What are the 4 Best Reiner Knizia Games?

What are the 4 best Reiner Knizia games that best demonstrate his style of design? What ones would you tell a friend to play if they had never played a Reiner Knizia game and could only play a few? What are his 4 best designs new and old?

Hey everyone I’m new(er) to boardgames and I’m trying to round out my knowledge base by playing some of the greats. I’m doing that by playing games from big name designers so yeah the question above. Also I’m limiting it to 4 for now just to keep things realistic. I know some of you could recommend 10+ games but I don’t really want to play only Knizia games for the next year.
Thanks so much!


Games by Rank

But bear in mind that Tigris & Euphrates is a very different style of game than, say, Ra or Through the Desert or Battle Line.


I am not a Knizia expert by any means but you should check out games from different genres of his like 1 tile layer f.e. Tigris and Euphrates (or go for one that is a bit more accessible), 1 Auction game like Ra, one of his family games like Ingenious or Keltis and My City because it is one of his latest designs and probably his only campaign game so far (I haven’t played My City but heard good things about it) now I’ll refer you to @lalunaverde who probably knows all the Knizia there is.

Edit: and I forgot El Dorado if you like deck builders…


Modern Art is like nothing else I own. It’s fantastic


With over 500 games designed by the good doctor (Knizia has a doctorate in mathematics, as memory serves), it’s hard to say “best”.

To be quite frank, the vast majority of them are utterly forgettable. There are a few gems in the rough, but with such a wide selection, it may be hard to narrow it down.

That stated, ones that I think are his best work are:

  1. Tigris & Euphrates (a weird little area-control wargame with an unusual scoring mechanic… very cutthroat, though)
  2. Ra (his best bidding/auction mechanic game, in my opinion, although some people prefer the meaner/easier “High Society” or the more number-crunchy “Modern Art”)
  3. Schotten Totten (a tight, tiny little 2-player in the same vein as Battle Line or Lost Cities, but superior and cheaper to both in my opinion)
  4. Samurai (area-control again, not as mean as Tigers & Pots but not as easy to explain either).

It should be noted that Knizia doesn’t really design games, as near as I can tell: he designs spreadsheets/mechanics, and somebody else comes along and tries to invent a theme or story for everything to hang together. That’s why so many of his games are pretty lackluster… the actual game is usually an afterthought to the design, as near as I can tell.


To my great shame–or rather adding to my shelf of shame–I bought a used copy this last (lol) year and haven’t even learned the rules yet.


People here have said a lot. But I was summoned. :stuck_out_tongue:

What’s funny is that you can ask Kniziaphiles and they will tell you different sets of 4 titles. The BGG ranking is a good one.

I like @yashima 's take on spread it between his auction and tile-laying games. But then he did deckbuilding El Dorado and negotiation game of Quo Vadis and a load of card games.

In spirit of the thread here are my personal top 4:

1.) Tigris and Euphrates - I’ll let SUSD review talk about this one
2.) Modern Art - auction game, but it is also a commodity speculation. What made it my fave auction is that it creates a meta in the group. Repeated plays will result with different meta
3.) Through the Desert - yeah, it’s a filler weight game, but since there’s no randomness here. Strategy can be done and suddenly, you’re trying to deduce other people’s priority list
4.) Babylonia - another simple tile laying. But as someone said “Ive played it 5 times and it feels like I don’t know what the game is”

What ones would you tell a friend to play if they had never played a Reiner Knizia game and could only play a few?

If they played at least medium weight games before, there’s no “barrier” here. But if they are non-gamers, remove Tigris & Euphrates and replace it with Wildlife Safari

What needs to be said about his designs though is that they are from the old pre-Agricola times and his games are more about playing the players, rather than having a complex system in front of you for you to push buttons and pull levers and see what happens.

but I don’t really want to play only Knizia games for the next year.

You say it like it’s a bad thing :stuck_out_tongue:


I really need to try Babylonia.

We have and love Blue Lagoon and Schotten Totten.

High Society was fun enough, but not a huge hit. I want to try it again at some point, but my son (who loves the previous 2) was mostly uninterested in revisiting it the last time we had family over.


And I really need to try Babylonia and Modern Art :slight_smile:
I would also like to try Lost Cities and Blue Lagoon but one can’t have them all.

A huge number of Knizia games have been made into apps btw (Ra, Medici, Tigris and Euphrates, Ingenious, Lost Cities, Through the Desert to name a few of the top of my head).


I’m going to be less enthusiastic about Modern Art. It’s fun and there’s often loads of laughter at the table, it’s clever and the theme is ideal. The CMON edition has great choice of art.

However the thing that is a weakness with this, and High Society, is the moment you have a weak player it all crashes down as a game. One bad auction round and the balanced makes the rest of the game pointless. Unbeatable strategy is sit to the left of whoever at the table is worst at valuing. This isn’t a problem if you have a similarly skilled table or if you don’t care about such things. It’s what’s causing me genuine consideration to move on Modern Art and stopped me buying High Society cheaply.

The other 2 I own and enjoy are Blue Lagoon and Tigris and Euphrates. Some say there are better than Blue Lagoon but it’s more than good enough to play and the presentation is fun. Tigris is amazing.


Blue Lagoon is crazily cheap as well. I’m gutted my family didn’t like it.


Funny how Knizia games don’t seem to be as highly ranked by BGGers when reviewers adore him.


There are very few designers I can think off that have a lot of highly ranked games. One is Uwe Rosenberg who keeps making the same two games (which are great but still). Even Vlaada needs to rely on two Through the Ages to have 4 Top 100 games.


Zeitgeist. There was a time where a number of his games populate the Top 100 at the same time.


Not quite on topic but I’ve looked at this hotlist about designer rankings before: All-Time Designer Ranking: 2019 | BoardGameGeek
edit: and the 2020 version exists as well: All-Time Designer Ranking: 2020 | BoardGameGeek

Looks like making Star Wars games is the way to go :stuck_out_tongue:
But Knizia still makes #3 on that one.


This thread serves as the perennial reminder that I haven’t ever played many of Reiner Knizia’s most celebrated games. The only one mentioned here so far that I have played is Schotten Totten and although it’s well-liked I didn’t personally care all that much for it.

My personal favourite is Blue Moon City which is fantastic (apart from some unfortunate colour-differentiation issues in the latest edition) and of definitely recommend that one.


Corey Konieczka has got designer credits on basically everything FFG did for several years. I’ve never read an interview with him so it could easily be “he was in charge of the team, he got the credit”, or he could genuinely have had significant design input. There’s just no way to know.


Lost Cities has to be up there. A classic

At rules:

“Is that it?”

Two games later when you’re clutching a ten for a whole game completely hampering your game:

“Oh shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii…”


Thanks for the input everyone!
I think I’m going to pick up Tigres and Euphrates, High Society, Blue Lagoon, and Quest for Eldorado next at least, then maybe others in the future. I’m picking High Society and Blue Lagoon over Modern Art and Through the Desert just because they’re cheaper/more available and they’re often described as similar. Is that a mistake? blasphemous?


Came here to say Lost Cities (the original card game).

Super simple compared the first ones listed in this thread, but I showed it to my girlfriend who isn’t even that into board games and she insisted we play it four times in a row. Immediately hooked. If you can get it cheap then add it to the bigger names :slight_smile: