Board games are known to be an excellent bonding activity for friends and couples. Whether the board game lasts for an hour or takes up most of your evening, you are bound to feel relaxed and entertained by the end of it. Although there are numerous themes for board games, war is by far the most popular one.
Whether you play in opposing teams or cooperatively, strategizing together is a great activity that helps friends and couples become closer. You don’t have to worry about all of that blood and gore ruining your friendship. Instead, you will see your friends rechallenging you for a friendly match in most cases. If the game is engaging enough, it might just become a ritual for years to come. But, for this to happen, you must find a good war board game that is fun, exciting, and involves critical thinking.
Since there are so many board games on the market, choosing the right one can be difficult. Besides, it’s a shame if you learn how to play a complicated board game, only not to find it interesting enough at the end. To help make a choice more effortless for you, we have come up with a list of some of the best war board games of all time!
These games are classic and will keep you well entertained all throughout their duration. So if you’re ready to find an impressive war board game for your next games night, read our comprehensive guide below!
Types Of War Board Games
To find the perfect war board game for a gamer, you must first understand the different types of war board games that exist. Since there are numerous board games in the market, with more coming out each year, it is difficult to place them within strict boundaries.
But, although there are many different types of games that exist, they usually fall within seven broad categories. Additionally, some of the categories can even overlap for some games. Following are the different categories of board games that you can choose from:
In worker placement type of war board games, you have workers or tokens/meeples that must be placed strategically in selected board areas. The player that places their workers in the best positions gains the highest number of advantages and is more likely to win the game.
Deck building is a type of card game. Each player is dealt a hand of cards, and they must use these cards strategically to progress in the game. Players can put down some cards or pick some up according to the game’s rulebook with every turn. The player that uses their cards in the best possible manner to meet the game’s goals mostly wins.
Cooperative or Co-op board games are a relatively new variety. The previous pattern for board games has always pitted players against one another. But with a suitable board game, the players team up together to defeat the game itself. Cooperative board games are a great team and trust-building activity.
Legacy games are different from regular board games because the game changes as it progresses. Legacy games have play-to-play changes that are permanent. Additionally, some legacy games have unfolding serial storylines that players must follow.
In area control type of games, players have to establish and maintain control of specific areas on the board. Other players try to capture your sites, and the person with the most territory under them by the end of the game is mostly the winner. Players can advance rapidly by using strategies and placing their armies or workers in the most advantageous positions.
Although most newer games place more emphasis on strategy, reasoning, and teamwork, combat-style board games are still very much in demand. As the name suggests, combat-style war board games are about fighting your opponent on the board.
Mystery board games usually involve some detective work where you must piece together clues to find your final answer. Although a lot more goes into the game, the premise is based on some mystery that you must uncover.
Set A Watch!
Game Time: 120 minutes
Release Year: 2016
Risk is an area control type of war board game. The game is as straightforward as it gets, with all players having a single objective in their mind, to conquer the entire board. The game board has a map drawn on it which contains six differently colored continents with forty-two territories in total.
Every continent consists of about four to twelve domains, and you must slowly capture all the territories and defeat all the other players to win the game. You will capture the regions with the help of an army.
There are three different types of armies, and they make up six sets in total. The kinds of army include Cavalry, Infantry, and Artillery. The lower edge of the board (near the southern ocean) will tell you how many armies you may receive for every card that you trade-in. However, at the beginning of the game, every player gets a set number of armies in accordance with the total number of players.
Since the game can be played between two to six players, the number of armies each player receives at the beginning of the game varies accordingly. For example, if two players are playing, then the number of armies each person gets is forty, but this can vary depending upon the edition of Risk that you are playing.
If there are three players, then each player receives thirty-five armies. In a four-player game, every person gets thirty armies. In a five-player game, each player gets twenty-five armies, and in a six-player game, every person receives twenty armies.
You start the game with dice rolls, and the person with the highest number gets to start first. As a first step, you may place your army on any territory on the board, and then the turn goes to the next player. One by one, all players must place their soldiers on unoccupied territory until all the forty-two territories are occupied. Then, each player continues to place their armies onto regions they have already settled into until they run out of armies.
Once all the armies have been established, the strategic and combative aspect of the game begins. First, you must put the risk cards down and draw from them. You can trade in the risk cards for armies as the game progresses. Then, you can either add and place more armies in your territories, attack your opponents, or fortify the domains under your control during your turn.
To reinforce your region, you can use what players refer to as a free move. Move your army from any one territory, and place it on to any adjacent territory. You should always place your army at the border so that it can help to defend your territory in case of an attack.
Through careful strategic planning, you can fortify your position on the board, attack at the most appropriate moment, and capture neighboring territories. Remember, strategy is of utmost importance in this game, as simple aggression may make you lose armies and parts instead of gaining them. As mentioned previously, the player who can capture all the territories will be victorious.
Risk is an aggressive strategy board game. Although the game itself is relatively straightforward, and you can pick it up pretty quickly, it requires quite a bit of critical thinking to win.
Luck definitely does play a role in this game, and there is always the off-chance that chance may not be on your side despite employing brilliant strategy. However, for the most part, the game can be relatively easy if you have a plan in mind that you execute well. This is also why the game ranks high in replayability.
An expert tip on winning Risk is to heavily fortify the territories that are neighboring enemy territories and to move your armies to the front. This way, you are less likely to lose your domains to your enemies and can progress forward at a rapid pace.
Another critical point to remember is that regardless of the number of armies you receive, you must deploy them carefully to either fortify your position or attack your opponents. So, you should always have a plan in mind before deploying your armies so that you can make the most out of every turn.
Set A Watch!
Game Time: 45-80 minutes
Release Year: 2019
Set A Watch! is a cooperative type of war board game that can be played by one to four individuals. In Set A Watch! All the players team up to defeat the game together. The premise of the game is that there are four adventurers trying to stop dark creatures known as the Acolytes from unleashing the captured Unhallow. If the Acolytes succeed in their plan, then the world will be subjected to unimaginable doom.
So the adventurers must visit all nine locations and defeat the creatures to prevent them from unleashing the Unhallowed. Four Adventurers play the game, so if four players are playing, each one gets one adventurer. If two players are playing, each one receives two adventurers, and if there are three players, then one adventurer is flex and must be controlled by the person in camp.
The game consists of nine rounds. In every round, one player sits in camp and does camp duties and rests, whereas the other adventurers are on the Watch and actively fight creatures to protect the location. Every player must go to camp twice during the entire game. Once all the creatures are defeated, the team can move on to the following location. In the last area, all the adventurers must be on watch and actively battle the creatures to prevent the Unhallowed from being unleashed.
The players themselves can set the difficulty level of the game. If you’re a beginner and want to start off with an easy game, then it is best to use one Summons card; for an intermediate level game, you should select two Summons cards, and for a challenging game, choose three Summons cards.
Additionally, you must also choose the level of Firewood for the Campfire at the beginning of the game. You can use a standard level of seven Firewood or make the game more interesting by rolling a dice and letting it determine your Firewood level. By selecting your difficulty level at the beginning of the game, you can control the game’s outcome and play according to your experience level.
Since the game requires a fair bit of strategizing, it is safe to say that intelligent minds will thoroughly enjoy the war board game. To win this game, you need to have the ability to think critically and make fast-paced decisions. However, the game is simple to understand so new players won’t have a problem learning it.
An expert tip for this game is not to disregard the skill card. This can come in quite handy during the game. Other than this, you should also be particularly careful about the Ability cards. You must use your Ability cards strategically during battle to defeat the creatures. However, you should also keep in mind that if you use your Ability cards too soon, you may not be left with enough to face challenging situations during the rest of the game effectively.
Another interesting angle to this game is the use of camps to provide rest to players and allow them to recharge. But, this can also create a situation where the team is met with a particularly brutal round, but one player is safe from the battle because they’re in camp. Additionally, the player in the camp also completes essential tasks that can help the team progress and fight off the creatures better.
Overall the game is relatively straightforward, and you can get the hang of the rules relatively quickly. The game usually lasts for about forty-five to eighty minutes, so it does not drag on and take up too much of your time. But, genuinely mastering this game and implementing well-thought strategies requires skills that can only be acquired by practice. This war board game can be a fun, light-hearted activity for you to enjoy with your friends on games night.
Game Time: 180 minutes
Release Year: 2011
If you want to play a unique, historically accurate war board game, then there is none better than Sekighara. This historical war board game represents the battle of Sekighara that was fought in 1600 and unified Japan under the ruling Tokugawas for more than 250 years. This two-player game allows you to recreate the epic war and fight as either Ishida Mitsunari, a child heir’s defender, or as Tokugawa Ieyasu, the most potent Japanese feudal lord. Although the Tokugawas family was victorious in real life, you can change the game’s outcome through careful strategic planning.
Like the actual battle, the game features numerous challenges as it progresses. The real battle was long-drawn and lasted for about seven weeks, so the game is based on seven rounds. During the battle, both sides had to constantly readjust their strategies in accordance with the forces and aid that they received from their allies.
Additionally, in this battle, might is not the only power that can lead you to victory. Loyalty is just as important in this game. During the war of 1600, leaders could not fully trust their armies, and this was not an unreasonable doubt that they harbored. Numerous daimyos (feudal lords) either switched sides mid-battle or simply refused to fight. They were significantly affecting the outcomes of the war.
Loyalty and motivation are the critical factors in this war board game. You must deploy your armies only when you are entirely confident of their loyalty and motivation. Additionally, you win that particular battle if you gain a defection from the opponent’s side.
Sekighara has an entirely unique mechanism, yet it qualifies as a war board game because of its ultimate goal, to win the war in Japan. Some unusual factors that this game contains include: no dice being used, elements of loyalty and motivation being the most crucial battle strength as without a matching motivation card, you simply cannot deploy your army, Allegiance may fluctuate at each turn, and it is represented by the size of the hand you are dealt, and battles are in the form of deployments from hidden units.
All of these factors combine to create an accurate depiction of what war looks like. However, it is more than just fighting and fielding your army. In most cases, war’s outcome depends on who can successfully motivate their team to fight bravely. If a leader successfully does so, they can easily win a losing battle too.
If your leader is killed during the battle, then the opponent instantly wins the game. However, another way to win the game is through victory points. At the end of round seven, if both leaders have survived the battle, then the victory points are totaled, and the player with the highest points wins. Victory points are awarded when a player captures a castle (two points) and for Resource Location (one point).
The most prominent feature of this award-winning war board game is its variability. There are numerous different options to consider, and no two games are the same. Since the initial setup is not fixed, players will always be faced with a fresh challenge.
The blocks and cards that are used during the game add to the uncertainty factor of Sekighara, so you always have to be on your toes in looking out for the best outcome and adopting new strategies as the game progresses. Although the game is quite long-drawn, three hours to be price, the amount of critical thinking involved ensures that you never experience a dull moment while playing this game.
The design of the this great game is as authentic as it gets. Since the designers have used official Japanese colors and designations, the board game really does feel true to form. Primarily because it is based upon accurately collected historical data. The game’s objectives are the resource locations, castles, and allied daimyo armies, all wholly dispersed.
However, they are both equally important for winning, so you must strategize where you want to lend your support first. The catch here is that you cannot give equal attention to both fronts, and giving more attention to one area means neglecting the other. Additionally, since the units are large and visible to the opponent, they can quickly figure out your strategy. But since the game’s priorities are so diverse, the end game strategy can easily be concealed if you add a fair amount of bluffing to the game.
All in all, Sekighara is a thoughtful, historically accurate, and understated game that is not for the faint of heart. This game requires skills, tact, and intelligence to progress. Some players cannot figure out adequate strategies for the game or have trouble keeping up with the game’s fast pace because of its unique characteristics. However, after a few trial runs, you will come to enjoy and appreciate this board game that can trump any run-off-the-mill war-board game at any time.
Game Time: 360 minutes
Release Year: 1959
Diplomacy is also an area control game that individuals can play above the age of twelve years. Diplomacy is one of the oldest and most popular war board games on the market, and so it definitely packs a punch as far as entertainment is concerned in war board games. However, the game is quite long drawn out, so you must play this only when you have ample time to kill and want to exercise your brain while you’re at it.
The game itself is set in old Europe before the beginning of World War I (WWI), when tensions were at their peak. Each player controls a major European city and must try to conquer as much of the map as possible. The game begins in the Spring of 1901 and is divided into spring and fall turns. Both spring and fall turns feature a similar set of phases that they are divided into. These are The diplomatic phase, the Order Writing phase, the Order Resolution phase, and Retreat and Disbanding phase. However, fall turn has one extra phase in it known as the Gaining and Losing Units phase.
Players strategically move their units in order to defeat their opponents and gain control of provinces with their production units and major cities. The provinces act as a significant supply provider for the player and can be quite beneficial for them as the game progresses. There are three different types of provinces in the game: land provinces, sea provinces, and coastal provinces. Land provinces can only have land armies, the sea provinces have fleets, but coastal provinces have both land armies and fleet armies.
During the diplomatic phase, alliances are formed, with players meeting and discussing their plans. This usually only lasts for about fifteen minutes. In the next phase, the Order Writing phase, all players write down their order on paper, which is then read aloud together at a later stage.
While writing the order, you must follow a particular format. You must first put down a letter indicating the type of unit there is (A for the army and F flor fleet) in the order, followed by the name of the province.
Then the directive, whether it is Move, Support, Convoy, or Hold, is carried out in the target province. Move order between two provinces or cities is denoted with a dash and indicates an invasion. Support is when you utilize the help of other players to advance against or attack another unit. Convoy is when you send an Army or a Fleet across an area that they could not usually cross—for example, getting the Army across the sea. Support cannot be conveyed, and only an attack can be conveyed. In Hold, you do not make any move and simply hold your current position.
In the Order Resolution phase, you must carry out all orders and resolve any ensuing conflicts. Once the disputes are resolved, players can move on to the next phase, the Retreating and Disbanding phase. All units that have been defeated must retreat into their adjacent provinces.
After the fall turns, players count their supply centers and adjust their units accordingly. For example, if the player gas lost provinces or supply centers, their units would decline, but their units will increase if they have gained supply centers. Players write the disbandment of units or building of new units as orders and reveal them simultaneously. The more units a player has, the easier it is for them to expand their territory and win.
As can be seen, Diplomacy is a relatively long and complex game. However, it is one of the very few games to play off of players’ alliances and rivalry to create a game where the outcome is entirely unpredictable. Diplomacy gives you insight into actual war situations, but it also helps you practically implement unique advantages that a country may have in the form of support from allies. The game represents four to five years of war, based on approximately eight to ten turns. This can be quite long drawn out, especially for beginners who may take up to three hours to finish a single game.
The game’s length may seem cumbersome to some players, so this game is definitely not for playing every day. But, if you have weekly get-togethers with your friends where you take out some great board games to bond over, then this game is bound to be an absolute hit. Additionally, since it can easily be played between two to seven players, you will have a blast playing it with a large group of friends.
However, despite its length, the game is an excellent brain training activity, and if you are someone that likes being mentally challenged every once in a while, then this game is sure to provide ample brain stimulation.
Of course there are numerous other war board games on the market as well. If you’re still looking for more recommendations, we’d say give these games a go:
War board games aren’t usually the first form of entertainment that comes to mind when you think of a suitable bonding yet stimulating activity with friends. But compared to other methods of entertainment such as watching a show or a movie together, which do not encourage much interaction, playing board games, especially war-type board games, can genuinely get the conversation going in between friends. War board games are a fun way to explore your creativity and tactfulness with your friends and family while getting to know them better.
So if you genuinely want to get to know someone, playing an intense war board game should be on the top of your list. War board games are an excellent ice breaker too. After all, the fierce game will give you plenty to talk about. This works exceptionally well for shy individuals who have trouble opening up in social situations. But, the most crucial factor in choosing a suitable game.
Several different types of board games are available, and picking the right one can be pretty challenging. But whether you’re looking for a long game to help you spend the evening exercising your brain or for a quick and entertaining fix to kill some time, the article above has all the choices you can use.