Playing board games is a great way to socialize, and our Ultimate List of 15 of the nerdiest and best strategy board games stands up to all the hype. Want to spend hours outwitting your opponents using tactics, strategy, and lots of planning? This list is recommended for those who like to spend 1.5-2 hours playing a board game. Not for you? See our list of top board games selected for their fun and popularity over the years!
Settlers of Catan is a competitive, resource gathering game that involves probability, dice rolling, luck, and strategy. Since it’s release in 1995, it has nearly single handedly paved the comeback of the ‘Euro’ board game in America.
Players place 2 settlements down on the board to start, and this might be the most critical part of the game. Each placement rewards players with resources that are attached to a number between 2-12; numbers that can be rolled by two die. The terrain, hexagonal pieces, represent 4 different types of resources, ore, sheep, wood, and brick, which players must acquire in order to expand their territories and gain points.
These resources can be used to expand territories by build new settlements, roads, cities or development cards. How good is this game? It’s one of the most popular strategy games of our time, and people play this game hundreds upon hundreds of times. Check Price – Settlers of Catan.
2 – Splendor
One of my personal favorites, Splendor is a fairly new game (2014), and is one of the most praised games of the decade. Winner of many awards, Splendor is an incredibly sharp and elegant game that takes literally minutes to learn and more than a few games to master. The point of the game is to get to 12 Prestige Points before your opponents, and there are many ways to get there, though games can be close.
The mechanics are simple as there are only 3 moves a player can take on their turn – take tokens, buy a card, or reserve a card, however the play is not. This game is super fun and will not disappoint. Highly recommended for all gamers looking for a board game that will dazzle. Check Price – Splendor
3 – Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is one of the most beloved board games defined as a ‘rail’ game. Players collect train cards throughout the game which they redeem by claiming railway routes to North America. In order to fulfill their destination tickets, players engage in decision making and trade offs as well as intense tactical strategy development, as they can also earn more points with longer routes.
Players who can fulfill destination tickets building the longest continuous routes win additional points. The guidelines of the game are simple enough, yet the decisions become more complex as the game persists. A highly engaging, fun and unique challenge, Ticket to Ride is a must play game, that has lasted through the ages. Check Price – Ticket to Ride.
4 – 7 Wonders
In this game, you get to lead one among the 7 great cities in the ancient world. You will use resources to develop commercial routes, stamp your military authority and get to build an architectural wonder in your city that will transcend future eras. Players can buy resources from the bank or gain cards during the game that offers resources to build in the future.
This game lasts three Ages and in each one, players get to choose a card from a deck of seven before passing the rest to the next player. Upon revealing the cards they have chosen simultaneously, they can pay for resources or collect them while interacting with other players. Each player again selects a card from another deck and the cycle continues until every player has six cards in play from the age in question. Immensely engaging, it’s a must try as one of the most popular deck building games of our time. Check Price – 7 Wonders.
5 – Dominion
Dominion is a strategy deck building game involving 2-4 players (created by a game designer who lives in Berkeley) who assume the role of a Monarch and are purposefully aiming at increasing the size of their Kingdom through acquiring more land. All players also do the same, leading to the building of more buildings and castles to defend oneself.
There are two phases in each turn which includes buying and playing action cards to earn victory points. As the game involves building a great deck, and better management of the deck can result in a good mix of victory points, action cards, and gold. The better combinations makes a big difference, as deck gets better and better thus making it harder for other players to accelerate their game. Check Price – Dominion.
6 – Agricola
Agricola is one of the most famous of the strategy or euro games. In this turn-based game, you are a farmer with a spouse living in a wooden shack. Each turn you get presents two actions, one for you and the other for your spouse. You get to collect clay, wood, stone, fences, and other building materials so that you may expand your house. The game uses different types of cards which players get to experiment with to make improvements to their household.
Agricola is a complex game that takes 3 plus hours to play across 14 rounds and six stages and each player begins with a farm and spouse as tokens. It is a highly focused strategy game that is best for those up for a long and highly involved game that can take half a day to play. Check Price – Agricola
7 – Carcassonne
Carcassonne is one of the classic strategy games before there were dozens of games to choose from each year, where players are involved in tile placement around the town of Carcassonne. The game plays between 2- 5 players who place the tiles to create grassland, city, road or any combination that results in a connection of roads to roads, cities to cities among others.
Players can, therefore, decide on placing their meeples in strategic position including on the grass as a farmer, in the city as a knight, on the cloister as a monk or the road as a robber. When the players complete the area, they own points from the meeples, and players with the most points at the end of the game win. Check Price – Carcassonne.
8 – Suburbia
Suburbia lets you plan, build and transform small towns into your own personal huge metropolis. Get to test your strategic and architectural skills in a familiar setting, the suburbs. Highly entertaining, engaging, and requiring much skill, players compete with opponents using tiles to create commercial, residential, industrial areas and buildings that take advantage of resources in the neighboring towns. These achievements will serve as infrastructure and economic engines that drive up profitability and self-sufficiency to motivate population growth.
This resource driven and tile-laying game sees players compete to achieve unique goals that will bring boost populations. Though there are competing drivers, winning ultimately means you end up with a bigger population than your gaming rivals. Check Price – Suburbia.
9 – Orleans
Welcome to the Loire Valley and the medieval city of Orleans. A city of wheeling and dealing, and vast opportunity for merchants, ready to profit from the end of the war. Only the greatest merchants will prevail, the ones with the most profitable deals, the greatest networks and the shrewdest strategies. In this strategy board game, you and up to 3 friends will find out who comes out ahead.
Orleans is a savvy and complex game where you compete to become the most successful trader. Nearly, the whole game is played with little regard to player order which is different than most The game can be on the longer side and ends when you have finished 18 rounds, of 7 phases each when the merchant with the most points wins. Check Price – Orleans.
10 – Village
Village is a phenomenal euro game from 2011, that you can play with up to 3 friends competing to become the most influential family in a medieval village. This is the only strategy game on our list where players can gain points by killing their players. Will your progeny feature in the Village Chronicle with the greatest and the good, or molder away in an anonymous grave, dead from the Plague?
Village is a turn-based strategy game, with the main commodities being time and influence. Each player is the head of a family in the village and uses their family to build up prestige.This is done by performing certain actions, all of which cost time or influence. After you spend a certain amount of time, your family members die and according to their life choices, may appear in the village chronicle granting you more prestige. The game ends when the soulless graveyard is full, or the Village Chronicle has no more space. Check Price – Village.
The Castles of Burgundy, a huge hit with the gaming community, is one you and up to 3 friends can play, as you step into the shoes of 15th Century Princes from the Loire valley. You will need to think tactically and be ready to build strategic alliances as you farm livestock, build settlements and castles, exploit silver mines, research the latest technologies and build essential trade deals to become victorious.
The Castles-of-Burgundy is a dice rolling, tile placement, strategy game. There many paths to victory and though the dice dictate the actions available, the players are very much in control of how they choose to win. The game is played with 5 phases in total. On each turn players must draw a tile and add to this to estate and then may decide to perform various actions (such as mining, building and trading). At the end of the fifth phase, victory points are awarded and totaled, with the winning prince being the furthest along his victory track. Check Price – Castles of Burgundy.
12 – Yokohoma
Yokohoma, a small backwater fishing village, was of little interest to anyone except its inhabitants. That all changed when the Meiji Era ushered forth a new era of trade and exploration. Now, as it rapidly becoming one of the major trading hubs of Japan and you and up to 4 of your rivals, will gain fame and fortune by exploiting these new worlds.
Yokohoma is a strategy game of resources and allocation; you play your turn by moving your President and other pieces around the board and performing various actions with constraints that require future planning. Points may be earned in many ways, such as fulfilling contracts or having the most influenced in the Church, Custom, or Technology tracks. An incredibly fun and engaging game, Yokohama will keep you intrigued throughout the play as there is very little down time for players as you must stay alert as to be competitive. Check Price – Yokohama.
13 – Terraforming Mars
The year is 2174, Humanity is entering a new and exciting era. The Red Planet, Mars, is opening up to corporations, and leading the way to Mankind’s inevitable next step. Your task – to lead one of these corporations in attempts to make this cold, dark planet habitable for humanity.
Terraforming Mars is one of the most popular and latest strategy board games to be set in space. A winner of many awards, Terraforming Mars is used to the praise. To win you must the acquire the most victory points at the end of the game. Victory points come from your Terraform rating, which is improved by raising the global parameters for oxygen, temperature and ocean. This is done by playing cards and completing different projects. The game ends when terraforming is complete, and humanity can survive unaided on the surface of Mars. Check Price – Terraforming Mars.
14 – Clans of Caledonia
As head of your clan of fierce Scottish tribesman, caught in the brink of the industrial revolution in Scotland, you must lead your people away from traditional agriculture into the new world of trade, production and export. With the European brandy and wine stores ravaged by insects, can you step in and trade your world-renowned Whisky while building your empire in this brave new world?
The game is played with a mix of tiles and tokens, with each turn consisting of 4 phases including tile placement, trading, obtaining contracts and fulfilling various actions. After 5 rounds final scoring takes place, with points being awarded for steps on the glory track, goods held, fulfilled export contracts and settlement scoring. The game can be played with 1- 4 players, with a solo version available if you do not feel like socializing with lesser clans. Check Price – Clans of Caledonia.
Castle of the Mad King Ludwig is highly recommended and fairly unique board game where 2-4 players are mandated to build amazing lavish castles for the King Ludwig, Second of Bavaria. The King is known to like building castles given his establishment of the Neuschwanstein. Every player in the game plays the role of a building contractor and is intended to create the largest and most lavish Fort ever for the King.
Players may start with easier foyers and smartly build from there understanding the intricacies of the castle. Based on the sizes and the types of rooms constructed, players earn points and may also earns bonus points. Check Price – Castles of Mad King Ludwig.