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. I have already included a couple of games that I have on pre-order because I have been playing these games online and they are excellent at showing off particular concepts.
My Top 9 | So Civilized | Cooperative | Unique Powers | Technically Trees | Meeples on a Map | Tableaus & Engines | Patterns | Drafting Circles | Deck Builders (with maps) | Anti-SFF League | Exploration | Worker Placement (Uwe Rosenberg) | Networks | Hoarding Stuff | More than Cards | Deduction (Hidden Movement, Hidden Role, Association) | Tile Laying | Dicey Things (Something & Write) | Auctions | Negotiation | Party On | Duels | Solo | Defying even my categories | Mars | Campaigns & Stories | Hybrid Beasts | Fangirling | Purple | Nostalgia | Traveling | Going going… | Gone
(last edited: April 2021)
My Top 3×3
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.
Ever since I first found Sid Meier’s Civilization I sometime in the 90s the genre of building up a people from the Stone Age has fascinated me and it is an entire sub-genre of boardgames, too. In the past two years I bought myself a new civilization game for my birthday.
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 characters or factions with unique powers and in some cases quite asymmetric game play.
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. I have included Beyond the Sun here even though my box has not arrived yet but I’ve been playing this one on BGA and it is a great example of this particular genre inspired by Civilization no less.
Meeples on a Map
Rarely meeples but often cubes, minis, tokens or tiles. One of my favorite genres is expanding your empire on a map with your little dudes or dudettes. This is more about geography and maps than simple area majority. Adjacency and borders across which my “armies” march play a huge role in whether or not a game gets to join in the fun here. There need not even be marching tokens for a game to fit in here (see Iwari)
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. I have interpreted the tableau buiding aspect generously and so some of these games are nothing alike.
Pattern Matching Brain Burn
I like abstract patterns and after recently rediscovering Tash Kalar this warrants its own special category on this page. I don’t have a lot of these because if they get too abstract I will rarely play (see Yinsh, sadly)
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 (our) 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 Merv is here. When I noticed the absence of any and all SFF themes in this group, I knew the name for this category.
Games that feature exploring a map or a dungeon or even space. A lot of the big and famous Space games would fit right in here. Except I don’t own any of them (I mean Twilight Imperium, Eclipse, Xia & Firefly). This is a category we are actively looking to expand. But these are often huge, heavy and expensive games so each addition has to be weighed (pun absolutely intended) carefully.
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 that Uwe’s worker placement games always 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.
Hoarding… collecting of sets
In many games, often nature themed for some reason, you want to find sets of stuff. Sometimes a bunch of the same (that’s hoarding) sometimes a lot of different items (that’s curating). I am curating my collection of games.
More than just cards
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. 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 anyone really is. These games are paranoia inducing after a game or two. I am waiting on my pre-ordered copy of Blood on the Clocktower (which after playing online once I just have to include here, it’s awesome!). Some of my newer acquisitions haven’t been played yet, due to necessary player counts. All of these become better with more people to blame.
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. Even though there is currently no polyominoes game in here these are the same category for me.
Some people love dice but not all dice games are good. These are games that have a significant amount of dice in them. Sometimes the dice are not even rolled. And I don’t think they are all equally good. My favorites have SF settings 😉
Something & Write
A sub category (for the most part of Dice games), this is also 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. These games are usually quick and create ephemeral economies of values specific to each instance of play.
Negotiation and other shenanigans
Auctions are just one type of high interaction playing space created mostly by the players in that particular game. Games that feature a lot of table talk because the game necessitates negotiation are these:
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.
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 and Freitag currently reside elsewhere.
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. 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.
I have discovered that I am apparently a hopeless fangirl of at least one boardgame designer. I am definitely going to pre-order the German localization of the upcoming John Company 2nd edition as well. The next set of Root expansions is on pre-order and I am miffed that I have a German copy and have to wait for localization of the Marauder expansion.
There are several other designers who make frequent appearances in my collection, the two most common: Reiner Knizia and Uwe Rosenberg.
Pretty Purple Pictures (on the cover)
That’s all. I like the color purple and adjacent ones:
And then there are a few games I keep for simple or not so simple nostalgia. Maybe my copy of Arkham Horror should also sit here but I am still thinking of finding a new home for it.
Games to take on trips
All the small Oink and Button Shy games could be listed here. Almost all Something & Write games as well. Depending on how many people you travel with social deduction travels well. All these games pack small, some need more table space than others. Some of these will also do well the next time you get to go to a pub.
Games that may be leaving soon
The following are games that haven’t quite convinced me either recently or not at all ever. Games I maybe shouldn’t have bought in the first place. Some of these are currently on loan to friends with hopes of them never returning.
Games sold, traded or given away
I am too curious not to try to play many new games and so turnover rate for my collection has gone up to 30%. Here are some games I recently removed from my shelves: