List of V's Top 10 Games, start here
So here we are at the beginning. Or the end, since I'm doing the trendy 10-1 ascending thing.
I'll be basing my scores entirely on how eager I would be to play them if you suddenly jumped me from behind with the game box and yelled "we're playing this right now!!1!". This means that there are many games that I desperately wanted to add, but couldn't, because in reality, they require spoons to play and I wouldn't 100% always be down for them. I decided that this was the best metric to use for this particular list, but you're welcome to contact me about other games I might adore but not address here for one reason or another.
I'll be writing in real time and there may be time-gaps. Quite huge gaps, actually, so expect that.
And comments are welcome, and will be responded to!
Now, let's go straight to #10.
List of V's Top 10 Games, #10:
This game is unique in a lot of ways, and an odd place to start, but it makes it on the list because I've sat down to mindlessly relax with it more times than I can count. Literally hundreds.
Onirim is a solitaire game. Technically there's a 2 player variant mode, but I've never tried it, so I can't speak to how well it plays compared to the main solitaire mode. The art is beautiful, dreamlike, and enchanting, and the components are lovely - a well illustrated deck of cards, and a cute bakelite pawn of a character called the "little incubus". If you love art or dreamlike qualities, you'll love this.
The game itself is basically an entirely new version of Solitaire, as we know it, in terms of the feel of how it plays - repetitive and half-guided motions - but all the mechanics are fresh and different, and it has like, 8 built-in expansions you can mix and match to get your own perfect experience. I personally play with Crossroads and Dead Ends, Glyphs, and The Door to the Oniverse - it's the exact mix that's comfy for me! The art combined with the calming play and choice of expansions makes it feel like wandering through a world made just for you ♥️ So blissful and dreamy! Highly recommend to anyone who likes chillin'.
Also there's an app version and it's free, it just doesn't have the expansions unless you buy em piecemeal. For free, it's worth trying out!
List of V's Top 10 Games, #9, cw nazis:
The creators of this game got a lot of flack for the name and theme - it's a hidden role game where the bad guys are literally "the fascists", lead by a player known as "hitler". Their response was that they feel it's extremely important that we all remember how fascists rise to power - through tricks, finger pointing, calculated shifting of public opinion, and intentionally causing chaos, among many, many other things. If we don't learn our history, after all, we are destined to repeat it. That makes this game Important, in my opinion.
It's also great fun! You elect cabinets, let them enact policies, and if they enact a fascistic policy, the president and her chancellor will probably instantly try to shirk the blame off onto the other - clearly, it was all the other one's fault and they didn't get a say! A great test of how well you can lie to and manipulate your friends, which is a great bonding experience. Obviously, though, that isn't for everyone - some people just don't like manipulation, even if it's all for funsies. In that case, avoid.
But I simply adore the way this lets me stretch my social bones and yell back and forth with friends! It's an excellent option if you're with 5-10 people you know very, very well. And if they're the sorts who you know would like it, it works as a great icebreaker with new people too.
List of V's Top 10 Games, #8:
Onitama is a chesslike game that just... flows. It flows like water. It's not too difficult or structured, and you'll never play a similar game of it twice, but you can, and maybe will, master it. Even if you don't, it's still for you.
A lot of chess-style games are on big boards that it's hard to keep track of, or have lots of piece ranks with different movement types, etc. Onitama has five cards, five pawns per player, and a 5x5 board. The cards decide how you can move, and you can apply this movement to any of your pawns. Once you use a card, it's swapped out with the card the other player just used on their last turn. Then at the end of their next turn, they'll get yours. Back and forth, back and forth, hoarding one type of movement for a while but eventually letting it go to perform a great piece-capture, and hoping that you can seize the advantage before they get the chance to use it against you...
It flows. Like I said. It's very simple, there aren't many rules or boundaries, it just feels really satisfying to play and you never really feel railroaded, confused, or left with too few options. It Just Works™.
I'm quite good at it too, that helps, lol. Not astounding, but it makes me want to constantly improve, without scaring me away! I feel like that speaks to how downright good it is.
I think it actually has a free app as well, DM me if you wanna play!
List of V's Top 10 Games, #7:
Two abstract strategy/chesslike games in a row! These two, together, fill my abstract strategy niches. While Onitama is tight and flawless, Santorini is quite unique in being an inherently hella unbalanced, nonsensical chesslike game!
The basic game is simple - move and build, within a small grid. If you can get up onto the top of a three layer structure, you win.
What makes it worthy of being my seventh in the world is that there are 30+ God Powers - ways that you, specifically, get to break the game entirely. Just fuck the rules. Walk off the edge of the board and come back on the other side like you're Pac Man, turn people to stone, make them fall in love with you, change your win condition to successfully jumping *off* a building... etc etc etc etc etc. It's insanity.
You get one of these, your opponent(s) get one each as well, and the game begins.
The pairings are generally kiiiind of fair, and the rules say to draft the cards so that the person who chooses the available god pool is the last one who gets to pick, so that encourages them to keep it close. Even when they're wonky, though, who cares, it's just fun! Heck, you can even intentionally give someone an overpowered god if you want a challenge, or to even things out.
Not necessarily a game for people who need their abstract strategy games to be balanced and a perfect reflection of skill. But it's probably for, like, everyone else.
List of V's Top 10 Games, #6:
Two Rooms and a Boom.
2r1b, as I'll be calling it from now on, is a game that defies all conventions, and delivers a gameplay experience that cannot be replicated. It's something else entirely from your standard game.
Starting with, of course, that it all takes place in two separate, actual rooms. Like, half the players will be in your kitchen and half will be in your den. In your house. In real life. With the door between them closed so you can't even see each other.
Also, you'll need at least 11 people, though in my opinion it plays best with around 17. The box says the minimum is 6, but the box lies.
It's another lying-to-people-in-teams game, where you have to exchange hostages back and forth between the rooms at allotted intervals, based on being loud and charismatic and clever enough to figure out how to "work" the room you're in and get everyone to agree with what you say - based, of course, on what your team's objective is.
This game turns me into a hugely fucking empowered social butterfly, and I love that. It makes a lot of people quite confident, from what I've seen. Though if you're shy even in gamified environments, this may not be the game for you. If you do play it, you'll remember the experience. It's a special game.
List of V's Top 10 Games, #5:
Galaxy Trucker appeals to the kid in pretty much all of us who just wants to knock down a tower of blocks you worked really hard on, and watch it noisily crash all over the tile floor.
It's a meaty eurogame at heart, with lots of cubes and cardboard and rules, enough to appease even the most intense board gaming hobbyist.
But that's mostly irrelevant.
What actually matters is building your ship, which you do in real time, as fast as you can, while everyone else is doing the same thing, pulling from the same supply of ship parts. You'll clamber over each other for parts, you'll groan as they take what you need, and you'll definitely laugh. And then, after all that, you'll see if your ship survives its journey through space.
It probably won't. Space is really brutal in this game. Expect to watch your ship slowly get torn apart by asteroids and pirates until there's nothing left. If you're easily emotionally hurt when things you like are destroyed, this game is probably not for you. But if you can handle it, it's really fun and cathartic, to fail together, and still keep trying your best! When you do survive, it's amazing.
It takes a while to learn, it's big, and it looks quite complicated. New gamers will feel daunted. At the end of the day, it's just a silly exercise in entropy, though, and that's what matters.
List of V's Top 10 Games, #4:
I've always wanted to be an old fashioned salesman, talking way too fast about how my absurd and useless product will actually solve everything. This game helps me fulfill that dream, without, y'know, actually scamming real people.
You get cards with words on them. Random, unassuming nouns. One person is the customer this round - they'll be given some defining customer trait, like that they're a vampire. Everyone else rifles through their cards, finds two that would be hilarious, sits up straight, coughs, and...
"Sooooo, mistah vampire, can I call ya vamp? As you know, the hardest part about being a vampire is keeping your food still while you eat! Human can be quiiite a handful! What if I were to tell you that this wouldn't be a problem anymore, once you have theeeee -
*dramatically throws the two cards onto the table*
Mouth Net! It's a net that deploys automatically from your mouth, and keeps pesky food in place while you chow down!"
... I don't really need to say anymore. Dream fulfilled. Fuck yeah.
Not recommended if you don't like being forced into social situations, or being given an ultimatum to be creative, of course.
In my experience, though... this *always* makes me literally laugh until I cry.
List of V's Top 10 Games, #3:
If you aren't that great at hidden role/social deduction games, or they're too social for you, but you'd like to try, this is a great way to only indirectly have to perform that role.
Basically, it's 20 questions. Except some people at the table secretly want you to fail at guessing the word, so they'll ask misleading questions, and one person is a good guy who knows the word and is trying to help, but if they make it too obvious, the bad guys will find them and make the good guys auto-fail... etc. So, 20 questions with some basic hidden role stuff baked into it for flavor.
I love being social with friends, but I run out of energy, of course. That's where this game come in. A lot of the games on this list need like, one or two spoons. Not a big amount, but it's something. Even when I have zero spoons, though, I can still handle this game, because the social aspect is indirect - it's mainly a word game, and that part is fun by itself anyway!
This won't work for everyone, but it's worth it to try, I would say. I love it. I'll always, always play it, and I'll always suggest it too!
List of V's Top 10 Games, #2:
I could just as easily title this Perudo, or Liar's Dice, or Pirate Dice, or Fluff, etc. It's a very old folk game, with many names. In some places, it's bigger than Poker to this day, and it's got a similar vibe - it's a "let's bluff about chance elements with each other" game. In my opinion, it's the best one, and LIE is the best version.
There's a reason this game exists in so many forms and has for such a long time.
In your standard game of Liar's Dice, you roll 5 dice each, secretly, and then you all start betting on how many there are - "I think there are three fives", etc. This is referring to everyone's dice as if they were all one pool. On your turn, you raise, or you call their bluff. Whoever was wrong loses a die, we all reroll, and play continues. If you lose all your dice, you're out. Don't worry, there isn't money involved, unless you want there to be.
Every version tweaks this formula, but the conceit is beautiful, simple, and will always keep my brain buzzing! Just like Poker, you're playing the people. The odds, too, which is in itself fun. But mostly the people. You get into the groove of it, and you feel like a badass, if you're lucky. It's practically a lifestyle game, if you want it to be, and I love that.
LIE changes things by using cards instead of dice, and letting you slightly manipulate the numbers you get. For beginners, I'd say the kindest version is Perudo, though.
List of V's Top 10 Games, #1:
Here it is, it's the game I like better than breathing. It's nothing special, it's just special to me. It clicks.
Glass Road is a heavy eurogame about being a glassmaker living along the Bavarian Glass Road. It's a peaceful life. You call a contractor over to build those storehouses you need - oh, it looks like someone else had called him over too, so he'll have to split his workday between the two of you, and each of you will only get half of what you need. That's fine. There will be more time for that. It looks like your neighbor is building her economy based on sand, maybe you could start calling over contractors who help you work with clay instead, so you'll get the guy all to yourself. Regardless, you'll be progressing. You'll always be keeping a close eye on your opponents, but in the end, you'll always be building beautiful houses, along this beautiful road in the middle of the forest. And that's wonderful.
The game does contain deforestation - it's a historical retelling, and history can suck. If that isn't a great thing for you, it's not the game you're looking for. Though, it is actually very possible to win without cutting down a single tree, and it feels even more impressive when you manage that.
But heck. It's just lovely. It's a place I feel safe. I love looking at my board at the end of the game and just seeing all the beautiful stuff I built. It's perfect to me.
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