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Top 10 Games I Will Always Play


Top Ten Games I Will Always Play

This list is going to be… different. It is a list of my top 10 games I will play every time that they are offered/requested/on the table. As an added bonus for you, the reader, my wife Sarah will be providing a list of her top 10 games that she will play every time. It should provide insight into how, while gaming with your significant other can be fun, selecting the game you both want to play can be its own mini game.

The concept of this list is that these games are games that we will play every time they are offered. It is not a list of our top 10 favorite games. For example, I love Brass. It is not on this list because I do not want to play this game every time. It can be heavy and a brain burner. I would definitely not be in the mood to play Brass after a bad day at work.

Another factor in what made our list is game length, especially when you read Sarah’s list. She loves Eldritch Horror, but she is not always in the mood for a 90-120 minute game.

With this boring introduction out-of-the-way, I present to you…..

My Our Top 10 Games We (in our own individual lists) will play EVERY TIME

Sarah’s ListBrian’s List

Cacao10. Cacao

Cacao is a two to four player tile laying game, similar to Carcassone, except that meeples are printed on the cards themselves, scoring is easier, and it plays MUCH faster. Also, towards the end of the game, if the tiles run out, you have the ability to build over tiles you previously placed. I really like this additional layer of strategy.

I also love to play Cacao with my kids because, not only do they understand the game, they get the strategies and do not need my help.

2-4 Players • Ages 8+ • 45 minutes • $30
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Rum and Bones10. Rum & Bones

Yes, I am cult of the new. Yes, I just invested $200+ in Rum and Bones. Yes, I do not have Zombicide: Black Plague, Conan, or Myth yet from my Kickstarter backing. That is why this game is 10th out of 10.

I love this stupid game. It is just so… much… fun. I don’t care when I fall in the water when attempting a rigging check. I don’t care if the Kraken eats all 3 of my heroes. I am having too much fun to complain, which is why I game. I love the mechanics of the game and I love how it tries, and mostly succeeds, at emulating a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) PC game. And after playing Rum and Bones so many times, it rarely exceeds the one hour mark.

2-6 Players • Ages 12+ • 60 minutes • $75
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7 Wonders Box Cover9. 7 Wonders (review)

I like drafting games. In fact, this was the 1st drafting game I learned. I immediately liked 7 Wonders. It is simple, fast, and has high replay value given the number of expansions that can be included based on the type of game you want to play. I also like having to really only worry about the person on my left and right when playing with four or more opponents. I understand that the entire table can impact the draft, but I do not play at WBC levels.

Another reason I like 7 Wonders is that I can play it with our kids. They like to play and have picked up on how to draft to hurt their opponents. I love my kids…

2-7 Players • Ages 10+ • 30 minutes • $50
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Cacao9. Cacao

This is the only duplicate on our two lists. I do not have much to add as I like Cacao for the exact same reasons that my wife does. It is Carcassone Lite, scoring is easier, and it plays MUCH faster.

Also, this is a great game to play with our kids before they go to bed. My stepdaughter and I once finished a game in 16 minutes. We also had fun playing, which is most important!

2-4 Players • Ages 8+ • 45 minutes • $30
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Finca8. Finca

I love fruit. I love shopping. I love boardgames that last less than an hour. I LOVE Finca.

I like the windmill mechanic for moving your workers. It is unique and a fun puzzle in itself. I also like trying to time when to sell my fruit and capture fincas (territories that score points).

I am sure you are bored with hearing this, but I also like to play Finca with my children. My daughter LOVES this game (it is probably the colorful fruit) and frequently requests to play it.

2-4 Players • Ages 8+ • 45 minutes • Out of Print
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Snowdonia8. Snowdonia

Looking for a different type of worker placement game? Try Snowdonia. Not only do you have to compete against your opponents and their choices, you also have a random in-game weather mechanic that can stall or expedite your plans, depending on if it is raining or sunny out, as well as the government, which will speed up the game if you and your fellow players are not completing the train track quickly enough.

Snowdonia is easy to teach, it plays fast and is different every time you play. In addition, there are multiple scenarios to play the game, both inside the core game as well as in several of the expansions that have been made.

1-5 Players • Ages 10+ • 30-90 minutes • $40
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Kingdom Builder Box Cover7. Kingdom Builder (review)

I really like Dominion. The replay value. How fast it plays. The scoring. But my kids can’t shuffle cards on their own. That REALLY makes Dominion take a LONG time. Dominion over an hour = no thanks. Then we found Kingdom Builder.

I understand they are not comparable, but for me it scratches a similar itch. Kingdom Builder has significant replay value. It plays quickly. And I love the way the game handles scoring. The icing on the cake are the multiple expansions that are available.

2-4 Players • Ages 8+ • 45 minutes • $50
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Suburbia Box Cover7. Suburbia (review)

I used to play the heck out of Sim City on my computer and Super Nintendo as a kid. Suburbia is the closest board game to Sim City that I have played. I like how the auction system works and I like trying to maximize my city while attempting to beat my opponents at achieving the goals, both public and secret.

Another mechanic I like is how the cities interact with each other. Some tiles get bonuses based on tiles in EVERY city, not just your own.

Finally, I like how easy Suburbia is to teach and how fast it plays, especially for two players.

1-4 Players • Ages 8+ • 90 minutes • $36
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Sushi Go! Tin6. Sushi Go! (review)

I like drafting games (see #9, above). But I also like games that are fun and play fast (see #7 through 10, above). Sushi Go! involves drafting cards and is fast. Very fast. Also… wait for it… my kids love it.

The drafting is even simpler than 7 Wonders (all cards are used each round), it plays in three rounds, and the decisions are simpler; however, I ADORE the art and my kids prefer Sushi Go!. They especially like the chopsticks card!

2-5 Players • Ages 8+ • 20 minutes • $15
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Lewis & Clark6. Lewis & Clark

This is another very unique game design. It is a game that recreates the historical travels of Lewis & Clark, except it is as if there was a race against other teams of explorers. It is the best Euro race game that involves resource management and the guidance of American Indians that I have ever played. I also do not think that sentence will ever be repeated again during the entirety of human existence.

What makes Lewis and Clark unique is how you have to manage your team’s progress by river and mountain while simultaneously managing your resources, card management while also keeping an eye on your opponent’s cards as they can use your cards that you play. Another complication is determining the best time to rest so that you can get cards that you have already played back into your hand.

1-5 Players • Ages 14+ • 120 minutes • $30
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The Castles of Burgundy Box Cover5. The Castles of Burgundy (review)

I really like Stefan Feld’s games. Although they tend to be (are) themeless, they are like scoring puzzles with little to no direct player interaction. I prefer games that do not have direct conflict.

The Castles of Burgundy is my favorite Feld by far. It has dice (which I LOVE), the selection of tiles from a common pool is sort of like drafting, there are many ways to score points, and the animals are cute. I prefer to play with two players, as the four player games tend to wear out its welcome.

2-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 30-90 minutes • $40
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Tiny Epic Galaxies5. Tiny Epic Galaxies

I love all the games in the Tiny Epic Series:

Tiny Epic Kingdoms – Competitive Area Control with a unique action selection mechanic and multiple paths to victory.

Tiny Epic Defenders – Cooperative Area Protection combined with a unique mechanic that combines the cards from your team as well as the enemy cards into the same deck.

Tiny Epic Galaxies – Competitive Space Exploration utilizing dice and a fun follow mechanic so that you have options to participate on another player’s turn.

My kids LOVE all three games. My wife LOVES all three games. And they all play in less than an hour, especially once you have a few plays under your belt.

1-5 Players • Ages 13+ • 30 minutes • $25
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Legendary Deck Building Game Box Cover4. Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game (review)

Ok. You already know I like Dominion. That is because I like deck building in general. And this is my second favorite deck builder.

First, outside of the semi co-op nature of Legendary, I LOVE the idea of the game. Building a deck of superheroes is just plain fun to me, although I do wish they had made the game a true co-op like the Legendary Alien deck building game. I also love how playing versus different villains combined with different schemes leads to a practically unlimited replay value. I also love the expansions that have been made for this game, from Spider Man to Guardians of the Galaxy.

The only negative I have for Legendary is its player count. I prefer to play with either 3 or 2, otherwise the games can tend to drag out, especially with certain villain/scheme combos.

1-5 Players • Ages 14+ • 45 minutes • $60
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Imperial Settlers4. Imperial Settlers (review)

Another easy to teach, high replay value, relatively quick playing, especially with two players, game.

The four factions included in Imperial Settlers are completely asymmetrical (five if you buy the expansion), and it is fun to play and explore each faction. The decisions can be difficult, from which card to draft at the start of each of the game’s five rounds, to how to best spend your limited resources. Imperial Settlers also encourages combo building your cards to best improve your faction’s resource engine. Finally, I love the artwork.

1-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 60 minutes • $35
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Diamonds3. Diamonds

Growing up I liked trick taking card games. My favorite was Hearts. This game reminds me of Hearts, except I love the “gamey” elements that were added to Diamonds. The Vault to protect your diamonds and double their value. The variable powers you receive based on what suit wins the trick, as well as for having the most of a suit at the end the round. Also, non-gamers, once explained these elements, can pick up on Diamonds quickly.

Finally, I know I have said this repeatedly, but it is important for me as a working mom to have fast game options that my children enjoy. This one has both of those qualities in… wait for it… spades… err Diamonds.

I went there.

2-6 Players • Ages 8+ • 20-30 minutes • $20
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Eldritch-Horror-Box3. Eldritch Horror (review)

I really enjoyed Arkham Horror. I owned literally every expansion; unfortunately, because of how convoluted the game became, it sat on my shelf instead of being played. It became too unwieldy, especially if you did not play it often. Then I played Eldritch Horror and promptly sold all of my Arkham Horror collection at a board game auction.

Eldritch Horror is an epic, phenomenal story driven game for one to eight players (Note: do NOT play more than 4). I like how streamlined it is. I love the use of the world map. I love the variability presented by the cards and the different Great Old Ones as well as the number of investigators you have to choose from, especially after expansions are added to the base game.

1-8 Players • Ages 14+ • 120 minutes • $65
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Valley of the Kings2. Valley of the Kings / Valley of the Kings: Afterlife

Valley of the Kings was my favorite game of Gen Con 2014. Its sequel, Valley of the Kings: Afterlife, was my favorite game of Gen Con ’15. Deck building games are one of my favorite game mechanics. And Valley of the Kings is my favorite deck builder. I love the tomb mechanic and deciding when it is best to move a card from my deck, where it can give me special abilities and buying power, to my tomb, where I no longer have access to that card but it scores points. I also love the Pyramid and how it brings cards into the game. Finally, I love the control you can have over the Pyramid as well as the Boneyard.

For me and my husband, although this plays 2 – 4, we really prefer the 2 player the most. It is less chaotic and you have more control in Valley of the Kings as well as less change in game state during one round.

2-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 45 minutes • $15
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Glass Road Game2. Glass Road (review)

This is my favorite Uwe Rosenberg game. I love Caverna. Agricola. Fields of Arle is insane. But Glass Road is my favorite by Uwe. Why?

It plays 2-4 very well.

It plays in less than an hour. (recommended time is 75 minutes)

Many difficult choices, from how to purchase and layout buildings on your player board to which specialists to play.

Simultaneous Action Selection.

Unique resource tracking mechanic.

I simply love Glass Road. If you have never played it, do yourself a favor and try it.

1-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 75 minutes • $45
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Roll For The Galaxy1. Roll for the Galaxy

My husband introduced me to Race through the Galaxy. I hated it. The icons were confusing and I just did not get it. He made me play it again. I hated it less. We played it again…. oh, now I get it. We played it again. I loved it.

Fast forward seven years. He introduced me to Roll for the Galaxy. Wait… this is Race but with dice. I am IN!

Roll for the Galaxy is surprisingly not as luck based as one would think considering it involves dice. But the game provides several different methods of manipulating your dice and using them in different ways. I also liked how tiles are double-sided, so that you can either utilize them as development or a planet, giving you even more flexibility. I loved Race for the Galaxy…. but I only play Roll for the Galaxy now. I like it that much more!

2-5 Players • Ages 13+ • 45 minutes • $45
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Clash of Cultures1. Clash of Cultures with Clash of Cultures: Civilizations expansion

I love civilization games. Clash of Cultures (CoC) is the best one I own. Here is why it is better than:

Nations – Nations is a card game. And I love it. But it doesn’t have a map. You need a map so that you can explore and exploit resources to be a true civilization game.

Through the Ages – Same reason as Nations. And I like Nations more than Through the Ages.

Eclipse – Go away space hippies. Civ games are NOT in space. Also, your tech tree is drawn from a bag. LOL. (Note: I both own and like Eclipse, just not as much as CoC)

Sid Meier’s Civilization – I like this game a lot, but it is more complex than Clash of Cultures – my wife and I can knock out a game of CoC in less than an hour and a half – this is not true for Sid Meier’s Civilization.

I just prefer Clash of Cultures. It plays faster. It has MANY interesting choices, from the tech tree, to utilizing your three actions in a turn. I also prefer it with the expansion because it adds fourteen cultures to the game (the base game has you playing a generic culture with no differences between them) and three leaders per culture.

2-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 240 minutes • $60
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  1. Brian W., that’s because Abyss is on the secret list. The one we don’t show you.

    Also, I would be happy to play ANY of the games on Sarah and Brian’s list. Except for the ones with minis.

  2. Sarah

    Thanks for your kind words about my Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Kings: Afterlife. Is it possible that I demoed these games for you at Gen Con?

    Tom Cleaver

  3. Sarah,
    Sleeve the Dominion cards! It’s super easy to shuffle after that! I’m a grown man and I’m REALLY terrible at shuffling and the plastic sleeves really help. Also, it protects the cards borders a lot, since they are all black, ugh. =D

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