Houston, we have a problem!
Problems of all kinds pop up from time to time. It’s only natural! It’s what you do about them that matters.
So how are your problem-solving skills? Can you identify issues and think of creative solutions? Now is your chance to test those skills with our top picks for the best problem-solving board games. Analyze issues, make decisions, and test your solutions.
If your problem-solving abilities weren’t quite what you thought… practice makes perfect! So keep calm and play on.
Table of Contents
🏆 Our Top Picks for Best Problem-Solving Board Games
In a hurry? Take a quick peek before you go.
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
Playing time: 60-120 minutes
Cracking crimes involve your best problem-solving skills.
Sherlock Holmes knows this all too well. Step into his world of Victorian-era London, where crimes range from stolen artifacts from the National Gallery to murder in Hyde Park.
The game stays true to its theme and setting. The clues are laid out before you in the form of era-appropriate maps, interviews, and newspapers. Work solo or collaboratively, piecing together the puzzle to uncover the mystery.
Who committed the offense and how? Use deductive reasoning and eliminate suspects to narrow down the culprit in question. There are several versions of this game, so dust off that detective hat to keep solving crimes!
Keen to know more? Check out our in-depth review of Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective before you buy!
A Feast for Odin
Playing time: 30-120 minutes
In A Feast for Odin, you must juggle many components, from the mundane everyday activities of preparing food to the outward expansion of claiming land and hunting. Build up your territory and stabilize your resources.
It’s all about taking risks and weighing rewards. Where will your workers be most advantageous? How can you best use your resources? Taking actions might be simple, but predicting their end results is trickier.
Who will prepare the best Feast for Odin? See what you can bring to the table with this medieval strategy game.
Playing time: 15-45 minutes
Decrypto is a puzzle of vocabulary and word order.
Problem-solving in this game means determining the correct order of target words based on clues.
Working against each other, each team receives a set of four words only they can see. Let’s say the target words are “banana-water-table-toy.” The team’s clue master gets a numbered code such as “3-2-1”. Giving one-word hints, the clue master must lead their team to guess the correct word order. The clue master could provide the hints “desk-hydrating-monkey.”
The rules are straightforward. However, clues and guessing require more strategy than first meets the eye. If the opposing team guesses your words correctly, they win points. Play to your audience and achieve those victory points first!
Playing time: 45 minutes
The world has seen far too many pandemics in modern times. We know just how important problem-solving skills can be.
It may be easy to sit back and criticize the decisions made. But could you do better in a position of power? Here’s your chance to find out!
In Pandemic, players take on roles such as scientists or medics. Work together to stop the deadly disease in its tracks.
Each turn, players can travel to foreign lands or work from their current location. The disease spreads from region to region across a map – much like an actual virus would. Collect the right set of cards to control outbreaks and eradicate the disease. If it spreads beyond your control, it’s game over for all, including humanity.
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Playing time: 15-25 minutes
Kingdom building meets dominos in Kingdomino!
Your goal is to build the best kingdom in the best locations to win. Instead of just numbers, these dominos have landscapes and bodies of water as well. Take turns choosing your desired pieces from a communal pool. But be strategic – picking the most valuable piece means you’ll go last in the next turn.
Add dominos to your 5×5 grid to complete your territory. Once everyone has completed their grids, tally up points. Points are awarded for the number of adjacent terrains with crowns in them. For example, if you have four forest pieces next to each other with two crowns, you get eight points (4×2=8).
Kingdomino is simple and plays quickly but still requires enough strategy to keep you engaged. Who’s the best king of the land? Play to find out!
Playing time: 15 minutes
Build corridors in Quoridor!
Quoridor is a straightforward game to learn but requires spatial awareness, logic, and strategy.
The goal is to get your pawns to the opposite side of the board. Sounds easy enough! However, walls are being built as you go, constantly changing the path ahead of you.
On each turn, you can either place a wall or move your pawn one space. Turn-taking is quick but tricky. Will you choose to sabotage your opponents? Or move your pieces as quickly as possible?
Don’t become a pawn in this game – get them across that board fast!
Playing time: 60-120 minutes
Catan is an all-time favorite problem-solving game. It’s a game of card collection, resource management, and negotiation.
Players build cities, structures, and armies across a modular map with hexagon tiles. The goal is to achieve ten points by getting a certain number of structures. You need just the right combination of cards to build and expand. Use those resources to get cards – or exercise those expert negotiation skills.
It’s a race to control the board while balancing your resources. But don’t expand too slowly, or you’ll opponents will take over valuable real estate.
Catan has high replayability with a constantly changing board, a little luck, and varying strategies.
You may also enjoy:
Playing time: 60 minutes
Bring an escape room right to your tabletop!
Escape Room comes with 4 hour-long challenges to get you thinking outside the box– and hopefully get you out of the room!
Like an actual escape room, the players work together over three rounds. Combine your minds to solve puzzles, crack codes, and uncover mysteries. Every wrong answer counts against your time. So be careful with those guesses! When the ominous counter hits zero – it’s game over, and you’re locked in for good.
The Escape Room challenges come in varying themes and levels. Work your way up in difficulty and grab an expansion when you’ve mastered them all!
Playing time: 15-20 minutes
Players have one stone that travels as paths are created in front of them. Tracks move in varying ways as they are created… they may head straight or curve in unpredictable and dangerous directions.
Players hold three tiles in their hands at all times. Each turn, place one tile on the board. All stones connected to that tile’s path must move accordingly. If your piece moves off the board or collides with another stone, you’re out!
Can you be the last player standing? Lead your opponents down an unsuspecting path of destruction to get there!
Playing time: 120 minutes
Being the best alchemist requires the right mixture of strategy and savvy.
Outsmart your opponents by selling potions, publishing research, and getting grants. Disprove their hypotheses to bring them down. But beware — if your theory isn’t failproof, they could do the same!
As any scientist knows, reputation also matters. Although it does fluctuate throughout their careers. So maintain a good one to grab more points.
After six rounds, final points are tallied to determine the winner. Points are awarded for reputation, artifacts, and grants. Final scoring is also a moment of truth, and theories are revealed to be correct or complete fallacies.
See how you would fare in the world of alchemy. Mix things up by playing Alchemists!
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best problem-solving board games! Have you tried any of these board games for kids and adults? Did we miss any of your favorites? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.
Cheryl is a teacher, writer, and board game fan. She likes incorporating games into all areas of her life, from classrooms and family nights to lively parties with friends. While she’s played too many to count, her favorites have always been classics like Codenames and chess.