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The 10 Best Easy to Play Strategy Games

Strategy board games are some of the most prevalent in the market, and it’s difficult not to love them. Some, however, get a little carried away when it comes to the complexity of the rules, and we don’t always feel like sweating over intricate variables when we are just trying to enjoy a game with friends. Here are the 10 best easy-to-play strategy games.

 

7 WONDERS

10 Best Easy to Play Board Games - 7 Wonders

  • Ages: 10+
  • Players: 2-7
  • Playing time: 30mins

Very few of the original Seven Wonders of the World are still standing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t transport yourself to the ancient times from which they hail. In this game, you play as the leader of a civilisation with one of the seven wonders at its centre. Each wonder has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the goal is to surpass the other players in military and infrastructural might. At the beginning of each turn, players draw seven cards from each of three decks representing different ages, then select one to play – each card representing a different developmental advance for the player’s civilisation, which afford points to the player. After selecting the card to play, the player hands the remaining cards to the next player. Points are tallied at the end of the game, and the player with the most points wins.

This is a ubiquitous game in many a board game aficionado's collection, mainly because it’s very easy to learn but it also offers opportunity for deep tactics. You must balance the cards you want to play with the cards you want to keep your rivals from possessing, and the winner isn’t decided until the very last stretch of the game. If you are looking for a very fun game with a smooth learning curve, you need look no further.

Get Seven Wonders here.

CATAN

10 Best Easy to Play Strategy Games - Catan

  • Ages: 10+
  • Players: 3-4
  • Playing time: 60-120 mins

It would be fair to say that the board games industry wouldn’t be as big as it currently is without Catan (formerly Settlers of Catan). Remarkable for its elegance in design and friendliness in gameplay, it is a game where strategising walks hand in hand with resource management and bargaining. The goal of the game is to amass the most victory points, and players get victory points by building roads, settlements, and armies. To do that, however, many different types of resources are needed, and resources are acquired by taking control of terrains, with each different terrain yielding a different resource. This is where one of the games most important mechanics comes in: resources are represented by cards that you hold in your hand, and you must barter with the other players for the resources that they have and you need. Strategy comes in figuring out which resources are best to control so you have greater advantage over other players.

There is a reason Catan is such a game-changer (if you pardon the pun), and you might wanna check it out.

Get Catan here.

TICKET TO RIDE

10 Best Easy to Play Strategy Games - Ticket to Ride

  • Ages: 8+
  • Players: 2-5
  • Playing time: 30-60 mins

Another massive hit in the board games world, Ticket to Ride is a fun romp that snagged the prestigious Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) award in 2004. In it, 2 to 5 players assume the roles of railroad barons in 19th century America. Each player draws a number of objective – or “destination” - cards, and these objectives determine routes you must cover with your railways. These railways are represented on a game board. On their turn, players draw from a deck with different coloured cards, and they use those cards to claim routes matching the colours of the cards with the colour of the route, at which point the player places a miniature train on that stretch of railroad. The game ends when any player uses up all of their miniatures, whereupon the player with the most points will be the victor. Additional points are scored by completing your objectives and having the longest, unbroken route. You can also buy additional destination cards during the game, but that can backfire, as you lose points for each unfulfilled destination.

You can teach anyone how to play this game in a few minutes, and then it’s off to the races and you are guaranteed to have a good time. The Europe expansion adds more mechanics for the ultimate experience, if you are looking to spice up your game of Ticket to Ride a bit.

Get Ticket to Ride here. Get Ticket to Ride Europe here.

CARCASSONNE

10 Best Easy to Play Strategy Games - Carcassone

  • Ages: 7+
  • Players: 2-5
  • Playing time: 30-45 mins

Carcassone is a game of deceptive simplicity. Named after the real-world city in France, it pits players against each other in an effort to take hold of cities, roads, and farmland in the eponymous region of Carcassone. This is not a game where the board is set up from the beginning, but it is gradually built with each turn. Players take turns placing tiles from a deck, and deciding on whether or not they want to claim the land/city/road represented in the tile. They do that by placing their miniatures (affectionately called “Meeples”) on what they want to control. The complication here is that, to put down the tile, the sides adjacent to the tiles already in place must match, like dominoes. That can make for interesting strategy because deciding where to place your tile may greatly increase your advantage over the other players. Each city, farmland, and roadway you control figures into your final score, and the player with the most points wins.

It is a quick, very dynamic, very energetic game, where half the fun is giving advice on where players should place the tile they’ve just drawn. Highly recommended for all ages and levels of board game proficiency.

Get Carcassone here.

KING OF TOKYO

  • Ages: 10+
  • Players: 2-6
  • Playing time: 30 mins

Kaiju is the Japanese word for “giant monster”, and it defines the genre of movies that first introduced us to such household names as Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah. King of Tokyo takes inspiration from those films by having each player take the role of one of a roster of kaiju-style monsters, with the goal of obliterating Tokyo. Players take turns rolling 6 special dice to determine whether they are going to attack, heal, get energy, or get points on their turn. Any number of dice can be rerolled up to twice, and you always keep the last roll. If you attack, you do damage to whomever is not where you are, and there are only two places you can be: in Tokyo, or outside Tokyo. Only one monster (or two, depending on the number of players) can be in the city at any one time, which means that every monster outside the board does damage to only one monster, whereas the monster in Tokyo does damage to everyone else at the same time. Energy is used to buy special power cards that can give your monster unique advantages over the others (higher attack power, extra dice rolls, etc.), and points are used to win the game. The winner is whoever is standing last, or whoever acquires 20 points.

It sounds more complex than it is, and you pick up on the rules really quickly. The game tends to be really spirited and matches don’t last for too long, so it’s great to play at any time.

Get King of Tokyo here.

 

SPLENDOR

10 Best Easy to Play Strategy Games - Splendor

  • Ages: 10+
  • Players: 2-4
  • Playing time: 30 mins

In Splendor, two to four players compete to be the most prestigious jeweller among aristocracy in the Renaissance. The rules are so simple you only need a few minutes to lay it all out to new players. Essentially, players purchase jewels, which are then used to buy property cards. Each development card affords players a number of “prestige points”, which count towards their victory at the end. Players can also collect prestige points by drawing the attention of a noble, which happens automatically once they accrue the specific variety of properties required for each noble. A game of Splendor is quick but tense, and exciting scrambles for that last edge you need to win are not uncommon.

Get Splendor here.

 

BETRAYAL AT HOUSE ON THE HILL

10 Best Easy to Play Strategy Games - Betrayal at House on the Hill

  • Ages: 12+
  • Players: 3-6
  • Playing time: 60 mins

This is for those who are looking for a captivating narrative to go with their game experience. Betrayal at House on the Hill brings B-horror tropes to the tabletop, where each player takes the role of a different character in a group that decided to explore a decrepit building at a roadside. The board initially consists of a few room tiles, which are expanded when players move around to explore. With each new room that is revealed, a new item, event, or omen comes into play. When omens are played, players must roll six dice, and if the resultant number is higher than the number of omens already in play, the haunt occurs. What that means is that one of the players will be revealed to have been a traitor all along (hence the “betrayal” portion of the title), who lured the other characters into the house for nefarious purposes. The game then changes entirely, with the traitor attempting to eliminate the other characters, who in turn must do all they can to survive the traitor’s attacks and make it out of the house alive.

It is a wickedly fun game, especially for those who get easily absorbed by a good hackle-raising yarn. It does, however, require a lot of reading for the most complete experience, so if you are looking for a more fast-paced experience, perhaps go with a different game.

Get Betrayal at House on the Hill here.

TSURO

10 Best Easy to Play Strategy Games - Tsuro

  • Ages: 8+
  • Players: 2-8
  • Playing time: 15 mins

Tsuro is so simple, you can explain it in a few sentences. Each player takes the role of a flying dragon who moves across tiles, which the players take turns laying on the board. The dragons must always follow the path represented on the tiles. If they move out of the board, or if they run into another dragon, they are eliminated. The simplicity is deceptive, and it pays to try and think a few movements ahead. Initially it may seem you have lots of room to move as you please, but you’ll quickly find your options aren’t long in waning out, and competition for the limited real estate that is left can be fierce. Couple all that with the gorgeous artwork and the exotic themes, and you have a great game to break out at game night.

Get Tsuro here.

 

PANDEMIC

10 Best Easy to Play Strategy Games - Pandemic

  • Ages: 8+
  • Players: 2-4
  • Playing time: 45 mins

Pandemic is a co-op board game, meaning participants don’t play against each other, but rather collaborate together to achieve a communal end goal. It is one of the games that popularised cooperative tabletop games as they exist today and it still retains massive popularity. Each player assumes the role of a scientist trying to contain multiple epidemics that are assailing the world. On each turn, players may move from one point of the world map to another, or build research facilities, or transfer cards to other players, all with the objective of discovering a cure for each of the four deadly diseases that ravages the planet. At the end of each player’s turn, a card is drawn from a deck that determines new challenges for the players to overcome, which could be an increase in the infection rate, an increase in the intensity of infection, or new outbreaks in different cities in the world. It’s a race against the clock where every player must work in tandem to successfully beat the game. Highly recommended for players of all ages.

Get Pandemic here.

AZUL

10 Best Easy to Play Strategy Games - Azul

  • Ages: 8+
  • Players: 2-4
  • Playing time: 30-45 mins

Winner of the 2018 Spiel des Jahres award, Azul shook the board gaming world when it came out a year prior. It is remarkably simple, yet requires plenty strategising and forethought if you want to come out on top. In this game, players compete to present the king of Portugal with the best adorned “azulejos”, or floor tiles, in the land. Each player has their own board, and the object is to draw tiles from a common pool in order to complete your tile floor. To fill in any one space, you need a certain number of tiles of the same colour, and here is where strategy comes in: selecting the right number of tiles of the correct colours to most efficiently complete your decoration so you have more points than the other players.

The game is beautifully illustrated with gorgeous and ornate patterns that make it great eye candy, and the gameplay is very relaxing and chilled out, as competition is not as emphasised as just completing your own board.

Get Azul here.

FORBIDDEN DESERT

10 Best Easy to Play Strategy Games - Forbidden Desert

  • Ages: 10+
  • Players: 2-5
  • Playing time: 45 mins

A sequel to Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert sees players attempting to escape an unforgiving and barren land after their ship crashes in the desert. The board is composed of individual tiles laid out randomly, and players take turns clearing out the sand off tiles, which permits them to flip the tiels and move to them. The objective is to find different parts of the ship that were lost in the crash, so you can safely escape the desert. The rules are easy to process and the dynamic is lively, as players cooperate to free themselves from their dire situation.

Get Forbidden Desert here.

What do you think? Have you played any of these games? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments section below!

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