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.

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
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 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

Best New Board Games for Christmas 2011 – 2012

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 be so fond of him anymore as you go head to head to win one of these fantastic games. And with Christmas coming up, these games make great gifts!


Ravensburger Labyrinth Anniversary Edition Family Game 
This is a moving maze where you must obtain certain treasures. There are many routes to take to beat your opponents. Each player has a mission and the person who completes theirs first is the one to win. This is a 25th anniversary edition game that will entertain for 25 more years. With the maze that moves, you will rarely play the same game twice.

Phineas and Ferb Funniest Card Game Ever
This is a great game to play with younger family members who are sure to love the game based on the television show. Phineas and Ferb have interesting senses of humor and very entertaining imaginations. This is a very interactive game that will bring the storylines of the show to your table! It is sure to be a hit for those young ones who already watch the show and would love to be a part of it.

Girls Night Out Pink
Nothing is better than a girls night out, and now you can play a game made for just such an evening! The conversation will range from all kinds of things from intimate to daily topics and you will know just what the girls really think. Based on the topics, this game is recommended for ladies 18 year of age and older. With thought provoking questions to hilarious ones, you will surely get to know the girls even better than you thought you did.

UNO Roboto Game
UNO has been a classic game for decades. Find fun with this new kind of game. The Wild Card will bring the robot to life that speaks and makes unique house rules. As you play, the robot will call out different directions so the way you play will change periodically. This robot puts a whole new spin on the old classic card game. But don’t worry, the same rule applies that you have to yell “Uno!” when you have one card left!

Tivial Pursuit Ultimate Disney Edition
Many people have a hard time playing trivial pursuit, but almost anyone can play this game with ease! And everyone loves Disney, so brush up on your Disney info and get the game going. The whole family gets involved as you must think of answers from the famous stories and movies. There are three question types, Take 2 Trivia, My Disney and Disney List. This game is recommended for ages 8 and up.

Cooking Scrabble
This is yet another classic game with a new spin. This cooking edition game is just like the favorite word game we have all come to love. You can earn bonus points and there are recipe cards to follow as you try to beat the other players with your creative cooking words. And for your tiles, a miniature grocery bag keeps them all tucked away. Make sure to have some snacks on hand as you play because it is sure to work up your appetite!

Beat The Parents
With this game, the kids can be the rulers! The questions are geared to stump both kids and parents alike. Parents are asked questions that their kids should certainly know and vice versa. Do the parents know who stars in their favorite blockbuster movies? Can the kids spell cappuccino? Avoid the wild card spaces or you will go back and that is a sure way to lose the game. The first person to make it to the end with all their tokens wins!

Say Anything 
This game will let you know what your friends really think and let them know what you really think. Maybe in some cases that isn’t such a good thing, but with this game, you are sure to have fun! With questions to push your hot buttons and start some classic debate, to questions that make you really think, you will have fun hearing what everyone has to say. Your answers are written down and the person chosen will pick the one they like best.

Loaded Questions
Do you think you know what your friends and family are thinking? Well this game is to test your knowledge of how well you know them. When you guess their answers to these mind probing questions, you get to move your piece along the board. There are over 500 questions so you might get lucky or unlucky with the draw. Walk away feeling sure you know the people you are supposed to know, or questioning if you know them at all!

Table Topics Family
It is proven that families who eat meals together talk more and have closer relationships in general and with this game you can do it without a meal. This game is sure to get the conversations going with all kinds of topics. You will have fun getting to know what your kids think about topics you would never have thought to ask them about and they will learn more from you as you apply your wealth of knowledge with this game. Your kids will also learn conversation skills so they will be able to talk to anyone of any age confidently. This game comes with 135 questions so the fun will go on for a long, long time.

If you didn’t find what you were looking for, then head over to Christmas Gift Central to see their list of the best new board games of 2011.