It's been awhile since my last Top 7 list, so I thought I'd jump back in with a big one. I've been addressing a bit of this with my collection building articles. These games are irrespective of genre, but instead focus on the idea that a game collection is incomplete without either owning or at least having access to the following games.
Before I start my list, there are several games which could have easily made this list, but didn't for a variety of reasons. Some of those games are: Lost Cities, Power Grid, Pandemic, For Sale, Flash Point: Fire Rescue, Say Anything, Wits and Wagers, Shadows Over Camelot, The Resistance, and Small World.
#7 Settlers of Catan
Like it, love it, or hate it, no one can deny the importance of Catan on most of our gaming lives. It is a good game to be able to pull out to introduce people to gaming, and it's a good negotiation and dice rolling game to be able to pull out with gamers. I don't own this, though I do own Star Trek Catan, but I have multiple people around me who own it, and anytime I want to play, it would be with those people. Catan doesn't need all the expansions to make it a good game, and they can overcomplicate the game sometimes.
Dominion is the current gold standard for variety and replayability. No two games are exactly the same, though some will feel similar. I'm fortunate to have a couple people who are right around my play level, so we can all give each other a good match. In ways, Dominion can become chess, where new players have almost no chance against highly experienced players, but the learning curve is far less steep.
#5 Cosmic Encounter
Cosmic is the silver standard for variety and replayability, but it beats Dominion on this list for three reasons. First, Cosmic is a deeper game. Second, Cosmic has more player interaction and ability to come from behind. Third, Cosmic gives new players the opportunity to win right away.
#4 No Thanks!
Every gamer needs a simple and quick card game. No Thanks gives players interesting choices while not punishing mistakes. There's a good amount of luck, but also some strategy that makes the game accessible to new players while also being enjoyable for gamers.
#3 Incan Gold
Incan Gold is my favorite push your luck game. Players have to calculate some of the odds in their head, but they can also rely on gut feelings. There can be crazy runs of cards sometimes, which will reward those who don't have the instinct to run, but it can also reward those who want to play it safe. I like that players have to take the choices of others into consideration since some treasures are only gained when running alone. Even though the game uses the same 35 cards each time, every game has a different feel.
#2 Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is one of those games that is so simple to explain, but offers a lot of strategic and tactical choices. There's lots of player interaction, which keeps things interesting. I know there are better train games out there, but Ticket to Ride makes this list because of it's simplicity and elegant design.
#1 King of Tokyo
Everyone needs a game where you roll lots of dice and get to do something cool with them. For me, and many others, that game is King of Tokyo. I'm not saying that KoT wins any awards for being super strategic, but it's pure simple monster mashing fan. That's what I want to play sometimes, and King of Tokyo, is the perfect game for those times.