Board games you must play before you die

Diagram of best board games, sorted by recommended player count and weight rating

I have some of those "1001 ... you must see before you die" books and felt like this concept could be applied to board games as well. Since I don't claim to be the ultimate authority on games, I decided to crowdsource and turned to, the biggest board game database online.

How to poster

Step 0: learn a programming language. I know Javascript, so I wrote a bunch of little Node.js scripts for scraping and calculating.

  • This initial attempt took the top games from boardgamegeek ranked list (only those with 30+ ratings).
  • Rankings were then adjusted for complexity bias.
  • After that the player count recommendations were sorted from best to worst.
  • Then I filled out the table, trying to put top games in their best column. Had to introduce some bias toward larger player counts, because 7 is an uncommon player count; 6×167=1002 games looks much better on a poster though.
  • Finally the columns were sorted and coloured by weight.

The resulting visualization makes it pretty clear that it's really hard to design a good game that is both complex and playable with many people at the same time.

If I were to make an actual book on this subject, I would definitely add some less highly rated but historically relevant games (Chess, Monopoly, Go), more regional games, and try to account for age bias in general as newer games tend to be more generously rated.

2 players
3 players
4 players
5 players
6 players
7 players
IllusionDr. EurekaICECOOLRhino HeroSoloStart PlayerKLASKRibbitVirus!StrawFliegen klatschenCarla CatTussie MussieRhino Hero: Super BattleCoconutsNuts!AnomiaSpot it!CahootsQwixxAnimal Upon AnimalMonikersGame of Thrones: Westeros IntrigueJoking HazardMicroMacro: Crime CityOutfoxed!Tumblin-DiceTelestrationsGulo GuloTac Tac JackEncore!5-Minute MarvelStrikeWorm Up!Loco MotiveJust OneSilver & GoldPickominoLoopin' LouieDancing DiceRoll For It! Deluxe EditionPass the PigsOdin's Ravens (Second Edition)Can't StopThe MindGet Bit!WazabiRock the BeatKingdominoPoint SaladDungeon MayhemSkullHappy SalmonImagineLegacy of DragonholtOhanami5-Minute DungeonExcapeCockroach Poker RoyalWe Didn't Playtest This At AllCuBirdsRiff RaffHerbaceousCheating MothShadows in the ForestHedbanz for Adults!Spirits of the WildWelcome to the DungeonLas VegasWhat the Heck?Sitting Ducks GallerySay AnythingFlick 'em Up!Escape the Dark CastleLoony QuestNobody but Us ChickensDouble or NothingPoo: The Card GameCat LadyThe GameLove LetterGold DiggerCockroach PokerZombie DiceJaipurArchaeology: The New ExpeditionNMBR 9Giro GaloppoCompatibilityInsiderLost CitiesQwintoThe Magic LabyrinthKobayakawaActivitySnorta!On TourWelcome Back to the DungeonCrokinoleKing Up!Cockroach SaladTimeline: InventionsProject LZombie Kidz EvolutionGuillotineThe Bucket KingCloud 9Eat Poop You CatOnirim (Second Edition)Hey, That's My Fish!ColorettoDraftosaurusGhost BlitzDiamantThe Fox in the ForestCartagenaDead Man's DrawCodenamesCluzzleUNOMenaraKodama: The Tree SpiritsTales & Games: The Hare & the TortoiseMagical AthleteTempel des SchreckensUnusual SuspectsPatchworkDream HomeLinko!Family BusinessDeep Sea AdventurePictureka!Mint WorksBibliosBeasty BarTransAmericaFormula Motor RacingPitchCarOnitamaCopenhagenMeeple CircusFish Eat FishMars Attacks: The Dice GameWavelengthRed7Gravwell: Escape from the 9th DimensionKarubaLittle DevilsTime's Up! 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ChaseNottinghamRes ArcanaSuburbiaTyrants of the UnderdarkThe New ScienceLetter JamStar Wars PocketModel TCGNeuroshima Hex! 3.0The Red CathedralIstanbulLetters from WhitechapelVinetaAntidoteDVONNOceansChampions of MidgardCircus MaximusBridge TrollThe 3 CommandmentsRunebound (Third Edition)EverdellT.I.M.E StoriesDogs of WarEthnosPanic on Wall Street!Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other CasesIn the Hall of the Mountain KingThe Godfather: Corleone's EmpireHomeland: The GameSpeed CircuitBohnanzaThe Taverns of TiefenthalNear and FarFrescoAugsburg 1520EketorpSETYINSHDeusCastles of Mad King LudwigSmartphone Inc.Win, Place & ShowEnemy in SightCommands & Colors: AncientsNusfjordMice and MysticsStrasbourgIliadCthulhu 500BattleLore: Second EditionLost Ruins of ArnakWarhammer Quest: The Adventure Card GameColosseumThe BoardGameGeek GameOh Hell!Exit: The Game – Dead Man on the Orient ExpressLondonSpartacus: A Game of Blood and TreacheryTammany HallArticle 27: The UN Security Council GameLost TempleDetective: A Modern Crime Board GameTapestryClank! Legacy: Acquisitions IncorporatedTimbuktuGammaraudersLong ShotCommands & Colors: NapoleonicsGlory to RomeArchitects of the West KingdomInvasion from Outer Space: The Martian GameMission: Red Planet (Second Edition)Welcome To...InnovationDune: ImperiumConanCharterstoneFlash Point: Fire RescueKiller Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic CarrotBattleLoreFirefly: The GameLegends of AndorBetrayal LegacyRush n' CrushCartographersImperial SettlersShakespeareFirst Class: All Aboard the Orient Express!KremlinLibertaliaEscape from the Aliens in Outer SpaceSeasonsRococo: Deluxe EditionTikalA Brief History of the WorldEscape from ColditzMysteriumAeon's EndDinosaur IslandEndeavor: Age of SailLeague of SixStrozziTurfMasterSekigahara: The Unification of JapanGlen More II: ChroniclesWestern LegendsMousquetaires du RoyMediciTortuga 1667Space Hulk (Third Edition)Santa MariaThe Pillars of the EarthHawaiiFunny FriendsFormula DPandemic Legacy: Season 1VindicationCycladesEndeavorLast Night on Earth: The Zombie GameNot AloneThunderstone QuestGùgōngEgiziaFrancis DrakeQuartermaster GeneralXactikaMarvel Champions: The Card GameRococoInisGerman RailwaysFeudalThe World Cup GameFive TribesBeyond the SunBlood RageDOOM: The Board GamePanic StationCitadelsThe 7th ContinentStar Trek: AscendancyRajas of the Ganges20th CenturyBaronsPacific TyphoonFreedom: The Underground RailroadXia: Legends of a Drift SystemGhost StoriesMare NostrumDark MoonStocks & Bonds51st State: Master SetDwellings of EldervaleSpace AlertMare Nostrum: EmpiresCity of HorrorDie Kutschfahrt zur TeufelsburgGinkgopolisMerchants & MaraudersLancasterOlympusPizarro & Co.Nuns on the RunGlass RoadTerraforming MarsAmerigoRailways of the WorldWar on TerrorSpace Cadets: Dice DuelRace for the GalaxyFury of Dracula (Third/Fourth Edition)KemetThe OthersMü & MoreForgotten WatersAnkh: Gods of EgyptYokohamaDead of Winter: A Crossroads GameAmun-ReLeader 1Samurai SpiritMythic Battles: PantheonLorenzo il MagnificoConcordiaEl GrandeValley of the MammothsCaptain SonarBattleCON: Devastation of IndinesCoimbraThe Manhattan Project: Energy EmpireHermagorAtlantis RisingOrienteSleeping GodsArkham Horror (Third Edition)OrléansZombie State: Diplomacy of the DeadA Touch of Evil: The Supernatural GameWatson & HolmesStar Wars: ArmadaAltiplanoVillageManifest DestinyBootleggersLegends of the Three KingdomsObsessionTriumph & Tragedy: European Balance of Power 1936-1945NavegadorDescent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition)Buck Rogers: Battle for the 25th Century GameBreaking AwayThe Lord of the Rings: The Card GameLewis & Clark: The ExpeditionHansa TeutonicaNew AmsterdamBlood Feud in New YorkMaster Thieves1960: The Making of the PresidentPulsar 2849Age of Empires III: The Age of DiscoveryWallenstein (Second Edition)ShadowriftThe Captain Is DeadMagic: The GatheringNewtonCthulhu WarsContainerHistory of the WorldThunder AlleyGrand Austria HotelViscounts of the West KingdomThe Voyages of Marco PoloBattlestar Galactica: The Board GameEvolution: ClimateViktory IICombat Commander: EuropeTroyesChaos in the Old WorldPeriklesViticulture Essential EditionRicochet RobotsThis War of Mine: The Board GameMariaHeaven & AleRising SunColomaRoboRallyTainted Grail: The Fall of AvalonAgricola (Revised Edition)Lords of HellasWallensteinSenjiPokerHallertauNationsShadows of Brimstone: City of the AncientsBlood RoyaleWildLifeAtlantis Rising (Second Edition)Star Wars: Imperial AssaultLa GranjaKeyflowerPower StruggleMedieval MerchantShadows over CamelotAndroid: NetrunnerBonfireGoaShogunHistoriaSteampunk RallyHannibal: Rome vs. CarthagePraga Caput RegniDead of Winter: The Long NightNemesisLevel 7 [Omega Protocol]BolideArkham Horror: The Card GameGreat Western TrailRussian RailroadsVampire: The Eternal StruggleNew AngelesKings of Air and SteamGloomhaven: Jaws of the LionLe HavreClans of CaledoniaScythePower GridJuntaTwilight StruggleTeotihuacan: City of GodsSteamA Study in EmeraldEldritch HorrorKingmakerUnderwater CitiesCaylusBlack Rose WarsColonial: Europe's Empires OverseasNapoleon in EuropeCar WarsPaladins of the West KingdomMaracaiboTigris & EuphratesAutomobilePrinces of the RenaissanceOutpostStar Wars: RebellionBrass: BirminghamTrajanEclipse: Second Dawn for the GalaxyEmpires of the Middle AgesGunslingerRobinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed IslandAlchemistsTzolk'in: The Mayan CalendarCaptains of IndustryExodus: Proxima CentauriDiplomacyForbidden StarsAnachronyRootSkull Tales: Full Sail!HegemonicBattlestationsPaths of GloryFood Chain MagnateCaverna: The Cave FarmersKohle & KolonieA Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition)Sidereal ConfluenceA Feast for OdinThe GalleristPax Pamir: Second EditionAge of RenaissanceFief: France 1429Struggle of EmpiresToo Many BonesKanban EVMombasaIndonesiaDuneCivilizationFields of ArleGaia ProjectMiddara: Unintentional Malum – Act 1Coffee Traders1835Pax Britannica: The Colonial Era 1880 to the Great WarSpirit IslandThrough the Ages: A New Story of CivilizationTerra MysticaRevolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648Here I Stand7 AgesWar of the Ring: Second EditionTrickerion: Collector's EditionDominant SpeciesDie Macher1861: The Railways of the Russian EmpireEmpires in ArmsKingdom Death: MonsterLisboaBarrageThe Republic of RomeTwilight Imperium: Fourth EditionMagic RealmMage Knight Board GameOn MarsVinhos Deluxe EditionWorld in FlamesVirgin Queen1817