Thursday, 4 June 2015

Desert Island Risks

It's been quite some time since we discussed our top ten games? - a couple of years or more. I thought it'd be interesting to see how (if at all) our tastes have changed and hear also from various new GNN members - I'm pretty sure the collective collection will be fairly diverse; much more so than in the past.

Back in 2013 I think we did games of the year as in games played that year. Today I'm proposing your desert island games - trapped forever on a remote location with only basic supplies, a cabin, a table, and maybe a limitless supply of fatty snacks and beer for you and your 3 or 4 like-minded gamers to survive on. What to take with you? Here's mine.

1. Railways of the World.

I'm not throwing these out in reverse order or preference but if I were this would probably be number one. It ticks so many boxes for me, and almost everyone seems to like it. Expansion, economics, some hidden knowledge, cubes, hexes... it's just wonderful.

2. Quantum

Initially I put Eclipse down as something that could be played once in a blue moon: a really fat juicy steak of a game that I consider excellent. But for all it's excellence, I couldn't bring myself to leave Quantum out. There you go.   

3. Biblios

Whew. After all that heavy hitting above it was time for something light, and Biblios has never really gone out of favour at GNN, though it does occasionally lie low. I couldn't take Timeline because you'd get to know all the answers, and 6Nimmt feels better with more players, so this is my go-to twenty-minute game.

4. 7 Wonders

It almost feels unimaginative putting 7 Wonders down, but I just think it's great. I love that - when you play as inattentively as I do, anyway - the end scoring can throw up surprises. I love that there are a variety of ways to play. And I love that it's all over in 25 minutes.

5. Macao

It was a toss-up between this and Castles of Burgundy for my Feld itch-scratching. I think the latter is a tidier game, but there is something I have always really enjoyed about Macao. I even like the fact it throws up the odd duff game, which is rather silly I suppose, but it feels slightly unruly.

6. Tigris and Euphrates

If only to stop Martin being sick over the screen... no, I do like Knizia and though I found it really hard to get my head around this on both my plays (about 15 years apart!) I appreciated it's cleverness and potential swingy-ness. I'd want a game that bamboozles me and a challenge too, so I'm going for this.

7. Caverna

Back to the big hitters with Tigris and then this. With Agricola it latterly became a game I respected rather than enjoyed, but with the feeding phase simpler and less punitive in Caverna, I really got into this recently. Maybe it's the cult of the new. I guess I'll find out when I've been on the desert island for a few months and am pining for Lords of Waterdeep.

8. Ra

Need a bidding game, so why not a Knizian one? I must confess up until this point while I was thinking of variety I wasn't thinking of game mechanics specifically. But though I don't think I ever yearn for this in the way other GNNers do, I do consider it a classic.

9. Cube Quest

Assuming you didn't flick them all into the sea, I'm thinking this would get a fair amount of play and leagues, cups, and campaigns would grow out of it.

10. A deck of cards.

How could you not bring cards? Poker, Trumps, Cribbage... you can jerry-rig a few other games too, such as Skull and Roses (Kings and Bullets?). The trick-taking itch can be scratched a multitude of ways with this handy cure-for-many-ills.

So, no room for Tinner's Trail, Love Letter, Lords of Vegas (which so nearly bumped Ra) or Castles of Mad King Ludwig, and quite a few others that I look on fondly in my collection. No room for Deep Sea Adventure which I've only played once but think is great. I love Africana, Colosseum, Galaxy Trucker, and many others. But you can only take ten!

So that's mine, what are yours? (which will no doubt cause me to amend this list...)


  1. Ooh yeah!

    In no particular order . . .











  2. I jest . . . Lemme give it some thought . . .

  3. How many other gamers will there be exactly? It makes a big difference to what I'd pack :)

  4. "3 or 4 like minded"

    Mine in no particular order.

    Deck of cards
    7 Wonders
    El Grande
    Lords of Waterdeep
    No Thanks!

    I want a game now.....

  5. Always hard to distinguish between top 10 all-time faves and top 10 games I'd like to play right now, so let me try to be a bit literal and imagine I'm taking 10 games to a desert island, ie wanting a good spread of options . . . in no particular order . . .

    10. Railways of the World - for all the reasons mentioned by Sam.

    9. Ra - I adore Ra, and I happen to often win at it. There is no correlation between these two facts.

    8. Manouevre - for when only one other person wants to play. And roll some D10s!

    7. Brass - for when I want to go deep.

    6. Castles of Burgundy - hands down my favourite Feld.

    5. Race for the Galaxy - with Alien Artifacts expansion

    4. Tichu - for when only cards will do. In fact, since Sam included a deck of cards, I'd like this instead - The Badger Deck. Then we could play Tichu, Mü, Sticheln and a million more card games.

    3. Tales of the Arabian Nights - current favourite for family play, and a very bonkers, unique experience. For rainy nights in the beach hut, by the light of a tallow candle.

    2. Take it Easy - if we spend enough time on the island someone might just get a perfect board.

    1. Lords of Vegas!!!

  6. I saw that, but I'd have a different top 10 even for 3 compared to 4! Maybe I'll make a list for each group size :)

  7. Except I don't own the Badger deck - yet!

  8. Oh my god, Raj! Oh my god, Take It Easy! I bump Biblios for the latter. How the hell did I miss that out?

    Martin, your call. How about 4 companions but not all of them always wanting to play?

  9. Chris I have for sanity's sake compartmentalised Scrabble as Not A Board Game in my head, even though it clearly is.

  10. I can think of seven games I'd want to take fairly easily:

    Railways of the World
    Lords of Vegas
    Tinner's Trail
    7 Wonders

    After that it gets a bit nebulous, and the last three could possibly be changed with something else, but for now I'll say:

    Love Letter
    Lords of Waterdeep

  11. My choices in no particular order

    Railways of the World. Just because it has everything.

    Manila. For those times when we feel like betting on something.

    Eclipse. An epic. I can imagine us playing this on the beach at night near an open fire, gazing up at the stars when it’s not our turn, and feeling like we belong.

    Biblios. Just because.

    Impulse. It’s both complex and short.

    Cube Quest. As Sam said, this’d be a great action game around which entire fictional Cube Quest careers could be imagined.

    Kingdom Builder. Because of its many variations.

    Potato Man. We need at least one trick-taking game in case Martin is one of our fellow castaways.

    Mr Jack. Two-player deduction at its finest.

    Lords of Vegas. Gambling, pushing your luck, and a real feeling of the high roller lifestyle (with a bit of imagination). Plus, with all those dice, we could play Decathlon or Las Vegas.

    So that’s my ten. Near misses were Tsuro, Pergamon, El Grande and Chess.

  12. Although, I might have to swap Mr Jack for Raj.

  13. Well, this is my current top 10 on BGG... can't go far wrong with that.

    #1: Tigris & Euphrates
    #2: Innovation
    #3: Pax Porfiriana
    #4: Race for the Galaxy
    #5: Ra
    #6: Twilight Struggle
    #7: Brass
    #8: Hanabi
    #9: Cribbage
    #10: Love Letter

  14. Just missing out... Kingdom Builder, 6 nimmt, Tichu and Cosmic Encounter.

  15. Sam. I could quite probably just play Scrabble quite happily from now to the end of my days.

    Martin, I got Innovation in my cupboard and I've never played it. Maybe I'll try the rules again.

  16. We weren't sure at all about it Chris but Martin swears it's great as a 2-player.

    Some great choices coming out!

  17. It's *amazing* as a 2-player! I suspect it's probably really good as a 2v2 partnership game too, but only once everyone's experienced. I wonder if Andrew would like it more now he's embraced the Chudyk chaos of Impulse.

    I love Scrabble too.

  18. Yeah I regret trading away my copy of Innovation...

  19. #1 St Petersburg
    #2 Dominion
    #3 Ticket To Ride (Nordic)
    #4 Kingsburg
    #5 Maori
    #6 Egizia
    #7 Snow Tails
    #8 Glen More
    #9 Memoir '44
    #10 Carcassonne Hunters & Gatherers

    Even without expansions I still find room for Dominion and a Ticket To Ride.

  20. Hey Andy that's quite an eclectic bunch! I think I've played six of them. I did love Dominion at first but went off it. Wouldn't mind trying out Egizia and Glen More at some point...

  21. I'd love to try Ticket to Ride Nordic. And we don't play enough St Petersburg or Dominion. My list is:

    1 - Railways of the World
    2 - Agricola
    3 - Power Grid
    4 - Wallenstein
    5 - Cube Quest
    6 - Dominion
    7 - Stone Age
    8 - Tsuro
    9 - Take It Easy
    10 - 7 Wonders

  22. I've left Brass and Tinner's off because RotW mostly scratches the same itch. Agricola, Power Grid and Dominion might get tired with more plays, but right now they're the ones I want to play.

    The only style of game I'm obviously missing is a proper war game - Wallenstein is close, but I really wanted something like Maria or 1812 to be better than they were. Perhaps I need to play Manoeuvre?

    Actually I'm missing trick-taking card games too, but I guess I'm just not that keen on those...

  23. How did I leave Power Grid off my list?