The Ultimate Board Game Collection Draft


Ask any fantasy football player, and they’ll all tell you that the best part of that addictive and fun hobby is the first true day of the fantasy season: draft day. So as I’m daydreaming about board games one day, as I often do, I wondered just what would happen if we crossed the fun of a fantasy football draft with this wonderful hobby we all know and love. After all, we’ve all waxed poetic every other imaginable way about our top games, favorite games, best-of lists, and so on, so why not find a new way to compare, contrast, and talk about board games. Thus was born the (first?) Ultimate Board Game Collection Draft.

The 12 participants were chosen from the Cardboard Reality Slack Channel, including myself and the 4 hosts (Pick #12, Sanchez, joined the draft late in the 3rd round and made up his first two picks at that time) and the rules were laid out as such:

In the near distant fictional future, the board game bubble doesn't just burst, it is regulated, legislated, and hunted down and killed. Each board game may now only be owned by one of the chosen few curators selected to be the ambassadors, purveyors, and suppliers of the hobby. Choose your games carefully, because they'll be the last ones you ever play.

Okay but really this is just a fun exercise in comparison, competition, and curating. You will only choose 20 games (or expansions) to craft your collection, and will complete with 11 others to do so. Will you choose classic gems, BGG hotness, or go for a varied approach to best flesh out your collection. Or will you mercilessly snipe your competitors to make sure only the best games will belong to you, even if they aren't your personal favorites.

You may draft any released game, even if it is currently out of print or hard to find. Expansions will need to be drafted independently. You may state the version or printing of a game, including Kickstarter exclusives, if you so choose. I'll update each round in the CBR Guild so others can follow along, and at the conclusion we'll put it to a public vote to see who was the "winner."

If you’re unfamiliar with the function and rules of a draft, about all you need to know is that it is a method of picking and distributing from a pool, and each game may only be chosen once, and the draft moves in a serpentine fashion (1-12, 12-1, 1-12, etc.) Let the games begin!

While every round and every pick is important, and no doubt you’d have some of our participants saying that some of their best picks came in the middle and late rounds, the first round lays the foundation for your entire draft and collection. Ideally even if your other 19 picks went up in flames, at least you’d have one of your best games of all time that you could play ad nauseum and die a happy man.

1.01: Sean - Lisboa

Having the first pick in something like this is kind of tricky. Do I grab what I'm sure is not going to make it back to me at the end of the second round or go with my personal top choice? I'm a big Lacerda fan and Lisboa is probably my favorite game of all time. Not wanting to risk missing out on my favorite game I pulled the trigger with that #1 pick.”

1.02: Jerrod - Race for the Galaxy

Knowing that my tastes overlap with a lot of the others involved in the draft, my first pick was for a game I had to have in my collection, even if it’s not my favorite. This game was Race for the Galaxy, because it offers such high replayability, interesting decisions, and a quick playtime.”

1.03: Dan - Root

My first pick of Root was a strategic pick to fill in a few categories of game in one, an also grab one of the higher rated games that I've personally played before someone else did. Root was on my list as a war game that has a lot of replayability, fills in several categories of mechanics exceptionally well all at once, and looks amazing while doing it.”

1.04: Scott - Twilight Struggle

“It’s pretty good.” (Note: Scott did not provide comments, but we all know this is what he would’ve said.)

1.05: Nick - Gaia Project

Looking ahead during the first round I realized I needed to draft something substantial. Realizing Dylan and James were picking late in the round I knew I needed to snag Gaia Project before they could. It's the perfect first round pick—a heavy Euro that is clean, immensely variable, and loved by many.”

1.06: Lorcan - Food Chain Magnate

First picking FCM was a good call, I think, for a number of reasons. Splotter’s games are great and I expected them all to go early, so I anticipated getting one max. FCM isn’t my favourite Splotter (but is definitely amongst my favourite games). What I think it does very well is blend together economics, logistics and engine building with a fun and intuitive theme. Splotter’s other titles are a little more focussed but don’t have the same appeal, so I figured if I can only have one, let’s get the one most people love the most.”

1.07: Steven - A Feast for Odin

A Feast for Odin was a no-brainer to kick things off. Uwe's magnum-opus; a finely tuned smorgasbord of potential. My wife and I never tire of this and the Norwegians patch has only made things better.”

1.08 - Joel - Indonesia

I knew Splotters were going to get taken in the first few rounds, so I wanted to make sure I got my favorite as a part of my collection, Indonesia.”

1.09 - Jordan - Alchemists

With my first pick in the draft I took Alchemists. While this might seem too early in the draft who aren’t familiar with Cardboard Reality, those who are will know that this is a highly regarded favourite amongst both the hosts and listeners, including myself and I knew I had to get in quick.”

1.10 - James - The Gallerist

“With Gaia Project off the table (curse you Nick Northcutt!) I happily fell back on my favorite designer, Vital Lacerda, and my favorite game of his, The Gallerist. I knew I’d be drafting a few worker placement games, but the way Vital intertwines his mechanics, theme, and art puts his games on another level. One of the few must haves in this draft for me was a Lacerda game.”

1.11 - Dylan - Terra Mystica

“For my first round pick, I took Terra Mystica, knowing that Gaia Project would go before it. And I mean, they’re almost the same game. If one goes, the other will be taken shortly after.”

1.12 - Sanchez - Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization

Coming into the draft late, I was pressed to pick a game that everyone passed on twice and be the anchor to a collection that would resonate with CBR Listeners. Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization is the only choice when it comes down to weight, mechanics, and fan favorite.”

With the foundation laid, we were underway. 8 days later, we’d drafted 240 board games, sent countless slack messages roasting each other’s picks, and curated our own unique 20 game collection that we had to live with. There were euros and dice chuckers, train games and route builders, co-ops and fillers, dexterity games and abstracts, wargames and stacking games, and even a 20th round pick of Happy Salmon. Click the image below to view the entire draft board:


In the end, only one curator can emerge victorious as having crafted the best 20 game collection. Take a look at the final collections in the draft board above, some thoughts below from some of the participants, and please vote in the poll at the bottom of the page to let us know who you would crown the winner of the first Ultimate Board Game Collection Draft.

Sean - First 5 Picks: Lisboa, Concordia, Sol, Vinhos Deluxe, Marco Polo

...Some lighter fillers but some weight in there too. Rhino Hero providing some light dexterity fun. A little touch of RPG with Legacy of Dragonholt. Big ole sandbox in Xia: Legends of a Drift. Also some co-op action with both The Grizzled and CO2: Second Chance. I wanted lots of solo options as well, it's how a lot of my sessions are played and figured that won't change. Also got my Lacerda fix covered pretty well. Overall I wanted to create a collection that has a little bit of everything and one that I'd be proud to own.”

Jerrod - First 5 Picks: Race for the Galaxy, Forbidden Stars, Brass Birmingham, 1830, Roads & Boats

Knowing that this crowd of gamers leans into the heavier side of the hobby, my next few picks were there to lock in my top heavy games. After that I kind of alternated between light/medium and heavier picks to have a more diverse collection for different gaming circumstances. I got a Splotter, an 18xx, a Brass, a Pax, some Euros, some war games, and some quick-light ones. Not everyone would care for these, but I’d be content with this collection of 20 games.”

Dan - First 5 Picks: Root, Twilight Imperium, Azul, Memoir ‘44, Scythe

The idea for my collection was to try to get a couple games in each of the major board game mechanics as I could. My hope was to try to have a collection that would fit most occasions, player preferences and time frames, not only just when you've got 4 heavy gamers at the table.”

Nick - First 5 Picks: Gaia Project, Pax Renaissance, Arboretum, 1889, Go

As for the remainder of my picks, I tried to stay true to my personal tastes. I’ve always been someone with niche interests, and I embrace that. Selections like go, Sekigahara, and 1889 speak to my current tastes, while other picks like Combat Commander: Europe, Napolean’s Triumph, and Reef Encounter hint at what I’m looking to play in the future.”

Lorcan - First 5 Picks: Food Chain Magnate, Brass Lancashire, Tigris & Euphrates, The Estates, Castles of Burgundy

For my ultimate game collection draft, I made some deliberate considerations which drove my picks and the prioritization of said picks. I interpreted the drafted collection as needing to be something with broad appeal (across the CBR guild) and limited to 20 games a person could and would actually play heavily for years. This means that I wasn’t trying to draft my top 20 games and I didn’t want to just draft “good” games, but a set of games with enough variety to be a worthy collection for anyone in the guild (so no 20x 18xx games).

Mixing together my ideas about what CBR listeners like and also a good dash my own taste led me to the following priorities:

1. Medium/Heavy interactive euros

2. A big dose of economics

3. Focus on 3-4 players but with options for 2

4. Classics that have already proven they can stand the test of time

I’m fairly happy with the resulting list, which is a mix of games I love, concessions to the draft and games I think are good but are clearly popular classics (so great for game night).”

Steven - First 5 Picks: A Feast for Odin, Great Western Trail, Leaving Earth, Antiquity, Battlestar Galactica

“Rather than over think things, I decided just to go with games my wife and I love, and try to cover most genres. ”

Jordan - First 5 Picks: Alchemists, Container, Gloomhaven, Chicago Express, El Grande

“I was also very happy with how the rest of my collection turned out. There is some excellent variety in terms of genre, play length and player count, and a number of best in class games. I even managed to grab my favourite game in the second round. This collection has something for everybody.”

James - First 5 Picks: The Gallerist, Crokinole, Grand Austria Hotel, Eldritch Horror, Clans of Caledonia

“I’ve crafted a collection that epitomizes not only my personal tastes, but my preference in gaming to try to play numerous different types of games. Opening with an elite worker placement euro followed by the best dexterity game ever made, and filling out with euros, dice drafting, dice chucking, tile laying, and some off the wall wildcards, I feel great about this collection. All player counts are represented, all styles are present, and some late round Rhino Hero Super Battle means we’ll always have a good time.”

Dylan - First 5 Picks: Terra Mystica, Spirit Island, Pandemic Legacy Season 1, Dominant Species, Orleans

“As for the rest of my team, I felt like I got a nice balance. I got back-to-back co-ops in Spirit Island and Pandemic Legacy: Season 1. I got a lot of Euros with all different weights, from Samurai all the way up to Dominant Species. I got a few fillers (Jump Drive, Bohnanza to name two). I got dice chuckers. I got a party game with a favorite of mine, Panic on Wall Street. You really can’t top variety like my collection.”

Honestly, the whole experience was so much fun. If you’ve got a dozen or so like minded nerdy friends, I’d highly recommend trying to throw something like this together. It made for some very tough decisions as you watched game after game drop off of your radar. The camaraderie and smack talk as we went round by round was entertaining and a real testament to the fun and varied community that Cardboard Reality has begun to cultivate. Check out our Patreon and join us on our BGG Guild for more fun, activities, and discussion - you can also find a link to our Slack Channel there as well.

James Geist1 Comment