Boardgames have a relaxing way of bringing people together, be it children, teenagers, or adults, all for the purpose of tabletop gaming. It’s an excellent experience that will create wonderful bonds between people… or damage them entirely. The competitive edge of boardgames is often overlooked due to the fact that it’s not often you see people competing viciously against each other.
However, there are some choices out there that will both pull on your mental resources and might actually bring out the competitive player in you. Here are the top 10 best strategy board games that you can enjoy with your friends one “uneventful” Friday night. They will be the best choices, provided you can still remain friends afterward, but here’s hoping there no sore losers around.
10. Small World
You have to know a few titles of strategy board games by now. Think of Small World as the lively, more relaxed version of Risk. It pins players against each other as they attempt to conquer lands and gain coin depending on their race and magical beings. Small World is an excellent fantasy game, which will put your strategic mind at work. If you’re also into roleplaying, it will certainly add a bit of a fun twist to the already beautiful artwork.
This particular farming/strategy boardgame is gaining more and more fans every day. It’s perhaps one of the well-known titles on this list because it’s easy to play and you may engage in a “match” basically anywhere. Carcassonne is a good looking and unique representation of medieval fortifications and road thievery that will keep you entertained. You have to develop areas, draw in followers, creating cities and fields for yourself. Create the best territory, and you win the game. It has numerous clever extensions and near infinite re-playability. It’s also very easy to learn.
Strategy mixes with role-playing and story-telling abilities in Gloom. You know you’re in for a fun game where your main purpose is to kill off your own characters and make your friends’ characters happier. Each players gets a family of perpetually miserable people, along with cards that can either make them happier or more depressed. The purpose of the game is to create a story centered around each family, until you can ultimately kill them. Make them too sad, and they die. They die, and you win.
It’s a game based on points, where you have to think strategically which card will make your characters more miserable. And, which of them will make your opponent’s characters happier. It’s an incredibly fun game, especially if you create a story with the amusing cards. For example, literally dying of public humiliation.
7. Betrayal at House on The Hill
It’s perhaps not the typical definition of what you think is “strategy”. You will not command dark forces meant to kill the other players and gradually eliminate them. Actually… you will. Betrayal at House on The Hill is an amazing example of how a co-op game can turn into a competition. The basics are simple: you and your friends enter a haunted house, each with your own character and their own traits. As you venture through the terrifying scenery, you uncover items, events, or omens.
Gather enough omens and it will be inevitable that you will launch the Haunt. When that happens, the game will force one of you to become “the betrayer”. That means that they will get special abilities, be it magical or minions, and they will be tasked to kill everyone else in the house. The rest have to band together to stop the betrayer, but it’s no easy task. You don’t know what abilities the Haunt gave them, and there are around 50 different scenarios, so there’s definite re-playability.
A card game, a boardgame, a team game, a strategy game, an easy game. Sequence can be played by many players or just one on one. It’s so simple and so engaging that one match will never be enough. The purpose of the game is to pay attention to the cards in your hand, the slots on the board, their positioning and how to create your lines. It’s essentially a boardgame version of tic-tac-toe that requires a little more strategy.
You have to carefully plan out your patterns and keep an eye out on the other team. It can become incredibly entertaining because you have to make sure you create opportunities for yourself and destroy them for others.
5. Dead of Winter
One of the prettiest games on this list. Dead of Winter is immensely exciting, beautifully created, and has a bit of a “bluff” element to it. You and your friends are survivors, held up in a place you have fortified for yourself while zombies roam outside. Depending on one of the many scenarios you get, you need to survive for a different number of days. That means that you need go out into the winter night, surrounded by zombies, scavenging for food, medicine, or resources.
If you can last the attacks and acquire everything you need, you will win. However, you will get more people coming into the compound and they will require their needs met as well. Many mouths to feed. Not to mention the fact that one of the players might be a betrayer. So, besides the cold and zombies, one player might actually have to sabotage all of you in order to win the game. You better be a good liar and not let them know that’s your purpose, because you will get exiled otherwise. The betrayer needs to play as if they’re part of the team until it’s their time to strike.
4. Ticket to Ride: Europe
A relatively simple game that involves a lot of strategy and perhaps a few silent alliances between players. You and your friends all construct railroads from one destination to another. Generally, the version of the game displaying the map of Europe is considered better, even though there are a few more options, such as the map of the United States. You receive cards with instructions that only you will see, and will be required to create routes from destination A to destination B.
In order to start building, you have to “buy” those trains with another set of cards you draw. However, other players might be interested in the same trains and in similar routes. If they play it smarter and have a bit more luck, they might just block off your road. So, block theirs first.
3. A Game of Thrones: The Board Game
Quite possibly the most complicated one on this list. If you’ve seen the hit HBO series, you already know what to expect. The point of the game is to conquer all Westeros and get on that Iron Throne that every family in the land is vying for. Players will be the head of a major House, and they will need to handle their resources, as well as understand how to play their main characters. For example, the Lannisters will have iconic names such as Tywin or Jaime to use, each with their own set of skills.
The true point of the game, however, you might’ve already guessed it. Make alliances and then break them viciously. In the end, there’s only one ruler of Westeros, and you should sharpen your knife while shaking hands with the other.
We’ve covered the prettiest, the most complicated, and now it’s time for the most popular. Risk has become one of the most well-known strategy boardgames in the world. Your luck at dice is mixed with strategic advancing. As it is in war, you need to know when to fight and when to run away from a battle that you cannot win. Of course, if you’re a wizard with dice, you might as well give it a shot.
You need to manage your troops, arrange them, acquire them, and complete goals faster than other players. And fight, of course. Risk truly sounds more complicated than it is, but it’s certainly one of the games that you will get better at with time. The veterans will likely crush the beginners, so never lose hope when you lose. Nobody became a general in a day.
1. Settlers of Catan
An award-winning boardgame that will require you to negotiate your way into a win. It’s a tile-placing game that results in incredibly re-playability, especially if you purchase the extensions as well. The purpose is to create cities, armies, and earn points until you’re declared the winner. However, these are the mere “on paper” aspects of the game. The true fun is had in clever placing and reaping the benefits of someone else’s dice throw.
You have to build your cities, but you will never get all the resources by yourself. So, be prepared to negotiate and always remember that you’re all fighting for the same purpose. However, only one of you can ultimately win, and your bad trades might just be what helps your opponent be crowned the best settler of Catan.