Top 10 Games in My Collection (If I Had to Give Away the Others)

Earlier this year, board game developer, designer, blogger, and enthusiast JR Honeycutt wrote a blog post about the 10 board games in his collection that he would keep if he had to give away the rest and could only play those games from now on.

I love the idea of this list, as it presents a markedly different scenario than what my top 10 favorite board games are for two reasons: One, I don’t own all of my favorite games–in fact, 5 of my 10 favorite games are owned by friends. Two, forever is a long time to only play 10 games. It necessitates a certain level of variety and variability, and they have to include games I enjoy both teaching and playing.

I chose not to include any games that my company publishes for this list. I tried to find a game for each of the categories of games I’d want to have handy for a long time–the category is noted in parentheses. Here it is:

10. Sheriff of Nottingham (negotiation): The thing I love about Sheriff of Nottingham, a game where you’re trying to get the best and most cards past a rotating “sheriff,” is that there are very few rules dictating how you can negotiate. It’s a wide-open environment for creativity.

9. For Sale (filler): I would need to keep a filler game to play in those 10-15 minute gaps when I’m waiting for everyone to show up for game night or when my table finishes a little earlier than another table. With it’s tension-filled auction system and fast play, For Sale is my pick. (I almost chose The Game, which is great, but it isn’t quite a filler, as I’ve seen games take 30-45 minutes).

8. Good Cop Bad Cop (large-group hidden teams): The great thing about Good Cop Bad Cop is that there’s no pressure to bluff or lie, but it still provides a great experience for up to 8 people.

7. Stone Age (light Euro): I love Euro games, and Stone Age is one of those lighter games that’s easy to teach while still being enjoyable for experienced gamers. There’s also a surprising amount of variation through the various upgrades, dice, and cards.

6. Ticket to Ride (gateway): I always enjoy Ticket to Ride. It’s one of those games that has just the perfect amount of tension–it’s enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, sneaking glances at the routes you covet, but not so much that your game is ruined if someone else takes the route you want (until late in the game).

5. Blokus (abstract): I only want to ever play Blokus with exactly 4 people, but when I get that chance, the abstract endorphins in my brain are firing at full throttle. The spacial element just clicks with me.

4. Burgle Bros (cooperative): It surprised me how instantly I knew I wanted to put this game on my list. This slot would normally be occupied by Forbidden Desert, but I don’t own it…yet I don’t mind, because I love Burgle Bros. It’s a fantastic heist game with a really clever twist on how you can manipulate the guards who are trying to catch you.

pic1413480_md3. A Fake Artist Goes to New York (social/party): It was really tough to pick this one over Telestrations, and as the two scratch the same itch of social/party games that don’t ask someone to perform in the spotlight and still incite a ton of laughter.

2. Kemet (direct conflict): There’s so much to love about Kemet: the upgrades, the freedom to attack without feeling bad about targeting someone, the unique monster miniatures, the simplicity of the actions…it’s fantastic.

1. Tzolk’in (heavy Euro): I could play Tzolk’in, a beautiful game with workers you place on ever-turning wheels, over and over again. There are so many different combinations of strategies. Tzolk’in has had a big impact on my game designs, and for good reason–I love it.

That’s my list! What’s yours? Do you make a point of owning all of your favorite games?

13 thoughts on “Top 10 Games in My Collection (If I Had to Give Away the Others)”

  1. My list would be as follows
    10. Ticket to ride
    For the same reasons you mentioned.

    9. Between two cities
    This game to me is really two games in one. The two player variant is so different then the multi player. So great and quick.

    8.Stone age
    So much depth so easy to teach

    7. Carcassone
    Very easy to teach and still lots of fun for gamers and newbies.

    So thinky, love the amount it burns your brain.

    5. Tzolk’in
    Love the mechanics of the game plus it’s really a conversation piece when it hits the table.

    4.Flick em up
    Such a great way to get people involved. Also who doesn’t like flicking a disk and trying to knock something down.

    3 . Alhambra big box
    With the big box you can make the game as simple as you want or as in depth as you want.

    2. Agricola all creatures big and small.
    Small foot print really great for those evenings with your special someone.

    1. Orleans
    Lots of moving parts, lots of paths to victory and just a treat to look at.

    I would mention that although not a game. I would sub out number 10 for all of treasure chests. Always love the reaction people give when they are brought out. Plus they are awesome to hold.

    • Thanks for sharing your list, Patricio! That’s nice of you to mention the treasure chests (and Between Two Cities). I almost put Carcassonne on my list…I have the Star Wars edition, which I really like, but it didn’t quite make the cut. I also considered Coconuts as my dexterity game (a category you included but I forgot).

  2. My top 10 I own, which except for Istanbul, are also my top 10 (so I try to acquire as many of my favorite games as possible):

    10. Las Vegas: Such a versatile game…great filler for my group, and a solid intro for non gamers (I introduced this to a non gamer group today and they played it for 3 hours straight!)

    9. Dead of Winter: I don’t play this as much anymore, but this was one of the first boutique board games I played when I started the hobby, and holds a special place in my heart. I played this a few weeks ago and it was as fun as ever.

    8. Istanbul: This is fun, but I’ve played it enough times to put it aside…but I have to keep it because it is the one light-middle game my wife will play.

    7. Roll for the Galaxy: A lovely filler…I like the building aspect and the dice manipulation a lot.

    6. For Sale: Another versatile game, and my second favorite filler (used to be my first favorite until Arboretum came along). Both this and Arboretum are always in my game bag.

    5. Hansa Teutonica: This is what I want Dudes on a Map to be…dynamic, dramatic, and deterministic

    4. Arboretum: My favorite filler. I like the puzzle you try to solve in a very short time frame, and am mesmerized by the beautiful art on the cards.

    3. Viticulture Essential Edition: This has quickly rose to my top 10…I rarely win, yet feel so superhumanly powerful despite that! And the Automata just brings my experience to a whole different level!

    2. La Granja: I really enjoy figuring out how to best use the cards I get…like Viticulture, I enjoy the “here’s some lemons, now go make lemonade” stories that unfold.

    1. Keyflower: I love the auction mechanic, the dramatic ebb and flow of the battle for the tiles and boats, timing your moves as you try to outguess your opponents, and the feeling that no two games are ever the same.

    • Gregg: This is great! It looks like you lean towards Euro games, as do I, but you’d still seek variety and versatility for this kind of list. I like it! And I’m honored that Viticulture made the list.

  3. This for me changes every few months as I learn new games. I think you’ve hit some great games, and you’ve got a good variety. I really like Codewords for a family/social game – especially as there are infinite ways to expand on it and it’s great for teaching language. I love Burgle Bros but it does feel limited. Maybe it’s the box, but it feels cramped. If I went with a co-op I’d probably go Pandemic Legacy. I really love King of New York for my gateway, but Ticket to Ride is a good option. I’d actually pick Viticulture: Essential Edition for one of the games, believe it or not. I love it. Same goes for Five Tribes, it’s just so endlessly replayable. I love the longevity and replayability of Betrayal on House of the Hill – I’ve played it 6 times and had 6 different scenarios. And I am still yet to be the betrayer. If I went for an abstract game I might go Qwirkle. Also good – those pieces would make excellent tokens for other games, or games we could make up. The last two would probably be taken up by a deck of standard poker cards with chips, offering a lot of options in this otherwise game free scenario, and Lords of Waterdeep, with expansion – as the game itself is awesome, but the pieces would allow a lot of options in making my own games as well.

    • Jeff: Codenames would have been close for me if I owned it. And you’re definitely right about the cramped feel of the Burgle Bros box! 🙂 I still need to try Qwirkle.

  4. Man this is tough…here’s a first try.

    10: Merchants and Marauders (Adventure)
    Adventure, tons of replayability. Every time I play it I remember why I love it so much. Expansion blows the lid off of the replayability.

    9: Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery (Competitive)
    My favorite ‘backstabbing’ competitive game. One of the few games in my collection that I like more with 5+ players.

    8: Lords of Waterdeep (Worker placement)
    Not my favorite worker placement game, but the favorite of most in my regular group. If I can’t have expansion too this changes to Euphoria.

    7: Orleans (Euro)
    Tons of fun, tons of strategy. My group loves it.

    6: Darkest Night (Co-op)
    Simple, but chock full of content, especially with expansions. The simplicity is it’s strength.

    5: Neuroshima Hex 3e (Abstract)
    I like to think of it as “better chess.”

    4: Eminent Domain (Deckbuiling/4x)
    Couldn’t decide between this and Twilight Imperium 3. I ultimately went with the one that would actually get played.

    3: Mage Knight (Solo)
    I only play it solo, but I absolutely love it.

    2: Three Kingdoms Redux (3 player asymmetry)
    Just great. Great mechanics. Great theme. Great asymmetry. Epic feel.

    1: Kingdom Death: Monster (Co-op/solo/dungeon crawl/campaign)
    It does pretty much everything I like and want in board gaming.

    • Lots of variety in your list, Travis! I need to try Merchants and Marauders. Lords of Waterdeep may have made my list over Stone Age if I owned it.

      • I think the need for variety is what makes this such a fun thing to think about. It’s easier to just think of a list of favorites, but it becomes more challenging when the ‘only 10’ limitation comes in to play.

  5. I don’t own a:
    Large-Group Hidden Teams: but if I did it would be Deception: Murder in Hong Kong. It’s fantastic and by far my fave of the genre

    I don’t need a Negotiation game, since my wife isn’t into them at all. I don’t mind it once in a while, but would go elsewhere for it and don’t need one of my own. (I guess the original Tresham Civilization with its trading would be my fave that I do own)

    So since some get combined and others bumped, that creates some more spots in 10 different types/weights. 😀

    10. Gateway: Ticket to Ride
    9. Co-op: Pandemic (could almost be my gateway too)
    8. Social/Filler: Codenames (also large-group teams, also works as my main filler since I don’t have another I’m as happy with)
    7. Abstract: Kingdom Builder
    6. Filler/Lighter Euro: Roll for the Galaxy (though Isle of Skye getting strong consideration)
    5. Medium Euro: Concordia
    4. Heavy Euro: Through the Ages
    3. Solo Heavy: The Gallerist
    2. Business: Food Chain Magnate
    1. Direct Conflict/Epic: War of the Ring… though Rebellion charging hard, and Scythe might overtake them both when it comes since it’s so Euro-y too. 😀

    • Jamie: Thanks for sharing! It’s really interesting see these lists and the different niches people want to fill (or not fill).

  6. 10. Deep Space D-6 (solitaire) – Award winning print-and-play solo game with simple but stressful mechanics and crew placement strategy. I’ve played it a lot, it’s tough but not impossible, and with multiple ships (kickstarter version) it’s a nice game to have.

    9. Magecraft (Bag builder) – This was a kickstarter I backed. I love the flow of the game, the simple yet complex mechanics and artwork. It’s not terribly hard to learn and I’m looking forward to the expansion in the future.

    8. Fluxx (Party) – Fluxx is great for not wanting to be bored with a game. The game doesn’t get old and there are so many themes that it’s an easy go-to/gateway game for people that aren’t big gamers.

    7. Splendor (strategy) – It’s extremely popular for a reason. Great art and simple mechanics. Everyone can enjoy this game.

    6. Shadows Over Camelot (thematic) – Who doesn’t love King Arthur and his quests? Most times I end up getting the luck of the traitor card. I like hidden role games, the ability to hose your party subtly is just fun, though I don’t recommend it for the insecure relationships.

    5. Arkham Horror (co-op) it’s got so much going on and can take forever, but it’s never really dull. Generally everyone dies before you’d ever make it through all the cards in a sitting. The replayability is nice.

    4. Omen: A reign of War (strategy) – Lovely art, great theme, well done mechanically, a solid 2 player all around.

    3. Titan (strategy) – I’ve never won this game and yet I love to play it. I guess maybe I just love the old Avalon Hill stuff. Additionally, the original game has unique pieces. Every single picture on each component is different, no two pieces are the same. That little tidbit still delights me.

    2. Civilization (strategy) – It’s a classic for a reason, and as far as civilization building goes, I think it’s still the standard by which others are judged. Again a very long game, but if I’ve only got 10 I’d rather have things I won’t get bored with.

    1. Dominant Species (strategy) – Again a great game for head-to-head competition, though more players make it even better it also makes it a bit slower. Still, it’s a great game with great mechanics.

    • Faelyn: Thanks for sharing your list! Lots of interesting games here. I like the Shadows Over Camelot choice a lot. I still need to try Dominant Species, and I’m intrigued by Magecraft. I also love Splendor, but I don’t own it.


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