GamerChris’ Top 100 Games!

Tom Vasel has defined and then revised the list of his favorite 100 games over the last 5 years, and after watching a few of his videos recently, I was inspired to do the same.  He discussed the methodoly that he uses (making cards for each game, dealing out 6 at a time, and deciding which three are your favorites… and then doing it over and over and over again), and I thought that it would be a good exercise for me to take another look at my favorite games from a new perspective.

I’ve rated 336 games on BGG, but I decided that I really didn’t need to bother with those that I had rated a 6 or lower, and I eliminated expansions and re-implementations for the most part, leaving me with around 250 games that I made cards for.  When sorting cards and making decisions, I tried to always think about which games were the ones I most wanted to play.  My goal was to make that the standard, rather than some idea about how “good” the games were or how high or low I had previously rated or ranked them.

And a few things surprised me when it was all said and done.  After lots of sorting and then laying them out in order, I double-checked the order with some side-by-side comparisons.  And this is what I came up with (sorry about no links, but that’s just a crapload of work):

100. Pit
99. Unspeakable Words
98. TransAmerica
97. Blue Moon City
96. Reef Encounter
95. Taboo
94. Castle Keep
93. Key Harvest
92. Fire & Axe: A Viking Saga
91. Cutthroat Caverns
90. Iluminati: Deluxe Edition
89. Fairy Tale
88. 10 Days in Asia
87. Titan: The Arena
86. Bull in a China Shop
85. FITS
84. Hive
83. Bang!
82. Winner’s Circle
81. Ideology: The War of Ideas
80. Torres
79. RoboRally
78. Cuba
77. Toledo
76. Say Anything
75. Twilight Imperium 3rd edition
74. King of Siam
73. The Settlers of Catan/Settlers of Caanan
72. Stone Age
71. Kingdoms
70. Cold War: CIA vs. KGB
69. Betrayal at House on the Hill
68. Big City
67. Time’s Up!
66. Caylus Magna Carta
65. Zooloretto
64. On the Underground
63. Puerto Rico
62. Amun-Re
61. Battlestar Galactica
60. Age of Gods
59. If Wishes Were Fishes
58. A Castle for All Seasons
57. Top Race
56. Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow (Werewolf in general)
55. Wits & Wagers
54. Revolution!
53. Cartagena
52. Sorry! Sliders
51. Tier auf Tier
50. Antike
49. Colosseum
48. Vegas Showdown
47. Le Havre
46. Ticket to Ride
45. Nexus Ops
44. Notre Dame
43. Patrician
42. For Sale
41. Through the Desert
40. In the Year of the Dragon
39. Dominion
38. Liar’s Dice
37. Prophecy
36. Space Alert
35. Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery
34. The Pillars of the Earth
33. Tales of the Arabian Nights
32. Taluva
31. Samurai
30. Small World
29. Witch’s Brew
28. Balderdash
27. Citadels
26. War of the Ring
25. Mission: Red Planet
24. Shogun/Wallenstein
23. Race for the Galaxy
22. Cosmic Encounter
21. Chicago Express
20. Ghost Stories
19. Acquire
18. Warrior Knights
17. Metropolys
16. BattleLore
15. PitchCar
14. Descent: Journeys in the Dark
13. China/Web of Power
12. Struggle of Empires
11. Ra
10. Agricola
9. Arkadia
8. Shadows Over Camelot
7. Steam
6. Fury of Dracula
5. Tribune: Primus Inter Pares
4. 1960: The Making of the President
3. Tigris & Euphrates
2. Pandemic
1. The Princes of Florence

Of course, it’s a very subjective thing to rank games like this, and my list would likely be different next week or next month, but I’m pretty happy with it as it is.  But what do y’all think?


  1. Good to see POF at #1. What a classic, elegant game. I personally would have had Acquire in my top 5, I think, just for the sheer impact and relevance that the game has had. But that’s me…

    I’ve been meaning to go purchase Arkadia and I think I’ll do that today.

  2. Alton

    Chris great list. Glad to see that all of my top twenty-five but one was on your list. Here is my “Baker’s Dozen”

    1.Twilight Imperium 3rd edition
    2.Race for the Galaxy
    4.Stone Age
    5.The Settlers of Catan
    6.Power Grid
    7.Struggle of Empires
    10.Warrior Knights
    12.The Princes of Florence
    13.Age of Empires III: T A o D

  3. Chris Norwood

    Again, my sole criteria was desire to play and enjoy the game.  I actually tried to not let popular opinion, respect for design, or overall impact or relevance to the greater hobby influence my decisions.  No matter how “great” a game may be, if I don’t have much fun with it or want to get it to the table, then it didn’t make my list.

    But regarding Arkadia, have you checkout out my review of it?  It’s definitely a game that I need to push a little harder with the game group to get to the table soon. 

  4. Im not sure if I could rank my favorites. It might be easier to list the games that I don’t like.
    …But here is a list of games that I enjoy (in no order):
    1) Agricola
    2) Struggle of Empires
    3) Galactic Emperor
    4) Steam
    5) Twilight Struggle
    6) Warrior Knights
    7) Game of Thrones
    8) Acquire
    9) Roll Through the Ages
    10) Ideology
    11) Big City
    12) Top Race
    13) Battle Lore
    14) Chaos in the Old World
    15) Age of Empires III
    16) 1960
    17) Princes of Florence
    18) War of the Ring
    19) Colossal Arena
    20) Ra

  5. Alton and Britt,

    Those are good (and somewhat similar) lists – mostly what I’d expect from each of you.

    One interesting thing about Britt’s list: TI3 didn’t make the cut???

  6. Chris Ingersoll

    I only rate games that I own and I’m usually fairly generous. Here’s my (modified, no expansions) Top 20 at BGG:

    1: Magic: The Gathering
    2: Race for the Galaxy
    3: Cosmic Encounter
    4: Agricola
    5: Taluva
    6: Zombiegeddon
    7: Blokus
    8: Zooloretto
    9: Small World
    10: Witch’s Brew
    11: Blue Moon City
    12: Descent – Journeys Into the Dark
    13: Tigris & Euphrates
    14: Easter Island
    15: RoboRally
    16: Diceland
    17: Lost Worlds (combat books)
    18: Primordial Soup
    19: Fairy Tale
    20: Mix Up

  7. So I’ve been struggling to make a list of my own. After a week of trouble, I’ve decided to (1) limit it to 50, since I’ve played far fewer games than you, and (2) use 10 5-game tiers, since lots of these are so subjectively close that I can’t figure it out…and I also don’t have a #1 game at the moment. Anyway, here it is, with each tier in alphabetical order:


    1960: The Making of the President
    For Sale
    Ticket to Ride

    Race for the Galaxy
    The Great Dalmuti

    Say Anything!

    Fairy Tale
    Hey! That’s My Fish!
    Lost Cities

    The Settlers of Catan
    Vegas Showdown

    Shadow Hunters
    Small World

    Cosmic Encounter

    Modern Art
    Winner’s Circle

    Make ‘n’ Break
    Primordial Soup

  8. Chris Norwood

    That’s a good way to put together a list like this, because I’ll totally admit that some of the decisions I made about specific rankings were pretty much arbitrary. 

    But come on… Rocketville?  Possibly as high as #16?  I haven’t actually played the game (because of its infamous reputation), but I want to know what the whole boardgaming world is missing???

    It’s also pretty interesting how making my Top 100 list has changed my perspective on rating games.  After I had it set pretty well, I went back to all of my individual ratings on BGG and made sure that they lined up with their ranking in my top 100.  I needed to revise some of them anyway, but having a concrete list to use made it a lot easier.  If I had ranked a game lower than another, there’s no way that my rating could be higher for it. 

    And now, when I play any new game, I have a better reference for what kinds of games I consider for each rating.  In general, it’s made me more ruthless with giving out ratings above 7, because by the way it turned out, that would automatically mean that it would be in and therefore displace a game from my current list. 

  9. TI3 just hasnt held up for me over time, esp with newer sci fi titles—such as Galactic Emperor. The quicker gameplay of GE gives me the same satisfaction of TI’s highlights. Plus, a full game of TI wears me out now…and usually leaves me ticked off for some reason.

    Im eyeing AD Astra and need to play EVE Conquests.

  10. Well, personal top XX lists are not the XX best games, but just the ones they want to play. For me, Rocketville is light and simple to explain, and I like that. It’s not cutthroat, and I like that too. It doesn’t have superb depth, but I don’t usually play most games enough to wear them out, and Rocketville’s reputation means I’m certainly not at that point for that. Also, it was one of my first designer games. I played a lot of Magic before that, so the Richard Garfield name was intriguing.

    People don’t like the game because the thing could have been put in a FFG Silver Box and the components would fit, and it was retailing at the same price as Betrayal at House on the Hill and Vegas Showdown. I managed to pick it up at $20 and I’ve been happy, and I’m sure that…is there still a $5 copy at Hypermind? I mean, it’s worth $5.

    It’s not the Second Coming, but it doesn’t deserve its reputation. I can bring it next week if you wanted to give it a spin for the sake of having done so. Or, you know, $5.

    And I had new games rank highly when I did that, but I revised my list somewhat and knocked new games down a few notches. Inevitably a game looks good at the beginning and wears a bit as time passes. That’s how it works. Now if you want to change your ratings so your 100 stays intact, that’s fine, but I really think they’re separate animals. Ratings are a very-much-right-now thing. As in, this game may not be wonderful, but I thought it to be fun when I played it twice, and I’d like to have a third play of this more than, say, my 173rd play of Pandemic. It’s certainly not a better game, but the ratings could be similar.

  11. Chris Norwood

    You’re totally right, Top XX lists are completely subjective based on personal preference.  And I’d gladly welcome a play of Rocketville.

    But I think that you’re reading my comment wrong.  Before the list, giving a game a rating was a pretty arbitrary.  “Hey, I liked that pretty well, I think I’ll give it an 8!”  But now, I can say, “Well, I liked that pretty well, but did I like it as much as I like Descent or Citadels (which I rate at 8), or is it more like Nexus Ops (7.5) or Stone Age (7)?”

    I started with what games I wanted to play most, then tweaked a few ratings to better reflect what I actually think about the games, and now have a more concrete idea of what the ratings mean to me.  It was never about “better” or “worse” games, it’s about what games I want to play the most (and for me, few things would be better than a 173rd play of Pandemic!)

  12. I’ll bring the game along next week then.

  13. tomg

    Ok, so your challenge is to teach me your top 15 by the end of the year.

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