A strategy board game is by definition a game that involves decision-making skills and analyses that have a consequence on the outcome of the game itself.
Those are one of my favourite types of games when it comes to sitting around a table for a gaming night.
I love setting up the board (personally the longer it takes, the better) and getting a bunch of miniatures/cards with which I can start thinking about a strategy.
Playing these games involve a good amount of thinking, they’re sometimes quite long to play and probably not suited for everyone.
So, this list is made up to help you understand which ones of these strategy board games are in line with your taste.
Even though some of these popular boys have a rolling-dice component in them, I tried to select the games where this component is less impactful, a.k.a. “no Risk in this list”.
On top of that, I tried to avoid including any strategy board games for 2 players only, as I have already covered the best two-player board games topic.
Ready for this journey?
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Evolve your character and vanquish the enemies during the path to your destiny
Currently ranked #1 on BGG Gloomhaven has everything needed for an amazing gaming night experience, such as deck-building, tactical grid movement, and resources management.
It is a cooperative dungeon-crawler game, where the story changes based on the actions you perform during the adventure.
You basically take the role of a wandering mercenary who embarks on a journey to gain honor, profit and reputation. Each member of the team has unique traits and pros/cons, so you must cooperate to be able to win each scenario.
After a scenario is completed, you and your friends gain rewards and can decide which mission you will follow next.
The game box is big and heavy, filled with an enormous quantity of components, the rules book is very long to read and it’s recommended to be played with someone who likes managing cards, tokens, stands, sleeves, tiles, discs and other amenities, because, let’s face it, the table will be full of these items in a blink of an eye.
But don’t let those things scare you off, as the game, once learned, is brilliant and the sense of progression is hugely satisfying!
1-4 players | 60-120 mins | Age 14+
Build your settlements, cities and roads, and rule the island of Catan!
Catan (formerly The Settlers of Catan) is a multi-winning awards game that is on the market since 1995 and its popularity keeps growing and growing thank to the fact that is an excellent board game for everyone, from casual players to regular gamers.
The principle of the game is very simple, each of the players is a discoverer who has been reached an unknown island: Catan!
The goal of the game is to be the dominant ruler of this land and to do so you must gather resources (brick, grain, wool, ore and lumber) to build roads, settlements, cities and to buy development cards that will help you through the game.
Be aware of the robber though! Other players may steal your precious resources!!
There is a strong component of trading resources with other players, which makes this game very interactive. Personally, this is the most interesting element in the game.
But.. there’s also a dice component in this game, and sometimes can be very frustrating when you continuously have bad luck as once you fall behind the others, it will be very difficult to catch them up.
Overall, I think this is one of the games that everybody should include in their personal collection.
1-4 players | 60-120 mins | Age 14+
War of the Ring: Second Edition
Re-shape the fate of the Middle-Earth in this immersive LotR board game.
War of the Ring is a two player strategic-war game in which each player takes the role of the Free Peoples and the Shadow Armies.
You can also play the version with 3-4 players, but it’s not as fun as playing with your best friend.
The aim of the game for the Free Peoples is to conquer enough enemy’s strongholds to reach 5 points or provide the Fellowship with enough time to destroy the Ring by sneaking the Ring-bearers to Mount Doom.
On the other side, the winning condition is conquering enough Free Peoples’ strongholds to reach 10 points or hunting down the Ring until the Ring-bearers will be corrupted by the Darkness.
This game is a huge and tricky deal.
I was really undecided if including it in the list or not, because of various reasons:
It has a steep learning curve, a lot of different rules and mechanics and it’s very long to play.
Recommendation: if you wanna play this game, don’t even think to start it in the evening!
So why is it on the list?
Good question, thanks for asking!
- First of all, I’m a huge fan of everything LoTR related and this game is the most accurate representation of the war for the Middle-Earth you can dream of.
- The gameplay is immersive and it gives you the feeling of having the fate of the Middle-Earth in your hands. If you let some of the Fellowship/Free Peoples characters die, they remain dead and out of the game until the end of it (with a couple of exceptions).
- Considering the number of miniatures, this game is relatively cheap if compared to similar beasts on the market.
And if you like painting miniatures, man… this will be Heaven for you!
- Once you finished the first match, you have the desire to play a second one right after it. You’ll end up thinking about the game for days, which strategies you could have used differently, which decisions you could have chosen to avoid characters dying, and so on…
So, grab your best mate who loves strategic-war games, go through the rules and learn to play the game together with him/her, hike that learning curve of playing the first game and, from that point forward, I assure you it will be a no looking back journey!
WAR OF THE RING: SECOND EDITION
2-4 players | 150-180 mins | Age 13+
Lead your country to progress and glory in this steampunk 1920’s Europe.
It is a time of unrest in 1920s Europa.
The ashes from the first great war still darken the snow.
The capitalistic city-state known simply as “The Factory”, which fueled the war with heavily armored mechs, has closed its doors, drawing the attention of several nearby countries.
This is how Scythe introduced itself to the market.
And in this period of constant innovations is when you can make the difference by leading your country to endless fame and fortune.
You take the role of one of the 5 factions in the game, with unique powers and abilities.
Each turn you can perform one action, such as move your units, upgrade buildings, deploy mech, and so on.
Complete objectives and earn most coins to win over the opponents.
Huge applause goes to the designer Jakub Rozalski, which wrapped up the game with stunning artwork.
1-5 players | 90-115 mins | Age 14+
Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
Cooperate with your teammates to find a cure for a plague!
Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a pandemic, with your hands tight and without any chance to help the world getting out of that situation?
Is it a pretty accurate description of our feelings during 2020, isn’t it?
Well.. instead of thinking of what you can’t do, why don’t you think about what you can actually do: playing Pandemic Legacy!
Pandemic Legacy is a co-operative campaign game, with a story-arc played through 12-24 sessions, depending on how well your group does at the game.
You and your friends are members of an elite disease control team and you have to work together to discover a cure for each disease that has simultaneously broken out all over the world.
This is the perfect example of those games that are incredibly beautiful but not appreciated by everyone.
The reason? You can only play it once.
During the campaign, in fact, new rules and components will be introduced and those will lead to dirty outcomes for a gamer, such as writing and ripping up cards, placing permanent stickers on components and “deface” the board.
But don’t worry, the weird feeling that runs through your body after having ripped up a card will be alleviated almost immediately thanks to the game.
It is FUN and worth every bit of the money!
And if you aren’t satisfied with only one campaign, you can buy it again and split the cost with your friends.
If you enjoyed Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 have a look at the sequel set in a post apocalyptic world ravaged by plagues.
Be aware though… It’s addictive!
PANDEMIC LEGACY: SEASON 1
2-4 players | 60 mins | Age 13+
Build your empire in the Industrial Revolution England.
Brass: Birmingham, the sequel of the masterpiece Brass: Lancashire, is an economic strategy board game, in which you take the role of an entrepreneur during the Industrial Revolution in England.
The gameplay is pretty simple but also very deep.
Develop, build, and establish your industries and network across the city to gain more prestige and earn victory points.
Who has the most VP’s wins the game!
The gameplay is what really makes this game so highly recommended.
It challenges you to build the best economic engine and to do so, the game gives you multiple choices and strategies to follow, making also the replayability one of the biggest pros.
At the beginning can be a bit tricky, but once you learn the mechanics it will run very smoothly.
But this board game stands out for something else: the high quality of all its components is something you don’t often see in board games (beer barrels are wow!) and the game board, full of little details and perfectly colour balanced, is an incredible piece of art.
I’d stare at that board all night long!
If you like games with a strong component of planning and looking ahead, this is the game for you!
Without any good plans, you will never win.
2-4 players | 60-120 mins | Age 14+
The most famous tile-based board game
This timeless classic board game it’s the perfect mix between fast-paced gameplay and strategy.
I love it so much that I’ve also included it in my other the best two-player board games article.
Carcassonne is a tile-based board game where the landscape is built by the players while the game progresses.
It begins by placing the start terrain tile at the centre of the table.
On each turn, every player draws a random tile and places it adjacent to the tiles that are already played.
To collect points and try to win the game you have to place your meeples on the different terrain types, such as road, city, monastery and field (each of them scores a different amount of points).
If interested you can also find an article featuring all the best Carcassonne expansions.
2-5 players | 30-45 mins | Age 7+
Discover and attract the best and diverse birds to your aviary.
Stonemaier Games has brought us another incredible board game after Scythe.
The 2019’s Kennerspiel des Jahres winner is a competitive card-driven, engine-building game in which the players are bird enthusiasts—researchers, bird watchers, ornithologists, and collectors—seeking to discover and attract the best birds to your network of wildlife preserves.
You win if at the end of the 4th round you have collected more points than your opponents.
Points can be earned by different sources, such as each face-up bird card on your player mat, bonus cards, end-of-round goals, eggs, cards tucked, and food tokens.
I know, birds aren’t probably the most attractive theme for many people, but don’t let this discourage you from buying the game… it would be a shame not to give it a go!
The design, the quality of the materials, and the incredible attention to detail on each component, really make playing this game a pleasure for your eyes.
1-5 players | 40-70 mins | Age 10+
And this is it!
As always, the comments section below is available if you want to let me know any thoughts on the games listed here!
I’m also curious to know which one of these strategy games have you tried or willing to try in the near future.
…and until the next article, bye!