Some of the best games make you pause and think–like a good strategy board game. That’s why we’ve decided to round up a list of the best options out there. Our picks offer various levels of competition and complexity and can accommodate a wide range of players.
The best game for your particular group might be a multi-campaign legacy game that spans dozens of hours of play over several sessions, or it may be a quick game for two that takes half an hour and can be played over and over again. Keeping various situations in mind, we’ve handpicked our favorite strategy board games available online.
Top 10 Best Strategy Board Games to Buy Online
When choosing a game for you, ensure that it’s a good fit for the people you plan on playing with as well.
1. Secret Hitler
Best Game for Mixed Groups and Dinner Parties
This game for larger groups is set in 1930s Germany. Players are secretly split into two groups–liberals and fascists–and each side is trying to progress their agenda, with the fascists aiming to install Hitler as leader.
Reviewers write that it’s full of political intrigue and makes for some great wholesome fun that’s suitable for friends or family. It’s fairly simple to learn and doesn’t require much time to get off the ground.
|Number of Players||5-10|
Best Casual Two-Player Game
This abstract strategy game has different pieces with four different qualities (height, shape, color, and whether it’s hollow) and the goal is to create a line of four pieces with the same characteristic in common. The catch: your opponent chooses your pieces.
This game is suitable for all ages, and kids as young as 7 or 8 should be able to play. Reviewers write that while it’s easy to learn the rules, the strategy involved requires you to do some heavy thinking.
|Number of Players||2|
Best Engine-Building Game with High Replay Value
This engine-building game is set in the 1920s of an alternate history and requires you to constantly evolve your faction in order to gain power. There is very little luck involved in this game, and nearly all components are based off your decisions.
Reviewers write that unlike many civilization building games, Scythe requires a more nuanced strategy that keeps the game feeling fresh no matter how many times you play it. That being said, this may not be the best game for more casual players.
|Continuous||No (campaigns available with the Rise of Fenris expansion)|
|Number of Players||1-5|
4. Spirit Island
Best Cooperative Game
Flipping the script on your usual strategy game, this game has you playing as a pantheon of spirits working together to prevent invaders from colonizing your island. Each character has radically different play styles, which forces players to cooperate fully.
Reviewers appreciate the game’s strong theme and lack of reliance on luck. However, it’s a fairly complex game, and if Settlers of Catan feels like a good amount of complexity for you, this will likely be overwhelming.
|Number of Players||1-4|
Best Luck-Dependent Strategy Game
This game relies heavily on rolls of the dice and is a lot more luck-based than other games. The goal is to claim ruins and wonders based on what you roll and build places of power.
Reviewers write that at the beginning, this game might seem like it’s purely luck based, but as you get playing, you’ll start to find ways to maximize your points while minimizing others’. It’s fast-paced and suitable for kids ages 8 and up.
|Number of Players||2-4|
Best Legacy Game for RPG Enthusiasts
This game is massive. In essence, players act as wandering mercenaries who work together to clear out dungeons and ruins. Every decision determines how the story will progress and each of the 98 quests play differently.
Reviewers write that this is essentially an RPG in board game form. It’s engaging, and even though a play-through is incredibly long (over 200 hours), it never feels repetitive or tired.
|Continuous||Yes, 98 quests plus side quests|
|Replayable||Yes (though you lose the element of surprise)|
|Number of Players||1-4|
Best Low-Stakes Abstract Strategy Game
In this abstract strategy game, players compete to build 3D reef structures and gain the most points. Players work mostly independently and only compare points at the end of a round.
Reviewers write that it’s a beautiful game and that the gameplay is simple enough for anyone to play along. Though it isn’t as high-stakes as other games, it does require you have strategy and planning skills to win.
|Number of Players||2-4|
8. Terraforming Mars
Best Collaboratively Competitive Game
In this game, players take on the role of corporations working together to turn Mars into a habitable planet and competing for dominance. It involves unique gameplay; each move involves various choices, and there are several paths to victory.
Reviewers write that this game is engaging and perfectly set up for replayability. However, they also note that the physical build of the components is lacking, which could affect the longevity of the game.
|Number of Players||1-5|
Best Game as a Quick Warm-Up
This game casts players as Egyptian architects competing to transport building materials to the right locations while thwarting the attempts of your opponents. Game mechanics allow for strategic planning while luck components add some excitement.
Reviewers write that it’s a quick play (about 30 minutes) and that it’s extremely quick to set up, too. It’s a great game for older kids and board game beginners.
|Number of Players||2-4|
10. Five Tribes
Best for Strategy Board Game Beginners
This game has you vying for control of land and resources and the love of the people. It features fairly basic gameplay that’s similar to Mancala and is easy for anyone to pick up within the first couple turns of the game.
Reviewers write that this game can be as simple or complex as you want it to be and that its possibilities feel like a more complicated version of chess.
|Number of Players||2-4|
How to Choose a Strategy Board Game – Buying Guide
While some games might sound good on paper, it’s important to ensure that it fits what you’re looking for. So before hitting that checkout button, remember to consider these factors.
Decide If You Want to Work With or Against Each Other
Strategy games can be pretty tense, especially if your group is pitted against each other. If you’re the kind of people who thrive off competition, feel free to look for the most brutal game possible.
On the other hand, if you don’t like conflict much or want to avoid temper flair-ups, it might be better to look for a game that involves cooperating towards a single goal or working in teams.
Match Complexity Level to Your Desired Level of Involvement
Some games are easily picked up with a quick read-through of the rules while others take a few complete play-throughs to fully grasp what’s going on. Be sure to think about the level of involvement that you’re looking for beforehand so that you don’t accidentally choose a game that’s much harder or much easier than you were hoping for.
If You Play with the Same Group, Consider a Game that Spans Multiple Sessions
If you’re looking for a game for your weekly game night, it could make sense to try one that involves different campaigns that build upon each other and lasts you several play sessions. These games are often legacy games, which change and evolve as you play them so that the rules at the end look totally different than the rules at the beginning.
However, many of these games require that the same group play every time, so if your game group changes or if someone can’t make it, you won’t be able to continue. Do also note that many legacy games cannot be replayed once you’ve completely finished it.
Find a Game that Suits Your Group Size
A lot of strategy games work best with around four players, so if you’re hoping to play with a larger or smaller group, it’s important that you pay attention to the number of players each game requires.
If you’re planning on using the same game in different scenarios—from date night to dinner parties—be sure to look for one that can accommodate a wider range of people.
Strategy board games can be a great way to stretch your critical thinking skills and bond with your friends. Just remember that the best game for you is one that you’ll actually play.
By Jacqueline Oshiro
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