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

My Top 50 Board Games – Part 3: #30-#21

About the list

These are my favourite 50 board games at the present moment.  However, I will readily admit that some games here are fairly new (especially in the 40s and 30s) and may lose polish over time, or rise up to be higher up over time.  There are also many more games I have not had the opportunity to play which could gain spots in the list in the future.  But at this point, these are the 50 I have come up with.

Please comment below on any of the games in this list if you have played them as well.

Note:  Some of these are card games.  As long as they are widely accepted as being within the board game milieu, they count for this list.  However, games with a standard 52  card deck were not considered.

30. Power Grid


Some poeple say its too mathy, but so what. Its neat. I love the way the resource market works, and I don’t have many auction games so I’m also glad to be able to do that as well. I love how you basically have to meet 3 conditions to get your reward and balancing those conditions against everyone else is fun.
And frustrating. I’m terrible at this game.


29. Escape

This is the hottest game in our group right now. A game where you have to collect gems, explore a temple and find your way on in 10 minutes With a spooky jungle track in the background? And frantic dice rolling? Excellent.
If you haven’t tried Escape yet… what are you waiting for??


28. Vivajava

This was perhaps my biggest surprise out of all the games in my collection. I saw pictures of it online and thought it looked cool, and I really liked the idea of a coffee-themed game. So I ordered it in, thinking it would be a niche game that would sit on my shelf.

However, my friends loved it. Vivajava has a great dynamic where players must team up to make coffee blends which will earn them points, then team up with others later. This is a fun, interactive, noisy game which is always a great time at the table. It may be small and lesser known, but it works for 5-8 players and is a great option for large groups.


27. Race for the Galaxy


This is a game which is growing in my estimation. It is a card game which revolves around the role selection mechanism developed by Puerto Rico, and works very well here. The neat thing is that the cards in your hand act as cards you play, as resources for future investment, and as currency to buy cards. And all the while you are playing cards which give you the feeling of settling new planets and building technologies. Its awesome.


26. Alhambra


There’s just something about those early era games (and by early era, I am talking in relation to the post-settlers board game boom, so settle down old timers). They just seemed to have their stuff together. Alhambra is a really neat tile game where you are developing your palace and having to use 4 different currencies to bid on buildings. It may be slightly on the dry side in the sense that not a lot of table conversation goes on, but you will get wrapped up in your own plans.

25. The Resistance


Ooo, the Resistance. You have 8,9 or even 10 people over? No problem, play Resistance. You feel like lying and deceiving your friends? Great, play Resistance! You love deduction and want to figure which members of your group are secretly spies? Resistance my friend, Resistance.


24. Balderdash


My second favourite party game on this list. Balderdash is great because it really allows for creativity and imagination to shine through in a structured but not too structured way. You are coming up with definitions of funny words, or in the newer versions describing silly laws or plots to B-movies, etc. I realize that this game may not be fun for those people who just can never “think of something”, but I personally love it. It is so much fun that my friends and I will talk about them for months after. Some of our common inside jokes still stem from things that were brought up during Balderdash.


23. K2


In K2, players are mountain climbers making their way up the second-largest peak in the world. Why this game is so great is not just the race aspect, but the mechanic which makes players have to watch their oxygen levels, lest they lose too much O2 and die at the top. Its a very thematic game which gets more intense the further up you climb.


22. Scotland Yard


You see them coming. They have you surrounded on all sides. You may be able to escape the net, but a little misdirection is needed. A bead of sweat drips from your brow.
That’s what its like to play Mr. X, the resident criminal from the game Scotland Yard. This game has the awesome concept of pitting one player against the rest, who are the detectives hunting him down through London. I love the idea of secret movements and everyone working as a team to figure out where they are. Great game.


21. Memoir ’44


I’m not a war gamer, nor do I care to be. But Memoir ’44 is enough to scratch that itch, me thinks. Its just really cool. It plays out actual WWII battles and provides a simple dice-based battle mechanic which allows the game to keep moving quickly, like an Allied push on the front.

The game feels very thematic and tactical. Its fairly easy to learn and very easy to lose (well, if your me it is).

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