Board Games

Best Strategy Board Games – Top 20 List

Best Strategy Board Games

There are many fantastic strategy board games that are currently on the market, which can make it difficult to parse through the options and find the ones that have sensible rules, smart mechanics, and intriguing themes. While thousands of new board games enter the market every year, there are only a small selection that have staying power. If you enjoy playing high-risk games that require strong decision-making skills, the following is an in-depth guide that offers a closer look at 20 of the best strategy board games on the market today.

1. Gloomhaven – Our Best Strategy Board Game

Gloomhaven our best strategy board game

Players: 1-4 | Game Time: 60-120 minutes | Complexity: Medium Heavy | Age: 12+ | Year: 2017

At the top of our list at Gaming Weekender is best strategy board game (in our opinion) – Gloomhaven! Gloomhaven is a dungeon-crawling strategy game with some amazing artwork. The world of this game is ever-changing based on your choices and the scenarios that occur during the game. Along with the 17 playable classes that you can select from, you will also be provided with 47 different enemies, 95 scenario cards, and more than 1,700 cards that can be played during the game. As you make your way through crypts, forests, and caves, you will act as a wandering adventurer who must make the right tactical decisions when you come across a new enemy.

After every scenario, each player has a decision to make on how to move on, which dictates how the story will continue. During each scenario, you will join the other players to fight against the monsters that arise. Over time, you can lose your permanent cards, which means that you could be forced to retreat from a cave or dungeon before claiming victory. In order to complete the game, you will need to finish every scenario, which means that the game could last for months. This game can be played by 1-4 players. Gloomhaven is one of our favorite games out right now, and also tops the list of the best solo board games.

Where to Buy: Amazon

2. Terraforming Mars

Terraforming Mars

Players: 1-5 | Game Time: 120 minutes | Complexity: Medium Heavy | Age: 12+ | Year: 2016

Terraforming Mars is a unique board game that takes place in the 2400’s with the initial stages of terraforming the planet of Mars. In order to successfully terraform Mars, giant corporations are competing against each other to increase the oxygen level, spread the ocean coverage, and raise temperatures so that the world is suitable for daily life. While victory points are awarded for your overall contribution to the goal of terraforming Mars, these points can also be given for any commendable achievement you make in the solar system.

The cards that you can acquire throughout the game represent plant life, animals, asteroids, buildings, and cities. At the end of the game, you want to be in control of the most ocean, greenery, and city tiles, which will give you the most points. Separate game boards are available for keeping track of your resources. This game can be played by 1-5 players.

Where to Buy: Amazon

3. Star Wars Rebellion

Star Wars Rebellion board game

Players: 2-4 | Game Time: 180-240 minutes | Complexity: Medium Heavy | Age: 14+ | Year: 2016

Star Wars Rebellion is a great board game for any fan of the Star Wars universe. The main conflict in this game is between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire. Likely the best aspect of this board game is that it comes with more than 150 plastic miniatures that help to make the board seem more alive. Take control of the Empire to discover and wipe out the small base of the Rebel Alliance. You will need to act quick. As you make your moves, the Rebel Alliance will be using sabotage and guerilla tactics to gain the upper hand.

Each side has different tactics that they can use. During the game, you will control armies as well as individual characters like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Success in this game depends on how many vehicles, troops, and starships you can amass. Victory occurs for the Galactic Empire if they conquer the location of the Rebel base. For the Rebel Alliance, victory comes if time has run out. This game can be played by 2-4 players.

Where to Buy: Amazon

4. Twilight Struggle

Twilight Struggle

Players: 2 | Game Time: 120-180 minutes | Complexity: Medium Heavy | Age: 13+ | Year: 2005

Twilight Struggle is a historical strategy board
game that’s set during the Cold War and spans from 1945-1989. During this game, you can play as the Soviet Union or United States. The board that this game is played on is essentially a map of the world. You will also be provided with 110 event cards and 260 counters to play with. This is a quick-playing game that isn’t overly complex, which makes it suitable for teenagers as well as adults.

As you play the game, you will move your units to gain control of the map and forge alliances with other nations. You will have limited resources, which means that you might want to use your best cards during a later turn. Each turn has 6-7 action rounds, during which you can play a card. While the game can end with a nuclear war, victory is determined by controlling Europe, having DEFCON drop to one during an opponent’s turn, or getting through turn 10. Whoever has the most victory points after turn 10 will win. This game can be played by two players.

Where to Buy: Amazon

5. Scythe

Scythe

Players: 1-5 | Game Time: 90-115 minutes | Complexity: Medium | Age: 14+ | Year: 2016

Scythe is a board game with a futuristic steampunk atmosphere despite the fact that it’s set during the 1920’s. Set after the Great War, the five factions of Europa vie to capture a territory known as “The Factory”, which is an area of the world that fueled the development of strong mechs during the war. The five factions are competing to gain control of this land as a means of establishing their faction as the leader of Europa.

As you make your way across the game board, you will build your faction, boost your defenses, and conquer any surrounding lands. There are numerous paths to victory, which means that this is a highly varied game with ample amounts of replayability. This game can be played by 1-5 players.

Where to Buy: Amazon

6. Viticulture

Viticulture

Players: 1-6 | Game Time: 45-90 minutes | Complexity: Medium | Age: 13+ | Year: 2015

Viticulture is a more unique strategy board

game where the goal is to build the largest vineyard with the most delicious wine. Among the 118 cards are 42 wine cards, 18 field cards, and 36 wine order cards. You start out the game with a very small vineyard and only three workers.

Your first order of business should be to bring in more visitors and gain new workers, which will allow you to expand your vineyard by fulfilling wine orders, planting grape vines, and building structures. You will need to obtain 20 victory points to win. You can gain victory points by properly expanding your vineyard during the spring, summer, fall, and winter seasons. This game can be played by 2-6 players.

Where to Buy: Amazon

7. Agricola

Agricola

Players: 1-5 | Game Time: 30-150 minutes | Complexity: Medium Heavy | Age: 13+ | Year: 2007

Agricola is a competitive and strategic farming game where you try to develop and effectively run a farm. As you play, you will need to build fences and collect resources like clay, wood, and stone. The primary goal in this game is to build a farm that’s bigger and more successful than the farms of the other players. During each round, you will have one turn for each member of your family, which is just you and a spouse at the beginning. In order to have children and gain more turns during a round, you will need to create an additional room for each house.

If you choose to go this route, you will be using up valuable resources that could be spent on building a fence or growing your crops. You will have 14 cards that you can play as well. These cards must be used at strategic times. While you could make improvements to your farm with one of these cards, it might be better to go on the defensive in response to a move made by your competition.

This turn-based game ends after 14 standard game turns and six harvest phases. This game can be played by 1-5 players.

Where to Buy: Amazon

8. Power Grid

Power Grid

Players: 2-6 | Game Time: 120 minutes | Complexity: Medium | Age: 12+ | Year: 2004

Power Grid is a strategy board game where analytical skills are required. Your goal during this game is to bid against other players in order to purchase power plants. Throughout the game, more efficient power plants will become available to the players. Decisions will need to be made on whether to purchase the new and more efficient power plant or to obtain superior equipment for your existing plants.

Resource management is absolutely essential when playing this game. As you gather resources like uranium, coal, and oil, you will need to supply more cities with power plants. Once the entire board has been filled up with power plants, the victor will be named. Victory is obtained by powering the most cities with electricity. This game can be played by 2-6 players.

Where to Buy: Amazon

9. Root

Root

Players: 2-4 | Game Time: 60-90 minutes | Complexity: Medium Heavy | Age: 10+ | Year: 2018

Root is a popular strategy board game that can be played by up to four players. The game is set in a forest kingdom that’s rules by woodland creatures. If you want to start the game with an ample amount of power, you can play as Marquise de Cat. They rule much of the kingdom with an iron fist and can quickly stamp out any uprising. Members of the Eyrie are birds of prey that can cover large areas of land in moments.

Players who join the Woodland Alliance use guerilla tactics to surprise and ambush the enemy. The Vagabond is perfectly fine with sitting back and waiting until an oppressed player requires support. Once you’ve selected your preferred faction, you can start playing. Each turn is separated into three distinct phases of birdsong, daylight, and evening. You can win the game by scoring 30 points or by completing a dominance card.

The faction that you join dictates how you will play and score points. For instance, members of the Woodland Alliance are able to score by bolstering sympathy for their noble cause across the land. On the other hand, Marquise de Cat scores by constructing buildings. This game can be played by 2-4 players for the standard edition or 1-6 players with the Riverfolk expansion.

Where to Buy: Amazon

10. 7 Wonders

7 Wonders
Players: 2-7 | Game Time: 30 minutes | Complexity: Medium Light | Age: 10+ | Year: 2010

The 7 Wonders game is regarded as one of the best strategy board games where players are tasked with representing an ancient civilization while competing against other civilizations. During the game, you will need to focus on developing your cities and creating cultural centers that the citizens can rally behind. Likely the best aspect of this strategy game is that there are many disparate paths to victory. Victory points are awarded for building landmarks, constructing a wonder of the world, forming an army, or making a scientific discovery.

The game itself lasts for three ages, which means that there’s a time limit for gathering points. In each of the three ages, the players are provided with seven cards apiece from a specific deck. Each player can choose one of these seven cards to begin with. When the cards are revealed, you can collect resources, pay resources, or trade with other players. This process will continue with more cards being drawn until each player has six separate cards in front of them. When this occurs, the second age starts and the process begins anew. Some of the cards that you receive will go into effect immediately. On the other hand, certain cards will provide you with resources that can be used in the latter stages of the game. The player with the most development points at the conclusion of the third age wins the game. This game can be played by 2-7 players.

Where to Buy: Amazon

11. Lords of Waterdeep

Lords of Waterdeep

Players: 2-5 | Game Time: 60-120 minutes | Complexity: Medium Light | Age: 12+ | Year: 2012

Lords of Waterdeep is a classic board game that’s set within the popular Dungeons and Dragons world. The setting is Waterdeep, which is considered to be the greatest city of the Forgotten Realms. You will play as one of the five lords of Waterdeep and will be tasked with hiring adventurers to complete the quests that you are given. When the adventurers you hire complete quests, you will gain rewards and increase the influence that you have in Waterdeep.

You can expand the main city during your turn by purchasing buildings that provide you with new quests. You can also use your turn to play an intrigue card, which gives you the opportunity to hinder or help the other lords of Waterdeep. Completing quests allows you to net victory points. The player with the most victory points after the eighth round of play wins the game and is named the sole ruler of Waterdeep. This game can be played by 2-5 players.

Where to Buy: Amazon

12. Pandemic

Pandemic

Players: 2-4 | Game Time: 45 minutes | Complexity: Medium Light | Age: 8+ | Year: 2008

Pandemic is an intense strategy board game with a strict 60-minute playing time. Your goal during this game is to race against the clock while developing a cure for the deadly disease that’s spreading across the world. If you are unable to develop this cure in time, all of humanity could be wiped out. When you’re playing this cooperative game, you will be required to travel all over the world to treat infections and cure each of the four diseases.

In order to complete the game on time, you will need to set up research stations in different cities that can help you develop a cure. Collecting five cards of the same color allows you to develop a cure for the disease. This game can be played by 2-4 players with the standard edition or 2-5 players with the On The Brink expansion. Pandemic also appears on our list of 21 Best Cooperative Board Games.

Where to Buy: Amazon

13. A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones

Players: 3-6 | Game Time: 120-240 minutes | Complexity: Medium Heavy | Age: 14+ | Year: 2011

A Game of Thrones is based on the popular “A Song of Fire and Ice” novels. You will be able to take control of one of six Great Houses of Westeros, which include fan favorites like the Lannisters and the Starks. Your goal during this game is to use diplomacy, war, espionage, and politics in order to defeat the other houses and gain control of the Iron Throne. The average playing time for this game is around three hours.

Over the course of the game, you will have ten rounds to make your moves and gain control of territory surrounding your kingdom. The player who has the most territory at the end of the ten rounds is deemed the winner. A unique facet of this board game is that cooperation with another player is possible. It may be wise to forge an alliance for a round or two to fend off another kingdom. Once the alliance is finished and you have what you wanted, you can break the alliance in an instant. When playing this game, you’ll find that it’s based entirely on strategy, which means that luck is never a component. This game can be played by 3-6 players.

Where to Buy: Amazon

14. Carcassonne

Carcassonne

Players: 2-5 | Game Time: 30-45 minutes | Complexity: Medium Light | Age: 7+ | Year: 2000

Carcassonne is a classic strategy game that requires you to develop the small town of Carcassonne by building roads, fields, cities, and cloisters. This is a fast-paced game that can be completed in as little as 45 minutes. Your goal when playing is to develop your territory on the board better than the other players. Once you place a tile on the board, you will need to outfit the land or river tile with a meeple, which can be a monk, knight, thief, or farmer.

Each type of meeple is able to score points differently and can only move on one type of land. For instance, thieves can only move on roads. It’s also impossible to move into a tile that’s currently being used by another player. The player with the most points after all tiles have been placed on the board will be deemed the winner. This game can be played by 2-5 players with the standard edition or 6-8 players with the expansion.

Where to Buy: Amazon

15. Small World

Small World

Players: 2-5 | Game Time: 40-80 minutes | Complexity: Medium Light | Age: 8+ | Year: 2009

Small World is a fun board game where the world is too small to contain all the different types of creatures that inhabit the land. You will have the ability to take control of humans, dwarves, wizards, orcs, amazons, and giants, which are just some of the 14 separate fantasy races that are available to you. The point of this game is to gather enough troops to start occupying land and conquering some nearby pieces of land that are currently ruled by other players. Keep in mind that some characters are invariably stronger than others, which is why alliances must be forged. There are also 20 special powers that can help you tip the balance in your favor.

If your civilization is about to be defeated, you can send the pieces that you hold into decline before joining a new race and testing your luck there. This game consists of 8-10 rounds, during which you gain a single point for each territory you control. The player with the most points at the end of these turns wins the game. This game can be played by 2-5 players with the standard edition or 2-6 players with the expansion.

Where to Buy: Amazon

16. Catan

Catan

Players: 3-4 | Game Time: 60-120 minutes | Complexity: Medium Light | Age: 10+ | Year: 1995

Catan is among the most popular strategy board games ever made so of course we had to include it on our list of the best strategy board games (You have to listen to the people!). Your goal is to become the mightiest force on Catan Island, which you can accomplish by building roads, settlements, and larger cities. During the game, you will spend your time collecting the resources that are needed to make these creations.While Catan is relatively easy to learn, it can be difficult to master.

The game board that you’re provided with is outfitted with 19 separate hexes of terrain that are directly surrounded by ocean. These terrain hexes can produce all kinds of resources, which include grain, lumber, brick, wool, and ore. A singular desert hex can also be found on the game board, which doesn’t provide players with any resources. The resources that you obtain throughout the game can be used for the creation of roads, settlements, and cities on different area of the board. You and every other player will start with two roads and two settlements. Each roll that you take with the dice will allow you to obtain more resources.

Eventually, you can combine some of these resources to purchase other cards, build new settlements/roads, or upgrade your current settlements to cities. Players can trade among themselves during the game. The robber piece mentioned previously can also be used to steal resources if you’re careful. The main objective of this game is to collect 10 victory points. One settlement is equal to one victory point. On the other hand, every city gives you two victory points. Building the largest army or longest road will also provide you with a victory point. This game can be played by 3-4 players with the standard edition or 5-6 players with the expansions.

Where to Buy: Amazon

17. Betrayal at House on the Hill

Betrayal at House on the Hill

Players: 3-6 | Game Time: 60 minutes | Complexity: Medium Light | Age: 12+ | Year: 2004

Betrayal at House on the Hill is a horror strategy game that comes with different rooms to explore, stats for the character you control, and dozens of frightening scenarios that can arise during the game. As you explore each room, you will uncover secrets of the house that could help you escape and get out of there alive.

One of the more intriguing elements of this game is that a traitor always exists among the players who are with you, which you must be ready to defeat at all times. During each scenario, you will be tasked with making difficult decisions, which means that this game can last anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours. Victory occurs when you defeat the heroes or take out the traitor. This game can be played by 3-6 players.

Where to Buy: Amazon

18. Diplomacy

Diplomacy

Players: 2-7 | Game Time: 360 minutes | Complexity: Medium | Age: 12+ | Year: 1959

Diplomacy is a highly popular board game that’s based entirely on skill and strategy. The game begins at the turn of the 20th century. You will have the opportunity to play as one of the seven great European countries at the time, which include Italy, Russia, Germany, Great Britain, France, Turkey, and Austria-Hungary. Throughout the game, large military forces will be at your command while you make important political decisions. You can make allies and stab them in the back when you’ve achieved your goal.

The main goal as you move across the board is to claim supply centers that will allow you to effectively reinforce your armies. The game is based on four stages, which include diplomacy, orders, movements that carry out orders, and the addition or removal of armies. Since negotiation and the creation of alliances is paramount with this game, it can take hours to complete. This game can be played by 2-7 players.

Where to Buy: Amazon

19. Labyrinth

Labyrinth

Players: 2-4 | Game Time: 45 minutes | Complexity: Medium Light | Age: 10+ | Year: 2007

Labyrinth is a strategy board game that’s perfect for the entire family. The game board that you play on with other characters is a labyrinthine maze that players must escape. Since you’ll be competing against other players, you will need to find the shortest route out of the maze before the other players reach their goal.

What makes the game more difficult than might be anticipated is that there are treasures throughout the maze that must be claimed. Only after you find all objects will you be able to leave the game board. The mythical creatures that you can play as include a ghost, dragon, genie, princess, bat, or owl. This game can be played by 2-4 players.

Where to Buy: Amazon

20. Risk

Risk

Players: 2-6 | Game Time: 120 minutes | Complexity: Medium Light | Age: 10+ | Year: 1959

Rounding out our list of the best strategy board games, is a well-known classic – Risk. Risk is a classic strategy board game where your sole goal is to take control of the world. You will need to conquer enemy territories, which can be done by developing an army, moving your troops in, and battling against your enemy. When you come across an enemy, a roll of the dice will determine who wins. The five armies that you can take control of are differentiated by green, yellow, orange, purple, and blue colors.

There are also several different ways to play the game, which allows you to experience completely new scenarios each time you play. In the standard method of play, victory occurs when a player is able to defeat all of their enemies and take control of every territory on the board. While luck plays a part in this game, strategy is required to move throughout the board with agility and precision. This game can be played by 2-6 players.

Where to Buy: Amazon

Best Strategy Board Games – Conclusion

Each of these strategy board games offers something different for you to experience. While some of the best strategy board games take place in common fantasy or medieval settings, others require you to make your way through a haunted house or stop a disease before it wipes out the world’s population. No matter where your interests lie, you’re certain to find a game that intrigues you.

About the author

Mike Jones

As a child of the 80's, my fondest gaming memories are playing Pitfall, Frogger, Kaboom! and Chopper Command on our old Atari 8600. These days I've been rocking the Nintendo Classic and learning some new card and board games with the family.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.