As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Brad really enjoys strategic board games. It’s something that started when he was a kid and has continued ever since. More recently, Max has also become interested in complex board games, thus the number of games in our house started to multiply.
They kind of got in on it together, with Max buying board games for Brad and vice-versa. We play board games as a family (even though it’s not my favourite thing to do, I am a team player!) Brad has games night with his friends. And Max plays games with his friends.
Yes. Many strategic board games are played at our house on a regular basis.
What is a strategic board game?
So what exactly is a strategic board game? Well… obviously it’s not Candyland or Twister.
Here’s my definition of a strategic board game:
- Complexity: Games that are complex and have a rule book that is more than two pages long.
- Logic: These sorts of games are not won by pure luck. While some luck may be involved, the ability to win must also be based on decision making and logic.
- Duration: Strategic board games take at least 30 minutes to play and some of them might take several hours.
Favourite Strategic Board Games
Because board games are not really my thing, I asked Brad to share his favourite strategic board games. These are all games that he enjoys playing over and over again.
Carcassonne was one of the break-out games that started the resurgence of strategic games in 2000.
It is a tile placing game with a simple ruleset that works for all ages and skill levels. The level of competitiveness can vary depending on the players. You can play it cooperatively (perfect for teaching games to little kids). Or get really intense and aggressive if you want to start stealing points from the other players.
2. Flamme Rouge
The game is a hoot to play. From the jaunty “just finished the 1930 Paris-Roubaix” look of the players’, to planning ahead for the steep climbs and fast downhill sections.
This game packs a lot of opportunities to strategize with just the right amount of randomness to keep everyone in suspense.
The game is huge. It weighs a lot and has countless multi-coloured wooden pieces, cards and a playing board (see the photo at the top of the post). However, it’s well worth learning how to play.
- It has a family mode, perfect for playing with the kids. Una loves building her house and farming.
- There are a number of different strategies depending on whether you want to grow food, raise livestock or build a bread oven. You can’t be successful at everything, so your strategy will change every time you play.
- You can also play this game solo. It is one of the few games that I’ve seen where you can actually play it in a 1-player mode or with up to 5-players.
4. Seven Wonders
We don’t actually own Seven Wonders, so the only time we’ve played it is when we’re visiting our friends. (The same friend who bought us Agricola for our wedding… so clearly they have good taste in games!)
It took us a few rounds to understand the broader strategy, though Max had it down after 2 games, it took my adult brain another round before I could get all the details.
Ultimately, Seven Wonders is a glorified card game, with exquisite complexity. The game consists of three phases, beginning with a resource gathering phase, and culminating with building guilds and erected “wonders”, which all contribute to your point collection. The interconnections between the cards and between phases, along with resource scarcity are what make the game appealing.
I’ll admit, the Dune board game is a bit esoteric. It also makes a whole world of difference if you are a fan of the books, but in a pinch, the movie will do.
Each player gets assigned a faction (based on the characters in the book). And each of these factions has its own rules for how to play and win the game. If you’re a fan of Dune, then you’ll really enjoy playing as a Bene Gesserit or Atreides.