[Top 5] Best War Board Games To Play Today

Best War Board Games
Risk Minis

War themed board games for all levels of players.

People have played war games for as long as there have been wars. H. G. Wells was an avid war game player. He even wrote his own rules for war gaming called Little Wars. The game used toy soldiers and a small canon that fired a wooden projectile. Today’s war games have a different approach to combat resolution. Here are my top five war-themed board games.

1. Risk

Risk is a great introduction to war and strategy games. The rules are simple to pick up and you can spend years mastering them. I started playing Risk when I was around 8 years old and I have never stopped.

The world map comprise 42 territories. The new sets have pieces that depict soldiers, canons, and cavalry. Older sets came with roman numerals to represent the numbers of armies on a territory. Winning the game requires you to take possession of all 42 territories on the board.

Set up is easy. The number of armies each player starts with depends on the number of players in the game. Each player takes turns placing armies until everyone has placed all their armies. Owning a whole continent gives you bonus armies. This is important for your placement strategy and your combat strategy.

Combat resolution uses dice rolls. Attacking and defending players compare dice rolls. Group the dice into pairs, staring with the highest roll for each player and working towards the lowest rolls. The player with the highest roll on each pair of dice wins. The losing side removes armies for each lost roll. Defenders win on ties.

The game box shows it takes 120 minutes for a game, but I have played way longer than 2 hours for a game. This game can take forever sometimes.

Turn Sequence

  • Reinforcements and Trade cards in to get extra armies.
  • Combat
  • Move armies from any territory to an adjacent territory.
  • Receive a risk card if you took any countries this turn.

Game Requirements

2-6 players
120 minutes
Age 10+

Many risk variants are available. There are almost as many Risk variants as there are Monopoly variants. Here is a list of your options.

  • Risk
  • Castle Risk
  • Risk 40th Anniversary Edition
  • Risk: 2210 A.D.
  • Risk: the Lord of the Rings
  • Risk: the Lord of the Rings: Gondor & Mordor Expansion Set
  • Risk: Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition
  • Risk Godstorm
  • Risk: Star Wars: Clone Wars Edition
  • Risk: Star Wars Original Trilogy Edition
  • Risk: The Transformers Edition
  • Risk Junior: Narnia
  • Risk: Halo Wars
  • Risk Legacy
  • Risk: Metal Gear Solid
  • Risk: Starcraft
  • Risk: Plants vs. Zombies

2. Axis and Allies

Axis and Allies would also be a great introduction to war and strategy board games. I would place it just slightly above Risk in complexity. You shouldn’t have a problem picking this game up.

The board is a global map from World War II. Each player represents a world power: The UK, USSR, USA, Germany, Japan, or Italy. Set up for Axis and Allies is easy. The countries on the map have symbols on them to show you which powers start in each area.

Turn phases

  • Research and development (roll d6 on a 6 research is successful. Roll on the chart to see your benefit).
  • Purchase units (trade IPC for units).
  • Combat move (move units strategically based on movement points).
  • Conduct combat (strategic bombing raids, amphibious assaults, general combat).
  • Non-combat move (move any units that did not move in the combat move phase or take part in combat).
  • Mobilize new units (place units purchased in step 2 on the board).
  • Collect income (collect IPC according to national production levels).

Once you have the required numbers of cities under your control at the end of around YOU win.

Game Requirements

2-5 players
120 minutes
age 12+

Game Versions

  • Axis & Allies Classic
  • Axis & Allies Europe
  • Axis & Allies Pacific
  • Axis & Allies D-Day
  • Axis & Allies Revised (20th Anniversary)
  • Axis & Allies Battle of the Bulge
  • Axis & Allies Guadalcanal
  • Axis & Allies Anniversary Edition
  • Axis & Allies Pacific 1940
  • Axis & Allies Europe 1940
  • Axis & Allies Global 1940
  • Axis & Allies 1941
  • Axis & Allies 1942 – 2nd Edition
  • Axis & Allies WWI 1914
  • Axis & Allies: & Zombies

3. Space empires 4x

Space empires 4x is a space exploration and combat game This game is easy to pick up and moves quickly. The board is a hex map. You start at your homeworld and explore the galaxy. You are trying to gather supplies and colonize new worlds.

Watch out. Your opponents are also looking for supplies and colonies. They may even take them from you. If you colonize an opponent’s homeworld you can knock them out of the game.

There are two types of turns in Space Empires 4x. Regular turns and economic phases. The sequence of play is three regular turns and then on economic phase.

Regular turns

  • move
  • combat
  • explore

Economic phases

Buy units and technology

Exploring can be dangerous. Other than your opponents, you need to watch out for hazards in space. There is a variety of things to find in space. Some hurt you, some help you. Keep an eye out for black holes, they can destroy your ship in a heartbeat.

Space Empire 4x isn’t as pretty as some other games on this list. There are no cool plastic figures, only cardboard chits to represent your ships. But this game is fun to play.

Game Requirements

1-4 players
180 minutes
Age 12+

2. Star Wars Rebellion

As you might have guessed you play as either the empire or the rebellion in Star Wars Rebellion. This game has some awesome miniature figures of the ships, vehicles, and characters (including the death star) that you are familiar with from the movies.

In the game, the rebels have a secret base and the Empire is trying to destroy that base. If the Empire finds and destroys your base, they when. If the Rebels can keep the base a secret until they get enough reputation built, then they destroy the Empire.

As the Rebels you have objectives. When you complete these objectives, they increase their reputation.

Playing as the Empire you get to send out probes to look for the secret rebel base.

Round phases

  • Assignment - Assign leaders to missions .
  • Command - Review a mission card or activate a system.
  • Refresh - Retrieve leaders, draw cards advance time and reputation markers.

Combat

  • Add a military leader to combat.
  • Draw tactic card.

Combat steps

  • Space battle
  • Ground battle
  • Retreat
  • Start again

Star Wars Rebellion can be complex to learn but can also be a super fun game once you get into it.

Game requirements

2-4 players

180-240 minutes

Age 14+

1. War of the Ring

War of the Ring is a strategy game based on the Lord of the Ring series. You control either the free people of Middle Earth or the dark host of the shadow. As the free people of middle earth you are trying to defend the worlds against the shadows and allow the ring bearers to complete their quest of destroying the ring.

This game has lots of minis (205). They include the main characters from the stories. Each side has its own custom dice. Character cards provide stats for the main characters. They describing what these characters can do in the game.

War of the Ring can be a bit of a task to learn to play. At first, it might seem, but don’t worry. You can find some good videos on YouTube that will help you learn to play.

The game box says that War of the Ring if for 2-4 plays but works best with 2 players. One player per side.

Turn actions

  • Character actions – movement and play event cards
  • Army Actions - move armies and attack
  • Muster actions - changes in diplomacy and recruitment of reinforcements
  • Event action - draw and play event cards

How to win

  • Shadows controls free people’s settlements worth 10 or more points
  • If free people can control shadow settlements for 4 or more points
  • Free people can also lose if the ring bearers become corrupt. If they gain 12 or more corruption points, the free people lose.
  • If the ring bearers make it to Mordor and destroy the ring, the free people win.

Game Requirements

2-4 players

150-180 minutes

Age13+

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Spawned in the toxic Mid Ohio Valley, I am impervious to the Green Dragons poison breath. When not creating D&D adventures, I spend my time listening to records and watching sci-fi and horror films.
Gamer Since: 1988
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: D&D, Shadowrun
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