Top Five Board Games

Top Five is a show where the hosts categorize, rank, compare, and stratify everything… from cars to gadgets to people and movies. From stuff that is hot, and things that are not nearly as interesting – it’s Top Five.

This week, we’ve talked about our favorite video games, and our favorite arcade games, now it is time for us look at our favorite board games.

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Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. Loved the lists – my Amazon wish list has grown a little more today!

    So here are mine, currently:

    Five – Apples to Apples

    The great thing about A2A is that you don’t have to be a hardcore gamer to enjoy it. In my current social circles I don’t get a lot of time for the more convoluted games, so Apples to Apples is a great way to get my fix while enjoying the kind of social-interaction-oriented games my wife prefers. For the most part our games stay PG rated (some of our friends would not appreciate Cards Against Humanity), but some really fun combinations will always show up.

    Four – Fluxx (Monty Python)

    Fluxx is another one of those relatively basic games that non-gamers are more likely to enjoy on the first try. The limited strategy means it is unlikely that someone will end the game before all players have a feel for it, and even when the game does end most new players are immediately ready for another round. The Monty Python edition lends an extra layer of sharing, as most of the people I tend to play with now aren’t as familiar with the material – so when a card has people quoting the lines they do know, we get to expand horizons in multiple ways.

    Three – Runewars

    4 warring factions, resource management, logistics, rationing for troops, hunting artifacts, political bidding, questing heroes, recruiting/fighting/cowing the wild beasts – this is the most convoluted game in my collection and I love it. I just don’t have opportunity to break it out anymore (why it’s only #3). The goal of the game is control the terrirrtories containg the runes – but there are half a dozen ways to move the runes through territories so the game is in constant flux. The 4 different factions function completely differently, with each having their own unique sets of combatants and other strengths and weaknesses. Oh, and the first play of the game are building the board configuration, so each experience is different.

    Two – Betrayal at the House on the Hill

    This one is fairly new to my collection, but I’ve enjoyed it immensely so far. The randomness of the board along with the sense of exploration is the focus for the first half of the game, until someone reveals the Haunt – 50 different scenarios without expansions.
    The board building feature is what I imagine the D&D board games to be like. I’d like to check them out eventually.

    One – Acquire

    A step down in the complication factor, gameplay for acquire is relatively simple but the strategy is – well, I still haven’t figured out a solid play-style. The board is simply a spreadsheet like grid with lettered rows and numbered columns where people, people draw tiles in scrabble-esque fashion (each marked with a specific cell designation) and by placing tiles next to each other people build corporations. These corporations have 25 stock certificates each and the prices increases as more tiles are in the same cluster. Eventually to clusters touch, and the smaller of them is ‘acquired’ by the larger – giving cash dispensations based on holdings. There’s a perfect blend of strategy and luck involved without being overbearing to new players.

    Other ONE (because I forgot about it until just now and don’t want to rewrite this) – The Hobbit

    A semi Co-op, semi competitive game. The players represent (unnamed) dwarves along Bilbo’s journey. progression across the board builds everyone’s capabilities until they reach an adventure section (4 spaced along the board) at which point the players have opportunities to collect gems in Yahtzee-like play. Every player has the opportunity to pass-or-play: the player who collects the most gems wins, but failing a challenge may reduce the player’s abilities AND move Smaug towards laketown – should the dragon reach his destination, the game ends and all players lose.

    Honorable Mentions:

    Bang! – Mostly for the unknown allegiances, trying to kill off the other faction without being certain who they are.

    Mancala – For nostalgia and simplicity’s sake

    Tesla V Edison – my first Kickstarter experience, and enjoyable game

  2. Colin Richardson on

    I was looking for a game to get my (generally non-gaming) family interested in over the holidays. I heard a description of what ‘Sherlock Holmes – Consulting Detective’ entailed (part role-playing game, part choose-your-own-adventure, part detective story) and I fell in love with the idea instantly. It was a huge hit and we’ve still only gone through 2 of the 10 supplied cases so far.

    Funny aside – playing the second case, it struck me that I *knew* the story in question, as it had featured in an old Consulting Detective FMV game for PC that was released ages ago – a game that I absolutely adored when I was a kid. I assumed they had both taken an original Conan Doyle story and reworked it, but no! In fact, both the PC game *and* this board game, each of which I played independently of one another, were based on an older board game released in the early 80’s. I loved the fact that I inadvertently came back to a game in two different mediums.

  3. My list:
    5. Stocks and Bonds – We played this game when I was a kid and it was so stinking fun! It was one of those old “bookshelf’ games with board and a dry-erase crayon and you’d go through the rounds keeping up with the bull/bear market and prices and really was not a game that a kid should have liked, but I did!

    4. Twixt – Another childhood bookshelf game. Simple but full of strategy (esp when you play against a parent who will not let you win)

    3. Bible Trivia – This game is my sentimental favorite. My Bible thumping grandmother had it when I was young and would sit and play with us any time we wanted. And, of course, we didn’t realize at the time why we were playing it so much, but we viewed it as our own version of Jeopardy. And now, I know all kinds of random Bible facts that when they fall out of my mouth, I just get that look of “and you know that how???”

    2. Rummikub – Underrated fun tile game.

    1. Ticket to Ride – My children have recently discovered this game and they love it! And, any game that can bring a 14 year old boy and an 8 year old boy to the table, has to be #1.

    PS – To add to Matthew’s scrabble story, while playing once, I laid down the word “Tenor” and the person I was playing with added the letters “eleven” to the end. I said “um, wth?” and he said “Ten or Eleven! That counts!”
    And to quote from the Golden Girls, Sophia (Estelle Getty) and Dorothy (Bea Arthur) are playing and Sophia lays down “Disdam” and when asked you to use it in a sentence, she looks at Dorothy and says – with the straightest face- “You’re no good at disdam game.” Briliant!

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