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Strategy Board Games

Thinking and planning fun


Updated September 21, 2013

Strategy games require some critical thinking and planning. So what kind of games could be more perfect for gifted kids? If you are looking for ways to get the kids off the computer and videogames and for ways to get the family together, then strategy games are a great way to do it. These strategy games are among the best available and can be played and enjoyed by all but the youngest members of a family.

1. The Settlers of Catan

The Settlers of Catan is a challenging but simple game that requires advanced planning and strategic thinking as well as teaching the conservation of resources. Although each player competes against other players, players must also cooperate with others in order to get the resources they need. The resources are used to build roads, settlements and cities. The goal of the game is to be the first to collect 10 victory points, which players earn by building settlements and cities. The whole family can play and enjoy this game.
3-4 players
10 and up

2. Agricola

Agricola is a great semi-competitive game based around farming and raising livestock. The goal of the game is to have the best farmland, whether it's through having the most crops, having the most livestock, or the biggest building. The game has both a normal version and a family friendly version for younger players. Players are able to win through a variety of tactics and must think on their feet since the move they want to take is dependent on the choices of other players. The game can even be played by one person! In this case the player would compete against himself, trying to improve his best score.
1-5 players
12 and up

3. Diplomacy

Diplomacy is a game that encourages teamwork, but still requires an extremely competitive game play. For a player to get what he needs, he inevitably must resort to some "backstabbing." All a player's actions are written down before game play begins, and all players take their turns at the same time. In between turns, players can privately collude with each other to plan their game play for the next turn. Players then write down what they're going to do during the game play, but it may not be what they actually said they would do! (My son says that this is a game to be played with your best friends or with people you will never meet again.) However, players have to consider whether or not their actions will so negatively affect their trustworthiness than it will prevent them from being able to make deals later in the game. The game provides some excellent lessons in diplomacy.
2-7 players
12 and up

4. Catan: Cities and Knights Game Expansion

Fans of The Settlers of Catan will enjoy this expansion for the game. It still takes place in the mythical land of Catan, but now knights must defend Catan against barbarians who have been attracted to Catan by its wealth and power. Using the commodities of coin, paper, and cloth that they acquire, players invest in city improvements. These city improvements lead to the creation of the great metropolitan centers of Catan that are more valuable than cities and safer from the onslaughts of the barbarians. The expansion is not a stand alone game; it expands original game, adding more challenges and complexity.
3-4 players
10 and up

5. Risk Godstorm

Godstorm is a version of risk set in mythical times. Instead of attempting to conquer the modern world, players battle for domination of the ancient earth and the underworld. They still must raise armies as they do in the original version of Risk, but they also must gather faith, summon gods, build temples, and perform miracles. They also still must fortify their positions and invade enemy territories, but they may also suffer from plagues. What's it like to play the game? Perhaps the advice from the rule book will give you an idea: it not only allows, but encourages the following: table talk, alliances, threats, coercion, whining, pleading, backstabbing, and verbal tirades. Sounds like a perfect game for gifted kids (and adults).
2-5 players
10 and up

6. Risk

Risk has been around for 50 years and that's no surprise. It is a military strategy game that challenges players to complete their military goals before their opponents do. Players must protect their troops from being captured, reinforce their armies, fortify their postions, and defend their borders from attack. At the same time, players are trying to lead their own forces across the continents, launching attacks against their enemies, in an attempt to conquer the world!
2-5 players
10 and up

7. Stone Age

Stone Age, as the name implies, revolves around the lives of early humans. The tasks that make up the game play include hunting for food, "shopping" for new tools, gathering natural resources, such as wood and stones, and purchasing buildings. Players compete for resources, but engage in free trade and take risks to advance. There is more than one strategy that players can use to win the game, and while some the game play is based on luck, the game can't be won on luck alone. This game is perfect for those who are bored by games based on luck but get frustrated by strategy games that are too complicated.
2-4 players
12 and up
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