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.
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.
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!
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!
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
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.

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, Kids Ages 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
1-8Kids, Travel Size, Educational7+
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+
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
Operation Star Wars Edition
2-4Kids, Classic Board Games, Theme8-12
UNO MOO Preschool Game
2-4Kids, Young Childrem 3-10
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

Top 10 Best Rated Board Games 2011-2012

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 that don’t know each other. In this game, there are both red and green cards (just like real apples!). Players (between four and ten of them) are each dealt seven red cards that each contain a noun. The players then take turns drawing green cards, that contain adjectives; the players that did not draw the green card must choose the red card from their hand that they believe is best described by the green card. The player that drew the green card must then choose which of the red cards he or she thinks is best described by the green card. He or she then gives that green card to the winner; the first player to collect five green cards wins.

2. Scene It
This is a half-digital, half-board game masterpiece, that has been produced in several different versions already during its short lifetime. Scene It is usually based on either a TV show or a movie, and players must select categories from the DVD that comes with the game from which they answer questions. A correct answer moves you forward on the board, while an incorrect answer may move you back. The first player to reach the end of the board wins. For at least two players, but can be played in teams as well.

3. Shadows Over Camelot
This game is essentially based off of another classic game, Settlers of Cataan, just with a different spin on it. In Shadows Over Camelot, anywhere from three to seven players can participate. Unlike most board games, in Shadows Over Camelot the players work together to reach their quest; they are the knights of the round table in King Arthur’s court. Loyalty cards, the progression of evil, and quests make this game interesting. The object of the game is to fill the round table with more white swords than black—a black sword is awarded if a quest is failed, and a white sword is awarded if a quest is successfully completed.

4. I’m the Boss
This board game is creatively based off of the economy, as players are investors that compete to make the most money by making business deals between each other. Players take turns drawing deals, and at the end of the fifteenth deal, whichever player has the most money wins. For anywhere from three to six players.

5. Wits and Wagers
The creativity of the playing of this game is probably what earned it its high rating. Wits and Wagers is for between four and twenty players, and players may play in teams or otherwise. It is a trivia game, and once a question is asked, each player or team places his answer in written form on the betting mat. The players then bet on which answer they think is the most correct. After seven questions, the player who has won the most bets wins.

6. Blokus
This is a simple game for two to four players. Each player chooses a different color, out of blue, green, red and yellow. They then alternate placing one of their 21 colored tiles on the board, and each consecutively played piece must only touch one corner of another piece that has been played. When there are no more available moves, the player with the least amount of colored tiles wins.

7. Ticket to Ride
This board game has been reproduced in multiple languages, including French, German, and Finnish. In Ticket to Ride, players are given colorful playing pieces shaped like trains, as well as “destination cards”. The object is for a player to complete as many routes as possible, by playing the train pieces. At the end of the game, when there are no more available routes to take, players are awarded points for completing the routes listed on their destination cards, and points are also subtracted for failing to do so. At the end of the game, the player with the most points wins.

8. Power Grid
Originally created in Germany, this game has a two-sided board—one side with a map of the United States, and the other with a map of Germany. At the beginning of the game, players choose whether they want to supply power to cities in the United States or in Germany, and then determine a number of cities that wins the game. Once a player has reached that number, he or she wins. This game can be played with as few as two players, and as many as six.

9. Caylus
This is another building board game, in which players build and add to the castle Caylus in France, set in the middle ages. Anywhere from two to five players alternate turns, building and adding on to the castle. During these turns, players earn prestige points by earning royal favors. Once all of the towers of the castle are built, the game ends, and the player with the most prestige points wins the game.

10. Puerto Rico
Another German-designed game with economic aims, the object of this game is to ship goods to Europe as well as construct buildings on the island of Puerto Rico, set in the age of discovery. Three to five players can play, and during their turns they earn victory points for various accomplishments. At the end of the game, the player with the most victory points wins.

These are today’s best-rated board games, those board games that have transcended the power of the video game in the twenty-first century.