Continuing my countdown of my personal Top 99. Here we go!
#88: We’ll start off this section of the list with a bit of an obscure choice. Carolus Magnus is a 2000 design from Leo Colovini, a designer that usually doesn’t do much for me. This one, however, is a really cool abstract area control type game where you are trying to gain control of cube colors, then leverage that to be able to control areas around a track of tiles. It’s only for two to three players, and yes, it’s kind of dry, but I find it to be a really good strategy game. If you’ve never played, I recommend you check it out. You can play at Yucata.de, but I think playing it live is a better experience.
#87: Legendary is a 2012 design from Devin Low that brings the Marvel Universe to a cooperative deckbuilding game. In each game, you have a different mastermind with different henchmen and villains in play, and a different set of heroes with varying powers. As you play, you’ll be adding more and more heroes to your deck, hopefully trying to get enough combat to keep too many villains from escaping and to keep the mastermind from carrying out his scheme. It’s a fun game that, like Castle Panic, suffers from trying to add a competitive aspect, but you can absolutely ignore it and still have a great time.
#86: Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age was one of the first games I was aware of that seemed like Yahtzee with a theme. Now it seems like they’re everywhere. Matt Leacock’s 2008 civilization dice game is one where you roll dice three times, deal with disasters, feed people, build stuff and make discoveries, all tracked on a score pad and a little peg board. The game features all wooden components, and it’s really a great fun game. I don’t play it nearly as much as I should.
#85: Hey! That’s My Fish! is an abstracty game by Günter Cornett and Alvydas Jakeliunas that was originally published in 2003. The Mayfair edition, which I originally played, was large and with some admittedly cool penguins, but Fantasy Flight stripped it down and made a very compact game. Basically, you’re moving penguins around ice floes to try to collect as much fish as possible. Every time you leave a floe, you remove the tile from the board, meaning no one else can cross there. Strand your opponents and grab all the fish for yourself! This is a really good one that all skill levels can appreciate.
#84: Days of Wonder always does well with their components, and Cleopatra and the Society of Architects is one of the best. This 2006 Bruno Cathala/Ludovic Maublanc joint effort is about building a palace in ancient Egypt. You have to use workers to complete various aspects of the temple (all made from 3D components), and may end up earning corruption for your efforts. If you have too much corruption at the end of the game, you are fed to the crocodiles, which is really one of my favorite game mechanisms. I enjoy this one, but it’s rare that I get to play.
#83: Citadels is not the game that invented the role selection genre, but it is one of the first, and one of the most influential. Designed in 2000 by Bruno Faidutti, this is a game where players first choose a role, then in role order try to build up their own personal city. Each role has its own special ability – the assassin can take out another character, the thief can steal, the magician can exchange cards, the king gets to go first, and so on. The player with the most points when someone has constructed eight buildings wins. It’s a very good card game, and one that is accessible to a wide range of people.
#82: The two-player game Morels (2012, Brent Povis) almost succeeds in making me want to eat mushrooms. The theme is that you’re on a mushroom gathering trip through the forest while trying to pick sets of delicious fungus. The path is ever-changing, and you have to be clever in order to get the mushrooms you need. Mushrooms at the end of the path enter an area called the decay, and mushrooms that remain there eventually disappear. It’s a relatively quick set-collection game, and I enjoy it a lot. My wife also really likes it, which is crucial for a two-player game in my house.
#81: Abyss gets a lot of credit for its art, but the game is really fun too. Designed by Bruno Cathala and Charles Chévallier in 2014, Abyss is all about trying to gain political power in an undersea kingdom. You’re trying to collect the support of allies which will in turn allow you to exercise influence over various nobles who will eventually allow you to control different locations. It sounds complicated, but it’s not – the game is actually pretty straightforward. The components are all very lovely, and I like the game a lot.
#80: I won my copy of Alea Iacta Est at a local convention a few years ago, and it’s become one of my favorite dice games. This 2009 Jeffrey D. Allers/Bernd Eisenstein design is set in Ancient Rome, but it’s really about trying to win different rewards through dice allocation. On your turn, you roll all of your dice, then assign a set to one of several locations. Each location gives you different benefits – provinces, patricians, Senate cards, and fortune tiles are all up for grabs. It’s also one of the only games I know of where the Latrine is a possible (if undesirable) location. It works really well, and makes for a good strategy dice game.
#79: For my money, I think that Arkham Horror is the most thematic games I have played. This 2005 Kevin Wilson/Richard Launius update of the 1987 horror classic is a cooperative game where players are moving around Arkham, trying to close and seal gates before the Ancient Ones awaken and devour the world. The game is based on the works of HP Lovecraft, and is slightly infamous for having enough expansions to make it next to impossible to play the whole game on one table. Many say that it has been replaced by 2013’s Eldritch Horror, but I haven’t played that, so this is on my list.
#78: Catacombs is a one-vs-all dungeon crawl dexterity game. It was first published in 2010, designed by Ryan Amos, Marc Kelsey, and Aron West. It’s a flicking game where heroes are shooting their discs around a dungeon to try and kill monsters while the overlord player is flicking monster discs around trying to hit heroes. It’s a lot of fun. I have the original edition, though a new edition with upgraded art was recently Kickstarted and should be available soon. It’s a game I can highly recommend in any form, so check it out.
Another day, another 11. See you soon for 77-#67! Thanks for reading!