I was challenged by our community manager, JR Honeycutt, with a question "If you had to prune your collection down to 10 titles, what would they be?" This is something I think about pretty constantly, to be honest, since space is limited in my home. (You can read JR's list here)
While I do my due diligence as a designer/publisher and play hundreds of games every year, I actually keep a fairly small collection in my own home. The majority of the games that I acquire end up in the company collection at the Level 99 Games office, where I use them as production samples (to tell printers, "I want these kinds of miniatures, this kind of spinner, etc"), and to loan out to friends (and myself) when the occasion arises.
So this list isn't my favorite games, and it isn't games that I would schedule with my gamer friends--I would just pick those up from the office when I want them. Likewise, I keep my CCGs, LCGs, and pick-up games like BattleCON in the trunk of my car or at my locker at the local game store. So these are the games that I would keep on my shelf at home for the moment when someone unexpected might say "tell me about board games" or "let's play a game while we wait." Also, they all fit together into the one credenza-cupboard that I'm allowed to store them in. :D
Libertalia - One of my favorites of all time. Libertalia is an excellent game that's only just now starting to get the respect it deserves. This one plays great with any size (3-6), and the rules are simple enough to teach in just a few minutes. Due to the simultaneous play mechanics, having multiple players doesn't raise the play time much either. If you like Seven Wonders and you want to swap it out for another game that’s similar-but-very-different, give Libertalia a try!
Tichu - It's important to have at least one trick-taking game in the cupboard, and Tichu is the one I keep on hand. There's not too much novelty to it, but that's the charm of it. Players who are intimidated by more customized games will appreciate the simple and familiar playing cards.
Channel A - Cards Against Humanity, for anime fans. I have a lot of friends who fall into this category, so the game is a hit with lots of our guests. Take this one with a grain of salt--groups love it or hate it, but if you suspect that you'll like it, you probably will.
Ultimate Werewolf - The quintessential large-party game. I love this one for late nights with large groups, though it's close to being hedged out by One Night Ultimate Werewolf. Time will tell which one stays and which one goes. Since it's entirely possible to play One Night Werewolf with the role cards from Ultimate Werewolf, it will probably be this one that I keep.
Cardline - What a gem! Casuals and serious gamers alike can have a wonderful time with this game. Card Line manages to temper trivia, fast play, and the excitement of revelation into a tiny package. And the rules take 15 seconds to explain. I own the countries box, but any of these games are worth having on hand.
Dominion - There are a lot of Dominion-like games out there. You might even argue that many are better than Dominion. But for me, the original Dominion still has a special place on my shelf. For gamers that don't play games, Dominion is a perfect gateway into strategy games, giving a nice balance of luck and planning, as well as enough variety to be played several times in a night, and little enough going on to teach in 10 minutes. I keep a subset of the collection in a box on the shelf, ready to play when the occasion arises. the rest of the game is stored in my closet and rotated in and out on occasion.
Jab - I'm a sucker for real-time play and for two-player games, and Jab is a hidden gem that (I feel) never got the full recognition it deserved. Jab is quick, frantic, and smart, combining 5 different real-time games into one, and using attention as the player's primary resource, to be divided among the tasks as best one can manage. It takes a lot of attention to play, so I'm careful with who I suggest this one to. When it does come out though, we have a blast with it.
NOIR - A common question I'm asked is "can you show me one of the games you've made?" For gamers and non-gamers alike, the go-to game from my own catalog is NOIR. This is the one I can play easily with my parents or relatives when I'm home for the holidays, and it teaches in only a few minutes. NOIR is a smart game too--players have to keep sharp during the tutorial, but I feel I've gotten pretty good at teaching it over the years.
Revolution! - The slot for a game of this length and size is usually filled by Ticket To Ride. But I think Phillip duBarry’s Revolution is a much smarter game, and the redeeming gem of the Steve Jackson line. It’s also a game that none of my friends own, while TTR seems to be everywhere, so it’s a refreshing break. Every so often SJG publishes a game like Revolution or Nanuk that combines party-style fun with excellent counterplay and social interaction, and this forces me to keep an eye on them. Revolution is an incredible game for 3, 4, or 5 (with the expansion). I managed to snag a signed expansion from Phillip during the Jack Vasel Memorial Auction, so it’s one of the gems of my collection too.
Imperial Settlers - My wife, Lynda, has taken a shine to this game, and it's one of the most recent additions to my collection (from Essen 2014). I'm looking for some new races to come out soon, and I'm hoping that the game will develop well and have a permanent place on my shelf and a regular rotation onto my table.
BONUS - Game of Thrones - This one isn’t in my “to-play” area, but I have a trophy copy of Game of Thrones (the FFG board game based on Diplomacy) that’s signed by George R. R. Martin himself. This game won’t ever be punched or played by me, but I keep it around for bragging rights. When we do play GoT, we play my neighbor’s copy instead. :D
Thanks for taking the time to check out my list! If you enjoyed it, why not make your own and share it with me? :)