Asymmetrical board games are by definition all those games in which players have different playstyle, gameplay mechanics and goals in order to win the game.
Despite the asymmetry that could lead to a not perfectly balanced outcome, if not properly designed by the creator, this type of game has inherent almost always replayability out of the ordinary, which makes them very appreciated by most of the gamers.
They usually have a steeper learning curve as there are tons of different rules to learn, so they aren’t always recommended for beginners of this hobby.
Difficult to learn and difficult to master, let’s have a look at some amazing examples of this beloved category.
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Best Asymmetrical Board Games
1 • Cosmic Encounter – 42nd Anniversary Edition: fight for cosmic supremacy and colonize planets in foreign systems.
2 • Root: fight for the control of the woodlands with your own unique faction in this brutal war game.
3 • Sideral Confluence: become the best leader of the galaxy using trading and diplomacy.
4 • Vast – The Mysterious Manor: a brawl of different forces competing for their own goal in an old mysterious manor.
5 • Skulk Hollow: choose your side in the fight between an ancient Guardian and a group of foxen Heroes.
6 • A Game of Thrones – The Board Game (Second Edition): lead your House to the Iron Throne in this highly thematic war game.
7 • Android Netrunner: an asymmetrical living card game that features a hacker fighting against a powerful corporation.
8 • Star Wars – Rebellion: the endless battle between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance awaits you once more.
9 • Spirit Island: become a powerful Spirit and defend the island and its habitants from the invaders.
10 • Specter Ops: a classic hidden movement game that features a secret agent and genetically modified hunters.
Cosmic Encounter – 42nd Anniversary Edition
Firstly released in 1977, Cosmic Encounter is always mentioned as one of those unforgettable games, and in particular, asymmetrical board games.
We’ve had successful and less successful editions of this game and this one celebrates the 42nd anniversary of this masterpiece.
In this game, each player takes on the role of the leader of an alien race that has its own planetary system, consisting of 5 planets, somewhere in deep space.
Each alien race has a unique special power that can be used to its advantage in order to gain new colonies and expand your planetary system; this is the goal of the game.
The player that establishes five colonies on foreign planets first wins the game.
COSMIC ENCOUNTER – 42nd ANNIVERSARY EDITION
3 – 5 players | 60 – 120 min | 14+
Root is a game of both war and adventure where all players focus on battling as they try to take control of a large wilderness area.
It’s a game of area control where players get to play extremely asymmetrical factions with unique abilities and ways to score points.
There are 4 different factions in the game:
- Marquise de Cat: they score points by constructing buildings.
- Eyrie Dynasties: they score each turn by building and protecting roosts.
- Woodland Alliance: they score by spreading sympathy for their cause across the Woodland
- Vagabond: he scores by completing quests for the creatures of the Woodland and by aiding and harming the other factions.
Despite the look of the cover and the artwork, Root is a brutal war game that will keep you entertained for many hours.
2 – 4 players | 60 – 90 min | 10+
Sideral Confluence is one of the asymmetrical board games with a true focus on negotiation and trading.
Players control alien races that need to negotiate and trade as much as they can to acquire the resources needed to fund their economy.
There are 9 alien races, and each one has its own unique cards with existing and future technologies they could research.
These cards are important because they show you when and how to negotiate, what approach you need to take and so on. Not only that, but you can negotiate anything ranging from resources to ships and even colonies.
Victory points are earned through studying technologies, utilising your economy to convert resources to commodities, and finally turning your residual goods into points at the end of the game.
The player with the most victory points at the end of six turns wins the game.
4 – 9 players | 120 – 180 min | 14+
Vast: The Mysterious Manor
Vast: The Mysterious Manor is an asymmetric board game that features five forces competing against each other in order to fulfil their own goal.
The game is played on a modular board that represents the Manor. Players were lured into the house for different reasons and here they must explore every corridor in order to complete their goal.
The 5 forces that find themselves in the Mysterious Manor are the Paladin, Skeletons, the Spider, the Warlock and the Manor itself.
The Paladin’s goal is to kill the Spider to win the game, while the Spider wins if he can escape from the Manor by terrifying other players and accumulating enough terror points.
The Paladin doesn’t have to focus solely on his personal hunt, because there are 5 Skeletons who seek to kill him in order to win the game.
There are also the Manor that feels lonely and wants to trap everyone there for eternity and finally the Warlock who aims to collect poltergeists and treasures.
VAST: THE MYSTERIOUS MANOR
1 – 5 players | 60 – 120 min | 13+
Skull Hollow is an asymmetrical board game for 2 players, in which one is the Guardian player and the other the Hero player.
The Guardian’s goal is to eliminate a fox clan that has been causing havoc on the land, whether the other player controls a clan of fox heroes that want to vanquish the evil beast in order to protect people and homes.
Each side has its own requirements in order to win.
If you are a part of the Foxen heroes, then the only way you win is if you kill the guardian. On the other hand, if you are the Guardian, you win either by killing the Foxen king, or if you acquire enough Tribute.
The game requires a lot of tactics, and you do need to use cards so you can summon stuff, move units and also access special abilities.
2 players | 40 min | 8+
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition)
Based on the popular books and series, this is a board game where 3 to 6 players take the role of great houses in Westeros.
Everyone strives to get in the Iron Throne, and you can do that via warfare and diplomacy.
At the beginning of the game, you have order tokens, ship units, siege engines, knights and footmen. You also get a deck of house cards, and these will be the leaders you use as you battle all the rival houses.
The game is divided into different phases: a planning phase, where you assign orders to units via placing order tokens with the face down. Then there is the action phase where the orders are taking place and then you enter the battle.
You can also use your influence as you rise to power, which is incredibly important as you try to fulfil your dream to rule all the houses.
A GAME OF THRONES: THE BOARD GAME (2ND EDITION)
3 – 6 players | 120 – 240 min | 14+
Android Netrunner is an asymmetrical living card game for 2 players in which one player is the Runner and the other is the leader of a powerful corporation.
Playing as the Runner means that your goal is to steal as many Agendas from the Corporation as possible, by building hardware and programs to break into the protected servers.
The corporation, on the other hand, has to defend its servers and must try to advance the agendas before the Runner can steal them.
The first player to gain 7 points wins the game, but be aware of bad publicity or brain damage.
2 players | 45 min | 14+
Star Wars: Rebellion
Star Wars: Rebellion pits the Rebel Alliance and the Empire against one another, and players can choose either side.
As the Imperial player, you have the Death Star, TIEs, stormtroopers and star destroyers at your disposal. Use your massive army to dominate the galaxy with fear and power, until you can finally find the Rebel base and destroy it to win the game.
You can also play as the Rebel Alliance, where you have a variety of fighters, troopers and air speeders. As your military power is outnumbered, you also need to bring citizens to your cause and execute military strikes to sabotage the other player.
You win the game by strengthening your reputation and inspiring the galaxy to fight on your side.
STAR WARS: REBELLION
2 – 4 players | 180 – 240 min | 14+
Spirit Island is a cooperative game focused on defending the island from various invaders trying to colonize it.
Every player is a spirit of the land and they all have their own elemental powers.
During each turn, players can choose the power cards they want to play and then simultaneously place them on the board.
As the game progresses, Spirits become more powerful and earn new tricks in order to catch up with the quick expansion of the invaders on the island.
The game puts pressure on the players since the first round and only perfect cooperation with your friends can lead to a victorious end.
1 – 4 players | 40 – 120 min | 13+
Specter Ops is a classic hidden movement game, similar to Scotland Yard, in which one player is a secret agent that is infiltrated in a secret Raxxon facility.
The other players are genetically modified hunters who aim to find the intruder.
The player who plays as the Agent has to secretly choose between 4 different characters, with unique strengths and abilities. Your goal to win the game is to complete 3 mission objectives and then escape from the facility.
The other players get to choose their group of hunters and their goal is to track down the agent and kill him or prevent him to escape from the facility.
In a 5-player game one of the hunters is a traitor that secretly works with the agent player.
2 – 5 players | 60 – 120 min | 13+