Top 100 List (2020 edition) – Games 16 through 13

December 22nd. Have you heard the one about the Cowboy Squirrel who fought a dragon on the subway? Oh, you have? Well, instead why don’t I just get straight to talking about the four games on my top 100 list [the punchline wasn’t that good anyway]

Links to prior posts:

Top 100 games lists

#16 – Everdell (Starling Games, designed by James A. Wilson) [new to the list]

Like It’s a Wonderful World (#37 on the list), Everdell has an awesome progression of results. Both games have four rounds and you generally complete the first round feeling you’ve done very little. And thus, straight mathematics leaves you thinking that “this play” is going horribly.

But the beauty of Everdell — well, besides the fact that the artwork and components are absolutely wonderful — is that it isn’t Just a worker placement game. Worker placement is one of your actions, but your other is to play a card…and the ability to play citizens for free if you have their matching location can really lengthen a season (round). Furthermore, the tableau you are building is SO important. You can get cards that trigger each other or at “turn of season.” You can get cards that have on-going abilities. You can get cards that give you bonus action spots. You can get cards that focus on game-end scoring. And more. So, there’s more than just try to finish your 15-card tableau…but the efficiency of that tableau becomes the crux of your win/lose situation.

And while the game mostly involves you just doing your own thing, there’s a perfect amount of interaction for my play-style — worker placement spots that can be blocked and then a few cards that impact other players (especially that funny Fool!) Everdell is wonderful and I’ve only opened the Pearlbrook expansion so far. Belfaire and Spirecrest are still smiling at me from their shrinkwrap.

#15 – Great Western Trail (eggertspiele, designed by Alexander Pfister) [#18 in 2019]

Here we are –> my #1 Alexander Pfister game. In my head, I thought Maracaibo might end up in that spot, but a recent play of Great Western Trail reminded me that it still has a slight lead. The theme gets a slight +1 to start. I live in Oklahoma and really appreciate the Cow Trail/Cowboy/Railroad themes running through this game. I’m also a big fan of the ability to move at your own pace in a game — and unlike Maracaibo, there’s not a set number of rounds…no one can ‘force’ you to finish up your movement along the trail early.

I enjoy deck-building and this title has a cool twist on the mechanism. The cards you build up in your deck don’t have inherent actions, but instead respond to different action spaces on the trail. And overall, that trail is where this game really propels itself to the top ranks of my list –> you and your competitors get to build the trail as you go: you can put something annoying for others to deal with, make shortcuts…well….less short (and more nasty), you can build up some combo action spaces, and place locations that play well to the deck you are building.

Great Western Trail is a wonderful example of a game that can be tense and highly competitive, but offsetting that is such a neat theme and enjoyable gameplay. Travelling the trail to Kansas City is a fun experience however many rounds you get to ride it.

#14 – Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated (Dire Wolf, designed by Andy Clautice and Paul Dennen) [new to the list]

My game group is roughly only halfway through the Acquisitions Incorporated campaign of Clank! (pesky virus!), but it has been a blast every session we’ve been able to sit down with. Much of that leans on the giant shoulders of a great Clank! system: deck-building, exploration, fighting, and the tense push-your-luck moments as the game wanes to its finale.

The campaign add some great humor, the fun creation of legacy games…seeing our board expand from game to game…and feeling like we are creating our own version/experience through the quests we do/don’t complete and the decisions individuals make along the way.

#13 – On the Underground: London/Berlin (LudiCreations, designed by Sebastian Bleasdale) [new to the list]

I really enjoy Ticket to Ride (#56 on the list), but when I looked into On the Underground, I was intrigued by what looked like a similar feel, but with a bit more depth. Now, same may not enjoy the game for its “mathiness”, but I Definitely Do –> the puzzle of calculating where the tourist is about to head. Do I leave her to her plans or place my next tracks to persuade her in a different direction (obviously a more ‘beneficial-to-me’ direction)?

And the game provides just enough ways to score to make every turn a nice, tactical moment. The game comes with two cities (two sides of the board) — London and Berlin –> while the gameplay is essentially the same, the maps are a bit different and there’s a twist to how tokens work on each map that creates the kind of experience that makes me want to jump back-and-forth between the two boards. [Note: I was very excited to hear that two new cities, Paris and New York, are expected to be released in 2021]

My last note about On the Underground: London/Berlin. This game currently has my #1 solo mode for a competitive game. The setup for the opponent is very simple at the beginning of the game –> depending on difficulty level, setup 2 or 3 tracks based on a good variety of opponent setup cards. Those tracks belong to the AI, they are already on the board at start, plus the AI starts with a point-lead (again, dependent on difficulty). Your job? Take your turns in a manner to catch-up in points with the AI, who will continue to gain points from their already built tracks. It feels so daunting early on, but if you find a strong balance between short-term tactical play and a long-term strategy, you can catch your automated opponent before the card deck runs out. I have Thoroughly Enjoyed my solo plays with this game –> such a great design by Sebastian Bleasdale and David Turczi.

That’s numbers 16 through 13. Let me know what your thoughts and/or feedback are for these titles. Furthermore, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @boardgamecrock1 and Retweet the Top 100 posts to earn entries into the Fantastic Factories giveaway.

See you tomorrow for the next 4.

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