Lists

Kyle’s Top 100 Games – 20-11


 

jaipur

20.     Jaipur

Designer –     Sebastien Pauchon

Publisher –     Asmodee

Year Published –     2009

Number of Players –     2

Play Time –     30 Mins

Two players is often a troublesome number to deal with at times.  More often than not that is the situation couples at home find themselves in.  The problem is that some games can be too lengthy and seem like more trouble than its worth or they are too cumbersome with special rules for two players.  A good example of these problems is 7 Wonders which has specific rules for two players which really hurts the game in this situation.  Fortunately there are games that solve this specific issue with a player count of only two players.

Jaipur pits two players against each other in a trade battle.  Each player will be collecting goods which are represented by cards from a common market in an attempt to make matching sets.  Once a set of a certain size are collected then they can be turned in for coins.  This becomes a tricky situation because as the market gets flooded with goods of a specific type they become less valued.  The player with the most coins wins.

This game gives a great run down of basic economics and is a lot of fun.  Planning becomes crucial as the strategic and tactical player will flourish.  The game also avoids the pit fall of being too long as most two player experiences are best in lighter fare.  I really love this game and will never turn it down.

 

 


 

patchwork

19.     Patchwork

Designer –     Uwe Rosenberg

Publisher –     Mayfair Games

Year Published –     2014

Number of Players –     2

Play Time –     15 – 30 Mins

One of my favorite game designers is Uwe Rosenberg.  His designs are very elaborate and very involved.  They are never for the faint of heart (A.K.A New Gamers).  Patchwork is the one exception of the typical Rosenberg designs.  It carries with it a very light-hearted theme and simple game mechanics.

Patchwork is all about making a quilt from a collection of patches in the center of the table.  These patches are different shapes and must be placed on your game board as soon as you buy the patch.  The cost of these patches are paid in two currencies.  These currencies include button that you will accumulate throughout the game and time which you have a limited supply of.  Your personal game board confines the players on the placement of these patches which gives the whole experience a Tetris like feel.

This is a great game for almost everyone.  It has a great puzzle element and a cute theme which draws in a lot of non gamers.  The game mechanics are easy enough to pick up but its got a substantial amount of depth underneath that will satisfy an heavy gamer as a light challenging filler game.

 


 

crystal

18.     Mysterium

Designers –     Oleksandr Nevskiy and Oleg Sidorenko

Publishers –     Asmodee and Libellud

Year Published –     2015

Number of Players –     2 – 7

Play Time –     42 Mins

Do you remember Clue?  It’s the classic deduction game of “who did it”.  Mysterium is very similar to Clue in finding a person, place and thing but differs in its method of solving it.  This game is a cooperative game that has one player that takes on the role of a murdered ghost.  The ghost will have to point the other players to their killer by way of vision cards.  These cards have very haunting and beautiful images on them that the players will have to connect to a specific character, setting, or murder weapon.

The atmosphere that this game creates is very tangible.  This is enhanced by the rules that the ghost cannot communicate with the players other than these vision cards.  Without this atmosphere, I feel the game wouldn’t be quite as good.  That being said I feel this is an essential party game for anyone to own.  A caveat before you begin to play is that the ghost player must be the most comfortable with the games rules.  They will be working alone and will not be able to talk so without a solid understanding of the mechanics the game can become clunky and slow.

 


 

pandemic

17.     Pandemic

Designer –     Matt Leacock

Publisher –     Z-Man Games

Year Published –     2008

Number of Players –     2 – 4

Play Time –     30 – 90 Mins

The swift death of the human populace due to disease is never fun.  The exception is when you attach it to a board game.  Pandemic is a cooperative board game where each player takes on the role of a disease or disaster expert.  These experts are tasked with saving the planet from 4 deadly diseases that are rapidly spreading across the globe.  Each turn taken by the players will result in the diseases spreading farther from their initial infection site.  Players will be trying to hold the diseases at bay long enough to do research and learn the cures of all 4 of the diseases.

I like to think of Pandemic as a reverse area control game where your trying to diminish the control of the diseases.  Each disease, designated by different colors, will be spreading in their area of the globe and players will be pulled in several directions.  The key to this game in its success is planning and communication.  Everyone will have specialized abilities so talking to each other about their turn becomes critical.  Though this does point to this games biggest flaw which is the quarterbacking problem.  Quarterbacking is when one player starts taking over everyone’s turn by directing the exact actions that need to be played.  This is easily remedied though if the players are aware and allow the planning to be simply advising.  This game can be very fun when played in this way.

 


 

medieval-academy

16.     Medieval Academy

Designer –     Nicolas Poncin

Publisher –     Blue Cocker Games

Year Published –     2014

Number of Players –     2 – 5

Play Time –     30 Mins

Being a knight is a very romanticized profession but does anyone really know what it entails.  A knight has to be chivalrous, brave, pious, vigilant, studious, and entertaining.   If that still sounds like fun then you really need to try Medieval Academy.

Players will be drafting cards that will represent types training important to being a knight.  The training includes activities like fighting dragons or wooing a princess.  Players will then play these cards and then will progress on the associated tracks that will reward the leader depending what rounds it scores out.  This becomes a delicate balancing act between all of these tracks because no player will be able to focus on all of the tracks.  Also players can not guarantee the cards that will come their way during the draft phase so it really demands a highly tactical approach.

This game has a lot of great mechanics all brought together which makes for an even better experience.  I love the drafting element paired with the area control mechanics.  I can’t recommend this game enough to almost any level of gamer.

 


 

7wonders

15.     7 Wonders

Designer –     Antoine Bauza

Publisher –     Repos Production

Year Published –     2010

Number of Players –     2 – 7

Play Time –     30 Mins

Drafting is something that is very familiar to someone who follows sports but not often thought of with board games.  Who would of thought that picking up commodities that everyone has access to as being a good game mechanic?  Actually it sounds like a perfect fit for board gamers.

7 Wonders brought drafting into my game collection first and hasn’t lost any steam since.  You will have in your control a city of the ancient world.  In this city you will be building up various types of buildings and one of the 7 wonders of the world to gain victory points.  Players will be doing this by drafting cards from a hand of cards handed them from the previous player.  Once a card is chosen then the remaining cards will go to the next player to repeat the process.

The amount of decision making that needs to go into each pick is quite profound.  Each time you receive a new set of cards you must keep in mind not only what you need for your kingdom but also what the other players need as well.  Sometimes it will be to your benefit to remove a crucial card from the hand so that other player wont be able to take it.  At the same time you must maintain your gold since some of the cards require you to pay for its construction.

 

 


 

bohnanza

14.     Bohnanza

Designer –     Uwe Rosenberg

Publisher –     Rio Grande Games

Year Published –     1997

Number of Players –     2 – 7

Play Time –     45 Mins

“I’ll trade you a black eye for a stink.”

No other game will have you uttering such nonsense like Bohnanza.

In Bohnanza, you are a bean farmer trying to accumulate the most gold coins.  Players will receive these coins by planting bean cards from their hand or from traded cards and harvesting them.  Beans will come in different types like coffee, soy, black eyed, stink, and many others.  Players will often have to make difficult decisions as they will only have two fields to plant their beans and beans can only be planted in a field with beans that matches their type.

This game will have you wheeling and dealing from the first turn until the bitter end.  Every bean is notated with its intrinsic value by a number which represents its rarity.  The number is how many of the beans are in the deck so the lower numbers are rare.  The game also has the rare beans yield more coins at a lower card count so you don’t need as many of the cards to receive a lot of gold for your harvest.  Anybody who isn’t extroverted may have difficulty with this part of the game but the sales people of the group will love this one.

I really love the fun factor that pairs with this game.  The mixture of the social aspect and the comedy that will eventually come from the interactions make this game an instant hit.  The harvesting rules do make the game a bit confusing for non gamers but with a trained teacher it isn’t much of a problem.  Go and get your bean on!

 


 

orleans

13.     Orleans

Designer –     Reiner Stockhausen

Publisher –     Tasty Minstrel Games

Year Published –     2014

Number of Players –     2 – 4

Play Time –     90 Mins

Have you ever heard of the game mechanic called bag building?  It’s an interesting game mechanic that Orleans uses in a different way.  Previous implementations of bag building that I’ve seen was in Quarriors and Marvel Dice Masters.  In those games you are drafting dice and for your bag and picking them out.  The problem I found with this was the vast level of randomness that you find in the game.  The dice you draw can be quite random and then you must roll which adds an additional level of randomness.  This doesn’t bother me too much but it’s still something that can be irritating.  Orleans uses the same mechanic but instead of drawing dice you are drawing workers that can be placed on your player board.  This is a bit of randomness but once the workers drawn then you know exactly what your turns capabilities are.

In Orleans you will be building up your trade empire and claiming prestige by building trade buildings, setting off on trade expeditions, and sending your workers to help out with public issues.  Their are many options during each turn for each player to attain victory.  This adds a ton to it’s replay ability.  I really love the sense of tension it also adds with the various options.  Their is so much balancing that each player must do in order to win.

 


 

dominion

12.     Dominion

Designer –     Donald X. Vaccarino

Publisher –     Rio Grande Games

Year Published –     2008

Number of Players –     2 – 4

Play Time –     30 Mins

Deck-building before Dominion was something that you did before you played the actually game.  You built the deck that you were going to use by adding the cards that you acquired through trade or purchased.  This was the first game to take the challenge of doing this and made it the actual game.  Since then many games have copied the mechanic but this one is the godfather of them all.

In Dominion, you will start the game with various common cards that include 7 copper and 3 estates.  Copper, silver, and gold are the games currency that will used to purchase new cards to put into you deck.  Each player on their turn will draw 5 cards from their deck and use these cards to purchase various cards in the common market place.  These new cards do an assortment of actions that make your deck more effective depending on whatever strategy that you are employing.  Players will continue this until the game end trigger and then count up the amount of estates, duchy, and province cards in their deck which are the victory points.

This game has a lot of variability with the cards that you choose to put into the center of the table.  Each game will allow ten different kinds of cards in the center of the table which changes many things about the game.  It could cause the game to speed up or slow down.  It could influence the importance of certain cards and diminish others.  It could increase the player interaction or decrease it.  The possibilities are very profound even with just the base game.

The nice thing is that there isn’t much of a learning curve for new players.  It makes for a quicker game play experience which means more games in a row.  I really can’t stress the importance of this game for any collection.  It’s that good.

 


 

istanbul

11.     Istanbul

Designer –     Rudiger Dorn

Publisher –     Pegasus Spiele

Year Published –     2014

Number of Players –     2 – 5

Play Time –     40 – 60 Mins

I don’t care for many of the classics but there is one that I like quite a bit and that is Mancala.  The mechanics are very simple where you choose a section and take all the pieces in the section.  You then move forward one section at a time while dropping one game piece in each section that you pass.  I bring this up because it’s the key ingredient that makes Istanbul so great.

Istanbul is a pick up and deliver game set in a grand bazaar.  You will be trading goods in an attempt to acquire a certain amount of rubies which will win you the game.  The game play takes it’s inspiration from Mancala with its “drop as you go” style mechanic.  In your employ is several assistants that will do the work you need done at the buildings that you drop them off at.  You can move either one or two buildings on your turn and then along the way you can drop off an assistant to do the action of the building.  Once each player runs out of assistants to deploy they must swing back to pick them up.

This game really takes a simple mechanic and elevates it to a level that makes it a pleasure to revisit time and time again.  Every time you play offers a slightly different approach to the same concept that really flexes your ability to be efficient.  One of my favorite aspects of this game is definitely the broad spectrum of players that this can appeal to as well.  It is very simple at its core but can be elevated substantially with more plays.

 


 

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