There’s only one way to divide the boys from the men, and the girls from the women: a no holds barred strategy board game showdown.
But what we need first is a game worthy of such a test.
We don’t want a 5-minute game of Snap, nor do we want anything luck-based that our 4-year-old sister could dominate.
We want something challenging, something intellectual, where a wrong move could be your downfall and you can laugh maniacally as you reap the benefits of a smart choice.
After countless games and a whole lotta research, we’ve managed to compile a list of 5 games that will give you just what you want. They’re rich in gameplay, have meticulous mechanics and all in all are the best strategy board games that money can buy.
Without further ado…
The 5 Best Strategy Board Games (in no particular order!)
I think what’s funny about this game is that it’s reputation hinders it slightly. It’s so often considered a complete masterpiece but because of how substantial and in-depth its content is, most people fall into the “man I’d really love to try Twilight Struggle one day…” category.
Well I’m here to give you that little nudge to try it out, because it really is as good as the reputation that precedes it.
One player takes the role of the USA, and the other of the USSR. It’s the Cold War and you are both duking it out to spread your influence across the globe.
The game attempts to capture the feeling of 1945-1989 and boy does it do a great job. It’s so thorough in scope that the whole world as it was found in 1945 is present in every move you make.
There are event cards that correspond to real life events that can do wonders or wreak havoc on your influence.
It’ll take you at least a few plays through to get the hang of how the game works and to get a little familiar with the card deck. Even though those first few stumbles through are very enjoyable and can pull you in, it’s vital you are exposed to the numerous cards in the deck that can help or hinder you.
All things being said, I highly recommend Twilight Struggle if you’re into strategy games. It’s one of the most well thought-out and engrossing games I’ve ever played.
A final word of advice: make sure to get the latest version as it includes some major changes and event cards that make all the difference.
It’s the king of deck-building games, in that throughout the game you will trade cards and build the optimal deck to play with, and even has a number of expansions that expand the gameplay even further.
To put the game very simply: you are the ruler of a small kingdom. You have hopes and dreams, and so you want to expand that kingdom as much as possible. You’ll race the other players to build your dominion through castle construction, land claiming, treasure hoarding and more.
Dominion has cultivated an overwhelmingly positive reputation since its release in 2008 and has won numerous awards.
As a base game it’s a lot of fun, but can get a little dry after many plays through. This is likely the reason for the expansion packs that inject a new level of excitement into the game.
For such a complex and versatile game, it normally only takes about 30-40 minutes to play and so can be easier to convince non-gamers to give it a try!
It’s a great idea.
Another way to do so is to play the board game.
It’s based off the books as opposed to the TV show and for this reason I think it’s far more in depth.
You’ll be taking control of one of the well-known Houses of Westeros and engage in a battle of wits and steel to claim the Iron Throne for yourself.
Despite the complexity of the series the game is actually quite straightforward. The rule book is clear and explains the game well enough that anyone will be able to grasp it relatively quickly.
It’s for 3-6 players and each of the Houses are very well balanced with their own advantages and disadvantages.
There are a large number of varying cards in the game that ensure each playthrough is nothing like the last.
If you’re looking for the ultimate strategy game then why not play as if fighting for the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die.
You might be thinking, “that sounds terrible.”
But hear me out!
There is an astounding amount of strategy involved in Agricola and its honestly one of the most well-crafted games I’ve ever played.
The set includes 360 cards, over 300 wooden components, 50+ tiles, 9 boards and some tokens. So it’s not some bare-bones mouth-breather game.
Now, you and your spouse need to do whatever you can to feed your family, including building a bigger house, raising crops, collecting food and animals, having more children etc.
There are a number of ‘occupation cards’ that give your characters different abilities that can help you out, and there are only a limited amount given at the beginning of the game meaning that no game will be the same twice.
The ratings for this game have it in the top 5 on most board games sites and I have to agree with their decision.
It isn’t a game for beginners and may take a little while to get used to, but it’s one hell of a strategy game.
It has won multiple awards for “Best Strategy Game” and even for “Best Game Rules”.
In Puerto Rico each player is a plantation owner. The object is to run your business more efficiently than your competitors.
Each turn the players will choose a role that will allow them to build plantations, build structures in the city, hire workers, sell or export goods etc. The role you choose each turn will depend on your strategy.
One of the great things about this game is that player interaction can affect your business wildly, so choose your roles each turn with great care.
Puerto Rico is one of those games that’s just timeless. I can play with friends over and over and even if I decide to try it again after a long period of time, it’s still fantastic.
If you do decide to purchase this game here’s a protip: the game’s designer has said that he would swap the values of the University and the Factory if he was to make the game again, and would also have the players that start with a corn plantation also start with one less dubloon.