#40 Great Western Trail

Recommended for: Gamers

Great Western Trail is an epic Euro with so many mechanisms crammed into it that it contains something for almost everyone. Fortunately, the package comes together into a cohesive and tasty whole. There is something so satisfying about making the long journey across the Wild West to finally deliver a hand of carefully curated cows. My only complaint is that I don’t play this one nearly enough. It’s hard to get to the table and teach.

#39 Welcome To…

Recommended for: Everyone

Welcome To takes the trendy roll & write formula and polishes it to near perfection. The classy theme, slick art direction, smooth gameplay, and simple fun always hit the spot for us. The tension lies not in player interaction (most roll & writes aren’t strong in this area, including Welcome To); rather, it lies in pushing your luck, adapting your strategy, and straining for the “just one more” of objectives and bonuses. This tension is palpable thanks to the balance between obvious risks and tempting benefits.

#38  KLASK

Recommended for: Everyone

KLASK put a massive grin on my face the first time we gave it a go, and it’s still a blast every time we break it out. I love how it takes the basic premise of air hockey and adds another layer tension and strategy with those relentless little biscuits. I always burst out laughing when I’ve managed to surround my opponent with biscuit land mines, the momentum completely in my favor, only to carelessly KLASK myself into defeat.

#37 Patchwork

Recommended for: Everyone

There are plenty of polyomino (tetris-shape) games out there these days. For us, Patchwork rises above most others with such an interestingly unknowable dichotomy of incentives between time, button cost, button income, and shapes. Love how this one sets up and plays out!

#36  Men at Work

Recommended for: Everyone

Men At Work takes a clever idea for a Jenga-like dexterity game and executes it flawlessly with its simple gameplay and fine-tuned production. The bricks, beams, girders, supports, and construction workers all somehow feel like the perfect size, shape, and material to make any move both easily catastrophic and impressively achievable. The incentives of the game are perfectly calculated where players must constantly decide whether to play it safe and avoid self-elimination or go for broke and snatch victory from the jaws of disaster.

#35 Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure

Recommended for: Everyone

The rule book could use some polishing, but the gameplay is spot on. The dragon-robbing theme is brilliantly combined with classic deck building mechanisms for a consistently fun push-your-luck experience.

Like the Quest for El Dorado, Clank has also had a major influence on my deck builder design. Clank was the first game that opened my eyes to the possibilities of combining two or more major standalone mechanisms into a single delicious experience.

#34 Q.E.

Recommended for: Everyone

A supremely amusing auction game of pushing your luck to get the most points while pushing your opponents to spend more than yourself. If you like playing mind tricks with others, you can’t go wrong with Q.E. I also have to give a shout out to the publisher (Boardgametables.com) for their high standard of quality production and streamlined gameplay; if you haven’t tried any of their games before, they are definitely worth a shot. The only downside is that you can basically only buy their games directly from their website.

#33 Gùgōng

Recommended for: Gamers

I have to admit, after reading through the rulebook I was a bit skeptical. It seemed like so much revolved around the cubes (servants) that act as resources. “Discard 1 cube to place this cube here, or spend 2 cubes to place 3 cubes here!” Etc. I was worried that I had spent money on another generic euro with nothing unique to offer.

But the cubes/servants are merely a smaller cog in the grander system of exchanging gifts. The gift cards are where the game really shines. One must decide the best order and location to play out these cards, and the mechanisms surrounding how and when you can play them are the beating heart of this clever worker placement game. Gugong entices you with a constant stream of good reasons to exchange one gift for another…. the action locations, the card actions, the destiny dice, the cards available to claim, the cheap action opportunities, barring other players from an action, etc. It’s an exquisite flow of sneaky cultural corruption across a well-balanced expanse of interesting options.

#32 Insider

Recommended for: Everyone

Rapid, addicting, and accessible, Insider is pure fun crammed into a tiny box. Insider takes the classic game of 20 questions and gives it a nice plot twist:

Players may ask the “master” an unlimited number of questions, but must determine the word within a time limit of 5 minutes. The catch is that one player is secretly the “Insider” who already knows the word. If the word is not guessed within 5 minutes, then everyone loses. If it is guessed, then either the insider or the rest of the players will win; so everyone casts suspicion before voting in an attempt to oust the Insider!

The game puts an interesting pressure on the Insider to subliminally guide the group to the often difficult word within the designated time limit. While it doesn’t always work perfectly (sometimes it feels impossible to deduce the Insider because the group hones in on the word without any sneaky assistance), it is always engaging and amusing thanks to the combination of two complimentary mechanisms.

#31 Hanamikoji

Recommended for: Everyone

One of the greatest of all time 2-player games, in my humble opinion. The “I cut, you choose” mechanism combined with the perfect balance of options and objectives provides for an elegant experience with a surprising amount of clever opportunities.

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