Best Strategy Board Games 2023

Board games come in every shape, size and type imaginable. Whether you want to play fun family games, cooperative games or even single-player games where the other side is automated, there’s a game for everyone. My personal favorites are games that dig a little deeper. The ones that pit you against other players and make you think, not just one step ahead, but two or three. These games are often called strategy games.

But isn’t every game a strategy game?

Strategy board games are games in which the players’ critical decision-making affects the outcome. That’s a pretty broad definition, I know, but modern strategy games come in all sorts of subgenres, often defined by their central gameplay mechanic;

Many times these games are organized into larger categories such as fighting games (which focuses on the conflict between player powers), American style (which prioritize direct player conflict and have elements of luck) or European games (which generally avoid random elements and usually depend on planning and resource management).

The most important element of strategy board games, however, is, you guessed it, strategy. While there may be small instances where luck plays a role, the game’s overwhelming mechanics must rely on the player’s strategic thinking and ability to outplay the other players on the board.

Despite all the games on the market, few have the perfect balance of replayability and satisfying gameplay even if you lose. So, after testing dozens of the best games on the market, I’ve rounded up the best strategy games available in 2023.

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In Project Gaia, players seek to expand their alien race’s control over the galaxy by making planets habitable for their race, building structures on them, gaining knowledge, and continuing research. This strategy board game has some pretty steep learning curves for those new to Eurogames, but once you get into your first game, you’ll have the basics down within a round or two. But the strategy is deep. You can play dozens of different races, with unique abilities and research bonuses; The modular board means the galaxy you colonize never looks the same; and many of the points and building bonuses are random in each game, so the same strategy won’t win every time. The Gaia Project is a masterclass in game design, and an absolute joy to play.

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Windward isn’t as heavy as some of the games on this list, but it’s gotten a lot of love since its release. You play as the captain of a boat that sails the skies of a planet in a quest to catch giant space whales called Crestors. There’s little luck in the amount of damage you take, but since wind direction controls your movement, there’s a lot of strategy in how you move and make sure you don’t run into other players.

My gaming table enjoys Windward as our first strategy game of the night, as it’s relatively light, but sets the mood for something deeper.

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Small World is one of my favorites simply because this conquest game feels so different every time you play it. Essentially, players fight for control of a board like Risk, which has too few spaces to accommodate everyone, hence the name. You go for one of dozens of fantastical creatures, each randomly paired with an extra special ability that can lead to fun combos like Were-Will-o’-the-Wisps or Peace-saver Homunculi. You then spread out using your special abilities, collect coins based on the area you control, and leave that race for a new one. It’s an addictive loop game that’s often equal parts fun and competitive, and you can learn and play it in less than two hours.

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Set during the Cold War, Twilight Struggle balances the strategic complexity of a “big” game with the simple mechanics of a traditional conquest game like Risk. One player takes on the role of the USA while the other plays as the USSR as you fight for presence, dominance or regions on various battlefields around the world. Both sides are competing to put a man on the moon, degrade DEFCON status through military action while carefully avoiding the devastation of nuclear war (instant loss), and spread their influence around the world in a global power struggle.

If you’re looking for a two-player strategy game with a little more weight to it, 7 Wonders. Duel is a great alternative to Twilight Struggle. The gameplay combines more creative game mechanics, so the learning curve is a bit steeper for newcomers, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a perfect, short strategy game for both.

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Agricola is one of the best board games ever designed, and it’s also one of the best examples of worker placement mechanics. The concept is simple. each player uses their farmer and wife (both called “workers”) to perform various activities during the seasons, such as gathering wood or vegetables, updating their farm house, building pens, buying animals, having children, etc. more. Over time, players have children (to use more workers) and expand their farm. However, the problem during all this is scarcity. Agricola is a brutal game. Even without an opponent blocking you from certain actions, it often feels like you’re just scraping by; get enough food to feed your family through the winter. Players often have very low (or negative) points in their first game, but once you start learning, it feels incredibly satisfying.

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Most of the best strategy games take a few hours to play, but a satisfying strategy doesn’t take all day. The Castles of Burgundy is a great example of a great game that usually only lasts an hour, often less, once. you know how to play and it’s surprisingly repetitive. Each turn, players roll dice whose numbers allow them to take certain land tiles from the center board or place them in certain areas of your player board while you expand your kingdom. The central rules can be learned in a matter of minutes compared to some of the bigger Eurogames above, but Castles of Burgundy will keep you making tough choices about how to react to a roll of the dice that is beyond your control.

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If you have a whole day and want to play a long, rewarding game, you can’t do better than Food Chain Magnate. an incredibly deep game of building and staffing restaurants, designing menus, paying for advertising and raising money. What makes Food Chain Tycoon so enjoyable is its sheer scope; You can hire dozens of different types of employees, sell dozens of different types of food, and use half a dozen different types of advertising, all with unique effects on your franchise, customers. in the city and your opponents. This fun game is an investment, especially if you get the expansions, but it’s one of the most enjoyable and unique board game formats in years.

It’s currently in limited stock on Amazon, but it can be purchased from the original site.

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Star Wars: Imperial Assault largely avoids the role-playing elements of dungeon crawlers like Gloomhaven, opting instead for solid combat mechanics that pit the Imperial player against the Rebel players. Although different missions have different settings; the modular board keeps things fresh, players get better as they understand the bonuses of certain groups, how they can play their allies, and decisions about when to find cover and when to charge. battle.

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Conquering games have come a long way since Risk, and one of the best is Rising Sun, in which players fight for control over different regions of feudal Japan, using their samurai and other miniatures to spread the word. What makes the game interesting are the non-traditional means and ends of conflict. alliances give your opponents more power, but betrayals can damage your honor; points can be won by winning a battle, but committing ritual suicide, taking hostages, and employing historians to write off your warrior’s honor can actually lead to a greater victory.

What could be a simple game about conquering regions becomes about developing your clan, maintaining their honor, and strategically partnering with your enemies. If you want a game with tons of conflict, but where that conflict is rarely clear or obvious, Rising Sun is the perfect game for you.

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What a good place to start.

For good introductions to modern strategy games, I’d be remiss not to mention Settlers of Katan and: Carcassonne. Although most people who discover the board game bug quickly move past these more basic economy and tile games, they are a great way for people to get introduced to the genre.

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