The Best Strategy Board Games for 2018

The Best Strategy Board Games for 2018

How the best strategy board games become an inseparable part of Yuletide revelry remains inconclusive. But there’s no other form of entertainment that even comes close. It’s cheap, it’s fun and with some great new additions to the list, it’s no longer limited to nostalgic classics that your grandma helped you play.

Board games have undergone a sea of change while you were busy clacking away on Flappy Bird.

But strategy board games take interactivity and personalization to a new level. Take your good ol board game and add a dash of planning and formulation to it and you have a whole new recipe for fun.

Irrespective of whether it’s your first outing to the board game universe or whether you are a seasoned player looking for new challenges this upcoming holiday season, you are in the right place.

We have picked the best strategy board games for you from among the hundreds of new ones that were launched in recent times. So get ready to rack your wits and outsmart your fellow player.

 

#1 – Catan

catan strategy board game

Despite being launched as early as 1995, Catan or Settlers of Catan or Settlers for short, remains one of the most popular strategy board games in the world. The beauty of the game is that you cannot play it the same way more than once.

Gameplay:  Difficult.

Yeah, we hate to break it to you. But first timers usually find themselves at their wits end trying to figure out Settlers. But it’s not that difficult once you get a hang of things.

How to play

As a player or settler, you will be looking to create settlements, structures or holdings by trading resources. The bare minimum resources needed to get things going are awarded by drawing cards at the start.

There are 19 moving hexes on the board, each one producing one unique resource that you will need during the game. This can be wood or iron or grains or sheep. All of these hexes are surrounded by the ocean.

As the game progresses, you will have to decide how and when to trade each unique resource to create the longest standing or the largest holding on the board. Each holding or accomplishment card that you earn gives you one victory point. A city gives you two victory points and so on. The person that collects 10 victory points first wins the game.

Did that make sense? We know. Its sounds more complicated than it is.

How many people can play

While the base edition can be played between 3 to 4 people, you can add a multi-player extension that is available separately to extend the game play to 6 people.

Why we like it

With innumerable variations and endless possibilities to the board, you will never run out of excitement or challenges while playing Catan. If you have still not tried it, then this is our most recommended board game for you. Go ahead and try it now.

How to play Settlers – A Video Guide

#2 – 7 Wonders7 wonders strategy board game

 

There’s something about building mega cities and monoliths that catches your fancy every time. ‘7 wonders’ plays upon this premise and fills it up with endless ways of interaction, strategizing and resource gathering. You will be the leader of one of the ancient seven cities in the game and look to create the perfect wonder that will transcend the three ages that the game play progresses through.

Gameplay: Moderately difficult

Out of the box, the game can tend to be a tad confusing because there are notes explaining the various rules as well as in-game cards. However, as a beginner you do not need to understand all the rules right off the bat.

How to play

Each player receives a game board with two sides, A and B. The A side is the easier version and as a beginner you should stick to it. You will also receive a few starting resources that help you build your wonder. There are different colored cards with various features. The Brown and Grey cards are material cards or resources that you can use, lease out or sell to your neighbors.

Red cards are military cards and will help you build your own armies were conflicts to arise.

Yellow cards are your money cards that offer discounts or get you more coins.

Other than these there are the green, purple and blue cards which you will understand better as you learn the game.

In each of the ages, every player will receive seven cards from one deck which can then be traded, exchanged or bought using the resources you have. Depending on the type of cards you receive, you will be able to create your city or may have to fight off an aggressive neighbor.

The end goal is to receive as many points as possible. Simple!

How many people can play

Technically, 7 people can play the game at one time. However, the game is best played when there are between 3 to 5 players.

Why we like it

It’s fun! And with all the variations and rules, you will discover something new every time you play it. Go build your city folks.

How to play 7 Wonders – A video guide

 

 

#3 – Dominion

diminion strategy board game

 

If you have played Dominion before, then you’d be wondering what this card game is doing in a list of the best strategic board games. We agree, Dominion is technically a card-only deck building game without a board. But the keyword here is ‘Strategy’ and when the game play involves everything from neighboring kingdoms, armies and castles, it promises to be hell of a lot of fun.

Difficulty: Easy

Yeah, being a card-only game makes this one a lot easier to get used to as compared to the first two board games in this list. But do not let that make you believe that this is an inferior or less interesting game. It is not. In fact, it can be as challenging as 7 Wonders or Settlers.

How to play

You will need to configure the different set of cards before you start to play the game. There are Victory cards (Province, Duchy and Estate), treasure cards (gold, silver and copper) and Kingdom cards which need to be set in piles on the table. Lastly, there is a trash or discard card pile.

Each player will receive 7 Copper cards from the pile and 3 Estate cards from outside the pile that you set up. Once the configuration is done, you can shuffle the deck and begin the game.

Depending on the how each player plays his hands while drawing cards, they can build their deck and in the process buy cards to further strengthen it. There are four phases in the game, action, discard, draw and buy which are pretty self explanatory. To win, your deck must have the right mix of cards. Too many or too little of a particular type of card will usually lead to defeat.

The ultimate aim is to gain as many victory points as possible. When the three piles that you set up at the start is empty or when a player buys out the last remaining province, the game ends.

How many people can play

Up to 4 people can play Dominion. But the game is equally good even with just two players.

Why we like it

It’s simple yet challenging and intriguing enough to keep you hooked for hours. You will never feel bored because there isn’t a full-fledged board here. Hey, not to forget that it’s easier to carry as well.

 

How to play Dominion – a video guide

 

#4 – Agricola

agricola strategy board game

 

Agricola is Catan with a generous sprinkling of Farmville. You gather resources and build fences while trying to run your own farm. The end goal? Create the biggest farmhouse in the vicinity. But it’s not limited to laying hay and growing veggies anymore. Agricola also has a familial element to it because you start the game with your spouse and it gives you the option to add kids as the game play progresses.

Almost forgot to say, you can add a whole new range of characters and situations by adding expansion decks to the game.

Difficulty: Easy.

Despite being one of the most strategic and thought provoking board games in recent times, understanding the rules of Agricola is not tedious. There is a casual vibe to the game that makes it an excellent choice for kids and adults alike.

How to play

You start off the game as a farmer with a small farm land (standard game mode) or one with a family (family game mode). As the name suggests, the family game mode is the easier of the two

You have 14 turns with two possible actions per turn, one for you and one for your spouse. During these turns, you can increase the size of your farm as well as your family.

Adding newer members to your family increases the numbers of turns you get. The caveat is that it keeps adding to your list of responsibilities.

After six of the turns, you get special harvest turns during which you must feed your family and check if you have enough stock left.

Each player gets seven occupation cards and seven minor improvement action cards at the start of play. The jobs vary from animal breeder, clay mixer to even a magician while the minor improvements involve accomplishing small tasks like buying a new plow or sowing seeds.

As you progress through the game, you will be adding family members to the board and performing actions like gathering wood, harvesting crop, building a new fence or occasionally breaking bread. For a beginner, the sole aim should be to ensure that you feed the family.

For a game so simple, Agricola has a very cumbersome user manual. There are many good videos though that can guide you through the game if you find it difficult to understand.

How many people can play

Agricola is one of those rare games that plays out perfectly irrespective of the number of players playing it. However, most seasoned players recommend that 2-5 may be the best number of players to experience the game.

Why we like it

There’s so much variety that the cards add to the game. In addition to the base version, the expansion cards can add the likes of alien visitors to your farm. Completely worth every minute you spend playing it.

How to play Agricola –  a video guide

 

#5 – Ticket to ride

Ticket to ride strategy board game

Our final pick in this list of the best strategy board games is ‘ticket to ride’, the cross country train adventure game where you collect train cards to own travel routes that spans North America. This isn’t the iPhone game mind you. The board game preceded the app by almost a decade.

The board here is essentially a map and you keep connecting dots to build the longest railway route. That’s the end goal.

That doesn’t sound too exciting but when you club the destination tickets and some of the newer expansion packs, it’s enough to keep a family engrossed for hours at end.

Difficulty: Easy

Now, this might raise a few eyebrows, but if you look at the game like a resource-collecting game like Settlers or Agricola and swap the resources with trains instead, the game becomes very simple.

How to play

Depending on the number of players playing the game, each player will be awarded 45   colored train cars to start with. There will be a matching scoring marker as well which needs to be placed on the start point.

After shuffling the deck, each player starts with 4 train cards and three destination cards of which, they must keep at least two.

The destination tickets must be kept a secret until the end of the game.

Every time you claim one route between two cities, you score points. Similarly, you must complete one single continuous route between the two or three destination tickets that you kept. Lastly, you get awarded the maximum points for building the single largest continuous route.

Every time you draw cards, you have to choose between claiming an entire route or picking a destination ticket instead. You compete for routes while trying to build your destination ticket route.

When the plastic trains with any player reduce to 2 or lesser, the game goes into the final round after which, the points are calculated.

How many people can play

Ticket to ride can be played by 2-5 players at a time. The more the number of people playing, the longer each game lasts though.

Why we like it

The very fact that you can either be the gentleman and focus on building your own routes or just become a badass and block the routes that your co-player is trying to complete, makes this one of the best strategy board games in the market currently. It’s fun for people of all ages.

How to play ticket To Ride – a video guide

That sums up our small but exciting list of best strategy board games for this holiday season. Do you have your personal favorites to add to it? We would love to hear from you. Drop a comment below and let’s pit our wits.

Until then, have fun1