Variant: Top 100 Board Games – 80 Through 71

Image via parentstv.org

Image via parentstv.org

We’re getting into the meat of the list now. Each of these titles is something I’d happily play just about any time. In fact, looking over this particular slice of the top 100 I see a number of games that I really enjoy but just happen to be logistically difficult to get to the table. Or require the right setup and group to be truly enjoyable.

80. Bunny Bunny Moose Moose

In BBMM, one player lays out cards with Bunnies or Moose and the other players have to mimic them as best as possible. The goal is to avoid negative points and gain positive points. The gestures are silly fun and the real-time nature of it is just a blast. But the best part is that underneath the wacky veneer, there’s a real and legitimate strategy game. It’s the most strategic party game out there.

79. Jaipur

Perhaps the perfect couples’ game, Jaipur is all about trading camels for rubies, spices, and leather. Players can get points by selling goods early or by selling a lot of goods at once (or both). There’s a delicate balance between the two and every good you sell reduces the point haul by your opponent. Plus, it has an interesting camel-taking mechanism where you can grab a bunch which will allow you to trade efficiently on later turns – but might give your opponent the first crack at any newly revealed cards.

78. Ora et Labora

I’m a fan of most of Rosenberg’s work, and that includes Ora et Labora. Even though I think it’s the mechanically superior game, it didn’t really get the same warm reception that Agricola or Le Havre did. But the way the resources work is tremendous. Every resource gets on a wheel, and if untaken, increase in value. But any player can grab them and reduce it to zero again. Plus the two modes of play (Irish and French) feel very different. And having two kinds of workers is an excellent twist on the design. There’s just a lot to enjoy here.

77. Mr. Jack

Speaking of two player games, nothing is better at two-player deduction than Mr. Jack and the sequel game, Mr. Jack in New York. Of the two, I prefer New York, but the original is certainly simpler to teach and has more readily grasped powers. But just because the powers are simple, doesn’t make the game easy. In fact, there are huge opportunities as you take a combination of powers that moves the board into your favor, only to have your opponent tweak it back with the remaining power by doing something you didn’t expect. The back and forth of Mr. Jack is tremendous.

76. Ubongo: Duel

Ubondo is a great special puzzle game that always gets my brain working. But it has an unfortunate scoring system that detracts from the main feature of the title. Enter Ubongo: Duel. Sure, it only works for two players, but it’s all about the puzzle. It’s a challenge to see who can solve the puzzle first. The whole take-a-gem scoring system is removed entirely and the game distilled down to the unique essence. A great two player title.

75. Claustrophobia

This particular set of 10 is two-player heavy, it seems. But Claustrophobia is one of the best and most thematic two-player games. Set in the world of Helldorado, one player takes on the role of the humans who are quite powerful and have unique abilities. The other player takes over the demons who are weak but unlimited. Both sides use dice, but completely differently – leading to a wholly unique experience in dungeon delving. Just writing this out makes me want to play again.

74. Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico was one of the first medium weight games I ever played, and I absolutely hated it at the time. But a few plays later, and this is now a favored game. Although I really enjoy this game, I think I fall into the trap of trying the same strategy repeatedly: warehouse and wharf. It doesn’t hit the table as much as it could, otherwise, and that’s why it finds itself higher on the list despite my enjoyment of it.

73. Endeavor

Endeavor was all the rage when it first debuted and quickly sold out everywhere. I had to acquire my copy in trade. But for some reason, it didn’t have the staying power and the clamor for plays quickly subsided. I’m not sure why. This is a fabulous title that gives you the ability to advance a particular strategy, that changes significantly from play to play, and with enough variability that a winning strategy one game might be outshined the next.

72. Star Wars: X-Wing

For me, X-Wing is the definitive Star Wars game. The dogfights between X’s and TIEs are the most iconic and memorable of any space battle. And this game lets you do that. Plus, it’s a great system that is easy to understand, but unfolds amazing strategy and complexity – especially after you begin assigning upgrades to your ships. My acquisitions have kept to ships you see in the films only, but that has been more than enough to field large fleets and huge fun.

71. Reef Encounter

The theme of Reef Encounter is not exciting, but the gameplay is. It is one of the most brutal, heavy games that I own. It’s not just about being more efficient – although there is certainly an element of that. It’s about taking over territory, protecting your own, and then devouring your own tiles for points when the time is right. You not only advance your position on the board, but you can lock in scoring opportunities by shifting the relative strength of the pieces. If the designer hadn’t made so many other great games, I’d be tempted to call this a masterpiece.

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