Topic of the Week: 1990-2005

List (Games with 500+ votes, sorted by number of votes [popularity] this time rather than rank)

Memories from this timeframe?
Games that meant a lot at the time?
Games that are still around for you?


My personal gaming career was mostly in role-playing, with occasional tie-in games (like GDW’s Minion Hunter, the Dark Conspiracy boardgame, and later Crimson Skies, the FASA dieselpunk air combat game—first edition, not clickytech). And the nineties were more or less my Rolemaster decade.

Towards the end of this time I was demonstrating GURPS for Steve Jackson Games, and since shipping was cheaper in those days I ended up buying a lot of their board games from Warehouse 23. Many of those I’ve since sold on (all the Munchkin, for example, which was mostly for demo purposes anyway).

The games in my collection now are mostly ones I’ve bought later. Guillotine, where the gameplay doesn’t live up to the theme but I still like to get it out occasionally. Hex Hex/Hex Hex Next, which I haven’t played in far too long, basically a magical pass the grenade. I haven’t done any Harpoon for a while but I’d like to get back into it. Tsuro just barely edges into this bracket and that’s still one I’m happy to play. Ingenious and 6 Nimmt (really BGG, does anyone call it Take 5?).


My memories from this time are playing Risk with my best friend, then various consoles - Sega Master System up to a Playstation One.

And England being bad at cricket, until, suddenly in 2004/5, they weren’t!


Boardgames were not a huge thing for me during that era on the one hand. my main interest was in RPGs and maybe TCGs and computer games… but somehow I still played a lot of boardgames?
I wouldn’t have called myself a hobby boardgamer at the time. Everyone around me played so many games all the time… I was at uni from 1996 to 2002 and so had a lot of time for games.

So just going by what I rated from the era… with an attempt at sorting games into some kind of groups (and also shortening the stuff by hiding some). Games I have in some form or other are in bold.

Age of Beige Games

Beige seems to somehow signify some attempt at theming, doesn’t it? Not all of these are beige in any case but there is a partiular art style I associate with the period that is best shown with Carcassonne, OG El Grande and OG Princes of Florence. Niagara is already too colorful…

The games
  • Carcassonne – still have it, used to own various iterations, played endlessly at the time. Will never get rid of it.
  • Alhambra – not quite as good as Carcassonne for tile laying. But surely part of the reason for my love for the genre. Currently on the sell pile
  • Catan – played too much, won’t play now. Never owned my own copy. Hidden VP are the worst VP.
  • Puerto Rico / San Juan – played a few times. Never owned.
  • Ticket 2 Ride – played a lot, played a ton on the app. Never owned a copy. My copy of TTR Legacy should arrive any day now.
  • Bohnanza – played this a lot. Particularly memorable was our lengthy session on the 1.1.2000 :slight_smile:
  • Princes of Florence – one of my early successful SPIEL purchases. We played this so much though that I got tired of it. Would play again. Our friends still have theirs. Sold.
  • Goa. I don’t really remember this but I owned it and we played a few times. Sold.
  • Bridges of Shangri-La: got this as a present. Quite enjoyed it but apart from one friend people thought it was too thinky. Sold. (one of the few sales I regret)
  • Niagara: things would be different if I had not pushed my partner down the falls. He is still mad at me 20ish years later. Sold.
  • Die Händler von Genua. My friends still have their copy. We played this a few times. It was quite typical of the era but between this Goa and Princes of Florence I only have vague memories which is which.
  • Goldland. Had a few very memorable games with our friends. My first time winning on an alternate victory condition everyone had overlooked. Loved it. Never won again. Would play. Friends still have theirs.
  • El Grande – our friends had this, I enjoyed it fine. Later bought and quickly resold a used copy.

So Abstract there is really no excuse:

I am not much of a fan of abstracts these days. But there are a number of notables from that era. The surviving ones are Yinsh and Hive.

The Games
  • Ingenious. One of my earliest Knizia games. We played it too much so it got: Sold.
  • Blokus. Played a friends copy a few times. It’s okay.
  • Gipf Project: can’t sell my signed copies of Yinsh and Gipf. Played a variety of the other games as well. My favorite is Yinsh. Very cool abstracts.
  • Ubongo: we played this a lot until I got annoyed at it. Sold.
  • Tsuro. It’s fine. Never owned.
  • Lost Cities. It’s fine. Sold.
  • Hive – I enjoy it fine. But it is one of those confrontative 2 player games my partner doesn’t enjoy. Still have it though. I like the tiles too much to get rid of it.

Thematic Games:

We played most of these games with our RPG group and they only worked when people got behind the theme and played their roles somewhat. If they didn’t the veneer came off and the games showed their weak mechanics. When our RPG group dissolved in around 2016(?), we never played any of these again and most are now sold. There is one notable exception: Robo Ralleye. I haven’t played in ages but that does not mean a thing for this game.

The Games
  • Robo Ralleye – the best. Programming robots to fight – uhm race… they are racing… I don’t like the edition I own much. Haven’t played in ages. But I have the best memories and alwasy need to own a copy. Still looking for a programmed movement game that comes close to this.
  • Arkham Horror - used to own third edition and played it a lot. Really worked only with that particular group. Sold
  • Betrayal at the House on the Hill – see Arkham, also known as the “No-ledge” game. Sold.
  • Shadows Over Camelot – see Arkham. Never owned my own.
  • Talisman – see Arkham. Sold.
  • Munchkin – being an avid TTRPG played at the time I thought it was quite funny–until I didn’t. Sold
  • A Game of Thrones – a few memorable plays with SO MUCH backstabbing. Sold.
  • Gloom. Gimmicky card game. Sold.
  • Dungeon Twister: got this as a present. It had the same fate as many other 2 player games. I won. My partner hated it. Sold.
  • Werewolf. Who did not play Werewolf at the time? Gave my copies to our friends’ kids.
  • Chez Geek. Played too much. The game was “too real” sometimes. All the characters were our friends basically. Still have it listed under “can’t get rid of it for nostalgia”
  • City of Chaos: a huge sprawling “experience” game that is far more common these days than it was in 1996. We had to let it set up on the table. I only recently sold my copy to a collector for good money.
  • Cults Across America: we gave this to one of our friends and played a few times. Really weird stuff.
  • Fury of Dracula --layed once. I was Dracula. I won by a mile. Players decided it was unbalanced and it never saw the table again. Sold.
  • Fearsome Floors – we had friends that bought all the 2F games and so I got to play most of them a couple of times. I don’t have more than passing memories of this though (as far as I remember these games were more thematic than they were not but I may be remembering them wrong)
  • Kill Dr. Lucky: yay Cluedo backwards. At the time we thought it was a genious move. Sold.


At uni I was introduced to both TTRPGs and TCGs… both quite expensive hobbies helping to curtail my boardgame collection at the time. I really only played 1 TCG though… who can afford to play more than one anyway?

The Games
  • Magic The Gathering – still have my cards. Haven’t played in ages. The grandfather of so many types of modern card games. Without having played this I would be playing completely different styles of games.
  • Netrunner (1996) – the only version I really played. A friend owned a deck or two. It was kind of cool but there were so many TCGs at the time and Magic was the one I spent my money on. Never owned.
  • Vampire the Eternal Struggle – I played V:tM a lot in the late 90s early 00s so naturally I had a few cards but same as Netrunner… my money went to Magic.

The vaguest of memories (of single plays)

Ursuppe, Verräter, Twilight Struggle, Loopin’ Louie, Piranha Pedro, Power Grid

Games I learned about later and so for me aren’t really part of the period:

Tigris & Euphrates, Ra, Medici, Samurai, Schöne Scheisse, Through the Desert, High Society, Antiquity, Schotten Totten, Jungle Speed. Most of these are Knizia’s. During this period, despite playing some of his games I was completely unaware who he was. The only boardgame designer I knew by name was Richard Garfield and that wasn’t for a boardgame. I could have told you all the various authors of various TTRPGs I played though.

PS: it was also a time that I played a ton of computer games… single player Civilization, the various Baldur’s Gates, Diablo, Warcraft 3, some Quake sessions at LAN parties and most notably Total Annihilation for multiplayer. I played Ultima Online as my first MMO and then in 2005 WoW hit the internet (in Germany it was a little later than the US) and a lot of my spare time for the next 5 years went into that.


This is another one of those “buried in the BGA backlogs” games. I’ve been curious based on its awards and high ratings. Start a table if you’d like!

RoboRally - I’ve been wondering if this group wants to play this as well.

Games I played at the time and still like:

Settlers: This is really the one that started it all. Birthday present from Vishal in 1995. I still get excited when I see this on any table.
Ticket to Ride: Europe: I mean, you had to get this back then. I tended to always win and never enjoy myself, but the app gave it new legs as it’s a great 10 minute experience. Another one I keep around because it gets played, and playing TTR:E is better than playing nothing.
Tigris & Euphrates: No commentary needed.
Blokus: The strict 4p is tough with so many more flexible games in the collection. But every time I play this it delivers. Keeper for sure.
Samurai: Got it due to love of T&E. I’ve grown in love for this over the years, a lot.
The Lord of the Rings: (ok, hard to do this right on the tales of Knizia). Don’t like it but it’s so evocative, it holds a very niche spot in my collection. And lives in the “The Confrontation” box rent free.
Wits & Wagers: I now want to play this right now. So many good memories. Good good stuff. I wonder if the questions are out of date?
Elfenland: Bought before I knew that “spiel des jahres” doesn’t mean “great game.” Recently had a BGA round with @lalunaverde and @RogerBW. The game has moments of greatness but valleys of inertia between. I’d love to play occasionally but the box went out the door. (Or, it’s sitting in a pile. No one else wants it either.)
The Great Dalmuti: So. Many. Memories. I have two copies in case the first wears out. It is worn out but I haven’t gotten to play this in years.
Risk 2210AD: Five-star game. Fight me.
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation: I mentioned Stratego as one of my favorites during the 80’s. This blew my mind. I’d like to git gud at it again, I’ve forgotten the subtleties.

Games I played at the time and don't care for:

Puerto Rico: I’m struggling to count, I think I’ve played this on a table twice? My own copy once? But I have played a crapton via the PuertoRico Evolver .xls and (honk if you’re with me). Another game I tend to lose all the time and I don’t know why. I don’t like it but it is too sentimental for me to offload. Each year I check if I’m ready to sell.
Citadels: For when you have more people than Carcassonne will sit? This is currently on the sell pile. All my plays have extended to nearly 90 minutes and it just isn’t a game that can support that time. I kept it for a long time with the understanding “this would be good if everyone at the table had memorized the roles and stayed engaged” but eventually realized that I’d rather play Coup at low player counts and One Night Ultimate Werewolf at higher.
Lost Cities: One of my first sells. It’s good but has a shelf life, and Schotten Totten just kills it.
San Juan: Recently sold. I vacillated on this a lot over the years, growing tired and then finding new wrinkles. This was back when games got played a lot more due to smaller collection and more friend-time. In the end it’s just mediocre and, as with Puerto Rico, too few victory archetypes.
Kahuna: Oh gosh I hate this game.

War of the Ring: Currently holds the record for “longest owned unplayed” in my collection. I missed the 2e upgrade but some kind soul on Reddit sent me his upgrade pack, for free, years later. He’d just wanted extra sleeves and a tin and I guess had been holding onto this thing. So I have my 1e upgraded to 2e. I once put on my birthday list “someone to play WotR with me” and my father “gave” me that gift, but after trying some other game with him I realized we were headed toward disaster. So there it sits.

Carcassonne: More on this later.
Also separating out the games I came to later.


Peak Games Workshop time!

Got some Combat Cards (Top Trumps but Warhammer), got a set called “Man O’War” and wondered what these fantasy boats were all about. Found out they were from a company called Games Workshop, whose headquarters were at a Eastwood, Nottingham. Hey that’s just 10 minutes from my Dad’s house!

Visited, bought the Man O’War box set, followed by Epic 40,000, Space Hulk, Bommerz Ova Da Sulfur River and Blood Bowl.

Now Blood Bowl is not a good game by any means (IMO) but it did provide myself and three friends many hours of entertainment in the big shed at the bottom of my Mum’s garden. Boardgaming came later for me (2005-2006, my uni masters year).

That said the great survivors from this era are what you’d expect, and in doing this I found out Power Grid is from 2004

I didn’t actually play many of these in the era, it was minis and painting. I’d still like to get into a 10 mm scifi minis game but boardgaming is much easier to get played.


Even as someone who got into Games Workshop for the RPGs and regarded their pivot to The Games Workshop Hobby as something of a betrayal, I have to admit that that’s not half bad. (And all the bits one needs to play, except actual ship minis, are freely available these days.)


Okay, NOW I get Space Crusade etc. And Warhammer Fantasy Battle 4th ed in 1992, which was amazing. Heard good things about Necromunda.

I played MtG around 1996 (cards) and then again in 2001 on the first computer version they had (Orzhov Angels were badass then).

Played WAY too much Vampire: The Masquerade 2nd and 3rd ed, and in fact all WoD 2/3.

Lost Cities obviously, and High Society (but the latest version).
Tsuro on my phone, which I’ve played until I feel like I’ve done it all.
The “New easy to master Dungeons and Dragons” box set with paper standees, and oh, apparently the Dragonlance game with all the dragons flying at different heights was 1988.

Betrayal at House on the Hill.
Munchkin (but only ever bought Shakespeare Munchkin for my Shakespeare actress partner, and strictly only for the puns).
Talisman, no idea which edition.

Clearly not my decade, I’m on page 8 of the list and don’t know a single one.


Munchkin Axe Cop is IMO the best of them—it’s still daft and random, but so is the source material (it was a comic written by a five-year-old and drawn by his 20-something brother). And there are enough high-power cards that it doesn’t drag on.


For me this period is 8-23 so very heavy on Games Workshop. At 21 I started playing board games at a club so I presume most of that fell in to this era.

GW games played were Warhammer 40k ( 1st to 4th in time frame)WFRP, Fantasy battles, Man O War, Space Marine, Necromunda, Warhammer Quest, Mordheim, BFG, Blood Bowl and Advanced Space Crusade. Favourite 2 being second ed 40k and Necromunda from that era. Not all listed released in the period but that’s when I played them. Worst were easily Quest and Mordheim.

Tell end I okayed so many board games without knowing the names as they were put in front of me at a club. New one each week until I purchased my own. Attika was the biggest euro hit early on so played that tons. Also Munchkin, RoboRally, Betrayal at the House on The Hill were played a lot. Fully agree with @yashima that Munchkin is funny until it’s not then it’s just a not very good card game. I think the largest selection of games I don’t now know where dudes on a map historical set ones. An annoying situation really very much geared to one persons vanity about winning.

Also in there I purchased Doom, Cults Across America, Blue Moon, Warriors, UWO, Gloom and some others that didn’t survive very long.

Possibly going to a slightly disfunctional games club meant I don’t really hold much nostalgia for old school games. Also I don’t like games too tight and almost abstract style on very limited moves ala chess and grid movement.

I think the tail end of this period was when I got in to non GW miniature games. Void, Wargods, Celtis, Battletech all got some runs but the main one was Confrontation. To this day I love it, easily the best miniature skirmish I’ve played. There is an issue with the lack of trousers and exposed thong underwear as outer wear for female miniatures but the rules were immense. Fortunately everyone I played with did the work to turn them in to wearing leggings.


Games from the period I “met” later and loved:
Bohnanza, Hive, Memoir '44, El Grande, Ra (didn’t like it at first), Battle Line / Schotten Totten, Tichu (for a long time I thought, "why play this Dalmuti knock-off?).

Games I came to later which are good:
Betrayal at House on the Hill, No Thanks, Robo Rally, Modern Art, Hey That’s My Fish, Railways of the World, Chinatown, Fury of Dracula, Monza

Games I played later and don’t care for:
Twilight Struggle, Alhambra, Bang! (It was fun for a while), Caylus, Tsuro (This one in particular I’m baffled how anyone enjoys it but hey, fill your boots), Tikal, Medici, Hacienda

Games still on the shelf of opportunity:
Condottiere - this has come to many game nights but never gets the nod. Still looking forward to it.

Brief notes:
Twilight Struggle: I think I could like this if I could sit down with someone else with zero exposure. It’s just really harsh to play this game across skill levels. Even then, though, the general feeling of too much to do and not enough time echoes the parts of my life I don’t want to reflect onto the table…

Betrayal at House on the Hill: Played once. Thought the concept was really cool. My household isn’t crazy about the horror theme, and it’s pretty well documented that the implementation here is inconsistent. How is it that nearly 20 years later there’s still no one who has done this better?

Fury of Dracula: Another one that is a little loose and too long, but no one has done it better. I bought it for $27 at the last reprint and then sold it a few years later for $150, not because I didn’t want it but I didn’t want it that much.

No Thanks: I’m intrigued by this game but I played with people who were obsessed, then frustrated, by trying to get a positive score. Haven’t been able to play again since. That’s not the game here!

El Grande: Just wow. What a game. Shame I missed this until years and years later. Glad it is on BGA but even then this one is easy to table. They don’t make games like this any more.

Man, this combined with my first post, I’ve really scraped this barrel.


Launching a sidebar here: I’m curious about what team we’re all on with regards to the old “trifecta:” Settlers, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride.

For 15-20 years these were the gold standard for introducing Monopoly players to our brighter world, and all three are still a presence. Did you come through one of these doors? Did you rely on one to build your own gaming group? Do any remain in your pantheon?

(If I had to choose, I’m on team Settlers. I know, it’s a small, radical fringe group but we aren’t dangerous.)


“We’re not GW honest” Mantic Games appears to have a Fantasy High Seas game - Featured - Mantic Games

The big things I remember from it are

  1. Damage is applied to areas that affect your ship in logical ways
  2. The total sip count for a full game was small (I preferred games that were either small in scope or huge in scope {Epic 40k])
  3. The fleets were wildly different

Personally I think that everything except the “one of you will suddenly become a traitor, and you don’t know who it will be” part has been done better, by A Touch of Evil and Mansions of Madness among others. And I think that’s not a coincidence: in order to keep what’s going on a mystery to the surviving “good” players, you’re absolutely reliant on the quality of the rules-writing (and the quick-comprehension skills of that random player) in order not to spoil everyone’s session.

There are people with whom I’d happily play a horror game in this style, but definitely neither of us would want the risk of them getting stuck with having to pick up rules in haste.

(Current MoM has insanity cards that include a few that effectively say “you win if you stop everyone else from winning, and achieve this goal”. Consensus on the forums seems to be that it’s more fun to play without them.)

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I played them all in the order they were published. I wouldn’t say any one of them is the door I came through though. It was just a long slide down a mountain of SdJs. If any game qualifies as my door to the hobby that came later and it would be Terra Mystica in 2011. In this era Arkham Horror was one of the bigger turning points for my relation to boardgames because it introduced me to a completely new style of game.

Of the “trifecta” Catan was by far the biggest thing here. Carcassonne and TTR don’t even come close. But that is just by my estimation. It came much earlier than the other two and definitely made boardgaming as a hobby more of a thing.

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This seems like it was another life (maybe it was; the universe feels fractal).

Back in the early 90s, I mostly played computer games (MUDs, mostly) and console games. Quite suddenly, I found myself in middle school and surrounded by Pogs; I collected some, but I recall playing… uh, maybe twice? The game wasn’t as cool as the just looking at the pogs.

But it setup me and my friends for the next big thing: Magic: the Gathering. By the time it came to be known by me, people were playing Revised edition, but I mainly got started in 4th. I, however, never spent as much money on it as any of my friends (I lived in a well-to-do area, but we didn’t have a lot of disposable income). After a while, I mostly gave up collecting cards for myself and would assemble awful, terrible decks from the unused cards of whomever I was hanging out with so that we could play – or, later, when it became more of a “thing”, I would just use one of their spare decks.

Once High School started, I had mostly reverted back to computer games (mostly MUDs, still). My stepdad at one point introduced me and 2 of my friends to Dungeons & Dragons and I got the AD&D 2e trifecta for Christmas that year (The Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and the Monstrous Manual). Unsurprisingly, me and all of my not-quite-social-butterfly friends joined the school’s Role Playing & Games Club, hosted in the library on Thursday after school – all made possible because my older sister was driving to/from school then and was willing to shuttle me and a friend because she also had a number of friends in the club.

As part of RP&G Club, I was introduced to Warhammer; both Fantasy and 40k; I bought a few models for both, but never fielded an army; most people in the club just used pieces of paper (for fantasy) or proxied with the starter box, plastic minis for 40k. Blood for the Blood God!

As a distraction one summer, I convinced my mother to buy me the Necromunda starter set which my friends and I played a lot (by many, many mistaken rules). I still have it, actually, and I sometimes wonder what it would be like to get it out again. I put the new edition of Necromunda on my wishlist a few years ago but nobody bought it for me, and I believe it’s probably hard to find now – and I don’t even know how much I would enjoy it (it may be wildly different… or… maybe… maybe I’d be wildly different?). Eventually, I did buy a complete mini set for Van Saar, but I never assembled or painted them.

One year, quite unexpectedly, some of my friends started playing Illuminati: New World Order , which seemed just the panacea for the “Magic the Gathering is too expensive to enjoy” slump me and many of my friends whose parents didn’t have quite as much money to toss around. A collectable card game where you could just buy a complete set of the cards – long before “Living Card Games” “invented” it. I still have my One With Everything box that includes the expansion. A friend of mine told me, probably 5 years ago, that he finally sold his because he got more than $500 for it – but I refuse to sell. Imagine my dismay when, later, I played the 2018 Illuminati and found it utterly transparent and lackluster; was INWO the same and I just couldn’t see it back then?

At some point during high school, my parents bought me a computer with a graphics card and I started playing almost exclusively video games for a while, and that persisted after I left high school and into the early 2000s.

I had moved around a bit in my late-teens and early-twenties and eventually fell in with a mixed group of people I went to high school with but also some other geeks that were all living together. Unfortunately, Everquest and then World of Warcraft were things at the time; I played the former quite a bit during my moving-around phase, but never as much as most of my friends. I played WoW but really only for about 2 weeks as a way to engage with that friend group. Eventually we grew apart (most of them play FFXIV now, I think).

But during the time I was spending time with that group, we did play a few games. I remember, specifically,
Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Boardgame (2002)
, which I was fascinated by, but of which my friends grew quickly tired, much to my dismay. I believe we played almost a full game of it. Other than that, I think it was mostly Risk that was played.

It would be several years later, after being introduced to Apples to Apples one evening, and then later attending a local gaming convention with my then-girlfriend-now-wife when we sat down with a friend of hers from high school and he showed us some board games he had discovered by watching Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop. This would prove to be the catalyst to get me to look beyond the bad box art and see boardgames in a different light. But all of that occurred after 2005.


Not a great fan of any of them tbh. Not that I think they’re terrible, and they all have their moments, but I enjoy some later games more. Because I wasn’t playing them when they came out, I don’t have nostalgia for a time when they were among the few gaming options available.

  • Settlers (or Catan now): the random resource production irritates me, but I like the trading. It would be fair to say that there’s a negotiation-shaped hole in my collection now that I’ve sold Cosmic Encounter. I’ve love to try Sidereal Confluence some time.
  • Carcassonne: sooooooo long for what you get. I’ll play Xia or Magic Maze for extending the map in play, Spirit Island or Revolution for area majority.
  • Ticket to Ride: only played once and it was the Pennsylvania map, but just didn’t seem to have much to say to me. To scratch the route building itch, Tsuro or Railroad Ink. For set collection, Jaipur or Targi or Morels. For hand management, Red7.

Some more for which I got into the hobby after the peak of their popularity: Shadows over Camelot (2005), Small World (2009).


One of my friends straight up has an Alpha Black Lotus, valued in the 5 digits for US currency. We were discussing this in front of his wife whose eyes went about as wide as I’ve ever seen them.

He also refuses to sell for unknown reasons. It’s just sitting in his parents’ basement waiting for a disaster or something to take it from him.


The most avid MtG player from my circles sold his collection of valuable cards a few years ago for a nice sum or so he told me. High 4 figures. Not 5 though I think.

I only started playing after Ice Age and Revised. Mirage and 4th were out so I do not have any of the super-valuable stuff…