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Top 10 Most Award Winning Games

7 wonders 2nd edition cover art

We all know that when something like a film wins an Oscar, people are much more likely to go and see it. “Other people love this, and they’ve seen more films than I have so it must be good!” is the logic and to a certain degree, that applies to board games. But when a board game wins an award, it often does increase sales because more people are hearing about it. I realise this is sounding rather cynical but there are a ton of awards given out across the year.

The Dice Tower Seal of Approval, Spiel Des Jahres, Golden Geek, all of these may appear on a box at some point which looks impressive to the non-gamers who might pick it up. For those in the know, however, odds are they already knew about that game and have made a decision about it. I know I usually have done, although this year's Spiel Des Jahres nominees list had a bunch of games on it that I didn’t recognise. And unlike with the Oscars, the games which are given awards are usually out for a while before they get such an accolade so there’s a reasonable opinion formed on them. So today, we’re talking about the most award winning games - those games which have won a whole bunch of awards in the years they were released and are great games to play. Let’s get into it.

7 Wonders

There are a couple of games on this list which can claim to be the originator of a particular mechanism, and 7 Wonders does that for card drafting. Or at the very least, it brought the mechanism into the zeitgeist of board games. It's first up on our list of most award winning games! With no less than 24 awards to its name across from 2010 to 2012, 7 Wonders takes you back to Ancient times to build one of the 7 Wonders of the world. The game is played across three ages, and in each one, you’ll draft resources from a hand of 7 cards, which will gradually reduce as it passes around the other players. The cards will either give on-going bonuses or have one-off effects, and even offer a way to progress other cards without having to pay. At the end of the three ages, the points are totalled and the highest points wins.

I like 7 Wonders, I think it’s an excellent game to introduce people to the mechanism and get them ready for a game like Isle of Cats. The original version, which is the one with the awards, did suggest being played for 2-7 players but later editions have revised this to 3-7, with the excellent 7 Wonders Duel taking the place of a two-player game. Definitely a worthy winner of the time.


Time for a game with a LOT of plaudits. This game is recorded on BGG as having 47 awards and honours (again, including nominees for awards given), spanning across 2017 to 2019. That game is Azul, a tile placement game, where you are building a mosaic in Southern Spain. Specifically the Royal Palace of Evora. You will take turns drafting coloured tiles from a series of suppliers, represented by disks, and placing them into rows to play out later. You have a number of slots in each row from one to five tiles for you to place your tiles but wastage will be punished with negative points if you overfill. There are two game modes: a fixed pattern and a freestyle board in which players can place in whichever column they like, so long as they don’t repeat colours in the row or column. Azul is a game which has a lot of replayability and a lot of variations, although I have found people often like to stick to the first one they played (don’t @ me, that’s my experience.) It’s a very simple pattern game, which is very elegantly designed and can be very quick to play, which is what a game like this should be.


The newest Spiel Des Jahres winner, Cascadia burst onto the scene last year and added to the world of tile placement, pattern-based games like its predecessor, Calico. Where Calico is quite mean, Cascadia is a calm experience where players are laying out pairs of terrain tiles and animal tokens to create the best habitat for those animals. You score points for putting the five animals into various configurations, such as pairs of bears or solitary eagles, and for your largest collective group of each terrain type. Everyone gets 20 turns to take the combinations of terrain and animals, and there is some mitigation you can use for the combinations drawn in the form of nature tokens. I love everything about this game because it is just such a nice change of pace. Although the game is competitive, it really doesn’t feel it. Award season may be over for this year, but Cascadia claimed one of the biggest prizes of all.


Ahhh Dominion. Known the world over as the original deck builder and winner of the 2009 Spiel Des Jahres and Golden Geek awards, as well as the Dice Tower Game of the Year 2008. The simplicity of Dominion withstands the test of time, as I discovered in playing it just last week. In Dominion, as with most deck builders, you start with a limited deck of small resources and then play their hands to undertake a single Action and a Buy.

An Action is described on the card and can be anything from drawing cards to taking more actions or more buys. A Buy lets you buy a card using treasure cards. You can buy from a selection of 16 different piles, of which ten (called the Kingdom Cards) will change from game to game. The game ends when three of these piles are empty or if the Province deck is empty. With 25 different Kingdom available with different strategies and combinations, there is a lot to be said for a simple deck builder without a theme. But if you want some more theme, there are a TON of expansions available, such as Menagerie, Seaside and Guilds & Cornucopia to really mix the game up for you.

Five Tribes

This is one of my personal favourites on this list. Five Tribes is a worker placement, mancala game where players will pick up a handful of meeples and move across some tiles, dropping one off as they go. Their last meeple must match one on the tile, because that will be the action you take, lifting off all meeples of that colour. The more meeples in that colour, the stronger the action will be. This includes going to market, assassinating other meeples to affect future actions, or scoring points based on the buildings around you. You also get a tile action if you want, which can be buying from market, placing palm trees and palaces, or buying djinn. If you clear the tile completely, it comes under your control and will score you extra points at the end.

There’s a whole lot of things mixed in, including a bidding mechanism using your victory points to arrange player order, and powerful djinns which give you bonus points and powers. I really love playing Five Tribes and clearly, a lot of award givers agree, winning the Board Game Quest Awards Game of the Year and the Golden Geeks for the Best Strategy Game and Best Artwork & Presentation. It is a very pretty game and there is a great deal of strategy, especially if you throw in any of the expansions.


Our next entry in the list has perhaps the widest scope of awards. Kingdomino won the Spiel Des Jahres in 2017, but it was also nominated for the Hungarian Board Game award, the Australia Awards Best International Game, Best Family Game in the Netherlands, Japan’s Prize U-more award, and several French awards. In Kingdomino, you are placing dominos to make up your kingdom. Randomly select as many tiles from the supply as there are players, then place them face up in a line from lowest number to highest. In turn order, players select which tile they want, then reveal the next batch of tiles with a new fixed turn order.

Now the first player is the person who claimed the lowest numbered tile in the previous round. They do two things: claim another tile from those just revealed and then place the tile they claimed earlier into their own expanding kingdom. Adding a tile to your kingdom means you must place so that one of the two terrain types connects to an existing one of the same type, much like in dominos, but remembering that you are limited to building five squares high by five squares wide. Points are scored at the end of the game, multiplying the number of crowns in each terrain type by the number of continuous squares in that terrain type. You can get some pretty wild scores from Kingdomino, but it comes in such a small box with a ton of replay value. Clearly, it is one that is loved the world over.

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1

Confession time. This is the only game on this list I haven’t played and it’s one that has sat on my wishlist for quite a while. Pandemic Legacy Season 1 is a former number 1 game of all time on the BGG list and it still sits in the top 10. Awarded four Golden Geeks in 2015, and nominated for the Kennerspiel Des Jahres, among a whole cluster of other awards, Pandemic Legacy S1 really launched the Legacy system.

Taking inspiration from the original Pandemic, Pandemic Legacy S1 plays the story of a group of disease-fighting specialists over the course of the year, trying to treat disease hotspots and cure each plague. What makes this different to regular Pandemic is the introduction of specific scenarios which are revealed at the beginning of the session and may include stickers which upgrade your character or permanently change the board. Some cards may get removed from the game too, making just a bit harder. I really want to give this game a go, I’ve heard such good things about it. I’ve heard there’s a twist ending, which really intrigues me, but it depends if I can find a group to play it with. One day, maybe.


Scythe is an interesting game which treads the line between Euro and Ameritrash. Set in an alternate reality 1920’s Europe, the game focuses on expanding dominance across the land for your faction whilst harvesting resources, upgrading yourself and battling your enemies. Scythe has a way of rewarding players for conducting many different types of engine-building, leading to a great variety in play styles, and doesn’t exclusively focus on combat. Hence the Euro in my Amerithrash game.

There are five factions in the base game, each with different special abilities and these are paired each game with a different economic player board. During the turn, each player chooses one of four unique actions from the player board, which also gives a secondary bonus action. These actions move the faction workers, launch mechs and leader across the board, adding buildings and even upgrade their own options by manipulating the player board.

As players complete goals, such as bringing all four of their mechs onto the board, they begin to collect stars. After a faction has gained their sixth star, this triggers the end game. If you have the most coins, you win. There’s also a full solo mode available, something Stonemaier seems to always want in their games. BGG lists 33 awards and honours (which does include nominations for awards it has won) but among them are Golden Geeks for Best Solo, Strategy, Thematic and Game of the Year in 2016.

Terraforming Mars

One of the heavier games on this list, Terraforming Mars wades into the arena. In Terraforming Mars, players are… well, terraforming Mars to make it habitable. In the 25th Century, mega corporations are fighting to make Mars profitable and inhabitable. As corporations are always gaining income, the progress you make around the scoreboard is also the income you’ll take in each generation. The way they’re making it habitable is by raising the oxygen level, temperature and ocean coverage. Once these three goals have been met, the game comes to an end and players will score their cards, as well as their current income value.

Terraforming Mars has been in the top ten of the BGG ranking list for quite some time, even with smaller versions such as Ares Expedition coming along, or games like Ark Nova which is often compared. For my money, I much prefer Terraforming Mars – I have the big 3D edition which is really lovely to play on. There’s a lot to do in the game, such as producing resources to make building cheaper and making sure you get the various milestones and awards for extra points at the end game, but I like that. So do a lot of others, because even 4 years after its release, Terraforming Mars was still winning awards and drawing people in for their newer versions.


Last but not least on our most award winning games, Wingspan dominated the Golden Geek awards in 2019, being nominated for (and winning) seven of the fourteen awards given out that year, with the European Expansion taking Expansion of the Year. In Wingspan, you are birdwatchers, trying to encourage birds to your aviary. You can take one of four actions on your turn: play a bird card; draw more bird cards; gather more food or; have your birds lay eggs. Most of the bird cards also have an ability on them, so as you play them down, you’ll not only improve the original action you’re covering but you might get a good little bonus as you play on. The rounds get progressively shorter as the game continues and you score mini objectives in each, so you have to build your engine carefully to ensure you can maximise the points.

I’ve had Wingspan for a few years and it’s a game that I’ve really grown to love for the simplicity of play but the complexity of the strategy. With a pair of excellent expansions already in the world and a third on your way, this is going to be a game I’m playing for a very long time.

Amd there you have it! Those are our picks for the top 10 most award winning board games. Let us know your favourites over on our social media @ZatuGames.