Here are the rules: it can't be in the top 10 of BoardGameGeek.com. Why? Because those games are basically advertising themselves - so I assume there's a good chance you have heard of them. Second, the game has to be at least 5 years old. I used BoardGameGeek's year associated with each game to determine this. So, if the year was 2009 or later, it was automatically disqualified. (Which knocked out some great games like Catacombs, Flash Point, and Jab). So, with the rules laid out, on to the list of the....
Top Ten Games You Might Have Missed
10. Risk 2210 AD
If you have fond memories of playing Risk with family, then this game is definitely one that you should check out. Taking the basics of Risk, 2210 adds a guaranteed end time (you only play 5 turns) while adding many strategic elements. It includes commanders that roll eight-sided dice, cards, and territories on the moon and in the oceans. This was one of the games that got me started in this gaming hobby, and it continues to hold a high place in my collection.
Before Fantasy Flight Games came out with Battlestar Galactica, Shadows Over Camelot was the traitor game. (At least in my opinion.) With a shorter game time, but still much of the intrigue of Fantasy Flight's game, Shadows still deserves it's spot on your gaming table. If you haven't played this one and you enjoy games with a potential traitor element, then I recommend you check it out.
This is the only children's game on my list. Why? Because I don't have kids! Yet, Hey, That's My Fish! transcends being a kid friendly game, and manages to be one that is enjoyable by all ages. This game will be regularly brought to my game night, and is almost always enjoyed by those who learns it.
7. Code 777
Before Hanabi won Game of the Year, Code 777 used a similar formula of showing everyone else what is in your hand, without being able to see it yourself. Yet, Code 777 takes a competitive approach, and forces you to deduce what you have as quickly as possible - without missing it - because that forces you to start over! If you like deduction, then Code 777 is definitely for you.
The oldest game on this list (by a landslide) is Conspiracy. I picked this one up at a Garage Sale a few years ago, and I was very pleasantly surprised! Essentially, as a spy master, you are attempting to bribe various spies to move a briefcase (full of secrets, obviously) to your headquarters. But, the trick is that everyone else can move the same spies! And, ultimately, they will list to whoever (secretly) paid them the most! I'm not advocating that you run out and immediately try to buy this on eBay (unless it's cheap - I haven't looked at prices), but this is definitely one to keep an eye out for.
5. Liar's Dice
The party game that combines party elements and strategic choices, is Liar's Dice (also known as Perudo). Recently, Liar's Dice was featured in one of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and thus it got a bit more notoriety. If you are looking for a game that can support a variable number of players, and that anyone can enjoy, regardless of how many games they have played, then Liar's Dice is a great choice. And, if you need to add more players, you simply have to find a handful of dice!
Stefan Feld has become a very popular (as well as prolific) game designer recently. In the last few years, he has put out what seems to be a dozen or more titles, with a new one always on the way. Yet, I think that some of his best work was on his earlier titles. In the Year of the Dragon forces you to balance decisions based on gaining points with decisions based on keeping your workers alive. This game just recently slipped out of the BoardGameGeek top 100, but I think that it deserves to be returned to its place of prominence.
It is always hard for me to figure out how to rank abstract strategy games against other, more thematic, titles. I almost created this list without including any. Yet, upon further reflection, I determined that abstract strategy games are overlooked at least as often as these other titles. And, Dvonn maintains it's hold as my favorite abstract strategy game. If you're looking for an interesting way to be forced to outwit your opponent, Dvonn comes highly recommended.
The game on this list that has easily taken the most of my money is Game of Thrones LCG. As a note, I play this as a two player affair. (The living card game has rules for up to four - the original Collectible Card Game was a two player game). Regardless of if you enjoy the Game of Thrones books or TV show, the game itself stands on it's own as a strategic gem that forces players to balance what kind of challenges they want to make at any given time, and how they want to assign their forces. If you are not turned off by the continual release of new expansions, then this game is worth your time.
1. Notre Dame
When I had the idea for this top ten list, I already knew what the winner was. Notre Dame has recently slipped out of the top 100 games on BoardGameGeek, but I would put it in my personal top 10 favorites. This game forces you to adapt to what other players are doing, while also encouraging you to build on your own past efforts. It is a true gem, and if you haven't played it, then I encourage you to seek opportunities to do so as soon as possible.
Honorable Mentions:I had to pare down this list a bit before getting started. Part of the reason that I selected the 5 year time frame was to make my decisions a little bit easier (and I mentioned some of the quality games that were knocked off of the list by that requirement earlier). Yet, there are a few others that still deserve recognition while not quite making the top 10: Beowulf: The Legend, Pirate's Cove, and Tumblin Dice.
Well, that's it. I'm sure that there are some great games that I've missed - quite likely because I haven't tried them! Feel free to recommend more games for me to check out in the comments!
If you like top ten lists, you might also check out my Top Ten Two-Player Games, Top Ten Lunch Games, and my Top Ten Abstract Strategy Games.