I recently did my Top 7 Board Games of All Time list, which was difficult for me because I like approximately 1,657,297 games, so narrowing it down was like giving my kids a little tough love in the form of pointedly reminding them that life is hard sometimes.
Oh, you’re going to cry now because you didn’t make the list? Let me tell you, kid, they will eat you alive at Berry Patch Montessori and Organic Farm School for Gifted Pre-Schoolers with that kind of attitude, so you better toughen up or your chances of getting into Reed are going to be shot before you enter first grade.
So, lists are hard. Not every child gets center stage at the pre-school talent show. Tough decisions need to be made. This list is an attempt to explain some of those tough decisions.
My NOT Top 7 Board Games of All Time
Honorable Mention: Dice Throne
Consider Dice Throne my #8 game of all time, which – all things considered – still speaks incredibly highly of Dice Throne!
Dice Throne is essentially Yahtzee with more fun stuff added. You roll dice to activate powers that knocks your opponent’s health down to zero. The game is developed by Roxley and it is perfectly and meticulously crafted and balanced.
I highly recommend it and it just missed my list all-time favorite board games [LINK]. I’ve written more about Dice Throne here if you are interested.
Fast Rising: Unmatched
Unmatched is a game that is getting a ton of love right now. I love it also and would consider it a game that is rising fast when I list out my favorite board games ever. But it’s still a little too new and I need to run it though the paces a bit more first.
Unmatched is a miniatures dueling game that features legendary fighters from pop culture, like Sinbad, Dracula, and Medusa. Each hero has a unique deck of cards that fits their fighting style and you can mix and match fighters from any Unmatched set.
The fun news is more Unmatched sets are releasing all the time and publisher Restoration Games recently got the license to produce Marvel Unmatched, which will undoubtedly make me even more excited about the game!
Death of a Goldfish: Pandemic Legacy
It wasn’t too long ago that I may have listed Pandemic Legacy as my favorite game ever, so if you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend the experience at least once.
But legacy games – that is, board games that have a persistent storyline to them and are played over a series of sessions – can be a lot of work. Definitionally, you can’t just pick them up for a quick play and then drop them. No, you have to commit.
So, when it came time for Pandemic Legacy Season 2, I realized the legacy fad was a little ephemeral for me. They turned out to be like the carnival goldfish of the board game world. Some have a little more “shelf life” than others, but all will be flushed before you know it.
Should Have Made the List: Dominion
I have introduced more people to the hobby through Dominion than any other game. Even non-gamers understand cards, and Dominion is nothing but cards.
Dominion is the granddaddy of what are called deck builders. You start out with a small hand of cards and limited actions. Turn by turn you add cards and your actions increase.
Dominion is chill, yet still thoughtful. It works great as a two player game, so it makes for a nice, quiet date night at home. It also has loads of expansions, and while there are flashier games that exist, you’d be hard pressed to find a game that is more universally appreciated than Dominion.
I’ve probably played Dominion too much to fully appreciate it anymore, which is a shame, as it’s a wonderful game.
Too Big to Fail: Gloomhaven
Gloomhaven is not a small, quick party game. It’s a CR 25 board game where the game itself weights 20 pounds. It’s the biggest game of all time, relative to popularity as well as literally.
It is awe inspiring the first time you set it up. But I should also be clear that the first time you set it up you might want to budget a full ten-day worth of time. And at some point it just became too much for me.
Confused Out of the Market: X-Wing
I was invited to Fantasy Flight’s headquarters for the release event of the 2nd edition of X-Wing. They wanted me to cover the release event on Nerds on Earth and I did so here.
That is not a humble brag. I’m local, so it’s not like they flew me in or anything. All I had to do was drive a few minutes in exchange for some nice swag.
But even as they were showing me the upcoming products and answering my questions, I didn’t fully get why I’d pay for upgrade packs in order to use my 1.0 Star Wars ships in the 2nd edition of the game. And I certainly didn’t want to shell out for all new ships, as 1st edition was just fine for me.
So instead of jumping in with both feet into the 2nd edition of the game, I sort of just drifted away from the 1st edition.
Too Strained: Sagrada
Sagrada is a gorgeous and wonderful game. My wife would consider it among her all-time favorite games. But we rarely ever get it to the table anymore because it gives me headaches.
When I say headaches, I mean literal headaches. Sagrada uses colorful dice to mimic the creation of a beautiful stained glass window. The pattern matching element of the game is something I absolutely love, and a game type that I enjoy in several other games like Tiny Towns, New York Zoo, Patchwork, and others.
But I don’t see colors well and the translucent dice strain my eyes all to heck, meaning I almost certainly have a headache by the end of the game. But while that is no fun for me, I certainly commend the game to you. It’s a wonderful game.
Get Sagrada here, if your eyes can handle it.
What are your Top 7 board games? And what games might just miss your list for various reasons? Drop in to our Boarderlands Facebook Group, which is a dedicated space for all things board gaming, and let us know!