Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

The Ten Greatest Board Games

The Ten Greatest Board Games

10. Trivial Pursuit (1981)

In 1981, two Canadian magazine editors decided to design their own game and ended up creating a champion medium for all sorts of useless facts and knowledge. The gameplay is decent enough, simple in concept, but the trivia challenge is what made this game a huge success. Trivial Pursuit’s popularity continues today, spawning all sorts of updates and specialized versions.

9. Diplomacy (1959)

In 1957, a little game called Risk was published, setting off the popularity of wargames. However two years later, a new war game called Diplomacy was released, with a concept unique to Risk. The players must write down their moves and reveal them at the same time, cutting down on down-time spent between other players’ turns and giving a fresh unpredictability to the gameplay. Diplomacy is most famous for have negotiations, alliances, and double-crossing as an integral part of the game providing lots of room for player interaction.
Diplomacy became very popular and even JFK and Kissinger have declared it to be their favorite game. Diplomacy even grew to include postal games, where players would play from across the country through the mail. A unique and special game, one of the most interactive and involving war games there is.

8. Carcassonne (2000)

Board games seem to currently be in a Renaissance period over the last decade, mostly with the advent of German-style ‘Eurogames’. One of the most popular and unique games to come out of this era is Carcassonne, where rather than beginning with a board, the players create the board as the game goes on, each taking turns placing a new landscape tile and matching features. They then play their board pieces or ‘meeples’ on different areas of the board to perform differing roles which score points in different ways.
Carcassonne is a definitely a different expierence than regular board games, introducing the concept of tile and worker plaecment to many. There are a number of explanations, each of which addd a little something extra to the game without taking away its essence.

7. Tigris and Euphrates (1997)

Reiner Knizia is one of the biggest names in modern board games, and Tigris and Euphrates is often considered his masterpiece. Chances are you haven’t heard of it. It is not a game for the casual board gamer, but is instead a ‘gamer’s game’, full of complexity and skill, a mix of theme and abstract. One of the more complex games out there, wonderfully crafted and beautifully made.

6. Scrabble (1948)

The ultimate word game which has spawned tournaments of all kinds, had full dictionaries written on words that can be used, and created an enjoyable and intellectual leisure activity for people of all ages. Scrabble has garnered a level of respect in society like few other boards games can.

5. Backgammon (200)

Backgammon is one of the oldest games in the world. combining the race game with the dice game. It has a long history and is studied widely. Backgammon even has a World Championship. Backgammon is a pillar of the world of board games which has been around for many, many years and will be for many more to come.

4. Puerto Rico (2002)

Puerto Rico may be one of the most brilliantly constructed board games ever made, with almost no flaws in its design at all. In the game, the players are plantation owners who take turns in various roles (mayor, builder, trader, etc.) which dictate the different phases of the gameplay. The only aspects of luck in the game are the way the plant tiles are drawn (which has little impact on the game) and the strategy of the other players.
Puerto Rico is the Citizen Kane of board games. Not only is it technically brilliant, its also highly enjoyable.

3. The Settlers of Catan (1995)

Settlers of Catan is everything you want in a board game: an interesting theme, lots of player interaction, enjoyable gameplay, a good mix of strategy and chance. Settlers also has the quality of being able to pull almost anyone into its orbit.
The board is made up of 19 hexagonal pieces which are rearranged differently every game so that you never have the same board each time you play. You collect resources from the ‘hexes’ which you use to build settlements and road. Yet the description of the game does not do it justice; this is a fun, involving game that everyone can enjoy. I truly believe that eventually Settlers of Catan will be taking the place of Monopoly as the quintessential board game of modern culture.

2. Go (c. 2200 BC)

From the annals of ancient China comes one of the oldest and greatest board games in the world. Go focuses on balance, tactics and strategy. Perhaps no board game has had quite the cultural impact that Go has had, especially in the Far East. In China, Go was actually known as one of the Four Arts of the Chinese Scholar.
Go ended up spreading to Korea and Japan and eventually to the rest of the world. Go was considered an important skill in some Eastern cultures and is a game with many philosophical implications. It is certainly one of the most important and meaningful board games ever made.

1. Chess (c. 600)

Chess: the grand master of all board games. Originating in India, chess has a long and intricate history of evolution into the game of strategy we know today. The game can be considered a war simulation as well as an abstract exercise of the mind where each individual piece has its own role with one common goal: protect the king.
Chess is often used as a metaphor for such philosophical views and life lessons such as sacrifice and thinking numerous steps ahead. The game is widely studied by scientists and mathematicians and is played at the highest international level, including the famous cold war match of Fischer vs. Spassky.
No board game in the world holds quite the level of popularity and reverence as chess does. It is the ultimate board game and the standard for all recreational challenges of the mind.


6 Responses to “The Ten Greatest Board Games”

  1. I like Trivial Pursuit. What about Risk?

  2. Risk is a great game, but I decided to go with Diplomacy instead, as the mechanics are a little more solid and less based on chance.

  3. I agree, backgammon is a great game.

  4. Wow. Chess is the best board game? Maybe the most popular and so forth, but you really think it’s all that good?

    I guess if you’re playing a board game for status, or to seem intelligent, it’s good.

    I wonder what a list of board games that were actually FUN would look like here.

  5. A nice selection of games. I like the choice of Go, as it’s one of the most influential. Not a fan of chess. I like strategy games, it just never grabbed a hold of me, must be an emotional childhood trauma or something. My dad creamed me at Chess a bunch of times or something.
    Why is chess so devisive? Many people suck at Trivial Pursuit, but nobody hates it.
    Oh, of the list, Puerto Rico’s my favorite. Definitely need to play again.
    I still think Settlers has more luck than I’d like or maybe I just roll elevens whenever I play while my houses are stuck on 6 and 8.

  6. coooooooooooooooool

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