When you think of Arabia does your mind automatically think of camels, seemingly endless dunes, and bustling bazaars? Perhaps you think of intricate palaces full of jewels and gold. Well, it turns out these preconceived ideas make for pretty epic situations for board games.
Fill your game night with adventure, magic, and excitement as you vie for the role of Sultan, play a merchant at a competitive market, or search for an oasis for your caravan. When you choose one of these games from our list of best Arabian board games, the opportunities to explore this incredible region without stepping foot outside your home are endless.
🏆 Our Top Picks for Best Arabian Board Games
In a hurry? Take a quick peek before you go.
Playing time: 40- 80 minutes
Are you the stranger whose arrival was foretold in the prophecies? With the recent death of the Sultan of Naqala, the sultanate needs a new leader. Play your cards right and the title is as good as yours.
To prove you’re worthy of becoming the next sultan, you’ll need to earn the support of the five tribes that inhabit these lands. Use your meeples to strategically traverse the board, gaining control of tiles and building palaces along the way.
Every tribe has unique abilities that will help or hinder your progress, but with exceptional planning and resource management, the road to power becomes clearer.
The setting of Naqala in Five Tribes is brought to life with the meeples in the shapes of camels, palm trees, and palaces. Always keep an eye out for new paths to victory. After all, there’s only room for one sultan in Naqala.
Century: Spice Road
Playing time: 30- 45 minutes
It’s time to spice up game night. In Century: Spice Road, you’ll take on the role of a spice merchant as you lead your caravan on the path of the legendary Silk Road.
Throughout the game, players will use their merchant cards to earn points by collecting and trading spices from cardamom to turmeric. All spices have different values, so manage your hand wisely so you’ll be prepared for any upgrades that may come your way.
Develop your own strategy for this game as you establish trade routes, engage in trades, and take some much-needed rest on your long venture. Players can only carry 10 spices at a time, so it’s important to manage these wisely.
The goal of the game is to collect as many points as possible to become the most successful spice merchant of your time.
Tales of the Arabian Nights
Playing time: 120 minutes
Tales of the Arabian Nights is a storytelling game that follows players as they venture across the known world to fulfill their own destiny while searching for treasure and fame.
Before the game begins, players need to create a victory formula which is their specific concoction of destiny and story points.
All players will start with a set of skills that they can master throughout the game. Through the use of encounter cards, the story continues to grow and points get accrued with the main goal to return to Baghdad with your 20 destiny and story points.
Everyone has their own goals they’re trying to complete on their adventure. Some will become rich, or even a sultan along the way, while others will be faced with horrible curses and become doomed.
It’s up to you to bring this Arabian tale to life. What will be written in your pages?
Merv: The Heart of the Silk Road
Playing time: 90 minutes
You’ll once again find yourself on Silk Road, this time in the ancient oasis of Merv, a prosperous city that serves as a gateway between the East and West. It is a famous center for religion, trade, and knowledge and players want some of the wealth for themselves.
Build the city up, engage in promising trade, and construct a protective wall around the city to keep the community safe from the Mongols. There may be many paths to achieving victory, but each action can have a ripple effect, leading to analysis paralysis.
Merv: The Heart of the Silk Road will transport you back to 12th-century Arabia, and show you what life along the Silk Road was all about.
Although the bright meeples and beautiful, yet busy gameboard can attract people to pick this game up, it is a complex, economic game that is best suited for more serious players.
Playing time: 45 minutes
The city of Amul was yet another popular center for trade and transit along Silk Road before being destroyed by the Mongols in 1220. In this game, players will take on the role of aspiring merchants in a time when the Silk Road was thriving.
As a merchant, you will compete for success in the lively bazaars by collecting goods like spices and gems, engaging in trade, and compiling caravans. This is done by drafting cards and effectively managing your hand to maximize points. Play happens quickly and simultaneously so there is never a dull moment.
The point scoring system can be a bit complicated at first but becomes clearer the more you play. The game changes a bit depending on how many players are involved, keeping it making it exciting and diverse every time you play.
Through the Desert
Playing time: 45 minutes
The desert can be an unforgiving place. With the scorching desert sun and no water for miles upon miles, the sandy vastness leaves you in constant search of relief — of an oasis.
In Through the Desert, players explore this inhospitable landscape in search of precious water by extending their camel caravans to reach oases. Earn points by claiming an oasis, sectioning off a portion of the board and claiming any enclosed oases, or by having the longest train of camels of any color.
Strategy is necessary as players lay their caravans in hopes of collecting the most points. Be sure to keep an eye on your opponent’s moves so you don’t find yourself cut off from waterholes, giving up valuable points.
One of the best parts of this game is the vibrant, pastel-colored camel miniatures complete with a rider to top it, and of course, the palm trees. The board is also double-sided to keep players on their toes. Remember, in the desert, only the strong survive.
Playing time: 45 minutes
Caravan takes place in 14th century Western Africa, where travelers will pave the way along prominent routes surrounded by camel caravans carrying high-demand goods to Europe.
This game is all about delivering your goods to their target destination through engaging in different actions such as placing or moving your camels, picking up or transporting goods along your caravan, or stealing products from other travelers. That’s right, thievery is built into this game and can help you score points.
Players begin the game with five camels each and earn points by collecting and delivering goods. The rarer the good, the more points can be earned. It’s not just about transporting the most goods, it’s about delivering the top desired goods as well.
This simple, yet interactive game is great for the whole family to play. Will you make a name for yourself as master caravanner of the desert?
Playing time: 60-90 minutes
With an interesting meshing of Arabian theme mixed with fantasy, Aladdin’s Dragons takes players from the depths of the treasure-filled dragon’s den all the way to the palace at the peak of the city. The beautiful, elongated board does a fantastic job representing the multi-layered city and different levels of play.
The game begins with players using their tokens to blindly bid on the treasures found in the dragon’s underground cave. These treasures will be used throughout the rest of the game as currency. Once above ground, players can perform special actions, search for keys to the palace, casts spells, and buy artifacts.
To make it to the final level — the palace — players need to pass a guard to reach and bid for the precious artifacts. The player with the most artifacts at the end of the game will be the winner.
Aladdin’s Dragons is an awesome addition to the Arabian game theme because the magic adds a bit of an unexpected twist and is a great way to mix things up from the other games.
Playing time: 30 minutes
As a rug merchant, exposure is everything. The more rugs you have on display, the more money in your pockets. Marrakech takes place in a bustling market where the competition is fierce and outwitting the competition for control over the market is key.
On a player’s turn, rotate Assam — the manager of the market — and roll the dice to determine how many spaces he can move. If he lands on the competition’s rug, that play must pay their opponent before placing their own rug on one of the adjacent spots.
As the game progresses, the board becomes a vibrant array of beautiful carpets. The player with the most coins and most rug coverage at the end wins the title of the best rug merchant.
Marrakech is a very simple, straightforward game and can be learned in just a matter of minutes. The pieces are actual miniature rugs, so you can truly immerse yourself into the life of a rug merchant.
A Thief’s Fortune
Playing time: 45-90 minutes
As a thief, you’re always scanning your surroundings, searching for the next target. And your next heist is already in the works.
Word around town is that the Royal Palace has an entire room full of treasures. But there’s one treasure amid the riches that contains powers greater than your wildest dreams. An hourglass that allows you to see your future.
Each player represents a different potential future path of the thief depending on which path you choose to follow. Players collect location, event, and character cards to add to their “future deck” while trying to get themselves far away from danger.
Will you take control of your future and earn the most fortune points along the way?
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best Arabian board games! Have you tried any of these games? Did we miss any of your Arabian-themed favorites? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.
Liz has no objections to being referred to as “nerdy.” Maybe it’s the educator in her — or her maturity level— but when it comes to board games, those best suited for children are the ones that spark her interest. When she’s not looking for the next game to incorporate into the classroom or play with her niece and nephew, you can find her trying out nature-themed games like Wildcraft or Trekking the National Parks.