The Best Strategy Board Games [2019]

GAIA Project

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Game to Play Rating
  • Incredible replay value
  • Randomised board structure
  • Good run-time
  • Very deep and complex
  • Great for 2-5 players

Gloomhaven

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Game to Play Rating
  • Very deep and complex story
  • Addictive story lines
  • Large magnitude of possible scenarios
  • Beautiful miniatures and artwork

Great Western Trail

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Game to Play Rating
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Flawless board design
  • Exciting theme
  • Great for 2-4 players
  • High replay value

GAIA Project

Players: 1-5
Ages: 12+
Game play60 – 150 mins

Gaia Project is a beautiful and complex strategy game from the makers of the very successful Terra Mystica. It is also one of the most critically acclaimed games in recent years.

Based in outer space, each player chooses a faction or race, with the aim of colonizing the galaxy by developing their race across a range of metrics, including terraforming, navigation, economy, artificial intelligence and research.  

Claim new planets and unlock powerful abilities help grow your empire, each faction has its own unique skills that need to be leveraged in order to collect the most victory points and achieve interstellar domination.

Users and experts agree that the multi-component board structure along with the varying factions make the depth of this game very impressive and give it great replay value. It is also one of the few complex strategy board games that works well with 2 players.

Pros:

  • Incredible replay value
  • Randomised board structure
  • Good run-time
  • Very deep and complex
  • Great for 2-5 players

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Plastic pieces feel a bit cheap
  • Space theme not for everyone

Gloomhaven

Players: 1-4
Ages: 12+
Game play60 – 120 mins

Gloomhaven is a multi award winning thematic strategy game from Cephalofair Games.

A very deep game that is intended to be played over several sessions, Gloomhaven requires players to co-operate by necessity in order to progress successfully through this fantasy world.

Each player takes on the role of a wandering mercenary with their own special set of skills and their own motives. As the players move through this world they enhance their abilities with experience and loot, discover new locations to explore and plunder, and expand an ever-branching story fueled by the decisions they make.

Extremely diverse and customisable characters combined with a huge range of missions make for great replay value. People love the random elements of this game along with the asymmetry of characters, both adding to variety and providing further depth in possible scenarios.

Overall, Gloomhaven is an excellent dungeon crawling adventure game, and for many gamers, this represents the best game that has ever been created.

Pros:

  • Very deep and complex story
  • Addictive story lines
  • Large magnitude of possible scenarios
  • Beautiful miniatures and artwork

Cons:

  • Huge amount of pieces and long setup time
  • Can be overwhelmingly complex
  • Expensive

Great Western Trail

Strategy board game

Players: 2-4
Ages: 12+
Game play75 – 150 mins

Great Western Trail is an exciting board game settled in the dramatic scenery of the nineteenth century’s Texas. This strategy game invites you to ship cattle from Texas to Kansas City by train in an epic adventure.

Each milestone reached can earn you money and victory points, but it takes entrepreneurial spirit to decide when to trade your livestock and how to ace the game. Apparently complex but quite simple, this game is perfect for players aged twelve or older and it takes approximately two and a half hours to complete.

Users and experts agree this is a fun family game full of exciting decisions and strategies. The planning to move your cattleman is interesting while the entire game blends challenging decisions with more straightforward actions that appeal to both inexperienced and avid strategy gamers alike.

Pros:

  • Ideal for beginners
  • Flawless board design
  • Exciting theme
  • Great for 2-4 players
  • High replay value

Cons:

  • Too simple for some experts
  • Some components can feel cheap

Twilight Imperium

Players: 3-6
Ages: 14+
Game play: 240–480 mins

Twilight Imperium is a two decades old tactical strategy board game capable of conquering generation after generation through rich storytelling. The latest edition invites you to explore the newest worlds of the Twilight Imperium legacy in an epic game for three to six players.

Take command of one of the seventeen alien civilizations and compete for interstellar political, trade, and warfare dominance in a race to supremacy. Each faction offers a unique gameplay experience and different paths to victory.

Users and experts praise the game’s capacity to generate unique space operas each time you sit down to play. The Fourth Edition of the game places a strong emphasis on player interaction and redefines the concept of an epic board game targeted to players 14 or older.

Pros:

  • Randomised board structure
  • Deep, complex strategy game
  • Perfect for 3-6 players
  • Excellent replay value
  • More streamlined than previous editions

Cons:

  • Long running time
  • Expensive
  • The theme could be too extravagant for some players

Through the Ages

Players: 2-4
Ages: 14+
Game play: 120 mins

A very popular game that has been evolving and improving over the past decade, Through the Ages has firmly cemented itself as one of the top classic strategy board games.

Beginning with a small tribe, you must make critical decisions to ensure your civilization prospers through different periods of history. From military, to politics, to the economy, to technological advancements, the strategies you employ will determine how your population fares vs competing groups.

Figures such as Napoleon, Einstein, Shakespeare and Bill Gates all make appearances and their skills can be leveraged to help you develop different aspects of your progress.

While very deep and complex, the consensus amongst players is that those who make the commitment to learn this game will be handsomely rewarded with engrossing thematic gameplay full of exciting strategy and decision making.

Pros:

  • Ownership and development of your own civilization is very engrossing
  • Strategy and decision making make gameplay very enjoyable
  • Good rule book structure
  • Efficient game mechanics
  • Cards ensure no game is ever the same

Cons:

  • A fairly complex game that takes commitment to learn
  • Run time can be very long

Star Wars: Rebellion

Players: 2-4
Ages: 14+
Game play: 180 – 240 mins

An exquisite, thematic strategy game, perfect for groups of family and friends alike, Star Wars: Rebellion cleverly captures the essence of the Star Wars theme and storyline while also providing excellent gameplay.

Star Wars: Rebellion is an epic game of cat and mouse between The Empire and The Rebels. The Rebels win the game by evading The Empire and gaining support throughout the galaxy. The Empire wins if they find the Rebel base and destroy The Rebel troops set there to defend it.

The various moves and missions are true to Star Wars lore, with your favourite characters being assigned to various adventures across the galaxy. Combat can be engaged by with side and can be either ground based or in space.

The two piece board is impressive and expansive, while the pieces are also delightful, true to style from creator Fantasy Flight Games.

Easier to learn than some other strategy games, and great for a wide range of players, this game will please beginners and die-hard gamers alike.

Pros:

  • Great thematic gameplay
  • Addictive “cat-and-mouse” dynamic
  • Asymmetry of Empire vs Rebels adds to depth and variety
  • Medium complexity strategy game great for all levels of player

Cons:

  • Combat play can seem needlessly complex
  • Rules can get a bit complicated
  • Die-hards will prefer less randomness in combat
  • Game play can run long

Dominion: Prosperity

Players: 2-4
Ages: 13+
Game play30 mins

Prosperity is the fourth addition to the popular deck building game Dominion. It is not a standalone game, meaning you have to own either Dominion or Intrigue to play. Yet, Prosperity adds enhancing mechanics to the original game, boosting its overall value.

As its name suggests, the central theme of Prosperity is wealth. The 25 new Kingdom cards include powerful expensive cards, treasure cards, victory tokens, and cards that interact with treasures.

Both users and experts appreciate the interesting tweaks this expansion set brings to the game. The simplicity of the cards and the overall value they bring can easily take Dominion to a whole new level most players will enjoy.

Pros:

  • Incredible combo potential with other expansions
  • The perfect first expansion for Dominion
  • Cards introduce new ways to play
  • Excellent replay value

Cons:

  • Not a standalone game
  • Makes the game harder for beginners

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