Remember the first time you bartered for wheat and sheep to build a road or when you explored uncharted territories in Catan? Nostalgia must have hit you hard while remembering these fun moments associated with the all-the-time classic board game.
As we dive deeper to find and share our first-hand experiences with other popular board games, it’s important to understand the deep impact Catan brought in our lives. I remember playing it with my friends for hours without giving two hoots about my school projects. People around me have more or less similar stories to share about their experiences with the game.
The Catan Effect
Catan was created by German board game designer Klaus Teuber way back in 1995. To date, more than 32 million copies of Catana have been sold globally. Its success paved the way for other board games to go mainstream, but only a few games have found similar success.
Those who have played Catan would know that playing the board game is indeed an experience of a lifetime. Slowly, but gradually, Catana has become a cultural phenomenon across geographies.
Even though the game is now decades old, it is still finding its place in the locker rooms of professional American football teams or in references in popular sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory.
Also Read: Best War Board Games for Intense Strategy
But What Made Catan So Popular?
To begin with, Catan’s simplicity and ease of play, coupled with strategy build-up, make it an engaging cooperative board game. I personally like the fact that the game is simple to understand, and newcomers get to go from the very beginning. At the same time, it lets you make strategies that are unique to each player.
The hexagonal tiles, the race for resources, and the ever-present negotiation for favorable trades are some of the aspects that I personally love about the game, as they create dynamic and engaging gameplay on a piece of board.
Okay, enough about Catan, and let’s move on to other popular board games that you should try if you’re looking to have an enjoyable time with your friends or family or even to kill boredom, for that matter.
One of the most popular board games in recent times is ‘Archipelago: Navigating Diplomacy and Exploration’. Archipelago sets players on an exploration. The game invites players to become explorers mandated by European nations to discover, colonize, and profit from uncharted archipelagos. In my honest opinion, the game creates a narrative of diplomacy, resource management, and strategic optimization.
Archipelago is best enjoyed with two to five players, with each game ranging between 30 to 240 minutes. The length of the game can be set as you want. I liked the 60-minute gameplay that had all its elements of cooperation, suspicion, alliances, and betrayals. You can also play it solo with an expansion strategy, but truth be told, it gets boring after one point. So, the more the players, the more is the fun.
Year Released: 2012
Designer: Christophe Boelinger
Publishers: Ludically and Asmodee
Avalon Hill Betrayal at House on the Hill
Avalon Hill Betrayal at House on the Hill is one of the few board games that offer a unique blend of strategy and horror. The game immerses players in the eerie atmosphere of a haunted house.
As part of the game, we have to first use the tiles to build a haunted house. And then, players have to come up with strategies that will help in making the escape from unfortunate incidents. The game offers different layouts, close to 50 scenarios, and several chilling moments.
Betrayal at House on the Hill can be played with a minimum of three players and a maximum of six. It is made for ages 12 and above. Each game is about 60 minutes long.
What I liked the most about it was that players had to work together to escape the haunted house. All team members gave ideas that eventually helped us build a strategy to get out of hell. Phew…that was indeed a close call!
Year Released: 2004
Designer: Bruce Glassco, Rob Daviau, Bill McQuillan, Mike Selinker, Teeuwynn Woodruff
Publishers: Avalon Hill, Wizards of the Coast, Asmodee, Hasbro
Rio Grande Games Dominion 2nd Edition
Rio Grande Games Dominion 2nd Edition, or Dominion, is another popular board game that takes players on a journey of building and expanding their kingdoms, one card at a time. Players bring their deck and unique strategies into play to create powerhouses of wealth and influence.
The second edition of Dominion is different from the first in multiple ways. To begin with, the makers of the game replaced six cards and added one compartment, which made it even more enjoyable.
|Rio Grande Games Dominion 2nd Edition | Deckbuilding Strategy Game for 2-4 Players, Ages 13+ |…||$41.07||Buy on Amazon|
The board game can be played between two to four players, with each match lasting not more than 30 minutes. So, if you like to play for smaller durations, Dominion could be on your cards.
When I first played Dominion, it was an experience of a lifetime. In my opinion, Dominion is not just a card game; it’s a tactical journey that keeps players engaged from the first shuffle to the final victory.
Year Released: 2008
Designer: Donald X. Vaccarino
Publishers: Rio Grande Games, 999 Games, Albi
Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) Space Base
AEG’s Space Base is a simple-to-play intergalactic dice game of fleet management. Each roll provides players, who play as space-based commodores, with options on how they can manage their fleet of aircraft. The game combines strategy with fleet management and requires players to deploy cargo vessels, mining ships, and carriers to earn profits and expand their influence.
Space Base can be played between two to five players, and is made for players aged 14 and above. A complete game can range anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how tough the competition is between the players.
|Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) Space Base – Board Game, Dice Game, Build The Best Galactic Port,…||$36.01||Buy on Amazon|
The race between all the players to become the U.E.S. Admiral of the Fleet is the most exciting part of the game, at least for me and the four friends I play this game with. I am sure you will like it too!
Year Released: 2018
Designer: John D. Clair
Publishers: Alderac Entertainment Group, Arclight Games, Broadway Toys LTD, others
Splendor Board Game
Splendor board game features Europe’s jewelry business as players turn into wealthy merchants. Players get to acquire mines, transportation, and artisans to obtain more jewelry. Each one tries to gain control over gem mines, trade routes, and storefronts.
The game, best played between two to four players, has a 30-minute playtime. The main motive of the game is to become the most popular jeweler merchant among all players.
|Splendor Board Game (Base Game) – Strategy Game for Kids and Adults, Fun Family Game Night…||$22.61||Buy on Amazon|
I personally like the fact that the game is fast-paced and can be played over and over again. It’s definitely one of the board games that is on my list for a long game night. Give it a try, and you’ll know exactly why.
Year Released: 2014
Designer: Marc André
Publishers: Space Cowboys, Asterion Press, others
Ravensburger The Castles of Burgundy Board Game
Castles of Burgundy takes players back to the medieval landscape. The game is very simple to understand and play as players just have to collect victory points in the game by trading, livestock farming, city building, and scientific research. In the end, the player with the most victory points wins the game.
The game, which comes with 164 six-sided tiles, 42 goods tiles, 20 silverlings, 30 worker tiles, 12 bonus tiles, victory point tiles, playing pieces, dice, game board, and player boards, has a playing time of 30-90 minutes. It is best enjoyed with two to four players.
|Ravensburger The Castles of Burgundy Board Game – Fun Strategy Game That’s Easy to Learn and Play…||Buy on Amazon|
The best part about The Castles of Burgundy is that the gameplay can change in a round, and the one nearest to a win could trail by the end of any of the five rounds that are required to be played to end the game.
Year Released: 2011
Designer: Stefan Feld
Publishers: W. Nostheide Verlag GmbH
Sorcerer City Board Game
Loved the movie Prestige? If yes, then you will surely fall in love with Sorcerer City, which is one of the most liked fantasy board games by players who are a fan of all things magic and wizards.
Players in the game turn into rival wizard architects as they look to build and rebuild a magical city district. The goal is to gain the most money, influence, raw magic, and prestige while searching for new creatures.
|Sorcerer City Board Game | Tile Laying and Deck Building Strategy Game of Wizard Architects, for…||$49.99||Buy on Amazon|
What I liked the most about the easy-to-learn game is that it gives only two minutes to place their tiles and optimize their city. The time crunch element often lets players make mistakes. But in the end, it’s all about managing their nerves. Each game lasts 45-60 minutes.
Year Released: 2020
Designer: Scott Caputo
Publishers: Druid City Games
7 Wonders Board Game
7 Wonders is one of the few popular board games based on ancient times. As part of the gameplay, players become leaders of one of the seven greatest cities of the ancient world. The strategic game then requires players to gather resources and develop commercial routes and military strategy.
Players draft cards over multiple rounds. After the third age, players get points based on the cards they have drawn and their military conflicts. In the end, the player with the most points wins.
|7 Wonders Board Game BASE GAME (New Edition) | Family Board Game | Civilization Board Game for…||$39.99||Buy on Amazon|
In my opinion, 7 Wonders is best suited for game nights when you’ve invited a bigger group of friends, as at a time, three to seven players can engage in this ancient war play. Each game lasts for around 30 minutes. It’s also perfect if you’re looking for a family board game for game nights!
Year Released: 2010
Designer: Antoine Bauza
Publishers: Repos Production, ADC Blackfire Entertainment, Asterion Press
Azul Board Game
Azul is another tile-placing board game that lets players turn into artisans. Players have to strategically play their moves in a bid to outscore opponents as well as disrupt the plans they’re working on.
The game is easy to play but gets complicated when players start strategizing. It ends when a row is completed. The player with the most victory points at that time is declared as the winner of the game.
|Azul Board Game – Strategic Tile-Placement Game for Family Fun, Great Game for Kids and Adults, Ages…||$20.00||Buy on Amazon|
Usually, the game is played between two to four players, with gametime ranging between 30 to 45 minutes. When I first played Azul, I was fascinated with its beautiful art, clear graphic design, and colorful resin tile pieces. I’d still recommend two-players for this one, as it’s one of the best two-player board games around!
Year Released: 2017
Designer: Michael Kiesling
Publishers: Next Move Games, Plan B Games, Asmodee, Broadway Toys LTD, others
Concordia is another game on the list that takes you on a historic ride. It is basically a strategy game of economic development in Roman times. Two to five players aged 13 and above can enjoy limitless rounds of Concordia, as the game becomes really addictive once you get to know about all its aspects.
Players, as colonists, settle in cities producing various resources and strategically use their cards for actions and victory points. The modular layout of cities ensures that each game is a unique strategic challenge.
|Rio Grande Games: Concordia, Historical Strategy Board Game, Average Play Time 90 Minutes, 2 to 5…||$60.59||Buy on Amazon|
The best part about this game, as per me, is the fact that it doesn’t heavily rely on the outcomes of cards or dice but on strategies that players change to emerge as the final winner.
Year Released: 2013
Designer: Mac Gerdts
Publishers: PD-Verlag, 999 Games, Cranio Creations
SpaceX boss Elon Musk wants to settle on Mars someday. If you have similar aspirations, Terraforming Mars could be the board game that will help you understand the terraforming and settlement process on Mars.
In the game, players work for corporations and work together in the terraforming process, but compete to get victory points. It has more than 200 different projects to compete for.
|Indie Boards and Cards Terraforming Mars Board Game for 2 to 5 players, Multicolor (6005SG)||$63.90||Buy on Amazon|
The game’s unique mechanics and the race to increase global parameters make each playthrough a thrilling experience, in my opinion. The game can be played with one to five players.
Year Released: 2016
Designer: Jacob Fryxelius
Publishers: FryxGames, Arclight Games, Brädspel.se
The games listed above are some of the most popular board games in modern times. Each game has its own strategy and gameplay that keeps players constantly engaged. Their mechanics and ability to create stories, as well as friends and foes during the gameplay, make them even more interesting to play. Happy gaming!
Also, make sure to check out our selections among the best puzzle board games for more stimulating board game sessions!
Tanya is a passionate content writer with over 5 years of experience in covering the ins and outs of Console, PC, Mobile and VR/AR gaming and Web3 spaces. Her expertise is in writing high-value, engaging content as well as branded content that… read more