Settlers of Catan
This is the game that really got me in to gaming and widely considered to be a classic that popularized German-style board games. Since its release there have been numerous expansions and different versions produced expanding on the basic resource collection/building model, but I prefer it old school. It's a fun game to play even when you're losing.
I remember playing this game when I was like 5, and although its entirely based on die rolls and drawing good cards, it still makes for a fun couple of hours. The best part of the game is the epic feel to it where you're on a grand quest to become the most powerful being in the world, and to smite monsters and other players with your godliness. It's also probably what got me in to RPGs in general.
Often cited as the greatest game ever made, this list would be incomplete without Puerto Rico. This game has almost no element of luck to it, and is entirely based on collectively making better decisions than your opponents. One element I like is how interaction between players is indirect. Rather than attacking or stealing from a player, you inconvenience them by making a choice before they can, thus limiting there options. I somehow always manage to come in second.
Silly and crazy, what it lacks in strategy Munchkin more than makes up for in laughs and clever wordplay. This is also one of the earlier games I played and I have now amassed quite a collection of cards. Some of my favourites include: Kill Some Nazis, The Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment, the Potted Plant, Curse! Arbitrary Game Balance, Invoke Obscure Rules, Monster the GM Made up Himself, Laugh at the GM's Monty Python Routine, Potion of Idiotic Bravery, 3872 Orcs, Giant Mutant Gerbil Steed, Bow of Grossly Unbalance Combat, Perfectly Ordinary Bunny Rabbit, Thing With a Name So Long There's No Room for a Picture on the Card, and of course the Duck of Many Things.
Currently one of my favourite games to play (perhaps due to my win ratio), Dominion is fun just for all the possible permutations of card combinations and potential strategies. It's easy to pick up, doesn't take too long to play, and the only downside is when you have a turn where you only have 7 gold so you can't afford a province. That sucks balls.
I may have overplayed this western themed card game a bit, but every now and then I get nostalgic for it and realize just how much fun it is. You don't really have to think while you play it, and it's great for large groups of friends. On the downside though, people tend to gang up on one or two guys, sometimes killing them before they even get a turn. I've seen it happen to other as well as myself and that's not really fun at all.
Ticket to Ride
Another German style board game, that revolves around the traveling salesman problem (finding the shortest route between 2 or more points). It's an incredibly simple game that even a child can understand, but also has quite a bit of strategical depth to it. Like Puerto Rico, you don't directly interact with other players, but instead inhibit them by laying down train tracks before they can. It's unlikely that you'll ever play a game where everything goes according to plan, but that just adds to the excitement. The only flaw is that a lot of it comes down to what cards you get.
Easily my favourite party game, Cranium has something for everybody in it: acting, drawing, spelling, trivia, and much more. I have lots of fond memories attached to this game (ask Zach to do his Shirley Temple impression), where riotous laughter and general silliness is bound to occur. The best part is rolling purple, which I manage to do with astounding frequency.
I love this game, but this game hates you with a passion. There are plenty of ways to lose, but only one way to win, and you all have to work together if you want that to happen. You can plan as carefully as you want, but odds are the game will throw a wrench in those plans just to spite you. Even the easiest mode is pretty challenging, and the hardest is fucking impossible. Despite all this, its still a fun game that promises a hectic good time
History of the World
For some reason this game gets a lot of hate from some of my friend, but that doesn't stop me from loving it. Essentially it's a better version of Risk with more of a focus on strategy and careful planning. I also like it because players can't get knocked out of the game, you can't really make alliances against each other, and it's very possible to come from behind and win, so you never have to give up. It still relies heavily on die rolls, but there are ways you can affect the outcome which adds a layer of thought to it. This game is not for people with short attention spans.
Well that about does it, but as a note to my readers in Board Game Club, it looks as though we'll be having a summer get-together at Dana's place, so stay tuned for more information.