Here we go! Time to kick off my Top 100 Games of Right Now with numbers 100 through 91.
100. Isle of Skye designed by Andreas Pelikan and Alexander Pfister
Coming in at number 100 is a pretty thinky tile laying game, think Carcassone but with more complex scoring. Folks tend to focus on the tile laying but for me the real genius of this game is in the valuing and price setting of your tiles. Based on what tiles your opponent has and what features will score that round, players can use the supply and demand to force other players to make difficult decisions. A great strategy game with five players because everything happens simultaneously!
99. Targi designed by Andreas Steiger
This is one of the few modern board games that is set on the continent of Africa and does not deal with colonization. Targi focuses on the Tuareg people who exist throughout multiple modern African nations such as Niger, Mali, and Algeria. While it is nice to have games that do not focus on Europeans at all, I want to point out that the designer and publisher are European – this creates a problematic dynamic with the theme in my opinion. The worker placement game play is where Targi shines. There is a grid of actions and each player takes turns placing pawns on the outside of the grid and then gets to take the actions that are the intersection of their workers. This is a really neat two player game!
98. Inis designed by Christian Martinez
I feel like Inis fell off the map so fast! The first thing I noticed about the game was the stark artwork – it definitely stands out of the crowd in that regard. In this game, players are drafting from a small deck of action cards the actions they want to do for the round. Since the deck is so small, players know what types of cards are in the deck and are able to draft more strategically round to round. Inis is kind of an drafting/area control game? It’s hard to pin it down because there are so many paths to victory. But the game really revolves around the cards and how players use the cards to manipulate the board. A clever game which I would love to get back to the table.
97. Medici designed by Reiner Knizia
Auctions will not be strangers on this list and Medici is the first auction game from the famed Knizia. This auction game is interesting because as the active player you can decide how large the offer is by flipping over cards. This adds a unique push your luck aspect that could determine if you pull another card to deprive someone the opportunity to bid on the lot or to add to or tank the value of the lot. I still do not really know how to be good at Medici… but I have enjoyed all of my plays
96. Circus Flohcati designed by Reiner Knizia
This is the second game republished by Grail Games recently and another Knizia! This one is purely push your luck and has the weirdest theme I could imagine: a flea circus. Players are trying to recruit different flea performers to join their circus to score the most points… without busting! A super fast and fun game where players will be challenged to push their luck in order to get better cards. The reprint by Grail Games is fantastic – they really have done a fantastic job with their games in the past couple of years.
95. Tokaido designed by Antoine Bauza
Another game where I was enamored by the artwork which is absolutely lovely. I bought this game early in getting back into the board gaming hobby and I still think it’s a nice, simplistic strategy game. For me, this game replaces games life ‘The Game of Life’ where as a player you are traveling one way down a road collecting different things. That is true in Tokaido as you are a tourist in Japan traveling down the road towards Edo. You can move as far as you want down the road but you can never move backwards. You are meeting other travelers, praying at temples, eating good food, taking pictures and buying souvenirs. This game sticks around for me because of the expansion giving players more choices in their journey.
94. Matcha designed by David Harding II
I knew I was going to get this game from the moment I saw the cover. With gorgeous artwork, the theme of this really pulled me in: Japanese tea ceremonies. I was privileged enough to attend a Japanese tea ceremony in Boston a couple years ago and it was a fantastic experience. This game reminds me of my experience discovering some of my lost culture. In the game, the two players are trying to collect the items they need for a successful tea ceremony. At its heart, this is a two player bluffing game where you try to out think your opponent. Very simple rule set and a very fun two player experience!
93. Potato Man designed by Günter Burkhardt and Wolfgang A. Lehmann
This is my first trick-taking entry into my Top 100! I think trick-taking is my favorite game mechanism. Throughout high school, I played Hearts almost every day and since then, I have loved the challenge of hand management, evaluating a hand, and playing the other players. Potato Man is a bit simpler than a classic trick-taker where instead of following suite, players must play a suite that has not been played. If they cannot, the round ends. I find this game interesting because of the rank distributions between the suites and the ‘1’ card (super potato man) which trumps the highest cards in the game!
92. Evolution designed by Dominic Crapuchettes, Dmitry Knorre, and Sergey Machin
This was one of my first introductions to card driven engine building with a pretty cool and unique theme. Players are using cards to create different species and give them different traits that will help them survive. At the end of each round, each player takes a turn eating the collective food (or if a carnivore, eating other animals). Food is points so the player who is able to create the species with larger populations that are able to sustain themselves will win! I find the game to be very clever with different paths to victory and different card combinations.
91. 7 Wonders Duel designed by Antoine Bauza and Bruno Cathala
To round out the first section of my Top 100 list is the two-player only sequel to 7 Wonders, 7 Wonders Duel. My partner and I really like 7 Wonders and when we first got the game, we would play the official 2-player variant which included a dummy third player. While it worked, I did not particularly enjoy building my own civilization and also having to draft for the dummy player every other turn. Duel changes this up by keeping the feel of 7 Wonders but adding a unique way of drafting by arranging cards face up and down in a pyramid shape, giving partial information and partial access to players. It works wonderfully and I’ll never play the original 7 Wonders with two ever again.
Stick around next week for numbers 90 – 81!