Best Strategy Board Games 2011 – 2012

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
by Days of Wonder 

A sequel to Ticket to Ride, the Ticket to Ride Europe edition will keep your family entertained as you learn European geography. Players begin with a set of colored train cars and four “tickets” — three for short routes, one for a long route. Each route has a point value. Players draw and collect colored cards in order to place train cars along routes to connect to destination cities. Colored markers move around the outside of the board, showing points collected by building trains. Players add more routes for extra points. Once a player’s train cars are gone, game play is over. Uncompleted routes are deducted from player’s score. The player with the longest continuous train gains bonus points. This game requires strategy and organization skills. The little train pieces are unique and fun. Because of the variety of routes, every game is completely different. Games can be played in less than an hour and are recommended for players as young as eight years old.

Dominion
by Rio Grande Games 

Dominion is a 250 card strategy game offers endless varieties, so the game never gets old. There are 25 categories of action cards, but each game begins with players deciding on 10 categories to play with (the instruction manual offers several recommended combinations). Each player receives an equal number of money cards. Players buy action cards, then play them for points. Strategy must be used to balance the amount of money cards with the actions that earn points to win. Some cards allow players to take others’ points, or gain more money, or take extra turns. The game is incredibly addictive; everyone will immediately want to play another round! There are many add-on sets that can be purchased for an even larger number of possibilities. This is a somewhat complicated game, but it becomes easier to play after the first round. Recommended for ages 13 and up.

Pandemic
by Z-Man Games 

A unique concept: instead of planning strategy to beat the other players, you’ll play collaboratively to beat the game. You will want to play this one over and over until you win. In Pandemic, every round is different, though, and you will find that it’s tough to consistently beat the game. The game begins with four breakouts of killer diseases all over world. Each player receives a card with their job that allows them to work with other players to cure each disease. But, be careful… the disease can spread so rapidly that you end up with a pandemic that wipes out the population. Before each turn of play, players talk to each other and devise a general strategy. You can depend on the strengths of each player’s job, and whatever lucky cards people draw. The manufacturer recommends two to five players at least ten years old, but the game is really suited best for older teens and adults. The game typically wins about 50 percent of the time, making it a constant challenge.

The Settlers of Catan
by MayFair Games $33.60

You need lots of things to achieve settlement: food, roads, resources such as bricks and lumber. In Settlers of Catan, you’’ll start with two settlements and improve them with a roll of the dice to earn points. Interact with others by offering to trade cards, and learn the skills of negotiation. The game takes up to 90 minutes to play, but it consistently wins awards and has been on the bestselling games list in both the United States and Germany. Expansion sets increase the possibilities of play. The game comes with a very detailed, well-organized rule book. At first, you’ll find that looking up questions and rules takes up quite a bit of time, but after playing a few games everyone will understand the strategies and rules. For players as young as ten.

Forbidden Island
by Gamewright $13.44

The least expensive game on our list, this one was created by Matt Leacock, the brilliant designer of Pandemic. Forbidden Island is another collaborative game where the goal is to find four treasures before the island sinks. Each player is assigned a character card, which gives him certain powers and advantages. Island tiles are laid out to make the board. Each game provides a unique layout with unique characters, so the combinations are plentiful, making for a completely different game every round. Particular tiles start to flood, then sink, as you race to find your four treasures.

The game will win about half the time; your team will find victory the other half. Either way, players will beg for “just one more game!” until the hour becomes very late. The artwork in the game is gorgeous and detailed. It won the Mensa Favorite Brainy Games award in 2010.

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