#topine 2019 – current favourite 9 board games

A while ago over on instagram there was a #topnine hashtag going around (thanks to the guys at @pubmeeple for setting it up) to list your favourite nine board games and I dutifully put mine together:


I have been meaning to take a moment to talk you through them in turn and explain what’s so good about them but I haven’t got around to it, until now….  Firstly let me just say this isn’t a wish list for me – I actually own all of these… and here they are (in no particular order* other than box size for stacking purposes).



There are some other games I really like though don’t own, and there are some games I have yet to try but are on ‘must play soon’ list (Nemesis for one!) however I put my #topnine list together thinking about games I am currently playing/own/want to play more.

So here we go starting from the top down from my stack.

Franks Zoo


This is my ‘go to’ small filler/end of night game.  It’s a card game with elements of trick taking and top trumps set around the theme of zoo Animals.  You can also play it as a team based game for up to 7 players – and it can be very funny.   Simply put each animal can be trumped by an animal it is scared of, or of +1 more of the same animal; so 2 mice would trump 1 mouse, but a single lion would trump 1 mouse – what animals trump each animal is printed on each card.  The idea is to lose all your cards and get out first, and you get points based on your end position. Simples.  There are a couple of more options for team playing, and there are a couple of card types that you *must win one of* or that score you additional points if you win a trick with them in, but thats all extra.  The fun is that it is a sweet innocent game where you can trump a goldfish with an orca and whats not to love about that!



This is a classic, but I will honestly admit that I don’t play the physical game much anymore simply because there is a BRILLIANT ios APP for it and so a group of friends and I are playing it constantly.  I constantly, I mean that I have rarely in past 10 years not had a game of Carcassonne on the go and generally I have a couple on the go at once.  Carcassonne is undoubtedly my most played game EVER.  There are loads of expansions for it but I really don’t think you need any of them to enjoy this game.  It is a simple tile playing game where by you all take turns placing a tile to build a town/series of towns joined by roads and surrounded by fields and each time you lay a tile you can choose to put a meeple on it and claim the points for the area you are building when it completes (there are some placement rules but they are easy).  A blooming lovely game.


Terra Mystica


This is a medium/heavy game and not really one for those who are new to gaming.  Its an area control game (it has a board where you have to strategically build your civilisation whilst not getting hemmed in by your opponents).  There are lots and lots of choices in how to expand your civilisation and different ways to score and it can be challenging as some options are limited each turn so once someone has taken it no one else can.  There are loads of base civilisations to choose from all with their own special abilities which makes the game really interesting.  I love it – there is a space themed version of this called Gaia Project which I have played and really like it – but I don’t own it and haven’t played it enough to say that it is better or worse than the original; though I am a sucker for a sci-fi theme 😉


Tigris and Euphrates


This is an old classic and I am always happy to get this to the table.  It is another area control game where you play tiles and and have leaders which you place down to ‘control’ the tiles played.  There are 4 types of tile (based on colour) and each player has a leader of that colour.  If you play a colour onto an area of the board that your leader controls you score a point for that colour.  Combat ensues where leaders clash for control and more points are gained when you win (and remove your opponent from the board) .  The great thing about this game is your end of game score is your LOWEST value across the 4 colours.  This is a fantastic mechanism for a game as it means you can’t have a runaway leader in a single colour – your strategy needs to spread your  points across all 4 colours which makes for a much more balanced game.



This is such a pretty game.  It is like sudoku but with mosaic tiles.  It’s so easy to pick up which also means it is very easy to teach (WIN!) and plays very quickly.  I have so much love for this game and it’s great fun to play.



Now I have to be honest that I have only played this a couple of times.  I picked this up at the UK GAMES EXPO this year after listening to Paul Grogan from GAMING RULES! sing its praises.  I have played it solo a couple of times to learn the rules (it’s not a solo game so I played as two players myself) and I’ve also played it once with a friend from work (who wasn’t a gamer but agreed to play to humour me). I am really excited to play this more and with some experienced gamers as it has so many good points for it.  For one, it plays over just 4 rounds which means the end is in sight from the get go.  That said, it means every round is so important that you really need to think about what to do and it is very possible that the other players can mess up your intended play.  It has elements of dice draighting, bidding, worker placement and engine building.  I’ll update you when I play it some more (and if you want to play it with me let me know!) but I am sure I will continue to love this game.


Spirit Island


What. A. Game.    But not for a newbie!

This plays solo or as a co-operative and it amazing.  You play a spirit on a island who is fighting off explorers/colonists before they kill the land.  Its really tough and relentless as the explorers just keep on coming and you need to work together to knock them off.  There are lots of spirits to choose from each with their own powers which really varies the game play, and also you can increase the difficulty level of the game as you get better and also add in extra scenarios for even more game depth.  I’ve only ever played this solo at the moment, and only with a single spirit.  The idea of increasing my solo to multi spirit scares me at the moment as there is sooo much to it but I think that just speaks to the games depth.  I will conquer my fear 😉 and I really look forward to playing this with other people.


Terraforming Mars


This is my absolutely my most favourite game at the moment.  The base game was all designed on actual theatrical terraforming science which was a massive draw as its really interesting to think about the practicalities/possibilities and repercussions of the game choices you make whilst trying to build your corporation and terraform Mars.  This is a long game, and all the expansion for it have all added both to the game play but also the length of the game, and that does mean that this isn’t for everyone.  You need a least a couple of hours for a 2 player game, and the more players, the more hours you need to set aside… I am very much looking forward to playing with the latest expansion; Turmoil, which arrived just this week.  The two downsides to this game are the size of the draw decks (with all the expansions there are TONS of them) which makes suffleing a pain in the arse, and that there is a slight runaway leader issue.  It is possible for a payer to get all the right cards at the very start of the game, or adversely all the wrong cards, or even worse when one player gets one and another the other so that from round 2 or 3 (and the first couple of rounds play pretty quickly) it can be obvious someone is heading for the win.  I’m always happy to play as the underdog so I don’t mind this so much, but some players hate this.



A game about birds? seriously? Hell yes! The first thing you’ll notice about Wingspan is the quality of the game pieces themselves. The rulebook is made on lovely paper and the eggs are a wonderful touch and all the bird cards have great pictures and bird details on and will have your oooooh’ing and aaaahhhh’ing.  It’s a competitive game in which you will add birds to your habitats and then have them lay egg which may get your points depending on the scoring conditions for that round (randomly set out at the beginning of the game) but it’s not an aggressive game.  You all play birds into your own habitats and you need to feed them from a central supply, have them lay eggs, so you can play more bird cards in that habitat.  All the bird cards you’ll play are real birds and can teach your interesting facts about those birds like size, nest types, habitats to find them in, geographical area etc – it really is just a lovely game.  It plays over 4 rounds and in each round you have multiple actions which you take in turns.  It’s fairly easy to teach and learn, and once you have played your first round you’ll quickly pick up some of the deeper strategies (birds and eggs are worth points at the end of the game, and at the end of each round their is a bonus which you can chose to go for or not – these change ever game which is a nice touch).  A great beginners game.


There – that is my current favourite nine board games.  What do you think?





*although Franks Zoo sitting on the top of the pile makes me chuckle 🙂

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