The booming strategy board game industry has provided us with countless hours of entertainment, especially in recent years.
If you enjoy exercising your brain and crafting a constantly evolving path to victory, these ten games will be right up your alley.
Note: This list includes some popular favorites as well as some tabletop games you might not have heard of. The selections lean toward easy-to-learn games so less committed friends don’t end up easily frustrated the first time they try them out.
Let’s get playing!
1. The Golden City
Play Time: 1 Hour
Set on an island with a mythical Golden City shining from the center, the board game of the same name allows players to become merchants whose goal is to gain access to the fabled city and become the most successful adventurer. They build shops along the coast and in the villages while collection goods, keys, money, and concessions.
Newbies will appreciate this game because it’s easy to learn, while strategy buffs will love that luck barely plays a part in deciding the winner.
Play Time: 30-60 Minutes
This is another board game that is great for beginners and those skeptical about the fun in board games for adults.
Very similar to Catan (a classic that also appears on this list), Ticket to Ride turns players into railway moguls who plan North American railway routes. The goal is to create the longest routes.
It’s card-based, meaning that turns are very simple– either you draw cards, lay stake to a route, or get Destination Tickets (like side quests).
If you end up loving this game, there’s great news: a ton of versions and expansions are out there, meaning that if your board game budget is high enough, you’ll never get sick of this classic. There’s also a version for kids!
Play Time: 45 Minutes
In this classic, you draw and place tiles that feature different aspects of the French countryside (like roads, cities, and grasslands) to either aid themselves or screw over opponents. Then they place a”person” token on it and gain points accordingly.
Carcassonne may be of less interest to more serious and experienced (or dedicated!) strategy gamers because it’s not very complex.However, it’s not just luck– there is definitely an element of skill and strategy required to win. After all, there’s a reason that it’s intensely popular!
This is another game that has quite a few expansions (though not nearly as many as Ticket to Ride) so you’ll never get bored!
Play Time: 1 Hour
If you’re sick of losing friends over games, Pandemic is for you. It’s actually a cooperative game, meaning that all the players win together– or all the players lose. Be prepared, because it’s not easy.
In the world of Pandemic (a realistic map of the Earth) four diseases have broken out and it’s up to the players, who have been randomly assigned roles, to stop them.
A new version of this game, called Pandemic Legacy, has been widely renowned as the best board game ever. The game evolves and is shaped by the players, so no two owners of the game will have the same experience.
Play Time: At Least 2 Hours
Your goal, as an Earthling corporation three centuries in the future, is to make Mars habitable and lush. Specifically, you’re trying to raise the temperature, increase the oxygen level, and spread out the ocean coverage.
The art isn’t great, but if that’s not a big deal to you then you will find this game top-notch because of its intense strategy elements and the need to navigate an easy-to-learn but complex set of rules. (Think M:TG.) If you’re looking for an immersive game to last an entire Saturday,Terraforming Mars is it.
6. Axis and Allies
Play Time: Several Hours
Axis and Allies might force you to be in it for the long haul, but this classic isn’t overly complicated to learn. It will particularly appeal to history buffs because it is essentially a very realistic rendition of World War II.
Some may object to the heavy emphasis on luck, but in my opinion that just makes it more fun for players who are still getting a hang of the rules and the strategy.
The real downside, for most people, is how long the games last, commonly extending more than eight hours. If you’re up to the challenge–and prepared with snacks– it can be a very enjoyable experience!
Play Time: 30 Minutes
I have to be honest– Dominion is one of my least favorite board games, but it’s so popular and so influential it absolutely must be included on this list. It’s actually a card game– it’s the first popular card-drafting game. It’s not a TCG like Magic: The Gathering. Instead, it comes with cards of various categories that players synthesize into a deck.
One of the coolest aspects of Dominion is that there are 25Kingdom card types, from which you select ten every game. This means every single game is different! There are also a ton of expansions to choose from,meaning you can acquire over 250 card types!
Play Time: 30 Minutes
This is another game that is particularly easy to learn, but even die-hard board gamers will appreciate the almost entire lack of luck as a contributing factor to who wins.
Basically, you’re collecting and spending gems with the goal of hitting 15 prestige points. The setting, context, and theme of the game feature very little in the actual gameplay, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great time.
One of the great facets of Splendor is its quick playtime.You can bust out this game when you only have a few minutes to spare, and it’sso easy to teach that you won’t waste too much time if newbies are playing.
Play Time: Possibly Days
Risk absolutely had to make it onto this list since it’s one of the most popular games in the world. Published in 1959, it’s pretty much THE strategy board game.
Your approach to this game is all in the name, but it’s not just about what happens on the table. One feature of Risk that never gets old is the negotiation aspect. Players can strike up alliances– and double-cross each other.
While there are other board games that have improved upon the example that Risk set, every board game aficionado should get familiar with this classic.
Play Time: 90 Minutes
Finally, we come to arguably the most popular strategy board game – Catan. (It was previously known as Settlers of Catan.)
In the beginning of the game, hexagonal tiles are arranged to create a unique game board. Each player is trying to get enough of particular resources to create settlements and then cities, connecting them with roads. Other players try to thwart their efforts while also propelling their own civilizations to victory.
A key aspect of the game is negotiating and trading resources with other players, which adds a psychological element to the strategy.
Overall, it’s a very simple game, but one that many people have found endlessly entertaining.
What are your top ten strategy board games? How do you feel about those included on this list? Let us know in the comments below!