Geekbuddy Joseph’s top 5

A little while ago, I asked the guys in my gaming group to let me have their thoughts on their personal top 5 games. Knowing that this would be a difficult choice as they all have sizeable game collections, I am looking forward to their responses. To start with, here is the list from Joseph with interesting comments –

Hi Mark
My top 5 games are chosen because they each have distinct game mechanisms and themes that I find engaging. Each gives me the buzz which means that, for the time that I am playing them, I’m drawn into the world of the game and engrossed in the play. Another feature of these games is that I enjoy them when I come last, and not just when I do well. For me, that’s the hallmark of a great game.
I have c600 boardgames so choosing the top 5 is, naturally, pretty tough. By the top 5 I mean my favourite top 5 games, which isn’t necessarily the same thing as asking which 5 games would you own if you were marooned on a desert island.
And so, in ascending order:
5.    Dominion (pref 2 player, max 3)
An innovative ccg system that has so many combinations of cards to play, and, played with the right people, is quick and never outstays its welcome. It is like a cycling race, so knowing when to make the break and go for victory point cards is essential. The strategic choices are also wide: deck thinning or building up a large hand; money rich or cards with coins embedded; attack cards and/or defense cards etc. In short, you get a huge amount of bang for your buck in this game, and the opportunity to expand the decks with the game expansions is huge. I shan’t ever likely tire of this one.

4.    Steam (so-called ‘basic’ game)
This is everything I wanted Age of Steam to be, and I think Steam Basic is its elegantly mature successor. The railway building theme is great fun and it’s an elaborate competitive puzzle at the same time. I especially like the way that different parts of the board become battlegrounds for different players and the action choice mechanism (via the tiles) and the subsequent player order is inspired. Like Dominion, the game is expandable with the different maps and rules amendments, and the decision about when to switch from income to victory points is present as well. Martin Wallace’s best game, although Brass comes very close.

3.    Puerto Rico (any number of players)
The game that gave us role selections, with all players benefitting but the chooser getting that little bit extra. The theme is brilliant, as well as the need to do varied things while keeping your overall goal in mind. I also like the way that the varied end of game conditions allow players to influence the tempo. The different buildings keep the game play from becoming stale and I don’t think there is one obvious strategy – rather, it’s about responding to what others are doing. Last, I enjoy the fact that your role selection is as much about what other players are up to as it is about what you want to do. A brilliant game.

2.    Commands and Colors Ancients (including expansions)
This is the game I’ve played most, about 60 battles to date and still going strong. Card driven wargames, with a decent helping of dice rolling, are enormous fun and the Ancients’ theme is very attractive. I love the way that this game involves nudging the odds in your favour, by keeping your lines and the judicious placement of your leader(s). Even when the cards and dice go against you its at most frustrating rather than dis-spiriting: a battle is over soon enough to try again! It’s also fun to occasionally over-turn history and to see the underdog win. In fact, I love this game so much I even enjoy sticking on all those labels on the blocks!

And finally…
1.    Tigris und Euphrat
If God ever designed a boardgame it would be this good. T&E has it all: placement, strategy, tactics, combat, bluff, calculating the odds and a brilliant scoring system that forces players to diversify. I can’t think of a boardgame that stands head to head with this in the last 30 years. And so, if I could only ever own 1 boardgame, this would be it! I’d make sure it was the HiG version though – how Mayfair ever designed their board is beyond me 😉


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