Inching closer to the Top 10. Let's get to it. But, in case you missed any of the previous posts, check them out here:
BGG Rank: 406
Designed by: Uwe Rosenberg
Released: 2020 by Lookout Games
So, designer Uwe Rosenberg hits the list again, this time checking in with back-to-back listings (Agricola was #16) and yet another farming simulation. However, unlike Agricola, this game has no feeding your people and is a LOT more wide open in terms of gaining resources. The card play in this one is super satisfying, as there's SO MUCH to do, and each card in your hand offers you miniature goals to achieve throughout the course of the game as you try and build up your community center in the hops-growing region of Hallertau in Bavaria, Germany. What's really brilliant about this game is that it actually simulates crop rotation -- when you leave a field fallow for a turn / harvest season, it becomes more fertile for the next turn and will produce a higher yield. This game is so wide open and allows players near infinite opportunities to gather resources. Plus, it scales well at every single player count, including solo. Absolutely love Hallertau.
14. The Magnificent
BGG Rank: 824
Designed by: Eilif Svensson and Kristian Amundsen Østby
Released: 2019 from Aporta Games
The Magnificent is a bit of a Frankenstein's monster of mechanisms, but they all come together in a smooth-playing game driven by dice drafting and dice activation at its core. While there's a bit of tile laying as well, this game really is all about the dice. I'll be honest, the theme is really cool in that you're supposed to be running a mystical circus with magnificent performers putting on shows, and you're supposed to be attracting the most guests with tickets (points) at the end of the game...but the theme is barely present in this game. It's really all driven by the mechanisms, but that's alright with me. You only play three rounds, and you only draft four dice each round, so you really only take twelve actions over the course of a game, but the chaining of scoring opportunities and being able to pay for your dice is really where the economy of actions comes into play. This game is imminently satisfying in both solo and multiplayer. Can't say enough good things about The Magnificent, and the only real knock is that the theme, while cool in concept, isn't super strong in terms of being evoked by the gameplay.
13. Rajas of the Ganges
BGG Rank: 150
Designed by: Inka Brand and Markus Brand
Released: 2017 from HUCH!
Well, Rajas of the Ganges, much like The Magnificent, is a dice activation game, but it's combined with worker placement, and that combo is just superb. The board is two-sided, one for two players and one for three or four players, and so the game scales well in that regard. It takes place in 16th century India, and you are taking on the role of Indian nobility trying to generate wealth and fame, which brings me to what makes this game so special: you are constantly weighing two end-game scoring conditions and moving along both tracks (wealth and fame) simultaneously in an effort to get your pieces to intersect on the tracks first, thereby triggering the end of the game. It's a brilliant race game with beautiful components and solid, solid euro mechanisms that just make this one pure fun every time it hits the table. This one is easily in my partner's Top 10, but she actually doesn't care for the scoring condition. The only knock I have on this game is that there's no official solo mode, which would've made this one land in my top 10 EASILY.
12. CO2: Second Chance
BGG Rank: 699
Designed by: Vital Lacerda
Released: 2018 from Giochix.it and Stronghold Games
Vital Lacerda is my favorite designer, and here's a little spoiler: this isn't his only entry on this list of Top 25. I wrote a bit about CO2: Second Chance here, so I won't go too much more in depth about it. The theme is incredible -- trying to curb worldwide carbon emissions while building sustainable energy power plants on earth in six of the seven continents (no Antarctica in this one). What makes this game stand out, apart from the theme, is that you can play this game fully cooperatively, solo, and competitively. The catch in the competitive game, though, is that you HAVE to work together to a certain extent because there is a global loss condition. There's a central market system that's really dynamic that deals with Carbon Emission Permits, which help you build the infrastructure for new projects. Every single action -- proposing a project, building infrastructure, and finishing a plant, is wonderfully grounded in theme, and you're also presenting your research findings at global summits. There's A LOT going on in this game, but it's really challenging and imminently satisfying to actually win in co-op or solo. The competitive game has a really nice ebb and flow to it as well. One of Lacerda's best, in my opinion, despite its lower ranking according to BGG.
BGG Rank: 14
Designed by: Jamey Stegmaier
Released: 2016 from Stonemaier Games
Well, Scythe is a bit of an outlier in my list, because it has elements of a dudes-on-a-map game with tactical combat between players -- something I generally tend to avoid in games. Set in an alternate, steam-punky 1920s Europe, Scythe is a masterclass in design. At its core, it's an action -selection race game to get six stars out on the map. There are no set number of rounds or phases within those rounds; it's just players taking turns taking a principal action and a bonus action if they can afford it...simple, right? But there's a TON going on in Scythe when it comes to resource management and troop/worker movement. Each player will also start the game in different positions on different tracks with access to different resources and abilities, so no two games of Scythe will play the same, even with just the base box, which is all I own (I'm sure I'll blog about my aversion to expansions someday). It might sound like there's a lot of variance, but there's very little luck involved in Scythe, and I really enjoy that. While it's one of the newest games to enter my collection -- got it at a deep discount online -- it's climbed up the rankings very quickly, even with just solo play in mind, as the automa system is wonderful. Can't wait to play this at higher player counts.
There yall have it: 15-11.
Credit: All images come from Boardgamegeek.
Or, the writing gamer...
An infrequent review of my collection of hobby board games, coverage of the board game hobby at-large, lists, purchasing advice, and maybe some writing updates here and there.