War is one of the most popular themes for board games, but there are a lot of different types. And for good reason, too. War board games can be so much fun and exciting. There will be an epic battle in all of the games on this list. Some people might be able to do it in an evening, while others might need all day. But none of them will let you down when it comes to battle strategy. There will be a lot of fun to be had on this long-haul ride. Make sure you have some snacks and drinks ready.
There are a few things you can do to make long games run smoothly. If you can, get a PDF copy of the rulebook. Most publishers make them available for free. Before the game, make sure everyone reads the rules and knows what to do. When it’s not their turn, make them do “admin” tasks like sorting their hands or counters. You might also want to set a time limit for each turn if everyone agrees. Those games are done.
1. Twilight Imperium IV
There aren’t any more epic games than this all-day event in which you build a sci-fi city. In terms of genre, it’s got everything you need. People from all kinds of weird aliens are learning how to use new technology and building spaceships to fight each other over an empty hex map in space. You can talk to other players, of course. You can also vote on in-game political decrees. Yet, making deals is important, but they have to be based on a strong strategic foundation. When each player picks a special focus for each round, it’s a great mechanical idea. This fourth edition still has a wide range of topics, but it has a lot less of it. This makes it easier to read. We have a list of the best strategy board games that you can check out for more.
Dune is a very different kind of game that takes place in the future than most. When it came out in 1979, it was a long way ahead of its time. It was based on Frank Herbert’s best-known book. There isn’t a lot of chance in Dune. Instead, the game is based on an interesting mix of hidden information. During the game, each player takes on a different role from the book. They each have different special abilities. The Atreides, for example, get to peek at cards as they’re auctioned off blind, while the wicked Harkonnen know all the secret traitors in play. As a result, the book’s narrative and political themes are brought to life in an amazing way. If you want to learn how to spank, this new edition has easier rules and better art.
3. Star Wars Rebellion
Star Wars Rebellion takes a more liberal approach when it comes to putting a favourite movie or TV show on your table. I know it’s from Star Wars. The Rebellion player is the underdog, trying to stay alive and win over planets to their side. The Empire, on the other hand, has the power of huge armies to crush any sign of dissent. It’s a great example of an asymmetrical fight, with well-known characters and events from movies. But beyond the famous faces, the story is up to you. It’s all tied together with tight strategic strings so that each turn is different and challenging.
4. Undaunted: Normandy & Undaunted: North Africa
It’s amazing how these games use deck-building games to make infantry combat tactics come alive with just a few rules. It’s like giving soldiers orders and supplies in the field. Officer cards let you add new unit cards to your deck, which is how it works. These unit cards, on the other hand, let you move the matching troop counters on the modular scenario map, where you can fight the enemy and take the objectives. In the game, casualties make your deck smaller, which makes your units less able to act as their morale fades in the face of fire. With tense firefights and important moments, you won’t find a better way to relive the Second World War.
In Root, which is one of the shorter games on this list, the design is very different from other games. In the woods, there are four groups that are fighting for power. Each group has its own rules and feel. People from the Eyrie and the Marquise de Cat both play conquest games, but they are very different from each other. The Woodland People are guerrilla fighters against the people who have come in. As a final twister-hero, The Vagabond is the only one of its kind in this story. You don’t have to like the game’s cute theme or quirky art to play it. This is a hard-hitting game of brutal strategy, and each move asks big questions about politics and government in the real world.
6. A Game of Thrones: The Board Game
This game re-creates all of the politics from the books and TV show. In order to do this, it uses a trick from the game Diplomacy. Only one player can win, but no one has the resources to win alone. As a result, alliances and betrayal are bound to happen, keeping everyone on a knife-edge. It’s run by a thrilling secret order system, which means you don’t know what your opponent is going to do until it’s too late. There are a lot of sweet bells and whistles from the world of Westeros on top of this tried-and-true formula. This is a great game on its own, but it’s a must for fans of the show. Also, check out our favourite board games for adults.
7. War of the Ring
The best board game based on Tolkien’s work is this one. It’s another favourite of fans of the book. At its heart is a clever split into two games on the same board. People who are free start to fight back against the dark Lord Sauron in Middle-earth. To get to this group’s goal, they have to throw the One Ring into the fire before Sauron takes over everything. In this game, the two halves connect at every turn, making it hard for players to balance their moves.
8. Pax Pamir
Pax Pamir is both beautiful to look at and play. Players take on the role of 19th century Afghan leaders trying to ensure they come out on top as their countrymen and the Russian and British Empires vie for local control. To get more actions and improve their standing with the three warring groups, players hire historical figures to help them build a better tableau.
Besides this, there are also rules for controlling an area and a goal to align yourself with the current winning faction. Players can use military units on the map if they belong to one of the factions, but alliances can change.
9. Cuba Libre
The Counter Insurgency game series, which started in 2012 with Andean Abyss, deserves to be on any list because of its ground-breaking and easy-to-learn model of asymmetric warfare. Players in Cuba Libre, the game this author likes the best, take on the roles of four different groups during Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba in 1956. Each faction plays a different way and has different ways to win.
The game usually moves along with event cards driving player decisions, but there is a new system of descending player actions that makes decisions more important. COIN is now in its tenth book, so there is probably a conflict that looks like yours, from the War in Afghanistan to the Fall of Roman Britain. A must-try for all wargamers.