Best New Strategy Board Games Reviewed 2013

Playing board games is a holiday and Christmas tradition in my family. It’s one of the best ways to get reacquainted with loved ones and friends. During the year we invite our friends family over for some friendly strategy games. Some players are obviously more serious than others so we typically choose our games based on our company. The table that follows contains reviews for our top ten strategy games this year.

Give Your Family Real Bonding Time

If you can get them away from their cell phones and electronic devices, then even your teenage children will love and ask you to play strategy games with them. This time is crucial not only to strengthening your relationship, but also helps them to develop critical thinking skills. I’m especially partial to strategy games that involve less “luck” and more thinking. It’s been fun to watch our kids grow, develop, and then beat the pants off of us in several of the following games. Without further adieu here’s a list of the best strategy board games of 2011 according to rating, freshness, and staying power (bestseller’s lists). Not all of these games are recent releases, but those which are several years old remain on the list because of our last criteria.

Want to take a look at some party games for this Christmas? Here’s a look at some of the best party board games for adults.

Strategy GamePricePublisher/ Ages/ PlayersDescription/ Review
7 Wonders
Asmodee/ 10+/ 3-7If you're looking for an all new strategy game in 2011, then this is it. 7 Wonders recently won the 2011 Deutscher Spiele Preis which is run by the German magazine Die Pöppel-Revue. This is one of many awards that this enthralling game has been given and I'm sure that there will be many more to come. You and other players play this card game through 3 ages in around 30 minutes. The object is to collect the most points. Some cards make it easier for you further down the road and others have immediate effects. No matter what your strategy there are many ways to win this game. It's well thought out, constructed, not too difficult for beginners, but is complicated enough that you'll enjoy various playing strategies for many games to come.
Forbidden Island
Gamewright/ 10+/ 2-4This is a great new family game because it's a cooperative strategy game where you're trying together to get all 4 treasures by collecting 4 of the same treasure card. At the start of the game the tiles are randomized and players are dropped off on the square that they are supposed to be in order to start exploring the island by taking actions each turn. While you're taking actions each turn to acquire these treasures the island is gradually flooding and sinking while you draw "flood cards". Whether you've never played it before or are an expert you'll definitely lose from time to time because 2 games are never the same and you're constantly trying avoid losing in 1 of 3 ways; if fools landing gets sunk, you can't get one of the treasures, the whole island sinks because of the water level, or if one of the players is on an alone island and it sinks.
Asara
Rio Grande Games/Rio Grande Games Description:

Compete with your fellow players for the most beautiful towers. Players take on the roles of famous architects and using their chicanery, try to obtain the best construction parts. With these the exuberant towers are erected. Think ahead, use your tactical sense and it will help you to stay ahead of the other players and thereby becoming the greatest architect of the country. Exciting construction entertainment for the whole family.
Agricola
Z-Man GamesThis fun new game pits you as a farmer in 1670 AD with your spouse to start from nothing and then create a farm to live the dream on your own land. For each turn players get to take two actions, one for you and one for your spouse. It's pretty complex and can take as long as 2 hours to play, but if you're the type of person that enjoys a strategy game like Settler's of Catan, then most likely you'll be hooked on Agricola. Who needs Farmville?
The Settlers of Catan
MayFair GamesSettlers of Catan is one of the most popular games in the last decade and it continues to ride the wave on the bestseller's list. It's played with 2-4 players (up to 6 with the expansion) and the object is to get 11 points before your opponents do. This can be accomplished in various ways through constructing settlements, having the longest road, getting victory points, etc... Based upon the resources that you get at first you'll decide one of many ways to play. Before you play you need to know ahead of time that this game should last a good 45-60 minutes so be sure to have enough time. In our opinion this game is best with all 4 people present as it makes your placements a little bit more even. Like Settlers? Try Cities and Knights.
Ticket to Ride
Days of WonderTicket to Ride is another game that's quickly becoming a classic and there are various editions of this game with different rules that make it fun. Up to 5 players can play so you can even invite that fifth wheel friend to come along the ride and join in. The object of the game is to get more points than opponents by completing railway routes through North America, getting the longest train, or preventing your opponents from finishing their routes, thus adding negative points to their totals at the end of the game.
Lost Cities
Rio Grande Games/From Rio Grande Games:

For the daring and adventurous, there are many lost cities to explore in the Lost Cities Card Game from Rio Grande Games. Send expeditions to the Himalayas, the ever-shifting sands of the desert, the Brazilian rain forest, ancient volcanoes and even deep into Neptunes realm. With limited resources, players must choose which expeditions to begin. Those with high confidence may want to up the stakes: increasing the rewards for success, but risking more should the expedition fail. The player who finds the right balance will find victory! Lose yourself in the excitement of this engaging strategy game!
Dominion
Rio Grande Games/ 13+ / 2-4Dominion is another really great strategy game from Rio Grande Games who continues to impress us with their creativity. It's very balanced as all players start with the same small deck of cards and purchase cards in the middle of the table as they get the money for them. If you take the more efficient route to victory points and can fend off other monarchs with the same idea, then you'll be the ruler of not only your parents small kingdom, but the entire civilization!
Lancaster
Asmodee/ 10+/ 2-5In Lancaster you play as a family of nobles which gives support to the king in order to gain power and prestige. It's a relatively new game from Queen games that few know about but it's worth a look and starting to gain some traction. Similar to other games you are trying to get more points than your opponent, but the strategy goes beyond this. Each player is given a series of knights, which can be upgraded, to go to work for them to rule areas, go to war, or build your castles.
Play as a noble family and give your support to the King and become the most powerful lord of their time
Carcassonne
Rio Grande Games/ 8+ / 2-5This game was released several years ago but is still rated on the bestseller's list. The object once again is to score the most points by placing farmers, knights, and thieves.
Puerto Rico
Rio Grande Games/ 12+ / 3-5
Stone Age
Rio Grande Games/ 12+/ 2-4

If you enjoyed our review or feel like we’ve really missed out on a game that you love, then help us out by leaving a comment with the game and manufacturer’s name, and a description. The table above will get frequently updated and will be influenced by reader opinion.

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Top 20 Board Games Overall for 2011 – 2012

Here’s our new table of the top 20 board games overall according to consumer popularity in 2011.

NamePricePlayersCategoryManufacturer's Recommended Ages / Our Recommendation
Rory's Story Cubes
1+Family Games, Dice, Board Games, Kids, CreativityAges 8 years and up/ We recommend 5 and up.
Hedbanz Game
2-6Family, Party, KidsAges 8-12/ We recommend 6 and up.
Perplexus Maze Game by PlaSmart, Inc
1Kids, Pre-TeenAges 6-14
Qwirkle Board Game
2-4Critical Thinking, Kids, Adults, Parent's Gold Choice Award, EducationalAges 6 and up.
Spot It by Blue Orange
2-8Travel Size, Kids,Ages 7-11/ 6 and up
Richard Scarry's Busy Town
2-4Kids, Young Children3 and up
Bananagrams
1-8Kids, Travel Size, Educational7+
Blokus
2-4Everyone, Kids, Adults, Problem-Solving, Critical Thinking, board game5+
The Settlers of Catan by MayFair Games
2-4 (with expansion up to 6)Strategy, Adults, Teenagers, board game10+
Ticket to Ride by Days of Wonder
2-5Strategy, Adults, Teenagers, Board Game8+
Dominion
2-4Tactical, Card Game, Strategy, Adults, Teenagers10+
Imaginets by MindWare
N/AKids, Young Children3+
Monopoly Junior by Hasbro
2-4Kids, Board Game, Critical Thinking, Strategy5-8
ThinkFun Rush Hour
1Kids8+
Operation Star Wars Edition
2-4Kids, Classic Board Games, Theme8-12
UNO MOO Preschool Game
2-4Kids, Young Childrem3-10
Harry Potter - The Complete Cinematic Journey
2+Teenagers, DVD Games11+
Quelf Board Game
3-6Card Games, Teenagers, Adults, Party12+
Name 5 Game
2+Party, Family10+
Chutes and Ladders Super Hero Squad
2-6Young Kids, Boys, Theme, Classic Board Games3-6

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Board Games for Kids 2011 – 2012

When I was a kid my brothers and I received a new board game each Christmas that we played hours on end. It was usually the best gift we received because it forced us to bond by spending time with one another. In this post I’ll review the board games that are most popular for this year. Only a few of these were actually released in 2011, but it usually takes a couple of years for most board games to get on the bestseller’s list.

Tip for Buying Board Games Online: I recommend that you purchase your board games on Amazon. Individual retailer sites and stores usually set a premium. Amazon is great because it forces all of the retailers, including Amazon, to compete with each other and you can usually get the cheapest price.

Top 10 List of the Best Rated Board Games for Kids Christmas 2011

1.  Rory’s Story Cubes – Encourages Creativity

This game is perfect for encouraging artistic expression in young children. The rules are simple. Roll the 9 dice and then have your child create a story based off of what the dice say. Either arrange the dice in a predetermined order and make them use their problem solving skills or have them pick which ones they want to use at which time. It’s recommended for kids ages 8-12 but my 4 year old girl and 6 year old boy love using them as well. You can also play a game where you make it a short story or take it out as long as you want. My son liked one of them he made up so much that he’s written down on paper.

Overall this is a great game at a great price – under $10. See Rory’s Story Cubes on Amazon or hover over the link for today’s price.

2. Hedbanz Game – Best New Family Party Game

Hedbanz has really caught on since it’s release in late 2010. It’s recommended for ages 8-12 but my wife and I enjoy playing this with our family, friends, and it’s even a success at parties. One of the reason’s is that it’s super simple to understand. Simply place one of the headbands on your head, draw a card, and then you try to figure out what’s on your head by asking other players questions. You start out with coins chips and every time you guess what’s on your head you get rid of one. The first one to get rid of their chips wins.

In summary, there’s a reason that this game is #2 on the bestseller’s list this year – it’s a really fun family game. If I had one complaint it’d be that it’s sometimes difficult to come up with the questions or answer them as another player but after you’ve played it a couple times this becomes easier. See Hedbanz on Amazon.

3. Perplexus Maze Game

I wish they had had this game in the Doctor’s office when I was a kid rather than those boring ones that you just move along the track. This maze game is fun because you can take several ways to your destination by flip twisting and shifting your way through it. It doesn’t get old because of the 100 challenging barriers that that PlaSmart added to it. It has small parts (a marble) so I wouldn’t really recommend it for children under 3.

This is a great game which helps them to improve their motor skills and hand eye coordination. It’s a hit with our six year old boy and I find myself playing it all too often as well! See more about and read customer reviews for the Perplexus Maze Game.

4. Qwirkle – Encourages Critical Thinking and Math Skills

Qwirkle received the parents “gold” award and although it was released a few years ago is still hanging in on the top 5 bestsellers list for board games. You start by drawing 6 different pieces each and then trying to match them up by color and shape. You get a point for each color and shape before you and like Scrabble you can get multiple points by adding a piece that fits to both a row and a column. Additional points can be scored by  making a “Qwirkle” which is made by having 6 of the same shape or color.

Overall this is a great game for kids and adults. It’s been perfect for logical reasoning skills with our kids and quick math/addition skills. This is why Mensa named it their “Mind Game Award Winner”. You can get it new at Amazon for under $15. See Qwirkle on Amazon.

5. Spot It – An All-Around Fun Board Game

Spot it is a great new game that takes matching, a relatively simple concept, and makes it into a competitive madhouse! The game comes with 55 cards and each card comes with 8 images with only 1 matching. Whoever shouts out the symbol first wins. There are four different variations of how you can play the game; The Tower, The Well, Poison Gift, and Hot Potatoes so it never really gets boring.

Overall this is another really fun game for families. It’s small enough that we can take it on trips with us and play it in the car and it doesn’t get old fast. See Spot It on Amazon.

6. Richard Scarry Busy Town

7. Bananagrams

8. Blokus Classics Game

9. Monopoly Junior Edition

10. MindWare Imaginets

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Best New Board Games for Christmas 2011 – 2012

Best New Board Games

If you’ve never had a family game night, you should start one. Even if you don’t like your family, you should break out some old games to play with your friends. But there is nothing more fun that learning to play a new game with people you like hanging out with. Board games give people time to spend together, talking and laughing instead of just sitting around watching a movie. You can also get to know people very well while playing games. Cousin Ed might have been cool, but once you see how brutally competitive he is, you might not … Continue Reading

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Best Selling Board Games of 2011-2012

Best Selling Board Games

Who doesn’t love family game night? Is your game closet bursting with old and dated games? If you are looking for some new board games to spice up your social life, look no further. And with Christmas just around the corner, you might be curious as to what kind of gift to get someone you know. It really depends on the person but here we will discuss different types of great selling board games that are currently popular with all ages. So if you want one for yourself, for your brother or your kids, there are plenty of ideas here. … Continue Reading

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Top 10 Best Rated Board Games 2011-2012

Best Rated Board Games

Board games have evolved over time to fit the changes that come in society. Today, in the age of technology, it may seem like board games have been completely eliminated from the everyday household and replaced by video games. However, although video games do have a larger niche in today’s world than does the traditional board game, board games continue to be produced and be popular. Here is a list of the best rated board games today. 1. Apples to Apples This game has become almost a standard at any major group gathering in which there are groups of people … Continue Reading

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Best Strategy Board Games 2011 – 2012

Best Strategy Board Game

The best strategy games offer enough of a challenge to last throughout several years of play, but are easy enough to understand that players don’t get frustrated and bogged down in the rules. These games all offer unique, endless combinations for lots of varied game play. Some games will require a learning curve to fully understand the rules and options, but once you’ve played a game or two, you’ll enjoy hours of play. Beyond our reviews below take a look at our list of the best new strategy board games. Best Strategy Board Games 2011 Ticket to Ride – Europe … Continue Reading

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Best Party Board Games for Adults 2011 – 2012

Best Party Board Games

With the holidays soon approaching and parties being planned you may be wondering what games would be fun, inclusive, and great for a party atmosphere. If you are thinking of doing a board game for your party we have the top 10 board games of the year, both old and new. Fun for all your guests, these games will get everyone up and participating. Best Board Games for Parties in 2011 Telestrations First on the list, we have Telestrations. Awarded the Best Party Games of 2011 by Games Magazine, this game is fun and simple. This game is basically the … Continue Reading

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Best Family Board Games 2011 – 2012

Best Family Board Games

Playing board games is a great way to bond as a family. You’ll find that your kids learn how to be patient as they wait for their turn, how to help other family members and how to play by the rules. With the right kinds of games, your kids can learn other valuable skills such as spelling, reading, counting, addition and subtraction, and strategy. Make it a point to have a family game night once a week. Pop some popcorn or make a pan of brownies and settle in around the kitchen table for a few hours of laughter, fun … Continue Reading

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Best Board Games of All Time

Best Board Games All Time

Board games have come to be an integral part of everyday family life in the United States.  We laugh over them, we cry over them, we get angry over them, these iconic symbols of America’s favorite pastimes have the potential to evoke a plethora of human emotions.  So many people want to be the proud inventors of one of these relics of society, but only a few actually succeed in creating a legacy.  Here are the top ten board games of all time. 1. Monopoly There are few households in the United States without at least a dust-covered version of … Continue Reading

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Best Board Games for Kids

Best Board Games for Kids

When I think back to some of my earliest memories, I think of playing Candyland and other board games with my parents and friends. These games were integral to my learning, and even to my growth as an individual. I remember when I started elementary school that there were board games available for me to play during my free time, and that some of them were downright boring. Which is why we have created a top ten of all time list of board games for kids. Top 10 Best Board Games for Kids – All Time 1. Candyland Candyland is … Continue Reading

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Best Board Games for Adults

Best Board Games of All Time

Americans have created thousands upon thousands of board games through the years. Classics include Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Connect Four, and Mousetrap. However, games like these target children under the age of eight, yet nearly every American plays a board game at least a couple of times a year. This is because board games span a number of different categories and target audiences, and that is why we want to make a list of the top ten board games for adults.1. Scrabble Scrabble requires a high level of reading comprehension and knowledge of the English language that most children do … Continue Reading

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