Strategy Board Games by Period

Are you a fan of strategy board games? From ancient times to the present day, these games have been a source of entertainment and intellectual challenge for players around the world. Whether it’s playing Go in ancient China or battling it out in Settlers of Catan with friends, strategy board games have stood the test of time. In this article, we will explore the history of strategy board games by period, from ancient times to the contemporary era.

The world of strategy board games is vast and diverse, with each historical period contributing its own unique game designs and mechanics. We will take a journey through time, beginning with the ancient period and the origins of iconic games like Go and Mancala. Then, we will delve into the medieval period with classics such as Chess and Backgammon that have shaped modern gameplay.

Moving on to the Renaissance, we will explore the rise of Hnefatafl and Tafl games before delving into the 18th and 19th century board game classics such as Checkers and Go. As we progress into more recent history, we will examine how Risk and Diplomacy emerged in the 20th century as pivotal strategy board games.

Finally, we will take a look at contemporary favorites like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Pandemic before considering what innovations the future holds for strategy board gaming.

Are you ready to learn about the fascinating evolution of strategic play over time? Let’s get started.

Ancient Period Strategy Board Games

The Ancient Period is a treasure trove of strategy board games that have stood the test of time and continue to be enjoyed by enthusiasts even today. Among these timeless classics are Go and Mancala, two games that have deep historical roots and are still played in various forms around the world.

Go, believed to have originated in China over 2,500 years ago, is a game of intricate strategy and skill. Played on a grid with black and white stones, the objective is to surround more territory than your opponent. With its simple rules but complex gameplay, Go has captivated players for centuries and is considered one of the most challenging strategy board games ever devised.

On the other hand, Mancala has multiple variations across different cultures in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The game involves sowing and capturing seeds or stones in pockets or holes on a wooden board. Dating back over 1,300 years, Mancala offers a rich cultural experience in addition to being an engaging strategic challenge. This game’s enduring appeal is evident in its continued popularity worldwide.

Both Go and Mancala showcase the timeless appeal of strategy board games by period. Despite being ancient games, they remain relevant and beloved by modern players, underscoring the enduring allure of strategic gameplay across different historical eras.

Strategy Board GameOrigin
MancalaAfrica/Asia/Middle East

Medieval Period Strategy Board Games

The medieval period was a time of great innovation and development for strategy board games. Two of the most enduring and beloved games, Chess and Backgammon, originated during this period. Chess, often regarded as the ultimate game of strategy, has its roots in the Indian game Chatarung.

It wasn’t until it reached Europe in the 9th century that it began to take on its modern form. The game’s popularity spread rapidly throughout Medieval Europe, becoming a favorite pastime among nobility and commoners alike.

In contrast, Backgammon has its origins in ancient Mesopotamia, but it underwent significant developments during the medieval period. The game became widely popular throughout Europe and the Middle East and was even mentioned by name in Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.” Backgammon’s combination of luck and skill made it a perfect fit for the gambling halls and courts of the medieval world.

Both Chess and Backgammon have continued to be played for centuries, despite the countless changes in society and culture. These timeless games have remained popular due to their depth of strategy, engaging gameplay, and ability to bring people together across generations. Furthermore, both of these games have been extensively studied by scholars due to their strategic depth and historical significance within formal philosophy.

It is fascinating to see how these medieval strategy board games have stood the test of time. Through wars, technological advances, social upheaval, they remain both popular pastimes and intellectual pursuits today.

Strategy Board GameOrigin
ChessIndia/ Europe
BackgammonMesopotamia/ Europe & Middle East

Renaissance Period Strategy Board Games

The Renaissance period marked a significant evolution in strategy board games, with the rise of Hnefatafl and Tafl games. These games were popular throughout Scandinavia and the British Isles during this time, offering players a new set of challenges and strategies compared to other games of the era.

Essential Strategy Board Games

Hnefatafl: The Viking Board Game

One of the most notable strategy board games from the Renaissance period is Hnefatafl, also known as “The Viking Board Game.” This game was played on a checkered board and involved two opposing forces – one player controlling the king’s army and the other controlling the attackers. The goal was for the king’s army to help their leader reach safety, while the attackers aimed to capture the king.

The Rise of Tafl Games

In addition to Hnefatafl, various forms of Tafl games gained popularity during the Renaissance period. These games typically involved an uneven number of pieces positioned on a grid, with one side trying to get their king to safety while the other attempted to capture him. The intricate gameplay and strategic depth of Tafl games appealed to players seeking a different kind of challenge compared to other popular board games at the time.

Overall, the Renaissance period saw a surge in interest in strategy board games like Hnefatafl and Tafl, paving the way for more complex and thought-provoking gaming experiences that would continue to evolve in later periods.

18th and 19th Century Strategy Board Games

During the 18th and 19th centuries, there was a significant evolution in the world of strategy board games. This period marked the birth of modern classics like Checkers and Go, which have stood the test of time and continue to be popular even in contemporary times. These games have had a lasting impact on the world of strategy board games, influencing future game designs and mechanics.

Checkers: A Timeless Classic

Checkers, also known as Draughts in some countries, has a rich history dating back to ancient times. However, it wasn’t until the 18th century that the game evolved into its modern form with standardized rules and gameplay. Checkers is played on an 8×8 checkered board and involves strategic moves to capture and eliminate opposing pieces. Its simplicity and depth have made it a favorite among strategy enthusiasts for centuries.

The Enduring Legacy of Go

Go, on the other hand, has its origins in ancient China but saw a surge in popularity during the 19th century. Known for its simple rules yet complex strategies, Go involves placing black or white stones on a gridded board with the goal of surrounding territory. Despite its straightforward gameplay, mastering Go requires deep strategic thinking and spatial awareness. The game’s enduring legacy has cemented its status as one of the most revered strategy board games throughout history.

The Impact on Contemporary Strategy Board Games

The influence of Checkers and Go can still be seen in contemporary strategy board games. Their timeless appeal has inspired game designers to create new titles with similar principles of simplicity coupled with strategic depth. Even amidst technological advancements, these classic games continue to captivate players worldwide, showcasing the enduring power of well-crafted strategy board games by period.

20th Century Strategy Board Games

The 20th century saw the emergence of some groundbreaking strategy board games that have stood the test of time. From the Cold War-inspired global domination game of Risk to the intricate world politics simulation in Diplomacy, these games have captured the imagination of players worldwide.

During this period, Risk became a household name, allowing players to engage in strategic conquest as they sought world domination. The game’s map is divided into territories, and players must use their armies to conquer and defend against opponents. This game has become a classic favorite among strategy board game enthusiasts, with numerous editions and variations released over the decades.

On the other hand, Diplomacy introduced a new level of complexity by simulating European politics before World War I. Players take on the roles of powerful nations and must negotiate and form alliances while simultaneously plotting against each other. The game emphasizes communication and negotiation skills, making it a favorite among history buffs and fans of intricate strategy games.

The 20th century was truly a golden age for strategy board games, as both Risk and Diplomacy continue to be beloved classics in the modern gaming world. These games have set a high standard for future releases and continue to inspire innovation in the genre.

Contemporary Strategy Board Games

In the contemporary era, strategy board games have seen a resurgence in popularity with the introduction of innovative and engaging titles. These modern classics not only demonstrate the timeless appeal of strategy board games but also showcase the evolution of game design and mechanics. Here are some of the most notable contemporary strategy board games that have captured the attention of gamers worldwide:

  • Settlers of Catan: Settlers of Catan, also known as Catan, has become a staple in the world of strategy board games since its release in 1995. The game revolves around resource management and strategic placement, where players compete to build settlements, cities, and roads on the island of Catan. With its modular board and ever-changing dynamics, Settlers of Catan offers endless replay value.
  • Ticket to Ride: Ticket to Ride is a railway-themed board game that has garnered widespread acclaim for its accessible gameplay and engaging strategic depth. Players collect train cards to claim railway routes on a map, earning points for connecting different cities. Its simple yet compelling mechanics make it an ideal gateway game for both newcomers and experienced gamers alike.
  • Pandemic: Pandemic is a cooperative board game that challenges players to work together as members of a disease control team to prevent global outbreaks. With unique roles and strategic decision-making at its core, Pandemic offers an immersive experience that emphasizes teamwork and coordination. As players race against time to contain diseases and find cures, they must adapt their strategies dynamically to overcome the relentless spread of infections.
Board Game Strategy Podcast

These contemporary strategy board games not only exemplify the enduring appeal of strategic gameplay but also showcase how modern designs continue to push the boundaries of innovation in tabletop gaming.

The Future of Strategy Board Games

As strategy board games continue to evolve, the future of this genre is filled with innovative trends and exciting upcoming releases. One of the most notable trends in recent years is the rise of cooperative gameplay, where players work together towards a common goal rather than competing against each other.

This trend has been popularized by games such as Pandemic, where players must collaborate to save the world from deadly diseases. Looking ahead, we can expect to see more cooperative strategy board games that offer immersive storytelling and challenging scenarios for players to overcome as a team.

Another trend shaping the future of strategy board games is the integration of technology into traditional tabletop gaming. With the advancement of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology, game designers are exploring new ways to enhance the gaming experience through digital innovation.

For example, upcoming releases may feature interactive game boards that come to life through AR overlays or fully immersive VR environments that transport players to fantastical worlds. By embracing technological advancements, strategy board games are poised to offer even more engaging and dynamic experiences for players in the years to come.

In addition to these trends, upcoming releases in the world of strategy board games are expected to continue pushing boundaries in terms of creativity and gameplay mechanics. From inventive twists on classic game mechanics to entirely new concepts that challenge conventional wisdom, these upcoming titles promise to captivate players with fresh ideas and original approaches.

Whether it’s a reimagining of a beloved classic or an entirely new IP, the future holds an array of exciting releases that are sure to appeal to both seasoned enthusiasts and newcomers alike.


In conclusion, strategy board games have held a timeless appeal through the ages, captivating players from ancient civilizations to the modern era. From the simplicity of Mancala and Go in the ancient period to the complexity of modern classics like Settlers of Catan and Pandemic, these games have evolved alongside human civilization. Despite the advancements in technology and digital gaming, strategy board games continue to thrive, attracting both casual players and dedicated enthusiasts.

The enduring popularity of strategy board games can be attributed to their ability to provide intellectual stimulation, social interaction, and a sense of accomplishment. Whether it’s the strategic maneuvering in Chess and Risk or the collaborative gameplay in Pandemic and Ticket to Ride, these games offer a diverse range of experiences for players of all ages. Additionally, the tactile nature of physical game pieces and boards adds another layer of enjoyment that cannot be replicated in digital gaming.

Looking towards the future, it is evident that strategy board games will continue to adapt and innovate. With an ever-expanding market and growing interest in tabletop gaming, we can expect to see new releases that push the boundaries of game design and creativity.

As technology continues to intersect with traditional board gaming, we may also witness new forms of hybrid games that incorporate digital elements while preserving the core appeal of strategy board games. Ultimately, as long as there are individuals seeking mental challenges and engaging social experiences, strategy board games will remain a beloved pastime for generations to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Most Strategic Board Game?

The most strategic board game is often considered to be chess. It requires foresight, planning, and the ability to anticipate your opponent’s moves. With its complex rules and emphasis on skill, chess is a favorite among strategic thinkers.

What Is the Oldest Board Game Still Played?

The oldest board game still played today is believed to be the ancient Egyptian game of Senet. Dating back to around 3100 BC, Senet has been found in various tombs and was often played as a way to pass the time in ancient Egypt.

Is Backgammon Older Than Chess?

Backgammon is indeed older than chess by several centuries. Believed to have originated over 5,000 years ago in the Middle East, backgammon is one of the oldest known board games and has a rich history that spans across different cultures and civilizations.

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