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Board games have come a long way since the simple days of Monopoly and Yahtzee. More complex games have been added into the mix, making for exciting and in-depth gameplay.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of options in the modern board game world, we’re here to help. Here’s a breakdown of board game types and genres.
In deck-building games, you start out with a set of cards that you build upon as you complete each turn. Unlike collectible card games, deck-building games don’t require you to purchase additional packs of cards to boost your decks. Instead, your cards act as in-game currency—you use them to purchase better cards that improve your chances of winning.
Examples: Dominion, Aeons End, Clank!
Area control games challenge you to take over as many regions as you can. Depending on which area control game you choose, you might play the role of a dictator, army commander, or the ruler of a growing empire. Gaining new territories doesn’t come without a fight—you’ll likely have to wage war or backstab other players to get what you want.
Examples: Risk, Twilight Struggle, Star Wars: Rebellion
Tired of competing against your friends? Cooperative board games pit you and your friends against the mechanics of the board game itself. That said, good communication skills and teamwork go a long way toward achieving a shared victory.
Examples: Pandemic, Arkham Horror, Forbidden Island
Worker placement games give you a group of “workers,” represented by game pieces. You’ll place each worker on certain areas of the board, assigning them with a specific job that they can perform during your turn. These games require careful planning, as you’ll have to work against your opponents.
Examples: Agricola, Carcassonne, Kingsburg
Chances are, you’ve played roll and move board games dozens of times. In these classic luck-based games, your dice roll dictates the number of spaces you move your piece across the board. The space you land on might reward or punish you, depending on the game you play.
Examples: Monopoly, The Game of Life, Trouble
Legacy Board Games
Legacy-style board games are perfect for gamers who thrive on change—the rules and elements of gameplay shift as you play. The game’s outcome relies on your decisions throughout the game, giving you a different experience every time you play. Some legacy games require you to make physical changes to the board and its pieces, allowing for only one playthrough.
Examples: Risk Legacy, Gloomhaven, SeaFall
A dungeon crawler board game immerses you in an explorable universe. As you travel across the board, you’ll encounter treacherous scenarios, uncover treasure, decipher puzzles, as well as fight deadly enemies.
Examples: Mice and Mystics, Claustrophobia, Shadows of Brimstone
Eurogames are characterized by an emphasis on strategy, theme, and design. The gameplay typically involves the strategic gathering of resources, and also includes very little chance-based elements. Originating in Europe, Eurogames are the exact opposite of the American-style games that tend to prioritize luck-based gameplay.
Examples: Ticket to Ride, Puerto Rico, Catan
Social deduction games bring out your friends’ true colors. In these games, you and your friends must take on a hidden role or fulfill a secret mission. The goal is to find out the identity of the traitor before it’s too late!
Examples: One Night Ultimate Werewolf, The Resistance, Spyfall
Which Board Game Genre Will You Try Next?
The diversity of board games is what makes them fun to play. If you don’t like one type, you can easily move on to something completely different. You’ll also notice that some games incorporate more than one genre—a hybrid often refines the gameplay even more.
Learn more about important terms to know in our board game glossary!