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December 8, 2005 8:31 AM   Subscribe

The 100 best board games... (at least according to this guy).
posted by crunchland (112 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
(link shamelessly swiped from The Morning News.)
posted by crunchland at 8:34 AM on December 8, 2005


No Parcheesi, no credibility.
posted by flarbuse at 8:38 AM on December 8, 2005


Also worth checking out:

2005 International Gamers Awards

2005 Spiel des Jahres

2005 Good Gift Game Guide (plus Supplemental Material)

and, of course, the ├╝bergame site BoardGameGeek

(Boardgames also previously discussed here.)
posted by papercake at 8:38 AM on December 8, 2005


I only recognize around 5 of them. Clearly I need to get out stay in more often.
posted by brain_drain at 8:39 AM on December 8, 2005


Yes, I'd gotten as far as 18 before I recognized a single name (Crokinole). And I didn't recognize too many below that either.

I guess I tend to stick with the classics - Scrabble, chess, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, etc.
posted by orange swan at 8:43 AM on December 8, 2005


GO at number 51? I mean, really. It's a kind of Ur-game that deserves to either not be on the list or to be in the top 5.
posted by OmieWise at 8:43 AM on December 8, 2005


I remember a boardgame involving kings, queens and pawns. Seemed pretty popular back in the day but I can't find it on this list.
posted by justkevin at 8:43 AM on December 8, 2005


No Squad Leader? The man is obviously mental and his list worthless.
posted by ciderwoman at 8:44 AM on December 8, 2005


Is the winner the one who has played the most of these games, or the least? Because I got 4.
posted by rocket88 at 8:45 AM on December 8, 2005


I was thinking the same thing about Go. I mean, if you're going to include Go, don't you think that Chess should maybe make the cut?
posted by Neologian at 8:45 AM on December 8, 2005


What? No links? No descriptions? No pictures? Could you imagine someone reading this list on the radio or TV?

This is a total waste of the internet!
posted by furtive at 8:46 AM on December 8, 2005


Also, I couldn't find Mouse Trap.
posted by rocket88 at 8:46 AM on December 8, 2005 [1 favorite]


He's a German games bigot. But at least Cosmic Encounter is relatively high up the list.
posted by mph at 8:47 AM on December 8, 2005


This is crap, except for the fact that Monopoly does not appear on it. Studies have shown that Monopoly is the impetus for more incidents of domestic violence than any other board game (a statistic which, if it is not true, should be). I'm pretty certain that any list of the greatest board games that includes go should also include chess. And why are poker and bridge on this list at all?

[On preview, I have been preempted, but that only lends more credence to my assertations.]
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:48 AM on December 8, 2005


I'm not done being angry yet, let me say this is a crock of shit!
posted by furtive at 8:48 AM on December 8, 2005


No Scrabbleship?
posted by Hlewagast at 8:50 AM on December 8, 2005


Sorry. Maybe it's unclear. There are links to full reviews on the right side listed under "Previous Posts." And yeah, these are more hardcore gamer games, not your Milton Bradley types. I haven't played many of them, but I'm considering sending Settlers of Catan to my sister-in-law for Christmas. (Shh! Don't tell her!)
posted by crunchland at 8:51 AM on December 8, 2005


Yeah, no Go at all, or in the top few. It's one of the few board games that we would have in common with aliens, if they existed...and had board games. Although how would you survive those long space trips without some board game action?
posted by parallax7d at 8:52 AM on December 8, 2005


I think this thread should be retitled, "The 100 Best Board Games You've Never Played".

I think I've played about 10 of these games, tops. I guess this is just another subculture I haven't wandered in to.
posted by MasonDixon at 8:53 AM on December 8, 2005


Settlers of Catan is great though.
posted by MasonDixon at 8:54 AM on December 8, 2005


RoboRally at #32? Tichu in the top ten!? (It's not even a board game, it's Big Two with a screwed up scoring system) Titan down in the 40s? All those enormous German 1,000-piece world domination games with rulebooks like the Yellow Pages?

I don't think this guy is too credible.
posted by majick at 8:54 AM on December 8, 2005


GO at number 51? I mean, really. It's a kind of Ur-game that deserves to either not be on the list or to be in the top 5.

Well said. Any other MeFites fanatical about Go? Or can direct me to the relevent thread?

Also: Liar's Dice at 27? Poker at 49? No Chess at all? This isn't even about board games. Deeply flawed, and as furtive said really annoying without any links to find out more. And I like Risk.
posted by MetaMonkey at 9:00 AM on December 8, 2005


I've heard of like two of these.
posted by corpse at 9:00 AM on December 8, 2005


I've played most of them, and I agree pretty much with his top 10. The reason German/Euro Games dominate is that the best of them are much MUCH better than the games you've generally heard of.

My personal top 10 would include: Puerto Rico, Tigris & Euphrates, Settlers of Catan, Age of Steam, Princes of the Renaissance, El Grande, Power Grid, Carcassonne, Princes of Florence and Goa.

If you haven't played at least 3 of those games, you should play them before commenting on how this top 100 is a load of crap.
posted by salmacis at 9:01 AM on December 8, 2005


Dark Tower....
posted by NationalKato at 9:03 AM on December 8, 2005


The #1 game for domestic violence isn't Monopoly, but Risk. As a 10 yr. old I played a multiple-day long game with my sister and father that ended with me in tears.

Back on topic, if you like Settlers, you'll love Puerto Rico (the #1 game on that list, oddly). It's my current favorite. Also the LoTR games are fun, despite what you may think. There's a cooperative/competitive simultaneous gameplay that's kind of unusual.
posted by artifarce at 9:03 AM on December 8, 2005


I've actually played 19 of them, although most I've only played once. I have a good friend, though, who has most of those damned thigns on his shelves, so I recognized many of the names.

And yeah, I'd disagree with a lot of his choices, too, but then again, getting a definition of "board game" isn't exactly easy.
posted by mkhall at 9:03 AM on December 8, 2005


The list almost makes for decent fridge magnet poetry:

Time's up Diplomacy. I'm the boss. Citadels can't stop Stephenson's rocket Titan. Go Hare & Tortoise: ticket to ride.
posted by furtive at 9:04 AM on December 8, 2005


I was going to comment how I thought this was an interesting and specialized use of Blogger, but since no one can find or are bothered to find the recaps, maybe it's not so hot after all.
posted by crunchland at 9:07 AM on December 8, 2005


If you think Risk is the number one cause of arguments, then for the love of God, never play Diplomacy!
posted by salmacis at 9:09 AM on December 8, 2005


Samurai drops in at #100??!??!?!??!?

This man is simple.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:11 AM on December 8, 2005


I was going to comment how I thought this was an interesting and specialized use of Blogger, but since no one can find or are bothered to find the recaps, maybe it's not so hot after all.

Good idea, bad execution.
posted by MetaMonkey at 9:11 AM on December 8, 2005


Well any list with RoboRally on it can't be all bad.
posted by Mitheral at 9:12 AM on December 8, 2005


More detail on each game cane be found here:
Games 1-20
Games 21-40
Games 41-60
Games 61-80
Games 81-100

Each page has a list of the games along with a link to each game's BoardGameGeek database entry, which has reviews, rules, pictures, rating, strategy articles rules questions and lots more on each game.
posted by skwm at 9:19 AM on December 8, 2005


I've played diplomacy. It ended early with a big flameout with a friend (still a friend ;) ). But you're right, I should amend my statement!
posted by artifarce at 9:19 AM on December 8, 2005


Yea, Diplomacy almost caused a fistfight among close friends when I was in college. I don't think that we ever played again after that. Diplomacy has no normal turns like Risk, everyone prepares their moves on paper and then they all move at once. But during the prepare phase, there are multiple notes passing around the table as everyone forms and breaks alliances. It's the only game that I've played where are scared to go to the bathroom because the other players will conspire against you while you are gone.
posted by octothorpe at 9:24 AM on December 8, 2005


It's too bad that there's no technology by which that list of games I've never heard of could be connected somehow to some sort of descriptions of the games, maybe even on another server. May the future come quickly!
posted by mendel at 9:27 AM on December 8, 2005


No love for Axis & Allies? I'm going to strategically bomb his house and then invade it amphibiously.
posted by COBRA! at 9:29 AM on December 8, 2005



posted by Smart Dalek at 9:33 AM on December 8, 2005


Studies have shown that Monopoly is the impetus for more incidents of domestic violence than any other board game (a statistic which, if it is not true, should be).

In a recent AskMe, Monopoly was recommended as a possible activity for two incompatible families getting together at Thanksgiving. I resisted the urge to jump in and scream: FOR GOD'S SAKE, WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T PLAY MONOPOLY!!!

I hope everything turned out OK.
posted by Otis at 9:40 AM on December 8, 2005


All those enormous German 1,000-piece world domination games with rulebooks like the Yellow Pages?

There aren't that many of those on the list. As opposed to the American school of game design, the European/German school aims for much slimmer rulesets.

The rules for a game like Ticket To Ride are around the same level of complexity as those for Risk, but you end up with a more intricate, less luck-driven game (especially if you opt for the better Ticket to Ride Europe). Simpler still are the rules for the games in Kris Burm's GIPF series. My favorite in the series, Yinsh, is based on the old classic Othello, but is closer to chess in richness than it is to Othello. It can be played online here.

Nearer the other end of complexity for modern board games, you'll find the top two games in his list, Puerto Rico and Tigris and Euphrates. These have heftier rule books but are still easier to learn than most war games or older American games like Avalon Hill games or even, I'd say, Magic.

Of course, this process of listing the top 100 games isn't new. This guy has been polling people for a top 100 list since the early days of rec.games.board. His list is on edition number 325 now. (Go is on that list too, down at #66, and Chess is also absent.)
posted by Hubajube at 9:42 AM on December 8, 2005


Wot, no Car Wars??
posted by ijoshua at 9:45 AM on December 8, 2005


I was going to explain how he created this list, but he explains it himself. Also, Here's the list of gamers he used.

I've played 75% of these, and even a few seem a little out of place in general this seems a good list.
posted by aubilenon at 9:53 AM on December 8, 2005


Hi! This is Matthew Baldwin of defective yeti, and I am indirectly the source of this link (I posted it on my site, The Morning News stole it from me, crunchland stole it from them). I would have picked a better entry to link to if I'd know it was going to go Internet Supernove.

A couple of points. First, every game on the list has its own entry. As skwm mentioned above, the recaps are the way to go if you want more information:

Games 1-20
Games 21-40
Games 41-60
Games 61-80
Games 81-100

Second, this list wasn't compiled by a single person -- a group of hardcore boardgamers (myself included, though I'm probably the least hardcore of the lot) was polled, and these are the results.

Third, the group polled leans heavily toward German games, and the list was compiled for the group. In other words, we're not saying that these are the best games for everyone, we're saying that, in our little microcosm, the general consensus is that these are the best of the lot.

Fourth, many of those polled thought we were only compiling a list of proprietary games, and therefore left the public domain games such as Go and Chess off our replies. That certainly accounts for their low standing.

Fifth, Monopoly is not a good game, despite its popularity. If you continue to believe that it is, please purchase any game off this list and proof yourself wrong.

For what it's worth, I think the list is a good reflection of how well received the listed games are in the serious boardgame community -- the top five (Puerto Rico, Euphrat & Tigris, El Grande, Settlers of Catan, and Princes of Florence) are routinely cited as the best ever designed.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 10:02 AM on December 8, 2005 [1 favorite]


I've played a lot of the games on that list (16ish, depending on how you count) and heard of most of the rest. I'd have to say it's a pretty bizarre list. I mean, it's like trying to make a Top 100 Movies Ever list - movies can be excellent in different ways. You could evaluate them based on critical acclaim, or popularity, or innovative techniques, or whatever. I have no idea how he generated his list, but it's, uh, well, special. There are games on there like El Grande which I would never play with my family, even though it's an excellent game and won a lot of awards. It takes a finely tuned game playing mind to make it through the game. It's sort of like watching Memento with your parents and having them pester you about what the hell's going on for the entire movie.

So, I'd say this is a pretty useless list. There are so many different axes to evaluate games on that merging them all into one "best games" list is really useless. It would be much more valuable to separate them out into useful categories like "Critical Acclaim," "Most Popular," "Most Innovative New Gameplay Mechanics," "Most Compelling Game Fiction," etc.

Also, I'd say games like Go, Bridge, Poker, etc, shouldn't appear on a list like this. Board Games as a hobby seem to me to be somewhat orthogonal to these sorts of games. I really love board games (particularly learning new ones) and that experience is radically different from the experience of dedicating yourself to the study of, eg, Go. Those kinds of games are their own hobby.

MetaMonkey: I'm a Go player, though I wouldn't describe myself as a fanatic. It's an awesome game to learn, though! You can check out this thread at Kuro5hin for a broad background. I can give you a million more links if you're interested. My email is in my profile.

And no Guillotine? For shame!
posted by heresiarch at 10:04 AM on December 8, 2005


No Snakes and Ladders?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:22 AM on December 8, 2005


No Stratego? Pheh. And I'm talking the original, not the contemporary edition where they flipped the polarity order of the numbering system (I had to go on eBay and track down a "classic" version for my girlfriend's son, so we could play without me losing my mind. He's a chess wiz, and ended up really enjoying it). Yeah, I know this isn't the most amazing board game in the world, but to not make a top 100 list? Gimme a break.
posted by dbiedny at 10:34 AM on December 8, 2005


Lord of the Rings sucks, and Baby Balrog beat me to the obvious Samurai comment. I mean, 100? Is that a nerdy slap in the face.

I love the frank comments on boardgamegeek.com

"How the hell did this boring piece of shit end up this high on the list?"
posted by mrgrimm at 10:39 AM on December 8, 2005


Yeah, once you put Go on there (and backgammon) you sort of have to include chess. But no fucking checkers, man.

So, I'd say this is a pretty useless list.

I'm still trying to find descriptions without resorting to Amazon UK (they must be here somewhere). A list of titles is pretty useless.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:41 AM on December 8, 2005


Fifth, Monopoly is not a good game, despite its popularity. If you continue to believe that it is, please purchase any game off this list and proof [sic] yourself wrong.
Cool. So this is like one of those Starbucks threads.
posted by mph at 11:01 AM on December 8, 2005


Man, now I wanna play Acquire again.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:16 AM on December 8, 2005


I'm sure these games are fun and all, but god are they poorly marketed. Aside from hardcore board game types, who the hell is going to want to play a game called Euphrat & Tigris?

I'm pretty much the leader of my group of friends, I'm the Letterman to their Paul, most of my friends will go along with what I recommend, etc.*...but I really don't see a scenario in which I have a dinner party and then recommend a spirited round of Puerto Rico.

THEM: What's it about?
ME: It's about the funnest game ever! Each of us compete in the world of 17th century Puerto Rico...
THEM: Oh, you mean like pirates and shit? Cool!
ME: No, It's more of a game of economic development, where we send goods to the Old World and complete municipal projects!
THEM: ...

Like I said, I'm sure it's fun and I've done a terrible job representing what the game is really like, but it's hard enough getting adults to play a board game anyway, much less one with the unappealling and sounds - boring - as - all - fuck title of "Age Of Steam."

Then again, maybe Germans have different standards for this sort of thing. Or maybe I'm just bitter because I never got anyone to play Settlers Of Cataan with me. Or, maybe I need new friends.

If you think Risk is the number one cause of arguments, then for the love of God, never play Diplomacy!

Or Werewolf, for that matter...where the arguments are the point of the game rather than an side-effect.

____
*These statements may be lies.
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:18 AM on December 8, 2005


we're not saying that these are the best games for everyone

annoying. you sunk my battleship.

from the title of the linked page:

"The Official & Completely Authoritative 100 Best Games of All Time Ever Without Question"

Monopoly is not a good game, despite its popularity.

ya know, it's that way about most things. like, a music's popularity is not what makes it good or bad. but when it comes to games, a game is not of much use unless you can find people who know it and want to play it, unless your thing is teaching people to play instead of playing. you can set a chess board up in the park, and someone will eventually walk by who will want to play. and so, we get a game with international rankings, and where the leading players are revered as living world treasures.

people play monopoly because it is a good game. unlike some of the other comments in this thread, my family gets along best when we're playing monopoly, so i feel sorry for folks who get in fights playing board games. monopoly involves hundreds of millions of people young and old, for hours and hours. you will remember playing monopoly with your grandma for most of your life. three years from now you will not remember playing puerto rico with the stinky unemployed guy down the street who spends his dole check on the latest alea mersh at the hobby store. you won't even remember his name. you won't remember how to play it, either.

who can name any of those avalon hill games from the early 80's? you know, the ones with the hexagonally spaced boards? does anybody play them anymore? i knew people who thought those games were so the best ever. they're all divorced and paying child support now.

there are objective ways to measure "best" when it comes to games, certainly more objective than, "proof (sic) yourself wrong." a best board games list without mancala, the first and most popular board game and whose swahili name, "bao," literally means "board," isn't even remotely credible.

what this list needs to be called is, "The Inbred & Completely Obscurantist 100 Games Which Make Me and My Pals Feel Like Superior Hardcore Board Gamers."

i'd like to see this "serious boardgame community" reconsider what makes a good board game (hint: something other than the board game market and not about the "serious" board game community) and give it another, um, go.
posted by 3.2.3 at 11:28 AM on December 8, 2005


Poker is not a board game.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 11:28 AM on December 8, 2005


What, no Candy Land? Obviously this list sucks.
posted by gyc at 11:28 AM on December 8, 2005


GYC! That was my comment!
posted by ParisParamus at 11:31 AM on December 8, 2005


3.2.3: These gamers aren't being jerks about the list. Why are you?
posted by brain_drain at 11:36 AM on December 8, 2005


"who can name any of those avalon hill games from the early 80's? you know, the ones with the hexagonally spaced boards? does anybody play them anymore? i knew people who thought those games were so the best ever. they're all divorced and paying child support now."

I just thought we needed to see that bit of pithy brilliance again.
I like a lot of those games, but it is hard to get someone to play.
posted by OmieWise at 11:36 AM on December 8, 2005


Heresiarch, I would describe myself as a Go fanatic. Though I'm still scared of 19x19, I am getting pretty good with 9x9 (I know it isn't 'proper'). Nice k5 link, also, thanks.

I'd really like to find out who plays here, what their thoughts on the great game are, or otherwise provide a solid starting point for people interested in go, but I don't want to pollute this thread (too much). So unless anyone objects or can show me previous threads on Go, I'll FPP a set of real tasty go links later. Its really hard searching for 'go', so I'll just leave this comment out there for a few hours and see what the crowd wisdom suggests.
posted by MetaMonkey at 11:48 AM on December 8, 2005


Monopoly and risk are both terrible games. Monopoly takes forever and has a way too simple strategy. Risk takes a long time too and is pretty arbitrary as far as who wins. Puerto Rico is fun but seriously flawed, unless you have a regular group of puerto rico players with symmetrical skill levels the winner will be decided not on the skill of the player but by position relative to the worst player. Unless you have a regular group of people that play boardgames regularly puerto rico is a hard game to set up a fair game.

Chinese checkers is a really underrated game.
posted by I Foody at 11:50 AM on December 8, 2005


My friend had Stratego but it missing some pieces. He bought a new copy but he swapped out his flag for one of the bombs from the old game. Playing it was like a Beckett play.
posted by I Foody at 11:57 AM on December 8, 2005 [2 favorites]


3.2.3: wow, that's pretty severely bitter. What is your actual problem?

Board gaming is a hobby. Like absolutely every other hobby in the world, it can seem obscure and impenetrable to those not involved in it. That doesn't make its adherents divorce-prone any more than philatilists or woodworkers, or what have you. What's your hobby?

As for hex-and-counter wargames, I can name dozens. I actually played Russian Campaign just a few weeks ago.

Monopoly is usually considered a bad game by board game hobbyists because the outcome is almost totally based on luck, and because players can be eliminated hours before the game is over. Nobody is actively trying to prevent you from playing it with your family. We may suggest you play 'Settlers' or 'Ticket to Ride' instead, since that way everyone gets to play the whole game.

We buy and play games we enjoy. We don't buy and play games because they sell millions of copies. There are plenty of games that aren't made for the "serious board game market" that do sell millions of copies. Unfortunately, most of them are themed "Monopoly" or "Trivial Pursuit" sets.
posted by jlub at 11:58 AM on December 8, 2005


Oh mancala sucks, it's only slightly more opaque than tic yac toe. If there exists an unbeatable strategy a game is bad.
posted by I Foody at 12:01 PM on December 8, 2005


Monopoly and risk are both terrible games. Monopoly takes forever and has a way too simple strategy. Risk takes a long time too and is pretty arbitrary as far as who wins.

Was on my out but couldn't resist biting.

Monopoly is a great family game that everyone can understand and enjoy. I don't know how you can knock it.

Risk does take a long time, but this is hardly a negative. I've spent many a happy night engaged in Risk strategising and scheming - being forced to plan and adapt to the marathon duration gives it a special edge. As for arbitrariness, in my experience playing with a lot of different people at uni, this complaint usually comes from those who know enough to play but not enough to win. Risk for me is great because, like Go, it mirrors real-world tactics and randomness, allowing weak players to have a lot of fun and a chance of glory, if not victory, and demanding monumental scheming and diplomacy to really excel. Moreover, it demonstrates the ever-shifting nature and fragility of power, influence and ego. It's taken me over the top more than a few times.
posted by MetaMonkey at 12:06 PM on December 8, 2005


They just made the names on this list up, right? Who the heck ever sat down for a rousing game of Funkenschlag?
posted by Go, now. Go! at 12:16 PM on December 8, 2005


what this list needs to be called is, "The Inbred & Completely Obscurantist 100 Games Which Make Me and My Pals Feel Like Superior Hardcore Board Gamers."

or probably, "The 100 Games We Enjoy Most". I mean, really, how could you make a list of the 100 best whiskeys and not include Jack Daniels?
posted by Hubajube at 12:17 PM on December 8, 2005


<-- fanatical (but not skilled) about go. look me up on the dragon go server anytime for a game.
posted by paradroid at 12:28 PM on December 8, 2005


Hubajube: Are you having a laugh? Would you really put JD on a list of 100 best whiskies?

And MetaMonkey, please take it from me. Monopoly is not a good game. Even if you want a simple game for the family to play, there are a hell of a lot of better alternatives out there. I've had a lot of success teaching Settlers to non-gamers, for example.

And Risk is not a good game either. If you're willing to spend 2-3 hours on a moderately complex game, then again, there are much better options.

The sheer level of ignorance in this thread is staggering. What did you want, your favourite game to be ranked highly? In that case, how would you ever have known there were better games out there? The fact that most of these games are somewhat obscure should pique your interest into trying some, not lead you to dismiss the list, even though you know little about boardgaming.
posted by salmacis at 12:42 PM on December 8, 2005


They just made the names on this list up, right? Who the heck ever sat down for a rousing game of Funkenschlag?

Yes, of course everyboy in the whole world plays games in English don't they? And people who enjoy boardgames would obviously refuse to play a game named in it's native language, right? Puh-lease. Go to Fark if you want to demonstrate your stupidity to the world.

Obviously Funkenschlag (or it's English language remake, Power Grid) is inappropiate for bringing out for your family, but that was never the criteria for the list.
posted by salmacis at 12:46 PM on December 8, 2005


Here is how I can knock monopoly; in order to win buy everything you land on. If you are lucky enough to get a Monopoly develop it to hotels as fast as possible. Never make a trade that would grant another player a monopoly (except utilities/railroad which aren't that big a deal) unless it would grant you a superior monopoly. Everything else is luck. Besides being too simple it also eliminates people who have nothing to do, it takes too long, and is boring.

I'm a fine risk player, the strategy of risk is more complicated than monopoly by still very simple. I can almost always beat a new player and have even odds against a very good player. The default rules for risk are terrible; with increasing card redemption values the game is arbitrary. Risk with missions is an ok game but it still takes too long and leaves eliminated players with nothing to do.

I really don't think monopoly is fun for most kids and I know it's not fun for me.
posted by I Foody at 12:48 PM on December 8, 2005


Now, see, I thought it was called fukenschlag all this time, and I thought that was a pretty awesome name for a board game. You ruined all the attraction when you said it was power grid game.
posted by crunchland at 12:52 PM on December 8, 2005


My friends and I have been getting into board games lately and our major criteria for a "good" game is how much social interaction it prompts. We're roleplayers at heart and enjoy games that encourage chat/acting/improv/etc. If we end up playing a game in total or near-silence, it gets banished to the closet shelf, regardless of how good the mechanics might be.

Currently, we've been digging Twilight Imperium, which is a real monster of a game.
posted by Sangre Azul at 12:55 PM on December 8, 2005


If you want social interaction, I recommend: Settlers of Catan, Bohnanza, Lord of the Rings and Citadels. If you want something longer and heavier, Princes of the Renaissance or Struggle of Empires.
posted by salmacis at 12:58 PM on December 8, 2005


Sangre, you may want to check out Arkham Horror (another monster) and Shadows Over Camelot (comparitively short at 90 minutes, but with an odd rule [which, admittedly, doesn't work all the time] that encourages roleplaying).
posted by Shadowkeeper at 1:00 PM on December 8, 2005


Lord of the Rings sucks, and Baby Balrog beat me to the obvious Samurai comment. I mean, 100? Is that a nerdy slap in the face.

Wow. I could play LotR (with or without the first expansion but without the second expansion) every day, but would sooner stick an icepick in my brain than ever play Samurai again.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:00 PM on December 8, 2005


Thanks, salmacis! Settlers is already next on my to-buy list.
posted by Sangre Azul at 1:01 PM on December 8, 2005


And I agree with the games salmacis named -- he covered social interaction, I covered chat/acting/improv/etc.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 1:02 PM on December 8, 2005


1/2 OT: I'm still facinated that in the 70's, one company could market, essentially, two variations of the same game as different games: Trouble and Headache.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:09 PM on December 8, 2005


Let me tell you my Settlers story:

About ten years ago, I bought the first Mayfair edition of the game and brought it to the place where we slackers hung out to play games. We played it all afternoon. They begged me to leave it with them, but (to be frank) I didn't trust some of them, and declined, especially as I wouldn't be back for several days or more.

By the time I came back, a couple of them had built their own copy of the game out of corrugated board, toothpicks, glass beads and scraps of paper and they had been playing this homemade copy of the game for days. and these guys were not boardgame types; most of them were card players.

The game is that compelling to the new player.

As an aside, I bought the first English translation, plus a second copy of the same edition with different coloured pieces, so as to be able to combine the two sets and play with up to eight players. Sadly, the first edition has tiles and cards of a different size than later editions, making it incompatible with the numerous expansions for the game. I still haven't bought the newer edition, though, because I enjoy the purity of the basic game.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:14 PM on December 8, 2005


I'm also a Go fanatic, though I'm also a truly terrible Go player. And I'll agree with the folks who said that either Go shouldn't be on that list (and, really, it isn't anything at all like the other games on the list), or it should be in the top 5.
posted by sotonohito at 1:47 PM on December 8, 2005


These gamers aren't being jerks about the list.

i disagree.

What is your actual problem?

it's an acknowldged (and for the most part, cribbed) bad list offered up as the 100 best.

and i really go think they should have another go at it. it was explained that not all those polled understood the criteria. i bet they could come up with a much better list than the top ten being all from a small group of designers in the last ten years. i don't find it plausible that there was some momentous development in the last ten years that revolutionized board games. i do find it plausible that a group of people who alternately characterize themselves as "serious" and then "hobbyists" to explain their "impenetrability" just went down a rabbit hole.

the Sangre Azul idea that games which promote social interaction, rather than impenetrability, are what constitutes good gaming resonates with me. if slots were a board game, it would not be a good one.

monopoly is a great game because it accomplishes its goal of teaching people that monopolies are bad things which simply allow the accumulation of luck by a few, all while being a lot of fun to play. (and yes, it is a disputed point whether than game of monopoly teaches the morality of monopolies in a way which is economically accurate.) luck is the point of it. that it takes hours and hours is seen as one of its good points by many people. all weekend sessions of social interactions over games that take 20 minutes? not as likely. for some people, the point of monopoly is, how long can we make this game last?

there are whole organizations devoted to mancala and international tournaments. it is not a game with an unbeatable strategy. it is as complicated and subtle as chess, with many sets of rules. there are strategies, plural, to master. they take a long time to master. and two good strategies going up against one another will have to modify themselves to stay in the game.

this isn't about ignorance (unless we're talking about mancala ignorance) or a favorite game not being on the list (monopoly is not nearly my favorite). i think more people's interest would be piqued if the list did contain more than just the very narrow interests of a few game makers and shakers and more reflected some credibility about what more people have considered a good game. i bet there are better games than monopoly or risk. but when you characterize monopoly and risk as specifically bad games, you aren't convincing anyone outside of your game subculture, specifically in a culture at large which also enjoys games whether seriously or as hobbyists or not, that you have any believable case for your judgments, or that you even understood the list you were making or the title you were giving it.

what makes the list makers jerks is believing their particular social interactions are the best. not to mention how anyone outside those interactions must be bitter or have a problem? the list makers would be regular wet blankets at your family's monopoly-a-thon. *that*, my friends, is what would be "boring." there's a lot more social interaction going on over these games which were cited as bad than these so-called 100 best. although at least fluffysnoop list did manage to get backgammon in the best 100. (the boston u list? not so smart.)

i should apologize for my characterization of my old avalon hill acquaintances marital outcomes. that was not the point of my post. although very true, and yes, pithy brilliant.

i am sorry. may all players of alea games have long and blissful unions with much fertility.

are we OK now?

He bought a new copy but he swapped out his flag for one of the bombs from the old game.

ok, now i just figured out how my little brother used to win stratego every time.
posted by 3.2.3 at 1:48 PM on December 8, 2005


Risk on a computer is faster, and funkier and less fiddly than Risk on a board.

But if you really want a game that will end in violence, tears, or divorce, there is only one Machiavelli.
posted by Sparx at 1:48 PM on December 8, 2005


82 comments and no one's mentioned boggle? these are dark days. boggle's great because it's 3 minutes per session-- perfect for short attention spans, parties or people on drugs. also the beastie boys shout it out. "i'm the king ad rock, there is none higher, i gets 11 points off the word QUAGMIRE"
posted by jcruelty at 2:01 PM on December 8, 2005


You have a point, salmacis, but I still think this is just like making up a list of "the official and completely authoratative 100 best Thanksgiving foods of all time" and loading it up with weird delecacies like squid caviar and roasted squab ribs while leaving off turkey and sweet potatoes. Call me lowbrow, but I'd still rather have Thanksgiving at my house.
posted by Go, now. Go! at 2:04 PM on December 8, 2005


I've only played twice, but Carcassone's elegant brilliance blew me away, and I am eager to check out the top 10 on this list having had my eyes opened to the possibilities of boardgaming.

Chess, Go etc are pure clinical strategy without any absorbing context - I think we can assume all board games come from these roots, and that the above list is about games that encourage some actual fun?
posted by elphTeq at 2:14 PM on December 8, 2005


3.2.3 when I think of mancala I usually use it as meaning the same as kalah (since that's far and away the most common in America) which is pretty much tic tac toe, yeah other versions are more complex. I still think monopoly sucks in every way, and familys would have a better time playing sorry, or parchisi.
posted by I Foody at 2:17 PM on December 8, 2005


it's an acknowldged (and for the most part, cribbed) bad list offered up as the 100 best.

Dozens of people who like boardgames were polled. The results of that poll were then tallied and this list was generated. It has nothing to do with the "bad list" you linked to, except that many of the same games are found on both. How the responders to the poll, who voted in secret, managed to coordinate their votes in such a way as to "crib" from an outside source is a mystery to me, and I was one of the people involved.

As I mentioned in my post above (which you were supposedly replying to, although you either did not read it in its entirely or were very selective in what you responded to), this list was made by the group for the group (< -- see that italics? that means this part is important) we did not then go and carve the names of the games stone tablets and hand them down to humanity -- we circulated the link among ourselves and said hmm, that's interesting. the fact that the url wound up metafilter doesn't change that. if a knitting circle made a list of their 100 favorite knitting patterns just for their own amusement, and you somehow got a hold of a copy of it, would you denounce them as jerks as well? as for the title of the list, it is the official & completely authoritative 100 best games of all time ever without question... so there! you inadvertently (i assume, as i'm certain you wouldn't take something out of context just to make a point) left out the last two words, which indicate that the title is what we in the inbred & completely obscurantist hardcore board game industry refer to as a joke. you are right to call me out for saying monopoly is a bad game. i should have said i personally dislike monopoly, for the reasons cited by others above (too long, too much luck, player elimination. etc.) if you disagree, go ahead and disagree. if you enjoy playing it, play it. i don't care what your favorite games are, and i'm unclear why you care so much about what ours are. if you don't like the results of this poll, perhaps you'd be interested in with thousands and thousands of participants who have cast their votes over the course of years. you can find such a list at a href='http://boardgamegeek.com/top50.htm'>http://boardgamegeek.com/top50.htm. Top game listed: Puerto Rico. Second game, Caylus -- which wasn't released when we did our own informal survey. The next four: Tigris & Euphrates, Power Grid, Princes of Florence, and El Grande -- all of which were in our top 10 as well. Does that me our list is "right?" No, of course not -- as judging games is entirely subjective, there is no "right." But surely concordance ought to count for something.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 2:35 PM on December 8, 2005


I'd echo those above who are saying: if you haven't tried (or even heard of) the games on this list, you really owe it to yourself to do so. If your idea of boardgames begins and ends with Monopoly, you will be stunned (in a good way) by some of these games.

Some of those at the top of the list are a little intricate and hardcore and not as appropriate for casual games, but there are a lot that are appropriate for casual games and families, and are a hell of a lot more fun than what you've got stuffed in your game closet.

I'm going to make a pitch for one of my favorites: Carcassone which doesn't even have a board, or rather, the board is constructed, turn by turn, by the players. The rules are simple, gameplay is fast, no one gets eliminated before the end and the scoring is setup so that (usually) everyone is in the running to win at the end of the game. You can play it very casually since your turn consists of drawing a tile and placing it (and perhaps placing one other piece). You have no "hand" to shuffle through, but you still have many options of where to place your tile so strategy is involved. It may not motivate conversation (like, say, Apples to Apples) but certainly won't interfere with it. Don't be put off by the name, this is an excellent game and a perfect introduction to the boardgame revolution which has been going on, mostly unnoticed in this country.
posted by zanni at 2:38 PM on December 8, 2005


Oh, one more observation (and one that, hopefully, MeFi won't strip the formatting from).

i don't find it plausible that there was some momentous development in the last ten years that revolutionized board games.

It's been more like 40 years (Acquire was first released in 1962), but such a "momentous development" has taken place -- in part because of the rise of game theory (which is a branch of mathematics unconnected to but with applications in board game design); in part because board games have become a major industry in many countries (notably Germany) and the companies involved have done a lot of R&D into game design; and in part because the community of board game designers have adopted an "open source" attitude in regards to game mechanics, allowing inventors to freely reuse and build upon innovations that have appeared in earlier games.

If this is something that interests you, I'd recommend the book Rules Of Play.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 2:56 PM on December 8, 2005


I Foody is correct in his characterisation of Monopoly: with reasonably experienced players you might as well draw straws to see who wins. However, this does make it a mildly entertaining diversion for about an hour: when everyone grasps that you can't really influence who is going to win, everyone gets much more chilled about it and you can whizz round.
posted by alasdair at 2:57 PM on December 8, 2005


Most of these games are a complete mystery to me, but no boardgame list should be complete without a mention of "Kill Doctor Lucky" from the good folks at Cheapass Games.

The game runs on a very cool 'sinking ship' game mechanic where the play gets progressively more and more lethal as the game progresses. Great game play = fantastic player interation. Very simple and clever game.
posted by tim_in_oz at 3:12 PM on December 8, 2005


You have a point, salmacis, but I still think this is just like making up a list of "the official and completely authoratative 100 best Thanksgiving foods of all time" and loading it up with weird delecacies like squid caviar and roasted squab ribs while leaving off turkey and sweet potatoes. Call me lowbrow, but I'd still rather have Thanksgiving at my house.

Except in this case, you are arguing from a position of complete ignorance. If, after playing a good representitive sample of these games, you still claim Monopoly is better, that is your opinion and your right. Until then, you are just a blowhard who can safely be ignored.
posted by salmacis at 3:14 PM on December 8, 2005


i don't find it plausible that there was some momentous development in the last ten years that revolutionized board games

I'm pleased you feel able to make such an observation after a long and exhaustive study of the subject.

PS - that "momentous development" was die Siedler von Catan, released in 1995.
posted by salmacis at 3:18 PM on December 8, 2005


I want to echo earlier comments about Carcasonne - it really is a wonderfu game. I've recently enjoyed playing an online implementation of it, available here.

Also, some people have mentioned looking for games with a lot of social interaction or roleplaying. I'm not big into roleplaying games, but I have really enjoyed Betrayal at House on the Hill. The game starts with everyone working together to explore a haunted house. The board expands as you explore different rooms, with common horror cliches. Eventually one of the players defects and becomes, basically, a GM. Depending on the conditions that trigger the betrayal, different scenarios start. The remaining explorers leave the room, band together, and lay out their plan, based on their knowledge about the situation as written in one of the rule books. The betrayer reads a different explanation. For instance, in my most recent game the oldest player in our party turned into a zombie lord, and deployed her minions around the house to hunt down my friend and I. We had an elaborate plan to use the Mystic Elevator to teleport to the basement to retrieve an important magical artifact that would allow us to assasinate the zombie lord before she could kill us with her zombie hordes. It was awesome. The game mechanics really fit with the game fiction, and it's one of my best gaming experiences ever, even though I've lost every time I played.

And yeah, I'd love to see a Go FPP! If someone else doesn't do it in the next week or so, I may feel compelled to step in and do it myself. :D Also, if anyone wants to play, I'm about 13k, and when I play, I play on KGS. It's just hard to find time these days, with school stuff taking up so much time. Still, if I had a specific person to play, I'd definitely make sure to log on and play.
posted by heresiarch at 3:23 PM on December 8, 2005


The Morning News stole it from me, crunchland stole it from them).

You should report those thefts to the local constabulary.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:27 PM on December 8, 2005


Ditto the complaints about Monopoly. That goes on my list as the worst board game ever, mostly cuz we were told as kids what a great game it was. I've never understood its appeal. At all. I'd just as soon play Chutes & Ladders.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:45 PM on December 8, 2005


Jumping in late here, but I found Diplomacy to be the most intense board game, apart from chess, that I ever played. Lies, intrigue, betrayal, are all part of it, and no luck is involved.
posted by QuietDesperation at 3:51 PM on December 8, 2005


the obvious Samurai comment. I mean, 100? Is that a nerdy slap in the face.

A slap in whose face? Knizia has more games in this list than anyone else by far. How dare they place some of his games below others? Y'all are a strange lot sometimes.
posted by Hubajube at 3:57 PM on December 8, 2005


A slap in whose face indeed! There are at least four games named Samurai. And do you know why? Because samurai are cool, that's why.

And that's not even including Samurai Swords, Honor of the Samurai, and Kung Fu Samurai on Giant Robot Island.

(And yes, I know they mean Knizia's Samurai).
posted by jlub at 4:14 PM on December 8, 2005


If they ever do a list of 100 worst boardgames, I recommend Mousetrap, also known as "Take an Hour Assembling a Bunch of Poorly Molded Plastic Shit and Watch It Not Work Hooray."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:36 PM on December 8, 2005


i never played mousetrap, but i have visited the lifesize version.
posted by jcruelty at 6:22 PM on December 8, 2005


I remember Mousetrap. When I was a kid I bought a used copy at a garage sale. I spent hours trying to make it work before I realized there were several pieces missing. I was a dumb kid.
posted by brain_drain at 6:23 PM on December 8, 2005


jcruelty said it best! Boggle people, hello?????
posted by furtive at 8:01 PM on December 8, 2005


no Mystery Date? no Ants in the Pants? no Don't Spill the Beans? no Sorry? no no Operation?????
posted by amberglow at 8:25 PM on December 8, 2005


Response to Shadowkeeper

Rules of play is excelent, if overly wordy and occasionally misguided.


(tangent)

I'm quite confident I could beat you all at monopoly, if you really do play by the strategies given here.

Because trades of property are not zero sum, your goal is to make as many trades as possible, even if others gain somewhat more than you do on any individual trade.


If players

1 & 2
1 & 3
1 & 4
1 & 5

make the only trades in the game, player 1 will win, even if he got lower valued monopolies than those he traded with.
posted by Richard Daly at 9:03 PM on December 8, 2005


Yes, and any moderately skilled player will know this. If that's the only skill in Monopoly, you're not going to do so well against the people in this thread who already play the games on the top 100 list.

Incidently, the same is true of Settlers. Trading is good.
posted by salmacis at 11:32 PM on December 8, 2005


kalah (since that's far and away the most common in America) which is pretty much tic tac toe, yeah other versions are more complex.

kalah has the same order of complexity as checkers.

few mancala positions have solutions (as in any good game).

awari was solved in 51 hours using 144 1Ghz P3s. The resulting database is 778 GB. it is still considered too difficult for humans.

other points from others (not you, foody) i'm not going to take time to respond to, because of name calling, factual discrepancies, rhetorical tropes, subjective conjectures, point missing in general, and having lived with someone who spent every available moment playing games on that slanted list. i think it would be endless and worse. and the point of games is to have fun. "There's really no need for any more games" - Sid Sackson.

but i did want to offer a reply to that twiced state point about mancala, or even kalah, being pretty much like tic tac toe. people who scientifically study games (serious professionals instead of serious hobbyists) say otherwise.

plus, there's a much more interesting new thread on the game of go.
posted by 3.2.3 at 10:04 AM on December 9, 2005


Richard Daley: "your goal [in Monopoly] is to make as many trades as possible"

Interesting. Rather than launch into a long, discursive discussion of tactics, may I ask you to explain why 1 should trade with 3? Before that trade only 1 or 2 could* win, now 3 could win. I see that having fully developed her property from the 1&2 trade and having amassed some more capital 1 could benefit from another colour group and might take the chance, but that's not what you're saying.

Or - even more interesting - is your strategy optimal when the other players are following the same strategy, but not optimal when they are following the "trade and be damned" I Foody/alasdair strategy? Or is it the other way round?

* or "is likely to". You always have a non-zero chance of winning until you are bankrupt, so long as you own one property between Free Parking and Start that is within 12 of both.
posted by alasdair at 10:24 AM on December 9, 2005


(Between Free Parking and Start in the direction of travel, of course.)
posted by alasdair at 10:29 AM on December 9, 2005


No, I'm sorry, I understand exactly what you're saying. Please allow me to observe only that timing is the thing. If 1&2 have traded then although there is a long-term theoretical benefit for 1 in 1&3 the immediate problem is developing the monopoly obtained from 1&2. Only when there is excess capital from rent is 1&3 a good idea for 1. Before then 1 gains nothing (since all of 1's money goes on developing the 1&2 monopoly) while 3 develops and uses the 1&3 trade fully.

Or in other words: although 1 has four monopolies after your proposed full set of trades, only one is developed and beneficial. There are now, however, three other fully developed monopolies on the board, and landing on any one will probably bankrupt 1 or at least destroy their development of their one monopoly. That gives 1 a 1/4 chance of winning.

If, however, 1 only did 1&2, then she would have one developed monopoly - as before - but only face one opposing monopoly - owned by 2. This is a better position. 3 and 4 are fodder for 1 and 2, and luck of the dice determines whether 1 or 2 wins. This gives 1 a 1/2 chance of winning, which is better than your maximum trade strategy in the actual lifespan of the game.
posted by alasdair at 10:40 AM on December 9, 2005


The american board game scene is homogenized in a manner similar to the american pop music scene. So there's no need to have a spontaneous bowel movement over the exclusion of monopoly.
posted by craniac at 1:10 PM on December 9, 2005


I've found that whoever owns one whole side of the board (except for the cheapest side after GO) always wins.
posted by amberglow at 8:48 AM on December 10, 2005


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