Did you know that November is Heavy Games month? I heard rumor that it may be that, and you should definitely check out some of the heavy games on Kickstarter right now such as:
Pipeline by Capstone Games (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/capstonegames/pipeline-…)
The City on the Big Shoulders by Parallel Games (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1836800889/city-of-the-…)
So to celebrate I decided to throw all of the heavy games I’ve played into a list on Pub Meeple’s ranking engine to bring you my Top 30 (because there are 30 days in the month) Heavy Games.
I used the BGG Advanced Search to filter down to only games with a weight rating of 3.0 or higher, and from there I stopped looking at titles once I hit the BGG Ranking of 7000, which meant I looked through about 1500 titles. I won’t tell you the shamefully small number I have played, but what I will share are the 30 that I ranked above all of the others:
30. Root – So much universal love for the game, and I enjoy it as well. But the honeymoon phase has faded and there are other games that are far better with 2-players.
29. Sid Meier’s Civilization Board Game – I haven’t played the newest iteration of the game, but this FFG version was a great representation of the computer game I grew up loving to play.
28. A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (2nd Edition) – This game is not really playable with 2, therefore it left our collection long ago, but this would be that game to almost always pull out with 6 players for an epic, tense game.
27. Star Wars: Rebellion – I’ve still only played it once, and thus its low ranking here; yet that one play left a strong enough impression that I can’t wait to see whether or not it holds up.
26. In the Year of the Dragon – This game feels almost too light for this list, yet there is a simple brutality in this game that I really have enjoyed at all player counts.
25. Caverna: The Cave Farmers – One of only two Rosenberg titles to make the cut, as I prefer the adventuring over the card play in Agricola and the tetris puzzle in A Feast for Odin. This isn’t Rosenberg’s best game, but it is a solid worker placement that I rarely regret playing and think will be amazing with the Expansion.
24. Star Wars: Imperial Assault – This may be the game I’ve parted with that I regret the most, now that there is an app to solo play the campaign. The real star of the show was the 2-player skirmish mode, which was so excellent. But I disliked the churning of extra content from FFG and that was a big reason why this eventually had to go.
23. The Castles of Burgundy – The second of three Feld games to grace the list, and this one is a staple for a reason. It has enough mitigation to where the better player can, and often will, win in spite of any dice roll results.
22. Haspelknect – This undermentioned gem has some really interesting mechanics that I always enjoy getting to the table. I’ve heard the expansion on this cranks it up to 11, meaning I definitely need to grab it to see if this climbs further up the list.
21. Trajan – The final Feld game, and easily my favorite of them. I really enjoy the mancala action on here, and can’t wait for this to be rereleased even if it isn’t changed in any way.
20. Keyper – This game takes the fun elements of a game like Agricola or Caverna and makes it more interesting in all the right ways. I’m horrible at the game, but I enjoy the flippy boards each season and trying to strike a balance on how best to utilize my different Keyples.
19. Vinhos – This is the first of many Lacerda games to grace the list, but to say this is the worst of them is a diservice to the game. It is such a tight, excellent game where you quickly realize that a dozen actions is never going to be enough yet you can do so much that you’ll be thinking how to do it all better the next time.
18. Keyflower – One of the hardest decisions was when I had to choose Keyper or Keyflower, and I gave the nod to this one simply because of the unique bidding system and the clever use of those green Keyples. With more plays, this will easily climb the list a few spots.
17. Middle-Earth – Yes, a dead CCG made the list and with good reason. This manages to be such a thematic representation of Tolkien’s world, and competing against the other Istari wizards makes for a unique flavor. Cards are still mostly available at a reasonable price, and it was enough to hook me and a friend from the first agonizing play.
16. Food Chain Magnate – My first Splotter experience two months ago didn’t disappoint. Between the branching career paths for workers, the spatial element of controlling the demand on the board, and the impact of milestones – there is just so much in this game that I feel a need to replay it many times over just to really appreciate this gem.
15. CO2 – Honestly, this game surprised me in a way I never expected. I thought I’d hate the game, but found only a few turns into the experience that it was hitting all the right chords with me. Even if you have no interest in the theme or the so-called semi-cooperative nature of the game (really, you only are “working together” by making sure the pollution level never reaches a critical point), this one is worth checking out because it is such a great game in this box.
14. Gloomhaven – This one had to appear somewhere on the list, didn’t it? I’ve played a handful of games, but had to drop out of the regular group I had just joined. I enjoy the cardplay on this one, and still think this RPG-in-a-box might be something that would provide so many hours of delightful experiences.
13. BattleCON – The simple system of BattleCON makes it easy to pick up and learn, yet the weight on this dueling game comes from the open information and the wildly different playstyles of every character. Even when playing a character whose style is counterintuitive to my own preference, I still find myself having fun playing this game.
12. Spirit Island – The newest addition onto this list made a really strong first few impressions during some solo plays. I need to find a way to convince my wife to ignore the cooperative word on here and give it a play, as this is the kind of game I am sure she’d still enjoy playing together. This has so many delightfully tense decisions that I always feel like my turn matters.
11. Carthago: Merchants & Guilds – My current frontrunner as the best game of 2018, this game has a delightful system of multi-use cards, a tight rondel for actions, and has shown itself to contain multiple paths to victory.
10. The Gallerist – This game probably best demonstrates a Lacerda design, containing clear objectives to work toward via a small handful of actions, yet accomplishing any of those objectives takes plenty of time, planning, and an ability to call an audible when other players inevitably get in your way. This might be the easiest of his current games to teach, but there is a ton of room for learning to master the game and play it efficiently.
9. Ora et Labora – Easily the best Rosenberg I have played to date, this has so many excellent decisions and interesting challenges along the way, I love the resource wheel in this, just as I did in Glass Road (which, sadly, fell at a 2.97 weight rating and missed qualifying for the list) and there is a surprising amount of room for direct player interaction that is lacking in too many worker placement games.
8. Nations – The best of the civ-builder games that I have played. No, I have not tried Through the Ages yet but I think this one might be hard to topple. It has interesting decisions with upgrading and allocating to your own action spaces, an aspect which shines for me as a player.
7. The Ruhr: A Story of Coal Trade – This game is the best dice game on the market, as they never get rolled. This has simple mechanics, yet the decisions are tough at times and there is sufficient room for pursuing unique paths over the course of the game. I can’t wait for the final title in this trilogy to get the Capstone reprint so my colleciton can be complete.
6. Argent: The Consortium – Starting with this game through the #3 spot, these were some really tough choices. I absolutely love this worker placement gem, with an incredible theme and strong interaction between players. The delayed activation of workers until the end of the round opens up many opportunities to counter your opponent’s plans, and the 2nd Edition upgrade on this fixed the biggest issue the game had component-wise by providing better minis.
5. Rococo – My heart withers a little knowing there is no talk of a reprint on this incredible game. Sure, the theme might sound a little boring, but this game stole my heart from the first play. The deckbuilding is spectacular and essential to effective execution in a game about making dresses and suits.
4. Lignum – I really, really struggled with this and the next game. Lignum was a Top 5 game overall for me, and still is deserving of that placement. The long-term planning you need to be efficient in this game makes it a cherished part of my collection, and a game that always provides a good experience over the course of 2+ hours.
3. Lisboa – Lacerda’s best game to date is also arguably his densest game. There is just so much to explore that it can easily overwhelm a new player, yet once you get a handle on the basic concepts this game holds one of the best gaming experiences on the market. I’ve played and enjoyed this at 1, 2, and 3 players and will always be willing to sit down and play (and now teach) this game.
2. War of the Ring (Second Edition) – It is finally time to stop deluding myself – this is no longer my #1 game. It has dropped a spot, but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t an excellent gaming experience. When I want an epic struggle in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, there is no other game I’d rather play for several hours with one friend. So much about this game is fantastic, and regardless of which side I am playing there is a feeling of epic scale and emotional swings that check all the right boxes that a game should check.
1. The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – Yes, a Living Card Game takes the top spot. If you don’t think a card game can have weight, you haven’t played this one. There are so many fun and tense decisions to make, whether playing alone or working together with others, that this scratches every itch I want from a Lord of the Rings game (apart from competing against a player…until recently). It is easily my most-played game with over 100 logged played in just over a year, and the go-to solo game in my collection. Some dislike the chance that you might need to tweak a deck, or even change your deck completely, in order to beat a specific quest. As for me, I find that is what helps give it the nice weight I like in a game, as I need to adapt and plan better in order to be successful.
And there you have it, my top 30 heavy games. What games didn’t make my list that I definitely should check out if I haven’t already?