Neal’s Top 10 Games (in order from 10th to 1st):
1982 (1987 Deluxe Edition), Steve Jackson Games, Competitive, Card game, Reality
Why I like it: No game is ever the same, satirical cards, hilarious combinations (e.g. The United Nations controls the Tobacco & Liquor Companies; Rosicrucians control Saturday Morning Cartoons), and a deeper multi-player strategy than is readily obvious at first glance.
#9 2 de Mayo
2008, Gen X Games, Competitive, Board and Card game, Historical
Why I like it: An asymmetrical game with innovative game mechanics, captures the flavor of the historical event well, real tough competitive play
BGG: 2 de Mayo
#8 Formula De’
1991, Descartes, Competitive, Board game, Reality (racing)
Why I like it: It feels like real racing–shift the gears, slam the brakes, decide how much to gamble going into the turns, block off opponents, take a line…it’s all in this game.
BGG: Formula De’
#7 Ascending Empires
2011, Z-Man Games, Competitive, Board game, Sci-Fi
Why I like it: You get to “flick” ships across space, what is more fun than that?!? Also has a nice strategic gameplay around developing your technology, colonizing, and attacking opponents’ ships and planets. It can get get into a stalemate, but didn’t most colonizing periods on Earth end this way too (see the Imperial colonization of Asia and Africa)?
BGG: Ascending Empires
#6 Power Grid
2004, Rio Grande Games, Competitive, Board game, Reality
Why I like it: You can’t win by charging straight at victory! You have to manage your resources well, plan for the end game, and watch carefully what others are doing. Players can indeed mess with each other in subtle ways through the purchase of power plants and buying fuels.
BGG: Power Grid
#5 Eminent Domain
2011, Tasty Minstrel Games, Competitive, Board game, Sci-Fi
Why I like it: My absolute favorite of the lead/follow games. Has a great design where multiple strategies to win are available (and viable!). And you have to watch other players very, very carefully! For example, if they are building toward a game-altering technology you had better either find a way to stop them or find a way to deal with that tech when it hits the board.
BGG: Eminent Domain
#4 Shadowfist CCG
1995, Daedalus (Revised: Inner Kingdom Games), Competitive, Collective Card Game, Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Reality
Why I like it: Wonderful and evocative theme (cybernetic monkeys, kung fu monks, lycanthropic illuminati, etc), winning takes time and a slow build-up (unlike most CCG where you can juggernaut straight to victory with insane combos), factions are very balanced, much deeper strategy and tactical play than in most CCG.
#3 Ghost Stories
2008, Repos Production, Co-operative, Board game, Fantasy
Why I like it: Super-hard to win…but you can if you play well and get a little luck, has great art, the theme really carries through during the game play, random tile placement and random draw can make games very different (even if the overall strategies remain game to game). The expansions do not add much, but the core game is the best co-operative game on the market.
BGG: Ghost Stories
2012, Libellud/Asmodee, Competitive, Card game, Fantasy
Why I like it: Only a small number of the spell cards are used in each game (maybe 1/2 in the core set, maybe 1/3 with expansions added) so each game can be very different than the previous game. Multiple strategies exist, players can–and do–frequently find ways to hamper each other or directly interfere, resource management is fluid and intuitive, dice selection adds tactical choice on top of the long-range strategies, and even if you lose, you should have a good time playing the game anyway.
1979, Avalon Hill, Competitive, Board game, Sci-Fi
Why I like it: Way ahead of its time…and still better today than everything else! The game can end on the first turn if players don’t watch each others moves….or it can last all the way to the end of Turn 10. And just when you thought you won on Turn 4 by military acumen, the Bene Gesserit reveal that they predicted exactly that and helped you achieve it…and now they win instead. And those Harkonnen traitors, oh man, how I hate all those Harkonnen traitors. And man I hate paying the Guild everytime I ship troops down to the planet, that is unless I am the Guild that game. You have to get some help from the other players but you can’t trust any of them because you just know they are going to back stab you (and they will!). The battle system is innovative and deadly. And don’t forget to get troops on Arrakis and get the spice…because the spice must flow!