The 10 best strategy board games, ranked

The best ways to strategize over the dinner table.

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Tabletop board games come in a variety of flavors, catering to a wide audience of gamers. They vary in complexity, type, genre, length, and much more. Strategy board games are some of the most popular ones and represent the oldest type of board game out there. Who doesn’t know about the obvious classic examples such as Chess, Go, Mahjong, Ur, and others? Over the years, strategic board games have developed and expanded, and in this article, we’ll list our top 10 suggestions for you to try out with your gaming group.

Related: The 10 best digital board games, ranked

The 10 best strategy board games

10. Wingspan

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As far as complexity goes, Wingspan is almost lightweight compared to most strategy games. What it lacks in complexity, it makes up for in smooth gameplay, great mechanics, and gorgeous art. You play as an avian enthusiast who aims to discover and research bird wildlife in a network of environments. The game is easy to pick up but requires a lot of forward-thinking to be successful and win the game. 

9. Gaia Project

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In Gaia Project, you play as one of 14 different sci-fi cultures whose aim is to expand over planets, research technologies, develop their civilization, and come out on top. The game mechanics follow its predecessor, Terra Mystica, further refining the formula into a very complex and entertaining game with even more variability that increases the replay value.

8. Blood Rage

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If you ever wanted to pit mighty Vikings in epic battles between gods and monsters, then Blood Rage is a great game for your group. Famous for its amazing miniatures, Blood Rage combines several simple mechanics into a fairly complex package. There are many ways to win the game, but choosing the right strategy and sticking to it is more difficult than it seems.

7. Dune: Imperium

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The spice must flow, and in this game, it’s up to you to control it. Dune: Imperium features intrigue, trade, strategy, deck-building, and open conflict. The background setting of the game rewards thematic play sessions, and it’s very easy to feel like a member of the Great Houses of Arrakis in this game.

6. The Settlers of Catan

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Catan is a classic strategy game pick for good reason. It’s one of those games that are extremely simple to grasp, but take a lot of experience to really master and excel at. Everyone knows about settling the regions, building roads, and ‘trading’ resources (read: double-crossing) with fellow players. Nowadays, there are even a whole host of expansions to the base game, making each play session unique.

5. Pandemic

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This is another co-op game that’s risen in prominence due to the topical events of the last few years. You need to team up with other players, each with their specialist role, to contain and cure a deadly virus that threatens to wipe out humanity. There are turns where you’ll all strategize for an hour on the correct sequence of moves in order to try to beat the menacing disease. Furthermore, there are even more expansions and versions of the game to pick from.

4. Terraforming Mars

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This game came out of nowhere and became a smash hit. In the far future, humanity needs to terraform Mars and make it habitable. The players represent developers and scientists working on the project. They play with and against each other, looking to build up their resources and technologies in an effort to make the red planet a bit greener. The game’s mechanics revolve around cards, resource placement, drafts, and more.

3. Twilight Imperium

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Twilight Imperium is one of those games that’s talked about in a hushed tone in gaming circles. It’s infamous for being one of the most complex mainstream games out there, and sessions easily last between 6 to 8 hours. But if you love intricate strategy in far-flung galaxies, Twilight Imperium is undoubtedly fun, innovative, and immersive. The game has been revised and streamlined over the years since its inception, with the 4th edition being the most recent version.

2. Brass: Birmingham

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Take a break from warlike games and enjoy the industrial revolution with Brass games. Brass: Birmingham is the culmination of the series, representing a masterclass in management and strategy on the tabletop. You have to take charge of your economy and resources to become an industrial magnate during the 19th century. It’s your job to take control and dictate the market, ultimately coming out on top as the most successful industrialist in the game.

1. Scythe

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Set in alt-history early 20th century, Scythe has everything a masterpiece board game needs. From amazing artwork to intricate mechanics that reward strategy and planning, several routes to victory, great miniatures… Scythe has it all. It’s complex without being overbearing and rewards experience. Each faction plays differently, so making your game plan around their strengths will take you a long way toward winning the game. There are even several expansions to further improve the gaming loop, which is why Scythe is easily one of the best board games out there.