This week the Opinionated Gamers have been publishing a series of articles ranking games in a few different ways based on data collected from many different contributors. Today’s topic is the published games that we haven’t tried yet, but we most want to try playing sometime. Sixteen contributors voted on their picks for games they most want to try to come up with today’s list, including Alan How, Brandon Kempf, Chris Wray, Erik Arneson, Fraser McHarg, James Nathan, John Palagyi, Larry Levy, Lorna, Mark Jackson, Matt Carlson, Patrick Korner, RJ Garrison, Simon Neale, Talia Rosen, and Tery Noseworthy.
It was a thrilling race with 81 different games receiving at least one vote. While only a single game from my picks made the list below, I’m seeing a lot of interesting titles on the list, and some personal favorites of mine that I’m now eager to teach to my fellow OG members. There were also a few honorable mentions that just barely missed the list: Beyond the Sun, Parks, and War of the Ring. I don’t know much of anything about the first two, but War of the Ring is my favorite board game of all time. I used to wrestle with whether that title should go to Through the Ages, Antiquity, Twilight Struggle, or Netrunner instead, but I can’t deny my overriding love for War of the Ring any longer. I’ve played it over 60 times now, and the thrilling narrative that unfolds over the course of 3 hours is incomparable. I’ve been known to wander conventions for days lugging this gem around trying to get it to the table day in and day out. But without further ado, here are the 20 published games that the OG collectively most wants to try playing:
(20) Minigolf Designer
35 points from 2 voters, including 1 silver medal (Mark Jackson)
I’ve never heard of this one, which is going to be a common refrain throughout this article, but now I’m intrigued. I love me some minigolf and some quirky games, so this might be just the ticket. Mark is going to have to explain more because I don’t have anything useful to say about this 2020 release by first-time designer Alban Nanty. If it’s anything like Factory Fun, then count me in!
- Mark: It was one of those games that I caught out of the corner of my eye – it’s a tile-laying “city builder” (if you squint, building a miniature golf course and a city are similar) with some gamer-y elements in the design. I also like that it’s an odd and not-overworked theme.
35 points from 2 voters, including 1 gold medal (Brandon Kempf)
Just look at that cover art! Who wouldn’t want to play this game after seeing that image? Then again, I mistakenly said the same thing about Gheos in 2006, so cover art can lie. Chip Theory Games published this game in 2019, but others will need to enlighten you as to why it’s on their radar.
- Matt: I was able to try this out and enjoyed it. I’m a fan of the MOBA style computer game and it does capture some of that idea. It’s definitely one of those that is best if explained by a serious gamer as my first play with my son (after reading the rules a couple times) had a number of significant rules errors. I’m a sucker for variable and/or asymmetric powers and this has that in spades. One can even specialize several different ways within the same race. I had high hopes for the co-op mode but haven’t gotten it to the table since one needs to be fairly familiar with all the sides at once.
(18) Blood Rage
38 points from 2 voters, including 1 gold medal (Talia Rosen) and 1 bronze medal (RJ Garrison)
This is the published game that I haven’t played that I most want to try sometime. Why? Eric Lang, that’s why. He who made the brilliant Star Wars: The Card Game and the fascinating Chaos in the Old World. Eric is a top tier designer, so I want to try everything that he makes. I try not to buy games without playing them first any more, but I’m definitely hoping to learn this at a convention some day… when those return in the future.
(17) Whistle Mountain
39 points from 4 voters
Four OG contributors want to check out this 2020 design by Scott Caputo and Luke Laurie, published by Bezier Games. Did they love The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire and Voluspa? Are they devotees of Bezier? Do they just have a strange fascination with airships? Only time will tell…
- Larry: Well, in my case, I quite enjoyed Whistle Stop, a similarly themed train game from Caputo, published by Bezier. I also like Laurie’s Energy Empire. Mostly, the ideas and mechanisms in Whistle Mountain sound intriguing and I’ve heard good things about it from others I trust. So it’s a new game that I’d like to try out, if I get the chance.
(16) Millennium Blades
40 points from 2 voters, including 2 gold medals (Matt Carlson and Tery Noseworthy)
Excuse me while I have a get off my lawn moment. In 2005, I could have heard about all the strategy board games coming out. I could have tried most or all of them. Heck, I could read basically every new thread on BoardGameGeek. Now, I feel old and lost with the innumerable games that I’m not familiar with. This 2016 card game looks rad! A CCG simulator, what? That sounds mind bogglingly funky and interesting. Consider me intrigued. Matt, Tery, bring me with you on your journey into this strange new frontier.
- Matt: I just got in my Kickstarted expansion and I was happy it piqued my son’s interest as I have had the game for a while but haven’t found someone with whom to play it. A length approaching 3 hours is a hard thing to commit to a table. I’ve now read the instructions and watched all the how to play videos. It remains only to get it to the table. I was especially excited about the co-op mode but from my understanding it is a pretty slimmed down thing compared to the base game.
- Tery: I have been looking forward to trying this for a while. I am a fan of deck builders in general, and this one sounds like it has some interesting twists to the genre. I love the idea that it is a deckbuilder about a deckbuilder. I have several friends with varied gaming preferences who all seem to like this one, but none of my local friends seem to own it. I was all set to learn it from Mark Jackson at a con, which of course didn’t happen thanks to the pandemic, but it remains high on my list.
(15) Twilight Imperium: Fourth Edition
42 points from 3 voters, including 1 silver medal (Brandon Kempf)
Does it completely reinvent the Third Edition? Does it streamline the game and eliminate the turtling problems? I guess 3 members of the OG want to find out. I can’t wait to hear their report… from a safe distance.
43 points from 3 voters, including 1 gold medal (RJ Garrison)
I just love the fascinating overlap between today’s list and the lists from earlier in the week. The games that some of us think are underappreciated, are the games that others think are overrated, are the same games that still others want to try for the first time. There are of course more games coming out now than anyone can reasonably play in a year, so it’s no wonder that several OG contributors still need to track down and play the hotness that is Wingspan. I, for one, hope they enjoy their bird watching journey.
- RJ: This game is intriguing to me. It seems to have the right amount of ease to teach to beginning gamers, the right amount of mechanics, some decent but not too much or too little depth, great art and has been doing well on BGG. It’s on my “want to try” list and I think could quickly swap over to my “want to buy” list.
(13) Cthulhu: Death May Die
45 points from 3 voters, including 1 bronze medal (Tery Noseworthy)
My befuddlement at all things Lovecraft was made clear yesterday, so I’ll let Mark and Tery tell you what’s so enticing about this latest game in the long saga of the “Great Old One.” The closest I want to get to Cthulhu personally is playing King of Tokyo!
- Mark: Blame my interest in this design on (a) Rob Daviau being involved, and (b) the recommendation of fellow OGer, Frank Branham, who has a great history of knowing what I’ll like and urging me to hunt it down – including Heroscape, Monster Trap, and his own Battle Beyond Space.
- Tery: I am in general a fan of Cthulhu; I mean, I am not a cultist or anything. Really, I swear; I just really like wearing hoods. Anyhoo,. . . . I generally enjoy games where the theme involves Cthulhu and the Lovecraft Universe. I am all about rolling dice and killing some Old Ones while trying not to go insane or die. I like that it has the elements of being a legacy or story game, but it does not require you to always play with the same people. The fact that it is designed by Rob Daviau and Eric Lang is a plus as well.
(12) My City
46 points from 4 voters, including 2 bronze medals (Erik Arneson and John Palagyi)
My skepticism of all things Knizia in the past 10 years has made me shy away from this one, but I would still gladly jump at the chance to try it out, given my overriding love of Legacy games. I fear this one may be too simple to hold my interest, but if Erik and John want to power through this one at a game convention some day, then count me in.
(11) The Rise of Queensdale
47 points from 4 voters
Inka Brand and Markus Brand? Yes, please! I didn’t vote for this one; I’d never heard of it. But these days I want to try just about anything that Inka and Markus design. They made an alea game in 2018? Let me at it!
- Mark: I’m curious to try a legacy game that is decidedly Euro… or at least more Euro-y than Risk or Betrayal at House on the Hill. By the way, the same goes for My City (above).
(10) Maglev Metro
48 points from 3 voters, including 1 silver medal (Erik Arneson)
This new train game from Ted Alspach and Bezier Games has several OG members looking forward to tracking it down. I’m not surprised given our collective love for all things train, rail, and route building.
- Larry: This one sounds interesting to me; in particular, the way players can assign their robots each turn to give greater power to certain actions could be really good. I like train games and ones that promise to do something different are always worth checking out.
50 points from 4 voters, including 1 bronze medal (Patrick Korner)
Alexander Pfister certainly has his fans! I’m definitely not one of them based on my experiences with his other games, but I’m sure Patrick or the others will jump in to explain their love of Pfister and/or their desire to try CloudAge.
- Tery: I am definitely a Pfister fan. A lot of his games are engine builders, and they are generally well thought out with all of the mechanics intertwining seamlessly and enough different paths to keep it interesting. CloudAge is no exception, and I have been enjoying my plays so far.
52 points from 4 voters, including 1 bronze medal (Fraser McHarg)
Now I just want to run out and teach this gem to everyone I can find. Fraser, come visit me and we’ll play Q.E. all day long. I am all in on Q.E. I ordered a copy during my first game of being taught. Its brilliance was manifest within minutes. I will preach the gospel of Q.E. to anyone who will listen.
- Matt: Definitely a game I want to try out as soon as I have access to it in someone’s collection.
- Fraser: Ah Talia, if only we were on the same side of the planet, I would take you up on that offer.
- Larry: I’ve heard great things about this one ever since it came out, but have never had the opportunity to try it out. I love auction games, so I’m definitely open to playing it.
(7) Mage Knight
53 points from 3 voters, including 2 silver medals (James Nathan and Simon Neale)
Interesting to see a 2011 game make the list. When I tried Mage Knight almost ten years ago, I realized that it would have been the perfect game for me when I was in high school or college. I would have loved to play Mage Knight instead of Talisman. But it’s no longer my personal cup of tea. I hope that James and Simon get a chance to try and enjoy Mage Knight because Vlaada is certainly a genius wizard when it comes to the incredible breadth of his game design talents.
55 points from 3 voters, including 1 gold medal (John Palagyi) and 1 silver medal (Fraser McHarg)
A Friedemann Friese game? I suppose there had to be one. I’ve been told by Friedemann to stop trying his games because I end up not liking any of them. He’s probably right. Alas, I wish I could see the light on this prolific and widely beloved designer. No matter, we can still enjoy wacky dexterity games together!
- Fraser: I have a copy on a very slow boat from Germany. So hopefully I will get to try it sometime in 2021.
- Larry: Friedemann’s games do sometimes sound better than they work in practice, but this one seems to have more going for it and it continues to be well rated. One of my regular gaming buddies has a copy of it and he’s itching to try it out, so I’m sure it’ll be one of first things I get to play once I emerge from lockdown.
(5) Dune: Imperium
57 points from 4 voters
This 2020 release by Paul Dennen and Dire Wolf completely flew under my radar because I mistakenly assumed that it was just a reworking of the 1979 classic, which I’ve previously gushed about here. The references to Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson in the game’s description make me wary because all of the real Dune books were written by Frank. But perhaps there’s something worth checking out in this deck-building, hidden-information worker placement game.
- Mark: I like deck-building a lot… and I like combining it with other interesting bits of design… and I can get over the fact that past the first Dune novel, I really didn’t care all that much about Dune even though I was supposed to. :-)
(4) Pandemic Legacy: Season 0
59 points from 3 voters, including 2 gold medals (Erik Arneson and Patrick Korner) and 1 silver medal (Larry Levy)
I loved Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 so much. I enjoyed Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 thoroughly (even though I started it in February 2020 and finished it in March 2020 when the world had been remade by a deadly pandemic). Pandemic Legacy: Season 0 is an interesting twist on the concept, in much the same way that Pandemic: Fall of Rome mixed things up. I think Shut Up & Sit Down said everything that needed to be said in their “Phenomenal Finale” review.
- RJ: Pandemic (the original) is one of my wife’s most taught games. She’s used it working with a TBI clinic helping Special Forces soldiers with traumatic brain injury and PTSD. I love the game and sadly have not gotten any of the Pandemic Legacy collection. Perhaps I just needed #0 to come out so I can start the collection?
- Larry: Season 1 was a huge hit for me and my grown daughter, Amy. Season 2 wasn’t quite as good, but it was still enjoyable. I’m very much looking forward to trying out the finale with her and a copy of it is sitting on my game shelves, still pristine and begging to be played. All that is needed is the opportunity to get together with Amy and with conditions improving, I’m hoping that won’t be too far in the future.
(3) Glen More II
60 points from 4 voters, including 2 silver medals (John Palagyi and RJ Garrison)
I’m amazed that a game like Glen More with such a middling reception could have such a splashy, expansive, and expensive sequel. It just goes to show you how big the hobby has gotten that it can sustain a big budget sequel to a game with a very niche audience. I’m certainly intrigued by the ambition of Glen More II, but not willing to shell out the money to try it without coming across someone else’s copy first. I hope the tiles are at least bigger and more readable in this reinvention!
- RJ: I picked up Glen More a couple years ago and really enjoyed it quite a bit. I gifted it to a gaming buddy of mine, Kristian, who had it at the top of his wishlist. Sadly, I haven’t picked up another copy (yet), but since the release of GM2, I am really looking forward to trying this one out.
67 points from 5 voters, including 1 silver medal (Tery Noseworthy)
The same game that 4 members of the OG put on yesterday’s “Not for Me” list has also ended up near the top of our “Want to Try” list based on the results of 5 other OG contributors. Here’s hoping that these 5 people actually enjoy their experience with this behemoth whenever they get a chance to try it out. It seems like everyone should at least try the #1 game on BoardGameGeek, even if I personally sold my copy after just 2 plays.
- Tery: I own this game, and I have for 2 years. I bought an organizer for it, I’ve read the rules, and I am ready to play. So why haven’t I gotten it to the table? It’s an excellent question. Every time someone else talks about it I am reminded that I need to play it, but it never seems to happen. We are getting a new game table where we could leave a game set up for a while, and I am hopeful that will help get this to the table in the next few months.
89 points from 5 voters, including 3 gold medals (Chris Wray, Fraser McHarg, and Simon Neale)
On Monday, Larry and Patrick propelled Barrage into our “Recent Favorites” list, and today 5 other members of the OG launch it to the top of our collective “Want to Try” list. I guess this Simone Luciani and Tommaso Battista title is the game of the week for the Opinionated Gamers. My dislike of Luciani and Larry’s love of Luciani was made clear on Monday, but perhaps a few others want to jump in here to close out the week with their closing thoughts on the enticing appeal of Luciani’s designs.
- Fraser: I remember going through the Essen 2019 games, and this was one of the very few that looked interesting from what I read.
- Larry: Barrage is fabulous (as I mentioned in the earlier article, it’s my favorite design from the past 5 years), but it’s also a bit of a beast. Lots of rules and a fairly long playing time, at least at first. Anyone who can handle Food Chain Magnate, for example, shouldn’t have a problem with it, but it’ll take a while to learn and get comfortable with it. But it’s wonderfully innovative and so well designed, as well as having great player interaction. I’m very happy that so many OGers want to learn it–I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, guys!
Opinionated Gamer Comments
Talia Rosen: This was the list that seemed to confound the most of my fellow OG members. Many of them did not have a list of games that they wanted to try readily available. Personally, I have long used the BoardGameGeek “want to play” feature to track games coming out that I want to learn and try out sometime. This means I currently have a list of 62 games at the ready that I’d love to try whenever the opportunity arises. The only challenge for me was narrowing it down to the 20 games that I most wanted to try and then ranking those games. At the end of the day, almost all of my selections got no attention or interest from anyone else. So the older games that I want to learn missed the list by a longshot, such as: Fog of Love, Romolo o Remo, Inis, Keywood, Hameln, Anachrony, Urban Sprawl, Dinosaur Island, and Princes of Machu Picchu. If you ever see me wandering the halls of a game convention and you want to play one of those games, then definitely let me know.
Mark Jackson: A peek back at my list makes me realize that I’ve actually had the chance to play a couple of these games since the voting happened (Parks is really enjoyable… and the production is gorgeous for a small box game – and we’ve begun our journey into the Cold War in Pandemic Legacy Season 0)… and my son just put another on his birthday wish list (War Chest). Others near the top of my list included Time Stories (either edition – I haven’t had the chance to play it all!), Undaunted: Normandy (or North Africa), Great Western Trail (I’m kind of on a Pfister kick right now), and Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done.
Tery Noseworthy: I keep a running list on my phone of games I want to try so that I am always prepared if I see the game somewhere. Several of them are included here. Not represented are Trickerion, Lost Ruins of Arnak, Aquatica, Praga Caput Reni and Alma Mater.
James Nathan: I’m one of those who was confounded and intrigued by this list, as we discussed behind the scenes each of our idiosyncratic connotations of “want to learn”, “want to play”, and “want to try”. For me, my BGG “want to play” list is woefully out of date, and, well, to be frank, I usually find the most recent Top 189 games type list that Joe has posted somewhere, and skim that to fill out my “want to play list” -or in this case, what did he vote for in underrated this week?
But. My votes went to the “want to learn” mindset – and perhaps it was Talia’s initiation of the list that caused me to interpret the list that way, as I hope Talia will teach me War of the Ring someday. It is a game that I want to learn -which for me means being guided through it by a well-versed docent who knows and loves the game. (It isn’t a game I’m interested in reading the rules for or diving into with another first-timer.)
I think about the differences in my experiences playing Combat Commander with a friend – our constant rule references and not being totally sure we were getting things quite right (though still having fun) – and the sublime experience I had with it at HeavyCon a few years back.
So each of my votes were handled with that mindset: games I’d love to play (at least) once, but want to learn from a veteran who can help me appreciate what they see in the game. That means my votes went to games that you wouldn’t normally expect me to lean towards, as what you may perceive as my taste is limited by my time, my game groups, and their tastes. My interests run a wide gamut, but it goes mostly unfulfilled, and that’s fine. I choose my priorities.
Anyway, my top votes were Napoleon’s Triumph and Mage Knight. After a brief hiatus for a quirky doujin release out of Japan that I’ll likely never play due to its language dependency (- K U F U -), it’s back to Gloomhaven and War of the Ring.
Larry Levy: I’m very lucky, in that I usually get the chance to try out the new games that are on my “want to learn” list each year. Consequently, my list was dominated by the latest games I have an interest in. That didn’t match up all that well with the rest of the group. My #1 vote went to Beyond the Sun, which missed making the group’s list by only one vote. After that came Pandemic Legacy 0, Alma Mater, Viscounts of the West Kingdom, Faiyum, and Praga Caput Regni. That was followed by one of the few older titles that I’d like to check out, Knizia’s Voodoo Prince (recently redesigned as Marshmallow Test); this is an intriguing sounding trick-taker, but I’ve yet to be able to find a group to play it with me, either in person or online. Maybe sometime soon…
Methodology: Each voter picked up to 20 games, giving 20 points to their top choice (gold medal), followed by 19 points to their second choice (silver medal), 18 points to their third choice (bronze medal), 17 points to their fourth choice, and so on. Voters were allowed to select any 20 games that they wanted (which resulted in 81 different games getting votes). The points from all 16 voters were added together to come up with the ranking above.
My copy of Minigolf Designer arrived a week or so ago… and we’ve played it a couple of times 2-3 player and at least 3 times solo. It’s a think-y tile-layer with Kingdomino-ish drafting of tiles and enough different scoring pathways to keep things interesting. I’m glad I bought it!
By the way, my regular Thursday night gaming group (which has become my regular Thursday night *online* gaming group, thanks to the pandemic) is meeting remotely tonight and we’ll be playing Beyond the Sun for the first time! So, item #1 will hopefully be crossed off the list tonight. Really looking forward to it!
Barrage is an excellent game and one that I do not mind the heavy interaction. I like what the expansion provides as it can create some interesting decision points in the event that you get pinched out of a particular action. Not 100% necessary but I am glad that I have it.
For those giving it a go, play aggressively to achieve victory.
I’ve not played the original Dune game (or the one mentioned here), but loved the computer game as a child – my first foray into RTS. I also enjoyed the first book and have the others on my to read list.
I love Wingspan and want to try Pandemic Legacy too (although I feel a bit reticent to destroy components, I don’t even like writing on score pads). The game I most want to try is Everdell, looking at it brings back good memories of reading the Redwall series by Brian Jacques.