10 Best Strategy Board Games for Kids and Adults

There is no better way to spend your time than playing board games: they're social, super fun, and a fairly inexpensive form of entertainment. Whether you choose to play with friends or family they are a great way to pass the time and can make great gifts at Christmas or for birthdays.

Strategy board games are a particularly fun style of board game and really let you get involved in tactics and decision making. They're called "strategy" games because the gameplay requires each player to use all their wits to come up with a plan to outwit and outscore the opposing players. As a result, these games can really give your brain a workout and are a great way to help younger players start to think like a strategist.

I have listed 10 of what I consider to be the best ones of all time below. I hope you like my list, but if you think of any I've missed, then please leave a comment and let me know.



Number of Players: 3-5

For Ages: 10+

Playing Time: 2-6 hours

Risk is perhaps the greatest strategy board game of them all! Each player is assigned territories on the board, which is a map of the world. You then essentially battle your way across the world map, fighting your enemies and taking control of their territories.

You have a certain amount of units that are spread across the map at the start of the game and you gain more by beating your opponents in battle and by taking control of whole continents. The battles are decided by the roll of different dice, so luck is an element and many times I have seen my huge army dwindled away against a far inferior force. But, the fact that anything could happen is part of the fun of the game. The game is won or lost with your strategy though, so the dice don't detract from the strategic elements of the game.

There are many variants of Risk, including a Walking Dead, a Game of Thrones, and a 2210 A.D. version. Regardless of the variant, you typically have to achieve missions, such as wiping another player off the board or take certain continents. Or, you can play the brilliant (but inevitably very long) game of World Domination Risk. Don’t expect this to be a quick game as a mission Risk can last up to two hours and World Domination Risk is typically a six-hour commitment!

Game of Thrones: The Board Game


Number of Players: 3-6

For Ages: 14+

Playing Time: 3-5 hours

This is a great strategy board game both for those who are a fan of the books and TV programme and for those who have never heard of it before. In the Game of Thrones Board Game, each player controls one of the Great Houses of Westeros and must use war, politics, diplomacy, and espionage to gain complete dominance over your enemies and ascend the fabled Iron Throne.

The game takes place over 10 rounds, and the player who has successfully captured the most territory at the end of the game is declared the winner. One of my favorite parts of the game is how forging and breaking alliances are central to victory. You may need another player's help one turn and stab her in the back the next. But that's just how it's played.

It is completely based on skill and strategy, with almost no luck elements involved. It is a fairly complicated game and takes a while to learn. So, it's maybe not ideal for young children. It is also not a quick game and could go on for up to five hours.

Puerto Rico


Number of Players: 3-5

For Ages: 12+

Playing Time: 90 minutes

Puerto Rico has won more awards than any other board game - and once you play it, you'll see why. While it is fairly complicated right out of the box, as soon as you catch on to the rules, you will absolutely be hooked and won't be able to wait to play again.

Each player tries to grow crops, which they can then trade for points (which will help them win the game) or doubloons (which they can use to construct buildings that will give them advantages over their opponents). You then choose a game role - such as "Trader," or "Builder" - depending on what your approach to the game is. In sum, the game is about producing goods that have different attributes that you can sell or exchange for money or victory points. Your choice of role is a key part of your strategy as it can make or break your game.

There are two really great things that I love about this game.

  1. Never the same game twice. Even though there is no dice, and so no random chance, it's impossible to find a single winning strategy. What works in one game won't necessarily work in another. That makes it an infinitely replayable game.
  2. The score is secret. Your point tokens are placed face down, so no one is ever really quite sure who's ahead - which creates an interesting dynamic as you enter the endgame. I really like this feature, because it keeps everyone invested until the very end.

The more players the better with this game. You can play with up to five. A good game of Puerto Rico will last you about 2 hours.



Number of Players: 2-5

For Ages: 8+

Playing Time: 30-45 minutes

Carcassonne is a strategy game where players lay tiles to develop the area around the town of Carcassonne. You then use their population to work on the roads, cities, cloisters and fields. The player who develops his territory best will win the game. This is a similar board game to Settlers of Catan so if you enjoy Settlers of Catan (see below) you will probably enjoy Carcassonne.

Carcassonne is a very easy board game to learn and games are quick at around 45 minutes. Both strategy and luck are involved, and there's very little chance of getting bored as the game is extremely fast paced.

The real beauty and depth of this game comes with the large number of available expansion packs, which really change the dynamics of the game.

A great option is the "Big Box" version which includes the following 5 expansions - Inn & Cathedrals, Traders & Builders, The River, Hills & Sheep, and The Wheel of Fortune! It also includes two new sets of pieces to allow you to play with up to 8 players!

There is a new 2015 version of Carcassonne that has a different design and includes 2 expansions, The River and The Abbott. These expansions and its great new look make it a really good value.

You can still use your old expansions with the new 2015 version of Carcassonne. However the design will be different so it might look a little odd. The separate expansions are still in the old style though so if you think you will be adding many expansions to the game you may still want to buy the original version or the Big Box.


Number of Players: 2-12

For Ages: 7+

Playing Time: 30 minutes

Sequence is a fun board game that can be played by adults and children alike. It really makes you think about your strategy to win and will keep you entertained for hours.

Each player is dealt cards, the number of cards depending on how many players there are. These cards then determine where you can place chips on the board. You then have to get 5 chips in a row, kind of like a moving version of Connect 4. It is a highly strategic game so probably not best for very young children but great fun for older kids and adults.


1. This is a quality game and the tokens and chips are very well made
2. It has very quick and simple game play so you don't need to play for hours like Risk or Diplomacy
3. It has a good balance of strategy without dragging on some it is difficult to get bored

1. can take a while to get off the ground as the instructions aren't the clearest, especially as this is such a simple game.
2. the tokens only come in 3 colours so you are limited to 3 players or playing in teams which can be annoying.

Redneck Life

Number of Players: 2-6

For Ages: 13+

Playing Time: 1-2 hours

Redneck Life probably can't compete with the likes of Risk and Peurto Rico in terms of pure strategy, however it is hilarious, if slightly politically incorrect...

Essentially your roll of the dice decides your path through life, determining everything from what grade of school you finish to your career (options include Mullet Salon Operator and Monster Truck Announcer!). The game play is similar to that of Monopoly. You start the game with teeth and as the game progresses and bad things happen to you, you lose your teeth. The player with the most teeth at the end wins. Simple but very effective and great fun.

Though it is not strictly a strategy board game, this is so much fun that I thought I would include it on my list.


Dominion - classic strategy card game
Dominion - classic strategy card game

Number of Players: 2-4

For Ages: 12+

Playing Time: 30-45 minutes.

Dominion is a really fun and engaging strategy card game. It's not technically a board game since you don't need one to play, but it has all the right elements, which is why I included it on the list.

In this game, you play the role of a king, and your aim is to try to increase the size of your kingdom by acquiring as much land as possible. As your opponents are also trying to do the same thing you must build castles and other buildings to defend yourself.

A turn has two phases: playing action cards and buying action cards and victory points. It’s the timing of these two phases that can win or lose you the game. This is essentially a deck-building game, and you want to try to manage your deck so that you have a good mixture of victory points, gold, and action cards. Too much of one or the other means inevitable defeat.

Cards Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity Examples
Cards Against Humanity Examples

Number of Players: 3 - 10

For Ages: 18+

Playing Time: Varies

OK, so Cards Against Humanity is more of a party game than a strategy board, but for all out quick-fire, multiplayer fun there are few games that can compete. However, be aware this is an adult game so should not be played with the family around the dinner table after your Sunday dinner.

Essentially, there are black cards and there are white cards. The black cards contain a question or a phrase with a blank at the end and the white cards contain answers that can be played to complete the phrases or questions. Sounds simple? It is and it’s very addictive. Each player takes a turn to be the judge and picks a black card. The other players then select one of their white cards to complete the phrase. The judge then selects his or her favorite response, and the player whose response is selected earns a point gets a point. You can play up to a certain amount of points or for a time limit.

As previously stated this is probably not for everyone, it is definitely NOT politically correct, but that really is the appeal. If you are easily shocked or do not have a dark(ish) sense of humor you may not like this game. If you do, however, you will love it and will probably not stop playing it for a long time.

It can also provide some light relief after you've just finished your eight-hour epic game of world domination risk…

Cards Against Humanity is further improved with the addition of the excellent expansion sets. These contain new black and white cards to keep things interesting (and shocking!). They can also be bought as a set of six with the original game with a big cost saving.


Number of Players: 2-5

For Ages: 13+

Playing Time: 60 minutes

The aim of Gloom is morbid yet simple: cause your characters as much pain as you can before they die. Sounds depressing I know, but it's actually great fun.

Each player starts with five family members and to win the game you must cause more pain to these characters than any other team does to theirs and then kill your characters when they are at their lowest ebb. The twist is that your opponents are trying to make good things happen to your characters at the same time. A really fun and totally original card game with real strategy elements.

Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan - one of the classics
Settlers of Catan - one of the classics

Number of Players 3-4

For Ages: 10+

Playing Time: 90 minutes

Settlers of Catan is a resource-gathering strategy board game. The board consists of 19 terrain blocks (hexes) surrounded by the ocean. Each terrain produces a different resources like brick, wool, ore, grain, and wood.

The aim of The Settlers of Catan is to collect 10 victory points. Each settlement is worth one victory point, and each city is worth two victory points. You can also earn victory points by holding the "Longest Road" card, the "Largest Army" card and by holding special victory point development cards.

Settlers of Catan is quite a complicated game and might take a bit of getting used to. However, it is well worth investing a little time in as it is a brilliant game. The best part is that because the terrain blocks are arranged differently every time you play, each game is different. So there's tons and tons of replayability. You may want to be careful with this game, though: people can get really intense when playing. Of course, my view is that if you're not willing to ruin a friendship - or even your marriage - to win, then you're not playing hard enough.

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride...
Ticket to Ride...

This is a unique cross-country train, adventure-style board game. Players aim to collect cards enabling them to create railway routes that connect cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Extra points are awarded to those who connect distant cities and to those who build the longest railways.

This game has the advantage of being incredibly easy to learn while also allowing for a lot of tactical and strategic gameplay. The rules are super simple: each turn you either draw more cards, claim a train route, or get a Destination Ticket - a mission card that gives you points for completion. The fundamental tension in the game play comes from being forced to balance your greed for more cards with fear of losing a key train route to another player.

This is a great game for adults and brilliant for kids. Ticket To Ride is an easy but challenging game where you can be nice or aim to block your opponents to gain an advantage.


Diplomacy - a game of pure strategy
Diplomacy - a game of pure strategy

Number of Players: 2-7

For Ages: 12+

Playing Time: 4-6 hours

Described as the board game of the alpha nerd, Diplomacy is one of the best strategy board games ever invented! If you like pure strategy games of skill where you have to make alliances with your enemies only to stab them in the back before someone else stabs you first, you will love Diplomacy. If you are familiar with the TV series House of Cards, Diplomacy is the board game equivalent of the show!

There is no luck involved and it can take a while to get into as there are a lot of rules to understand and follow. It can be played with between two and seven players, but for me Diplomacy works better the more players you have.

The game is based around the outbreak of the first world war, with each of the seven players taking control of one of the main European countries involved: Great Britain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Russia, Turkey or France. The aim is to take Supply Centres which allow you to reinforce your armies.

There are 4 stages – Diplomacy – where you make and break your alliances; Orders – where you write down what you will actually do; Movement – your orders are carried out; and, finally, the Removal or addition of armies. With no dice rolls, this game is pure strategy. You will win or lose based on how well you're able to negotiate with - and then betray - your fellow players.

This all makes for a very involved and extremely long game. (So long, in fact, that many avid Diplomacy fans play by correspondence). But if this is your thing then you will love Diplomacy.


Agricola - Who thought that competitive farming would be such fun?
Agricola - Who thought that competitive farming would be such fun?

Number of Players: 1-5

Ages: 12+

Playing Time: 2 hours

If I told you that competitive farming could provide one of the most strategic and satisfying strategy board games ever would you believe me?

In this game you try to build and run a farm by building fences and collecting wood, stone, clay etc. The ultimate aim is to build a bigger and better farm with a bigger farmhouse and fields than your opponents when the points are tallied up at the end of the game. You get one turn for each member of your family, which at the start of the game is just you and your spouse. You can have additional children, but doing so requires adding another room to your house, which uses the valuable resources you could use to build a fence instead, which would allow you to keep more animals or grow more crops to feed your family. So many decisions! This is just the tip of the iceberg and there are limitless permutations which can contribute to a complicated game with a lot of rules.

Before playing this game I thought “I can’t possibly get excited over a farming game.” Well, I was wrong. Agricola is a hugely exciting and addictive game. OK, if you are a real purist and insist that fighting huge battles is the way forward you may be better off with Risk or Diplomacy, however if you enjoy games of fine balance and strategy with limitless intricacies that allow for a different game each time you play, then you will really love Agricola.

Agricola - More on the Rules . . .

What Do You Think?

Which game is your favorite?

  • Risk
  • Game of Thrones: The Board Game
  • Puerto Rico
  • Carcassone
  • Sequence
  • Dominion
  • Settlers of Catan
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Diplomacy
  • Agricola
See results without voting

Comments 37 comments

Rain Defence profile image

Rain Defence 3 years ago from UK

So out of all these games, which would you say is the best?

dommcg profile image

dommcg 3 years ago Author

My favourite is always risk as i've played it way more than all the others. However, the others are all great too particularly Peurto Rico, Dominion and Settlers of Catan which i'd like to play at lot more of.

GameApathy profile image

GameApathy 3 years ago

I agree I think Risk is one of the best board games out there. It may not be as strategic as some of the other games like the A Game of Thrones Board Game or any of the Axis & Allies series, but it is actually easy to learn and thus easier to get other people to play.

dommcg profile image

dommcg 3 years ago Author

Agreed, some people sometimes argue that luck plays too much of a part in Risk, but i think the balance is just right as it allows newer players to have a good game against more experienced players. Plus as you say it is actually very simple to klearn but will keep you interested for a lifetime. Thanks for the comment.

wabash annie profile image

wabash annie 3 years ago from Colorado Front Range

I agree with your position about board games ... my family loves to play them. I enjoy Settlers of Catan but have not heard of Puerto Rico which sounds intriguing. For Christmas, I bought one of my adult sons Lost Treasure because he loved it as a child. Thanks for much for sharing your experiences.

dommcg profile image

dommcg 3 years ago Author

I'm very lucky that i grew up playing board games with my family and my wife's family all play risk, so every Christmas we eat Christmas dinner and rattle out a few games of Risk in the afternoon. Peurto Rico is a great game and if you like playing Settlers you will love it. Another of my favourites is Carcassonne as it's a fairly quick game that new players can pick up quickly, i've got many people addicted to it and play it a lot with my friends and family. Does that make me a board game pusher? Many thanks for the comment.

hellovictoria profile image

hellovictoria 2 years ago from Atlanta

I am SO GLAD you mentioned Carcasonne, Ticket to Ride, and Settlers of Catan on this list!! Those are some of my favorite games. We play them pretty often in my house. Another few that are good are Castle Panic and Small World. If you've never played those I strongly recommend them. Castle Panic is a cooperative strategy game where you and the other players are basically trying to keep the trolls from knocking down the castle, and Small World is a game of conquering lands and gaining coins with different "races" of magical beings. Another really good one is Corporate America, which is a hilarious game to play involving starting businesses, enacting laws, and being president, and involves a significant amount of strategy.

Great post - voted up!

dommcg profile image

dommcg 2 years ago Author

Thanks for the comment. Carcassonne is one of my absolute favourites, but I will have to check out castle panic and small world as they both sound great! Thanks for the tips.

Will 2 years ago

What I look for in a strategy game is minimal luck but the potential for massive shifts in fortune. Diplomacy also helps. No game on this list does it better then Game of Thrones. Tides of Battle cards can give that minimal luck element and the fact that a player can go from 1 turn away from winning to agonizing defeat in a heartbeat means you don't have 2 players slugging it out and the rest waiting to be knocked out. The ability to support other players also makes diplomacy necessary.

The only downside is the learning curve and the fact that you really need to play with 6 people(2nd edition) to get the best experience. After playing this game, I'm able to beat most people in Risk in an hour and a half depending on how the die fall. If you're looking to take strategy to the next level, pick this game up now!

dommcg profile image

dommcg 2 years ago Author

Thanks Will, I agree with you about Game of Thrones it is a brilliant game and one that you get enthralled in for hours. It is very similar to the game Diplomacy which is also great as it limits the amount of luck required.

I've actually updated the hub above with Diplomacy as it is a great game that i originally missed.

These games are set apart from other strategy board games like risk, Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan in that there is very little luck and no dice involved which makes for a very different and more strategic style of play. I have had many long games of attrition in Risk dragging into 6 hours plus. It can often be a battle of stamina and who can stay awake the longest... World domination is not everyone's cup of tea, but the mission cards to move the game along.

KKylimos 2 years ago

Wait , no Twilight Imperium? Its by far the best board game experience i ever had.

LisaKeating 2 years ago

Nice hub. I have played Risk and Ticket To Ride of the games you have listed. Which is your favorite game? Are all of these games available in the US? New board games in stores can be quite expensive. I go to Goodwill and thrift stores to find a lot of great games. Of course, you have to be careful that they are complete. Many games have instructions available online in case they are missing.

dommcg profile image

dommcg 2 years ago Author

Hi Lisa, thanks for reading. All of these games are available in the US from Amazon, just click on the links next to each game for further info. My favorites are Risk and Diplomacy, although i love all of the games above. I grew up playing Risk so will always be close to my heart but often gets criticized for being based on luck as it is a dice game. I love Diplomacy as it is really about pure strategy with no luck. It can be quite intense and is not for the faint hearted but really is great fun if you're in to strategy game. I also love Carcassonne as it is quick and fun to play and is great for the family as it is so simple. It also has loads of expansion sets which change the game play to keep it interesting.

Some of the games can be expensive, but Amazon usually has some good deals on the games, Carcassonne is usually quite cheap, but game of Thrones for instance usually comes out quite expensive but is really worth the price if you ask me as it is a modernized version of Diplomacy.

Thanks for your comments.

SimilarSam profile image

SimilarSam 2 years ago from Australia

You can't beat The Settlers of Catan and Risk, many hours spent playing them in my younger years.

dommcg profile image

dommcg 2 years ago Author

Agreed 2 amazing games, sounds like you should dust them off again...

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

i think risk is suitable for the whole family. Thanks for the recommendation

indianreel profile image

indianreel 22 months ago from London

That's a cool hub. I liked risk and sequence..

dommcg profile image

dommcg 22 months ago Author

Thanks for the comment. Yes Risk and Sequence are two of my favourites too. If you like these and have a few people to play with Diplomacy would be another great option. Thanks

LaShondaYDunlap profile image

LaShondaYDunlap 21 months ago from USA

Great descriptions for all of the games!

Chess 20 months ago


dommcg profile image

dommcg 20 months ago Author

Hi, yes Chess really is one of the classics. I was aiming here for a range of more modern games actually. My actual favourite of the classics is Go. It's different every time you play and is incredibly simple yet infinitely complex. Thanks

Will 20 months ago

As someone who grew up on Risk, it should absolutely not be on this list. It's disappointing because this list seems to just be the 12 board games the writer has played. In fact, I wouldn't even consider most of these games "Strategy Games".

Game of Thrones is fantastic but needs exactly 6 players to be played properly. Small World is a light "Risk-like" game with less luck and more strategy that plays in 30-60 minutes but is not on the list. Twilight Imperium 3 is the pinnacle of the genre and, while it takes an insanely long time(8 hours) to play, that still makes it shorter than many Risk games and there is rarely player elimination(so everyone actually gets to play the entire game).

Those are 3 games that do Risk better than Risk, all of varying lengths and levels of complexity. If you're serious about starting a board game collection, I'd also consider Betrayal at House on the Hill, Jamaica, The Resistance Avalon, Pandemic, and King of Tokyo. You get those games and you'll be very very happy.

dommcg profile image

dommcg 20 months ago Author

Hi Will

Thanks for the recommendations. I know Risk isn't for everyone and if you get a bum deal early in the game you spend the next six hours hanging on for dear life only to be crushed at the end without contributing much, but for me that is part of the experience. Pandemic is one that I have also played and is also a great game. I'll certainly look in to the others as well.

Thanks, DOm

Henman 19 months ago

Great list, but if you haven't already, you need to check out Mr. X! It's a little shorter, which makes it great for a family like mine where 1 hour is "pushing it" timewise.

Blondie 19 months ago

Discworld is a fantastic strategy game, we play it a lot. Will have to check out some of these on the list as we're after some more too!

dommcg profile image

dommcg 19 months ago Author

Hi Henman, Mr X sounds good. If you like shorter games try Carcassonne as you can get through a 4 player game in 45 mins easy depending on which expansions you are playing with.

shawna.wilson profile image

shawna.wilson 16 months ago from Arizona

Ticket to ride was our gateway game about 6 years ago...since then our collection has grown, and we like more involved worker placement games. Agricola is one of my favorites. We just learned Stone Age and Russian Railroads this summer, and they're pretty fun too.

Jim 10 months ago

Redneck Life.

The bomb!

sarah 9 months ago

u should put pandemic on too

or apples to apples even though its not that strategic

:-) 2 months ago

you should put civilization on it

Rosa Ross 8 weeks ago

Where is Chess? There's no doubt that it is one of the best strategy games. It demands no luck, but only tactics & strategies.

Anonymous Contributer 101 7 weeks ago

Ticket to Ride is so much fun

ProjectResolute profile image

ProjectResolute 7 weeks ago

I've played Catan, Risk, and Agricola. Love all of these games, but always liked Risk the best. I play Catan most often though since it doesn't take as long.

Michael G 6 weeks ago

Game of Thrones is great, but there is a lot of luck involved. Just think, if no mustering or a clash occurs in the second or third round house tyrell is dead. Or, when a clash follows a clash. The decks do add a significant amount of luck.

dommcg profile image

dommcg 6 weeks ago Author

I do agree there is quite a lot of luck involved, it can be liked risk in that respect, I still love them both. You should check out diplomacy, it's like game of thrones without the luck, pure strategy. Thanks for the comment.

dommcg profile image

dommcg 6 weeks ago Author

I love all three of those too. We played world domination risk a few weeks ago with four of us, it took over six hours! Great fun though. I play carcassone a lot nowadays as each game can take less than an hour so we get through quite a few games in a sitting. Thanks for the comment.

Gary Sonnenberg 13 days ago

Thanks for the list, but why did you bother to include the 2 game you admit are not strategy games? Surely you knew of at least two others you could have included instead.

Or you could have just plain left them out. The title says 10 games, but your list has more than that.

I also agree with other commenters that Risk was a poor choice. There are many better games.

I also don't think Cards Against Humanity is a good children's game (re: the article title). I don't even care for it as an adult game.

Most of your other choices are very good though - especially Puerto Rico and Agricola.

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