In the United States market, strategy games are one of the most popular board game genres. Each game is unique, with its very own theme and mechanics. One great advantage of a quality strategy game is that it will capture your child’s attention while testing their intelligence, creativity and ingenuity.

Their complexity makes them ideal for children who tend to leave their toys aside. And they’re not only attractive for kids: they have also become a great option for parents on evenings with friends and family. We designed this article to give you all the information you need to know about strategy games, and which are the best ones available to Americans.

Key Facts

  • The variety of themes and mechanics in the strategy game sector is incredible. Some genres – like fantasy or strategy – dominate the market, but each game offers a unique experience.
  • This type of board games are usually tailored for older children, starting at around 8 to 10 years of age. The best games have no age limit and can be enjoyed by the whole family.
  • The most complex games immerse players in exciting narratives and fantastic worlds, and one round can last hours, or even days.

Ranking: The best strategy games in the U.S. market

The variety of strategy games on the market is extremely broad. The theme and dynamics of each strategy game give each a unique playing experience. This is why these board games are ideal to entertain children, teenagers and adults alike. In the following section, we’ve designed a selection of our favorite strategy games available to Americans, and we’ve got no doubt that you’ll find the perfect game for your children and yourself.

No. 1: Hasbro – Risk

Hasbro is a world leader in the board game and toy industry, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see one of their games tops our ranking. And we start off with an absolute classic: Risk is a game that was launched in 1957, but it’s still a fan favorite over half a decade later. It is recommended for your child to start playing it around the age of 10.

The great news is that this is typically the kind of strategy game that the whole family can enjoy, and up to 5 players can take to it for hours of fun. Today, there are new themes and designs being created in order to constantly attract a younger audience, but the goal remains the same: take over the world at all costs. Risk is an absolute must-have.

No. 2: Jax – Sequence

This is an exciting game of strategy by Jax, and it’s made for children 7 and up, and it supports 2-12 players. To play, Play a card from your hand, and place a chip on a corresponding space on the game board. When you have five in a row, it’s a Sequence. A great thing about this game is that it’s great for both individual and team play. Whichever strategy you choose to play, all you have to do is score the required number of five-card sequences before your opponents to win.

Sequence is a game that offers fun for the whole family, it can be enjoyed by players of multiple ages since it’s easy enough for kids and challenging enough for adults. Included in the box is 1 folding game board, 2 decks of Sequence playing cards, 135 playing chips and complete instructions. This game is one of the best reviewed games on amazon, consumers say its fun, challenging and exciting!

No. 3: Unstable Unicorns Base Game

This is a strategic card game that will allow you to annihilate your friends, in a good way of course. This game is one of Kickstarter’s to 50 most backed projects of all time! It is designed for ages 14 and up and one game requires around 30-45 minutes of play time. It can be played by as little as 2 people and it can include up to 8 players. Unstable Unicorns features a combination of stellar artwork and carefully calibrated gameplay for an infuriatingly magical experience

The purpose of the game is to build a unicor army and betray your old friends – unicorns are your friends now. The first player to build an army or 7 unicorns wins the game. It’s simple, start your turn by drawing a card, then play a card from your hand to move ahead in the game, but be careful, you don’t want to move forward too quickly or you’ll become everybody’s target. Reviews say that although the game doesn’t have great depth, it is still a lot of fun.

No. 4: Catan Studio – Catan (formerly The Settlers of Catan)

The Settlers of Catan is a classic board game that like other classics, has recently undergone rebranding in the form of a new image. The new Catan is still the same multiplayer board game from years ago. The players in the game assume the role of settlers establishing colonies on the island of Catan. Players build settlements, cities, and roads to connect them as they settle the island. In the game, players gain points as their settlements grow.

The first to reach a set number of points, typically 10, wins. This game has many expansions worldwide, and in the U.S, it is published by Catan Studio. The Settlers of Catan became one of the first German-style board games to achieve popularity outside Europe. As of 2015, more than 22 million copies in 30 languages had been sold. This game involves large amounts of strategy, while still being fairly simple to learn, making it great fun for the entire family.

No. 5: Days of Wonder – Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is a railway-themed German-style board game that was published in 2004 by Days of Wonder. It is a cross-country train adventure in which players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities through North America. The original Ticket to Ride is perfect for an experienced strategy game enthusiast, families, and those new to board games. It’s simple rules and beautiful design make it easy for anyone to play and for the whole family to have fun. Even though the games is really quick to learn and enjoy, it will take a lifetime to master, making it an interesting choice for kids and adults alike.

Players earn points on their cross-country train adventure, players claim routes between two cities, complete Destination Tickets, and compete to claim the longest continuous path of routes across the map. A player will claim a route between two cities by playing matching train cards equal to the number of spaces in the route. This game is offers between 30-60 minutes of gameplay and it’s designed for kids ages 8, with the capacity to be with 2 to 6 players. This is another Amazon favourite with thousands of 5 star reviews. Among recurring review says this strategy game has “super-fast gameplay”, which makes it “super interesting” and “loads of fun.”

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about strategy games

You may have difficulties pointing out the difference between a standard board game and a strategy game. This game genre is quite specific, as it tests the intelligence of players and requires a high level of concentration. The next section answers the most frequently asked questions among users so that you can have a better overall understanding of the specifics that concern strategy games.

Certain games involve deciphering riddles, while others involve misleading opponents.
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What are strategy games exactly?

They are a type of board game in which players must make decisions that will considerably affect the final ranking results. Participants have to design their own tactic throughout the game, while remaining attentive to others’ decisions. Certain games are relatively simple, while others are very complex and often last hours and there is even a hand full of games that could last days.

While many strategy games partially depend on chance, the majority prefer focusing on player decision and strategy development. One’s intelligence, ability to plan and to analyze other players’ strategies are key elements to come out victorious.

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Many games feature fictitious narratives or require players to take on a character role.

At what age can children begin to play strategy games?

This genre is generally seen as one of the most complex amongst board games. The level of difficulty will naturally vary from one game to another, but even the easier ones require sustained concentration. Each round also tends to be longer than average, which is another reason why it is recommended to introduce your child to strategy games around the age of 6.

As we mentioned above, each game will offer a different level of complexity, with the more difficult games can also be fitting for teenagers and adults. This is why they are ideal for children who reach an age when they’re starting to leave child’s toys behind. Strategy games are not only attractive for your child, but are also great for a fun family evening.

Age group Type of game Examples of games
Children (6-10 years old) Low complexity games, with attractive designs and colors, and clear themes. We recommend games that last less than one hour. Liar and Labyrinth
Preteens (11-13 years old) Games with more elaborate themes can be introduced, such as abstract strategy games. These games can last longer, as children of this age have the capacity to spend hours playing a single round. Settlers of Catan and Clue
Teenagers (13 years and older) Adolescents will quickly grasp all game mechanics. We recommend serious themes, such as strategy or games that involve role play. Express yourself! and Risk

Are there different types of strategy games?

Of course! As we’ve mentioned earlier, each board game is unique. You’ll find an endless variety of themes and game dynamics in this category. You might be interested in knowing some of the subcategories available out there to help you make the right decision at the time of choosing one. Most strategy games fall within one of the following: one meter wide or two meters wide.

Type Game dynamics Special features
Abstract games They don’t try to recreate reality, but rather focus on the internal logic of the game. The complexity of these games varies greatly. Their design tends to be minimalist and eye-catching.
War or military games As you’ve guessed by now, they simulate wars or battles. They generally require players to develop a strategy throughout the game. Games can be considerably lengthy, even played over several days.
Simulation games They try to simulate the decisions and processes that a player would make in a real-life situation. Players usually have to take on a role and immerse themselves in a fictional narrative while playing.
Classic games These are the original strategy games. They can be played with cards, such as poker, or with chips, such as Ludo. They share similarities with abstract games, but include fewer elements.

Shopping Criteria

The strategy genre is quite simply one of the broadest and most diverse board game categories that exists. Every single game is unique, and you’ll find different themes, formats, levels of complexity and game dynamics. Here are some key aspects that we encourage you to evaluate when looking for the right strategy game for your children and yourself:

  • Age of your child
  • Theme
  • Difficulty and duration
  • Design
  • Game mechanics

Age of your child

The very first thing you should take into account when the time comes to buy a strategy game is the age of your child. Products designed for teenagers have more complex themes or fascinating plots, while games for younger kids are simpler and often easy to identify, featuring eye-catching and colorful designs.

As we explained in the previous section, older kids are the ones who will most enjoy this type of games. We encourage you to start with more traditional board games if your child is younger than 6. From that age onwards, they can start experimenting with simple and fun games, such as Liar.

This game genre is one of the most complex amongst board games.
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Theme

There is a huge diversity of themes in the strategy game genre. We encourage you to find out which themes are of your child’s interest before purchasing one. It’s also good to know that many classic games release new versions related to famous movies or series that your kids may love.

Fantasy is definitely a dominant theme in the board game sector. Your child may also find new interests by discovering unknown and unusual themes. These approaches are valuable and may even contribute to their academic development. A game like Risk, for instance, may lead to your kid developing a genuine passion for history or geography.

The variety of themes and game dynamics available is incredible.
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Difficulty and duration

As you already know, the strategy genre offers games that are generally the most complex amongst board games. Each game tends to be longer, as players need the time to develop their own tactics and plan thoroughly. That being said, the difficulty of the game will innevitably influence its duration.

More elaborate strategy games like Risk build a narrative as the game progresses, and the players are caught in a fictitious universe. This type of games – and more particularly those involving fantastic worlds – can be played over hours or even days.

Design

Certain brands – especially independent brands – design their games to be as visually appealing as they are entertaining. Eye-catching games with bright colors are particularly stimulating for younger children, which is why you are encouraged to look for products with attractive designs.

The latest games in the United States tend to be minimalist and appealing. We recommend you to opt for abstract strategy games if you want aesthetically pleasing games. They generally feature eye-catching figures, as they don’t depict specific characters.

Many classic games have special editions related to famous movies or series for everyone to enjoy.
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Game mechanics

Strategy games give manufacturers the possibility to offer very different mechanics. Certain games are designed to make players decipher enigmas, while others push them to mislead their opponents. Some games promote teamwork, others confrontation. While themes like war and fantasy tend to dominate strategy games, the mechanics of each game is what makes it truly unique.

If you’re looking for a game and your child already has a nice collection of board games, don’t hesitate to go for a product that works differently than the games he has. The market really offers an incredible selection, so make the most of it. Remember that each game is a new adventure, and your children will never get bored of them!

Summary

Strategy games are the ideal form of entertainment for children and pre-teens who are starting to leave their toys behind. These board games are designed to test their ingenuity, analytical and planning skills. Find the right product and everyone in your household, children and parents alike, are guaranteed to have endless hours of fun.

The variety of themes and mechanics available to Americans is great, each game having its own personality. If your child is captivated by his or her very first strategy game, it could become the first one in a large board game collection. Remember to always have your child’s interests in mind when looking for the ideal product. And who knows, they might even discover new passions while at play!

If you liked our guide on strategy games, feel free to share this article on your social media. You can also leave us a comment in the section below, with any question or suggestion you may have!

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