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.

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.