My scale is a little different than the 5-star system you typically see.
1/5 – Some people might like this game, but it has problems. It probably has aspects from this list that are completely missing.
2/5 – I like aspects of this game, but I’d pass it up to play a different game.
3/5 – Solid game. Give it a try.
4/5 – A ton of fun. Don’t miss a chance to play this game.
5/5 – One of my favorites. Almost anyone will enjoy it.
Avalon/Resistance – 5/5
A themed, hidden identity game with negotiation.
Who is on the bad side? Certainly not me. With a decent range of 5-10 players, this game is very approachable and an absolute blast. So much passionate yelling.
Bang! (+ Fistful of Cards/High Noon) – 4/5
An Italian-made, Western-themed, hidden identity card game.
Really flexible with the number of players, starting at 3 and going all the way up to 14 if you bend the game a little. Great with or without the expansions, and easy to explain to non-gamers.
Betrayal at House on the Hill – 3/5
A super-thematic cooperative game with a defector!
I’ve only played this game once, and I want to give it another shot when I can. The reveal-as-you-go board mechanic made the game constantly exciting. Spooky and mysterious, the game stayed fun despite the gloomy theme.
Blokus – 5/5
An abstract, puzzle-like, territory control, piece placement game.
It’s a great game to play in-between heavier strategy games. My favorite way to describe it: It’s like the opposite of Tetris.
Bohnanza – 3/5
Carcassonne – 3/5
A classic tile and worker placement game. Simple, easy, fun.
Cards Against Humanity – 5/5
The ‘adult’ version of Apples To Apples. You need to play this game.
Citadels – 3/5
Codenames – 4/5
Concept – 4/5
Charades on a tabletop. Easy for non-gamers to grasp the ‘concept’ (haha) of the game, and forces players to use creative juices.
Cosmic Encounter – 5/5
Coup – 3/5
A hidden identity manipulation card game.
One of it’s strongest features is the short amount of time it takes to get a game in.
Diplomacy – 2/5
A World War I themed, troop placement, territory conquest game with negotiation.
This game is not for everyone. It typically takes at least 4 hours to complete, and requires large amounts of both strategic thinking and the ability to manipulate or convince other players to work with you. It’s been around since 1959 and it’s still popular enough to be on Game Store shelves. (This gets a 2/5 only because of the time commitment involved. It’s a good game.)
Dixit – 5/5
Similar to Apples To Apples, but with no words and beautiful artwork.
Dominion – 2/5
A deck-building, public-draft card game.
It has fantasy themes, but there isn’t a major unifying flavor. This game might get someone into board games if they were not before, but this game lacks several important aspects (specifically #3, #4, and #9 on this list).
Epic Spell Wizards – 4/5
A kill-everyone-else card game?
I don’t even know how to describe this game. You’re a Wizard. You kill everyone else. The art is deranged and absurd and wonderful.
Escape: The Curse of the Temple – 2/5
A themed, timed, cooperative dice-rolling game.
It has problems, but it is fun to try at least once.
Evolution – 4/5
A survival of the fittest card game.
Compete for food, eat species, evolve! A very well-designed game. The number of options available to you can be overwhelming at times. The indirect competition is the best aspect of this game.
Forbidden Desert / Forbidden Island – 4/5
A cooperative set-collecting game with decreasing space resources. The simple rules don’t undermine the gameplay. Don’t sink!
Fluxx (Star, Zombie, Batman) – 4/5
A shifting-rules card game. Anyone interested in game design should try this game.
Galaxy Trucker – 3/5
King of Tokyo – 3/5
Last Night on Earth (+ Growing Hunger) – 5/5
A zombie themed, team cooperative, survival game.
It’s like the best/worst B-Horror flick transformed into a board game. I recommend playing with 1 Zombie player and the rest of the players as Heroes. The rules are just the right amount of complex- easy enough for non-gamers to understand easily, but interesting enough to keep veterans invested. Different board setups, multiple scenarios, and varied expansions make the replayability very high. There is a lot of options for making custom scenarios, as well. If you pick it up, you won’t regret it.
Libertalia – 2/5
Lords of Waterdeep – 4/5
A worker placement resource management game, set in the city of Waterdeep.
It may be too complex in overall strategy for non-gamers, but they still might have fun if they are up for a couple hours of thinking. This game is very balanced, and gives players a lot of choice, which I like. It is competitive without being overbearing, and I consider it a staple game for experienced tabletop gamers.
Lords of Waterdeep: Scoundrels of Skullport Expansion – 3/5
Munchkin – 4/5
A dungeon-crawl themed, leveling, semi-cooperative, card game.
There is a physical board and meeples to keep track of leveling if you play the ‘Deluxe’ version.
Kick in the door, fight a monster, get help (or hurt) from your friends. It’s really easy to keep going back to this game because, put simply, it’s fun.
Pandemic – 4/5
Pit – 4/5
A resource trading, turn-less card game.
Yell at your friends over a table. Get all of one resource to win the round. This game is unique in its intensity, despite having few rules.
Race for the Galaxy – 4/5
A space-themed, economic growth, building-up, strategy card game. Though you are not in direct contact with your opponents, the racing to build up your economic empire feels very urgent and tense. This game has many rules, and takes a bit of patience to understand all of the symbols on the cards. It’s not for everyone. That said, it’s a fantastic game that I will choose over many other games every time.
Real Game of Life – 2/5
Secret Hitler – 4/5
Scythe – 4/5
Sentinels of the Multi-Verse – 3/5
Settlers of Catan – 5/5
A resource management and building game. Engrossing, strategic, classic.
Small World (+ Be Not Afraid) – 5/5
A fantasy-themed, territory conquering game.
Extremely balanced despite the large variations in special abilities/races and an asymmetric board. Fantastic in its ability to stay engaging, partially because of great mechanics (like its catch-up features), and partially because you are doing something new or different every turn. Approachable by more casual players, but plenty of deep strategy to explore for veterans.
This game is one of my absolute favorites, and you should definitely pick it up.
Smash Up – 3/5
Splendor – 3/5
Star Wars X-Wing – 3/5
Sushi Go – 4/5
A Sushi-themed, set-collecting, drafting card game.
Easy to understand, short rounds, and a bit silly. This game is great. Perfect as a break between two larger/intense games.
Survive: Escape from Atlantis – 1/5
A nautical-themed, action-point, meeple collecting game.
A lot of people like this game, but I am not one of them. By far, the worst thing about this game is the art, and that’s saying something (I played the reprint version). None of the components match the others in style or visuals, and that makes the entire game feel like it’s a prototype.
This game does have some strategy elements, but there is a lot of luck involved- letting you get ahead unfairly or forcing you behind. It’s fairly simplistic, but not in an elegant or deliberate way; while playing, you often feel like there should be something more to the game than what you get. The meeples you place down at the beginning of the game have different values, and so if you lose an important meeple or two, you might be out of the game with no way to catch up. It is frustratingly difficult to keep track of which of your meeples are worth more (it’s hidden for the rest of the game after first placement), with no mechanic to find out. It has fun moments, but the game probably could’ve been left in the 80’s instead of getting reprinted.
Takenoko – 4/5
A set collecting, public-resource management game.
Grow bamboo and then send a panda to eat it! Easy to understand and a lot of fun to play.
Talisman – 2/5
A fantasy-themed, leveling adventure game.
This game has issues. It’s almost like the Monopoly of fantasy-themed games: you can recognize why it’s popular and why it was ground-breaking for its time, but ultimately it’s outdated. That’s not to say this game isn’t fun. If you know someone who really loves this game, give it a try and play with them. Otherwise, there are better games out there.
Ticket to Ride: Europe – 4/5
Tokaido – 3/5
A set collecting decision-making game.
Taking a vacation in Japan doesn’t sound like it would make a great game, but this one does a great job of staying light while still being competitive.
Tsuro (+ Of The Seas) – 4/5
A tile placement path game. Great for every age, easy, quick, and wide range of players (2-8).
War of the Ring (Second Edition) – 2/5
A Lord Of The Rings themed, campaign-like, dice rolling, territory control game.
It’s a very strategic and captivating game, but the downsides are large. The rules take at least an hour or two to learn, and the game will last around 3 hours. It’s definitely worth looking into if you are a big Tolkien fan.
7 Wonders – 4/5
Older and Classic games:
Balderdash – 3/5
Battleship – 2/5
Canasta – 3/5
Chess – 5/5
Clue – 2/5
Connect Four – 3/5
Cranium – 2/5
Cribbage – 4/5
Life – 1/5
Monopoly – 1/5 – (How to make Monopoly not suck.)
Pictionary – 3/5
Pokemon Master Trainer – 2/5 – (high nostalgia factor!)
Risk – 1/5
Scrabble/Bananagrams – 3/5
Sorry – 1/5
Stratego – 3/5
Uno – 3/5
Magic: The Gathering – 4/5
Magic isn’t for everyone, but it’s one of the most well-made games of all time.
Dungeons and Dragons – 4/5
Find some friends to play this game, right now. I mean, come on, have you not played it yet? This is why the site exists.
TitansGrave – 4/5
A RPG with fantastic setting and storyline. It even has a show.
– – – – –
To-Play (in no particular order):
The Dragon & Flagon
Sheriff of Nottingham
One Night Ultimate Werewolf
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar
Dead of Winter
Roll for the Galaxy
Caverna: The Cave Farmers
Struggle of Empires
Shadows Over Camelot
Star Wars Rebellion/Imperial Assault
Mansion of Madness
The Castles of Burgundy
Through the Ages (any)
Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Tigris & Euphrates
Game of Thrones: The Board Game