My Top 50 Games 2021

Hello to all! Is that wonderful time of year again when one has an opportunity to sit back and reflect  and make board game lists! Last year I did a Top 20 but this year my collection has grown to the point where I can now confidently do a Top 50 list. Where possible I'll note how games have shifted from last year and at the end I'll discuss a few games that I haven't played yet that probably could push their way into the top 50. I'll do this list from great to most great. 

50.#Everdell (Last year 14) Fun game, but for various reasons I traded this one away. 

49.#Kingdom Builder Fast playing, lighter game that I enjoy playing with my daughters. 

48.#Aeon's End: Legacy (Last year 18) Was a great experience but as a true legacy game there isn't much use for the box at this point. Yes, I guess I could play one off games with the legacy content but too many games, too little time. 

47.#7 Wonders Duel A fun and surprisingly crunchy 2 player game. I just recently traded this one away as it unfortunately just never hit my table. 

46.#CloudAge A good not great Pfister with a really cool theme and some cool ideas but manages to somehow not last long enough and yet is also too long at the same time. 

45.#Dwellings of Eldervale I had enormous hopes for this one. And while it does have some awesome ideas, and is a pretty good solo game, at the end of the day it is less than the sum of its parts. Used this one as trade fodder and picked up  some good value for trading it away. 

44.#Trajan (last year 22) A fun Feld game with some cool mechanics that just doesn't hit the table as much as I'd like. I'm a sucker for Roman history so even though the theme is hardly there I seem to give it a bit of extra credit for that theme. 

43.#Dominion A classic game that languishes at the bottom of my Kallax. Would play it a lot more if it had a solo mode or something. 

42.#High Frontier 4 All I acquired this game shortly after Christmas last year and was so so excited to get it. There is so much good in this box. I love the map - it's an absolutely stunning depiction of our solar system. I love the simulation of orbital mechanics. I love the usage of realistic future tech. But as a game? It just doesn't quite all add up. I ended up using my copy as part of trade. 

41.#Scythe (last year 16) A fantastic production with fantastic components and all kinds of fun in the box. But after loads of plays I ended up feeling like I was done with this game. The campaign from Rise of Fenris was fantastic. Ended up trading this one for Dwellings which then got traded for a bunch of other games. 

40.#The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth Another fantastic box of fun with great components. I wanted to like this one more than I did. Lots of cool in this package but at the end of the day it just had enough nagging little problems that I felt confident enough to trade it away. I think my biggest problem with this one is that the campaign didn't allow you enough time to explore all these cool locations. Lots of pressure to always push forward faster and faster. Also constantly shuffling those little cards got a bit old. 

39.#Dune: Imperium This is a great game! It's a deck builder combined with a worker placement and area conflict game! And... I wish it focused more on one single mechanism. The deck building is fun, but the game is too short to really dig into the deck building. The worker placement is cool - but there isn't enough meat there. The area conflict is exciting! But there is only one space to fight over. I ended up trading this one away for great value. 

38.#Underwater Cities (last year 9) Huge drop for this one. It's still a great game with an awesome theme. I would gladly play this any time. But I ended up getting a similar game from the same designer that pushed this one down. 

37.#Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition Recent addition to my collection. It's an interesting combination of regular TM and Race for the Galaxy. Right now I still like both "parent" games more but this one is one to watch. I definitely appreciate the high component quality in this one. 

36.#Empires of the Void II (last year 19) A fantastic game with some of the most beautiful artwork in my collection. This one is pushed down a bit simply because I just don't get it to the table very often. It's very good though.

35.#Maracaibo (last year 13) A fantastic Pfister that got pushed down by a different Pfister game that you'll see further up on the list. A lot to love in this game, especially the cool legacy style story, but also quite fiddly to set up. 

34.#Neom: Create the City of Tomorrow.A fun and light city building game that I never hear anyone talk about. Some cool ideas in a nice package.

33.#Civilization: A New Dawn I absolutely love the Civ PC games and this is a surprising cool board game adaptation. I love the action selection mechanism in this one which is surprisingly underutilized across the hobby. I really would like to grab the expansion for this one.

32.#Viscounts of the West KingdomRelatively new add to my collection and I'm still getting into this one. I love the deck building and interesting decisions in this one. Fantastic solo mode too. Look for this one to climb in the future with additional plays.

31.#Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile Picked this one up over the summer. It's definitely unique and has lots of cool ideas. It's a beast to learn but is incredibly thematic and intense. Not sure if I should keep it in my collection as it's not really a solo game and I doubt I can get my game group to play it. It's fantastic though.

30.#First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet (last year 10) I love the theme in this one and it tells cool stories. Just haven't played it as much in the last year and it's been pushed down by other games.

29.#SpaceCorp One of the 3 big "build a space program games" - the other two being High frontier and Stellar Horizons- and SpaceCorps is easily the most euro-style of those games. Definitely more of an abstracted game than High Frontier and probably more fun because of that fact. But also less realistic.

28.#Root (Last year 15) This one has been pushed down because I simply hadn't gotten it to the table very much. However I recently acquired the#Root: The Clockwork Expansion which makes me much more likely to play this game. I'm looking forward to playing this one a lot more this coming year. 

27.#Black Angel Absolutely gorgeous game - artwork by Ian O'Toole - with some really interesting dice placement mechanics. I haven't played this one as much as I would like. 

26.#Circadians: First Light (last year 8) Really great game that has simply been pushed down the list by even greater games. Has a phenomenal solo mode. I really should play this one more. 

25.#Wingspan (last year 21) Beautiful game with a unique theme. Really enjoy playing this one with my daughter. Decent solo mode, phenomenal components.

24.#Hallertau A really strong Uwe game with great card play. Lighter than some other Uwe games and has a nice beat your own solo mode. Great for a lazy Sunday afternoon. 

23.#Xia: Legends of a Drift System A grail game of mine for a long time and I can't believe it isn't in the top 10. Just haven't played it enough to push some of the other games down. Really fun space exploration game with all kinds of cool ships and is extremely thematic. 

22.#Praga Caput Regni This is the game that replaced#Underwater Cities for me. A really cool theme with lots of fun euro content. Love the art work in this one too. 

21.#Tawantinsuyu: The Inca Empire The first of many games that features a David Turzci solo design. This game is just a wonderful euro game with crunchy decisions to make every single turn. A little more thematic than you'd expect, but not really. 

20.#Paladins of the West Kingdom(last year 11) - my current favorite of the West Kingdom games. Love the interconnected tracks and the various buildings and round goals. Very fun. Strong solo mode. 

19.#Tapestry As "So Very Wrong About Games" so appropriately described:  this game is tracks on tracks on tracks and it really speaks to me and my game group. A small amount of theme but surprisingly fun with a great solo mode to boot. Wish the miniatures looked better though. 

18.#Barrage A cutthroat Euro Game about water management with a fantastic solo AI and some really cool mechanics. File this one under "game I need to play more". 

17.#Tekhenu: Obelisk of the SunOne of the mighty "T" games with a delicious solo mode from David Turzci. Cool theme with this game and I enjoy the multiple mechanisms in this one. 

16.#Leaving Earth Absolutely love this game. A realistic space game with involved mission planning and lots of brain burning decisions. The expansions really add a lot to this game and wow it's fun. 

15.#Great Western Trail (Second Edition)

Wow! This is by far the best Pfister I've ever played. It blows Maracaibo and CloudAge out of the water. Meaningful deck building with amazing components and a unique theme. Amazing. 

14.#Kanban EV. Starting to hit some really amazing games here. Phenomenal components, beautiful artwork, awesome theme, and a fantastic David Turzci solo mode. 

13.#Middara: Unintentional Malum – Act 1. Woah. This is a game. Tons and tons of content, incredibly flexible and open ended character development. Lots and lots of dice. Great story. Haven't finished the campaign yet and had to pack it away to make some space to play other games. 

12.#Hadrian's Wall

One of the only roll and writes I've ever played and what a game. I love all the interconnection between the various parts. It's an amazing solo game and really gives you a fantastic since of progress. 

11.#Imperium: Classics

An incredibly thematic deck-builder with a crazy variety of play styles to pick from. Particularly great solo mode designed by - who else - David Turzci. Lots to explore in this game and I feel like I've barely scratched the surface.

10.#Star Wars Imperial Assault

Last year this was ranked number 5. Still one of my most favorite games of all time. Suffers from a lack of recent play time but really enjoy everything about this one. Really great Star Wars flavor and a ton of content. Great solo too, either with the app or using a fan-made variant.

9.#On Mars

Huge, sprawling, deep. Complex. Phenomenal. It's OK solo but really shined with my game group. We had a blast and can't wait to table it again. 

8. #Race for the Galaxy

Deep, but not complex. Huge variety, but not overwhelming. A quick playing solo game with endless amounts of variety. I have finally introduced it to my game group too so I'm looking forward to many more plays multiplayer. Gathering Storm expansion is very high up on my "required" expansions list.

7.#Gloomhaven 

Last year this was #4. I still love this to bits but it's been a while since I tabled it. I did play the digital adaptation which is amazing with my friends a couple of times and the card play is simply unmatched with this one. Truly a great box of fun.

6.#A Feast for Odin

Last year this was also ranked in the 6 spot. I haven't played all of Mr. Rosenberg's games but this is by far my favorite. The wide-open action board combines so beautifully with the polyomino system. The mild dice roll elements add just a little bit of randomness to the game. I doubt I will ever get to play this game enough to see all of the cards. Truly a great game.

5.#Gaia Project

Last year this was ranked number 3 overall. I still love this game so so much. The engine building and asymmetric factions combine for almost endless combinations of strategy. Also features one of the best non-David Turzci solo modes I've seen. Simple yet challenging. A great game all around.

4.#Terraforming Mars

Last year this was ranked 7th overall. I did get a fair few plays of this one this year, including adding in Venus Next, Colonies, and very recently Turmoil expansions. There is so much to love in this game, especially once you get used to the uneven card art and average component quality. I know it is a bit much asking folks to get past the art but if you ever find it within yourself to give this one a try I know you won't be disappointed.

3.#Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition

Last year this was ranked 2nd overall. I really need to play this one again. So many games, not enough time. This is an epic, amazing game. I can't say enough good things about this game. Still my absolute favorite solo game, even though it hasn't hit the table recently. I also honestly don't think the rule book is that terrible. Is it great? No, but there are so many other aids to help you learn the game at this point that rule book complaints shouldn't be used as excuses any more.

2.#Star Wars: Rebellion

Shocker! My number one game has been dethroned. I love love love this game but it is a beast to table. My good friend who plays this with me every year has been unable to come out to Minnesota for the last 2 years due to Covid restrictions and I have been sorely missing my plays of this great game. Really love everything about this game though.

1.#Anachrony: Infinity Box

A game great enough to unseat Rebellion. I initially picked up just the essentials edition of this game and fell in love immediately. After my first solo play I knew that I had to get all of the content for this game. I managed to snag the Infinity Box and WOW is this game great. An unbelievable solo AI designed by, of course, David Turzci, crazy amounts of modules to add in or take out, and incredibly thematic euro-style gameplay. What more can I say about this one? It's incredible.

So that's my list! 50 great games. I do have quite the list of games that I need to play (listed in no particular order):

#Bonfire

#Brass: Birmingham

#Pipeline

#Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar

#Kepler-3042

#Stellar Horizons

#Space Empires 4X

#Martians: A Story of Civilization

#The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

#Founders of Gloomhaven

#MicroMacro: Crime City

Quite possibly more that I can't think of right now. 

Thanks for reading my list! Merry Christmas and happy gaming!



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4 months ago

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You had an amazing year of gaming.

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Premium User9 months ago

Great list!

One game I haven't played but keep looking at is #Hadrian's Wall.  I'll have to take another look now.  LOL.

Supporter9 months ago

I just played Hadrian twice yesterday. So incredible. 

Premium User9 months ago

So what's it like?  What did you really enjoy about it?Just trying to see if it's in my wheelhouse.

Moderator Level 19 months ago

I just got this for Christmas. It's a very big flip and write.  You play six 'years' and get a number of 'resources/workers' each year.  You use such resources to mark off squares in a number of different tracks, including four characteristics which all interrelate.  The more you fill in each track, the more of the various resources/workers you can acquire for use.  You're trying do daisy-chain your actions to get more resources.  There are so many options to this game.  It is not very interactive between players, but you can purchase goods and scouting patterns (hard to explain) from them. At the end of each 'year', your wall is attacked and you earn valor (good) or disdain (bad) depending on if you defended well or not.

I don't have any other game that does what it does so I can't compare it.  The closest I can come is how Paladins of the West Kingdom uses different color meeples to represent different actions.  That's part of Hadrian's Wall, but here you can pay one colored worker to earn a different colored worker as you progress on various tracks.

I really like it.  It's not that different solo or multiplayer (it's 1-6 players).

Supporter9 months ago

Kind of reminds me of Paladins, a little. You have all these goals to accomplish and you slowly chain more and more actions together. You work towards defending your fort and upgrading buildings. It's really satisfying. 

Moderator Level 19 months ago

Wow, lots of big moves on this list! And #1 did surprise me! From this list, #Great Western Trail jumps out as one I really want to try and might just buy eventually, especially with the recent new edition coming out.

Supporter9 months ago

The new edition is fantastic. I love everything about it. Solo mode is great too. 

Moderator Level 19 months ago

I will have to try it out!

9 months ago

Many thanks for sharing your list and thoughts

I share 3 games with that list (the 2 from the West kingdom series and Xia). FWIW I find it difficult to say which in the series I prefer - Architects is the super-fast yet interactive game, and easy enough to pick up that Age of Artisans will be included by default. Meanwhile Paladins is the crunchy table hog, where I've not got the expansion, as much for that 'wafer thin' increase to table space that might make it more difficult to table. Whilst I've got Viscounts, it's not yet made it to the table. Perhaps the fiddlier of the 3, and considering how highly I rate Shem/Sam's rulebooks, that rulebook feels just a fraction below their nornally high standard.

I do notice a little bit of a Mars theme in your selections - have you watched Jarrod's (3 minute board game) extended review of On Mars? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCzUgFDPDxc An interesting and thoughtful piece, even if you are likely to disagree on his take about On Mars. It's a subject that's so dear to his heart that he's producing his own Mars themed game.

Regards

Ian

Supporter9 months ago

I love Mars and yes I do watch 3MBG. His Mars game sounds awesome.

He is right, to an extent, that#On Mars doesn't really feel like you are fighting the planet much. But the game isn't necessarily about trying to be a hyper realistic game about Mars. And instead it's a mind-boggling engine builder with a Mars theme. Which is still really good. 

Regarding your thoughts on Garphill games rulebooks - I actually don't find them all that spectacular. But I found viscounts particularly unwieldy.  

New User9 days ago

For me everdell and dune would be much higher without hesitation. But I think it's a great top 👍

2 months ago

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2 months ago

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3 months ago

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Moderator Level 13 months ago

Excellent list with quite a few among my own top 50.  I like seeing #Tapestry so high up as I have found this to be a better game after playing more recently and I am hoping to add #Tapestry: Arts & Architecture after playing a friend's copy.

There is a #Dominion app that I have on my android.  I don't play it a ton but it does allow for soloing against an AI.  

I love seeing so many T games on this list!

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8 months ago

Very nice. Happy to see#Everdell hung in there. 

Supporter9 months ago

Hey, hey... just stopped to say hi.  Sounds like a good year of gaming.

I was happy with getting my group together a lot, but I definitely don't have a top 50.  Merry Christmas!

Supporter9 months ago

Is there a certain amount of games you need to have to qualify for a top 50?

Supporter9 months ago

Well I'd imagine I'd at least need 50 games, haha!

This is sdirrane by the way, I was approved for a user name change a while back.

Supporter9 months ago

I thought that it was you Scott but I wasn't 100% sure. 

Premium User9 months ago

I think as long as you have played 50 games you are good in my opinion. :). 

Moderator Level 19 months ago

I am surprised not to see #Nemo's War (Second Edition) on a list of 50 for someone who plays so many solo games.  I like the list though it gives me so nudging to try a few I haven't had a chance to play ( #Hadrian's Wall , #Leaving Earth ).  I am glad to see #On Mars so high on someone's list.  I recently bought this game from a friend after getting to play another friend's copy and found that I loved it (I still think I like #The Gallerist more, but On Mars is fantastic).

I don't feel my collection is enough to warrant a top 50 list (only 220 or so games), but I can nail out a top 20 I think:

1.  #Obsession - this one I am sliding to the top from about 5 or 6 area last year after getting the #Obsession: Upstairs, Downstairs and #Obsession: Wessex Expansion additions to the base game.  I love the unique interweaving of mechanics in this game along with the well tied in theme.

2. #Teotihuacan: City of Gods - I have yet to add an expansion to this one and it's climbed and climbed and climbed for we.  I play it on BGA moreso than my physical copy but I can't wait for Becky to learn this one so we can play it more often.

3. #Brass: Birmingham - wasn't a game I thought would end up being this high on my list but the gameplay is great and I will pull this one out to play as often as I can.  Becky doesn't like it but I am fortunate enough to have several folks in the local boardgaming community who enjoy it.

4. #Gloomhaven - Like you mine hasn't hit the table recently and this years school year schedule has limited the previous 4:30 am plays we used to do.  We are working through the #Gloomhaven: Forgotten Circles Expansion and hoping to finish in time for #Frosthaven when it arrives at my buddies house...whenever.

5. #Ark Nova - technically I haven't played this but I watched Paul Grogans play and this one is on preorder for me.  I watched the Brain Game folks play this at BGG Con and this is one of the those games that just signs to me.

6. #Wingspan - is the most played game by Becky and I and has to be on this list.  As much as she likes this game I love it just as well and will purchase any future expansions coming out.

7. #Great Western Trail (Second Edition) - I've only played a handful of times but I love the way this game plays and agree that it is Pfister's best game that I am aware of.  I have #Maracaibo as well but can't rank it this high.

8. #Anachrony - I only have the base and the #Anachrony: Exosuit Commander Pack and love those two.  This and the next several games are tough for me to rank against one another but this one may have gotten the most physical plays this past year since I first obtained it. 

9. #Clans of Caledonia - After playing this on BGA several times and getting better at the game dynamics, I feel it has more of the collaborative along with competative vibe that Brass brings to the table.  Not as good as Brass but I have a fully upgrade game than makes this one a ton of tactile fun to get to the table.

10. #Coffee Traders - I'm giving Coffee Traders an edge here this year because I like the unique interlockiing mechanics in the game.  I'll have to see how this playes out as I get more plays in and still haven't managed to get a five-player game going just. 

11. #Heaven & Ale - I thought this would be in the top ten and to be honest it could swap places with 9 and or 10 and I would not blink an eye.  This is a great game and I feel somewhat underated.  The unique tile laying/engine building nature of this games still seems to me to be quite unique among games.

12. #Cascadia - as I've only played it twice solo and twice with Becky this is a bit chancy putting it in this spot; but the game it beautiful and hints at the same type of pleasing play offered by Wingspan and with the zen-like nature of #PARKS thrown in for good measure.  This one could rise or fall but this feels about right for now.

13. #The Gallerist - I wish this hit the table more and that more folks I played with like it.  Vital Lacerda games aren't hitting the sweet spot among folks I play with but I love the theming, art, and game play The Gallerist offers.

14. #A Feast for Odin - I feel like this one will end up moving up on the list but having not yet played it I think it's only fair to guess here.  While I've gotten to see Ark Nove played in person I haven't not seen a full playthrough of this one. 

15. #On Mars - I feel like I've been holding back putting this one on the list till now.  I sort or want to move it up and I could see it moving higher than The Gallerist but for now I think this is about right.  I think this game it better than most give it credit for and I'd love to see it played with the expansion.

16. #Spirit Island - is a very creative game and I just added #Spirit Island: Branch & Claw and look forward to trying out the game with the new spirits. 

17. #Tuscany: Essential Edition - I greatly enjoy Viticulture despite feeling it has some faults.  It is a fun game to play and I wish it hit the table more.  I was excited to see it on BGA this year and get to play it a lot more (Essential Edition)

18. #Rococo: Deluxe Edition - I think this one still ranks high on my list.  I love the theme and mechanics and with or without the expansion it is a great game to get to the table.

19. #Maracaibo - I love the card mechanics this game has to offer.  While there seems to be something missing from this game it is quite fun and pretty tight overall.  I am curious to see what the expansion adds if I ever obtain it.

20. #Magic: The Gathering - remains a fun game that I continue to add cards to in bits and pieces and will occasionally play in a sealed deck tournament every so often when the opportunity arises.   

Moderator Level 19 months ago

The only game I've played in your top 20 is Wingspan and I just picked up the Oceania expansion for Christmas. I'm interested in playing Obsession, Cascadia, and Spirit Island sometime.  I've also recently added Maracaibo to my wishlist.

Moderator Level 19 months ago

Come to Denton and we can knock all those off your list...lol

Moderator Level 18 months ago

That would be a lot of fun! (Although I wouldn't be able to convince my wife it's a valid excuse for a trip.)

3 months ago

16. #Spirit Island - is a very creative game and I just added #Spirit Island a board game such as https://eldfall-chronicles.com/: Branch & Claw and look forward to trying out the game with the new spirits. 

17. #Tuscany: student accommodation Ljubljana Edition - I greatly enjoy Viticulture despite feeling it has some faults.  It is a fun game to play and I wish it hit the table more.  I was excited to see it on BGA this year and get to play it a lot more (Essential Edition)

18. #Rococo: Deluxe Edition - I think this one still ranks high on my list.  I love the theme and mechanics and with or without the expansion it is a great game to get to the table.