We've made it. Down to the Top Five of my favorite games of all time. Obviously none of these lists have been objective in any way, and I tend to disagree with BGG on rankings quite a bit, but I also have some things in common, so it's a wash in that regard. These are games that will literally never leave my collection, no matter what. So, without further ado, let's kick off the final installment of the series...for now, until I do an update at some point in the future. Oh, I suppose there's a little more ado...if you haven't looked at the previous posts, please do so:
BGG Rank: 28
Designed by: James A. Wilson
Released: 2018 by Starling Games
What can I say about Everdell that I didn't already say here? I suppose what I really love about this game -- other than the gorgeous components and presentation -- is that it always feels like a challenge. When you start with two workers, you think there's no way I'll ever be able to play 15 cards into my tableau, no way. But somehow, if you do it right, you're almost always sitting on a mountain of resources in the last round and playing out huge combos of critters and buildings to fill all those slots. It's simply superb, and we've played just the base box dozens of times; I can't speak to the expansions, but this is a game I'm not sure needs much added to it. It is, for my money, one of the best worker-placement games on the market. It comes in so highly for me because my partner and I both adore this game, so it naturally gets a bit of a bump, much like Wingspan.
4. A Feast for Odin
BGG Rank: 22
Designed by: Uwe Rosenberg
Released: 2016 by Feuerland Spiele and Z-Man Games
Wow, Uwe Rosenberg does it again, landing on my list for a third time. This game is an experience, that's for sure. Strap in for a good 2+ hours for this one, but it's worth every single second, and I've played it at multiple player counts. Fair warning, there's a lot going on in this game, but imagine combining Agricola-style worker-placement and feeding your people (though I'll admit it's a little less punishing) with The Isle of Cats-style tile-laying while all being thematically grounded in the lives of Vikings. This game doesn't hit the table for me all that often because of the fact that it does take quite a bit of time, but every time it does, it's an absolute blast. I gotta say that this game is my favorite of Uwe Rosenberg's, and while intimidating, with a good teacher, you can get a lot of fun out of this one for years.
3. The Castles of Burgundy
BGG Rank: 15
Designed by: Stefan Feld
Released: 2011 from alea and Ravensburger
Well, Stefan Feld has done it again, landing two games in my Top 10, and with good reason. This game is all about dice activation on a personal player board and laying tiles to activate bonuses. Each round, you'll roll exactly two dice and have exactly two actions -- kind of, unless you find clever ways to string together the bonuses for more actions -- as you compete to build the most prosperous estate in Burgundy. The replay value on this game is insane, as the tiles will always be different. We love this game so much that it's the only game I've ever bought an expansion for (solo variant) and upgraded components (nice drawstring bags for the tiles). It hits the table A LOT, and everyone I've ever taught it to has immediately wanted to own this game as well. It's the perfect mid-weight euro as far as I'm concerned, and nothing really compares in that price range for me (MSRP $45). While it's not a looker in terms of art and components, it's mechanically brilliant, and I don't see it losing this spot for a very long time.
BGG Rank: 63
Designed by: Vital Lacerda
Released: 2017 from Eagle-Gryphon Games
Lacerda does it again as well. Obviously my triumvirate of favorite designers are: Vital Lacerda, Uwe Rosenberg, and Stefan Feld. This game, though...this game. It's probably the most thematic euro game I've ever played, as every single action is deeply grounded in theme, which is befitting of a Lacerda design, and this one is close to the designer's heart (Lacerda is Portuguese). You take on the role of Portuguese business persons trying to rebuild the city of Lisboa after the devastating earthquake of 1755, which was then followed by a massive tsunami and days of fires. You accomplish this buy adding cards to your portfolio; trading with the nobles; selling goods at sea; visiting the Master Builder, The Prime Minister, and the King; and rebuilding the downtown with the rubble of the old city. I'm not going to lie, it's a very complex game, but it's truly an experience, much like A Feast for Odin. At its core, you play one card and draw one card, but the cascading of actions in the decision tree is the real draw for me on this one. Mechanically, this game is a masterpiece, and thematically, it's a massive home run.
1. The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
Designed by: Nate French
Released: 2011 by Fantasy Flight Games
Well, here we are, and this is a runaway victory for me. I've spent countless hours on this game building decks and playing against scenarios at one, two, three, and four players. I've played every single quest in the game and own all the officially released content, apart from Nightmare Decks, which aren't essential, in my opinion. I mean, what more can I say other than it's my most played and most well loved game of all time? In this game you take on the role of a group of heroes adventuring through Middle-earth by contributing willpower over the forces of evil, mitigating the threat of the Enemy, defeating evil creatures and orcs, traveling to distant lands. Each turn consists of extremely tough (but rewarding) decisions and tension as the encounter deck throws the might of Sauron against you. Mechanically, the game is relatively complex if you're not used to these types of card games, but it truly evokes the world of Tolkien's masterpiece in a way that no other game does, in my opinion, except maybe The War of the Ring, but that's decidedly not my type of game at this point in my gaming life. While this game has officially gone out-of-print, I still adore it and return to it with some regularity to play through my favorite scenarios or to reenact the Saga Campaign, which is the game's representation of the key moments throughout The Lord of the Rings, which is absolutely my preferred fandom of choice, despite some of the problematic nature of Tolkien's writing, but that's for another blog, I think.
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.