Top 100: #37 Orleans

Next on our list is one of the first games to bring a new type of deck building to gaming - bag building! This allowed for some things that a deck of cards simply can’t do as easily. Over the course of the game you will be adding more and different workers to your bag and draw them out to do actions throughout the game.

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Each player has their own action board that they are placing their workers on to in order to take actions. Some of the locations can only take certain workers in order to accomplish. Players can if they want place workers in one round before they have all the needed workers but that would mean that worker is tied up doing other activities and you won’t be able to use them until you finish that action by finding the other worker. Lots of hard choices on how to use your workers and build your bag as you decide what type of worker to add.

Not only are the players taking actions on their board some of them cause interactions with some of the general board for the game. One of the boards is a map and using actions players can maneuver around on that map claiming goods as they move around and build trading posts. Those goods are all worth points at the end of the game.

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Trading posts and the citizens you acquire based on your development track are also worth points at the end of the game. So there are lots of chances and paths for players to take as they go. You could try to dominate the goods and get a ton of points that way or work to develop your house so that each trading post you’ve built are worth that much more!

Orleans as the first bag builder has always been a ton of fun - it even has inspired some games that follow similar models, like Altiplano. While they are based on deck builders that are often a little bit more complicated than them since the bag builder aspect allows them to do more with the game. So if you want to try a meaty game that will remind you of your favorite deck builders give our number 37 a try - Orleans!

Top 100: #38 Scythe

The top 100 continues with one of the most well known Stonemaier games and possibly one of the most well known among hobby gamers in general. Scythe is considered by many to be a masterpiece and has many expansions to bring even more fun to the game. Although we haven’t personally tried those yet - we are still enjoying the base game!

While hard to categorize Scythe has tons to offer almost any gamer. It is some area control with giant well produced mech units but there is less combat between those figures than you might think. At the heart of the game is a great action selection system with actions the evolve over time. Each player has a slightly different player board with actions paired with different secondary actions. When you take your turn you do the top and the bottom actions.

As you expand your territory and your populace you can take actions to get not only one time bonuses but when you remove the piece for that action you put it on one of the other spots on the board sometimes adding a constant bonus when you take an action or making other actions cheaper. While someone might be able to win without too much player interaction the game encourages such interaction by having a factory space on the board where players can get a fifth generally more powerful action to customize themselves even further!

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Players will struggle to get stars which is how they can claim victory - once someone gets their 6th star the game ends immediately. Based on the popularity track players get different amount of points for the stars, territories, and resources they control. So the person who ended the game night not be the victor in the end.

Admittedly there is a chance this game is this high on the list because of the constant master crafted production value of the game. While other games would use cardboard chits - scythe uses resources that looks like the real things if you purchase them. The game is great with or without them though and has stood the test of time as it is no longer the new hotness. Not the first game I would introduce people to but if you are looking for a meaty game you should give the number 38 a try!

Top 100: #39 Tem-Purr-A

Next on the list is a very silly but cute card game called Tem-Purr-A. It has fun pictures of cats and some tempura style food. At least one of us has a big soft spot for a good pun. The game is a card game based around pushing your luck or playing it safe to try to not get indigestion. There are only a few choices for what to do on your turn but some strategic choices can be made in a somewhat luck based game.

On your turn you have four options for how to spend your turn. You can add an identical number card to the pile, play a pair to clear away all previously cards, use an action card, or decide to eat (draw) some cards. The first top options are pretty simple but choosing to use a pair can be dangerous if someone uses that number again. Being able to play a number card is one of the safest options. The actions cards do some things most people are used to in card games. Some reverse direction of play, another lets you choose who goes next, or just adds a plus one to the value of the pot.

If you can’t play any cards or think it might be a good time for a snack the last action available is to eat some cards by drawing them and adding them to your hand. When you do this you have to draw as many cards as the total value of the ards in the pot. If there are 4 cards with the value 5 you need to draw 20 cards from the draw pile. If you can draw that many without getting an indigestion card then you are safe, for now! If you did get an indigestion care though you get a token symbolizing that and you have the choice of adding another dangerous indigestion card to the deck for the rest of the game. Once someone gets their third indigestion token the game end with the person who had the fewest winning the game!

The game is super silly and quick which excuses most of its randomness to us. The tension that is created when you have to draw cards is great and the celebration of not getting a bad card despite drawing most the deck is even greater. Tem-Purr-A is always a fun time which gets it this high up on the Top 100!

Top 100: #40 Pandemic (Iberia)

While not the first cooperative game, Pandemic is one of the most well known early cooperative games. But being a older game doesn’t make it good enough to be on our Top 100 - it is simply a really fun game to play with your friends. There have been many iterations of the game including recently they have started coming out with regional/historical themed versions of the game. Which is where we find our favorite version of the game - Pandemic: Iberia.

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As the game is based in historic Spain there is no curing of the diseases as science hadn’t quite advanced that far yet. Instead you are trying to research the diseases and purify water supplies in order to prevent their spread. If you can research all of the diseases before running out of disease cubes. It can be more difficult then normal pandemic in which you can treat diseases to the point of extermination.

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Pandemic: Iberia does share quite a bit of game play with the original. It is still definitely card driven down to needing five cards of the same color to research and diseases where in the original you needed five cards of the same color to cure the disease. But because it is in the past the methods of travel are quite different. Where you can fly in the original you are restricted to older technology in Iberia - with the best form of transit being the train system.  Building out the trains can be very important as it allows instantaneous (in game terms) movement around the board letting you get to problem areas.

While Pandemic Iberia is our choice for the Top 100 it is only because we felt we should combine all the games into one entry or it would take up quite a few entries in the list. The classic is also a great game. If you find yourself enjoying the game we would highly encourage playing the legacy version of the game. It is the version we have had the most fun with but because you can only really play it through once we didn’t feel it was right for the list. If we included legacy on the top 100 it would easily be in the top 10 - make sure to experience if you haven’t yet!

Top 100: #41 Tragedy Looper

While a lot of games on this list have been loved by us because of how easy they are to explain the next one is not one of those. Tragedy Looper is one of the hardest games we have to get into but once you really get a vibe for how it is played it can really sing. A competitive deduction game that incorporates the fun of time loops similar to a dark and twisted groundhog day!

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One player is an evil mastermind with a scripted goal with a few different methods of achieving that goal. The other characters (always three) are trying to stop those evil plans from happening. If the plot is successful time restarts back at the beginning and with the knowledge of how events unfolded the characters try to stop it again. The mastermind wins if the players cannot stop the event from happening even after multiple loops through time.

The game actions are mostly done through card play with each player having a deck of cards to play face down in certain locations of the board. It starts with the mastermind placing his cards on locations and/or characters in the game scenario. Then the players trying to stop him must figure out what those cards would mean (generally without discussion) and play in such a way to stop things from happening. The cards generate resources in some situations or move the characters around the board. Players need to be careful because sometime their movement cards can be joined with the masterminds cards to make new things occur.

Each scenario has a set number of possibilities for the mastermind to use. The goal might be to kill someone before turn 6. There might be another character that is a murderer if left alone with a character. This could easily be used to achieve the goal. The target might also be self destructive if left alone so players would need to make sure the mastermind never gets them alone. You generally start pretty lost when you first play a scenario but each trip through time you learn more information. Especially from how the mastermind plays their cards.

We’ve tried to explain the game as best we could but as we mentioned it is a complicated to grasp game at first. Obviously though since it is so high on our list we feel that the barrier to entry is totally worth it. Whenever we get this game to the table we have tons of fun trying to sort out the evil plot and try to figure out what the evil mastermind is trying to accomplish and stop it. You should definitely try it before you buy it - but that's what is so great about Platypus-Con, ask us for help at the con and we will definitely try to find time to get you into the game!

Top 100: #42 Word Slam

Another terrific party game makes it on to the Top 100. Word slam is a team game where each team is trying to guess the word one of their players is trying to explain to them before the other team figures out what their teammate is trying to illustrate. One of the neat parts is that the word is the same for both teams so you can often get hints from how your opponents are guessing - or are they trying to mislead you?

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When you are the person who knows the answer you are using set of cards as your only means of communication. You can group specific cards, put them in specific order, or try to find other ways to emphasize some cards over others. The cards range from descriptions to nouns and occasionally some verbs. Similar types of words are grouped into different colored decks to hopefully make your sifting through the large variety of choices easier during the frenetic game play.

Everyone gets a turn to know the answer and get their teammates to guess. But when you don’t know the answer you have to figure out what they are trying to say with those words cards we talked about earlier. Sometimes you can definitely go down the wrong path and they might have to start over and try a different strategy. You also need to be careful to not be too helpful to the opposing team. Definitely don’t say the word that actually got placed as they would give them another related word. Even your guesses might help them out but if you don’t guess at all then there is definitely not way to win.

Word Slam is a fast paced guessing game with a great variety of words to  use in try to explain the answer. One of the great parts is as we have mentioned you are trying to guess at the same time as the other team and that adds additional layers to how you respond to the hints you are given and how much  you guess. Sometimes you might want to even guess really crazy things as your opponents might think that is a logical guess! As one of our favorite large group games Word Slam deserves its spot on the top 100!

Top 100: #44 Ponzi Scheme

With a serious subject matter I was initially a little skeptical of Ponzi Scheme. However, the game does a great job of illustrating just how hard it can be to maintain one without making light of anyone who has suffered at the hands of someone running a Ponzi scheme. You are trying to be the richest person when the game ends but we all know that if the game was played out infinitely everyone would lose in the end. There is just no way to keep the chain alive indefinitely.

On your turn you will take one of the money cards and an industry of your choosing assuming that industry doesn’t push you over the cap. Once you have two tiles from an industry the only way to get more is to buy them from other people. When  you grab a money card you get the large number on the card in cash. This is symbolizing someone buying into your scheme adding the very needed capital to keep you going. Eventually you will need to make a return on that investment though so be careful how much money you take!

Once everyone has done that then you move to the clandestine trading part of the round. When it is your turn you can choose to make a trade with someone. They have to have to have at least one similar industry to you in order to make the trade. This is because of the rather ingenious trading mechanism that Ponzi Scheme has. You will say what industry you are interested in an put a secret amount of money in the envelope and hand it over. Now your opponent has two choices. They can take your money and sell you their copy of the industry or they can buy you copy for the price you put in the envelope. They do this by adding their own money to the envelope until it is double what was originally handed to them. So depending if you want to try to get money or their industry you are trying to find just the right sweet spot to get what you want for the best amount of money.

After that segment of the game though you check to see if the market crashes as it sometimes does - you check in the game by looking at the number of bear cards to see if there are too many. After that times passes and some of your investors might come calling for their returns. You do this by rotating the time wheel and anything that shows up in present you need to pay the small number to the bank. Early in the game this amount might actually be less than you originally got from the card leading you to believe you can keep this under control. But as you get later into the game some people are going to want double the money they invested. That can be hard to afford - unless you take on more investors!

As one of our board members is a economist this scratches a few of the itches they really like in a board game. It is some trading and figuring out how best to keep this scheme a float. It has some player interaction but generally not any mean interaction as you are just trading for the industries (which give you points at the end). It can seem pretty mean though if they find out you are short on cash and make offers you can’t afford to match. Overall it is a great game with some unique mechanics. Those mechanics paying back the interest and the fun way you do trades is what got it on this top 100. We are eagerly looking forward to what Jesse Li (the designer) will bring next to the board gaming world!

Top 100: #45 Lifeboats

Everyone simultaneously voting for what the outcome of a game is peak game mechanic.  Lifeboats is a great game of trying to get your survivors to shore, while making sure the other players survivors don’t.  Over the course of the game you will vote on which boats will leak, which people will get thrown off if there isn’t room, and which boats will move towards the shore.

Cutthroat games are definitely not for everyone, but Lifeboats is cutthroat without being mean.. Having taught this game to a large number of groups, it is always fun to see the people who would never screw over their friends, gleefully throwing their survivors off the boat.

While the game is essentially vote after vote (you do shift boats as well) there winds up being quite a bit of negotiation and tactics.  Where in some games you would just want to fill a single boat with your own survivors and push it quickly to the shore, that doesn’t work in Lifeboats. You need a boat with lots of different players in order to get support to move your boat over the others. But then you run the risk of those other players turning against you and throwing you overboard at the earliest convenience!


Lifeboats is one of the most player interactive games that we play. It is always great fun to see people really get into the spirit of the game desperately trying to get their survivors to shore. As long as you can handle some pretty blood thirsty competitiveness then Lifeboats is a great game worth a try. We have loved watching and playing this game every time we take it out which definitely makes it worth being this high up on the top 100!

Top 100: #46 Ghost Blitz!

There are lots of speed games out on the market. One problem many of them share is that it can favor those who are faster thinkers or just physically faster. This makes playing with a diverse age group difficult to impossible. Ghost Blitz is different than other dexterity games since the answer is not always immediately visible, leveling the playing field.

With similar dexterity games you flip over a card and if something matches you grab an item or slap the pile. In this game however it is not always that simple. There are nine different items in the center of the table and only one of them will be the answer for each card (sometimes none are the right answer!). The simplest cards will be when one of the items on the card is the same color as the object on the table. The next step is if nothing completely matches the card then you need to find the color and shape that is not present. The last rule that is part of the base game is if a ghost is holding a clock. Then the correct answer is actually to call out the time shown on the clock!

 If you get the answer correct then you take the card that was flipped over. If you grab the wrong item (you can’t grab a second one) then you give one of your cards to the person who got it right which helps make it so up until the end of the game you aren’t sure who is going to win. Even if speed games aren’t really your thing, we would encourage you to give this one a try as we have found it to be more universally enjoyed than other speed games.

 If you wind up becoming an expert, there are far more variants to add some challenge to finding the correct object on the table. So once you get too good for the game, you can also make it harder! Dexterity games aren't normally our thing but this game is more about speed and adds in some thinking - this is how it got itself onto our top #100!