Cardboard Children – Rab’s Top 50 (10-1): The Video

Hello youse!

The list is COMPLETE. It’s my Top Ten Board Games of ALL TIME. Each one is a game that you NEED NEED NEED to own. My thanks to my 7 year old daughter for her direction of this series.

Check it out!




  1. AngelTear says:

    I love how Hope was super shy during the first episodes and she started talking more and more and now she’s interrupting you too =P

    Thank you, Rab, it was a really enjoyable journey, your enthusiasm really shynes through (as it does in your writing) and I’ll definitely be using these videos as a guide in the future ^_^

    • JB says:

      Yeah, Hope’s confidence seems to have come on in leaps and bounds as the list has gone on. Maybe we should get more kids directing videos.

      Great list Rab, and great directing from Hope. It’s been a fairly long but very enjoyable journey. Stay dicey!

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      I feel like I just watched the entire series of breaking bad again. Thanks Rab (and Hope).

    • Darko Drako says:

      Thanks Hope and Rab I have really enjoyed this. Spacehulk and Mage Knight would definitely be in my top ten as well.

  2. Bazanti says:

    Rab you had me frothing at the mouth in the last few minutes, how in heavens name could my favoritest board-game ever designed NOT BE O.. then you had me nodding in agreement.
    Great job.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Amen brother

    • Phubarrh says:

      Indeed! Sat through all 50 of the countdown with bated breath…and there it is in the final three minutes! First played in 1979, and haven’t stopped playing yet.

    • Discosauce says:

      The same here! I started second guessing myself, wondering if it had somehow shown up before the top ten and I had missed it. But, no! Well played ser, well played.

    • Shadowcat says:

      Rab: “We’re at my number one game. You know what it is, don’t you? You’ve got to know what it is; you’ve heard me talk about it so many times! It is… come on, let me hear you, let me hear you say it…”

      Everyone: “Cosmic Encounter!”

      Rab: “Spartacus”

      Everyone: “What the f*&%?!”

      Well played indeed :)

  3. DarkFarmer says:

    Rab, you are a hero of board gaming, showing the imagination and intensity that makes them fun. These were great.

  4. utharda says:

    I’m confused. I can’t seem to find the list, or really the article.

    User Agent = Lynx/2.8.8dev.3 libwww-FM/2.14 SSL-MM/1.4.1

    Get off my lawn.

    • SmokeSeller says:

      Well, that’s what libcaca is for.

    • Premium User Badge

      Earl-Grey says:

      It’s like he doesn’t even care about how hard it is to pretend like you’re working while watching videos on Youtube :(

  5. _Nocturnal says:

    And our love to you and your wonderful family, Rab!
    This was heart-warmingly, laughter-inducingly, gilnt-in-the-eye-sparkingly fantastic!

  6. Easy says:

    Rab. Rab. Hope. Rab. You are both amazing.

  7. ghling says:

    Thank you for all the great work, Rab. But can we please get a written list of all games for those, who can’t / don’t want to watch the whole videos?

    • harley9699 says:


    • Noumenon says:

      Yeah — I’m not going to watch any of the series at all, unless Civilization the Board Game is in there somewhere, but I can’t easily check.

    • AngelTear says:

      Every week after the videos, he did break down that section of the list in written form, so… he already did.
      link to

      I imagine he is going to do the same next week for the top 10.

      • ghling says:

        Thanks for the answer, I have not seen this lists before. Seems like they kind of didn’t made the way to my FeedReader.

    • Saarlaender39 says:

      Favorite Game of all Times: Cosmic Encounter
      01: Spartacus
      02: Space Hulk
      03: Talisman
      04: Mall of Horror + City of Horror
      05: Ascending Empires
      06: Chaos in the Old World
      07: Cyclades
      08: Mage Knight
      09: Magical Athlete
      10: Tales of the Arabian Night
      11: King of Tokyo
      12: Libertalia
      13: Lords of Waterdeep
      14: Dungeon Quest
      15: Descent
      16: Warrior Knights
      17: StarCraft: The Board Game
      18: Warhammer Quest
      19: Ghost Stories
      20: Magic: The Gathering
      21: Blood Bowl
      22: Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game
      23: Caverna: The Cave Farmers
      24: HeroScape
      25: Blood Bowl: Team Manager
      26: Age of Empires III
      27: Super Dungeon Explore
      28: Commands & Colors (The system as a whole)
      29: Survive – Escape from Atlantis
      30: Break the Safe
      31: Hour of Glory
      32: Fury of Dracula
      33: Pret-a-porter
      34: Warhammer Invasion
      35: Colosseum
      36: Shadow Hunters
      37: Risk Legacy
      38: Coup
      39: Formula D
      40: Claustrophobia
      41: ThunderRoad
      42: Rattus
      43: Dixit
      44: Trains
      45: Nexus Ops
      46: Kingsburg
      47: Ninjato
      48: Mission Red Planet
      49: The Duke
      50: Conquest of Planet Earth

      My collection of Boardgames and your Top 50 share only nine entries…I’m not sure, what that says about your Top 50 ;o)

      • Noumenon says:

        Thank you for being that guy, I hope he posts your list where more people will see it.

      • LordMidas says:

        Beautiful, thanks Saarlaender

      • Chiron says:

        Thanks, I’d much prefer an article to a video and this will do nicely instead of that.

        (can’t watch videos at work for one thing)

      • Hallgrim says:

        I found a typo… Sentinels of the Multiverse isn’t on this list.

      • Yglorba says:

        No Wiz-War? Hmph.

  8. TheBuff1 says:

    “Don’t say PS4!! Don’t say PS4 on this website!!””

    Love it :)

  9. gavanw says:

    The number one game (I won’t say the name for the sake of spoiling) is also a great TV series. Like the board game cover, you might roll your eyes at first but as soon as you get into it there is no going back.

  10. Josh W says:

    Interesting, putting Spartacus first. It’s a really good game, but with a few issues:

    The movement rules encourage endless kiting, so much so that speed and reach overwhelm most of the other parts of the fighting. In a sense this doesn’t matter, because blind bidding means that players have a challenge of recognizing that things are skewed towards that way, but it also means that various mechanics that could be cool just don’t get the play they deserve. We’ve made a few fixes to this, like “your movement for the turn is the highest dice of your speed roll, and the person with the highest total can decide who goes first”, but although that pushes back speed’s dominance significantly, so as to bring in the other stats, it makes the arena feel too small, like it needs more hexes to work properly. There’s also issues with balance between factions, with battiatus being the underdog by the starting system, but without abilities that allow them to make that gap up, meaning that it’s basically a handicap decided by the first faction picks.

    Anyway, still a very good game, but it seems like it is a few tweaks away from getting to it’s full potential.

  11. David_VI says:

    Did I miss Ticket to Ride?!

    • Frank says:

      I’m not a board game expert so maybe I missed one, but it seems Rab doesn’t like euro-style games.

  12. Duke of Chutney says:

    You put Ascending Empire in the top10! Good call, this is possibly my favourite game, and also the first modern game i bought, after it was covered on this site. Its awesome, but sadly missing from most top 10 lists.

    • Shadowcat says:

      I got to play it a couple of years back, and absolutely loved it. Just recently I was thinking I really ought to buy a copy, but was told it was out of print :( I hope it comes back, somehow. I’m particularly envious of the people who’ve made their own single-piece playing surfaces.

  13. meepmeep says:

    Talisman?!? It’s just a stupid roll and move game!

  14. Plumpman says:

    I’m so glad you included Ascending Empires. That game is such an enjoyable gem!

    Great list overall, thanks for taking the time to make this!

  15. Nihi says:

    I agree 100% with you, cosmic encounter is one of the best experience I’ve had when it comes to board games.
    You just need to find the good players, it’s easy to ruin the fun (“Hey this guy always win, guys help me beat him”).

    • frenz0rz says:

      I couldn’t believe he’d skipped Cosmic Encounter and was about to post all about how silly he’d been when- Aha, there we go!

      It’s brilliant. Hands down best boardgame I’ve played. My only problem, as you say, is that you need to find the good players. My friends are slowly coming around to the idea that constantly offering alliances is not the best strategy and doesn’t make for the best games, but it seems they’re mostly more inclined to co-op games like Eldritch Horror. That said, Battlestar Galactica is proving to be a nice bridge between co-op and adversarial games.

      Incidentally, where were the honourable mentions for Eldritch/Arkham and BSG, Rab?

  16. Synesthesia says:

    These were absolutely fantastic, Rab. You are both awesome. Bunch of love your way. Also the fist bump insert is way more funny than it has any right to be.

    (please, please, reupload the song you made about space hulk.)

  17. James Pursaill says:

    Just registered to say thanks for the journey, Rab! Your energy totally hits that sweet spot between jittery and insane :)

    I’ve got alot of love for Spartacus too. The mechanics are pretty simplistic, and it’s not the most tactical game out there either – the scheme phase is a dogpile, the market phase is messy and tricky to put a value on, the gladiator fights can go from close to hopeless in one roll of the attack die.

    But my god is it good at getting you all acting like you’re a scheming bunch of backstabbing, match-rigging senators in ancient Rome! It’s a game that gives you alot of ‘moments’.

    The time my friend charged us all ‘gate tax’ in the deception phase so we wouldn’t have our houses broken into by his thieves. The 2v2 fights you can stage in the expansion, where one of your gladiators, crippled and immobile, sacrifices his last die and gets decapitated so that his teammate can clobber the enemy. The time we all balanced our ledgers purely through graverobbing. The time you enter your cook into the arena with back-alley betting and bet against yourself for the easy money. The time your defeated gladiator is so popular with the crowd that your friend literally can’t turn his thumb down to execute him like you know he’s dying to.

    Spartacus rules.

  18. savaze says:

    So when are you going to link all this stuff up to boardgamegeek dot com, it would definitely increase your site traffic? Plus there’s plenty of people there looking for more reviews and favorites lists.

  19. Viceroy Choy says:

    You want to know how good Cosmic Encounter is? Cosmic Encounter was the game I used to break up the duopoly MtG and LoL had on the CS Lab. That’s how fucking good it is.

  20. Chiller says:

    Well… he had Chaos in the Old World in there, so I guess I can keep reading his column.
    (I really dislike Cosmic Encounter).

  21. Bull0 says:

    Yeaaaah! Spartacus! I picked it up in a local shop’s closing down sale (sniff) a few months ago. I’ve yet to have a chance to play it. Such is life.

  22. nca says:

    “jesus blah blah blah” seems to me like parenting done right. good on yer.

    • Shadowcat says:

      I just about sprayed tea over my monitor when you asked Hope if her school had taught her about the Blood God!

      My next thought was: Will she now ask her teachers about it?

  23. Gothnak says:

    Space Hulk is my biggest money maker, keep buying it at boot fairs and selling it for profit.. Anyone want a copy, i have it plus death wing and genestealer :)… (No figures though).

    Spartacus & Mage Knight are excellent.

    Talisman got me into boardgaming, not my thing anymore though.

    City of Horror I’ve just sold, i liked it, but not enough for it to stick around.

    Chaos In the Old World is great…

    Tales of the Arabian Nights isn’t really a game, but that’s fine, although i thought Agents of Smersh does it better?

    And Cyclades, Ascending Empires and Magical Athelete i need to try out…

    But no Wallenstein/Shogun? Sad times… Rab, try one of them out next, the cube tower is the only way games should do combat from now on…

    Also, heard about Pandemic legacy? Using the Risk Legacy idea but on a good game instead! :)

    • Gothnak says:

      Oh and Cosmic Encounter.. yeah, it’s my fave game ever too.. I have the old 70’s version with 4 of the add ons, really need to update it!

  24. plugmonkey says:

    Great list.

    Now, if only Games Workshop deemed me worthy of owning Space Hulk, I might one day get to play it.

    Elitist nerdgasm bullshit.

  25. Gothnak says:

    The last time I played Spartacus, I ended up only bidding to run the arena. I had no gladiators, but won by forcing people to pay me influence to NOT choose them to fight against the guy with Stinky Pete, the greatest gladiator in the game with his amazing trident and then paying me NOT to execute them when they invariably lost.

    Great game…

  26. Wrath101 says:

    Rab. Before I confess how much I’ve loved this top 50 list I just have to say…

    Overwatch baby. You know it belongs in number 1. I know it pained you to slip it to number 2, and for good reason – It’s your favourite game of all time, its your one, its the one, Space Hulk is your one.
    Sad to see it not in its rightful spot!

    With that out of the way, I signed up just to say thank you. This was an incredibly entertaining experience. I really hope you continue to do board game videos in the future. I was a big fan of downtime town back in the day. Lets see some more!

  27. FMAN71 says:

    Man versus alien in desperate battle!

    • LordMidas says:

      Curse you for getting my comment in before me!! FMAN71 is like a Genestealer… commentstealer ;-)

  28. LordMidas says:

    Man Versus Alien in Desperate Battle

  29. Severian says:

    Great, great series. Thank you, Rab and Hope! I love how you unabashedly adore “Ameritrash” (as do I). My current top 5, in case anyone cares:

    #1: Space Hulk
    #2: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game
    #3: Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game
    #4: Lords of Waterdeep
    #5: Eldritch Horror

    (yes, I give Fantasy Flight too much of my money)

    And I’d probably put Magic the Gathering as my favorite game of all time, even though I never play it anymore.

    • Gothnak says:

      LOTR: TCG & Eldritch are the best co-op games out there, and i think Lords of Waterdeep (and the terribly ugly Dream Quest) are the best board/card games currently on iOS.

    • Underwhelmed says:

      I have always loved Arkham Horror despite it being… well sort of horrible on a lot of fronts. Watching games go from all but won to circling the drain in a turn or two or snatching a win from the jaws of defeat are great. It is a little (ha ha) skewed towards luck for sure, and while there is strategy to it, sometimes you are just going to lose, but it creates a lot of those great story moments when things go to shit.

      Eldritch Horror as a newcommer, really seems to be hitting on all the good parts of Arkham, but in a much cleaner, more elegant way. You can explain it to a new player in a few minutes being the best improvement. The first expansion solved my biggest gripe with the game, that being some of the card pools being too small. I am really excited to see where the game goes, but most of the people I play Arkham with, already prefer Eldritch despite some initial doubts.

  30. valz says:

    I tried to read the list, but couldn’t see one. Just some video. LIST INCOMPLETE.

  31. JoeX111 says:

    No love for Dune or Rex?

  32. znomorph says:

    Been following this site for a while, and especially this column, but I just signed up. Hey everybody!

    Great job, Rab :). And you too, Hope! I was wondering, when you do a breakdown of the top ten (or a week later perhaps) could you do a breakdown/summary of the games that you mentioned didn’t make the list because you hadn’t played them enough or whatever? I need more board games to put on my wishlist :D.

    Edit: typos

  33. Sleepymatt says:

    Great series rab and Hope, thank you very much!

    Just sorry not to see any “One is Spartacus!” joke ;p

  34. presence says:

    I hate this list. You know why I hate this list? Its because I had gotten off the board game buying train a few years back. I probably own about 300 board games (perhaps more) many of them I just don’t have time to play. This isn’t a problem on its own, however, now that I have seen the list, I only have eight games in his top 50. EIGHT WHOLE GAMES. I missed so many. I hate you so much!

  35. Yhamm says:

    you have an amazing daughter
    and great tastes in board games too
    when I see your top 10, I’m really convinced to try the games I don’t know yet, thank you!

  36. cptgone says:

    Mage Knight, “not a game for cats”? So untrue ;)