Tonight I did an interesting (to me at least) exercise. I looked through my game collection and asked myself, "If I could only keep 25 games, which ones would they be?"
Well, here are the answers and some explanations as to why.
First though, let me explain two genres that aren't included on the list and why: Legacy Games and Escape Room/Detective games.
I left these off my "top 25 games to keep" list simply because they end. They have definitive storylines that aren't really re-playable.
Ok, onto the list:
- Alien Frontiers - Fun worker placement with a theme I really enjoy.
- Carcassonne - The quintessential tile-laying game. It's a classic and it continues to hold up over the years.
- Dragonfire - I just really love this game. It's hard, but winnable and it's a fun twist on a deck-builder. Plus my copy smells like Play Doh.
- Eldritch Horror - Long, involved, Lovecraftian - lose yourself for an evening in this game. The theme is deeply immersive.
- The Expanse Board Game - A solid, enjoyable game from my favorite sci-fi franchise.
- First Martians - This game got slammed with so much hate that you can find it in bargain bins for $10, but I think it's just largely misunderstood. I actually really like the "manage a dozen different things" aspects of the game. The rule book is terrible, though.
- Forbidden Sky - This is the most thematic of the "Forbidden" games, I feel. It really does feel very steampunk, and it's a good family-weight co-op game.
- Ghost Stories - On the other hand, if you're looking for a co-op that will kick your butt, this is it, but man is it fun. The theme really comes through in this one, as well.
- Gloomhaven - Several hundred hours of straight-up dungeon crawl gameplay here, infinitely re-playable, and it scales wonderfully.
- Lanterns - A very pretty, family-weight set collection game that's just relaxing.
- Mission Red Planet - Fun, Fast. Mars. It's a good mix of area control and hand management, with a little bit of a "take-that" mechanism. It's Steampunk Mars!
- One Deck Dungeon - When you're in the mood for a quick dungeon crawl and lots of dice chucking, this hits the spot.
- On Mars - OK, I don't physically have this game yet, but I've ordered it. It's going on the list having never played it, because this is one of those holy grail games you want as a collector's piece, if nothing else.
- Pandemic - The classic, favorite, accessible, co-op with varying degrees of difficulty. Are there better co-op games? Maybe, but they aren't Pandemic (unless they're other games in the Pandemic line and then... oh, never mind).
- Quantum - This is such a unique game, abstract, tactical, very interesting dice mechanics.
- Reef - Great lightweight and easily accessible game that's good to play if you're in the mood for something casual and not too mentally taxing. The reef components are big, chunky, and really cool.
- RoboRally - I'll admit, I'm largely keeping this for nostalgia purposes, but the programmed movement robot battle is fun chaos.
- Scrabble - Yeah, I can't help it. I do hold onto a special love for this classic word game.
- Shadowrun Zero Day - There are other two-player card games that are subjectively better, but not many of them are so accessible and easy to just sit down and start playing. I also love the theme.
- Spirit Island - An amazing co-op game that's full of flavor. It's hard. It has great engine-building mechanics. The theme is interesting and well-done. It's just a lot of fun.
- Tak - It's a visually appealing, abstract strategy game that seems simple on the surface, but gets deceptively complex. There's more to the game than meets the eye. I strongly considered The Duke for this spot, but Tak has a lower strategic barrier to entry and is more visually accessible..
- Terraforming Mars - More Mars engine building. I love the theme and really enjoy how the game plays, and watching everything play out on the board.
- Tiny Epic Western - The poker mechanic in this game feels pretty unique (at least in my collection) and it's something different. It's a nice change of pace and, unlike some of the other Tiny Epic games, the "tiny" part doesn't feel like a gimmick or like they made the game small just for the sake of including it in the "Tiny Epic" line.
- Twilight Imperium - Because sometimes you just want to play a 12 hour board game about conquering the galaxy.
- Xia: Legends of a Drift System - And sometimes you just want to putter around space in a great sandbox game that lets you do whatever you want to earn victory points.