**This post was initially posted on Boardgamegeek on January 3, 2017 and is being reposted here.
With the beginnings of a new board gaming blog, it seemed fitting to do a post in early January to go over our current favorite board games. We both have a game in our list that we didn’t get until late November, so there is certainly room for new games we play to make some waves. Since we haven’t played any of the Christmas games or expansions yet, this is the prime time to get our current favorites listed out. Ideally, we’ll do the same thing around this time a year from now. How much will the list change by then? Who knows! But I don’t expect my #1 to change anytime soon…
What is fascinating to me is how different our lists are. There are only 3 games in common, which means there are 17 different games to make up our combined Top Ten List! Not only that, but there are 15 different companies, with two companies each having two distinct games to crack the list. Read on to see what our current favorites are, keeping in mind we primarily play with just 2.
#10 – Nicole’s Pick: Innovation by Asmadi Games
My wife was thinking of putting Sid Meier’s Civilization here, but ultimately decided to go with the smaller, faster, card-driven Innovation instead. I often find myself on the losing end of both games, but I have a lot of fun. Normally I win a lot when learning a new game and she eventually picks up on a strategy and begins her reign of eternal victory. Not true with this game. She beat me repeatedly from the start, forcing me to be the one to learn and adapt over the course of repeated plays. We both enjoy this game quite a bit, even though some cards seem overpowered at the time and can lead to a bit of dejected sulking mid-game.
#10 – David’s Pick: Champions of Midgard by Grey Fox Games
When I discovered my wife loved worker placement games, I was convinced this one would be a hit. After all, it would bring out a game mechanic she loved and pair it with a theme I would love. I had hoped that the dice-rolling wouldn’t turn her off from the game, and sometimes it doesn’t, but I think it would need a dozen or so more plays to have a shot at cracking her list of favorites or to climb higher on mine. Sometimes a string of bad rolls can be brutally crippling, making it hard to climb back into contention.
#9 – Nicole’s Pick: Catan by Mayfair Games
The classic gateway game, although surprisingly not the one that broke us into playing board games. When the game works well, it plays beautifully with a tight game and balance. Yet the reason it will never make my list is because of those dice. She really enjoys the game and has mastered the art of building the longest road, and it would probably be higher on her list if I wanted to play it more often.
#9 – David’s Pick: Firefly: The Game by Gale Force Nine, LLC.
This one is one of my wife’s favorites as well. See the entry later on the list!
#8 – Nicole’s Pick: Fairy Tale by Z-Man Games
It isn’t very often that my wife likes a game enough for her to be compelled to buy it. After all, she frequently reminds me this is my hobby. But Fairy Tale was one of those rarities, and is a wonderful game to play when we have only a few minutes, a short game to play before breaking out something bigger, and sometimes to play in a best of 5/7/9 series against each other.
#8 – David’s Pick: Castles of Mad King Ludwig by Bezier Games, Inc.
I instantly knew that I would love this game, and after playing a round at a friend’s house I felt compelled to order it immediately. My wife hated it the first night, but warmed up to it over time. Everyone we’ve played with has loved it, and the reason it disappeared from my wife’s list is apparently because of the expansion. I assumed due to the moats, but she seems to think that the Secret Passages ruined it for her since she never remembers to use them until I’m landing massive combos. I’m guessing this one may reappear on her list by the end of the year, as I know deep down she really enjoys this one.
#7 – Nicole’s Pick: Kingdom Builder by Queen Games
This is one of my favorites as well. See the entry later on the list!
#7 – David’s Pick: Race for the Galaxy by Rio Grande Games
I played this one to death two years ago when I got it for Christmas. My wife enjoyed playing it a lot, too, until I started playing it solo against the robot (courtesy of the first expansion). That ruined the game for her, as I got better at maximizing my points as fast as possible in an effort to defeat the efficient robot. It still is one of my favorites, and I’ve accepted the fact that it’ll never be the same fun for her again. I’d probably be in my top 5 if she still enjoyed playing it.
#6 – Nicole’s Pick: Firefly: The Game by Gale Force Nine, LLC.
The first game that is on both of our lists! This was one of our earliest board game purchases, and we’ve diligently expanded it time and again. It was her favorite game for a long, long time. And then she taught it to someone who, simply, needed Nicole to walk her through what to do every single turn. That made Nicole avoid the game for the longest time, although in the past two months we managed to play this a few times with just the base game and then finally with the expansions back in the mix. We’re both huge browncoats, and this is likely to be locked in both our lists for quite some time.
#6 – David’s Pick: Kingdom Builder by Queen Games
Another duplicate game to discuss! Thanks to Wil Wheaton and his Tabletop series for getting me interested in this one. It is deceptively simple, and many people either really love it or else they really hate it. I’ve loved it from the start, and it wasn’t until my wife downloaded the app this year that she finally warmed up to it. Now we’re both happy any time this one gets pulled out, and I cannot wait to try it out with our newly-acquired Nomads expansion!
#5 – Nicole’s Pick: Tiny Epic Kingdoms by Gamelyn Games
This one is among our newest purchases, and one we both enjoy a lot. My wife asked for it again and again when she first learned the game, which is always a great sign. Collectively, we’ve played with all of the races, although neither of us has been them all and we played this with 4-players for the first time last week (hint: it was still a lot of fun!). This game truly does pack an epic experience in such a small box, and we cannot wait to try some of their other games in the future.
#5 – David’s Pick: Legendary: A Marvel Deckbuilding Game by Upper Deck Entertainment
This game was always more of my type of game, a pattern that will be repeated more than a few times in the top 5 here. I’m a huge fan of the Marvel movies, and would be a fan of the comics if it wasn’t so darn expensive to get into. This instantly replaced Dominion for me as the deckbuilding game of choice, and the competition for victory points means this is a co-op that my wife will play from time to time. It is mostly a solo game now, but I can still get this one to the table with her on occasion so long as we don’t mix in too much from the Secret Wars Vol. 2 expansion. She thinks we have plenty of expansions, yet part of me wants them all. That is a point we’ll probably never agree on.
#4 – Nicole’s Pick: War of the Ring (2nd Edition) by Ares Games
This is one of my favorites as well. See the entry later on the list!
#4 – David’s Pick: A Game of Thrones: The Card Game (2nd Edition) by Fantasy Flight Games
I was lucky enough to get a copy of the first edition core set for cheap last year, and we played the game enough times to realize it was a fun one. It scratched that old Magic: The Gathering itch for me, but at a far cheaper cost. When I learned they were redoing it all to make a 2nd edition, which would come with 8 factions instead of 4, it leapt to the top of my wish list. And I absolutely love the changes they’ve made, with both the Night’s Watch and the Greyjoys being among my favorite factions to play. The game can be a little too brutal at times, which is probably why it didn’t make her list, but I will always be ready to play a round of this.
#3 – Nicole’s Pick: Splendor by Space Cowboys
The same friend who introduced us to Castles of Mad King Ludwig also taught us to play this one. My wife won that first game, and was instantly hooked. It also speaks volumes when a game is interesting enough to get my father-in-law to want to play it several times in a row. I had a very brief stint where I was great at this game, but my days of winning are probably behind me since my wife’s brain is wired perfectly for this game. I’m hardly surprised by this one appearing so high.
#3 – David’s Pick: Pixel Tactics by Level 99 Games
The same day we bought Tiny Epic Kingdoms, we also bought this one. I taught her Tiny Epic first, knowing it was easier to teach and would be geared more toward her tastes. I had a strong suspicion this would be a game I’d love, but I had no idea how much I would love the game. The pixelated artwork pleases the SNES gamer in me, and the gameplay is fast, fun, and an entirely different experience every time. My wife picked up on my love for the game enough to get me Pixel Tactics 2 for Christmas, and I cannot wait to test out that batch of cards while continuing to explore what this one has to offer.
#2 – Nicole’s Pick: Ticket to Ride: 10th Anniversary Edition by Days of Wonder
We’ve been gamers for a few years, but we didn’t own a Ticket to Ride game until last Christmas (we now own two!). It is a simple game with a very easy mechanic, making it our go-to game for teaching new players. While I am not a huge fan of the North America map for the two of us, it is still a fun game to pull out and play. The pieces for the anniversary edition are simply beautiful, and certainly something that is likely to draw in new players. This game will remain a staple in our collection for years to come, and something that we can always take when visiting non-gamers.
#2 – David’s Pick: Star Wars: Imperial Assault by Fantasy Flight Games
I talked about this game at the end of 2015. A lot. Enough that my wife finally told me to stop talking about the game and just buy it. I haven’t regretting that for a moment. We played the Skirmish quite a bit at first, and then we shifted toward playing the campaign. That was my first mistake, as she ended up not enjoying controlling all the characters, nor did she like how the Imperial side had hidden surprises in each mission. So the campaign is, unfortunately, not something we will be playing together anymore but the Skirmish mode is, in itself, enough to make it worth keeping this game in our collection.
#1 – Nicole’s Pick: Agricola (Revised Edition) by Mayfair Games
When I picked up this game, I had no idea it would become my wife’s favorite. It was our first worker placement game, and we didn’t pick it up until early fall. And my wife cannot get enough of the game! She hates using the cards, as the times when I win it is usually because of a card or two that gives me bonus points or helps me do something a little more effectively than I could have without it. I find that this game drives me crazy because I feel like I lose even when I win. It is a game of maximizing what you can do with the few resources and actions available, and she is brilliant at it. She really, really wants to get the Farmers on the Moor expansion for this one, and I am hoping to hold out long enough to see when the revised version will release to snag that version.
#1 – David’s Pick: War of the Ring (2nd Edition) by Ares Games
The king of board games for me, and I don’t expect this one will ever be dethroned. I love Tolkien’s works so much and this game, for me, evokes the sense that I am right in the middle of his epic series. Both sides play very well against each other, and our games have been as short as 30 minutes (she rolled almost all character dice and I couldn’t buy a successful hunt roll) to 3-hour sprawling epics where every decision felt like it could alter the balance of the game. Win or lose, this game always has me feeling satisfied at the end (apart from that 30-minute fluke of a game!) and eager to play the next round. I cannot wait to test it out with the Warriors of Middle Earth expansion, and I’m going to be watching for a copy of Lords of Middle Earth in order to expand this to its complete, epic experience.