Today’s article is the conclusion of our 100 Games for the Aspiring Board Game Cafe series.
For the uninitiated, a board game cafe usually serves food and drink, with some being more like coffee shops and others more like bars. But one component all of them I’ve been to has in common is a game library, consisting of several hundred titles that guests can check out and play with their friends.
A friend of mine is opening a game cafe soon, and he asked me for a list of about 100 games that I thought should be included in his library. I could have easily listed a hundred games on my own, but I thought getting votes from all of the OG-ers would have been a more interesting exercise.
This series is split into four parts. Part I included games 76-100 on the list. Part II included games 51-75. Part III included games 26-50. This, Part IV, is the conclusion. This article not only has the top games, but also some OG commentary on the list overall, so check that out below.
The Quick Notes on Methodology
We listed our full methodology in our first post this week, so check that out, but here is the abbreviated version.
For purposes of this project, I simply asked everybody to vote for 20 games that they’d recommend. Each member of the OG was offered the chance to vote for up to 20 games, and they could give one game 25 points, one game 24 points, all the way down to giving one 6 points. OGers could then give 5 points to any and all games that they also thought were good recommendations. We all put our votes into a spreadsheet and calculated the top 100.
We had 16 OG-ers vote, and 116 different games received votes. In this series you’ll see designations for gold, silver, and bronze. Those represent the number of voters that put a given game in the #1, #2, and #3 spot, respectively, by a writer.
THE TOP 25
#25 – 85 Points – Power Grid
#24 – 86 Points – Kingdomino
#21 (Three Way Tie) – 89 Points – Wits & Wagers
#21 (Three Way Tie) – 89 Points – Hanabi
#21 (Three Way Tie) – 89 Points (1 Bronze) – Dixit
#20 – 90 Points – Downforce
#19 – 98 Points (1 Bronze) – Dominion
#18 – 104 Points (1 Bronze) – Camel Up
#17 – 108 Points (1 Gold) – No Thanks
#16 – 109 Points (1 Silver) – Can’t Stop
#14 (Two Way Tie) – 111 Points – Lost Cities
#14 (Two Way Tie) – 111 Points (1 Bronze) – Qwirkle
#13 – 124 Points (1 Gold) – For Sale
#12 – 134 Points (1 Silver) – The Quacks of Quedlinburg
#11 – 135 Points (1 Gold) – King of Tokyo
#10 – 142 Points (1 Gold, 1 Silver) – Wingspan
#9 – 151 Points (1 Gold, 2 Bronze) – Crokinole
#8 – 155 Points (1 Bronze) – Pandemic
#7 – 181 Points (1 Gold, 2 Bronze) – Catan
#6 – 191 Points (1 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze) – 7 Wonders
#5 – 227 Points – Just One
#4 – 236 Points (2 Silver, 2 Bronze) – Codenames
#3 – 245 Points (2 Gold, 1 Silver, 2 Bronze) – Carcassonne
#2 – 288 Points (2 Gold, 4 Silver, 1 Bronze) – Azul
#1 – 334 Points (5 Gold, 3 Silver) – Ticket to Ride
Thoughts from The Opinionated Gamers:
Chris Wray: When we do our top 10 lists, there are usually a few dozen games nominated, and while we usually have great consensus towards the top, it wanes towards the bottom. Here, we had great consensus throughout, and indeed,. I was a bit surprised here by the fact that we only ended up with only a few more than 100 nominated games. That likely arises from our methodology: basically everybody voted for the best-selling modern classics (you can easily spot them above!), but after about 50 or so, our list started to fracture into smaller vote-getters.
But what a list this is. To me, this is mostly a list of 100 modern classics. I’d expect most game cafes to have our top 25; there are a couple of more obscure picks towards the bottom of the list, but I think even they work. The only disagreement I have with our list is a couple of roll and writes: those would require lamination to be practical on such a high-use basis.
The only games that I voted for that didn’t make the list were Game of Thrones, Monopoly, Twilight Imperium, and Werewolf. I suspect GOT and TI were too long of games for my fellow writers. And my fellow writers aren’t as big of fans of Werewolf as I am. But I’m shocked by the exclusion of Monopoly: it is probably the best selling board game on the planet, so I’d certainly hope it were in the library (even though I wouldn’t play it).
Larry: This is an excellent list. It’s dominated by the classics and shorter, more accessible designs and that’s a pretty reasonable approach. However, I thought more emphasis should have been placed on recent games that have shown themselves to be extremely popular, as well as the “hot” current games. My thinking is that this might attract gamers who have heard about certain titles that are getting a lot of play, but who haven’t had the opportunity to try them out, or play them regularly. Wingspan is an excellent example of this. It made our top 10, but it was my top pick. It’s just so staggeringly popular and attracts gamers of all kinds. Other very popular games I think should have been placed higher include Terraforming Mars, Lost Ruins of Arnak, and Cascadia. I also think Ark Nova, despite its length and complexity, should be included in any games cafe, just because there’s been so much buzz about it.
Ben: I agree with most of this list. Most of these games have short rulebooks and are quick and easy to teach while playing a larger than 2-4 player count. I would have liked to see more time-consuming/complex games like Power Grid made the top 25 since these are the games that appeal to me. Many of these games have a strong luck component or a strong social component. If I owned a boardgame store, I would feel more comfortable teaching random patrons these before walking away from a table.
Past Articles in the 10 Great Series: