If orange is the new black, then board games are new entertainment. Indeed, the fever of board strategies has conquered the whole world, especially at such a hard time when self-isolation is a must.
You do not know how to spend quality time with your family without being bored at home? If so, we’re here to help. On the other hand, in case you have already tried playing board games and want to figure out which one should add to your collection, you will also find here some helpful suggestions.
It’s important to have a positive atmosphere at home, especially at such times. In this list, we will focus on family games that can be enjoyed with your kids and elderly parents. Still, self-isolation is going to be over sooner or later. Therefore, you can already plan what board games you will purchase for your first post-quarantine gaming night. We hope our advice would be of great use!
Now, let’s jump into it and revise the top 10 best strategy board games you can find online.
Splendor: the Best Rated Strategy Board Game on Amazon
- Splendor is a game of chip-collecting and card development. Players are merchants trying to buy gem mines, means of transportation, shops—all in order to acquire the most points.
- Recommended age 10 and up
- Number of Players: 2 to 4
- Game Time: 30 minutes
- Includes: 40 gems ‘poker style’ weighted tokens: 7 × 5 Colors (green, blue, red, White, black) + 5 Jokers (yellow)/ 90 Development cards (63.5×88 millimeter): 40 level 1, 30 level 2, 20 level 3 / 10 noble tiles (60×60 millimeter)
One of the best strategy board games of all time, Splendor takes place in the era of the European Renaissance. You play as a merchant who has just discovered the value of gems. As you mine stones that later transform into shiny jewels, lay trade routes and sell goods to local nobles, you collect prestige points. The player with the most points wins!
Splendor was named “Game of the Year” in 2014 for a reason. It’s not too difficult for children, universal for a game night, and a perfect family evening match. High-quality packaging (for example, poker-style plastic tokens), simple rules and addictive gameplay make Splendor a real classic. Finally, it’s very popular and has the most reviews on Amazon, which – together with factors we’ve already mentioned – makes it possibly the best economic strategy board game of 2020.
- a great option for couples
- nice game for kids: ages 10+
- quick-turning rounds
- not hard for understanding & easy to play
- replayable and historically educational
- up to 4 players only
- the board game includes small parts;
- not recommended for children under 3 years
- not eligible for international shipping
Codenames: What if You Were a Spy?
- For 2 8+ Players
- 15 minute playing time
- Age 14 and up
The second place of our list goes to the Codenames board game, which is in the collection of every avid board game lover. The concept may sound pretty complicated, but bear with us, you’ll like it.
You play in two teams; the leader of each team is a spymaster. Masters have a list of codenames for 25 special agents who must guess their them based on verbal clues. However, players should only guess the names of their agents without accidentally getting on the cards of their opponents. And of course, no one wants to run into the assassin’s card!
For example: if the master says “animal” as a clue for the codename Dog or Cat, this is a great hint. But if opponents have an agent named Lion, this is a bad clue. Spymasters need to name a word that won’t lead their teams to the names of opponents. In this case, “pet” is more suitable as a clue.
Even though the rules seem clunky and boring, you will navigate them in a few minutes. This is a really fun team game where you have to stretch your logic skills and have a blast over failures.
- family-friendly: made for players over 14 years old
- up to 8 players can play the game
- fast-changing rounds (15 mins)
- a lot of fun
- very well known words game
- there are a lot of expansions available
- not really fitting for a couple
- choking hazard
- does not ship internationally
Ticket To Ride: Build the Longest Railway!
- A fast-paced, award-winning board game
- Connect iconic North American cities and build your train routes to earn points
- Players must compete to grab the best train cards and routes before their opponents
- Ticket cards challenge you to plan ahead and connect two faraway cities for additional points
- 2 to 5 players, 60 minutes, 8+
The next game in our top-3 list is the award-winning Ticket to Ride, which takes you back to the beginnings of the rail industry in North America. Players collect train cards, which then allow building railway routes. Connect the famous US cities by rail, trying to create the longest continuous path. You will receive extra points for completing Destination Tickets and creating the longest railway.
This is a very simple strategy board game that you will learn in just a few minutes. But this does not take away all those positive impressions that you’ll get as the rounds go! Ticket to Ride is a great example of a family board game, a long-known classic that helps children remember the location of major American cities and introduces them to the historical context of the industrial revolution.
- fast pace; rounds changing quickly
- great for 2 to 6 players, i.e. couples and parties
- compatible with Alexa
- kids-friendly: ages 8+
- nice visual design
- 60 minutes for a campaign (sometimes it takes 30 minutes, though)
- has got small parts
- not available for international shipments
Catan: Create Your Own Empire
- The incredibly popular, multi award winning civilization building board game of harvesting and trading resources
- Players control their own civilization and look to spread across a modular hex board in a competition for victory points
- Beware the robber’s nefarious plans as he steals resources and plunders the wealthy
- 3 to 4 players, 60 minutes, ages over 10
One of the top strategies worldwide, Catan was awarded numerous titles, including the “Game of the Century.” It’s widely known not only in the United States but internationally as well.
In this game, you play as the first settlers of a rich and uncharted land called Catan. Explore new horizons, acquire resources, and make profitable deals to establish your empire. Expand wisely: if you attract too much attention, other players will try to outfight you. For example, they can steal your goods or destroy the road you built. The player who gets to 10 points becomes the winner!
Catan board game is popular enough for people to already know how to play. And if you’re combatting with first-time-players, do not worry, the rules are extremely simple. It will take one round to understand all the game features and discover the path to complex tactical decisions.
According to some reviews, Catan may seem repetitive, but this is only possible if you completely exclude randomization from the gameplay. Also, unlike many other board games, Catan encourages a long-term perspective and careful planning. Is it enough to make it the best strategy board game for the family? Get your version and let’s see what you think!
- kids-friendly: ages 10+
- an award-winning game that received global recognition
- rules are easy to learn
- each round is unique
- not great for couples
- long rounds
- choking hazard
- not for international shipping
- Completely redesigned rulebook to make learning the game easier
- Introduces the Abbot mini expansion and a new version of the river
- Game and expansions have sold over 10 million copies worldwide
- 2 – 5 players
In the Carcassonne board game, players lay out the tiles depicting a surrounding area around the fortified castle and place different figurines on top to collect points. There are only four figurine classes: monk, thief, farmer, and knight. Each of them works best on a certain type of tile: for example, monks on monasteries, knights on cities, farmers on fields, and thieves on roads.
As your board expands, you will have more opportunities to disrupt your opponent’s plans. For example, if you do not place the figurine on your own land, someone else can do it for you.
In Carcassonne, it is not only possible to make mischievous plans against each other; you can also collaborate. For example, build a road together with another player to get as many points as possible. Or maybe you are going to deceive their expectations? Who knows!
This is a colorful, picturesque and simple game that offers clear rules and the opportunity to get together at the table with the whole family. Try Carcassonne and tell us how you liked this modern classic!
- game for groups of 2 to 5
- mini-expansions included in the pack
- a wide range of interactions is possible
- 35-minute fast-paced rounds
- safe for toddlers
- includes small parts;
- not recommended for toddlers
- shipping internationally is unavailable
- For 3 7 players
- 30 minute playing time
- Great strategy game
Our next strategy board game is Seven Wonders. Here, your main goal is to build one of the seven Wonders of the world in the span of three Ages. Before the start, select one of the Wonders and get 3 coins and 7 cards of Age I.
Cards of different colors reflect the various structures that need to be built for your civilization.
- Thanks to the blue cards you collect victory points.
- Yellow ones have mainly economic effects: for example, changing the rules of trade, giving points, etc.
- Green cards also give victory points; this time, it depends on the three symbols that are indicated on them.
- Red cards boost your military power, which will help you defeat your opponents.
- Finally, brown and gray ones provide resources for buildings.
Having chosen a card, you can perform any of three actions: execute the direct effect of the card in exchange for resources; invest into your Wonder; or sell a card for 3 coins. You don’t have enough resources for direct effect execution? Buy them for 2 coins from your neighbors.
Age I ends when you play 6 cards. As soon as the Age ends, a military battle takes place where you receive victory and defeat tokens. At the end of the game, count all your points. If you’ve got the most points, you are a winner!
- up to 7 players can join in
- 30-min rounds
- the world’s most awarded game
- fitting for ages 13+
- not great for couples
- the rules are hard to grasp
- there are small parts in the set; careful with little kids!
- the game does not ship internationally
- A board game set in an alternate history 1920s period
- It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation and valor
- 1 to 5 Players
- 115 minutes playtime
- Game board measures 24.56 x 32.20 inches
Another great strategic game, Scythe takes place in an alternative post-war history of the 1920s. Each participant plays as the leader of the fallen country and tries to reclaim lost resources, increase the population, etc.
There are very few elements of luck: everything happens depending on your personal decisions. The players’ elimination and the destruction of units are impossible: you will start and end the campaign in the same group. Also, Scythe does not have the phases or rounds that we are used to. The gameplay resembles chronological storytelling that unravels right before your eyes, strictly depending on your actions.
The game comes with a huge set of rules. Although they are all perfectly understandable and well-written, it’s quite challenging to understand them properly and even harder to explain them to the first-time players. We could say this is one of the best WW1 strategy board games. Intense thinking is guaranteed!
- 1 to 5 players: you can even play alone!
- awesome design and great graphics
- suitable for kids over 14 years
- cool steam-punk vibes
- great for a family evening
- does not become stale for a long time
- 115 minutes of playtime
- choking hazard
- not competitive
- the rules are difficult:
- although they are clear, there’s just too much of them
- takes a lot of time to explain
Pandemic: Legacy – Better Than Your Favourite TV-Show
- For 2 to 4 Players
- 60 minute playing time
- Shape the world, the characters, and even the diseases
- Ever changing elements means that every game will be unique to your group
- An epic twist on the now classic Pandemic mechanisms
Attention! A pandemic has begun! For several years now, surviving groups have been trying to resist the virus and save humanity. However, their efforts were not enough. That’s where we, the players, enter the game: our goals are to establish supplies to different cities, invent a vaccine, and explore how the global infection started. Remember your favorite Netflix series? Let’s face it, Pandemic: Legacy is much better!
The mechanics of the game are unique in their own way: if other games can be replayed many times, with a Pandemic, you just won’t get the same emotions as on the initial run. Each plot twist builds a chronological story, opening new territories and characters. As the rounds come to an end, tension builds up, and it becomes clear: the stakes are very high. Any decision you make is final. Also, the cards you’ve got must be torn in half! In a word, Pandemic: Legacy feels like watching a multi-part thriller, where everything depends on you.
The rules are quite hard to understand. Moreover, the gameplay changes all the time, introducing new conditions. Therefore, for inexperienced players, the creators recommend run a vanilla set (or at least the Prologue) once or twice. All in all, Pandemic: Legacy is one of the best strategy board games for adults that offers a whole new perspective and a vivid experience.
- ages 14+
- full edition: buy this set and start playing!
- a new approach to board games
- adrenaline rush guaranteed
- from 12 to 24 rounds to complete the game
- great for regular game nights
- the board and the whole game mechanics change overtime
- up to 4 players only
- long 60-minute rounds (up to 24 hours of gameplay in total)
- has got small parts; not for children
- one-timer: not replayable after finishing the campaign
- rules are quite hard to grasp
Calliope Tsuro: Easy Fun & Rounds Going Fast!
- Calliope Presents: An award winning game that is fun for any experience level, easy to learn & quick to play. Use strategy & luck to stay on the path to victory in this light & entertaining game
- Family Strategy Game: The board changes every time you play the game, making it unique and fun for adults and kids. Players are challenged to create and travel the Path as it builds before them
- Never the same game twice: The Path is an ever-changing mystery. With each turn, the maze grows and you must anticipate other players’ next moves. The wisest player will remain on their Path
- Come together and play: Sure to become a classic, this game is perfect for families, teens, adults & children. The faster play and simple rules make it a great filler for parties & game night
- Details: Tsuro is a family game for 2-8 players ages 8 and up. Have fun creating your Path in this visually stunning game. Includes 35 Path Tiles, 1 Dragon Tile, 8 Dragon Pawns, and Game Board
- For 2 to 8 players game
- 15 to 20 minute to play
- Attractive Asian themed box and components
- Quick to learn and play
- Great coffee table game
In Calliope Tsuro, players have road tiles at their disposal; at the beginning of the game, you need to put them in the deck face down. Each player takes three road tiles, keeping them secret from opponents. The round begins with the players placing their pebble markers on any of the white marks around the perimeter of the playing field. Then, each player puts a road tile on the board and rearranges a marker at the end of the resulting path. If the marker goes beyond the board, you are eliminated from the game. Also, if your and your opponent’s markers collide, you are eliminated together.
As the number of free cells decreases, you will have more chances to get off the board. Thus, your ultimate goal is to remain the last player on the field. To do this, you can place the tiles so that the resulting paths connect to your opponent’s. Since each marker should move towards the end of its path, you can force your opponent off the board!
This is a beautiful game with simple rules that you can figure out in less than 5 minutes. Because of that, it’s the best strategy board game for kids of 8 years and older. We are sure that Tsuro will appeal not only to your family but also to your children. Good luck in the upcoming rounds!
- great for kids; ages 8 and up
- 2-8 players; suits to couples and crowdy game nights
- short rounds up to 20 minutes
- rules are easy to grasp
- nice pick for a family evening
- gets boring over time
- choking hazard
Photosynthesis: Grow Trees & Score Points!
- The green strategy board game!
- Plant and shape the ever-changing forest as you cultivate your seeds and your strategy
- Take your trees through their life-cycle, from seedling to full Bloom to rebirth, and earn points as their leaves collect energy from the revolving sun’s rays
- Carefully pick where you Sow and when you grow, as trees in the Shadows are blocked from light, and from points
- 2 to 4 players. Ages 8 and up
Photosynthesis is a game where you grow trees. We know: how boring! However, do not be fooled by the simplicity of this idea: the gameplay in pretty deep and requires long-term planning.
Each player enters a game with two trees. As soon as they are touched by the sun rays, you get points that are used to acquire new seeds or grow your trees bigger. Your task is to reach the center of the board with the most fertile soil. But there’s a twist: the sun rotates around the board. Depending on its position, your trees cast shadows that may block out the access to the light. No light for your trees – no photosynthesis, and therefore no points!
Larger trees absorb more sun, but also cast larger shadows. When planting trees, you need to imagine the sun’s positions and think ahead about what trees are going to overlap. By the way, with just enough successful planning, you can block the light for your opponent’s trees.
This game is not only easy to understand but also has an excellent design. Each tree is drawn individually, so you won’t find two similar trees on the board. Photosynthesis might be the best 2-player strategy board game to spend some time with your child, friend or special one.
- nice game for couples
- educational and kids-friendly, ages: 8+
- rules are not hard to understand
- visually stunning
- short rounds
- up to 4 players only
- not recommended for children under 3 years
- not available for international shipping
- gets repetitive with time
- super simple and somewhat boring
FAQ: Everything You Wanted to Know
What is the best strategy board game for one player?
Among the ones we have already mentioned, you can try Scythe. Also, we would recommend trying Terraforming Mars, although we did not mention it in the top list.
How can you avoid buying knock-offs instead of licensed copies?
To avoid purchasing unlicensed copies, we recommend that you always check your seller’s account on Amazon. Be sure that it is an official seller. Read reviews, paying particular attention to the negative ones. Don’t save money on your board games: as a rule, fakes are cheaper, but their quality is worse as well. However, the bad quality is not always a sign of a knock-off. It could well be a fault of production.
How young a kid can be to start playing board games?
As early as 3 years old, many children begin to understand the rules of board games and learn to play them. Still, games for toddlers are way different from strategic board games that are loved and adored even by (and sometimes mostly by) adults. In general, it is recommended that you introduce your child to strategies at the age of 8 years old.
I am a board game expert. What would you recommend?
For experienced players who have long been interested in board games and have at least 30 titles at home (who will set a record of owning 50 or 100 board games?!), we would suggest playing Pandemic: Legacy. This is a completely new look at the industry, and the game feels more like watching a series.
What’s the best military strategy board game?
Although we didn’t mention these games in our article, Hannibal & Hamilcar, War of the Ring and Churchill would be a fitting purchase for military enthusiasts.
How We Tested
All games were tested in three different situations: at a noisy game party surrounded by at least 8 people; at a family evening with children and easily-impressionable grandmothers; and finally, in groups of two — for example, friends or lovers.
At the game night, we checked how exciting the experience is. A lot of players should be able to participate in the gameplay, at least groups of 4. But the more people, the better.
A family evening should ensure that all ages can play the game, from older people to children age 5 and up. So, the rules should be very simple and understandable. It’s great if you can explain them in one minute.
Finally, not only crowded companies are interested in board games. You can play board games one-on-one! The last test took place with a team of two people. Most often, the thrill of the game is lost as the number of players decreases, so the best 2-player strategy games should retain an element of surprise and be just as exciting.
Let’s take a look at the comparison table based on the results of our tests and see which of the games showed their best side.
|Positive feedback||Negative feedback||Indifferent|
|Party test||Codenames Splendor Catan Pandemic: Legacy Calliope Tsuro Carcassone 7 Wonders||Scythe||Photosynthesis Ticket to Ride|
|Family test||Photosynthesis Codenames Splendor Ticket to Ride Catan Calliope Tsuro Carcassone||Pandemic: Legacy||Scythe 7 Wonders|
|Couple test||Photosynthesis Splendor Ticket to Ride Carcassone Scythe||Codenames Catan Pandemic: Legacy 7 Wonders||Calliope Tsuro|
As you can see, the only games that gained positive reviews during all 3 rounds of testing are Splendor and Carcassone. If you want a universal strategy board game that can be played during the game night, on the family evening, and one-on-one, we would suggest you opt for these two.
The world of board games is very diverse. Each player will find their own perfect game regardless of what they prefer most: long-term strategies with a twisted plot, fun fast rounds, complex multi-stage rules or super-easy ones that can be retold in a minute.
One thing is clear: if you fall in love with board games, this thrill will remain with you for a long time.