of that I attribute to it’s super bland beige board with German city names that I (as an ignorant Canadian) have never heard of. Don’t judge me! I grew up in northern Manitoba. If I made a game that featured “Opaskwayak, Cranberry Portage, Waboden, Lynn Lake, and Brochet” I doubt some German board gamers would notice or care.
Thurn and Taxis is a hand management route building game that won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award in 2006, and for good reason. Thurn and Taxis is a fun game to play! You take and play cards each turn building routes around the board, and choosing to end the route to place your houses on some of the cities that were a part of your route. The wrinkle comes in choosing if you want to draw a second card, play a second card, or complete a route a route and take one benefit more than you’re entitled to. You’ll feel pulled in multiple directions and the tension watching other players complete their routes is very satisfying.
Thurn and Taxis is available to play on Board Game Arena and I highly recommend that you do.
42 – Root
Root by Cole Wehrle is the cutest war game I have ever played. In Root each player takes control of a wildly different faction. The Marquise de Cat start the game with a soldier in almost every field, firmly controlling the woodland. The Eyrie are amassing a force to take back their forest. The Woodland Alliance is amassing underground support and the Vagabond is making back room deals with each faction, sowing discord and working toward their own secret objective.
Every faction is almost playing their own game, and have vastly different strengths and weaknesses. As the Game Teacher of my group I’ll be the first to admin that teaching Root is HARD. You’re essentially tasked with teaching for small games to each player, and hopefully the people at the table have good attention spans as you need to know each factions limitations in order to effectively hamper their advancement.
I talked about Cole Wehrle’s previous game Vast earlier in this series and a lot of the same praises and criticisms can be applied to Root. It offers great discovery at the expense of a high level of rules overhead. In order to really know each faction, you’ll need to play multiple games as each one, as some of their nuances don’t reveal themselves until you play against other, similarly experienced players.
41 – Hive
Hive is the worst. And by the worst, I mean the best. But it’s also the worst. I’m conflicted.
Hive is a masterpiece of game design. It’s an abstract strategy game that is endlessly replayable; one that will have you biting your knuckles when your opponent makes a clever play that you didn’t see coming. Much like Tak, this is an elegant design, highly addictive and brimming with strategies. Hive begins with the first player putting a piece down on the table. There is no board and the thick bakalite pieces means that Hive can be played anywhere. The goal is to surround your opponents queen with tiles, while ensuring your own queen has room to breathe. Each insect has their own rules for movement, and making the restrictions work for you will separate the winners from the losers. Players will take turns either placing more of their tiles into the play area, or moving the ones they control.
Much like Chess, Hive can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Once you grasp how each piece moves you’re off to the races. Hive also comes in a black and white Carbon Edition, and in a much smaller Pocket Edition. All Hives are good Hives and make for excellent gifts to those who love games, bugs, or both!