50 Modern Classics: Statistics, Pre-1995 Classics, and What We Missed

We hope you enjoyed the articles!  Below are links to all 5 articles. After that, I wanted to highlight a few statistics and superlatives from the series, mention a quick list off pre-1995 classics, and give all of the OGers the chance to discuss the games that they feel should have made the list.  

Series Introduction & #50-#41

#40-#31

#30-#21

#20-#11

#10-#1

STATISTICS & SUPERLATIVES

Highest Scoring Game in Our Voting – TICKET TO RIDE

Ticket to Ride was included on 15 of the 25 lists, and it earned the #1 slot for four of the voters.

Game Receiving the Most Votes – DOMINION

Dominion was included on 18 of the 25 lists.  Pandemic and Ticket to Ride were runners up in this category, appearing on 15 of the 25 lists.

Designer with Most Titles in Top 50 – REINER KNIZIA

Reiner Knizia had 6 games (Lord of the Rings, Lost Cities, Ra, Samurai, Tigris & Euphrates, Traumfabrik) that made the top 50.  The runners up were Vlaada Chvátil (Codenames, Dungeon Lords, Through the Ages) and Uwe Rosenberg (Agricola, Bargain Hunter, Bohnanza) with 3 games each.

Year with Most Titles in Top 50 – 2000 & 2004

Both 2000 and 2004 each had 6 titles in the top 50.  

All in all, the games were pretty spread out over time.  There were 13 titles from 1995-1999, 14 from 2000-2004, 13 titles from 2005-2009, and 10 titles from 2010-2015.  

The following years had no games in our top 50: 2001, 2003, and 2014.  

Game Awards – 21 OF THE 50 GAMES HAVE WON A MAJOR GAME AWARD

There’s considerable overlap, but 21 games have won at least one major game award.

7 games won the Spiel des Jahres, 2 won the Kennerspiel des Jahres, and 1 won the Kinderspiel des Jahres.  Three games won special prizes from the Spiel des Jahres jury.

9 games won the International Gamers Award, 7 in the multiplayer category and 2 in the 2-player category.  (These totals do not count Ticket to Ride Europe, also won the IGA multiplayer category.)

9 games won first prize in Deutscher Spiele Preis voting.

7 Wonders and Agricola are the only two games on this that won awards from all three major award organizations.  7 Wonders won the Kennerspiel, IGA, and DSP. (This, however, is time bound: the Kennerspiel only started in 2011.)  Agricola won a special award for a complex game from the SdJ jury, plus it won the IGA and DSP. Interestingly, Tikal, which did not make our list, is the only other game to have won awards from all three organizations.  (Also keep in mind that the International Gamers Award started in 2000.)

BGG Rankings – 4 GAMES HAVE BEEN #1 ON BGG

Four of the games — Tigris & Euphrates, Puerto Rico, Agricola, and Pandemic Legacy — have held the #1 spot on BGG.

—-

Pre-1995 Classics

Back when we did the voting, I invited everybody to participate in voting on pre-1995 classics as well.  We didn’t have as many voters participate, and our results were a bit more scattered, but here were the top 20.  As you can see, the group focused more on designer games rather than many of the public domain classic card and board games, although some such games did receive votes.  

  • #20 – Catch Phrase
  • #19 – Outpost
  • #18 –  Elfenroads
  • #17 – Civilization / Advanced Civilization
  • #16 – History of the World
  • #15 – Password
  • #14 – Survive: Escape from Atlantis
  • #13 – Crokinole
  • #12 – Fast Food Franchise
  • #11 – Sticheln
  • #10 – Adel Verpflichtet
  • #9 – Tichu
  • #8 – Scotland Yard
  • #7 – Loopin’ Louie
  • #6 – Modern Art
  • #5 – Die Macher
  • #4 – Hare & Tortoise
  • #3 – Can’t Stop
  • #2 – Call My Bluff (a.k.a. Liar’s Dice)
  • #1 – Acquire

—-

WHAT WE MISSED & REFLECTIONS ON THE LIST

50 games just isn’t enough.  About 100 games were nominated by our 25 writers to make the list.  As such, here is where the OG writers could discuss the games that they voted for but didn’t make the list.

Chris Wray:  Overall, the list aligned with my expectations.  Every game I voted for made it into the top 50. But I’m personally a bit surprised that Twilight Struggle (which held BGG’s #1 slot) and Tikal (which won all three major game awards) did not make the cut.  Both of those games are surely revered classics in this hobby.

I’m also a bit surprised that Qwirkle and Elfenland, both of which are beloved by this group, didn’t get more votes.

If I had had a few more votes, I would have voted for those games, plus some other personal favorites like Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation, TZAAR, and Ultimate Werewolf.

Matt Carlson:  Everything on the list (that I’ve played) seemed to deserve its place. There are a few of which I’m not fond, but I’m aware of their impact on the boardgaming world and their popularity with others.  I’m another cult-of-the-new person so I don’t often drag out the older games, but for several years now I tend to go back to Tzolkin (if I have 4 gamer players) or Roll for the Galaxy (which does well for me at most numbers.)  Tzolkin has its issues (some point salad items seem to be stronger than others) but I enjoy it every time I play. The same is true for Roll for the Galaxy. Something to be said, I guess, for the whole dice & gears ploy. Reading over the list has made me want to bring out great games again fit for my boys – I’m thinking of you Heroscape.  The kids have always played it as a huge mash-up of armies but I think I could convince them to take the game a bit more “seriously” for some greater strategic options. (*I’ll echo the comments below on including No Thanks!. If I want to slightly broaden a person’s horizon, the auction mechanism is so new that it can put a crack into what non-gamers believe is possible in a board/card game.)

Melissa Rogerson: Notable omissions, to me, are Through the Desert, Caylus, Le Havre, Thurn and Taxis, and The Castles of Burgundy – as well as my very beloved Concordia. Like Matt, I’d add Roll for the Galaxy, despite its fragility if you play with non-gamers who might be tempted to cheat on their rolls. Qwixx is another that I would add to the list; I don’t know whether it was the first Roll & Write game, but it was the one that got me playing them, and it’s still a favourite. Two cardgames that I would have included are No Thanks! and 6 nimmt; both have well and truly stood the test of time and are both fun and versatile (although as a 1994 game 6 nimmt just fails the post-1995 eligibility test). Similarly, I would add a couple of the other great dexterity games – probably Bamboleo (1996, so it scrapes in) and Animal Upon Animal (Tier Auf Tier) and maybe even Rhino Hero.

Lastly, there is a special place in my heart for one of my other “10” ranked games – Cosmic Encounter. Like Tichu, it misses the list due to the pre-1995 publication, but it absolutely deserves a mention on any list of modern classics.

Joe Huber: I can’t really complain too much about the ‘95-’15 list; the games I like most that qualified but didn’t make it are Canal Mania and Mü.  But the pre-’95 list – well, that’s another matter.many of my favorite games – Bridge, Merchant of Venus, Res Publica, Sextet, and Timbuktu, to start with – were left off the top-20 list above.

James Nathan: I, somewhat unsurprisingly, had trouble with the denotation and connotation of “classic” when I voted.  I went more in the direction of “titles which I feel deserve to be seen as classics”, and I tried not to overlap certain styles of games -as in a vacuum, I think a top 15 would be most useful to someone looking for such a list, if each title occupied its own niche. My scenario is: a stranger knocks on your door and says, “I’d been stranded on a island from 1995 to 2005,  and asleep since then; I woke up and a voice spoke to me saying ‘find out what you’d missed in board games’, so I want 15 titles from you that cover everything not to be missed.” I was the sole vote for Chinatown, Hab & Gut, Twin Tin Bots, Dominant Species, and Magical Athlete.

I was going to use this space to extol the greatness of Twin Tin Bots, but I just looked to see if we’d reviewed this prior, and I only see a preview, so I’m going to hold off, and maybe give you a full review in the coming months.

Fraser: So a few that I think should have or could have made the list, especially if we ignore dates – Amun Re, Concordia, Burgen Burgen Burgen Burgen Burgen (also known as Castles of Burgundy), 6 Nimmt!, Make ‘n’ Break, Die Macher, Civilization, EON Cosmic Encounter and GIPF (well for me YINSH, but GIPF was the first).

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9 Responses to 50 Modern Classics: Statistics, Pre-1995 Classics, and What We Missed

  1. Garry Lloyd says:

    This has been a really good series and, although I don’t enjoy all of the games included, I can understand why they appear on the list.

    My biggest disappointment is the near complete absence of any sport or race related games (Pitchcar being the sole exception). Ignoring Formula De and Ave Caesar as they are both pre-1995, what about Street Soccer, Powerboats, TurfMaster, Long Shot, Baseball Highlights 2045, The World Cup Game etc. Admittedly, there are many more pre-1995 and probably reflects the lack of popularity of the genre but I think the best certainly compare well with “trading in the Mediterranean” games.

    That said, well done on a great selection of games.

  2. Terry Bailey Sr. says:

    Very good list over all. However Caylus is a giant omission. This title kicked off many great worker placement games to follow. In my mind it is surely not only a modern classic but should be high on the list.

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  8. seisyll says:

    These lists are always enjoyable – I have not played Traumfabrik and am now urged to play it. I’m also impressed at the lack of a consensus. Your most voted on game was only on 72% of lists. You would guess that some of these juggernauts would appear _everywhere_.

    My biggest “disappointment” is the lack of Carl Chudyk games. You would think that Glory to Rome or Innovation would be present by any metric – as both instant classics and as heavy influencers of 2018 gaming. (Simply put: these games successfully challenged our ideas about game balance.)

    I guess I have no problem with Twilight Struggle being off the list – it innovated card-driven war gaming and, well, I don’t play those games. I wonder if Chudyk games are seen as occupying more of a niche. Or maybe Glory to Rome’s lack of availability is diminishing its spot in the kingdom.

    Thank you for a wonderful list as always!

  9. Michael says:

    +1 EON Cosmic Encounter!

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