Your ideal 3-game collection

So I saw this fascinating question posted on r/boardgames yesterday and thought it might be fun to have the same-but-different (because different people) discussion here:

What’s your ideal 3 game collection?

Only 3? Scary, I know.

So, I’m also a watch collector, and in that hobby people love to discuss the “3 watch collection”, the point being to propose three quality pieces that are so versatile that you’ll be covered for any occasion or situation. While it’s not perfectly analogous, it made me think about a hypothetical “3 board game” collection.

So, if you could only own 3, what are your games, and how does each game earn its coveted place in the trinity?

(just quoting the original question, I am not a watch collector, the only one I own has no battery)

I have been and still am thinking which ones I would choose. And you don’t need to own those games right now (because I suspect one of my not-yet-arrived kickstarter/pre-orders might make the list) and expansions/addons are allowed.

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Assuming a world where I had people to play with, and a suitable space: Apples to Apples, Race for the Galaxy, Settlers of Catan. That’s board and card games only; it would be nearly impossible to choose among rpgs.


This is difficult so I’m just going to go on a spur of the moment feel. Indonesia, Iki, Hanabi.

Indonesia covers heavy games and has auctions. Maybe the best auctions :thinking:. Also deeply interactive and has enough in the variable set up to make each game play differently.

Iki again for the player interaction level and is, for me, the apex medium euro. Interesting, varied, reasonably accessible and above all enormous fun. Plus interesting and nice art.

Hanabi has coop down, tension and huge replay ability due to my groups refusal to codify a language around it. Which I see as both long winded cheating and the best way to kill this game.

Oddly all South East Asian settings. I don’t think that’s the main appeal, let’s hope that’s not some subconscious fetishising going on there.

There are games I feel a touch bad for leaving off but that’s the exercise :confused:


Obviously :slight_smile:

And I am still waiting for the German expansions for Race to be published because the game needs those and I regret not trying to get my hands on an English language version… right now I’ve only played on the app, but a lot!

I admit having to look up Apples to Apples. From what BGG tells me it seems to be a bit like Dixit but words instead of images (and of course it came a while before Dixit)?

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:slight_smile: You’re better at it than I am. I am still waffling.
Again I had to look up IKI. I am learning about all kinds of new games today. It looks quite interesting.
Only one I’ve played is Hana-Bi which I should really play again sometime.

I suppose. I’ve never heard of Dixit until now. It’s sort of like Cards against Humanity, if you know that one, but without CaH’s in-your-face nastiness.

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Replied under the same moniker there. one and two are easy

  1. Power Grid my favourite train game with expansions to turn it into almost 18XX

  2. Race for the Galaxy it’s a really good engine builder where you build your engine from some cooking oil, two cam shafts and a piston. Or a full working engine and jet fuel.

  3. I’d probably go for Sushi Go Party, but equally likely is Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride or Codenames


Dominant Species - area control / heavy game / good mix of short term and long term choices.

Chicago Express - light weight game / trainzzzzz / auction and shares

Goodcritters large playing count/ party game / bluffing / voting / take that/ “distribute the wealth” mechanism


It’s not the fault of Apples to Apples that its core gameplay loop was reused for Cards Against Humanity. (And now I’ve mentioned CAH in an “ideal games” thread. :slight_smile: But I was scooped by @whswhs anyway.) I do think the “everyone picks, someone judges” gameplay is a bit too vulnerable to playing to the individual for my taste.

I find this kind of choice, like the “which game(s) would you take to a desert island” thread*, an interesting variant on standard “favourite game” discussion – because these games have to have depth and replay value, and my favourite games may not be the ones I want to play many many times.

For example, all right, I do like Aeon’s End, but I’m listing it here because fully-expanded there’s a lot of variety: at a rough count, 23 nemeses and 36 mages, for 828 solo game combinations, and I’m not even going to try to count the market cards. But I’ve played Flash Point a lot more than I’ve played AE.

Similarly for a two-player competitive game I might well pick Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn – or even Android: Netrunner – because I enjoy the game and there’s an awful lot to explore, even if the one I play much more in practice is Onitama.

Which leaves one slot for a game that can be played by more than four, and I’ll go for The Resistance with slight hesitation – because I know people who’ve been in groups that have played it a lot, and the local group meta can become quite important (“aha, he didn’t say it the exact same way he always says it, he must be a spy”). But again I have the expansions and I can make a lot of variations.

* “Apart, of course, from a deck of cards…”


Fingers crossed that they’ll continue with Ashes 1.5!


I’m thinking you’d want to cover as many bases as possible. This is influenced by not wanting to play many heavy games at the moment.
Dominion every game is different, plays quickly but there are some good decisions to be made. I reckon you could teach this to anyone as well.
Times Up I’ve never had a bad game of this. You’d need a good sized group though
Great Western Trail is my favourite game. Gloomhaven seems an obvious call because there is so much there. Terraforming Mars is my most played game. Ticket to Ride is a classic, but I think Dominion fills that space. If I was allowed a brain wipe between plays I’d probably pick Pandemic

If it wasn’t a scorching day with my Covid situation addled brain I think it’d be GWT. No, I’m thinking about this too much - if I had to rescue a game from a fire, its GWT. Fills the heavy(ish) space, lots of replayability in the setup and I don’t get to play it enough.


I think I would have picked The Resistance apart from the minor problem that I’ve never played it! I do like social deduction. Hopefully I’ll be getting it soon, whether we play it is another matter entirely


(1) No, it’s not, and that’s why I went ahead and picked A => A.

(2) I do see that, but I find it a nice easy party game. It hasn’t been my experience that people playing it are ruthlessly out to win. I hear more from people complaining that none of their cards is even remotely suited to the chosen adjective . . .

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This is a very difficult question. I saw this posted on Reddit as well and was thinking to myself, “Good thing I don’t have to answer that question!”

Off the top of my head, I might have to go with:

  • Roads & Boats
  • Roads & Boats
  • Roads & Boats w/& cetera (for the added variety)

In all seriousness:

  • Ticket to Ride: Europe (if we get to have as many expansions as we want) or Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries (if we can’t keep expansions) – I value my partner as a gaming opponent and, as such, I will keep one of her favorites; I can tire of TtR fairly easily (which is why we have nearly all of the expansion/standalone content), but Nordic Countries is by far our favorite “1 TtR Box” experience, especially at 2 players

  • 1862: Railway Mania in the Eastern Counties - not only do I have a new-found love and appreciation for 18xx games, I find they often do the “heavy euro” thing sufficiently well – an observation I could be convinced to go into a depth given the time and opportunity. 1862, in particular, has a lot of things going for it that would ease my mind about shoveling all my euro games out the door.

  • Millennium Blades w/expansions. Though any of my “lifestyle-capable” games could be put here; ultimately this spot is being filled by “a game that offers nearly endless replayability by way of combinatorial explosions”. So maybe it’s Summoner Wars (with expansions)? I haven’t played that one yet – MB, at least, I know I like the game and I have people who will play it with me. If we’re not allowed to keep expansions… Then probably Concordia Venus (basegame edition) – there’s certainly a lot to explore in that box.


Sorry you can’t escape it :slight_smile:

Here are my picks. List may change without notice.

  • Spirit Island: this pick is trivial. Great experience with 1 through 4 players, with the upcoming expansion the content and replayability is… endless? It has some of my favorite mechanisms including tableau building, combos, area control, variable player powers, variable board and you can crank up the difficulty until you break. (If SI didn’t exist, Root or Inis or Pax Pamir 2 might have taken this spot.)
  • Wingspan: This one had to be either engine/tableau building or deck building and not too heavy. From my waffling about, I think I have yet to meet the perfect expression of this… this game I picked because I like the people I play it with and while it has its flaws it gets to the table. Some light worker placement would also have been a nice choice here. Other contenders: Nusfjord, Clank!, Terraforming Mars, Race for the Galaxy, Innovation
  • The Crew And there needs to be a light opener or finisher, possibly a party game that can be explained to people quickly and so far I haven’t found anyone here that wouldn’t want to play. Other games that might appear in this spot are Codenames or any of the Dixit clones or some social deduction like The Resistance.

Mine are pretty easy…

Twilight Imperium 4th Edition, as simply the greatest game ever crafted by human hands. Most games tell you what you need to do to win: TI4 is one of the few games that asks you what you want to do to win, and then lets you do that. It’s a masterclass in tight, clever game design with an epic scope. A space-opera-in-a-box.

Imperial Assault (with all expansions, obvi). Fully co-op? Check. Space wizards and laser swords? Check. Deep strategic decisions but still raucous fun? Absolutely. And some of the most beautiful minis for a board game? IA is a fantastic game, and its only downside is the length of the default campaign… but with a good GM/DM running the Imperial side, even that’s circumventable. The expansions are pretty necessary, though.

Incan Gold. Quick, silly, easy to pull out and explain, plays up to 7 or 8 players really cleanly, and is push-your-luck done at its absolute best. Not one of my personal Top 10 games, but if I need to bring 3 games to cover all possibilities, I think it (or possibly Deep Sea Adventure, but I think Incan is better… really, it should be Diamant, but you can’t get that in North America) deserves the spot.


Azul - This is currently in my “I’d never say no/easy recommendation” slot. Previously a position held by Splendor and Carcassonne, which are still games I love but have played a lot.

Hive is another possibility, but it only plays 2 and I’m usually bad at it. Ethnos could also go here, but it’s not great at lower player counts.

Inis - This fills the big, long and meaty more complicated slot. Concordia and Race for the Galaxy are other possibilities, but they’re not as dramatic and don’t have the gorgeous art.

The Champion of the Wild would be my party game of choice. Decrypto is great (and made Codenames redundant for me) but a bit too fiddly on the rules and takes a significant chunk of time.

Concept and Monikers are great and have a super low barrier to entry, but they’re a bit more repetitive and rely on limited communication rather than discussion, which can get frustrating.



War of the Ring - never, ever get tired of this. 50+ plays later.
Lisboa - if you’re going Euro, gotta go for the best.
Cyclades - multiplayer auctioning fun.


Oh yes, I’ll take Incan Gold in the third slot. (the Scooby Do Diamant got sold as it didn’t fit in the small games cupboard, although it’s the superior version)


Innovation (deluxe) 2-4 player count, and teams. Mid level complexity and a highly chaotic game state that keeps people engaged and interested even when “behind” - a lot of games I like do not do this.

Go even though I currently would always pick Twilight Struggle, or any number of other 2-player games, I know that Go would keep me going forever, while I can imagine tiring of TS after thousands of plays. I’m also using Go to cover my easy to learn and teach and play with anyone categories. This is the one game I could still play and enjoy even when stuck in a town where no-one played modern boardgames for 6 years.

Last one is tricky. Unless I come up with something more suitable later: Race for the Galaxy for the reasons people gave already.

Pax Pamir second edition I need a brutal game that includes negotiation, but that isn’t purely negotiation and social engineering. This strikes the right balance for me. Also covers that awkward 5th player spot.