[Top 10] Best Strategy Board Games (2020 Edition)

best strategy board games 2020 edition
Outsmart the robber and your opponent in Catan or solve the next epidemic in Pandemic. Can you strategize your way to victory?

Step into the world of strategy board games

Do you like a challenge?

How about games that make you think a little rather than just use brute force to win?

There are many great board games that are strategic in nature. And strategy quenches that thirst for a deeper thought-provoking experience.

Here are the best strategy games you should try.

10. Settlers of Catan

Build and trade your way to victory in Catan!

Build settlements, gain victory points. The ultimate strategy and resource building game. Catan.

Catan remains a long-standing popular strategic board game. The playing board is made of small hexagons and built randomly each game. The hexagons represent one of five resources: Wood, stone, brick, grain, and wool.

You will place a settlement on the board with one road connected to it. At the start of your turn, roll the two dice. There are number tokens on each hexagon and whatever resources match the number rolled are collected by those that have a settlement next to it. 

Resources allow you to build things like roads and upgrade to cities. These all gain you points. If a seven is rolled, the robber begins moving about the board and blocks resources from being gained.

The objective is to be the first person to reach ten points. Points are obtained by buildings, cards, and more. Can you gather, collect, and trade your way to victory?

9. Azul: Summer Pavillion

Lay beautiful tiles to score points, but it's not as easy as you think.

Azul: Summer Pavillion is the third in the hit Azul series. You’ll be taking on an abstract strategy game laying beautiful tiles to score points.

To begin you will be drafting tiles. You will take some and the remainder will go into the center of the circle. If you want something from the middle you can take it at the cost of victory points so choose wisely.

Once all the tiles have been drafted for that round, you will begin playing them on the board. You will play one to the correct location depending on the color and then discard some tiles. 

At the end of the round, points will be totaled and a new round begins. There are six rounds with a new wild color each time.  You will know the next wild color coming up as it’s marked on the board. 

Your objective is to score the most points at the end of the game. 

8. Everdell

The cards and resources taking you into the world of Everdell

Join a world of creatures in the woods building a village. This resource gathering game has deep play and amazing artwork despite its lighthearted theme. 

When you step into Everdell, you will become a creature of the woods. Then you will take turns moving about the board drawing cards or collecting twigs, resin, pebbles, and fruit. 

To move about the board you will have a certain number of workers each season that you’ll send out to complete the actions. The space you’re on determines what you collect.

Another option is to buy a card and place it into your village. Cards have victory points and some have special abilities. 

You will play through three seasons and then the game ends. The end objective is to have the most victory points.

7. Jaws

Find and destroy the Great White Killer!

The 1970s thriller that took place on the coasts of a small island comes to life in Jaws the board game. From the big screen to your table, Jaws is a semi-cooperative game of man versus shark. And yes, it follows the story of the movie, making it that much better.

You will be taking on the role of either the men, Hooper, Quint, and Brody, on Amity Island or the shark. The game plays out in two acts, but both fit the theme well so it doesn’t feel clunky.

During the first act, the shark will be secretly moving around the board in the water. The men will be trying to locate him by placing yellow buoys in the water and using special locating devices. They are trying to attach two of the buoys to the shark.

All the while, the shark’s moving about feeding on swimmers. If the shark eats enough swimmers or has two buoys attached the act is over and Act 2 begins.

Act 2 is the battle between the men on the Orca and the shark. The strength of each is determined by the number of swimmers eaten during the first act. Both sides battle with the shark attacking the boat and the men attacking in return.

If you are the shark, you will want to eat as many swimmers as possible and then destroy the Orca. As the men, stop the shark, plain and simple.

6. Ticket to Ride

Build railways throughout the US. Can you build enough railways to win?

Build train routes around the United States. Build the longest, the shortest, or just finish the route cards. Become the best builder for the railway in Ticket to Ride.

The Ticket to Ride game board consists of various major cities around the U.S. and southern Canada. Connecting the cities are paths of different colors and lengths.

Throughout the game, you will be drawing cards and playing them to complete train routes. The routes you want to complete will go according to mission cards. Each mission you finish successfully by the end of the game scores you points.

Strategy becomes huge in this one. As others build their trains it can screw you up easily because their routes can block yours, making things way more difficult than you could imagine.

In order to win, you will be trying to score the most points at the end of the game through completed missions and having the longest train on the board.

5. Pandemic

Diseases are spreading and only you and your teammates can stop it. Can you cure the world in time?

Join with others to save the world from a pandemic. Diseases are spreading, can you stop it before it’s too late?

One of the best cooperative strategy games out there, Pandemic brings the whole package in strategic play, theme, difficulty, and working together. 

You and the other players will each select a specialist card. As you step into that role you will have special abilities, helping you throughout the game. 

As you play, disease cubes will be spreading throughout the world map. There are four different diseases (colors) that will be infecting the world.

You will get up to four actions during your turn. Those include moving to different locations, building research stations, exchanging cards with another player, and a few others. Following your turn, you will draw two cards.

If you draw an epidemic card chaos can ensue quickly. A new city is infected, the infection discard pile is shuffled and placed on top of the deck, and then cards are drawn to spread the diseases.

Sounds easy, but outbreaks can occur quickly when epidemic cards are drawn and too many outbreaks mean you lose. So fighting diseases while working to cure them is essential.

The objective is to cure all four diseases before the outbreak meter hits the skull and crossbones, you run out of cards in the player deck, or run out of any single color of disease cubes and need to play one on the board. Can you save the world?

4. Disney Villainous

Pick one of the original six villains or grab an expansion pack to have more options.

Ever want to just get your evil on a bit? Love Disney movies? Step into a world where the Disney villains reign supreme in Disney Villainous.

Disney Villainous has several expansions available giving you a plethora of characters to choose from. Each expansion is a stand-alone game so you can buy any mix of them and still play. 

The original game contains Maleficent, Queen of Hearts, Prince John, Jafar, Ursula, and Captain Hook. The first expansion contains the Evil Queen, Hades, and Dr. Facilier while the second has Scar, Yzma, and Ratigan. Ravensburger is set to release its third expansion on March 1, 2020, which has the long-awaited Cruella de Vil along with Pete and Mother Gothel.

You will pick a Villain to play the game as. Some are harder to beat and take a bit more strategizing. Each villain has their own guide, gameboard, cards, and character piece.

You will move from location to location in your realm and complete the actions in the room you are in. You might be playing a fate card against another player or playing cards to your own realm from your villain deck. Once you are finished with your actions the next player goes.

You will be working towards completing the objective for your villain. You will win by doing something different than the other players. For example, Prince John must start his turn with 20 power to win while Maleficent must have a curse at every location in her realm.

3. Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North

Packed with strategy, set sail or gather resources to build your empire.

Start exploring new lands with Empires of the North. Sail to faraway worlds or collect resources right where you are. However, you build and settle your empire is up to you.

Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North starts with you picking a clan to play as. Each clan might offer a few abilities others won’t have. 

You’ll start with a few cards on the board which gain you some resources right away. Then you will draw your hand.

Through a series of actions, you will be able to sail to other lands, collect resources, harvest, build, and more. Deciding what actions to take will be the difficult part.

Your objective will be to get 25 victory points before your opponent and have the most if they reach 25 the same round you do.

2. Blood Rage

Pillage and plunder your way to victory or a glorious death.

Can you pillage and plunder your way to victory? Set off in an adventure to have your Viking clan rule the world or maybe you’d rather die in glories battles and enter Valhalla. Whatever you pick, Blood Rage offers it.

Blood Rage is a strategic game where you will be taking the role of a Viking clan. There are three rounds. At the beginning of each, you will draft cards by everyone starting with eight, picking one, and passing the remaining cards to the left until you have six cards.

Cards can be battle cards, monster upgrades, leader upgrades, warrior upgrades, and more. There is even one that gives you victory points for having a certain number of characters released from Valhalla at the end of the round. 

During each round, players take various actions. Most actions cost rage points to carry out. When your rage is gone you are done for that round. Some actions are sending warriors into a land, pillaging lands to gain upgrades, and fighting others.

After each round, Ragnorak occurs and Valhalla is released. A new set of cards is drafted for your hand and play continues. The objective of the game is to have the most victory points after the third, and final round.

1. Splendor

Collect gems, score points, and win. Simple, yet cunning strategy make Splendor a top pick.

Take an adventure into the orient to collect gems and earn points. Splendor is an easy play but one that will satisfy even a more dedicated gamer.

There are three decks you will be using, noble tiles, and chips with different gems on them. Each turn you’ll select chips you want as long as they are available. The chips are used to buy cards from the playing area. 

Each card also has a gem on it that can be used but doesn’t have to be turned in when buying other cards. The more points a card is worth the more gems it takes to buy. 

Strategy is key when deciding what cards to go after and how to obtain points. You could start with the mid-range cards which take more to get but have higher payouts. Or you can start with the low-end cards and build your stock, later allowing you to easily buy the high-end cards.

However, with everyone picking from the same cards on the board your strategy may have to shift as the game progresses.

Obtain 15 or more points and you walk out victorious. If another player hits 15 points the same round you do, whoever has the most points wins.

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No adventure is too small for Melissa. From curing the latest Pandemic to smuggling in goods to Nottingham. She’s always there to defeat the enemy.
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