Updated: Jul 1, 2021
What are your top 3 tabletop games? This question feels like a bit of a land mine sometimes; will people judge me for my choices? will they think I'm just a casual gamer or not a "real" hobby board gamer? will they think the games are too heavy? too light? too "mainstream"? or "too obscure"? Well, that's one of my favorite things about the board gaming hobby; there is literally something for everyone! No matter who you are, where you come from, what your experience is, there is a game out there that will be perfect for you. Your perfect game and mine may be completely different and that's alright! We've recently been sharing our Top 100 Games Played in 2020 on the Family Meeple Blog so for this list, I decided not to go with my top 3 favorite games of all time. Instead, I wanted to share my favorite games in three unique categories; Game with an Unexpected/Unique Theme, Game that Surprised Me, and Game that's Become an Addiction. If you're interested, we'd love for you to check out our longer top 100 list as well. Without further ado, here are the Top 3 from Alli at The Family Meeple:
Game with an Unexpected/Unique Theme: The Bloody Inn from Pearl Games I am a huge fan of murder mystery television shows and movies. One of my favorites was Dexter, a show about a serial killer from the perspective of the serial killer. I also love the dark drama musical Sweeney Todd and other shows like Criminal Minds. So, when I learned that there was a card game about murdering visitors to your inn, it was an intriguing theme to me for sure. It's a dark theme to be sure and it may not appeal to everyone, but the lightness of the gameplay counteracts the dark theme nicely and somehow the macabre is charming rather than alarming. In The Bloody Inn, 1-4 players take on the role of innkeepers who are looking to earn a living. The only problem is that the income from registered and paying guests is a measly 1 franc each night. There is no way you'll make a living at those rates and so you resort to killing some of your patrons and burying them under your annexed buildings. You best be careful though not to attract the attention of the police during your escapades or there will be a steep fine to pay (or in the solo, jail time). I adore the artwork in this game and the card mechanics are unique and compelling. Each card can be used in multiple ways during the game. You can leave guests alone and collect the standard room rate fee. You can bribe patrons to become your accomplice, but they'll be expecting payment for their services each day. You can build additional annex buildings that will provide one-time or ongoing benefits and provide further space to bury bodies. Or you can kill and then bury your victims. Once buried, the money in their pockets is now yours. You'll also need to watch your purse strings and launder the money before the coppers catch on! I've particularly enjoyed this game for its solo play which is quick, simple to run, and challenging. I've been caught by the police before and lost the game outright. If you're a fan of slightly macabre themes, this is certainly one to check out. Game that Surprised Me: Wingspan from Stonemaier Games I'm just gonna say it, as much as the first theme appealed to me, birds just aren't my thing. I'm actually sort of freaked out by birds; the beaks and claws. Yikes! So, a game about birds? Probably not my thing. But I kept seeing it everywhere I turned. It was in all of the top lists on gaming-related YouTube channels, it was winning all sorts of awards, it was selling out at record pace, and it was all over everyone's Instagram and Facebook feeds. One evening in late 2020 Wingspan was suggested at my local game group and I figured it was time to find out what "all the fuss was about" with this bird-themed game. Well, I'm always willing to admit when I'm wrong about a game. Despite the theme, Wingspan is a fantastic game that I have grown to love. After my very first play, I wouldn't say that I was completely enamored with the game but it lingered. Days later I found myself thinking about the game and the different options I had; could I have played a card more efficiently? what if I had gone with a different strategy? what else did the game have to offer in the solo mode? I watched some videos on the solo mode in particular since right now most of my plays are either solo or online. Everyone seemed to rave about the solo mode as well, so I decided to add it to my collection. After arriving in January of 2021, I proceeded to quickly knock out 10 games in less than a month. I love the challenge of the solo mode and find it difficult but not impossible to beat. This is one of the main aspects that I look for in my solo games; that the goal is challenging but achievable. I've also been able to teach Wingspan to my mom and enjoyed it just as much at two-player as solo. Wingspan was my lesson in "don't judge a game by its theme" and it's one that I would certainly recommend to anyone that enjoys a good engine-building game.
Game that's Become an Addiction: Welcome to... from Deep Water Games
As hobby gamers or game enthusiasts, I'm sure we all have that one game that went from "that was fun" to a mild (or possibly more) obsession. That game that you keep reaching for over and over and over again. When someone asks you what you want to play, you recommend this particular game first. For me, that game was Welcome To... A quick flip-and-write game that plays in about 30 minutes and continually draws you in to see if you can do better play after play.
This pick is a bit interesting as the vast majority of my plays have been through Board Game Arena (BGA) online instead of with my own physical copy of the game. Welcome to... is far and away my most played game since I started recording my plays on Board Game Geek in February of 2020. In fact, no other game is even close. With 80+ games played in the last 7 months, it has been a minor obsession of mine for sure. I wasn't really sure what all the hype was about with this game as well when I saw it online. The theme and design weren't overly intriguing but as soon as I played it I was hooked. I love the simple mechanics combined with the extremely tough choices each turn. Planning ahead for an unknown future condition is both challenging and exhilarating. Will that perfect combination of cards appear just in the nick of time? Will I be able to maximize on the strategies that I've started? Some games work out brilliantly and others I come up just that much too short. This is also a game that I introduced my family to as part of our weekly online game nights. With family living in three different states all spread out in multiple timezones of the US, online gaming has been a delightful way to connect when travel was either impossible or impractical. If you're ever up for a game of Welcome to... you'll probably find me at a table on BGA. Well, with that the games are calling to me... now, what game should I try out next? Happy gaming! Alli The Family Meeple www.familymeeple.com