Overview of boardgames that are part of my collection (synced from BGG) including links to more information where I’ve written up anything in my gaming life category. Games that I already decided won’t stay aren’t usually in here. This is the curated list of what would be in a current shelfie if all my games were neatly sorted into a number of photogenic shelves. Some of the following categories correlate to those used on BGG and other sites, some I made because I wanted to group some games together that wouldn’t otherwise fit. Many games could feature in more of the categories than I put them in. I wanted to show-case the games that most express a certain category for me. Also there is a list of (possible) future additions.
My Top 9 | Cooperative | Unique Player Powers | Tech Trees | Dudes on a Map | Tableau & Engine Building | Drafting Circles | Deck Builders (with maps) | Anti-SFF League | Exploration | Worker Placement (Uwe Rosenberg) | Networks | More than a card game | Deduction (Hidden Movement, Hidden Role, Association) | Tile Laying | Roll & Write | Auctions | Party Games | Two Player Duels | Solo | Defying even my categories | Mars | Campaigns & Stories | Hybrid Beasts | Nostalgia
(last edited: April 2021)
My Top 9 gamess
My top games can only ever be a snapshot of one specific moment. Because while my favorite game usually remains at the top for a while, what I enjoy most is in constant flux. This one was made with the rankingengine at pubmeeple in March 2021.
These are games where we play against the game together. We all win, we all loose. It’s relaxing to not compete against the other players. A lot of campaign games are also cooperative.
Unique Player Powers
Each of these games starts the players out with asymmetric (more or less) powers and in some cases very different game play. Several other games like Spirit Island and Gloomhaven could also feature on this list.
One of my most anticipated pre-ordered games belong to this category: Beyond the Sun. These are games that feature developing new technologies–preferably in an intricate tree structure with dependencies that can lead to fascinating combo-ing of bonusses. As it is easier to create interesting trees about future technologies many of these are SF themed. But there are a few others and many civilization games will also have tech trees (because the computer game of Civilization or the boardgame namesake–unclear which came first–kind of invented the tech tree mechanic)
Dudes on a Map
One of my favorite genres is expanding your empire on a map with your little dudes (aka tokens, tiles, cubes or minis). Several other games that I put into other categories will also fit into this one: Root, Terra Mystica, Pax Pamir and even Spirit Island feature similar gameplay. There could be way more than 2 Knizia games in here.
Besides the DOAM genre above this is one of my very favorite mechanisms and as such some of my favorite games come from this category (Terraforming Mars also belongs here). I have interpreted the tableau buiding aspect generously and so some of these games are nothing alike. In Red Rising the tableau you build is your hand but as the cards are all somehow playing of each other for the final scoring, I feel like it belongs here.
Drafting games often feature some kind of tableau building so many of these are closely related to the previous category.
Deck, Bag, Pool Building
Games in which you accumlate new cards or tokens or dice to build an engine, duel your opponent, cooperatively crush a boss, create words or fulfill contracts. My favorite kind of deck building strategy is deck destruction. So games with mechanisms by which you can get rid of unwanted cards again are always interesting to me. We do not have a copy of the classic Dominion but I have played it quite a bit online for a while.
Deckbuilding on a map
I now need a separate category for deck building games with maps. Very few of my deck builders do not feature one interestingly. Dune Imperium is on pre-order. If it wasn’t obvious from the cover: the weirdest of these is definitely Faiyum. Concordia features a network building element. El Dorado and Cubitos are also race games while Rocketmen is a space race.
The Anti-SFF League of Midweight Euro Games
This is the category for games that should be easy to bring to the table. They usually feature a mix of Euro mechanisms and are not overly complex or last all night. I am not sure Merv belongs in here as it has several mini-games or tracks arranged around its central mechanism but this group is also put together with a certain set of players in mind and that’s why it is here. Also I noticed the absence of any and all SFF themes in this group, even Renature is firmly rooted in our corner of the multiverse.
Games that feature exploring a map or a dungeon or even space. All the famous Space 4x games would fit right in here. Except I don’t own any of them (I mean Twilight Imperium, Eclipse, Xia). This is a category we are actively looking to expand.
By the number of games I own that feature this as their defining mechanism I must like worker placement more than I thought I did, especially when counting the Rosenberg sub-category.
Uwe Rosenberg Worker Placement
I own so many of these games from the same designer he gets his own subcategory. The most accessible of these is Nusfjord and the most complex is A Feast for Odin.
Note: all these games have great solo modes!
Networks and Routes to everywhere
Games that let you travel across the board through the network you built yourself. Another prime example would be Ticket to Ride but we don’t own any of the myriad versions of this game–except the app which is a lot of fun.
More than a card game
The major gameplay of these revolves around cards and yet they aren’t “just card games” but wouldn’t fit into my other categories easily. Some of these I just haven’t played enough (or in the case of Vendetta at all) to easily figure out where they belong. Nevertheless these are too fascinating not to mention on this page.
Games that feature deduction puzzles of some sort or other. Some are app assisted. Another one of these high up on my 2021 wish list is The Search for Planet X. This group has a bunch of sub-genres that have distinct elements that set them apart from the “pure” deduction games.
Games like Scotland Yard where one player’s position on the board is hidden and the others have to find them. There is one expansion module for Pandemic that adds this to the base game and a few other games. In a way these are also deduction games which is the reason they fascinate me so.
Associative Image Deduction
These three games have one thing in common: beautiful pictures on cards that are used to associate some kind of riddle. The one I do not own that is most well-known is Mysterium. I played this as an app and somehow it never convinced me. Of the following Dixit is the most straightforward while Obscurio is a rather wonky game with a real-time element and a hidden traitor mechanic that really changes the basic gameplay.
Social Deduction aka Hidden Roles
When you don’t know who everyone really is. These games are paranoia inducing after a while. I think this category could do with a bit more variety and I have a few candidates in mind they just always seem to be hard to find. I am waiting on my pre-ordered copy of Blood on the Clocktower and I am searching the shops for an instance of Scape Goat.
Tile Laying and (Polyominoes) Games
I really enjoy this type of game, I need more games with tetris tiles (aka polyominoes) though and therefore backed the Planet Unknown a while back. My current favorite seems to be brain burning Calico which can easily be played as a solo game. All of these play quite relaxed though (with the exception of Isle of Skye). Even though there is currently no polyominoes game in here these are the same category for me.
Roll & Write
A fairly old genre of small games that got a revival since 2018. If this was computer games we’d call them Yatzee-likes instead. I also have Troyes Dice as part of an order that got delayed…. I also play the apps for the Ganz schön Clever series a lot. My favorite by far is Railroad Ink.
Auction and Bidding Games
For the longest time, I avoided games that feature auctions and then I encountered the app for the Knizia game Ra. It didn’t take long for me to find a copy even though it is long out of print. For now this group remains small. But Modern Art is another Knizia auction I’ve been eye-ing for a while now if only because the cards feature… modern art (but there are different versions of the game with different featured artists and I have yet to see one where I like all of the artists)
Games for Groups
Games I get out when the group is a bit larger or we just want to play without having to think too much about the game. These games should accommodate at least 6 people, should be easy to teach and easy to play.
Duel Games (Two Player)
This is a huge category for us even though we tend to not even like duel games all that much. Despite this one I couldn’t not get Unmatched. We now also have the Cobble&Fog box. Our favorite duel game is probably Star Realms. All in all duel games are always tight and so we play most of these only occasionally. I am definitely not looking to buy a lot more games that are two player only unless they have a cooperative mode.
More games from the same category are: Codenames: Duet, Hive, Gipf.
Most coop games can be played solo as well and many of the games from the lists above feature great solo modes. But these are games I play purely for the solo puzzle:
- Palm Island
- Way of the Samurai
- Another group of Button-shy games is on the way: Agropolis & Food Chain Island are two more solo candidates
Almost all Roll & Write games can be solo-ed easily. Other games with great solo modes include: Spirit Island, Wingspan, Terraforming Mars, Teotihuacan, Root, Parks, Faiyum, all the Uwe Rosenberg worker placement games, the West Kingdom Trilogy, Viticulture, Dwellings of Eldervale, Leaving Earth, Merv, CloudAge, Castles of Burgundy, Tapestry, On Mars, Gaia Project, Ghost Stories, Fall of Rome, Aeon’s End
Defying My Categories
Obviously these games can be categorized, it’s just that within the confines of my personal collection they are outliers in some way. I don’t own any other dexterity games besides Junk Art (a shortcoming for sure), Robo Rally is a race game but what makes it stand out is the programmed movement and the insane boards which interfere with what you programmed. Rattle Battle is just a crazy weird thing where you throw dice and where they land determines what they do. Jetpack Joyride is a boardgame version of a jump and run with transparent tiles to lay through the levels.
Games for the Mars Fetish
I am not sure when I started collecting games that somehow feature Mars. But apparently I did. I am still on the look out for Martian Dice, Martian Chess, Mars Fluxx and possibly even First Martians and Martian Rails. If I were also counting instances that feature the Roman god after whom the planet was named Concordia would be here as well but for now I am not desperate for more Mars games…
Campaigns, Legacies & Stories in game
Ever since Pandemic Legacy Season 1 raced top the top of the BGG rankings, legacy games (Risk was the first but never mind that) and games with elaborate campaigns have been popular. We have a few of those. Pandemic Legacy Season 1 is not featured here (we finished the campaign) but we are currently (2021) playing Season 2.
In recent times there is a newish type of genre popping up, no longer content to just find middleground between strict Euro-game mechanisms or dice rolling Ameritrash extravaganza these new hybrid games also mix up so many different mechanisms that they hardly fit into any one shelf (often literally). They are rules beasts as well.
And then there are a few games I keep for simple or not so simple nostalgia. Maybe me copy of Arkham Horror should also sit here but I am still thinking of finding a new home for it.