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The 5 Best Complex Board Games for Fans of Heavier Gameplay

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Image Credit: Christopher Paul High/Unsplash

Many board game-lovers shy away from games that take longer than one hour to complete. I think just about anyone would feel intimidated by a board game with a three-hour playtime and a 20-page rulebook.

Most complex games have a sharp learning curve, especially if you’re used to lightweight games. Despite this, complex games are still worth learning—it’s extremely rewarding to complete a game after hours of strategic thinking. The following complex games are perfect for players who want heavy gameplay.

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1. Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game

Battlestar Galactica takes two to three hours to complete, but it’s worth every minute. This game is based on the popular sci-fi Battlestar Galactica series. However, you don’t have to be a fan of the series to play this complex game.

The game takes place on board the Galactica following the Cylons’ devastating attack on the Colonies. As the spacecraft makes its way back to Earth, the crew realizes that there’s at least one traitor amongst them. This makes it even harder to manage resources on the ship.

Gather three to six players, and embark on a semi-cooperative mission of survival. You’ll get to choose from ten characters, all of which come from the Battlestar Galactica series. At the beginning of each game, players will get a card that determines whether they’re secretly a Cylon. If the humans manage to make it back to Earth, they win the game—otherwise, the Cylon will take over the ship.

Buy Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game on Amazon

2. Twilight Struggle

If you’re a history buff, you’ll love Twilight Struggle. The game centers around the events of the Cold War, starting from 1945 to 1989. Twilight Struggle is a two-player board game, but that doesn’t make it any less complex. You and a friend have the option of playing as one of the two world powers during this time: The United States or Russia.

On the game board, you’ll find a world map that shows the United States’ and Russia’s global interests. As you progress through the game, you can control and influence other countries. Meanwhile, the Cold War still remains in the background—the events that actually happened during the Cold War will affect your gameplay.

Buy Twilight Struggle on Amazon

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3. Agricola

In Agricola, you and four other players assume the role of struggling farmers. You’ll each start out living with a spouse inside of a simple shack. The game consists of 14 rounds and six harvests. It’s your goal to grow your home, farm, and family.

At the beginning of each round, you’ll get two actions: one for you, and one for your spouse. With these actions, you can choose to gather resources, have kids, and feed your family. While kids can help you expand your farm, having them without enough resources and food can sabotage your gameplay. The player who has the best farm wins the game.

Buy Agricola on Amazon

4. Food Chain Magnate

Food Chain Magnate is a complex board game that revolves around the fast-food industry. The beginning of the game signals the beginning of your career as a fast-food mogul. You’ll compete against up to four other players in a game that lasts about two to four hours.

The game’s map tiles are set up randomly in each game, and the amount you use depends on the number of players. To build your company, you’ll need to hire employees, train staff, and manage marketing campaigns. The richest player at the end of the game wins!

Buy Food Chain Magnate on Amazon

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5. Dominant Species

Dominant Species takes place in 90,000 B.C., the period just before the life-changing ice age. Each player represents one type of animal: a reptile, amphibian, bird, mammal, arachnid, or insect. Your species will flourish at the start of the game, however, this is bound to change.

Throughout the game, you must work to increase the chances of your species’ survival. Environmental changes, glaciation, migration, and speciation will affect your entire species. The player who gains the most victory points before the ice age occurs wins.

Buy Dominant Species on Amazon

Challenge Yourself With a Complex Board Game

Approach a complex board game with confidence, and you’ll have a lot of fun playing. If long, arduous gameplay is your thing, these games definitely won’t disappoint!

Once you complete a complex board game, you’ll probably need a breather. These simple board games for people who hate board games will provide you with a frustration-free board game experience.

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Mac Christensen
Mac Christensen

I got Pandemic Legacy for Christmas, but it’s made to be played over many sessions with elements that change over time or get removed from the game. There are even cards that you are supposed to rip up sometimes! It sounds very cool, but I don’t think I can find enough friends that would or could dedicate that kind of time! We’ll see if I end up keeping it or not…

Brian Boru
Brian Boru

Thanks for these Emma, will tuck them away for the future. Agricola is the only one I know, and nice to see Twilight Struggle is 2-player.

Guillermo Dominguez
Guillermo Dominguez

Food Chain Magnate feels pomising to my finance class!

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