Variant: Top 100 Games – 20 Through 11 | Giant Fire Breathing Robot

Variant: Top 100 Games – 20 Through 11

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Woo! We’re inside the top 20. As I look over this list, I see a lot my favorite games in particular genres. My favorite real time game. My favorite abstract game. My favorite Feld game. All of these titles are absolutely fantastic and just looking over the list makes me want to play them more. Deep gameplay, emergent strategies, replay value, and overall quality experiences.

20. Werewolf

I have played more Werewolf than any other game on my top 100. Probably more than any other game. I love social deduction and this is the big boy in the genre. The important thing, though, is that Werewolf doesn’t have to be a silly party game where you make accusations based on body language. It can be played as a sublimely strategic game full of bluffing and deception. And in that format, it’s brilliant.

19. Macao

Apparently this is my second favorite Feld title. Macao is fabulous because it holds your face over the stove and never lets up. It has a wonderful mix of getting fewer things now, or more things later. It’s critical to measure out your resources and ensure that you’re getting enough from turn to turn. The game is always ready to punish you for the slightest infraction – including not managing your resources or having extra cards.

18. Dominant Species

Fantastic with six players, Dominant Species is an expert blend of euro mechanics and ameritrash conflict. Players choose their actions in an initial worker placement phase.  Then those actions are carried out in a specified order.  The result is that you need to carefully plan your turn, but also need the flexibility to react to unexpected moves by your opponents. Best with six, playing this game is always a real treat.

17. Luna

What an amazing title. Luna not only looks gorgeous on the table, but provides a fantastic experience. While the interaction is mostly indirect, the players directly compete to land coveted spaces within the temple of the moon priestess. It also has a round timer that is manipulable by the players. So someone who has a ton of available actions still has to be wary that the round will end before they can use them.

16. Tash Kalar: Arena of Legends

I’m not usually a fan of abstract games – in fact, this may be the only one on my list. It’s not that they aren’t great, they are. It’s just that it seems to have less purpose. But I absolutely adore Tash-Kalar. While the mechanics are rather abstract, it still has a nice theme surrounding it. Plus, it really rewards spatial recognition and clever play. Plus, it has a grand catch-up mechanism that helps trailing players stay in the game, but doesn’t become a game winning move, itself.

15. Space Alert

Perhaps the best cooperative game ever made, and certainly the best real-time one.  In Space Alert, all you have to do is survive for ten minutes. Easy, right? Well, the threats come fast and furious. And players have to carefully manage and move energy to the right places.  So many times we’ve high-fived at the end of a round, confident we’ve won handily. Only to find out that a critical error was made and watch in laughter/horror as our ship was destroyed.

14. War of the Ring (Second Edition)

For fans of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, this game is amazingly faithful to the source material. Which is surprising given the constraints necessary for a fun game. But it features the ringbearers march toward Mount Doom and Sauron’s hunt for the ring. It has factions of every kind and even represents their reluctance to go to war with the political track. And, despite being highly asymmetrical, the two sides are very well balanced and provide the best gaming experience on Middle Earth.

13. Dungeon Petz

Part worker placement and part auction, Dungeon Petz is all fantastic. It’s a great tweak that you group your workers together for the right to go first, but aren’t auctioning spots one at a time. Plus, this is perhaps one of the best examples of tying theme to mechanics. Despite it’s heavier nature, the title is very easy to teach because all of the rules make sense within the context of the theme.

12. Amun-Re

Knizia’s masterpiece. Amun-Re is fantastic because it fosters such agony of decision at every turn. Whether it’s the auction, the sacrifice, the purchasing, or just the general strategy you decide to pursue, the game constantly presents you with hard choices. And they are hard because every decision point is so meaningful to the outcome of the game. There are no wasted moments, and no bloated bits. Just constant pressure to make the right call.

11. Asgard

This is one of those games you really need to play twice to fully understand. For the majority of the game, you’re building temples to the gods and winning battles around Yggdrasil. But then Ragnarok comes. Suddenly, the points start flying fast and furious and you realize that the entire game was a buildup to this moment. Asgard excels with long term strategy.

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