If you could only choose three games to play for the rest of your days, what would they be?
For some people this question creates indecision, but for me I can list them without thought or hesitation. My top three board games has been unwaveringly decided for quite some time now.
Being relatively new to the world of board games, as well has being stifled by the financial constraints of being a young, single income family – we have had to maintain a tighter collection than most. We don’t buy new games often and when we do, they are thoroughly researched, weighed and considered.
For this reason, I like to believe our humble collection is made up of a lot of the better games available – or in the very least, they are all favourites to us.
While I enjoy a wide variety of themes and styles from woodland creatures, to savage Vikings and racing camels; I have always been utterly intrigued by the unknown and vast universe of which we are merely a self-important speck - and that is highly reflected in my top three games.
So without further ado…
Number 1 - Clank! In! Space!
If you’ve seen my Instagram channel, it’s hard to mistake my all-time favourite game. I have been highly (and likely irritatingly) vocal about my love for this game.
Clank! In! Space! is an intergalactic adventure which raises the bar for deck building to new and amazing heights – you could say, it is Out! Of! This! World! Forget the stuffy deck builders where you are left with a hand of cards and your imagination, this game provides the excitement of deck building, while adding a physical adventuring aspect and a great table presence.
I first stumbled across Clank! In! Space! thanks to a friend who was trying to encourage me to spend money… I mean buy games… I mean play games. It was the first deck-builder I had ever encountered and I was really not into the idea of them. I was expecting him to pull a stack of cards from a bag and be done with it, so imagine my surprise when he hefted a huge box onto the table and began organising modules, gems, cubes, treasures and loot all over the table. When he finally presented me with my custom purple meeple I knew this was no slow burn, it was love at first sight.
With what was a surprisingly fast rundown on the rules and speedy demonstration, we were off and adventuring. That night would be the first of many spent racing through Lord Eradikus’ flagship; making clank!, racing for treasure and creating card combos so satisfying you’ll forget the word Dominion from your vocabulary. I had ordered my own copy before all the components were back in their baggies and I have played Clank! In! Space! at least once a month ever since.
This is a game that will never get old for me. It has so many wonderful variables and I love the hilarious sci-fi references and cheeky gameplay. Clank! is designed for replayability and accessibility – it’s a game that will grow with player experience and always promises a night of laughter and anticipation.
Number 2 - Star Wars: Outer Rim
Coming in a close second is Star Wars: Outer Rim which I will say very honestly from the start, you have to be a Star Wars fan to properly enjoy. It’s an incredibly immersive and thematic experience – essentially a “choose your own adventure” style game set in the Star Wars universe. I love that there are so many variable elements to this game, which makes every playthrough feel different and you can have as little or as much PVP as you’d like. It genuinely feels like you are writing your own Star Wars story and the theme integration is where this game is strongest. I will never say no when a game is offered!
Star Wars: Outer Rim was actually one of the first and only games I bought ‘brand new’ when it was first released and without any prior research. I threw caution to the wind and decided that given my husband and I’s shared love for Star Wars since we were old enough to wield lightsabers, this game would be a safe investment for us.
Granted, there is nothing particularly ground breaking about the gameplay and it is essentially a re-theming/tweaked version of Firefly: The Game (another of my favourites), but it is the authenticity of this Star Wars experience that makes it so loved in my home. If you play as Boba Fett, you’ll find bounties easier. If you play as Lando or Han, moving cargo (especially the illegal variety) is lucrative. The characters, items and ships are all designed with great consideration for story-telling and authenticity.
This is a game that makes you want to go that extra mile, it makes you want to set the lighting and put on the Star Wars soundtrack in the background. You’ll give your opponent the eye as you pass their ship and pray they don’t have a ‘secret’ hidden that means they’ll steal your crew or draw on you! You’ll watch your ship take more damage than Serenity and pray it’ll hold together as well and if you’re playing as Boba, well you’re going to want to steer clear of that Sarlacc pit. In short, it’s a world you’ll have a heck a lot of fun exploring.
I really hope that Fantasy Flight Games has plans for an expansion for this game because although I could play it as is until the Banthas come home, it is designed to have potential for expansions and I will always want more Star Wars: Outer Rim.
Number 3 – Terraforming Mars
Coming in at number three, Terraforming Mars is just as certain in my top three, but harder for me to explain why. It has always had a bad rap for its production quality and yet it’s still widely one of the most popular games on the market.
For me, it comes down to the theme integration. I love that you play as corporations with different abilities or perks and you can plan your gameplay around how that specific corporation would go about terraforming Mars. I love the realism of how planting greenery creates oxygen and how raising the temperature or oxygen levels unlocks certain conditions for different cards to be played (like the ‘Pets’ card – you just can’t be breeding puppies in -20 degree conditions can you?). Pair that with the huge deck which seems endless and the tableau building aspect of this game which quickly fills the table and I’m suddenly finding it a lot easier to explain how it’s in my top three.
But it’s not all theme, Terraforming Mars also presents a subtle challenge. It appears straightforward and is simple to explain, yet there is great depth to the strategy needed to be good at this game. You can’t really get way with playing hand to hand, you need to be proactive and deliberate about which cards you draft and resources you choose to gather. The game can start off slow and that’s part of that wonderful thematic integration – it realistically takes time to build a company and resources, but it’s always so satisfying come the final few rounds when you can string together action combinations and score two or three times in a single turn.
It’s not an edge of your seat experience, nor is it going to make you feel like you are in another world like my other top two, but what Terraforming Mars does provide is a challenge and endless variability. It continues to draw me in with its theme and keeps me coming back for more with its subtle complexity. I don’t own any of the expansions, nor have I ever felt the need to get them, this game feels complete on its own– so if you are starting out on your journey to terraform Mars, rest easy in the knowledge that this is a game you can play a LOT at no extra cost!
So that’s it, my top three – carefully selected and played many, many times to be sure.
I know these games like the back of my hand and yet I can’t see me tiring of them anytime soon.
Thank you to Jim who allowed me the opportunity to share here. I hope you have enjoyed ‘My Top 3’, what would yours be?