Board Game Geek Best Abstract Strategy Games

Are you on the hunt for a new board game to challenge your strategic thinking? Look no further than the world of abstract strategy games.

From ancient classics to modern masterpieces, these games require careful planning, tactical maneuvers, and outwitting your opponents. In this article, we’ll explore the history and origins of abstract strategy games, the criteria for being considered a best abstract strategy game, and take an in-depth look at the top picks from Board Game Geek’s Best Abstract Strategy Games list.

Abstract strategy games have been captivating players for centuries, with roots dating back to ancient civilizations. Whether it’s moving pieces on a grid or capturing territory on a board, these games have evolved over time while maintaining their core principles. Understanding the history and origins of abstract strategy games provides valuable insight into their enduring appeal and timeless gameplay.

But what exactly makes a game worthy of being included in the best abstract strategy games list? We’ll delve into the specific criteria that distinguish these games from others, including elements like depth of strategy, balance between luck and skill, and replay value.

By understanding these factors, you’ll be equipped to identify standout titles within this genre and elevate your gaming experience. Get ready to discover some new favorites as we explore Board Game Geek’s top picks for best abstract strategy games.

History and Origins of Abstract Strategy Games

Abstract strategy games have a rich and fascinating history that dates back thousands of years. The origins of these games can be traced to various ancient civilizations, including Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China. One of the oldest known abstract strategy games is Senet, which was popular in ancient Egypt around 3100 BC. This game was not only a form of entertainment but also had religious significance, as it was believed to represent the journey of the soul to the afterlife.

As abstract strategy games spread across different cultures and regions, they evolved and took on different forms. Chess, for example, originated in India around the 6th century AD and later spread to Persia and then Europe. Similarly, Go has its roots in ancient China and has been played for thousands of years. These traditional games laid the foundation for modern abstract strategy games and continue to be popular today.

In more recent times, abstract strategy games have seen a resurgence in popularity, with many new games being developed that build upon the principles of the classics. With the rise of tabletop gaming culture, board game designers are constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries of what abstract strategy games can be.

Today, these games come in a variety of themes and styles, appealing to a wide range of players and preferences. Board Game Geek’s Best Abstract Strategy Games list showcases some of the most highly regarded modern titles that have captured the attention of enthusiasts worldwide.

  • Examples:
  • Senet
  • Chess
  • Go

The Criteria for Being Considered a Best Abstract Strategy Game

Abstract Strategy Games have been around for centuries, and with their rich history comes a set of criteria that defines what makes a game the best in this category. Board Game Geek, a popular board game enthusiast website, has compiled a comprehensive list of the best abstract strategy games based on several key factors. These criteria are essential in determining which games stand out as the top picks for enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

Depth and Complexity

One of the primary criteria for being considered a best abstract strategy game is the depth and complexity of the gameplay. A game that offers strategic depth, requiring players to think ahead and plan their moves carefully, is highly regarded in this genre. The complexity of the game should provide a challenge without being overly burdensome, allowing players to master its mechanics over time.

Balanced Gameplay

A best abstract strategy game should offer balanced gameplay that provides an equal opportunity for all players to succeed. This means that luck should not be a significant factor in determining the outcome of the game. Instead, players’ skills and decision-making abilities should be the primary drivers of success, creating a fair and competitive environment for all participants.


Another critical criterion for being considered one of the best abstract strategy games is replayability. A great abstract strategy game should hold up to multiple plays without feeling repetitive or predictable. The ability to explore different strategies and adapt to various playstyles ensures that the game remains engaging and enjoyable over time.

By evaluating games based on these criteria, Board Game Geek has curated a list of some of the most exceptional abstract strategy games available, providing valuable recommendations for board game enthusiasts seeking new challenges.

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Top Picks From Board Game Geek’s Best Abstract Strategy Games List

Terra Mystica

Terra Mystica is a game that consistently ranks high on the Board Game Geek’s Best Abstract Strategy Games list. This game challenges players to build and expand their factions across a fantasy world, utilizing resource management and strategic planning to outmaneuver their opponents. With its intricate gameplay mechanics and deep strategic elements, Terra Mystica is a favorite among board game enthusiasts who enjoy complex abstract strategy games.

Twilight Struggle

Twilight Struggle is another top pick on Board Game Geek’s list of best abstract strategy games. Set during the Cold War, this two-player game simulates the political and military tension between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Players must carefully manage their influence in various countries while navigating historical events and crises. With its fusion of historical context and strategic decision-making, Twilight Struggle offers a unique and engaging experience for players seeking a challenging abstract strategy game.


Go, also known as Baduk or Weiqi, has been revered as one of the oldest and most respected abstract strategy games in existence. Its simplicity in rules belies its deep complexity, making it a favorite among enthusiasts of classic abstract strategy games. Go’s emphasis on territorial control and encircling opponents’ stones requires players to think several moves ahead, leading to an engaging and intellectually stimulating gameplay experience.

These top picks from Board Game Geek’s Best Abstract Strategy Games list showcase the diversity within the genre, catering to different preferences for complexity, theme, and depth of strategy. Whether it’s building fantasy civilizations in Terra Mystica, navigating historical tensions in Twilight Struggle, or mastering the ancient art of Go, these games offer unique challenges that appeal to board game enthusiasts who appreciate thought-provoking gameplay experiences.

In-Depth Review of the Top 3 Games

When it comes to the best abstract strategy games, Board Game Geek has compiled a list of top picks that have garnered the most praise and recognition from players around the world. These games are not only highly engaging and challenging, but also boast unique themes and mechanics that set them apart from other titles in the genre.

One of the top picks on Board Game Geek’s Best Abstract Strategy Games list is “Tigris & Euphrates.” Designed by renowned game designer Reiner Knizia, this game takes place in ancient Mesopotamia and tasks players with building civilizations along the banks of these historic rivers. With its tile placement and hand management mechanics, “Tigris & Euphrates” offers a deep and strategic experience that has captivated players for years.

Another standout title on the list is “Hive.” This two-player game features beautifully designed hexagonal pieces depicting various insects. Players must strategically move their pieces around the board in an attempt to surround their opponent’s queen bee while protecting their own. With its simple rules, yet complex gameplay, “Hive” has become a beloved choice for fans of abstract strategy games.

Lastly, “Santorini” has also made a mark as one of the best abstract strategy games according to Board Game Geek. Set in the beautiful Greek island of Santorini, this game challenges players to outmaneuver their opponents in a grid-based environment while utilizing powers granted by Greek gods. Its stunning components and intuitive gameplay make “Santorini” a top choice for those looking for a visually appealing and intellectually stimulating gaming experience.

These three titles represent some of the finest examples of abstract strategy games available today, offering depth, replayability, and strategic decision-making that keeps players coming back for more.

Tigris & EuphratesAn ancient Mesopotamian civilization-themed game with tile placement and hand management mechanics.
HiveA two-player game featuring hexagonal pieces depicting various insects where players strategically move their pieces to surround their opponent’s queen bee.
SantoriniA visually appealing game set in Santorini with grid-based movement and powerful god-like abilities granted to each player.

How to Play and Master Abstract Strategy Games

Abstract strategy games are a unique genre of board games that require players to use critical thinking, planning, and tactical skills to outsmart their opponents. Whether it’s through area control, piece movement, or pattern recognition, these games provide a mental challenge that keeps players engaged and coming back for more. In this section, we will explore how to play and master abstract strategy games, including some tips and strategies for success.

One of the key aspects of playing abstract strategy games is understanding the rules and objectives of each game. While the specific mechanics may vary from game to game, the underlying goal is often to outmaneuver your opponent and achieve a certain victory condition. Taking the time to read through the rulebook and familiarize yourself with the gameplay is essential for developing a solid grasp of the game’s strategies.

To truly master abstract strategy games, it’s important to analyze different tactics and approaches that can lead to success. Paying attention to your opponent’s moves, anticipating their next actions, and adapting your own strategies accordingly are all crucial elements of becoming a skilled player. Additionally, studying successful techniques used by experienced players can provide valuable insights and improve your overall gameplay.

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Lastly, practice makes perfect when it comes to mastering abstract strategy games. The more you play a particular game, the better you’ll become at recognizing patterns, developing efficient strategies, and making sound decisions. Don’t be discouraged by losses – instead, use them as learning opportunities to refine your skills and ultimately become a formidable opponent in the world of abstract strategy gaming.

Key Tips for Playing Abstract Strategy GamesBenefits
Understand the rules and objectives of each gameImproves critical thinking and tactical skills
Analyze different tactics and approachesEnhances decision-making abilities
Practice regularly to refine skillsPromotes strategic thinking

The Benefits of Playing Abstract Strategy Games

Abstract strategy games offer a wide range of benefits for players, both young and old. Whether you are looking to improve your critical thinking skills or simply enjoy the thrill of a strategic challenge, these games provide a unique and rewarding experience. Here are some of the key benefits of playing abstract strategy games:

  • Cognitive Development: Abstract strategy games require players to think several steps ahead, anticipate their opponent’s moves, and adapt their strategies accordingly. This type of cognitive processing can have significant benefits for memory, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Playing abstract strategy games also enhances emotional intelligence as players learn to manage their emotions in the face of defeat or success. It teaches patience, resilience, and sportsmanship, all of which are valuable life skills.
  • Social Interaction: Many abstract strategy games are designed for two players, fostering intimate and intense social interactions. These games provide an excellent opportunity for bonding with friends and family while engaging in friendly competition.

In addition to these specific benefits, engaging in abstract strategy games can also have positive effects on overall mental well-being by providing intellectual stimulation and promoting relaxation. According to the Board Game Geek Best Abstract Strategy Games list, popular titles such as “Chess,” “Go,” and “Hive” have been widely recognized for their ability to deliver these benefits to players.

Whether you are looking to boost your brainpower or simply enjoy a mentally stimulating pastime, exploring the world of abstract strategy games is undoubtedly a worthwhile endeavor for board game enthusiasts.


In conclusion, it is evident from the top picks of Board Game Geek’s Best Abstract Strategy Games list that these games offer a unique and intellectually stimulating experience for board game enthusiasts. From classics like Chess and Go to modern favorites like Hive and Azul, abstract strategy games continue to capture the attention of players around the world. The variety in gameplay mechanics, themes, and strategic depth ensures that there is something for every type of player to enjoy.

Furthermore, abstract strategy games provide a rich historical and cultural connection to their origins, with some dating back thousands of years. The evolution of these games reflects the creativity and ingenuity of human thought over time. It is no wonder that they have stood the test of time and continue to be enjoyed by people of all ages.

For those who are new to abstract strategy games or looking to delve deeper into the genre, mastering these games can offer a range of mental benefits. From honing critical thinking skills to enhancing cognitive abilities, playing abstract strategy games can be both challenging and rewarding.

Whether played casually with friends or in competitive settings, these games have the potential to provide hours of entertainment while also being a valuable exercise for the mind. Therefore, it is clear that abstract strategy games are indeed a must-try for any board game enthusiast seeking a fulfilling gaming experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Best Strategic Board Game?

The best strategic board game is subjective, as it depends on personal preference and what type of gameplay a person enjoys. Some popular options include Settlers of Catan, Risk, and Chess.

What Is an Abstract Strategy Board Game?

An abstract strategy board game is a game that focuses on strategy and tactics rather than theme or luck. Games like Chess, Checkers, and Go fall into this category, where players need to think several moves ahead to outmaneuver their opponents.

What Is the Most Complicated Strategy Board Game?

The most complicated strategy board game is often considered to be Twilight Struggle. This two-player game simulates the Cold War period, with complex rules and intricacies that can take time for players to fully understand and master. Other contenders for the title of most complicated include games like Advanced Squad Leader or Dominant Species.

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