Conquer Your Foes – The Best Strategy Board Games

I remember playing one of the best strategy board games of all time; Risk with my brothers growing up. I was the youngest one playing, so of course I had no idea how to plot and execute a global military defense strategy. So, needless to say, I’ve stormed out of games of Risk shouting accusations of collusion and bullying, although I don’t think it was quite that articulate. But, the one time I ever won was a memory that I will hang on to forever, you should have seen their faces. You should have seen my face, really.

Enough reminiscing, I’m here to help you pick from the multitude of the best strategy board games that are available to anyone that’s looking for more of a challenging experience from their tabletop gaming. I’ve broken these games down into three categories: hardcore, casual, and one-on-one. Strategy board games come in a huge variety of themes and play styles, and many have a huge learning curve that can make them inaccessible to those that haven’t played a few of the more foundational games beforehand. So, if you’re new to the concept of hardcore strategy board games, it may be a good idea to go back and find something simpler before trying out the more complicated strategy games.

But, if you’re feeling brave and want to jump right in, I don’t blame you, these games are a blast.

Best Strategy Board Games List

Top Strategy GamesAge yrsPlayersBest WithPlaytimeRating
Carcassonne Big Box Game8+2~62,4plyrs30 min4.5
Pandemic 2nd Edition Board Game
HeroClix DC - Batman Gotham City Strategy Game
14+2~44plyrs60 min4.5
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game Second Edition
Mage Knight Board Game14+1~42plyrs150min4.5
Through The Ages
7 Wonders
Summoner Wars Master Set9+2~42plyrs30min4.5
Dominion Intrigue
Eclipse Board Game
Lords of Waterdeep: A Dungeons & Dragons Board Game
Android Netrunner: The Card Game
Fantasy Flight Games Runewars Revised Edition

In order to make your strategy board game choices a bit easier on the brain, here’s a brief list of some of my favorite strategy board games.

 Best Hardcore Strategy Board Game– Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is a very dynamic, fun game that might create a few blank stares from those that aren’t ready for a lot of rules, a lot of steps, and a lot of bits. A thorough explanation of the game’s rules would be a waste of time here, so I’ll just give you a basic rundown.
Each player is making decisions based on their family house in Westoros. If you’re familiar with the Game of Thrones story, all the families you want to see are there: the Starks, Lannisters, the Greyjoys, etc. Each have a different set of abilities at their disposal which are executed through their house cards. Every player’s turn will consist of three phases: the Westoros phase, planning phase, and action phase.

The Westoros phase is interesting because that can bring on an attack from the Wildlings, which is a neutral enemy to everyone in the game. This forces people to stop their squabbling for a bit and function as a unit to defend Westoros from the Wildlings.

Once that phase is over, it doesn’t take long to get into back-stabbing mode again. The planning phase can take a bit long for new players, so get ready for extended game times your first few playthroughs. Game of Thrones rewards the deviant, the treacherous, and the bold, just like the book series that the game is based off of.  Which is why this is one of the best strategy board games on the market.

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Best One on One Strategy Board Game – Android: Netrunner

This one is just as, if not more hardcore than Game of Thrones. So, be warned, this game will take some learning. Netrunner is a game designed by Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic: The Gathering. And there are only a few similarities between the two games. Netrunner is identified as a living card game, which means that batches of cards are released in what they call “data packs,” so players can further customized their decks to meet their specific strategy.
What I love most about Netrunner is its asymmetric gameplay. There are two different ways to play, there is the Corporation (defense) and the Runner (offense). The setting is a cybernetic battleground where the Runner plays as a computer hacker trying to break into the Corporations servers, from which the Corporation is trying to push their “agendas.” When the Corporation scores seven agenda points, they win. If the Runner steals seven agenda points, they win.

Each turn is a new opportunity for the Runner to strike while the Corporation plots its defense. The best part of the game is the mystery. When the Corporation plays cards in a server, or to protect the server with what are called “ICE,” they play them face down. So, if the Runner wants to steal something from a server, he/she does not necessarily know what they’re getting into when they make a run at what they think is an agenda card. This creates a great amount of suspense in the game.

Like I said, this game is complex. But, this is about as much fun as I’ve had sitting at a table across from a friend. There are several factions on both sides, so the way you play can completely change from one game to the next. I can’t overstate how exciting this game is once you get past the dense rulebook.

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Best Casual Strategy Board Game – Glory to Rome

Glory to Rome is a game that you will fall in love with, but it may take a few games. Things don’t make much sense when you first start playing Glory to Rome, but play through a game or two and the process will start to slow down.
This game is for 2-5 players, with each player representing a politician in the Roman Forum deciding what is the best strategy to rebuild Rome after a devastating fire broke out. Glory to Rome is a card game, but the confusing part for new players is understanding that every card essentially has four different functions, all of which come into play depending on what action you’re taking.

Once that basic principle is understood, the game has an immense amount interesting decisions that are influenced not only by your current state of affairs as a player, but also by what other players have happening with their cards. The goal of the game is to build structures, and by doing so, gaining influence (victory points). But, that is not the only way to win. Some buildings have instant win conditions, and the Vault functions as a way for players to steal wins away from people that thought they had it wrapped up.

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