A lot of people do a Top 100 Games list. But you know me, I’m kind of obsessed with the number 11, so I made a Top 99 list. My process was that I took every game I have recorded at least two plays of on BGG, and that I have rated an 8 or higher. The resulting list of 115 games got sorted and organized into what I’ll be revealing over nine posts here. So, without further ado, here is #99-89 of my Top 99 list.
First of all, I’m going to cheat a little by telling you that Last Will would have been my #100. This 2011 game from Vladimír Suchy and Czech Games Edition is all about inheriting a fortune and trying to blow it all in order to inherit a LARGER one. You’ll be buying properties that you hope will depreciate in value, buying extravagant gifts, and basically throwing money around. It’s a worker placement game that has a really fun concept, but it just barely missed the Top 99. Still, it’s a great game.
#99: Donald X. Vaccarino’s 2012 game Infiltration was the first set in the Android Universe (after Android, that is). This Fantasy Flight title is a push-your-luck game where players are trying to steal data from a research complex. Every turn, players simultaneously choose an order, then individually carry them out. Different rooms do different things, and after every round, the proximity alarm increases. If you haven’t escaped with as much data as possible when the proximity alarm hits 99, you lose. It’s quite a fun game with a nice variable set up. I’m sad that FFG won’t be supporting it anymore – it needs some expansions.
#98: Marcel-André Casasola Merkle has one of the longest names in game design, but he also has produced some really good games. His 2003 game Attika is all about building a city-state on the Greek peninsula. You’re trying to collect resources in order to construct buildings with the goal of either building all 30 or connecting two of the shrines on the board. It’s an very good two-player game, though I hear it bogs down a little with three or four players. I haven’t gotten to play it in a while, and maybe it would go up the list if I did, but I still have fond memories of it.
#97: The classic dexterity game Crokinole fills this spot on the list. This game, which can be played with two player, or four players in teams, is all about flicking discs to score maximum points. On your turn, you place a disc on the outer line and flick it towards the center. If there’s no other piece on the board, it must end in the center area. If there are opposing pieces on the board, it must hit one. Scoring is done based on proximity to the center, and the player/team with the most points scores the difference. Boards are really expensive, but if you can play, this is a lot of fun. The pegs in the middle are pretty maddening.
#96: Castle Panic is a light cooperative game from 2009 that was designed by Justin de Witt. It’s a tower defense game – every turn, monsters are moving closer to the center of the board where you and your fellow players are trying desperately to keep them at bay. It has a cool ring shape to the board, and the monsters JUST KEEP COMING. The rules try to shoehorn in a competitive aspect (only the player who gets the most points from killing monsters is considered to be the winner), but taken as a pure cooperative game, this is a great accessible experience that all ages and experience levels can enjoy.
#95: The 2003 two-player abstract game Six (by Steffen Mühlhäuser) is an absolute wonder of simplicity. Players either control red or black hexes and are trying to make one of three shapes out of six pieces – a line, a triangle, or a hexagon. On your turn, you simply place a piece so that it is touching at least one other piece. When you run out of pieces, you just move them around on the board. If this breaks the board, the smaller section is lost. That’s it. I just explained everything you need to know. It’s a beautiful game with some great lightweight pieces, and is very easy to learn, if difficult to master.
#93: Pixel Tactics was originally one of the games in the Level 99 Games Minigame Library (2012), but has since taken on a life of its own with several sequels. Designed by D. Brad Talton, this head-to-head battle game was inspired by the video game world. Players place their cards in a 3×3 grid, and each unit can do something different based on its position in the grid. Your goal in the game is to kill your opponent’s leader. There is a ton of strategy to explore in this little game, and I do enjoy it. It’s one of the more clever games that I’ve played, though it doesn’t get much play recently.
#94: Equinox is a two-player abstract game from designer Jason Boomer that was originally produced in 2012. One player is light, the other is dark, and you’re duking it out. There are 48 double-sided hexagonal tiles, and you play two per turn – one side is white, the other black. These tiles will then have scoring effects at the end of the game depending on their color, or may cause other already placed tiles to flip. The player who has the higest score at the end is the winner. It’s a really interesting tug-of-war throughout, and all of the tiles could be the one that makes or breaks your entire game based on when it is played. Good stuff.
#92: Master Plan is another from the Level 99 Games Minigame Library (designed by D. Brad Talton). When I did my original review, it was my favorite of the bunch, but it has since been surpassed. This is a real-space game that is set in a super villain game show. Players take turns moving, placing cards on the table as platforms to jump onto, and drawing new cards. You could place a springboard to help you move faster. You could place a switch that allows you to draw and replace a card from the table. It could be a laser to blast the floor out from someone. It could be a trapdoor. It could be a bomb. The strategy comes in clever placement of platforms, and it’s very entertaining.
#91: The Pillars of the Earth is a 2006 game by Michael Rieneck and Stefan Stadler that was based on the novel of the same name by Ken Follett. It’s a worker placement game where players have to gather resources and contribute to the construction of a cathedral. The game came out near the beginning of the worker placement craze (it was often referred to as Caylus Lite), and features a unique mechanism of pulling workers from a bag to have the option to pay more for the right to go first. The game attempts to follow the arc of the book through the cards that are played, but you don’t really need to know one to enjoy the other. It’s a beautiful game, and very well put together.
#90: Richard Garfield’s King of Tokyo will appear later on this list (spoiler). His 2014 follow-up King of New York is #90. Like its predecessor, the game is about monsters destroying a city (and each other). The core mechanism is the same – roll six dice up to three times to find out what actions are available on your turn. You can collect energy to spend on cards, you can heal, or you can attack each other. KONY adds alternate ways to score as well as buildings and military that can be destroyed for extra benefits. It is definitely a step up in complexity from its older brother, but I put it behind because I just love the simplicity of the original. King of New York is still very good, and I would recommend it.
#89: We’ll round out this first set with Kingdom Builder, the 2011 game that won Donald X. Vaccarino his second Spiel des Jahres (and also his second appearance on this list). This is an area control game where, on your turn, you draw a card, then add three settlements to the indicated terrain type. As you go, you’ll be trying to fulfill conditions on three random objective cards that are different each game. There’s a lot of replayability, and while a lot of people deride it for having a lack of decisions, I think it’s a great gateway game. It’s easy to learn and quick playing, as well as nice to look at.
Coming soon – the top 88! Thanks for reading!