Find out what games from other designers the members of the League of Gamemakers admire. Tell us what your favorite game is below in the comments!


I drool over Small World, designed by Philippe Keyaerts. It just always makes me happy. Every designer wants to be able to say “my game has great ‘replayability!’”, but Small World actually has great replayability. Every time I play, it’s a new experience. Strategy must change each game and within the game. Of course, the fact that I win 90% of the times I play helps. I like to win.


I may have said something about Vegas Showdown previously, so I’ll mention For Sale by Stefan Dorra instead. This game is divided into two phases, an auction where players bid coins for properties and then a simultaneous bid of those properties for checks. The game is simple to learn – so much so that you can wait to teach the second phase until after you’re done with the first. For Sale is quick and fun and works well with non-gamers or as a filler for meatier gamers.


Red November by Bruno Faidutti and Jef Gontier is one of the first games I remember becoming actively, emphatically excited about. The mechanics really nail the panic of disaster aversion in cooperative play and there’s a fun traitor mechanic for people who dig that. I’ve played a lot of cooperatives since (Forbidden DesertSpace AlertFlash PointPandemic, etc.) where everyone is dying of dehydration or disease or zombies, and it’s always depressing to lose. But in Red November, you get to explode in a bad Russian gnome accent by botching the codes to the “nuklear wessels”, and somehow that makes all the difference.



I love the evolving narrative in Robinson Crusoe, by Ignacy Trzewiczek of Portal Games. Here are just three ways this game introduces storytelling into gameplay (and there are tons):

    1. Certain cards “come back”. For example, let’s say you read a card that says you find some mysterious berries. Or maybe you spot a panther. You are usually given a choice. In certain cases (eating the berries, letting the panther escape), the card is shuffled into the main deck, and when it when it reappears, you read part B. This makes for a great, evolving story.


    1. Weather increases gradually from turn to turn. The game includes custom scenarios, that might say “no weather in turns 1-4”. But then on turn 5, it begins to rain. And then pour. And winter creeps in. Pretty soon, you’re all scrambling to get inside whatever makeshift shelter you’ve built. The foreshadowing rocks!


  1. Tools have prerequisites. So you can’t make a shortcut, until you know how to craft a map. The dependencies are great, and they solidify in your mind that you’re starting with a campfire before you are able to cook with a pot.


Twilight Struggle by Ananda Gupta and Jason Matthews, published by GMT games. It is such a brilliant experience to play. The rules are fairly simple, and a huge amount of depth comes from learning the decks, and adapting your strategy to cardplay by you and your opponent. Your first game will be fun. After you get a few games under your belt, and start to learn the decks, you’ll find one of the most intense strategy games I’ve ever seen.



I’m going to go with Tokaido by Antoine Bauza. The reason Tokaido stands out for me mostly is theme and the way a person wins. You win by having the most pleasant trip. That’s a totally different feel than most other games that are competitive. For other games, stopping to enjoy the scenery would be a wasted turn, but you gain points for it in Tokaido.

Mechanically it’s very simple to learn with simple choices on your turn, but like most great games, the choices have strategic impact. I’ll be honest, I’m not very good at it. In fact, I lose a great deal more than I win, but I still enjoy the game.

As a side note, the expansion adds to the game well, but I don’t know if it’s needed. I still play with it, but it’s not a must-have.


Freedom: The Underground Railroad has gotten my attention lately. The positive spin on a potentially controversial subject and my interest in historical themes drew me to the game. The game mechanics are simple but yet the Slave Catchers’ movement and the Abolitionists cards provide for constant decision making challenges. I’ve pulled it out several times lately because it’s scaled very nicely for 1 to 4 players. I’ve played it 4 or 5 times in the last couple of months solitaire. In the same period of time I’ve played 2 player version 3 to 4 times and the last game with Brad was the first time to succeed. The first time I played was a 3 player version. I have not played with 4 players yet, but I’ve enjoyed playing all the versions of different number of players. It’s a hard game to achieve the victory conditions, but there are a few suggested variants to make it easier.