Nick's Top 30 Games (2017 Edition)


Hello everyone! We thought it would be a little fun to make a list of our favorite games.  And we also hope that it'll serve as a better window into each of our board gaming tastes.  Without further ado, below are my current favorite 30 games ranked.  The other guys' lists will follow in the coming months...

30. Cosmic Encounter - I enjoy this one a little more each time it comes to table.  I believe 5 players is the sweet spot.  Crazy alien asymmetrical powers and manipulation at its finest.

29. Santorini - This is the first of many abstracts on my list.  I much prefer this one without the god powers.

28. Codenames Duet - This version of Codenames barely edges out the original as my favorite.  Playing this with my fiancee and a glass of wine to wrap up the day is always a pleasure.

27. Orleans - This is the first of many Euros on my list.  I've been enjoying this one as of late, so much so that I've tried to squeeze a 2 player session in during my hour lunch break at work.  It was a semi-success.  I'm usually not a fan of deck builders, but this twist on the genre is a welcome one for me.

26. Yokohama - This Euro is brand spanking new and a ton of fun.  I love the spacial worker movement twist on the classic worker placement mechanic.  This game feels like an open sandbox with a billion different scoring opportunities.  I hope to get this one to table more in the coming months.

25. Nippon - This is one of my favorite medium weight Euros.  The combination of area influence, engine building, and worker consolidation definitely has me coming back for more.

24. Terraforming Mars - This is a game rightfully deserving of its "new hotness" status (but perhaps not its current overall BGG ranking of 6).  I enjoy the card play and the race to complete the most global parameters, and I love the "realistic" Sci-Fi theme.

23. Clockwork Wars - This game has area control, special variable tech developments, simultaneous secret unit deployment, a modular board, and the option to play 2v2.  What more could you want from a "dudes on the map" style game?  Think a much more streamlined and lighter version of Twilight Imperium.  Criminally underrated.

22. Roll for the Galaxy - This was my introduction into the Race/Roll/Jump series and I love it! I'm always faced with a different strategy to attempt every time I play.

21. Kemet - This one is always fighting with Clockwork Wars on which I prefer.  Currently Kemet has the edge, but both games bring something different to the table.  The in-your-face area control and combat of Kemet is a rush of excitement.

20. Specter Ops - Okay we've made it to the top 20.  Specter Ops is the first hidden movement game to make my list.  I love this genre of board games, and I love the line of sight mechanic at play in this one specifically.  If you want to play Splinter Cell or Metal Gear Solid the board game look no further.

19. Escape the Aliens in Outer Space - Ever wanted to play a hidden movement game with social deduction thrown in for good measure?  This is exactly what you'll get in Escape the Aliens.  Running from aliens that are trying to eat you while also trying to pretend to be an alien to throw them off your scent is an adrenaline rush of fun.

18. The Climbers - Capstone Games has been on fire as of late.  This is probably my single most played game from Gen Con this year.  Surprisingly ripe with strategy, I'm always eager to play another round.  The beautiful mountain of blocks is also a plus of course!

17. Hive Pocket - This is easily my most played abstract to date.  A free-form take on chess without a static setup.  A must have for anyone fan of modern abstract gaming.

16. Sekigahara - I have recently discovered my love of historical war games.  Sekigahara possesses a sort of "fog of war" mechanic that creates great moments of tension and bluffing.  Essentially, I can see what type of units I have in each of my locations, but my opponent's blocks face away from me so I'm never completely sure what I'm up against in combat.

15. Mage Wars Arena - This game could be near the top for me if it got to the table more often.  During the few stints that I played this game regularly, it was all I thought about.  Mage Wars is by far and away my favorite LCG style competitive card game. 

14. Trickerion - This is the first serious gamer Euro entry on the list.  Not quite a full on heavy Euro, Trickerion delivers on thoughtful decisions and strategy wrapped up in a cool magician theme similar to The Prestige.

13. Tigris & Euphrates - Two of my favorite genres combined into one, this Euro-style abstract is a classic for good reason.  Trying to balance your four types of victory points while waging wars and revolts on your opponents is always a blast.  And you get to play as pottery!

12. Tzolk'in - A beautiful medium-heavy Euro with a wonderful gear mechanic that simulates the passing of time.  If you enjoy optimization and thinking multiple turns ahead, definitely check this one out.

11. Race for the Galaxy - Roll was my first crush, but I fell in love with another... Race packs a lot of punch for $20.  It is hard to find a Euro game with this level of depth that plays in under 30 minutes at 2 players.

10. Food Chain Magnate - Who knew running a diner in the 50's could be so cutthroat?  Food Chain was my entry into Splotter titles and it definitely won't be my last.

9. Arkwright - Probably the heaviest game on my list, Arkwright is a masterpiece in game design.  While this game is definitely not for everyone, if you enjoy dry themes and supply and demand economic puzzles, definitely check this one out.

8. Arboretum - What at first may seem like a filler game will quickly reveal itself to be so much more.  Who knew a game about planting trees could be so mean and stressful in all the right ways?

7. Tak - This game takes the top spot for my favorite abstract.  I'm always looking to play another game of Tak and I immensely enjoy the depth it offers.

6. Lisboa - The latest Vital Lacerda game and the first I've been able to play enough to warrant a spot on this list.  Masterfully designed, Lisboa will definitely stay in rotation for Joel and I.  Be on the lookout for my impressions of Vinhos and The Gallerist as they are next on the list of his to dive into.

5. Forbidden Stars - Probably the most stressful game I've ever played, Forbidden Stars always manages to get my blood pumping.  The combat can run long at times, but it is so much fun that I don't even care.  Dudes on a map gaming at its finest.

4. Pax Renaissance - This game came into my life quite recently, but I'm already deeply in love with it.  It is an incredibly unique experience unlike any board game I've played to date.  Another masterful design by a designer I'm going to start paying attention to.  Holy smokes this game is great!  Pax Ren has everything I'd want in a Renaissance game such as trade routes, campaigns, civil wars, holy wars, trade concessions, coronations... the list goes on.

3. Whitehall Mystery / Letters from Whitechapel - Perhaps it is cheating to put both of these together, but I don't care! Joel and I have been obsessed with Letters for years and Whitehall Mystery is a refined version of it.  These two are definitely the cream of the crop when it comes to hidden movement games.

2. Terra Mystica - Where do I begin with this game?  It is everything I want in a tight brain burning Euro.  Every action has weight and consequence to it.  Those that play and optimize better will always come out on top.  The pinnacle of board game design.

1. Alchemists - After obtaining the Golem expansion, Joel and I became obsessed with this game.  Alchemists offers an intelligent and unique deduction puzzle over the top of a solid worker placement Euro.  I'm always eager to mix my next ingredients together to discover a new potion that hopefully gives me the breakthrough I've been waiting for to publish a theory on mandrake root before my opposition beats me to the punch.

Nick Northcutt