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Best Industrial Revolution Board Games

The Industrial Revolution represents the single most influential period of progress in the history of the world. Western Europe and North America emerged early as the epicenters of this turning point in history. Rapid technological advancements made the world smaller than ever before and connected far-flung corners of the world with industrial centers, particularly in the United Kingdom. 

Invention gave way to invention until the time before industrialization began to resemble a distant fairytale. Visionaries and artists have presented versions of a more modern era with elements of Victorian Era ephemera and entitled it SteamPunk. Let’s dive into this dynamic era as we proudly present the best Industrial Revolution board games. 

🏆 Our Top Picks for Best Industrial Revolution Board Games

In a hurry? Take a quick peek before you go.

12/02/2022 08:30 pm GMT

Brass: Birmingham & Brass: Lancashire

Players: 2-4
Playing time: 60-120 minutes

Brass: Birmingham and Lancashire are separate games that represent two powerhouses of the English Industrial Revolution. Both games encourage savvy businessmen and captains of industry to build and develop networks of trade all around the world. Every round, players have the option of playing one of six different action tiles, which include Build, Network, Develop, Sell, Loan and Scout. 

Brass: Birmingham
$68.50

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12/02/2022 08:43 am GMT

Selling is one of the most interesting aspects of the game and players can sell different wares manufactured in the city. In Birmingham three new industries are included, Breweries, Pottery, and Manufactured Goods such as cotton. Lancashire was a center of shipping during the industrial revolution, however, the city of Lancaster lost its port due to the river Lune silting up. 

Brass: Lancashire
$74.77

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12/02/2022 08:53 am GMT

Brazil: Imperial

Players: 1-4
Playing time: 100 minutes

Brazil: Imperial starts off in the Empire of Brazil, which existed from about 1822 to 1889. Instead of the typical colonial model where the ruling nation had its seat of power in Europe, the Empire of Brazil flipped that script and saw the Portuguese monarch move to the New World. 

Players start off by choosing which Monarch they want to play, such as Queen Victoria, King Pedro, Napoleon, or Pierre II, and must gain the support of Brazilian heroes, such as Machado, Reboucas, and Nabuco. The game board is made up of hexagons representing various resources that players must collect to enlarge their empires. 

Players are given the chance to compete for resources and cards that can progress the empire into a different technological era. Brazil and the world are open for development and the player that spreads their influence across the world wins! 

Arkwright

Players: 2-4
Playing time: 120-240 minutes

Arkwright is set in England in the late eighteenth century and players begin as business magnates running one of four different factories. The development of factories was a huge result of industrialization and concentrated labor and capital in typically urban centers. 

At the beginning of each turn, players pay their factory workers and claim any profits from the products manufactured there. The money collected can be added to the player’s profit sheets and then used to finance expeditions around the world. In addition to the factory play, players can ship their goods to other ports in the world and collect profit from those sales also. 

Players can gain advantages or fall behind the others if they are not as successful. Just as in business in general, fortune favors the brave. 

Arkwright

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Nippon

Players: 2-4 players
Playing time: 60-120 minutes

In the game Nippon, players start with small businesses and attempt to build them into empires, set in Japan’s Meiji Period. Before this time, Japan was largely closed off to foreign trade and influence. Only the Dutch were able to successfully set up a colony on a private island in Nagasaki. 

Players compete as one of four Zaibatsu, or main corporations that came to dominate the Japanese economy. Each company starts off as a small silk-weaving workshop and then thrives and diversifies into other industries. 

Every player must choose which companies and industries to invest in to give them control over Japan. If players make bad decisions, then they may remain a fly on the wall of the Japanese economic boom. 

Nippon

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Anno 1800

Players: 2-4
Playing time: 120 minutes

In Anno 1800, players are given a home island to develop and do with as they see fit. Players can build new buildings and ships that will give them a competitive edge over the other players. The successful player must find the necessary resources to close out the Old World so the New World can begin. 

To make the economy work better, players can bring in Workers, Farmers, Craftsmen, and Engineers to help advance technological prowess. Players also gain points toward winning by fulfilling the needs of the people and ensuring the populace of the home island remains happy and content. Only players who maintain this strategic balance will collect enough points to win the game in the end. 

Anno 1800
$69.95 $52.83

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12/02/2022 08:30 pm GMT

Cotton Trade: 1800-1860

Players: 2-6
Playing time: 90-180 minutes

Cotton Trade gives us a more innocent view of the dastardly industry that came to exist. While the Industrial Revolution gave us amazing technological advances, it also began an era of cruelty, where people treated people at best as pawns in a game or at worst as true slaves. 

This game is played by collecting and selling cotton in different ports all over the world. Ships must be rented and any profits gained from selling the cotton will have necessary fees deducted and added to each player’s tally before the round is over. Whoever has the highest amount of wealth at the end of the game wins. 

Age of Industry

Players: 2-5
Playing time: 120 minutes

The Age of Industry begins in New England at the time when the Industrial Revolution was just taking off. Players join the game as beginner business moguls who seek to dominate the industries of this time. Since this game starts at the impetus of the era, players must build the world by investing in raw materials, methods of transport, and manufacturing know-how.

 If New England isn’t large enough, there is a map of Northern Germany that players can also opt for and that will introduce interesting shipping lanes in the North and Baltic Seas. The player who wins should have the most overbuilt and developed industry among all the players. 

Age of Industry
$64.99 $60.00

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12/03/2022 03:00 am GMT

Irish Gauge

Players: 3-5
Playing time: 60 minutes

Irish Gauge gives us a fascinating chance to envision what industrialization would have looked like across the Emerald Isle. Belfast was one of the first cities on the island of Ireland to industrialize, famously referred to as the “big smoke,” for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. Industrialization was largely absent in the southern part of the Island with the largest factories being those of Guinness and Jacob’s Biscuits in Dublin. 

In Irish Gauge, players can choose to set up their companies in one of the Irish cities, from Belfast to Cork and from Dublin to Galway. Ports are a huge boon to the economy of the island and sea trade is how most Irish goods reached their destination. 

The board and the game pieces are beautifully designed and the map of Ireland is made up of shaded green hexagons representing all areas of the Island. Players must connect the cities with railroads to transport raw materials around the country and internationally. 

Irish Gauge
$39.99 $32.99

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12/03/2022 08:30 am GMT

The Foreign King

Players: 2-4
Playing time: 60 minutes

The Foreign King transports players to Belgium in the 1830s, right after it gained independence from the Netherlands. The Belgians voted and chose to become a monarchy, selecting German Prince Leopold to become their King Leopold the First, hence the title Foreign King. 

This game combines industrial and political expertise and focuses on coaxing Belgian country lords to help in the industrialization process. Belgium is mostly a Catholic country, however, differences in language caused the cohesion of the country to falter often. 

To succeed, players must build factories and political institutions, increase the size of their land holdings and gain the favor of the King to do so. With the King’s support, players will have a path to victory and can easily surpass the other players. 

The Foreign King

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Stephenson’s Rocket 

Players: 2-4 
Playing time: 60 minutes

Stephenson’s Rocket, the name itself refers to the inventor of the locomotive, Robert Stephenson, puts us in the shoes of a burgeoning railroad tycoon. Players compete to build and expand their railways until the entire country is covered by one company. 

The game begins with seven different companies that have different routes across England. When two companies’ railways cross, they merge to become one. Players choose where to build stations and can invest in industries in those areas to help their railway transport the goods to the right places. 

The player who completes the merger of railways in his turn gains control of the railway and all future profits. 

Union Stockyards

Players: 2-5
Playing time: 45-90 minutes

Union Stockyards places the player in 1860s Chicago, right in the heart of the meatpacking district. Players must compete to dominate the Chicago meat industry while it was the capital of the world’s meat market. 

Wrap-Up

We hope you enjoyed our list of the best Industrial Revolution board games! If you love this period in history and are a fan of economic board games, these are the games for you. Have you tried any of the games on this list? Did we miss any Industrial Revolution board games that you think should have been included? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.

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Brass: Birmingham
$68.50

Buy on Amazon Buy at Noble Knight
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
12/02/2022 08:43 am GMT