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Top 10 Board Games That Require a Lot of Strategy

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Aaron Cameron

Script written by Aaron Cameron

Settle in, we might be here a while. From Sequence, to Cranium, to Monopoly, these board games require more strategy than your typical game night. WatchMojo counts down ten board games that require a lot of strategy.

Special thanks to our user D-Man9293 for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Strategy+Board+Games.

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Script written by Aaron Cameron

Top 10 Board Games That Require a Lot of Strategy


Settle in, we might be here a while. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 Board Games That Require a Lot of Strategy.

For this list, we'll be looking at the tension-inducing, fight-starting, and friendship-ruining strategy games that people love to play. They may not all take hours upon hours to play, but they all take strategy, planning, and critical thinking.

#10: Sequence (1982)

Can't decide what kind of game you want to play? It sounds like the perfect time to break out Sequence. Sequence is a blend of classic board game elements, cards, and poker, and it sees players connect not four, but five poker chips in a row. Plus, it can be played by upwards of 12 people – so long as the group can be split evenly into two or three teams. The only catch? Teams can't advise on, coach, or direct each other's play. That's a challenge in itself.

#9: Cranium (1998)

Invented in a decade known for being extreme, Cranium is a challenging, amped up mix of Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble, with a bit of charades and name the tune tossed in for good measure. Designed by Whit Alexander and Richard Tait – both former Microsofters – Cranium is the product of the two spending a weekend playing board games, and is effectively a highlight reel of the best, most entertaining moments games have to offer. Plus, through an array of expansions and variations, the game can be tweaked and custom-tailored to whomever is playing it.

#8: Ticket to Ride (2004)

Like Settlers of Catan? Like trains? And like having unrelated Beatle songs stuck in your head? If you said yes to even one of those, you'll probably love Ticket to Ride. Players earn points by crafting the longest railways they can, for connecting distant cities, and through special projects via Destination Tickets. But, strategy comes in the choice to lay claim to a train route or to draw a card – it's either a train bound for glory or failure. Typically set in the USA, versions have been made for the Nordic Countries, Europe, and Germany, and a card game version is also available.

#7: Monopoly (1935)

It's the game of opportunity, backstabbing, and broken friendships – and that's before the dice are even rolled. Credited as being invented by Charles Darrow, the game's history shows that it was actually built on pre-existing games, most notably Elizabeth Magie's 1903 creation - The Landlord's Game. But where Magie's game sought to teach a lesson about capitalism, Monopoly celebrates it. Will you buy every property you touch? Will you develop one set of properties and branch out from there? And most importantly, will you be the dog or the car? These are all important choices if you plan to avoid bankruptcy.

#6: The Settlers of Catan (1995)

Also known as Settlers, or just Catan, this game's arrival on the game scene was game... changing. It seems simple enough – players need 10 points, and each settlement equals a point. But actually getting those points? That's the challenge. The game features 19 terrains, which are designated by resource – brick, ore, wool, grain, and wood, all of which are needed for accomplishing different goals. But rather than pure greed, Catan is a game built upon negotiation, resource management, and situational awareness. It's also a platform ripe for expansion, with Cities & Knights, Trails to Rails, Seafarers of Catan and other packs available.

#5: Carcassonne (2000)

Created by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede, and released in German and English speaking markets in 2000, Carcassonne won gaming awards right out of the box. And it's easy to see why. Opening up play for 2 to 5 players, the game packs plenty of excitement without claiming an entire evening, with rounds lasting about 45 minutes. Best still, no one gets eliminated, which means no one is forced to sit and watch the game peter out and the game-buzz wane. The game focuses on developing communities, and utilizing the population and resources within, and like other games, it comes witha rich array of expansion materials as well.

#4: Risk (1957)

Everybody wants to rule the world, and if you have enough skill, luck, and good planning you just might pull it off. You'll never make the news, but you'll have made 2 to 4 enemies out of former friends. Invented by a French filmmaker, Albert Lamorisse, Risk arrived on the scene in 1957 as “ La Conquête du Monde” or The Conquest of the World. Soon after, the rights were snapped up by Parker Brothers, who also tweaked the rules slightly. Typical play lasts around two hours, but can hit the six hour mark if the delicate balance of alliances and betrayal really heats up.

#3: Scrabble (1948)

One part knowing words, one part knowin' how to spell 'em, and a bit of luck, Scrabble has been challenging the masses since at least 1948. That's the year James Brunot bought the manufacturing rights from Alfred Mosher Butts, who had devised the game in 1938 as Criss-Crosswords, itself based on his earlier game, Lexiko. Brunot had been one of the few people to actually buy or play the game, and was among the first to see its potential. The next was Jack Straus, president of Macy's, whose liking of the game led to a massive boost of popularity and sales in 1952. Though the concept is simple, winning takes skill and a great vocabulary.

#2: Go (1046-256 BCE)

Who invented “Go” is anyone's guess, but it’s been agreed that it came to be during China's Zhou Dynasty. The game's popularity, and the required brain power it takes to master it, led the game to become – like calligraphy, painting, and playing the guqin – one of the four scholarly arts ofancient Chinese aristocratic society. A game for two, played with a set of black and white stones and a 19 by 19 square grid, the rules to Go couldn't be simpler, and the game play any more complex.

Before we unveil our top pick here are a few honourable mentions.

Puerto Rico (2002)

Axis & Allies (1981)

Mancala (circa 6-7th Century AD)

#1: Chess (6th Century AD)

The game we know as chess first appears in history around the year 600 in Persia. Then called chatrang, it had morphed from an earlier creation called chaturanga that was found in Eastern India. By the 9th century, it had made its way to Russia and Europe and by the year 1000 it became popular with the upper classes due to its challenging nature and la-dee-da factor. Easy to learn, chess is never truly mastered and pulls upon critical thinking skills, while teaching valuable lessons on decision-making and patience. There is no room for “luck” in chess, one false move is all it takes to lose.
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