Board Games

Five Titles that have Stood the Test of Time

Besides their physical lifespan, there is a good deal of thought put into games’ effective lifespan. Each game is usually some combination of old and new ideas. How many years will it be before someone has designed a game that will obsolete what I have? However, some games manage to pass the test of time and emerge looking just as new as they did years ago. I picked out five games that punch well above their weight but were released ten or more years ago. 

Agricola (2007)

Agricola, designed by Uwe Rosenburg and published by Lookout Games, is one of the few lucky games to have its original version and its second edition in BoardGameGeek’s top 100 games. In Agricola, you play as a family of middle ages farmers who are struggling to keep fed. By placing workers on action spaces, you will build your farm and expand your house. At regular intervals, there is a harvest where you have to feed all your hungry mouths. If you fail to provide for everyone, you will have to beg from your neighbors. Agricola is such a tight design for a worker placement game, and each action matters when you start the game with only two!

Chinatown (1999)

Are you sure that you want to open up a laundromat? You’d never be able to compete with me! In Chinatown, published by Z-Man games and designed by Karsten Hartwig, you play as a business proprietor in New York’s Chinatown. Each round, you will get a handful of building tiles and lots on the board in which you’re allowed to construct your buildings. Each round, your buildings will generate revenue based on how large they are. Since you will not have the lots/buildings you need naturally, Chinatown will see you wheeling and dealing with your neighbors to get everything you need.

Race for the Galaxy (2007)

Race for the Galaxy, designed by Tom Lehmann and published by Rio Grande Games, is one of the finest two-player card games. Each turn, players will choose one of seven phases to resolve. Then, each player will get to take the actions corresponding with all the phases, with the player who selected the phase getting a special bonus. Players are racing to complete a tableau of 12 planets or run the bank out of victory point chips. This game has more to it than any regular engine builder. Each turn, you have the opportunity to piggyback on top of your opponents’ actions, so anticipating what they are doing is key to victory. The iconography is still a touch dense, but it holds up very well to modern games.

Reef Encounter (2004)

Reef Encounter is a surprisingly accurate representation of life on a coral reef published by Z-Man Games and designed by Richard Breese. Players will be taking turns developing coral reefs, protecting them with shrimp, and ultimately feeding their parrotfish the delicious coral they grew. Not all coral is worth the same, though! Each turn, players will have the option to mess around with which color of coral is more valuable than the others. The ever-changing coral market allows for dynamic growth and decay of coral reefs around the board. At the end of the game, whoever’s parrotfish ate the most valuable coral will be the winner!

Troyes (2010)

Troyes, released by Pearl Games and designed by Sebastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges, and Alain Orban, has players playing as nobles in the City of Troyes during the middle ages. Players will play over the 400 years that it took to complete the cathedral in the city. Players will be placing their associates into places of power throughout the city. For each person in control, each player will roll a dice. Then, players will take turns either playing their dice or buying dice from others to perform different actions like building the cathedral, getting gold, and trying to fend off those scary marauders who keep on showing up to the city. At the end of a player-dependent number of rounds, players will tally up victory points to see who won! Each player has a hidden identity that everyone will score at the end of the game. Is Timmy building the cathedral because that’s his identity, or is it because he likes churches? Who knows. 

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