Holiday Game Guide: Strategy Games

We’ve done small games, we’ve done story games, I feel like the logical next step is going to be suggesting some strategy games.

Who would you give a strategy game too? With the stocking stuffers and story games, a lot of them could be played by people who aren’t big into board games, but strategy games, you are going to want to give those to a person who is more of a board gamer already. Otherwise, you’re less likely to know what the person will like the game. I am going to put a few lighter strategy games on the list that would work for more people, but generally speaking, these are going to be heavier games.

Image Source: Portal Games

Gloomhaven

Now, this was on both the story and the strategy game list, so consider that if you are thinking of buying a story board game for someone. Gloomhaven has a ton of interesting decisions and a ton of decisions for combat and work with your team (or by yourself) in order to figure out the most optimal strategy to beat the scenario that you are playing. And the strategy changes pretty often when you have changing characters. The card driven combat works really well for the strategy of this game, and it isn’t a pure strategy/abstract game, so it doesn’t force you to play optimal strategy to win.

Quoridor

This is a lighter strategy game where you face off against another player in a race to the opposite side of the board. You either move or put down a wall on the board on your turn. It’s pretty simple in the rules, you can’t block the other person from being able to make it across the board, but there are some interesting strategies. It can play up to 4 players, and with a larger number of players it’s more random, but with two players, this game can become very strategic as you try and figure out when to block your opponent. The game is simple, looks simple, but offers some good decisions.

Image Source: Fantasy Flight Games

Star Wars: Rebellion

Another big box game, this one, the Dice Tower has described as “Star Wars in a box”. You get the feel of the epic space opera that is going on between the Empire and the Rebels as the Empire tries to track down the rebel base and wipe it out and the Rebels seek to complete missions to under mind the Empire’s hold on the galaxy. Now, there is some luck in the game because of dice rolls, but you can try and mitigate that some, and I know the expansion takes the combat which is primarily dice rolling and updates it some. But the biggest part of the strategy comes from deciding what missions to complete, trying to figure out where to move your troops to search, if you’re the Empire or where to bluff troops to try and draw the Empire away from your base, if you’re the rebels.

Fae

Fae is basically an abstract game that they have placed some theme on. In the game, you are trying to complete rituals on the board by separating the different groups of druids so that they aren’t next to any other druids. Once that is done, each color of druid in the ritual scores points. But there is strategy as to what areas you are trying to score points in, how you want to move the druids, and how you want to get the points scored because you have a secret color that you’re going for, as does your opponent, but each druid ritual scores for each color in the ritual. It’s a nice balancing act of strategy, but then trying to hide your information from you opponent by what you do.

Image Credit: Happy Meeple

Carcassone

This is one of the grand daddies of modern board gaming, but still holds up well. In the base game, you are building, as a group, a landscape where there are towns, monasteries, and other features. You each have a certain number of meeples that you can use as farmers, soldiers, thieves, or priests that will score you points in the game or at the end of the game. The strategy in this game comes into where you are playing the tiles for the landscape and how and where you are using the meeples to complete the various scoring options. It’s not a difficult game to teach or to play, but there is strategy as to how you use your meeples and where you place tiles that will determine how well you do.

Pandemic Legacy

Another crossover with the story list, Pandemic Legacy is definitely a strategy game, but again a fairly accessible one. The mechanics make sense for what you are doing, but like most good cooperative games, it gives you a lot of difficult decisions. You always feel like you want to do two or three more things than you’re able to do, so you have to skip doing something. This game really shines too for the story aspect that might allow you to get more people into heavier games. The game also does a good job of laying out what a person can do in an easy way so that you don’t have to remember as much.

Image Source: Leder Games

Cry Havoc

This area control game plays very interestingly and quickly as you take on different factions which each has their own unique powers. It also has an interesting combat mechanism. This game also has interesting strategy in that all the factions play very uniquely and you can make that even more unique by allowing each faction to use more of their unique ability cards. So some people might be all about combat, but others might be all about collecting gems to score points. It seems like a game that plays well at a variety of player counts as well.

Root

Finally, this game is heavy strategy and is not a beginner level strategy game. Root is an amazing asymmetrical game where each persons factions in the game might have the same base mechanics but are handled differently for each faction. I really enjoyed playing the birds with their regimented planning of actions, but there are the cats which are all about area control, the woodland creatures who are all about subverting the powers that be, and the vagabond who is trying to complete quests. And with everyone making different decisions, the game is still completely balanced. This is one of those heavier games though that a person new to board games might think looks pretty, but might be a bit much to teach.

What are some of your favorite strategy games? Maybe you just want to get the person a nice chess set.


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