Games that get played a lot

10s and 20s List

In several of the past few years, people have posted '5s and 10s' lists at the end of the year, for games they played at least 5 times that year, or 10 times that year. Thinking about such lists for me and others, it occured to me that 5 isn't that huge of a barrier.

There are plenty of games either because of being very short, or having a single person who is very interested in it, that get played 5 times, even if they aren't great games. Ten seems a much better threshold. Even a short game has to be fun to get played 10 times. To be played 20 times, it must be really good.

Here is my current list of games that have been played at least ten times, with comments. Games that have been played at least 20 times are listed in red. Awards are mentioned in green. Some games I played before I got into the Designer games are not included in the list below, but Spades and Hearts are worth at least mentioning.

Feel free to contact me <matthew@gray.org> with any questions or comments.

GameWhen I played my 10th gameWhen I played my 20th gameComments
RoboRally 1998 5/2005 RoboRally, despite being an American game, was the game that really turned me on to Designer/German games. Despite being a long, and to many people, complicated game, I played a lot of this, and was fortunate enough to get all the expansions before they, and the main game, went out of print in the US. I highly recommend this game, especially to those with a technical bent. I haven't played it much recently (4 times in the past 2 years), but I expect to occasionally play it for many years to come.
Settlers of Catan 1998 1999 As with many people, this was one of the first games of its type that I had ever played. I won't comment a lot on Settlers here, as there is a large amount of commentary out there, but it clearly has earned its place on this list. Spiel des Jahres 1995
Kill Dr. Lucky 1999 This is perhaps the most out of place game on this list. This game is fun, and certainly well worth its meager price, but I wouldn't consider it quite of the same caliber as most games on this list. But, it has an engaging theme, is fun, and plays a lot quicker than most Cheapass games. Doesn't get played much anymore, and is unlikely to hit 20 any time soon, but I got my money's worth.
Set 4/2000 This is a very clever little filler game, which my wife is upsettingly good at. It can be a bit of a brain burner, but it's engaging and quick. It is one of the few "real time play" games I actually enjoy.
Apples to Apples 8/2000 10/2001 Perhaps one of the best party games ever. It has an extremely questionable level of skill involved, but is a huge amount of fun, and reasonably plays as few as 4 or as many as 10. This will continue to get pulled out for a long time. Often, this is a very amusing and light note on which to end a gaming session.
Bluff 10/2000 7/2001 Aka "Call my Bluff" or "Liar's Dice". This is an amazing game. With extremely simple components (special dice, some cups, and a betting board) this creates a very subtle and extremely entertaining game. In the early game, it's heavily a game of probability, and as the dice dwindle, the bluffing aspect becomes more and more substantial. The "re-roll rule" and the stars on the dice dramatically improve over the already good traditional form of this game. This is the first game I've played more than 30 times. Spiel des Jahres 1993
Can't Stop 1/2001 12/2002 Another outstanding dice game. This is the ultimate game of brinkmanship. I vastly prefer the plastic red stop sign board to the "themed" board of the newer German editions. Can't Stop and Bluff (above) provide an impressive pair of dice games in which luck is not the dominating factor in the game.
Lost Cities 1/2001 6/2005 Reiner Knizia is one of my favorite designers, and this is one of the many reasons. This is a reasonably quick, but deep 2-player card game that's not too much of a brain burner. Lots of interesting strategic and tactical decisions, and the endgame timing is subtle and powerful. Plus, the card art is beautiful.
Battle Line 2/2001 4/2001 This one is my favorite by Knizia. In the first two months of owning it, I played 10 times. In the second 2 months, another 10. Since then, it's tapered off some, but it still comes out on a regular basis. I'm sure it will hit 30 times by the end of the year (2002). This game has some of the same feel as Lost Cities, but with more depth and options. The tactics cards (and number 10 cards) are all that's been added over the original game "Schotten Totten", and I play a solid mix of Battle Line rules and Schotten Totten rules. Despite some claims to the contrary, I think the tactics cards actually decrease the amount of luck in the game, or at least make it no worse. There are few enough of them (10) that it is reasonable to be familiar with them all and know what to expect.
Bohnanza 2/2001 An outstanding light trading game. It can be played in a very friendly way, or cutthroat, and is extremely fun, either way. The art is adorable and the theme is great. This is the ultimate game of trading for "future considerations". If you enjoy trading games and large amounts of player interaction, this game is highly recommended.
Carcassone 4/2001 8/2003 Carcassone is a clever and compelling spin on the free form tile laying genre. A variety of scoring options make for interesting strategic decisions that must be adapted as the board evolves. The mechanism of not allowing a "meeple" to be placed in a region with another meeple, but allowing regions to be merged makes the game very tactially interesting. Perhaps one of the most appealing games to non-gamers since Settlers. Spiel des Jahres 2001, Deutscher Spiele Preis 2001
Ricochet Robot 6/2001 Some people really like this sort of puzzle solving game, and others don't. I tend to enjoy them. If you don't like puzzles, this may not be right for you, but if you do, it's a great set up for a puzzle, and the simple "bidding" rules make it feel fairly interactive, despite being essentially a race to solve the puzzle.
Speed 7/2001 9/2001 I'd picked this up at Essen in 2000, and hadn't played it much. Then, for some reason, I picked it up again in summer of 2001, and haven't stopped playing it. For a game that plays in under 60 seconds, it is surprisingly satisfying, and lends itself well to the "one more time" phenomenon. It's been republished in the US by Out of the Box publishing as "Blink", but I like the smaller package, different art and slightly better cards of the Adlung-Spiele version.
Ra 7/2001 12/2005 This may be my favorite auction game. Rather different from a traditional auction game, it borrows aspects from several other games as well as a few novel bits of its own. The discrete nature of the bidding tiles, the wide range of scoring options, the simple but important strategic decision of when to call an auction and the reasonably playing time combine to make this an outstanding game. Deutscher Speile Preis - 2nd place - 1999
Take It Easy 7/2001 Supports from 2-10 players, plays quick, and involves psychedelic colors. This is a multiplayer solitaire game that's a lot of fun, though there are variants that add a small amount of player interaction that are fun as well. It ends up feeling like "Bingo" with skill. Also, it has that "just one more time" feeling to it whenever played.
Crokinole 8/2001 12/2001 This is one of the only flicking games I have ever actually enjoyed. In addition to flicking skill, there is some real strategy in this game, especially when played with four players. The boards themselves are also beautiful and the game is easy to teach.
Electronic Catchphrase 8/2001 11/2001 I'm normally not a big fan of this category of word games (Taboo, Password, $25k Pyramid, 25 Words or Less), but something about this game makes it much more fun. I think it's the beeping. If you haven't seen it, it's an electronic gadget that beeps and displays a word. As time goes on, the beeping gets faster. When your teammates get the word, you pass it to an opponent. And so on, until it buzzes. Good light team fun.
Schnaeppchen Jagd 9/2001 This is probably my favorite of the large number of whist-variant card games out there. Trump changes on a trick-to-trick basis, the contents of the tricks won matters, and the theme makes at least as much sense as any trick-taking game theme does. Additionally, it plays with 3 very well in addition to working well with 4.
Loopin' Louie 10/2001 5/2003 This is probably the best dexterity game ever. Louie is a little motorized plane which circles around trying to knock chickens off your barn, but if you hit your paddle at the right time, you can send him looping toward your opponents. Amazingly fun, and the description doesn't do it justice. Deutscher Spiele Preis - Action Game - 1994
Werewolf 11/2001 This is an outstanding psychology/party game, with the right crowd. It also goes by the name "Mafia", but somehow the Werewolf theme adds a lot more ambiance. A good or bad moderator can make or break the game though.
Pente 11/2001 6/2002 Also known as Ninuki (or Ninuki-Renju) this is an extremely satisfying and quick two player abstract.
Mamma Mia! 11/2001 This is probably one of the best games incorporating a substantial memory component. Memory games, as a class, are often children's games because they give kids a chance against adults. The memory aspect here has that effect to some degree, but the cardplay and sheer volume of cards make it not the dominating aspect of the game. Lots of quick fun, especially with pre-teen aged kids.
6 nimmt! 11/2001 10/2002 This amazingly versatile game (2-10 players) can seem very random, but I'm a strong believer that there's actually a lot of control here. I'm a big fan of simultaneous play games, and this is a great game of psychology, hand management and risk taking. la carte card game award 1994, Deutscher Spielpreis 1994
Zirkus Flohcati 12/2001 4/2003 I only recently discovered this game, and it is definitely in the filler category, but it's really good filler. It's a good combination of jeapordy (flip one more card, or not?) game and set collecting. The multiple paths to victory (despite claims I've read elsewhere, the non-Gala players do win sometimes) makes it a quite filling little filler.
For Sale 1/2002 4/2003 Another quick one, but a really great one. I'm a big fan of both auction mechanics and blind bidding, so it's an unsurprising winner. It's also simple enough to play with non-gamers but has a lot of clever tactics and the art is beautiful. It would have hit 10 sooner, but it took me a while to find my own copy.
Traumfabrik 1/2002 This is an outstanding Knizia auction/set-collecting game, worthy of inclusion of the oft-cited Knizia auction "trilogy" (Modern Art, Medici, Ra). Plus, the theme here (making movies) is nicely done. Other than the auction payment system, this game lacks a lot of especially novel mechanics, but it makes up for that with exceptional execution. The game hangs together quite well, doesn't take too long, and is a lot of fun. This has been republished as "Fabrik der Traume". Gamers Choice Award nominee
SpinBall 1/2002 4/2002 This dexterity game by Aaron Weissblum was hand manufactured in a very limited edition. I hit the ten mark before I got my copy, playing on other people's sets. It's a hard game to describe, but it involves a ball with lots of backspin trying to be propelled into a hole, which allows for some very cool trick shots and the scoring mechanic (optional barriers instead of points) further enhances the game.
Space Beans 3/2002 This is the "starfahrers" Bohnanza spinoff. The game sounds odd and possibly broken when described (the last thing you do on your turn is pass your whole hand to the player on your right), and with too much thought, the game isn't so much fun, but with the right light approach, it's entertaining and strategic. This is yet another game in the category of fewer is better. While it nominally supports 6, I think 3 or 4 is optimal. With 6 it can be rather random. A single player with exceptional memory can do very well if the other players aren't paying attention, but memory isn't a huge component. Fun, light, quick, maligned.
Lord of the Rings 3/2002 This is a revolutionary game. It's not for everyone, but it's still remarkable. I wrote about it extensively in my Essen 2000 report. It's a cooperative game and the thing that keeps me coming back to the game (other than the exceptional expansion which makes the game a huge challenge), is the powerful narrative feel and suspense and tension. The art is of course beautiful and it's just a wonderful experience. This will get played a few times a year for a long time.
Knockabout 4/2002 4/2004 See my reviews of all of the Pair-of-Dice games, including Knockabout.
Pounce 4/2002 Pounce is an nerve wracking and fun dexterity game. See my earlier comments.
Hamster Rolle 5/2002 Another dexterity game, but this game, especially played with the 4 player partnership rules is among the most tactically interesting dexterity games I know.
Fantasmi/Geister 6/2002 9/2002 This is a surprisingly clever and simple little game for two players. It involves bluffing, some nice tactical play, and a variety of win conditions. Even with very pensive players, it tends to play in under 15 minutes, which certainly contributes to it getting played so much.
TransAmerica 6/2002 4/2003 For an amazingly simple game (lay some track, connect some cities), this is a great time. The level of skill seems debatable, but the ride is a pleasant one and the game seems to have near universal appeal.
Hick Hack in Gacklewack 8/2002 I like blind bidding games, and this is no exception. On the other hand, I'm often good at blind bidding games, and this game is definitely an exception. Best with 3 (playing two cards each) or 6, but works well with other numbers.
Mole Hill 9/2002 This is one of the better completely assymetric games out there. One player is the mole, trying to dig up the garden, while the other is the gardener. Each player plays each side once. It's a lot of fun, and the key is to focus on building good restraining fences without worrying too much about the damage the mole is doing while you work.
Cartagena 10/2002
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation 10/2002
Puerto Rico 11/2002 9/2005 Well, of course.
Flowerpower 11/2002
Pico2 12/2002 There are few games that play well in about 5 minutes. Speed plays in about 60 seconds, and there are many games that play in about 15, but this little game that fits in your pocket plays well in 5 minutes and employs one of my favorite mechanics, simultaneous action selection.
Igel Argern 12/2002
Mause Rallye 4/2003
Pagoda 5/2003 See my review of this game and others from this publisher.
Light Speed 5/2003 8/2003 One of the most creative speed games out there. It's not about fast pattern matching. It's not about cardplay in the usual sense at all. It's a speed miniatures game, effectively. Plus, it takes all of 2 minutes to play.
What's That On My Head? 6/2003 Deduction games are great, but they tend to be very serious cerebral affairs. It definitely changes the mood of the game when you have something on your head.
Balloon Cup 8/2003
Basari 8/2003
Shit! 9/2003
Industrial Waste 1/2004
EuropaTour/10 Days in Africa 1/2004
Coloretto 1/2004
Princes of Florence 2/2004 I'm amazed this took as long as it did to get to 10 plays. It'll get to 20.
Flinke Pinke 3/2004
Medici 3/2004
Euphrat & Tigris 4/2004
Royal Turf 6/2004
San Juan 7/2004 Perhaps my favorite game of 2004, I find there is a great deal of depth here as well as an approachability for casual play. That's a rare combination.
Password 7/2004
Durch die Wuste 8/2004
Heroscape 10/2004
Compatability 10/2004
Samurai 2/2005
Easy Come Easy Go 4/2005 Light, fast, fun, light. Dice.
Dvonn 7/2005
King Lui 7/2005
Adam & Eva 8/2005
Fiese Freunde Fette Feten 9/2005
Vinci 11/2005
Blue Moon 11/2005
Finstere Flure 1/2006
Attika 2/2006
Um Krone und Kragen 8/2006 Summary

The following games have been played at least 5 times (in order that they got put ont the 5+ list) but not yet 10: Nuclear War, Corporate Shuffle, Go, Modern Art, Stephenson's Rocket, Halali!, Basari, Heimlich & Co., Pictionary, Galloping Pigs, Ursuppe, Metro, Kahuna, Mu, Hera & Zeus, Battle Cry, Barbarossa, Zertz, Caeser & Cleopatra, Taj Mahal, En Garde, Ohne Furcht und Adel, Vino, Adel Verpflichtet, Get the Goods, My Word!, It's Mine, Acquire, Face-It, Chinatown, Evo, Zapp Zerapp, Industrial Waste, Das Amulett, Quarto, Im Marchenwald, Arbos, Elements, Alles im Eimer, Honeybears, Rosenkonig, Drahtseilakt, Carolus Magnus, Pueblo, Elfenland, Elefantentparade, The Triangle Game, Wyatt Earp, Guillotine, Money, Showmanager, Tutanchamun, Streetcar, Pizarro, Fresh Fish, Foppen, Balloon Cup, Paris Paris, Amun Re, Medina, Alladin's Dragons, Hase & Igel, Password, Blokus, Code 777, Trollig, Split Second, VisualEyes, Wildlife Adventure, Adam & Eva, Carabande, Oasis, Phoenix, Zoo Sim, Feurio, Cafe International, Vampire, Verrater, Ma Ni Ki, Tongiaki, Power Grid, Imaginiff, St. Petersburg, Marco Polo, Yinsh, Billabong, Einfach Genial, Typo, Magic: The Gathering, Exxtra, Goa, Buy Word, Geschenkt, Ticket to Ride, Rumis, Kniffel Duell, Master Labyrinth, Top Speed, Fiese Freunde Fette Feten, Heckmeck am Bratwurmeck, Ave Caesar, Batik, Jambo, Fairy Tale, M, Clans, Trendy, Bang, Blue Moon, Quack Shot, Pingvinas, The Big Idea, Punct, Techno Witches, Dr. Jekyll & Mr Hyde, Gulo Gulo, Deflexion, Traders of Genoa, Coda, Celebrities, Attila, Times Square, Blue Moon City, Nacht der Magier, Esels Rennen, Squint, Tonga Bonga, Descent, Thurn & Taxis, Inkognito, Darter, Toppo.


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