The 30 Best Strategy Board Games for Every Player

Latest posts by Arthur Monteclar (see all)

To some, a fun game is a game that can stimulate your mind. It is a game that forces you to think hard about your next big step to achieve victory. Honestly, I am one of those people because a win is more satisfying when you know that it was your big brain moments that led you to that point. These games that make you use logic and reasoning are understood as strategy games.

Strategy games have existed for a very long time, even dating back to the age of Egyptian pharaohs and Roman emperors. For example, historians discovered a historical strategy game known as Nine Men’s Morris, which people played as early as 1400 BC. Another great example is chess, which still dominates the globe up to this day. You can even go on Twitch and find streamers playing chess online.

Indeed, strategy games are an essential footnote in human history because it proves how even back then, people used their developed brains to make something fun out of it. In this article, I will be showcasing some of the most fun strategy games ever made. This list is a mix of personal favorites and the collective thought process of the internet.

Bottom Line Up Front

Here are strategy board games that I would recommend for beginners that you can try out:

  • Ticket to Ride (2 to 5 players)
  • Catan (3 to 4 players)
  • Pandemic (2 to 4 players)
  • 7 Wonders (2 to 7 players)
  • Wingspan (1 to 5 players)

For the more advanced strategic games, my recommendations are:

  • Lords of Waterdeep (2 to 5 players)
  • Everdell (1 to 4 players)
  • Terraforming Mars (1 to 5 players)
  • Scythe (1 to 5 players)
  • Agricola (1 to 5 players)
  • Root (2 to 4 players)

What are strategy board games?

A strategy board game is a game wherein the players’ decisions play a vital role in the outcome. Sometimes, players must make plans on what they should do to achieve victory. These games require immense decision-making skills and high situational awareness. You often would also think about what your opponent would do next and use that insight to determine your next course of action.

Oftentimes, there is little to no randomness in these games, such as chess, where the game flow depends entirely on the players’ actions. However, some strategy games have randomness, but this randomness is output randomness. As one of my favorite YouTubers describes it, output randomness is when a game randomizes certain elements. It is up to the player how to deal with them to win.

Top 10 strategy board games for beginners

I find sad about board games that people tend to be afraid of learning how to play one. Board games do not have to be so complex. Sometimes, the fun games are the ones that are simple to play. If you are one of the people who are looking into getting into the hobby, then here is my list of top ten strategy board games that I would recommend you play.

Ticket to Ride (2004)

  • Number of players: 2 to 5
  • Average playtime: 30 to 60 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 8+

In Ticket to Ride, players collect cards of different types of train cards that they can use to claim railway routes. The game’s objective is to have the most points by the end, and there are many ways to do that. You either draw cards, claim a route, or obtain more Destination Tickets each turn.

The longer your railway routes are, the more points you earn. Furthermore, you can earn points by fulfilling specific goals like connecting distant cities. Additional points are also given to the player who builds the longest continuous road.

Carcassonne (2000)

  • Number of players: 2 to 5
  • Average playtime: 30 to 45 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 7+

Carcassonne is a board game about strategically placing tiles and meeples. First, players place tiles with certain landscapes on them like cities, roads, cloisters, grasslands, or a combination of these structures. You put these tiles adjacent to similar titles that are on the board.

The game’s objective is to have the most points by the end. You can earn these points by placing your meeples on the areas of the tiles. Each room has different methods of scoring. For example, a player with a meeple on a cloister gets nine points if the tile is completely surrounded by other tiles.

Citadels (2000)

  • Number of players: 2 to 8
  • Average playtime: 20 to 60 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 10+

At the start of Citadels, players have several building cards with them. They can use these cards to erect buildings, and the game ends when a player successfully erects their eighth building. The objective is to have the highest score by the end.

Each round, players have distinct roles representing characters they hire. These roles help acquire gold and erect buildings. Every turn, players can earn two or more gold or draw two building cards and discard one.

Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure (2016)

  • Number of players: 2 to 4
  • Average playtime: 30 to 60 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 12+

Be prepared to go on an adventure, fight your way against monsters and dragons, and get valuable loot in Clank! This game is about building your deck and using the cards to do three specific things. First, Skill Cards allow the player to get new cards.

Next, Swords Cards allow the player to fight the monsters in the dungeon. Finally, Boots Cards enable the player to move on the board. The game has two objectives: get the Artifact token, escape the dungeon, and earn points to beat your opponents.

Catan (1995)

  • Number of players: 3 to 4
  • Average playtime: 60 to 120 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 10+

You and your friends are settlers on a brand-new land named Catan, and everyone is trying to claim the land for their own. The game’s objective is to become the first player to earn a certain number of points, and you earn points through several actions.

You can build settlements, cities, and roads. You can earn additional points for achieving specific goals like having the longest route. Building these structures requires resources, so during each player’s turn, they roll a six-sided dice to determine which tiles will produce a resource.

7 Wonders (2010)

  • Number of players: 2 to 7
  • Average playtime: 30 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 10+

Every player in this board game is a leader of one of the seven greatest cities of the Ancient World. You win the game by having the most significant number of points at the end, and you need to develop your city to become a magnificent one to earn points.

You can make your city excel by gathering resources, developing trading routes, and dominating with your military supremacy. The game is played at three ages, and at each age, every player receives seven cards. Choosing the right cards will lead you to victory and success.

Small World (2009)

  • Number of players: 2 to 5
  • Average playtime: 40 to 80 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 8+

The world is too small for you and your friends, so you compete against each other to control it. This game is a fantasy setting, so you can expect a whole cast of wacky characters like dwarves, wizards, orcs, and giants.

Strategic planning comes by picking the right combination of the vast races with unique special powers. Players race to become the most expansive empire of them all using these resources. The objective of the game is to collect the most coins.

Dominion (2008)

  • Number of players: 2 to 4
  • Average playtime: 30 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 13+

If you want to feel like royalty trying to take over other monarchs around you, this game is for you. You do not want to be like your parents, who became rulers of a small kingdom. Instead, you want to have dominion! However, the other players also aim to have dominion.

The game’s goal is to make the right decisions to earn victory points by the end. You can hire minions you can command, construct structures and buildings to develop your dominion, and earn more gold for your treasury.

Pandemic (2008)

  • Number of players: 2 to 4
  • Average playtime: 45 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 8+

The real world became plagued with a pandemic that every scientist around the globe desperately tried to find a cure. Pandemic visualizes that as a strategic cooperative game among friends and family. Several viral diseases roam around in the game, and it is your job to beat them.

Everyone must work together to eradicate the four plagues before they become a massive pain in the butt. Players can use their turn to travel between cities, treat people with the infection, find a cure, or construct research stations.

Wingspan (2019)

  • Number of players: 1 to 5
  • Average playtime: 40 to 70 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 10+

Bird watching is a fun hobby to have, and Wingspan lets you experience that interest through the form of a board game. You play as a bird enthusiast trying to discover and find the best birds. The different combinations of birds have a powerful chain reaction in a habitat.

The game’s objective is to have the most points after four rounds. You earn points based on the birds or eggs you have in a given habitat or nest type. If you are interested in this board game, they even developed it as a video game on Steam!

Top 10 strategy board games for intermediate players

So, you think you are not a beginner, but you are not too invested in the hobby. You have ascended from a newbie to strategy games and are now an intermediate player. Do not fret because I also have a list of ten strategy board games I would recommend.

Lords of Waterdeep (2012)

  • Number of players: 2 to 5
  • Average playtime: 1 to 2 hours
  • Suitable for ages: 12+

If you played Dungeons and Dragons campaigns centered on the official setting, the chances are that you are familiar with Waterdeep. For those who don’t know, Waterdeep is known as the City of Splendors. Different types of thieves exist, from the cutthroats to the politicians.

You and your friends play as the secret rulers of the city known as the masked Lords of Waterdeep. You recruit adventurers and command them to do your bidding. You earn rewards, and by the end of the game, the player with the most points wins.

Stone Age (2008)

  • Number of players: 2 to 4
  • Average playtime: 60 to 90 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 10+

The Stone Age was a hard time in humanity’s history. Our ancestors lived as hunters, collectors, farmers, and tool makers. They constantly found new ways to innovate and make life easier, but it was not an easy process. This game makes you realize all of this experience.

In Stone Age, you play as our ancestors during that era. You collect valuable resources like wood, break stones to make useful tools, and more. There are three phases in the game, each with a different function. The player with the most scores by the end wins!

Everdell (2018)

  • Number of players: 1 to 4
  • Average playtime: 40 to 80 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 13+

Everdell focuses on a civilization of forest dwellers found within the charming valley of Everdell. Many years have passed, and it is time to claim new territories, settle on new lands, and establish new cities. Each player plays as the leader of a group of these critters.

Players take turns in the game, and on every turn, players can either place a worker, play a card, or prepare for the next season. The looming threat of winter coming is present, so you must be ready to face it. The player with the city having the most points wins.

Five Tribes (2014)

  • Number of players: 2 to 4
  • Average playtime: 40 to 80 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 13+

You and your friends play as strangers on a caravan arriving in the fabled Sultanate of Naqala. However, the sultan of this city-state died, and now the seat of power is free for grabs. The prophecies foretold of strangers who would arrive, gain influence, and rise in power.

The game has different ways to achieve victory. You can move assassins, elders, and builders through the land, claim oases, and even summon and control djinns! A winning strategy is necessary, and your moves must be calculated to win this game.

Blood Rage (2015)

  • Number of players: 2 to 4
  • Average playtime: 60 to 90 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 14+

Ragnarök has arrived, signaling the end of the world. Each player controls a Viking clan full of warriors, a leader, and a ship. It is your last chance to die gloriously to secure your spot in Valhalla at Odin’s battalions.

Securing a seat at the grand doors of Valhalla can be achieved through several methods. You can invade and pillage lands to earn its rewards and resources, crush opposing forces in ferocious battles, complete quests, and more.

Race for the Galaxy (2007)

  • Number of players: 2 to 4
  • Average playtime: 30 to 60 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 12+

Race for the Galaxy is a card game where players build civilizations on a galactic level. The cards represent various elements in the game’s context like different worlds, technical developments, or social advancements. You utilize these cards to develop your civilization.

Each card has a distinct function. For example, some worlds produce goods for the player to use later to their advantage. At the beginning of the game, each player secretly picks a role, and this role affects their gameplay.

The Castles of Burgundy (2011)

  • Number of players: 2 to 4
  • Average playtime: 30 to 90 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 12+

Imagine this: you are an aristocrat in the Burgundy region of High Medieval France, and your goal is to build settlements and mighty castles, trade goods along the river, use silver mines to your advantage, and so much more. Welcome to The Castles of Burgundy.

The game has five phases, each with five rounds. The game automatically ends after the last player’s turn during the last phase’s last round. The victor is the player who has the most victory points by the end. You garner victory points through different means.

 Concordia (2013)

  • Number of players: 2 to 5
  • Average playtime: 100 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 13+

In Concordia, you play as a leader of a mighty Roman dynasty trying to expand its reach to the remote realms of the Roman Empire. Your dynasty thrived during an era of peace and harmony where the economy flourished. Now you must help your dynasty to become even better.

Concordia does not rely on the randomness of some dice. Instead, it depends on every player’s strategic ability and thinking. At the start of the game, each player has a set of cards, and as the game proceeds, everyone acquires more. The player with the most VPs from the gods by the end wins.

Terraforming Mars (2016)

  • Number of players: 1 to 5
  • Average playtime: 120 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 12+

Humanity has achieved an incredible feat by the 2400s; people are now terraforming Mars for their benefit. Large corporations backed by Earth’s world government started projects that would alter the planet and make it livable.

You and your friends play as one of these corporations, and together, you strive to make Mars habitable. However, there is only one winner of this game. It is the corporation that has contributed the most to terraforming the planet.

Power Grid (2004)

  • Number of players: 2 to 6
  • Average playtime: 120 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 12+

When someone’s network gains a predetermined size, it is your job to supply the most cities with power; this is the goal when playing Power Grid. Players determine the routes connecting cities and bid among each other to buy the power plants that can power up the cities.

However, you cannot power up these power plants without vital resources like coal, oil, garbage, and uranium. It is your job to gather them up and upgrade your power plants to maximize efficiency.

Top 10 strategy board games for veterans

You consider yourself a master of strategy board games. You have looked into the abyss of intense logical thinking and reasoning, and the abyss stared back. You longed for more, so I give you my top ten recommendations, dear professional strategy board game enthusiast.

Puerto Rico (2002)

  • Number of players: 3 to 5
  • Average playtime: 90 to 150 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 12+

You play as a colonial governor of Puerto Rico. Your goal as a player is to earn victory points by shipping resources to Europe or erecting structures and buildings. At the start of the game, everyone has a small board with spaces where you can make city buildings, plantations, and more.

Every round, players must take turns choosing a role on the table and fulfilling an action depending on the role. Your actions determine the resources you will amass, which will be useful in earning victory points.

Scythe (2016)

  • Number of players: 1 to 5
  • Average playtime: 90 to 115 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 14+

You are in Europa in the 1920s, where the scars of the first great war are still fresh in the people’s memories. The Factory, a capitalistic city-state, provided nations with weaponry during the war, but now it has closed its doors. Nearby countries are eyeing this golden opportunity.

You and your friends play as one of the five factions of Eastern Europe, and you aim to earn your fortune by claiming your stake in the land around the city-state. You take territories, recruit soldiers, gather resources, and more for the sake of your faction.

Twilight Struggle (2005)

  • Number of players: 2
  • Average playtime: 120 to 180 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 13+

By the end of the Second World War, two giant nations stood against each other. They silently watched the other, sharpening their knives whenever the other finally attacked. This war was not fought with soldiers and tanks but rather with spies and politicians.

Welcome to the Cold War, the primary setting of the Twilight Struggle. One player plays as the United States while the other plays as the Soviet Union. There are many ways to win the game, such as controlling Europe, starting a nuclear war, etc.

Agricola (2007)

  • Number of players: 1 to 5
  • Average playtime: 30 to 150 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 12+

You are a farmer living in a wooden shack with your wife and child. You think of growing your family at some point, but that is a hard decision to make. You need to gather more resources to expand your house or harvest more food to feed more children.

Agricola is a strategy game in the sense that you must choose what to do next for the sake of your family. The game spans 14 rounds occurring in six stages, and by the end of the last round, the player with the most Victory Points on their scoring sheet wins.

Tzolkin: The Mayan Calendar (2012)

  • Number of players: 2 to 4
  • Average playtime: 90 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 13+

You travel back to the era of the ancient Mayans, and you play as a representation of the different Mayan tribes. You must choose where to place your workers on giant connected gears, but be careful because these gears will rotate and move your workers.

Where your workers are is important because the position determines what they will perform upon picking them up. The game ends after the main Tzolkin gear entirely revolves. There are many ways to win this game, such as building temples to please the gods.

Great Western Trail (2016)

  • Number of players: 2 to 4
  • Average playtime: 75 to 150 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 12+

In Great Western Trail, you play as a 19th-century rancher in America, where you herd cattle from Texas to Kansas City. However, moving your cattle through the trail is not an easy task. You need to keep your herd in good condition. How do you do this?

You can hire more competent staff to take care of your herd. You can employ builders to erect buildings. You can hire engineers to improve the railroad line. By strategically using your resources, you can win by having the most victory points.

Root (2018)

  • Number of players: 2 to 4
  • Average playtime: 60 to 90 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 12+

Trouble is brewing in the great woodland as the evil Marquise de Cat seizes control of the area. Of course, the varying forest creatures defy this conquest. They have formed an alliance to strengthen their resources with one goal in mind.

However, other factions are up to no good too. The Vagabonds aim to gain fame in the middle of the conflict, while the Eyrie Dynasties seek to reclaim their past glory by retaking the woodland. In Root, you play as one of these factions and fulfill your goal.

Gloomhaven (2017)

  • Number of players: 1 to 4
  • Average playtime: 1 to 2 hours
  • Suitable for ages: 14+

You play as a wandering adventurer with special abilities and a reason for setting out on this journey. Players work cooperatively to sweep dungeons and forgotten ruins for their loot and experience. Gloomhaven gives the players scenarios where they can choose what to do.

The players’ decisions will affect where their journey will take them. The players must also be careful when diving into dangerous dungeons, as they might lose to unwavering perils. There are a ton of scenarios to unlock, heroes to play, and quests to complete.

Terra Mystica (2012)

  • Number of players: 2 to 5
  • Average playtime: 60 to 150 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 12+

Strategic planning is a must in this game as each player governs one of the 14 different groups of people in seven landscapes in the land of Terra Mystica. Players must carefully use their resources to progress and develop their people.

You can build different structures that can produce resources, increase your population, earn money, unlock special abilities, and more. You guide your civilization to great heights by terraforming your surroundings to fit your needs.

Spirit Island (2017)

  • Number of players: 1 to 4
  • Average playtime: 90 to 120 minutes
  • Suitable for ages: 14+

The great powers of Europe stretch their empires far and wide, but they have not reached the most distant reaches of the world yet. There, magic remains strong, and embodiments of spirits exist. When these colonizers reach this mystical island, they are in the fight of their life.

Spirit Island is all about defending a magical island from European colonizers. You play as the different spirits, and each spirit has its own unique elemental power. The settlers will do their best to defy your will, so you must do your best to make them go away with your strength.

Frequently Answered Questions

Question: How do I create a strategy board game?

Answer: Creating a board game is difficult, especially if you aim to make it memorable and fun. My advice would be to minimize using random elements like dice rolls. Random elements can still make for good strategy board games, but I advise you to use them before the players can make their move. By doing this, players can strategize around the random effects of the game.

Question: How do I play strategy board games?

Answer: The best way to learn how to play strategy board games is to watch YouTube tutorials. If you are not someone who can learn from watching something, you might instead learn from reading a guide. Many guides are available on the internet; you just need to search for them.

Question: What are good strategy board games for families?

Answer: I would recommend Ticket to Ride because even children can learn its simple rules. Pandemic is also a good pick because it strengthens the bond and relationships between the players. Catan is also a simple one to play.

Conclusion: What are the best strategy board games?

Many strategy board games tend to be confusing and complex, but it does not have to be. Some of them are simple yet fun while still utilizing strategy to win. My recommendations for starters would be Settlers of Catan, as it is pretty easy to learn.

Pandemic and Wingspan are good picks for a board game night with your friends. In Pandemic, you would be helping each other out to defeat a common enemy, while in Wingspan, you compete to have the best birds in your network.

Complex strategy board games are also fun to play if you know how to play. Honestly, spending some time to learn the rules might even be worth it in the end. You can find surprises in complex ones like Gloomhaven and Root.

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