Cardboard Children: Some Games

Hello youse,

The Robot Special I’ve written can wait until next week. It is full of recommendations of great games, and I can’t do that right now. Today I want to talk about something I can’t shake. I cannot shake the feeling that we have too many toys. Read on.


We have too many toys. I think it’s been the Steam Summer Sale that has made me think about all of this. I’ve bought maybe thirty games, and I don’t have enough lifetimes to play all of them. I’m just used to having nice things, and buying them when I want them. I do the same with board games. I do the same with action figures. I do the same with everything. I have too much shit, and not enough time. I have too many toys.

When I was young I didn’t have too many toys. I just had some toys. And, in truth, some was plenty. Some is all anybody ever needs. Too many is useless, unworkable, whereas some is exactly the right number.

I have a writer friend who once got rid of all his stuff. He had loads of Star Wars shit, and collectable stuff, and toys and crap. All that stuff we have. And one day he just got rid of it all. Why? Because, as he said, “It’s just more stuff to go in the skip when you die.” It was Donald McLeary who said it. One of the funniest and most brutally honest men I know.

Every day, on Twitter, I see people talking about pre-ordering stuff. Or maybe they’re backing some new stuff on Kickstarter. Or maybe they picked something up on the way home from work. And it’s more shit. More crap that they already have a lot of. And then I like the look of it, and I buy it too. That’s how we all operate these days. We have too much stuff. Even those of us who don’t have much money have too much stuff these days. We get into debt to buy stuff we don’t need and barely even like. A few years back I was totally skint, struggling to pay bills, and I still bought Halo 2 on launch day, just to share in the experience of having a thing when it first comes out. And it was shit. And another final demand letter went in the post.

What the hell is wrong with us?

When it comes to board games, I have too many. At almost 35 years old, I have about 240 board games. Two hundred and forty. Each of those board games take, on average, about three hours to play. That’s seven hundred and twenty hours. It would take me thirty days of my life to play all of those games once, if I had some sort of magical android setting them up for me in a giant room with twenty tables. Thirty days of my life to scratch the surface of all of those games. There comes a point when you have to step back and ask yourself if you are some sort of decadent monster, or a total fucking idiot.

When I was a boy, I had some board games. Some. Maybe seven. One of them was HeroQuest, and I played that thing to death. I played it so much that I had to create new dungeons and new cards myself to keep it fresh. At no point did I ever think to myself “Man! I really need some other dungeon crawling game that’s almost identical to this one except from a few new little mechanics.” At no point did I think “I wish someone would crowd-fund a second edition of this game with nicer artwork. I would totally back that!” I was happy with what I had. I didn’t need anything else. I saw worlds inside that box.

What happened to me? What happened to us?

This week I was in one of my local board game shops and I saw something called Dungeon Command. My first instinct was to buy it. Seriously – to just buy it. In some part of my brain, the words DUNGEON and COMMAND had activated the OPEN WALLET impulse. I mean, surely this would be something I’d like, right? Dungeons? Awesome. Commands? Perfect. I actually stood there and thought to myself “This game sounds like something I would buy.” I’ve never felt so much like a statistic on a marketing man’s demographics sheet.

I resisted. This week I just said no. How many different ways does a guy need to explore a cardboard dungeon?

I think, in columns like these, there is a danger of just constantly presenting new releases as “must haves”. The truth is that you don’t really need to have anything. I’m not saying that I will stop recommending cool stuff. I won’t, and I probably can’t. Whatever is wired wrong in my head with all that shit is probably wired wrong for life. But I feel that I can probably do something to stop all of you making the same mistakes as me. If I don’t do something, where will we be in three years time? I will have recommended another 150 games to you, without going any deeper into the greatness or the lasting qualities of any of them.

Having given this a lot of thought, I’ve decided I want to do a thing. As a long term project here on Rock Paper Shotgun, I want to create a definitive list of those games I believe are the “some” that you need. I’m not sure how best to structure it, but I want to find a list of ten games that I feel are “enough”. Once I establish that list, I will put it somewhere that I can link to at the end of every column, and I will keep it updated. It won’t be my ten favourite games, or even the ten best games, but it’ll be a varied list of things with different flavours that I feel are the best of their type.

And it won’t just be a list either. As I keep it updated, I will also broaden out each game’s entry – with latest news on variants and expansions, and info on how you can make a great game even cooler. I’ll work at it and make it a beautiful thing that celebrates the joy of digging deeply into a few things, instead of taking a shallow skim over many. It would also be great to have a separate comments section or forum thread for each game, so that we can share thoughts on it. This would make it even more agonising should something fall off the list, and we can all fight about it.

I’ll ask Jim how best to approach this. It would be better if the thing was hosted on-site here somehow. Maybe even just a forum thread would be the best way to do it. Yeah, the forum could work, couldn’t it?

What do you think?

And I really mean “what do you think?” What kind of itches do you need scratched with that list of Some Games? What kind of things should be on it? What particular games do you think deserve to be on it? And please try to adopt that 10-year-old kid mindset when you think about this. Which games would always be a keeper for the 10-year-old you? Which games would you enjoy adapting and improving and playing again and again?

Please comment. I’ll read them all.

Help me find Some Games. I’ve had enough of Many Games. Many is great, but Some is better.


  1. kadeton says:

    This article is amazing.

    I love the idea of the list, although it does carry an air of trying to be all things to all people. Mostly what I would really like to see on the list are some games that are there because they’re great to play with non-gamers, or people who don’t play board games regularly, and don’t necessarily leap at the chance to sit at a table for four hours pushing plastic pieces. It’s easy to get your gamer friends to play whatever games you have around the place, pretty much regardless of how they appear at first glance. Getting “casual” players into what looks like a complicated, lengthy game is much harder.

    Best of luck with this project, and good on you for casting off your capitalist mind-chains, or at least exhorting other people to do so.

    • Kresh says:

      “…good on you for casting off your capitalist mind-chains, or at least exhorting other people to do so.”

      Yes, congrats thinking you’re awesome for trying to throw away what made Western Civilization explode with prosperity. I guess it really is too bad that there’s a (stupendously successful) economic system that give people the opportunity to pick what they want, when they want, and to improve their lifestyle/ monetary situation if they desire to work for it.

      It’s one thing to say “I think I have too many games. I should focus on quality games and moderate my purchases. You know, like a responsible adult.” It’s another thing entirely to say “I have too many games. CAPITALISM IS BUNK! CAPITALISM IS SLAVERY!” Yes, complaining about how bad success is a very common “First-World-Problem,” but it’s also stupid to complain about and just as short-sighted as buying everything in sight.

      Ask the people living in poverty around the world how much they’d like to have our first-world-problem of “I Have Too Much Money So I Can And Do Buy Junk I Don’t Need So Capitalism Must Be Evil.” Yeah. That complaint would go over well in the slums of Mexico city, the sticks in Thailand, or even in the African Sub-Sahara.

      Capitalism is awesome. Don’t be stuck on stupid. Capitalism isn’t perfect, but it’s proven superior to ALL OTHER economic systems. It beats them every time… until some douchey regulators come around and regulate it into the ground in the name of politics, or whatever totalitarian excuse they’re using at the time. Then it doesn’t work so well… and then they blame capitalism instead of blaming their retarded and overbearing restrictions.

      “Mind-chains.” *snort* Indeed. perhaps you should remove your own.

      • Etheric42 says:

        +1. That is all.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        I concur with a lot of your sentiment – indeed having “too much money” is a trivial non-problem. Your anger seems a little miss-placed however. As you say, Capitalism is by no means perfect. There are flaws and a great many people are worse off for it so someone not liking Capitalism is also understandable.

      • kadeton says:

        Yikes. The skills you lack in picking up on irony are certainly made up for by your overzealous anger and misdirected hostility! Best of luck to you in your quest to browbeat everyone who sees the world in a different way to your own paradigm.

      • plugmonkey says:

        From the tone of the piece and kadeton’s reply, I think he meant more to cast off your consumerist mind chains.

        Capitalism isn’t fundamentally constructed on filling your life with crap you don’t need. You can have one without the other.

        And deciding against buying your 241st boardgame does not suggest a socialist agenda, or a desire for boardgame manufacture to be nationalised under state control.

      • sunwukung says:

        @kresh Jesus Christ, shouldn’t you be campaigning for Mitt Romney or something? Just pick ten games and do one.

  2. Kerbobotat says:

    I feel the same after the steam sale, I purchased more games and DLC than I will probably paly, I purchased them just to own them. And today, Im going to a convention with the sole intention of buying some board/card games, maybe a tabletop RPG, some tshirts. I feel like Im spending money for the sake of spending.

  3. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    It’s like food. And like those people who go on shopping sprees for clothes while already having too much. For some reason, something like that can become too important for one’s comfort (and exactly that. The rush, satisfaction, the comfort). Of course, advertisement and marketing play a role in making us see things to slake that thirst (or perhaps to awaken that thirst?) and of course when you get groups who share the same interest you get even more of that.

    I think people have problems limiting themselves regarding things they like a little bit too much. In this sense, the Steam Sales are a great (or horrible) example of what drives our decisions.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Well, the problem is also that it’s “exactly” like food, sometimes, when you check the prices.
      When you have games which were sold for 50 euros, that you can buy for 2.5 euros… Even if it will be moderately amusing, with no replayability, it still has more “value” than the cookie box I’ve bought for little more than 3 euros.

      And the worst is that I still spent more time wondering about a game that I will for sure play, than about this cookie box which just fell in my basket in 4 seconds.

      Steam sales are particular in this regard: when you sell games for less than the superfluous cookie box, the decision to buy it is sliding from “buying a multimedia product, pondering if it’s worth it” to “it’s the price of a consumable”.

  4. Gap Gen says:

    I feel this is relevant: link to (someone trying to play all of the random games they picked up in Steam sales by the end of 2012)

    But yes, there are games I have bought that I know I will never play. The ones that e-mail you a code are the worst; if I don’t install them immediately, they will sink to the bottom of my inbox and be forgotten forever.

  5. Didden says:

    Great article Robert. I’ve purposefully tried not to buy steam stuff I know I won’t play. Only partly successful.

    You sound like a man who should watch ‘The Century of the Self’ probably the best documentary series ever made that explains why we act this way…

    Watch it here on Google (It was made rights free by the BBC).

    • Nikos says:

      Adam Curtis is very good indeed, but I generally watch his stuff not as documentaries but as bold, well researched theses. It’s thought-provoking material that you really should think over, not just take as “documentary”.

      But you’re right, The Century of the Self is very relevant.

      • Foxfoxfox says:

        Yes, this. Curtis is a great editorialist and a fantastic film maker but you will find yourself frustrated the moment he talks about something you already know about. He makes great arguments, but don’t confuse his work for an objective outlook.

  6. Creeping Death says:

    As someone that has been pretty broke for a long time now, I’m glad that when I had expendable income I spent it on impulse buys during Steam sales or trips to Waterstones. Otherwise I’d have absolutely nothing to do to keep myself amused these days!

    Sure one could argue that I might not be broke now if I’d saved some of that back then. But to them I counter that I’d probably still be broke now, it would’ve just taken slightly longer to happen :P

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Of course everyone’s circumstances are different, but personally I think not having any fun in your life is very detrimental to your health, especially at those times when you have other stresses, e.g. being broke! Personally I feel a budget for leisure is a very healthy thing to have over and above savings.

      I really don’t think this article is aimed at you, I get the feeling it’s very much aimed at people who consume and dispose (putting it to the back of a dusty shelf may as well be disposal if you never touch it again) thoughtlessly and then go and buy something so incredibly similar to that which you’ve just disposed of just because it’s the new shiny.

  7. oWn4g3 says:

    I’m no expert with real like stuff, but from my understanding this article is about actual board games that you can play on a real table (without a PC). You know… Settlers of Catan etc, those games that nerds usually play if their PC is broken or internet is down :D

    • Tayh says:

      It is?
      My bad.
      I figured he was asking for “Some” PC games since this is, well, a PC gaming site.

      • PoulWrist says:

        And this is a board game column :-P evidence lies in it always being about board games :-P

  8. bateleur says:

    Here’s my problem, though: I need to play lots of games because the games that belong on that list of “some” games haven’t been made yet. Games I play and even games I own but haven’t played each contain little bits of the ideal games that exist only in my head.

  9. FloorBelow says:

    Damn, you’re right.
    I bought Dear Esther today. It was $2.50. I’ve already watched a LP of it, so I know how the game goes. I’ve already read forums, so I know all the easter eggs. I have, pretty much, just payed two-and-a-half-bucks for a game, in all likelihood, I will never play.

    I’m such an idiot.

    • Faxmachinen says:

      There isn’t really anything wrong with buying games that have given you something, even if that something was not the game itself. The LP wouldn’t have been possible without the game, after all.

      I bought Divine Divinity even though I had no interest in playing the game, simply because the creators had offered the delightful soundtrack as a free download from their website.

      • Sinomatic says:

        I did the same for Amnesia, after having watched other people’s ‘Let’s play…’ videos on youtube and immensely enjoying the game, albeit somewhat vicariously. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever play it myself, but I am *more* than happy to have paid something toward the developers for the experience.

    • Gnoupi says:

      But you probably spent more on an individual item in your food shopping basket, that you probably didn’t need.

      That’s the thing with such low, low prices.

      • Ragnar says:

        Agreed. You’ve probably went out to dinner and decided to buy a pint for $5 rather than just drink water. I’m sure you didn’t agonize over it the way I agonize over a $5 Steam purchase.

        Hell, this weekend I was considering buy a $16 bottle of beer (12.7 oz). Now, I love beer, but I can’t say that I love beer more than I love playing games, and I’m only going to get 1-2 hours of enjoyment out of that bottle.

  10. Shadram says:

    Games you need: Cosmic Encounter. End.

    EDIT: You also need all of the expansions.

    • Shadram says:

      Oh, alright. Maybe King Of Tokyo for a break between games of Cosmic. And Dixit for when you’re trying to seduce someone.

    • Shadram says:

      Oh, and Pandemic, for when you want to be not-a-dick.

    • Shadram says:

      And something like Game of Thrones when you really want to be a total dick.

    • jalf says:

      And Galaxy Trucker. Only evil dead people with no souls and no sense of humor do *not* need Galaxy Trucker.

      • Shadram says:

        YES! I played this for the first time yesterday. I’ve spent half of today trying to find a copy to buy. Not easy in New Zealand. :(

        EDIT: And Galaxy Trucker seems to be a perfectly good spectator sport. I’m sure the people watching (read: taking the piss out of our ‘spaceships’) were having more fun than us poor sods trying to fly the bloody things.

        • HonageMaximus says:

          I know those feels man, NZ can be a pain to find board games in (online is a good bet especially sites like and I would like to put the hat in for Summoner Wars(Master Set) by far the best 2 player game in my collection, and surprisingly intense in 4 player.

          • Will Vale says:

            +1 to the recommendation for SeriouslyBoard. Mighty Ape are efficient but don’t seem to hold much stock for their fringe things like hobbies and board games, and they aren’t usually cheap.

            Toyworld in Wellington isn’t bad, I found Cyclades there (in the sale!) when I couldn’t find it anywhere else at all. And if you like Fantasy Flight then The Book Depository in England carry their games at great prices with free shipping.

        • KaptainKnails says:

          Did you buy The Big Expansion to with it though. If you didn’t and you enjoy it so far, I would definitely recommend it.

      • KaptainKnails says:

        “Unless you’re playing with proper lindals you are going to hear screams and squeals of joy and frustration”

    • Fede says:

      One more vote for Dixit, and I’d also suggest Race for the Galaxy for its endless depth.

      • Randomer says:

        Does Race for the Galaxy have endless depth? My friends and I have played it a handful of times, and it seems pretty “solved”, in that most of the time the best strategy is to Produce and Consume while the other poor shmucks waste their time Settling and Developing. You can take advantage of the Settle and Develop phases, but they can’t really utilize Produce and Consume. And don’t even think about going for a military victory!

        Obviously this isn’t one strategy to beat them all, but it seems to be the best default strategy (even more effective on average than “Big Money” is in Dominion). There is probably some meta-game against this strategy, but I don’t know what it is. Is there more to the game? My friends refuse to play any more because they think it is solved.

        • Lilliput King says:

          My group’s highest ever score was a military victory. And I think it’s really a personal high score kind of game rather than a competitive one anyway, because if it was only the latter, the production path is far safer.

          Still, not endless depth. We did eventually get sick of it, but it took a long time.

        • HonageMaximus says:

          There are loads of viable stategies, the key for most of them is getting the right 6 development cards and essentially getting combos off your other buildings. Getting the bonus tiles don’t hurt either.

      • Ragnar says:

        I couldn’t get into Race for the Galaxy. I felt it was far too confusing to new players. With other deck-building games (Thunderstone, Ascension, Dominion) even as a new player you know what you should do (even if it’s not strictly optimal), and in the case of Thunderstone and Ascension you get a feeling of accomplishment from defeating monsters (or purchasing very expensive cards) even if you don’t win. With RftG, I had no idea what I was doing, no idea what I should be doing, and felt no sense of accomplishment. The iconography and terminology made the game inaccessible.

        • HonageMaximus says:

          Part of your problem might be that it’s not a deck building game at all. It’s a city building card game like Citadels and San Juan. I admit it’s quite daunting to new players but with the help of the reference cards and some one who knows the game it can be really rewarding. The feeling you get from scoring essentially triple points for each card by building the right 6 developments is almost unmatched.

    • Stromko says:

      I didn’t know what to recommend, since I’ve only been ‘seriously’ playing boardgames for a few years, but Cosmic Encounters was the closest thing I had to a recommendation in mind.

      It’s a complex game with great replayability, but it isn’t hard to teach and doesn’t take long to play (usually). I find it less stressful and easier to do well-at than something like Settlers of Catan. There are aspects of luck, such as what cards you have available, and how effective your alien powers are in the current situation, but luck has a place I think. Games where you aren’t given a set amount of resources provide a chance for less experienced or weaker players to win.

      I’m not sure what else I would recommend as a ‘necessity’. Cosmic Encounter is a good starter course for modern / hobbyist board games.

      I suppose I could recommend Munchkin. You can hate it for its ubiquity, for how luck-based it is, for how many expansions there are, but I don’t think any of those things ruin its core playability. Any main set you pick up, you’ve got an easy to teach, easy to play, impossible to master game. It isn’t perfect or brilliant, it’s not filet mignon, it’s more like french fries and a soft drink. It brings gaming to the masses.

      • Ragnar says:

        I quickly grew tired of Munchkin, and the tiredness was only exacerbated by the expansions. Maybe I just played too much of it, but it’s been years since the last time I played it and I still don’t want to play it. It’s on the short list of games I’d be happy if I never played again, along with Monopoly and Monopoly Town (I know it’s meant for 5-year olds, but it’s so bad).

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Just to counter the Cosmic Encounter love-in: We played this in our group recently and it fell completely flat. It was one of the few games I’ve played that I didn’t enjoy on any level and I could quite happily never play it again.

      The only caveat to that is that it was an older version of the game (c.a. 1986 or something) – so it’s possible that the newer versions have radically improved it. But I doubt it. For this reason, I’ll give it another go if anyone has a modern copy, but would hesitate otherwise.

  11. Uthred says:

    If the list is going to be a broad overview of the major “types” of boardgaming available then perhaps a good first step would be to try and boil it all down to those ten types? Something like

    1. Casual game – something thats quick to setup, quick to explain, quick to play. A perfect “intro” game but that has its own legs
    2. Intermediate game – This takes a little more investment in terms of time and rules knowledge than that casual game, but still plays in under 2 hours
    3. Full game – Takes 3-4 hours to play, fairly complex rules

    Assuming that 10 is a hard limit at this point I’m wondering should the list address the euro/ameritrash “divide”? Should each entry have one from each side or should the listings be doubled up e.g. should the three “types” mentioned above be double up to give six entries, three from each?

    I think for the remaining entries its inevitably going to get more specific, going by broad categories based on mechancis would be one way to go e.g.

    -> Deck building games
    -> Resource management
    ->Dungeon Crawlers
    ->Grand Strategy

    You could replace the last two with something like “Abstract”,”Wargame” or such

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Just a niggle point and certainly not aimed at you, I know you are using well established terms, but can we collectively as a bunch of board gamers come up with different terms than euro/ameritrash without the slightly derogatory undertone as plenty of shallow shiny games trace their roots to Europe and many of the best gaming experiences come from the Americas.

      P.s. I’m British, so nothing personal here, just don’t like the terms is all.

      P.P.S – I don’t want this to turn into a “thing”, lets just come up with some more appropriate names and not get all ragey.

      • Hallgrim says:

        I usually say “strongly themed” instead of ameritrash. It seems to fit, without being derogatory in nature.

    • Stromko says:

      I don’t find Ameritrash too insulting. I’m in the U.S., and I like Ameritrash games so long as they’re good games. I also, personally, disregard overly-technical Euro games that don’t seem to have any implicit conflict in them. Perhaps for the sake of fairness, we can define games that could be referred to as Eurotrash. My definition would be bland management / resource-allocation games.

      So for example, your friends try to get you to play a typical Ameritrash game with cries of “The box is so awesome! The theme just SOUNDS REALLY COOL. Oh wow look at these cool pieces, and we get to kill stuff / eachother!”

      While fans defend their Eurotrash boardgames with arguments like, “It’s educational / historical.” or “The game mechanics are extremely clever.” or “Look it has little wooden boxes that we put on squares and then we count them at the end or use them to place other wooden boxes. This is what it means to be a mature adult.”

  12. Benkyo says:

    This would be of great interest to me.

    I moved to Japan about 8 years ago, leaving my huge stack of games and stuff behind. A few years later my mum moved house and that was that. Old friends scavenged what they could, but my collection is gone. Now I’m fairly sure I’ll be living the rest of my life in Japan I feel nostalgic for those gaming days but can never go back to those teenage hoarding ways.

    Some games would be awesome.

    So far I have: Go, (the original) Dungeonquest and (the new) Space Hulk. Between them they tick the ‘purist strategy’, ‘casual’ and ‘pretty miniatures’ boxes for me. Would love to have Race for the Galaxy too. Otherwise I’m open to suggestions.

    • Dilapinated says:

      Saboteur would definitely go on my must-have list.

      Also, ^5 for playing Go. It’s such a beautiful game, and rarely mentioned (over here, at least).

  13. Vorphalack says:

    My top 10 in no particular order:

    Thief series, Half Life series, Civilisation series, Baldurs Gate series, Deus Ex (first one only), Warcraft 3, Planescape Torment, Rome: Total War, Portal, Age of Wonders series

    • Shadram says:

      None of these are made of cardboard…

      • Vorphalack says:

        ….and there is nothing in the article which states we must only list board games.

        • hello_mr.Trout says:

          ………….title of article? content of article? :/

        • Kaira- says:

          In article series which has been pretty much exclusively dedicated to board games?

          • papasmokes says:

            why must you guys police the comments section? He is not the first to list PC games, obviously there is some interest here in the community for doing the same for PC games, let him express his feelings, I’m sure the RPS owners will decide the best course of action… I for one think they intend to do this PC games as well as he references Steam sales in the article. peace and love brothers

          • Torgen says:

            Apply a little common sense, as those above you have. This is a regular column on board games. This particular column in a feature that only looks at board games, only mentioned board games, then asked readers for a list of their favorites.

            Those rattling off computer games either have no reading comprehension, or never read the article at all. Being called on that is no reason for others to cry “bully.” It would be the same if someone started listing their favorite Pokemon in the comments of an article asking what your favorite first person shooters were.

          • mariusmora says:

            Anyway, there is no need for irony or harsh tones. Just kindly point out that the article is about board games and smile :) Obviously some readers might be new and not know what the column is about, or (as myself) belong to foreign countries in which English is not the first language, affecting thus his reading comprehension skills.

  14. Shadowcat says:

    Ah, ye olde Back-log of Doom; I know it far too well. I’ve no idea how your Some Games list will work, to be honest, but I wish you good luck in figuring it out. In the meantime: Dungeon. Command. Dunnggeeooonnnnn Commmmaaaannnnnnnd. Command of a Dungeon! Dungeon-oriented Commanding!!

  15. Firkragg says:

    Brilliant article, I had just read it and then noticed I got a popup from Steam, with the message “Last chance to preorder Prototype 2, do it now and get new abilities, mutations and events for this and prototype one!”. Normally I would have been all over that (loved prototype) even though I’m, just as you were, really low on cash at the moment but still would have bought it though I have more games than I can play at the moment.

    So kudos to you Mr. Florence. I need a sit and a think over this.

  16. Gothnak says:

    I try and keep my collection to around 50 games at any time. This means when i see something exciting and new i have to trade or sell something else. If you look at my account on boardgamegeek, i have around 140 ‘previously owned’ games, all tried, all thought ‘nah, i won’t play that loads, i’ll trade it.’

    So, i’m already in the ‘some games’ mode… The ones i’d choose to keep forever include:

    Cosmic Encounter (Mr Florence & I agree on that one!),
    Apples To Apples (Best party game)
    Citadels (Best entry level game that old hands still enjoy)
    Top Race/Detroit Grand Prix/Daytona (Best racing game)
    LOTR The Confrontation Deluxe (Best 2 player game)
    Mage Knight: Board Game (Best single player game)
    Magic The Gathering (Best CCG, buy bulk commons, don’t spend loads!)
    Pandemic (Best co-op game)
    Small World (Best Light War Game)
    Shogun (Best Euro/Wargame crossover)
    Thunderstone (Best Deckbuilder)
    Fairy Tale (Best Drafting game)

    Anyway, that’ll do, yeah, most of mine are fantasy based, i have a beard after all!

    • Shadram says:

      For 2-player game, I’d maybe opt for Summoner Wars instead (really easy to learn, but huge amounts of depth, especially with the reinforcement decks), and Dixit is my favourite party game, but I like your list.

      • Gothnak says:

        I just got Summoner Wars, just played a couple of practice games solo so far, quite like it… And Dixit is on the want list at the moment…

    • Hallgrim says:

      I do a similar thing with boardgames. I keep mine in a hutch, so I only have room for 30-40 of them. Any surplus gets traded, so a new purchase is weighed against existing stuff.

  17. Bryonis says:

    I agree that too much is not doing my gaming experiences any good. I recent got mount & blade and am loving diving into it.
    A couple of games I think should be on the list because my brothers and I burnt hours away when we were growing up:

    Civilization 2 (something about the other ones lost that wonder although the mechanics got better)
    Colonisation (original)
    Monkey Island 1 & 2

    Oh and I just remember how my little brain couldn’t work out operation stealth for love nor money! :D good times!

  18. lordcooper says:

    As someone who hasn’t played a boardgame since Snakes and Ladders, this list would be just the thing I need to get started.

  19. TheCze says:

    Okay let’s take a look at my collection and imagine I’ll only get to keep 10:

    -Twilight Struggle (absolute no brainer, most played game in my collection, still fun every time)
    -Advanced Squad Leader (if I had only 10 games, I might find time to finally understand all the rules)
    -1830 (Railroads! Yay!)
    -Paths of Glory (very tense WW1 CDG)
    -Power Grid
    -The Battle for Normandy
    -Space Empires
    -Urban Sprawl

    And I don’t have it (yet) but should get it next week and expect it to make the top 10: Roads & Boats

    Also, cardboard children, y u so Euro?!?!?! Play some games with the Flare Path!

  20. repairmanjack says:

    Great article. I fell back into boardgaming only a couple of months ago, although was a complete junkie for D&D, etc, in my dim and distant school days. I’ve spent ludicrous amounts of cash on console games in the interim years and now, thanks to this new hobby, I’m questioning all that time/cash invested in what is starting to seem shallower and shallower.

    Of course, that hasn’t stopped me laying out rather a lot of (spare) cash on collecting some of these beautiful games.

    I don’t know if a list like this can be all things to all people, or if you’ll be disqualifying titles as “better” experiences trump them. But I do know I’d be hugely disappointed if Power Grid isn’t featured somewhere. It sounds like the dullest thing in the world, but on BGG reccomendation we picked it up. And it’s just about perfect.

    Some games get mentioned in every “best of” list… I’d love to see a few titles that might not be so obvious to new gamers (but equally as deserving of our investment).

  21. Henson says:

    Even though this list is not about your favorites, there is nothing wrong with putting Hero Quest on it. We did much the same thing at our house: when the game was ‘finished’, we’d play with the pieces, cut out new grid-rooms out of stiff cardboard, make new stand-up creatures (a giant cyclops, a xorn, a beholder), and make new adventures. If you wanted a game for 10-year-olds, this was a great playground on which to let your imagination loose.

    Although, at that point, are we really playing Hero Quest anymore? Or has it morphed into something entirely different?

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Nothing wrong with morphing a game into something different, in fact, isn’t that one of the pleasures of a great board game and a regular group!

  22. MondSemmel says:

    A few remarks from my side:
    – This is yet another case of the Paradox of Choice (there’s a book of the same name; google it): One of the dirty little secrets about humans is that we think having many choices in life will make us happy, but this actually makes us miserable. For example, if you owned two games right now, you could determine with little effort which one you wanted to play right now. But if you own 50 games, playing one of them means not playing any of the 49 others. The game you choose to play won’t be perfect (nothing is), so some part of you regrets your choice, imagining that the perfect game would have been one of those 49 other games you own. But your chosen game isn’t necessarily bad; rather, your perspective is skewed, and your expectations are flawed…
    The Paradox of Choice is one of those reasons why it’s so incredibly difficult to be, and stay, happy.
    – On a more general point, this is a major issue in life in general – call it information overload, or rather, as GTD’s David Allen puts it: “attention overload”. In all areas of life, we have essentially unlimited choices, and once we decide, they collapse into one single decision and dozens of regrets…
    – I own way, way, way too many (video) games, too. I like to tell myself that I improved, i.e. that in comparison to past Steam sales, I own less unplayed games. But I’ve never checked whether this is actually true. However, I _do_ have an _enormous_ list on Google Docs of most of the video games I have ever played, and I might make that accessible to the public one day.

    I like the idea of the list of the ten games which are “enough”. I don’t have any suggestions on my part, but I’m looking forward to seeing it come into existence.

  23. Imbecile says:

    Shadowfist is a CCG that I can absolutely recommend.

    Its a game that came out around the same time as MTG, and over the years I’ve picked up and played a hell of a lot of CCGs but have always returned to Shadowfist. Its theme is action movies, and its like a more satisfying version of MTG. More focus on skillful play and less on the deckbuilding, more on multiplayer and less on duelling. Its still going – just about, though I think its about to get kickstarted in order to keep itself going. And I really want it to keep going!

  24. Fede says:

    While I love abstracts (go, chess, yinsh, zertz, siam, mijnlieff, …) I’m not sure they should be included in the list. Some are too complex and, well, abstract so they tend to be rather impenetrable to beginners (go), some are almost impossible to be found (mijnlieff), a few of them look more like sports rather than boardgames (chess, draughts, go)… in general they feel like a separate (and awesome) category to me.

    • Imbecile says:

      Not sure you could ever define Chess as a sport? What would make it a sport rather than a game?
      To my mind there needs to be some element of physicality to make it a sport rather than a game.

      • LTK says:

        A lot of people think that, but physicality is not a requirement of sport, just a common element. The only thing that all sports really have in common is that they are competitive, and what makes a sport popular is that it can be enjoyed by spectators as well as players, and by novices as well as experts.

        Wiktionary has this on the word:
        Etymology: From Old French desport, variant of deport (“fun, amusement”)

        • Sheng-ji says:

          I wholeheartedly agree, I think the only thing that differentiates a sport from a game is the spectator element – to me the sportsmen are playing a game but to the spectators, watching, betting and willing on their favourite – in their eye’s it’s a sport.

          So basically what I’m saying is that if you are enjoying a game but not participating in it, it is to you a sport.

          • Imbecile says:

            Not sure I agree.

            I had plenty of people watch me play tomb raider, and I’m fairly certain thats not a sport.

            And while I agree that being competitive is a factor (otherwise taking a stroll would be a sport), I still think physicality is also a factor, though perhaps not the only one (otherwise Tag would be a sport). If being competitive (against another human) was the only thing that mattered then Chess, Battlefield 3, Whist, and connect 4 and Magic the Gathering would all be sports :P

            Sport: An athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            I disagree with the physicallity thing being essential because there are plenty of sports which rely on skill alone. A quote from Ben Ainsley, multiple Olympic gold medallist in various sailing events;

            “Sailing is not a physical sport, it is a skill based sport. Physicality will get you so far but in the end will hold you back. I encourage any budding sailors to lose as much muscle and fat as they can do without risking their health and work on ways to keep the boat stable which don’t involve brute force. Understanding of the wind and how it interacts with your sail is key…..” He goes on to explain why he left lazer racing (a type of boat) partly because he wanted a more attractive body, and having muscles would have affected his competitiveness, but the quote is long!

            Are we really calling sail boat racing a game, not a sport?

            I think what is and isn’t a sport is a very personal thing and like taste in music, taste in sport should be something that we just learn to respect in others and not rubbish it. I wonder how many people outside of computer games would consider starcraft a sport, I doubt any of them would, yet ask any of the millions of fans who paid to view a tournament, I expect you would find a very different answer!

            This is why I settled on the spectator thing, if someone is giving up their free time and money to watch something, if in their eyes it’s a sport then it’s a sport to them and even if we don’t agree, we should still respect their opinion and not try to force them to stop using one word to describe something they like and try to force them to use another, less prestigious word. That form of elitism has no place in modern society.

            I didn’t emphasise enough though that there needs to be an element of competition in my view but even in non-competitive games, people find any number of ways to measure each others skills.

    • Benkyo says:

      What about Hive? I just remembered the hand-made clay set I carried around the world, that was awesome. I’ll have to buy/make another set or get it back from my brother…

      Anyway, to specifically exclude no-chance two-player pure strategy games seems pretty pointless (perhaps I should say ‘abstract’ but that distinction has never worked for me). Of course, choosing only one to go in the set of ten is sure to cause arguments – I’ll never forget the sneered dismissal a Russian chess teacher gave me when I mentioned Go at a party one time.

      All of them have variants, many of the sets can be inventively used in all sorts of ways and even for very different games. All of them can be played for a lifetime… the more I think about it, the more I think excluding them would be a shame.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        Maybe if we just exclude games commonly found in magnetic travel form, for the simple reason that most families already own several sets of said game.

        Or perhaps exclude games from history – as nice as they are, they can be recreated with bits of paper or chalk and the rules are available freely over the internet.

        I just don’t want to see precious places in the list taken up with games everyone already knows.

        EDIT: I’m not sure if I’m expressing myself correctly – We all know these games which have survived the depths of time are great, of course they are that’s why they’ve spread all over the world and are so popular, but they are kind of old fashioned – nothing wrong with that, but if we constantly only ever hark back to them, what new games will we add to their ranks for future generations to play with tiny pieces on a folding board in a caravan (on Mars). Personally I can see my great great great great grandchildren with 1mm high terminators storming a magnetic clip together spacehulk and losing all the genestealers

  25. El Cam says:

    That article stands out as quite different in content that whatever you are used to read in this sort of website. It is interesting, but let’s not go all “stop that consumption craze nonsense” right away.

    First, “spending for the sake of spending” (as kebobotat said) is quite an accurate description of something really important. Spending is important. Spending is good. Spending is life. (No, I’m not an hardcore capitalist.) Spending reminds us that life is more than mere survival.
    So, spend on fancy clothes, spend on church, spend on treats or toys or music or travels or games. Accomodation and food are needs. Useless stuff is a choice. If you buy games and don’t play it, at least you would have expressed “I like and support games”.

    Oh yeah, about supporting… There are plenty of ways of enjoying game without buying and putting them on your shelf. Borrowing or pirating are the first two that come to mind. And I don’t think it’s bad. I do a lot of both. But then, if you like something, you should pay after, or before, or buy something else or make a donation. But spend, otherwise the music will stop. We have come to a point where spending is not an obligation, it is a statement.
    If gamers were content with “some” games out of a must-have list, it would be the end of all creation in the game industry. Let’s shut down all studios, there is no need for them anymore : we have a list of ten (or a hundred) perfect games and we can live on with them for at least a life-time (which means eternity, cause nobody needs more than a life-time of games).
    Maybe that would be enough for mainstream, casual players who play a little bit here and there. But not for us, right ? We like innovation, we like small indie games that tweast old stuff or try new ones. We like big titles with no surprise inside, but so well done. Even if nothing keeps me for month, I’m glad I’ve seen something new. And if I like it, I support it.

    As for the ten-years-old fantasy… is it really something to be missed ? I’ve seen my sister of that age watch the same movie three times in a row the same day. That’s what kids do. They enjoy repetitive stuff, it is conforting and give them the feeling they master what they see because they know it by heart. But when we grow up, we stop. Not because we are spoiled with too many toys: we stop because it bores us.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Surely you can appreciate that what you describe is both normal and healthy, but many people do take it to an excess, buying a game so similar to one which you played a couple of times, playing it a couple of times then on to the next and the next and the next is not fantastic.
      If you didn’t have any disposable income for a few months, you would enjoy that first game you bought for those months. While it is your disposable income, and you may do what you want with it surely it is healthier and more respectful to a game to get the most out of it you can before moving on to the next?

  26. starlitalpha says:

    I’m sure it’s bottom rung and too mainstream for many people, but i took a chance on the Resident Evil card game while i was out and about one day. Shockingly enough, my mother spied it one day on a visit and asked to play. She picked up on the rules rather quickly (though i did lessen some penalties at first to make it a little easier for her) and we’ve spent countless hours on it.

    It’s a bit like Thunderstone without some of the complexity of the light and hero system and the fact that there’s no collecting to be done, just expansions, some of which can be played stand alone, means it avoids the pitfalls of having to buy boosters to stay competitive. Just be sure to check out an online tutorial since the rules with the game are confusing and stupid.

    I can’t promise you’ll like it, but it’s something that me and my mother have been able to enjoy which is unusual since she hates resident evil!

  27. Ohcomeonnow says:

    I must say that they article was a bit of an eye opener for me. I sat there and looked at all the stuff I have around my office. Wow…..I kinda feel a bit sad? Maybe uncomfortable is a better word for it.

    Well with regards to the end of the article. I would have to go with this as a starter:

    1- Mageknight:
    Just too chunky to leave out. That game would have kept me going for years. My mates would have loved it too.

    2- Astra Titanus
    I never played Ogre but I do have Astra. I think that there would be some great ways to make it a two player game. As a 10 year old I would have played this to death. To death I say.

  28. Xardas Kane says:

    A fascinating read, more-so because I have never been affected by this. True, I am 21, so I am far behind the stage of having too much of everything, but nevertheless, I don’t see myself having too much of anything anytime soon. The only board games I have personally right now are Scrabble and Monopoly, I have never bought a CE for a collectible, in fact considering my touchy financial situation, I haven’t bought a game on launch since… 2010 I think, maybe 2009. And while I sometimes get the urge to start collecting things, I lack the dedication to do so, it would be literally impossible for me to gather a huge collection of useless junk. Not because I don’t want to, but because I can’t bring myself to do it. I played Magic: The Gathering with friends’ cards, for Dungeons and Dragons I only have dice and nothing else and Warhammer is way out of the price range of an Eastern-European studying abroad.

    Now that I think about it, I haven’t bought a boxed copy of a game in ages actually. Times were when manuals were a great read and you could find loads of goodies inside a game’s box. I still remember fondly some of the manuals I’ve read over the years, a tradition that died off with this generation of consoles. I think the last boxed game I bought was a collection of all Hitman titles and inside the box I found… nothing, not even a manual, an empty space that just made me realize how useless retail versions of games are today. And worst of all, since I just happened to live in Germany at the time, the games were dreadfully translated in German. I threw the box out because it would just take up space, and pirated the games. My conscious is clean, I’ve bought each one twice already :D

    There is a line of course, and that line is movies. If games are a big hobby of mine then movies are my life, and I have around 1800 of them (would’ve been more, but you know, early twenties, no money blabla). But I am never throwing those out. They aren’t junk to me. They are art.

  29. Kong says:

    This time came to me when I left Hotel Mama for good. I sold all my Magic the Gathering at a very nice profit, the cardboard games went to children in the family. My SF-Fantasy book collection still waits in some corner of mum’s house waiting to be scrapped. I will never read the german translations again, ever.
    Of my games I kept a dozen or two GURPS books, but there will never be a group of people again to play. We tried but failed. Maybe in the nursing home…

    I kept GURPS. Along with countless bought and selfmade car and tank counters, NPC and vehicle sheets, castle floor plans, and all of my tiny tin men. Making that stuff took the time equivalent of completing a university degree.
    I also kept some Battletech and Warhammer. What for? Ye gods

    Since I did not have a career yet – lol – there will be no tomb for me where I can take the stuff with me to the afterlife.

    edit: I have been clearing my beloved granddads home. He was a collector of stuff. The attic, the flat and the garage stuffed with stuff. I do not want to do this to those who come after me

  30. JB says:

    Pssst. Cardboard Children is a boardgames column.

  31. JB says:

    Summoner Wars has to be on the list. Such a tight duelling game. Deep, but easy to learn.

    • The Innocent says:

      This a thousand times. Summoner Wars has quickly become my favorite game, ever. And I don’t mean just out of board games.

  32. Johnny Lizard says:

    You are a wise man.

  33. wodin says:

    I’s consumerism and capitalism hand in hand.

    The trouble is you never end up truly enjoying any of them. Esp boardgames that are supposed to be played many times over the years with friends, PC games on the other hand are really throw away games, to the point where your constantly waiting for the new and shiny. Very few games PC games are made for endless replayability especially single player games. Multi Player on the whole can have more legs on it but again there are always new ones just around the corner.

    I do believe game designers should start thinking in bigger terms these days. The power is there and the tools are there to create some amazing game experiences that can have the same longevity as boardgames\tabletop games.

    I posted awhile ago on a forum about people who can be dedicated to one game for years. Where no other game matters, they never get bored of it. Either I’m not made that way or the game that would do the same for me hasn’t been made. I feel it hasn’t been mad yet. Still I’m deeply envious of hose who have their one game above all others. Who always want to play it and never have to sit there looking at their desktop icons…no…no…no….

  34. Freud says:

    Great article.

    I wonder if there is a difference between many computer games and board games because of the logistics involved. Trying many computer games is a solitary thing and most of the time you will know if it’s good within 30 minutes. With all the sales these days it’s not that hard to try a lot of games without paying a lot of money if you are willing to wait a while after release.

  35. bempelise says:

    This was epic! So inspiring and so true! Keeping it minimal is the right way to go! Thank you for this enlightenment . Please keep these things coming.

  36. malkav11 says:

    Pff. 240 boardgames. Pff. I have a friend who lives in a pretty nice two story home with full basement, and that basement is basically full of boardgames. Shelves along the stairway leading down. Shelves at the foot of the staircase. Shelves at the other end of the room. Shelves along the wall leading into the entrances to the two other rooms. One room with so many shelves full of games that you can barely walk between them, and the closet full up too. The furnace room lined on both sides with older games from Games Workshop and Avalon Hill, plus another shelf in the middle with newer stuff like Order of the Stick and A Touch of Evil and Prince of the City. I’ve never counted them, but there must be a thousand games down there. Maybe more. And then of course he’s got an entire cabinet full of CCGs up on the main floor in the back room, and some more boardgames there. Of course, the thing about a collection like that is that it really is a collection. -These- days he only really buys things he thinks he might enjoy playing (a game or two most weeks), but in the back corners he has things like the Alf boardgame. The 6 Million Dollar Man boardgame. The Little Prince boardgame.

    And what he does, is every week on Friday night, he opens his home to whoever wants to come and they can play any of those boardgames if they can convince other people to play it with them. And so, sure, he only gets to play so many games so many times, but those other games get played. Well, not the ancient silly stuff like Alf, but the real games, the ones that people with some taste might actually enjoy? Those come out.

    My nominees for those some games:
    Arkham Horror – sure, it takes forever and it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but even the base game provides a hugely varied experience for many a playthrough, and they’ve expanded it to the point that I honestly think that you could play Arkham regularly for years and never have it feel the same twice.

    Race for the Galaxy – again, the combinatorial possibilities astound, and the design and strategies are so elegant and so lovely. It’s probably the only game I actually enjoy that can be played in under 30 minutes.

  37. DazedByTheHaze says:

    I stopped pre-ordering a looong time ago. But if 2GD is gonna croud-fund his QuakeArena-reboot, I’m gonna back it. Because I think I know that what he wants is similar to what I want. And he has the will to push it to the finish line, I hope, not so sure about that. But I believe ;) ….

  38. rebbiejaye says:

    I never got to that point with board games – you are obviously in a special position, since board games are a big part of your life. That was my excuse for a long time with my ridiculous acquisition of yarn. Yes, yarn; I knit and design knitwear for a living; it’s weird, get over it. But even that became just too much. So I downsized, got rid of all the crap i’d never used, put a bunch of other stuff on “probation” (if I don’t use it in a year, it’s being given away), and I’m just using the stuff I have and love already. and I still don’t need as much as i have. (Yarn has the advantage over board games in that it gets used *up*.)

    My parents still have our 5-10 games that we’ve played to death all our lives, and a couple of them my husband and I loved enough to acquire ourselves. Settlers of Catan, Dutch Blitz, Taboo, and Carcassone are probably the ones that come out the most; and ever since a friend brought over Mexican Train Dominos I’m desperate to have it myself. As a reader of this column I know this makes me hopelessly bourgeoise (or the equivalent that means “not nerdy enough”) but there it is. I very much look forward to seeing your list, for the categories you pick as much as the games themselves.

  39. smiler says:

    An amazing article Rab, I’ve been reading RPS for years and I’ve just registered to comment, thanks to this. Maybe you could give your unwanted games to those who can’t afford them… hint hint. Seriously though, I’m sure there are game clubs and the like that would very much appreciate them.

    As someone who has been struggling for money for a while now I can empathise with you buying Halo 2 instead of paying bills, being skint is miserable and it can help, short term at least, just to spend money in order to feel normal. I also have a lot of stuff, most of it bought when I was much younger and more financially comfortable, and I’m having to sell some of it to help make ends meet. The strength of the sentimental attachment to old CDs and computer games is shocking.

    Having recently discovered the joys of D&D thanks to the OSR and the free PDFs of Labyrinth Lord and LotFP I think that it fills a lot of the categories you are looking for in your list. Although not strictly a board game it has the flexibility to be any thing you want it to be (almost) and requires no outlay of money (seriously, all you need is pencils and graph paper, amazing!). The 10 year old me would have been obsessed with it had he been aware of it, especially if the rules had been free and freely available back then.

  40. Sarre says:

    Your column on Arkham Horror got me back into Board Games for the first time in 20 years. Now I’m on the same downward slope of buying everything that looks neat.

    I think in terms of breaking down a top 10 list, for me and the friend I’ve roped into this with me, it comes down to theme. As we’ve talked about what to try next, it hasn’t been ‘we need to try a deck-building game’, it’s been, ‘we’ve played a horror game, we’ve played a dungeon game – now we need a space game!’

    A list that balanced themes against types of games would be ideal for me in terms of recos. It will help us as a layman from getting too caught up in theme that we don’t see the actual game. For example, we wanted a space game, so I bought the Starcraft board game. (It came in a really big box full of space ships!) It’s totally fine, but nothing special – I doubt we’ll play it much at all. We’d have been much happier (apparently) if I’d bought Cosmic Encounter instead – from what I’ve read, it’s a very different game type, and perhaps the only space game you really need.

    I think if you break down the most popular genres for games, at least from my admittedly Ameritrashey perspective, it’s basically Horror, Sci Fi, and Fantasy. Maybe try to find two games in each of those genres that, combined, will cover all the game-type bases, and then you’ve got 4 extra slots for must-play non-genre outliers like Dixit, Ticket to Ride, etc.

    This is probably not an approach to satisfy the hardcore ludologists out there, but for the average consumer trying to figure out what’s good and what isn’t, and reconcile that with their individual interests, it’s prolly going to be pretty useful.

    • Torgen says:

      This is an excellent idea.

    • Shadram says:

      Cosmic Encounter is easily my favourite game, but I’m not sure it fits the bill of ‘ultimate space game’. When I think space game, I first think of games like Twilight Imperium and Eclipse, where you build a space empire, trade goods and shoot at others. Cosmic fits that description sort-of (without trading), but I’d describe it as a negotiation game.

      I agree that there should be games from all themes – space, fantasy, horror, trading in the Mediteranean (ugh), etc., but I think it would be hard to choose just one from some of these categories. I’d say as long as there’s a wide spread of themes, and not, say, 8 fantasy games and 2 space games, on the list, that’d be best.

  41. Kefren says:

    Great article! I get that feeling a lot. Recently I got rid of lots of things. The trick then is not to buy new ones.

    Or one out, one in. I did that recently too. I had the first edition of Bloodbowl. I’d played it a fair bit, but never enjoyed it much. So slow and grindy with tables to consult for everything, and rather unbalanced. So I sold it on Ebay (it was in perfect condition) so someone who wanted it could get to cherish it, and instead I bought Warrior Knights (Games Workshop), a game a friend had owned and I had enjoyed in the past. So my game collection was the same size, just better tailored to my preferences.

    This is good timing for your article, since I started playing boardgames with some friends recently (as a break from Rock Band parties!) and we had loads of fun. I realised that most people don’t want to play my favourites, things like Kings & Things or Talisman. Instead they love simpler games like Escape From Atlantis or word games. So I would like to get some new games that would be good for different numbers of players and levels of skill. So far my shortlist to select from is:

    – For Sale (nice and quick and easy)
    – Kahuna (simple, good 2 player)
    – Blokus (simple, good 2 or 4 player.)
    – Cyclades (just looks good)
    – King of Tokyo (quick and fun-sounding)
    – Ascending Empires (fast space expansion, with flicking spaceships)
    – Thunderstone (card one, multiplayer, probably too hardcore for most friends)
    – Mansions of Madness (sounds really good, some friends who like horror would enjoy it)
    – Mage Knight (doesn’t look great to me but read good reviews)
    – Cosmic Encounter (I had the Games Workshop edition and didn’t enjoy it much so sold it on, but that was maybe because I always played it 2 player – should be better with more people)
    – Takenoko (looks nice, and suitable for everyone)
    – Galaxy trucker, possibly.

    So my collection will grow but probably only a one-off, and I’d be happy to get rid of a few games to counteract it (e.g. Rogue trooper, or Block Mania, or Word drop).

  42. frenz0rz says:


    … yeah, as much as I love anything written by Rob Florence, I know nothing about board games.

    • Torgen says:

      Who was it that was playing Risk Legacy with a regular group? I think last I heard they’d played a dozen games, and the board was seriously “customized.” I’d love to read a chronicle of that.

  43. joeymcjoeysalot says:

    I feel the same way. I made a new years resolution to only buy 5 games this entire year. 5 games I would definitely play. I have all of them but Skyrim and I’ve barely scratched the surface of any of them (haven’t beat normal on Diablo 3, just finished intro mission on ME3). That didn’t stop me from buying 5-10 games this week that I may not actually play. I’m actually playing Vampire the Masquerade: Redemption for the first time since I was in middle school. I am finding it kinda tedious as well, but I have such a tendency to replay games that I love and ignore the ones I haven’t played.

  44. dubatc says:

    Wow you read my mind once again, Essen gamefest is coming up and I am trying to limit myself to just one or two games to get.
    For the list
    1. Survive escape from atlantis, what a great game, great for all ages and leads to so much shouting,why do they always pick on me.
    2. Cosmic encounter, so many variations.
    3. Ticket to ride, great for family/friends who are not gamers.

    Great idea your list but to avoid sub lists and different hard core/casual lists just have a tier from casual to hardcore but all games must be fun to play with a few friends/family.
    A wonderful column as usual Rab, desperately trying to keep my game collection below 20.

  45. Saarlaender39 says:

    1.) Great article. Just last week, I started to get rid of the shit which has itself accumulated over the years. Not an easy thing – but doable.

    2.) Great idea with that list of ten games, which are “enough”.

    3.) May I be so bold and ask for such a list, containing the ten games that are best suited for two (2!) players?

    Cause I find myself in the unfortunate situation, to seldom find more than one friend to play with.

    And I really hate games that state to be (e.g.) “2 -4 players”, but in the rules you then find a sentence like: “When played only by two players, each player must control two colours/fractions/whatever”.

    For me, this is a real fun brake.

  46. Soolseem says:

    Great article!

    Personally, I doubt I’ll ever stop buying games. My collection grows slowly, and I would never buy anything new if I have a backlog, but there are so many great ideas out there to try.

    I know some people who advocate only having one game of each type. Maybe you like Thunderstone, Ascension and Dominion, but they are all deckbuilding games. They all scratch the same essential itch.

    As for games to add to the “must have” list, I will second the vote for Cosmic Encounter. I’ll also say Settlers of Catan, it feels like some people hate on it just because it’s popular but it’s a ton of fun and easy to play with friends or strangers.

  47. Xantonze says:

    A suggestion to include in a “2 player game” list:

    I came back to Netrunner with the annoucement of the new version. Bought a few starters and boosters of the old CCG edition on Ebay, and have been playing some “proto sealed” games with a few friends, opening a booster every few matches to add variety.
    I didn’t give this game enough a chance when it was out in 1996, only buying a starter and playing a few games. I liked it, but should have done my best to convert everybody around me, instead of riding the Magic horse…

    Having played lots of 2 player boardgames and card games since, I think I can say that Netrunner is my favorite 2 player game ever. The strategy, the perfect balance between the assimetric sides, the bluffing, the fact that a game is genuinely engrossing and deep even if you don’t have more than a starter, I love everything in this game. Richard Garfield said it was the best card game he designed, better than Magic, and I feel it’s not an overstatement.

    Please try the new “non collectable” edition arriving shortly (Android:Netrunner, published by Edge), and decide for yourselves!

    • Imbecile says:

      Yeah, Netrunner was awesome. Along with Shadowfist its the only game I ever really stuck with. As you say, the bluffing in particular was tremendous. Unfortunately it seemed tobe so well designed that it kinda boxed itself into a corner, and made it really hard to produce satisfying expansions. There were a number of alternate win conditions that didnt work that well.

      I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the reboot. Obviously its going to differ from the original game, s’you know by how much?

      • Xantonze says:

        Well, for starters, it’s going to be a boxed game with a limited amount of fixed cards (so no rarity), and a “3 of the same” card limit, so exit the (more or less) fun strategies with 15 times the same card in a deck.
        I guess it’s going to limit the types of decks you can build, but to build interesting decks in the “old” netrunner, you needed to have a crazy number of cards. Since I don’t, I play “sealed”, so a limited environnement anyway.
        The new game is going to be released as a 200 or so fixed cards box, and 20-30 fixed cards “extension packs” every month.
        Since Netrunner had 1 or 2 extensions ready that weren’t released due to poor sales (Silent Impact -though a small part of it was released as “Netrunner Classic”, Dangerous Allies…), the Edge guys are settled for some time if they bought the rights to those as well.

        As for the game, the only real change afaik is the FACTION mecanism (ie you will need to/get a bonus if/ you include at least the minimum number of cards from your faction in your deck).
        I guess the goal is to “flavor” the game a bit, and make it more suited to its new “limited” environment.
        Wait and see!

  48. Reapy says:

    Awesome article. I am/was very similar with pc games. I now spend the majority of my time reading about them and watching videos. I’ve realized that I had too much stuff, and I wasn’t playing it, so now I am very choosy about games. Some I know I’ll play, but I have no time. The great thing about online distribution (minus the sales) is that when you know you are going to play it and have a block of time, you can just go buy it and have it immediately.

    I came late to the boardgame addiction, so I was able to temper myself. I had herosquest growing up, got battlemasters too…, played with the all figures, read all the maps and scenarios… but had no one to play with ever, so I just stared at it for many years.

    Anyway if I took a stab at the boardgames, and I think of the 10 slots, some will be interchangeable, like pick one of these 5 games for this slot.

    1. Heroscape – Hard to find now unfortunately. I came late to the party, but not so late that it had been canceled yet, 300 dollars of stuff later, I’m all good to go for myself and my sons for a while ;)
    2. Cosmic Encounter – It’s like space poker, so much variety, good to have.
    3. For figure crawl, I would say pick descent of space hulk. For descent, prob get version 2, wish I had waited for that one.
    4. Survive, Escape from atlantis. Seriously for some reason this game always gets played, its just too fun.
    5. Pick one, puerto rico, power grid, ticket to ride, or agricola They are different games, but they all feel the same imho, so you could probably just go with one of them.
    6. Settlers of catan or carcasconne for ‘lite’ eurogame. Again feel similar.
    7. Dominions style game? I haven’t played any but pretty sure that should get on the list.

    Not sure on rest, I own battleship galaxies which I never got to play, but it seemed so so. Arkham horror and mansions of madness are cool games, but I feel they fall in with the descent category, but aren’t strong enough to fill that slot on their own.

    Hrm guess I’m out here for what else. Probably need a risk style world conquest game in there, but I don’t have enough for that. Maybe put memoir 44 on there to swap out between heroscape depending if you like thematic local battles or not.

    Not sure I’ve been in the board games enough to cover the range, I tried to do so myself with the games I picked out, long lasting quality ones that cover all the spectrums, and I know eventually I’ll get time with them.

    Oh also, this is probably a really good question for a board game geek geek list.

  49. apachebreak says:

    I am pleased to say that I have reached the nirvana like state of not having to have every product I lust after, largely helped by the economic crisis stretching my household budget to the limit a few years ago and making me think twice about every purchase. I now look long and hard at anything I think I want, endlessly reading reviews of it on the internet, and looking at other options. If I still want it after a couple of months, I buy it. If not, I don’t. 90% of the time, I don’t. I think that the continual lowering of general standards of everything that is pushed on us as a product has helped because I have been disappointed so many times with purchases of films, books, music, food, games, ANYTHING really. This kind of outlook is going to bite a lot of companies who peddle said shit on us in the arse in a few years when the majority finally get sick of being ripped off and work out that they don’t need things, all accelerated by the economic woes of the world focusing peoples’ minds. I for one cannot wait until this happens. Stuff is for the most part totally unnecessary and the companys that make/sell it are charlatans with nothing but self interest in mind.

  50. Severian says:

    I really appreciate this post, thanks Robert. I definitely feel like an idiot for buying/owning so many board games. I don’t even have a solid gaming group, so I’m lucky if each of my games sees a couple plays a year. And yet I continue to buy and buy, just because I’m an older gent now with a salary. When I was a kid, I owned Talisman, DungeonQuest, Ogre, D&D, and sometimes borrowed my brother’s copy of Wizard’s Quest. That was about it. And I was happy. Oh well, except for all those stupid Transformers I collected. Jesus, I have no will power. But I agree that I miss those days of when I could play the hell out of a single game and find more to love about it each time, rather than yearning for the next shiny thing. I suppose this is another example of “you can’t go home again”. Childhood happens once and all we can hope to do is engender that love, passion, and patience in our own offspring.

    • Skabooga says:

      I too am glad Robert wrote this article. The enthusiasm with which he writes gives me a burning desire to buy every game he mentions, so it is nice to hear him explicitly state that not all of these games are must haves.