40. Modern Art
In my board game journey, Modern Art represents the game where I realized that modern board games included the name of the designer on the box. To this day, I feel like Dr. Reiner Knizia is the most stylish game designer. His games do so much with simple mechanics, and it feels like there’s no fluff to his designs. I don’t know if I can fully articulate what this means, but his games really feel like “board gamer games.” Modern Art is a beautiful and simple auction game; see Samurai and Battle Line coming up shortly for more Knizia games.
Fuse! It’s a real-time game about rolling dice quickly, assigning them to “bombs” to defuse them as a team. In the video game world, I love competitive MOBA’s and shooters that require team communication, and oddly enough, Fuse is the board game that best requires a similar level of communication. As soon as dice are rolled, players must quickly explain which ones they need, when they can’t take something, and quickly determine if they should fully defuse bombs or assign the dice on particularly difficult bombs…
As a lover of chess growing up, I find the jockey-for-position play of Samurai really satisfying. Having the same troops as your opponents shares another similar aspect, but the hiddenness of pieces throws a wild-card into action. If you can get a hand on Samurai, I highly recommend it.
37. Battle Line
Another Knizia classic; Battle Line truly captures the essence of a duel. It’s got a great combination of tactical decision making, deduction, and clever positioning—with just a deck of cards and nine tokens.
To this day, I have yet to defeat my wife in Patchwork. Even when I feel like I’m playing well, when it comes around to tally up scores it’s rarely even close. A delightful game of tile placement mixed with a really interesting economy; if you haven’t already, you’ve got to give Patchwork a try.
“The revolutionary card game where you win by getting a head.” Guillotine’s morbid-yet-comedic theme wraps up an interesting game of hand management and set collecting.
The first engine-builder on the list: Gizmos feels like the classic game Splendor, but the cards you collect give more interesting boons.
33. It’s a Wonderful World
The first drafting game on the list, It’s a Wonderful World is also one of the newest games I’ve added to my top 50. This game doesn’t mess around—the theme is nearly non-existent. The iconography is simple and communicates costs of cards and different ways to score points. Without a doubt, it is an exercise of turning cubes into other colored cubes, into cards, into points. And I think it is one of most satisfying puzzles in board gaming.
32. The Fox in the Forest: Duet
I purchased Fox in the Forest: Duet on a whim before I took a short trip to a Getaway cabin with my wife. I had heard about the original game, and the cooperative nature of this version made me grab it from the Tea + Victory retail shelf. What I found was an absolutely charming game, not unlike in feel to “…and then, we held hands”. If you like trick-taking, this is a great choice (especially as a bit of a simpler affair compared to “The Crew”).
One of the newest games on the list. I really think that Wavelength has true staying power as a party game—a segment that has so much competition. Wavelength is all about trying to understand how your friends think. When your perception clashes with the reality, it's a great time.