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The Meeple Guild: Favoured games often rooted in childhood experiences

Perhaps the ultimate top-10 really traces back to childhood, chess leading to Omega Chess, Navia Dratp and Hive, crokinole always on the list, cribbage to MtG to Dominio and so on.
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A love of Navia Dratp might well be because you learned and enjoyed chess in your youth.

YORKTON - Over the many years of being the lead writer for this series of reviews by the local ‘Meeple Guild’ and decades of actually playing board games the thoughts of which are my top games have whizzed around in my head many times.

Often I have even take pencil in hand and written lists – using a pencil has always been a must because I could erase and change more easily. (Yes I know I could use the laptop, but I am a bit old-fashioned which I suppose is why I prefer board games over computer ones).

What I have learned is that a definitive top-10 is impossible. There are just too many variables. The most enjoyed two-player games fall by the wayside when a group gathers.

Not everyone likes card games, so even if you do, do you include on a list?

Games can be adored when new, and interest fade over time, a game proving to have limitations once you ‘learn tricks’ within the game design to edge you toward a win more easily.

And, frankly rating games of different genres – abstract strategy versus dexterity, or deck-building versus co-operative – is frankly difficult.

In some cases, it’s a struggle to even come up with a top 10 of a genre. It’s easier to set out the top deck-builders, but harder with abstract strategy games just because there are like 50-times as many abstract games to start with.

Perhaps the great truth is that what one might chose depends on one’s own mood and the situation you are going to play in, with a good injection of one’s upbringing thrown in.

As an only child I gravitated to two-player games early on. My Dad was happy to play crokinole and rod hockey and cribbage while my grandfather was a checker wizard – it was a big thing if I eked out a win.

Those early checker losses eventually led me to discover amazing games such as the Canadian created Lines of Action, and the excellent checker variant Dameo, so thanks grandpa for setting me on the path as a kid.

Likely, in-part because Dad kept hitting 20s and I kept trying, I still love crokinole today. It is notable as a Canadian creation based on skill so with practice you can get better.

In grade school it was chess.

I have loved chess variants ever since; Omega Chess, Grand Chess, Plunder Chess and Spartan Chess among the more notable.

I have been happiest playing abstract strategy games ever since.

That said when I discovered Magic: The Gathering in a magazine article I was hooked based on the description alone and I played it for ages. It remains an active game that is amazing based on its constant ability to add new elements to a game now nearly 30-years old.

While many might not like the collectable aspect of MtG that adds to the fun, cracking packs to see what you get, and spending glorious hours thumbing through the collection to build ‘the next great deck’.

Perhaps it was the collectable nature of Navia Dratp that attracted me too, or that it is a chess variant, or perhaps more accurately a Shogi variant, shogi being Japanese chess.

Navia Dratp is, most days, my top abstract strategy game – make it the best two-player game – created in the last half century.

Again some might not like its collectable nature and the piece names are a struggle based as they are in a sort of Japanese anime theme, but the sculpts are awesome, the ability to ‘build your set, and multiple win conditions make it a gem, albeit a greatly under-appreciated gem.

I suspect it is MtG which is the root of why I like deck-builders in general and in particular Dominion although it is a game where time teaches always go for the gold to win.

And so it goes, seeds from our youth growing over time to influence our adult interests – watching baseball on a Saturday afternoon with Dad in the days of only one TV channel reflected years later on a love of Strat-O-Matic baseball – one final example.

Perhaps the ultimate top-10 really traces back to childhood, chess leading to Omega Chess, Navia Dratp and Hive, crokinole always on the list, cribbage to MtG to Dominion, Strat-O-Matic baseball, and rod hockey. Tomorrow it might look different but for today a top-10 that is satisfying for all the memories its creation elicited.