By Robert Florence on April 8th, 2014 at 9:00 pm.
Before the column goes VIDEO HEAVY over the next few weeks, I wanted to glide into it with a little chat about how I went through the process of deciding my TOP 50 BOARD GAMES OF ALL TIME. It was really hard, and I’m still unsure of myself, and I want to give you all an opportunity to remind me of any great games I might have missed, because I’m in a panic about it. Let’s talk.
RAB’S TOP 50 BOARD GAMES OF ALL TIME – INTRO
Man. Here’s the truth of it. A Top 10 is easy. Well, comparatively easy, anyway. We bang on about our favourite things all the time, don’t we? Particularly these days, now that social networks have caused our egos to spiral out of control. We need everyone on the planet to hear our declarations. We must not let even one person pass through life without knowing what our favourite flavour of crisp is. (Beef, Monster Munch)
We’re always compiling lists. “Oh, that’s definitely in my Top 3”, we’ll say in the pub, as if we are in charge of some kind of official chart. “That film? Oh, that wouldn’t even make it into my Top 100.” Who the hell do we think we are? And, of course, the media have tuned into it now. Every link on the internet has become TOP TEN REASONS WHY this and 15 WAYS TO DO that – as if we can’t process any kind of information unless it’s in list form.
It feels like the right time to do my Top 50 games of all time. I’m going to list the reasons why, so that you can process it.
1. EVERYONE ELSE DOES IT: Yep. It’s started to feel a bit weird that I haven’t ever made one of these lists. Tom Vasel, the best board game reviewer on the planet, does a Top 100 list EVERY YEAR. That’s commitment.
2. PEOPLE LIKE LISTS: As much as I’ve been kinda complaining about them, the truth is that people love a list. Even I love lists. I love the order of them. I love how they cause a little bit of debate. “That above that? Really?”
3. THIS COLUMN NOW NEEDS IT: This board game column has been running for years. When it started, there was very little board game coverage online. Now there is a healthy amount. And so it’s doubly important for people to know who they’re reading. What I mean is – you have choice now. And it’s important for you to know if my taste is in sync with yours, or if I love all the stuff you hate. The Top 50 will give you a chance to see where I stand.
4. I NEED TO DO IT, ON A PERSONAL LEVEL: Yeah, this is a big one. See, I have too many board games now. I don’t have enough room for all of them. It’s ridiculous. I own hundreds of board games. I need to slim my collection down. And so I have to start asking myself the difficult questions. Which ones are my favourites? Which games are my Top 50? And is there a good reason to keep the rest?
Why video, though? I know some of you hate video. You’ve told me this before. I just think that with something as personal as a list of favourites, it’s nice to look a viewer straight in the eye. I also want to be able to show you the games in my hands. I have lovely hands. Writer’s hands. I also want to pay tribute, in a way, to what Tom Vasel has been doing over the past bunch of years. I watch more of Tom Vasel and his buddies Zee and Sam than I watch anything on TV. It’s worth you taking a look at Tom’s Top 100 videos before I do mine, I think. See how the master does it.
HOW I COMPILED IT
I made a list. A big one.
Then I made it smaller. Then I changed it.
Then I made it smaller. Then I panicked.
Then I changed it. A shuffle here. A switch there.
And then I had it. The Top 50.
What’s the point in the list for YOU, though? YOU, the reader – what do YOU get from it?
In this column, every week, I try to recommend great games. I’ve recommended a LOT of great games over the years. Not all of them will be on the list. When I recommend a game, there’s always an element of my personal tilt in there. But there’s also a fair amount of me putting myself in your shoes. There have been occasions when I’ve played a game and thought “Man, that’s a good game. I won’t personally play it much myself, but that is GOOD.” And I’ll recommend that game, because I know that some of you will play that game every week, forever. That’s my responsibility as a game reviewer on the best gaming site on the web. I need to make sure that my personal tilt is IN there, but I have to also think more broadly about the audience that reads the stuff.
I told you NETRUNNER was great, right? And it IS great, right? And you bought it and love it and play the hell out of it, right? Well, NETRUNNER just isn’t a game I’ve played too often, and I knew that would be the case when I first tried it. The theme just didn’t stick with me too well. I knew I wouldn’t have the time to properly dig into it. But I gave that thing a GLOWING review, because I knew the impact it would have on the scene. I knew that others would go crazy for it.
My Top 50 will be different. It will be entirely personal, and it will give you a different angle on the games that I love. You’ll see lots of stuff I’ve never even mentioned before on the list. You’ll be shocked at the games that are missing from the list, I’m sure. But it will be honest, and fun, and hopefully funny. And I bet it makes you buy more games.
And that’s the whole point, right? More games, and more time to play them.
I’ll see you next week for the first video in Rab’s Top 50 Board Games Of All Time.
By the way, alongside the videos there might still be the odd recommendation for new games. It will be business as usual on that front, so don’t worry about that.