If you are a fellow strategy board games aficionado, you would have gone through the elaborate and time-consuming process of searching for the best strategy board games without perhaps even finding one. Or maybe, everything sounds great to you and you just want to buy everything.

We get it. It is an exciting but overwhelming time for strategy board games as they have come a long way since Battleship. Nowadays, much more is on offer, such as immersive themes and art, innovative gameplay, brain-burning puzzles, and gritty battles of wits. Especially with Kickstarter churning out more and more quality board games every year, it is a struggle to decide which are the best ones to buy.

In this article, we have compiled a list of the 10 best strategy board games that add some top bang for the buck to your games collection. Regardless of what you are looking for, we’ve got your back!

Image Player Count / Time / Age / DifficultyTop 10 Strategic Board Games

Best Selling Strategy Game – Catan

Best Selling Strategy Game – Catan

With over $18 million copies sold, it is the most successful strategy board game ever made. It is accessible for everyone to try their luck to dominate the island of Catan by building settlements, cities, and roads.

3 – 460-120 Min8+Easy

Best Light Strategy – Wingspan

Best Light Strategy – Wingspan

Both tactical and strategic medium weight masterpiece. An incredibly refined card-driven, engine-building game play where players take on roles of researchers attracting birds to your wildlife preserves.

1 – 540-70 Min10+Easy

Best Engine Building Strategy – Scythe

Best Engine Building Strategy – Scythe

A beautifully crafted steampunk world set up in set in an alternate-history of 1920s. Lead your faction to victory by conquering land, mining resources, building, recruiting and using monstrous mechs.

1 – 490-115 Min12+Medium

Best Cooperative Strategy – Pandemic

Best Cooperative Strategy – Pandemic

One of the most renowned cooperative experiences in the board gaming world. Take on the roles of disease-fighting specialists to stop virus outbreaks by working together to save the world from extinction.

2 – 445 Min10+Easy

Best Family Strategy – Carcassonne

Best Family Strategy – Carcassonne

A tile placement board game where players build out the city in southern France. It comes with lots of player interactions and easy, but challenging decision making that is both fast-paced and fun.

2 – 530-45 Min8+Easy

Best WW2 Strategy – Axis & Allies Pacific 1940

Best WW2 Strategy – Axis & Allies Pacific 1940

An incredibly thematic war strategy board game that recreates the events of WW2 in the Pacific. Everything about this game is epic – an oversized board, 450 miniatures, and tense strategic gameplay.

2 – 4360 Min12+Medium

Best Strategic Adventure – The Voyages of Marco Polo

Best Strategic Adventure – The Voyages of Marco Polo

Recreate an iconic journey of Marco Polo by traveling, visiting cities and trading various commodities. The game manages to pack an enormous amount of action and fun into a relatively short game.

2 – 440-100 Min12+Medium

Best Cold War Strategy – Twilight Struggle

Best Cold War Strategy – Twilight Struggle

A two-player rivalry where players take on sides of the USA and the USSR. A true pinnacle of game design, strategic depth, thematic experience, and player interaction. A must-try for almost anyone!

2120-180 Min14+Medium

Best Economic Strategy – Brass: Birmingham

Best Economic Strategy – Brass: Birmingham

A one of a kind economic strategy board game where players compete as entrepreneurs during the British industrial revolution. It is an intense, brain-burning challenge where you develop, build, and establish industries to try and exploit low or high market demands.

2 – 460-120 Min14+Hard

Best Civilization Building Strategy – Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization

Best Civilization Building Strategy – Through the Ages

A highly strategic civilization-building game where players can advance and win using science, military or overall civilization advance. It uses real historical leaders and events to make it thematic. With a multitude of strategies and great replayability, it game feels different every time.

2 – 4120 Min14+Hard

1. Best Selling Strategy Board Game – Catan

In the game of Catan (formerly The Settlers of Catan), you race your opponents to 10 Victory Points by erecting new cities, settlements and connecting them with trade routes as a settler in a new and uncharted land.

The game was first published in 1995 and since then has become a true classic. In fact, having sold over 18 million copies worldwide, it is one of the best strategy board games of all time.

In short, Catan is a light board game packed with strategic depth about resource management and assessing risks.

Catan The Board Game - an awesome all time classic from Z-Man Games

At the beginning of the game, you build your board with hexagon pieces with a resource type on them and ‘claim’ the resource with your starting settlements. Then, you assign a number token to every hexagon on the board.

With every dice roll, you get raw materials on the corresponding hexes if you have a settlement on them. Catan incorporates bartering and trading, so plan to negotiate with your neighbors for the top deals. It also doesn’t restrict your card limit, so you can hoard as many cards as you want.

The thief is another layer of strategic depth ingrained in the game. Instead of a number, the sandy desert tile on the board is assigned a thief. The thief steals half your hand if you have more than 7 cards when you roll a 7. Not only that, but you can also make any resource tile a wasteland by moving the thief there. So if you don’t like to play nice, you can find yourself royally screwed over by your neighbors’ strategic thief placements.

There are tons of decisions in Catan that will make or break your game. It is a fun entry game for beginners, but also an awesome game for experienced players to sharpen their wits. It can be slow when people are taking their sweet time making decisions. Although originally made for 2-4 players, you can expand it to include up to 2 more players with their expansion packs.

PROS
easy rules for new playersEasy to pick up rules, beginner friendly
High player interaction
latest version in the seriesLots of strategic depth for a light game
popular expansions products for an extra personExpandable to include more players
CONS
No way to catch-up when losing
Some dependency on luck rolls

2. Best Light Strategy Board Game – Wingspan

If birdwatching doesn’t sound interesting to you, be prepared to change your mind.

With a stack of 170 beautifully illustrated cards and player boards, Wingspan takes a typically boring hobby and turns it into a game of wonder and discovery suitable for all ages.

You take on the role of a bird enthusiast trying to attract the most unique birds to your aviary.

Your job is to sort and place the right birds into your habitat. After that, you can use the bird’s abilities to get more rewards and lay eggs for you.

Your goal is to win by grabbing as many points as possible through your birds, eggs, and achieving objectives.

Wingspan Game from the Stonemaier Games is a modern take on clever and difficult features.

With so many different bird cards, you might struggle to draw the rare bird you need if Lady Luck frowns upon you. However, the easy-to-play but hard-to-master philosophy is exactly why we love it.

Between balancing your food source, growing your habitat, using bird abilities, laying eggs, it is a solid engine-builder game that needs you to crack your head for the most mind-blowing combos. There are many ways to nullify bad draws in the game if you look careful enough.

In addition, the game can be a great learning fun for your kids as well. Asides from the strategic aspect of the game, each bird card comes with an interesting bird fact, which makes it a great educational piece. Besides, if you are into a solo learning session, you can play the game by yourself too!

Wingspan is an unexpected but refreshing twist on typical strategy games where game designers have nailed the theme and the game play. Every round is tight – you have to pay attention to all the details to maximize your chances of winning. The theme of the game is further elevated by the thick stack of beautifully-designed cards. All in all, it is hands down one of the best strategy board games for families and don’t let the theme turn you off.

PROS
Released by Stonemaier Games publisherBeautifully illustrated
Tight engine-building mechanism
Every game plays differently
Supports a party of up to five playersFamily-friendly, accessible
CONS
Luck-based card draws
The theme may put some people off

3. Best Engine Building Strategy – Scythe

Scythe is a stunning engine-building strategy board game that zooms in on the chaos after the capitalistic city-state ‘Factory’ closed down.

You, the fallen leader of a faction, desperately want that technology, but so do four other rival factions.

Peace doesn’t seem possible after all, as all of you expand your lands and conquer new frontiers.

In Scythe, you act as the leader of a post-war dystopian nation in alternate 1920s Europe, eager to return your faction to its former glory.

It is a bit of a worker placement game as you control and place workers on the map to acquire land riches and take actions.

Everything you can do is listed on your action board: constructing buildings, make enlistments, and so on.

The difficulty in Scythe lies in its many components and levels. Just to mention a few, you have your action board, faction board, mechs, faction-specific skills, character abilities. Besides that, everyone starts with different stats. With so many things on your plate, you have to balance each component to do what’s best for your faction while keeping a wary eye at your enemies.

Military engagements are won by making right choices and skill. You can use combat cards to give you an edge when you have to battle your enemies. Albeit challenging, you can also incorporate military encounters into your winning approach so that you get to control what happens.

Once you get the hang of the gameplay, you can link up efficient and deadly combos for your faction. However, it takes at least 2 hours to play for experienced players despite having streamlined action mechanics.

Scythe is an imaginative but hardcore engine-building strategy board game that has lots of components and space for you to flex your strategic capabilities with. You can either play it solo or with up to four other players. It is a long game, but with streamlined action mechanisms, time flies by. Especially if you are having fun annihilating other factions.

PROS
having to fight your opponent is not mandatoryDeep strategic gameplay
amazing fantasy product funded by KickstarterClever and streamlined game mechanics
Brilliantly executed steampunk theme
Skill-based battle
CONS
Too many components
Repetitive beginning phase

4. Best Cooperative Strategy – Pandemic

Pandemic is a fully cooperative game from Z-Man Games that puts you and other players in a world plagued with deadly diseases.

Humanity is ending and all hopes of curing the world of disease lie on the shoulders of you and your elite team. How will you work together with your team to save the world?

As a disease-fighting specialist you get armed with unique skills and need to travel around the world to meet up with other players placed around the world and cooperate together to put an end to the humanity threatining epidemic.

Pandemic by z-man games is one of the classic coop strategies out there

The team work is at the core of the game and is crucial to get it right if you want to win the game and cure four diseases characterized by neon color cubes.

Pandemic features 7 characters with unique abilities that make sense with the story, like the ability to travel further or use fewer cards to cure diseases. That being said, they are not obscenely powerful, so no worries of anyone sitting idly while you play. You can also get more characters from expansions to add more variety to your game.

The ability to share knowledge is also a great mechanic that elevates team work and makes players think collectively on the best ways to collaborate. It opens up a deeper layer of planning since you can only share cards under certain circumstances. You have to think carefully or else you might tank your team’s approach.

Urgency and tension are ever-present in Pandemic. Diseases are constantly spreading while you are working around the clock to eradicate it. After every turn, you draw 3 city cards to infect cities. When you add the 4th same-colored cube to a city, an outbreak spreads the disease to adjacent cities.

Synergizing your approach with your teammates and making the best calls are essential since drawn city cards get reshuffled into the deck and will come back to haunt you again.

Ultimately, Pandemic is one of the best cooperative strategy board games because it encourages a lot of precise planning. The winner is the team and so is the looser, hence the ability for a group of people to effectively collaborate is crucial to winning the game.

Despite its challenges, it is a very accessible game that works with everyone, no matter how experienced you are. The game can be punishing and brutal, but with enough communication, you can alleviate some of the constant tension and urgency in the game.

PROS
different viruses on the grid of the worldVariable game play with different diseases and events each time
High player interaction
One of the top cooperative strategies on the market
Easy to learn
CONS
Not for individualistic players

5. Best Family Strategic Fun – Carcassonne

Carcassonne is a classic entry level strategy tabletop game brought to us by Z-Man games. It centers around piecing a beautiful map together based in south of France.

With 70 detailed landscape board pieces, your job is to gain the most amount of points by laying and claiming tiles with your Meeples.

In every turn, players draw tiles and place them adjacent to other tiles already in play. The main rule is that you must match the sides and connect roads to roads, land to land or bulidings to buildings.

Your roads and rivers have to lead somewhere and landmass can’t be sliced up abruptly.

The way to win Carcasonne lies in claiming tiles. You can claim any area to score points unless somebody claimed it first. However, you can’t always predict what your rivals will do, and vice versa.

Sometimes you claim a city with great potential, only to have your rivals thwart you by putting down borders that end your growing city. Sometimes you snub your opponent’s winding roads. The possibilities are endless!

Recommended to be played with children and young teams

Competition isn’t treated as seriously in Carcasonne as other competitive strategy board games. You can almost always catch up, so you don’t have to make many loaded with thinking decisions upfront.

Ultimately, Carcassone is about fun while putting together a beautiful landscape from small mosaic pieces with your friends. The game can be played in a mere 30 minutes, making it a staple for quick game nights.

Carcassonne is a great casual strategy game for beginners. It is a board game built on simple board gaming elements and has simple rules, yet it ripes with opportunities to sabotage other players with a very surprising strategic depth.

It is one of the best strategy board games for 2 players as this speeds up the turns and creates a more competitive atmosphere for two people to have a health head to head rivalry. Beautiful game board landscapes are the icing on the cake that really adds to the overall enjoyment the game manages to deliver.

PROS
can be played in 30 minutesFast-paced gameplay
easy to pick for familiesFamily-friendly strategic fun
Settlements, fields and trade routes look amazingFinished game board looks amazing
recommended for up to 5 playersReplay value
simple, easy to read rulesSimple rules
CONS
Tile drawing may feel random for some

6. Best War Strategy – Axis & Allies Pacific 1940

Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 (second edition) transports you to the beginning of the Pacific theatre of World War II.

Each player takes an ally side choosing from Australia, New Zealand, USA and UK or an axis side represented by Japan.

Your goal is to either rack up Victory points or conquer crucial ports to secure your win.

best military strategy board games for an intensive game night

No matter which country and which side you take, there are tons of things to keep track of, like kamikaze attacks, neutral nations, and military formations. The new anti-aircraft artillery also adds depth to the game, since there are many rules imposed on the use of these effective machines.

Japan feels overpowered early in the game, hence the game may feel punishing at first. Thematically, this design is intentional, it does so to reflect the real historical events of the time and it does it well. Later, the entry of the USA in the third round is a major game-changer. With wartime economy, the USA can generate a lot more income, which means the game can tilt heavily towards the Allies’ favor if you are not careful.

At the same time, the perceived lead doesn’t guarantee your win since the game has enough potential for surprising twists. As Japan, you have lots of opportunities to retaliate, especially since you know what is coming. We love the constant back and forth between players on the board as it creates a tense and stressful war-like atmosphere.

For a global scale world war 2 theatre, you can combine Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 with Axis & Allies Europe 1940 boards. With the world at your control, get ready to play through tons of grand drama, story, and strategic play.

With improved mechanics and high quality miniatures, a huge board, as well as immersive storylines, Axis & Allies 1940 2nd edition is easily one of the best military strategy games of all time. It requires thinking through, concentration and time to play, but its attention to history is impeccable. You and up to 4 of your friends are sure to enjoy the game night if you are into WW2 strategy games.

PROS
top pick if you like playing wars with your friendsDetailed and realistic miniatures
each player takes axis or allies sideCan be combined with Axis & Allies Europe 1940 for the ultimate experience
easy to read rulesDriven by accurate historical events
One of the best WW2 board games you can buy
favorite A&A game in the seriesOur favorite version of the game in the Axis & Allies series
CONS
Can take more than 4 hours to play
large box and also expensiveLarge box and too many components to keep track of

7. Best Adventure Strategy – The Voyages of Marco Polo

The Voyages of Marco Polo recreates the famous Marco Polo’s journey across land and sea that we all know of from the books and movies.

You go on an adventure of your own as one of the unique characters from the stories of Marco Polo.

Other players ,your fellow voyagers will try to rack up more money and successes than you, so be wary!

You set sail from Venezia with 5 dice, some coins, a camel, a free resource, and unconstructed trading posts.

The Voyages of Marco Polo updated version

The dice determines how many actions you can take. Two of your dice are used to determine how far you can travel while others are used to determine things like raw materials to buy.

The spirit of The Voyages of Marco Polo lies within how you allocate dice for your actions. It is played over 5 quick rounds. So, you have a lot to do in a very short amount of time. Without proper planning, your journey is doomed to fail.

Like true traveling merchants, you have to complete contracts for specific rewards or Victory Points. Contracts are integral to the game since they give you an extra 5 VPs for the most contracts completed. You have to deliver goods from bazaars or set-up trading posts to people you meet in your journey.

one of the finest products as far as artwork and design is concerned

Doing anything requires funds and/or camels, which is why built trading posts are such important commodities. It generates extra income for you to fund your travels or give you extra physical materials needed for your contracts.

Thankfully, if you are stuck in a rough spot, you can sometimes turn the tables with your character ability, like getting an extra Meeple to move or choosing a dice number. With so much to do in so little time, The Voyages of Marco Polo can bring out the indecisiveness in all of us. But with seasoned players, this game promises a world of fun and adventure.

The Voyages of Marco Polo is essentially a worker placement game with a couple of well-executed and streamlined mechanics thrown in. Coupled with great thematic and character design, it creates an immersive world filled to the brim with complex strategies and competitive spirit.

PROS
simple yet engaging resource managementSimple but robust gameplay
basedHistorically accurate thematic experience
Vibrant artwork
Special, potentially game-changing character abilities
CONS
Some players might suffer from decision paralysis

8. Best Colt War Strategy – Twilight Struggle

In Twilight Struggle, you relive the grim events of the most notorious Cold War in modern human history.

WWII has just ended and you are trying to spread your influence across Europe, either as the US or the USSR.

This is not for the faint-hearted, as the 3-odd hours you will spend playing Twilight Struggle is sure to be filled with trepidation, intensity, and loads of thinking.

It is a 10-round game with each round representing a particular time period in the Cold War.

Twilight Struggle is the latest and our favorite 2 person version of the game

The gameplay for Twilight Struggle is surprisingly simple for such a deep and complex board game.

Essentially, you try to defeat your enemy by drawing cards. But here’s the catch, both the US and USSR’s cards are shuffled into the same pile, so it is possible for you to draw your opponent’s cards. How would you negate the effects of these draws becomes a crucial part of your strategy.

In practice, the game is much more complicated and challenging than throwing cards at each other. The main elements of the game are controlled but ripe with opportunities for planning and sabotage. Take advantage of knowing each side’s strengths and weaknesses as well as when to exploit them.

Moreover, there are always things you have to look out for. How close to DEFCON 1 are you? Is your enemy planning to stage a coup? Are you falling behind in the space race? One wrong decision and you can kiss your victory goodbye. So what will you do, comrade? The choice is yours.

Twilight Struggle is an exceptional 2-player military strategy board game that recreates the ever-present tension of the Cold War. The tight and precise gameplay leaves no room for mistakes, which adds to the thrill of matching your strategic wit to your opponent’s. It will be a long and grueling game night, but the results are well worth the time and brainpower.

PROS
three hour game that is full of risk and tensionTight strategic gameplay
involved and tense diplomacyImmersive thematic experience of the cold war era
Well-executed card drawing system for balance
Educational fantasyEducational
CONS
 3 hour play or half a day to playCan take up to 3 hours to play
slim chance of catching upHard to catch up after slipping up

9. Best Economic Strategy Game – Brass: Birmingham

If you are looking for games built around business and capitalization, you are going to love Brass: Birmingham.

In this thrilling 2-4 player economic civilization-building strategy board game, you strive to create your empire and become the most successful businessman in Birmingham.

You start with a set amount of funds, assigned industries, and the order they must be built in.

Some industries give you resources and money when in use. Some, like pottery, can be shipped for rewards.

Brass Birmingham is our favorite economic grid and user board game
There are two eras in Brass: Birmingham – the canal era and the railroad era. You can only place canals and railroads at their respective eras. You calculate your points at the end of each era by flipping over your infrastructure, which will then be wiped out.

When you build your network, you will inevitably link yours with your competition, whether you like it or not. Instead of a disadvantage, you can make it work by tapping into your competition’s resources and accessing their market. This increases the interaction between players, which adds an element of tactics into the game.

Brass: Birmingham brilliantly injects information into the game in a way that leaves you both informed and uninformed at the same time. For example, you don’t know how much your industries are worth until you can flip them over after exhausting them.

But how would you keep generating income when they are depleted? By coyly reserving information from you, the game creates a lot of tension that encourages good strategy and smart decision making.

Because of this tendency to reserve information, it can be confusing to deal with the transition between two eras. At the end of the canal era, all the canals are removed from the board. It could be pivotal for some players, especially less experienced ones, as they may have no idea what to do or how the canal placements affect the next, rail era.

Brass: Birmingham is one of the best strategy board games for adult gamers interested in economy or business. The game deliberately leaves you in the dark sometimes, forcing you to think hard and work smart. Once you get over the steep learning curve, expect a huge payout in satisfaction from great strategic decisions and interactive plays.

PROS
watch video or a movie, read books andBeautiful and thematic artwork
Amazing player interaction
create your economic empireDiversified choices in industries and winning strategy
Economic strategy benchmark
CONS
takes involved dedication to maser, harf to teachTakes time to learn
expensive & pricey for the userSteep price

10. Best Civilization Strategy – Through the Ages

Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization (aka. TtA) is a civilization-building strategy game that is played in 5 ages.

Throughout those ages, you compete against your fellow pioneers to build the most mature civilization through allocating food, resources, workers, technology, and military.

The game is hardcore, big and simply mindblowing. With 329 civilian and military cards as well as over 200 plastic cubes and tokens, be prepared to spend about 2 hours of pure strategic civilization-building fun.

Through The Ages: A New Story of Civilization - from the Czech Games publisher

The civilian and military cards consist of leaders, military tactics, and events that will make your civilization thrive. Leadership is an important part of history and it shows in your civilization. Leaders in every age help grow your civilization with a special skill, the benefits of which you need to assess and choose wisely. Events drawn could be brutal and could potentially throw your chances in the bin as they are often unpredictable.

The military tactics system in the previous game is often abused to get the most overpowered military. But, in this game, tactics cards are shared and can be bought with military points. Besides that, you also build your army through military units, which complicates the decision-making process as points are scarce. Thankfully, since there isn’t actually a map, you can’t ever lose territory.

As you build your civilization, more factors come into play. Worker placement is important since they build buildings that produce raw materials. But at the same time, you have to take care of your urban and military development so that your population stays happy and you’re safe from foreign attacks. A balanced run is key here since if you lag too far behind, you might never catch up.

Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization is an exceptionally-designed civilization-building strategy game. It simulates many decisions a pioneer have to make when creating a new society, which makes decision making a lengthy but fun process. Long playtime aside, you might also find it hard to catch up if you fall behind.

PROS
The most engaging civilization-builder on the market
Win via technological advances or military strength
Real historical leaders, events, and buildings
also has a digital version to choose

Has a digital version with thousands of loyal fans

CONS
Catching up is challenging

Conclusion

Playing strategy board games are naturally harder since you need some brainpower to play them well and usually plenty of time on your game night. At the same time, there are some strategic entry-level options that can be enjoyed in around 30 minutes. So if you’ve managed to get things organized and have the right group of people – spending time with a top pick strategy tabletop game can make a remarkable and memorable game night.

Before you dash out buying and making difficult purchase decisions, we would like to quickly recap the games featured in our top 10 review to help you choose the right one.

If your group is into WW2 movies, we would recommend Axis & Allies Pacific 1940 2nd edition for being dramatic and historically accurate. By that extension, Twilight Struggle is great for history buffs since it is based on true events of the Cold War tension between the two world superpowers.

Alternatively, if you are into the business side of history, Brass: Birmingham can be a thrilling ride as you build your business network across Birmingham during an industrial boom. On a side note, Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization is also a great worker placement and civ-builder board game to recreate history with.

Wingspan and Carcasonne are some of the most recommended games for a family fun. These games are easy to learn and quick compared to other strategy board games. Pandemic is also an awesome way to learn cooperation through board games for your kids.

Lastly, if you are looking for a strategic nirvana for a wider group of six players, make sure to check out Game of Thrones that made it to our top 10 six player board game review.

Do you agree with our picks? Let us know what kind of strategy board games you like in the comments below and what you would have picked for your game night?