1 Cosmic Encounter
I was introduced to this at University, so history plays a part in this for me. What I really like is the diversity of options, and different ways in which the game can evolve. I prefer playing with 5 powers dealt and you choose 3, because the combinations are amazing and you cannot predict what a good hand of cards is.
This is now my closer of choice in my games group and has also racked up many plays. Although it covers 4-6 players (itself an unusual range), I find that 4 players is the sweet spot. Three suits of 1-20 cards are the simplest form of card deck that you can imagine, but the brilliant scoring system makes the game a top game.
Business games and train games are great bedfellows and I have enjoyed them all.
4 Puerto Rico
Another game that has hundreds of plays. I love the new ideas in it – roles, impact of the lead role and the timing of selections. As near a perfect game as I can get.
Another business game the best aspect was the market force cards that evolve market conditions and cause players to react accordingly.
I grew up on role playing with D&D and this is the modern board gaming version. It looks good, feels good and by golly, it does you good.
7 Through the Ages
This is another evolution game, with planning at its heart. I love the changes that unravel as the game goes forward. It is slightly fiddly to play but got to be in my desert island when I get stuck there.
8 Settlers of Catan Card Game
I love card games and developmental games and this is a top game. Like Cosmic Encounter you can add more elements and this widens your choice. I have never bored of the options and the brilliance of this 2 player game.
9 Combat Commander
I like war games and this one in particular as it paints a picture of change that can wreck your plans or delight you. Brilliant systems and it features cards so it must be pretty good.
My original top 10 game as it combines planning, resource management, trading, war and a clever system with your soldiers/money and markers all drawn from the same source so you have to be careful to balance these correctly.