First coined during a game of Carcassonne way back in the year 2000, the humble meeple has now become the enduring symbol of our hobby. Today these tactile, wooden tokens come in all shapes and sizes, for a wide variety of games.
Let’s take a look at some of the best!
10. Odin’s Ravens
This small two player gem from Osprey Games sees players racing to be the first raven to soar back and forth across the land, before returning to Odin’s hand with news on humankind. Each player controls an intricate stained-wood raven meeple which they will glide across a stunning tableau of land cards. The game’s whole presentation is great, with a box that folds open revealing the gorgeous cards, and spaces for the meeples.
9. Ninja Camp
Another small game, this time for up to four players. Ninja Camp uses its dynamic, stylised ninja meeples to bring to life a day of intense martial arts training. Each player’s meeple has a unique pose, from ready stances to high kicks. The lighthearted art on the cards depicts each ninja as a different animal, lending a family-friendly tone to this quirky hand-management game.
8. Pixie Queen
This game had to be added to the list, largely at the request of my partner. In her defence, Pixie Queen does include a generous helping of fantastic pixie meeples as well as piles of cute wooden loaves of bread, apples, and honey pots. Being a worker placement game, player’s will spend plenty of time handling their winged wooden pixies, dropping them off at various spots to steal food from the nearby Cornish town of Truro, in their quest to satisfy the pixie queen.
7. Colt Express
Colt Express’s posse of bandits and outlaws come in the form of gun-toting, Old West meeples. Jumping and dashing from cart to cart, these thieving meeples will traverse the game’s 3D train, shooting and looting along the way. This is an incredibly frantic and tactile game thanks to its excellent 3D cardboard components and chunky coloured meeples. Just make sure you avoid that troublesome Marshall meeple!
Uwe Rosenberg’s classic worker placement farming simulator now comes with charming farmer meeples, replacing the older version’s wooden discs. Agricola is a must for meeple fans, with the game’s farmers being accompanied by scores of wooden resources, as well as sheep, cows, and pigs. If you’re after even more animeeples, get hold of the two player only Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small. This excellent, paired down version of the game introduces horse meeples!
5. Survive! Escape from Atlantis
If you’re looking for a more fantastical use of meeples then you can’t go far wrong with a game that includes a giant sea monster! This watery fiend is joined by other threats including whales and sharks. These meeples are thematically great, with the shark meeple being rather ominously represented by a fin emerging from the depths surrounding the doomed island. Of course, there’s also your unlucky group of survivors who will slot neatly into the boats needed to Escape from Atlantis!
4. Carcassonne: Princess & Dragon Expansion
Here it is, the great grandaddy of the meeples! But, rather than talk about the standard game’s iconic figures, i’d like to focus on this excellent expansion. The Princess and Dragon introduces two new meeples as well as the expected assortment of tiles. The first new figure is the fairy, a small white meeple used to grant bonus points. But even better is the introduction of the great red dragon meeple! This fiery nuisance adds some cut-throat player interaction to the mix, and looks great swooping across the growing city of Carcassonne. For more dragon meeple goodness, check out Renegade Game Studios’ Clank: A Deck Building Adventure.
Jamey Stegmaier’s penchant for creating games with stunning quality components comes to the fore with 2016’s smash hit Scythe. Aside from the lovely resources, miniatures, and game-board, Stonemaier Games’ genius engine building game offers each player their own set of unique worker meeples. Boasting varied stances and hat styles, each faction’s little figures inject that little bit more theme as you recruit them out of their recessed space on the expertly designed player boards. You may also want to check out the great meeples included in Stonemaier Games’ other releases, such as Viticulture and Charterstone.
2. Meeple Circus
If you prefer being a bit more hands on with your meeples, then take a look at Matagot’s Meeple Circus. This hilarious but challenging dexterity game tasks players with stacking a variety of high quality wooden meeples on top of each other, with one goal; entertain the audience! I won’t deny that I tend to stack my meeples precariously whatever game i’m playing, so Matagot’s decision to add some rules to this habit is great!
1. Dinosaur Island
If you want to beat a dragon meeple then you better come up with something good. Luckily, Pandasaurus Games did just that, with their Jurassic Park inspired Dinosaur Island! Whilst you’ll have to get hold of a Kickstarter edition to enjoy playing with the full variety of dino-meeples, the retail version still comes with the impressive triceratops. If that wasn’t enough, players will also control a team of safari-hatted worker meeples, and have to deal with dozens of standard visitor and hooligan meeples.