Alright, let's get it kicked off with numbers 25-21. Not much to preamble, here, as I sorta did it in my last post. But just to be clear, I'll be writing in a bit more depth about these games than I usually do, as they're my current favorites (as of August 2021) of ALL TIME! I'll be comparing them to other rankings according to Boardgamegeek and generally gushing about how much I love these games.
BGG Rank: 18
Designed by: Mac Gerdts
Released: 2013 from Rio Grande Games
Concordia might be the most elegant game I own. It's admittedly a bit of a dry theme -- trading on the Mediterranean at the height of the Roman Empire -- but mechanically, this game sings. Each turn, you play exactly one card, execute its action, and that's it. The trick is buying new cards to upgrade your hand and to anticipate when your opponent might play a card you have already played or might want to play in the near future, as some cards allow you to copy the top card in your opponent's discard pile. The game has an exquisite escalation as you manage resources and put more colonists and boats out on the board. There's also a really deft set-collection element to the cards you're buying for end-game scoring, so you have to bear that in mind while buying the card for its in-game ability. Simply brilliant. I'm honestly surprised that it's this low, but that's just how rankings work at the end of the day.
24. Res Arcana
BGG Rank: 121
Designed by: Tom Lehmann
Released: 2019 from Sand Castle Games
Res Arcana is a stripped-down design in a good way. You get a "deck" of eight cards, and you have to figure out how to chain those cards together to build the most efficient resource-generating engine out of them, all while trying to avoid being attacked by your opponents. It's really, really solid. I personally love it because, even though the central tableau of artifacts and monuments will be similar from game to game, your starting deck will always be different, and the design is so sharp that, despite the mages having variable powers to begin with, any set of eight cards has a path to victory in them. I've yet to see a game where the variance just led to anti-synergy, and that's truly remarkable. Small footprint, deep gameplay, fast playing. Res Arcana is great.
BGG Rank: 126
Designed by: Andreas Steiger
Released: 2012 from KOSMOS
Targi is a two-player-only game set in the Sahara along desert trade routes. It's a worker-placement game with a twist -- you place three workers along the outer rim of the grid and then triangulate their intersections, thereby taking five actions per round as opposed to just three. You must gather both resources and victory points to purchase end-game scoring cards while also being prepared for the inevitable raids by robbers out on the sand dunes. Luckily, the robber is predictable, as are the raids, so it takes some planning. Can't say enough good things about Targi. A smart, tight design.
22. Architects of the West Kingdom
BGG Rank: 80
Designed by: Shem Phillips, S J Macdonald
Released: 2018 from Garphill Games and Renegade Studios
Architects is a pretty straightforward worker-placement game with a significant twist: you can capture each other's workers and turn them in for resources. It also has a really fresh mechanism of managing virtue, which allows you to pursue pious and nefarious paths to victory by building the most buildings or rushing to help build the cathedral at the center of the city, or a little bit of both. While it's a recipe fulfillment game at its heart -- gather resources, spend them for points on cards -- this game seems to play out differently every time. The production of this game is also gorgeous with captivating art from Mihajlo Dimitrievski, AKA The Mico.
21. The Taverns of Tiefenthal
BGG Rank: 237
Designed by: Wolfgang Warsch
Released: 2019 by North Star Games
This is one of my partner's Top 10 games of all time. It combines light deck-building with dice drafting and dice activation. Basically, you're the proprietor of a tavern and are trying to usher in the "best" customers (who give you the most bonuses when you roll the right result to activate them), hire the right staff, and upgrade your amenities to have the best establishment in town that will ultimately attract the nobility to score you mega points. The game is also taught with a modular rule set that slowly eases you into the full game, which is an amazing touch for all types of gamers. We've played this dozens of times, and it never gets old.
There you have it folks, 25-21.
Credit: All images come from Boardgamegeek