Best Programming Board Games

In the world of board games, programming involves first laying down the instructions and then executing them to play. This genre entices players to build and customize their own games.

This type of programming mechanism is sure to bring excitement to all players, with the power in their hands. These actions can either go according to plan or hilariously wrong. As such, the game can change in ways that you may not anticipate but will offer a surprise around every command.

So, if you’re ready for a challenge with some brain-bending fun, keep on reading. We’ve collated a list of our top picks to give you some control in gameplay. Check out our list of the best programming board games to teach Kids and Teens.

🏆 Our Top Picks for Best Programming Board Games

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

Best Worker Placement

Dungeon Lords
Dungeon Lords has been one of my favorites since I first laid eyes on the box. The theme combined with programmable worker placement makes it one of my go-to games.

Best Family

Colt Express
Colt Express is a good ol’ fashioned western adventure. The 3D board adds a bit of flair as players program their character to move and rob the stagecoach to become the most successful bandit.

Best Overall

Quirky Circuits
Quirky Circuits has it all: adorable robots, challenging gameplay, and multiple scenarios. It’s the clear winner in our best programming board games list.

#1. Quirky Circuits

Quirky Circuits Board Game Box and Components

For two to four players, this cooperative game puts programming in your hands. Quirky Circuits invites players to work as a team by instructing their adorable robots to complete different tasks.

Each game pack includes four different robo-friends, with unique actions to do. As you work to program the little friendly robot, be sure to watch out, and don’t bump into any objects. This game works without communicating your movements, so you won’t know what other commands that players will toss in.

Through the power of deduction, you can even try to detect the different quirks that players hold. The overall objective of the game is to complete all the tasks before your robo-buddy’s battery runs out. So, be fast, and be smart, because Quirky Circuits is guaranteed to provide heaps of brainiac fun.

Quirky Circuits
  • An exciting cooperative programming game where players work as a...
  • Features 4 adorable robo-friends, with unique actions and tasks...
  • Try to detect which quirk other players have in their hands...

#2. Colt Express

Colt Express Board Game

This family-friendly railway-themed game is bound to excite the train fans at heart. In Colt Express, players become bandits, raiding trains, and competing to become the richest outlaw of the Old West. 

The game is set in a 3D train where players can make all sorts of moves, from jumping cars to running on the roofs, shooting other bandits, punching other bandits, robbing passengers, or even drawing out the Marshal. Each carriage of the train is loaded with lots of suitcases, gems, and loot.

The first player to shoot all of their bullets gets to receive a $1000 bonus, and the ultimate goal is to be the bandit with the richest haul.

Colt Express
  • German (Publication Language)

#3. Dungeon Lords

Dungeon Lords Board Game

Unlike most heroic games, Dungeon Lords offers a peculiar perspective into the world of an underground mastermind. As an evil dungeon lord, you will build the best underground complex, filled with tunnels, creatures, traps, and more, that will ultimately deter heroes away.

Twice in each game, adventurous heroes will set off to conquer your dungeon. At that point, you must deploy your servants and command your monsters to stop them before they destroy your precious chambers.

At the end of the game, scoring is based on all of your achievements – how well you have constructed and defended your dungeon

Dungeon Lords
  • Ages 12 and up
  • 2 to 4 players
  • Play time: 90 to 120 minutes

#4. Diplomacy

This classic cooperative tabletop game is based on pure negotiation and wit. Diplomacy is a struggle for supremacy, and a strategy game that revolves around trust, treachery, and international intrigue.

Set at the turn of the 20th century, players will become one of the seven “Great Powers of Europe” (Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Austria-Hungary, or Turkey), seeking to expand their empire. In the years prior to World War I, each nation will fight to claim its territory, creating alliances, and committing acts of betrayal.

This game is programmed by players writing a set of “orders” to instruct each of their units. The outcome of each turn is thus determined by successful negotiations and the written rules of the game.

Diplomacy
  • COOPERATIVE TABLE TOP BOARD GAME: A strategy board game of...
  • NEGOTIATE AND OUTWIT: Through negotiations, alliances, and...
  • A STRUGGLE FOR SUPREMECY: Play as one of the great powers of...

#5. Mechs vs Minions

Mechs vs. Minions Cooperative Board Game

For two to four players, this cooperative tabletop campaign gives you the power to write the story. In the world of Runeterra, players assimilate the roles of intrepid Yordles, who must join forces to fight the advancing army of marauding minions.

Within the game, there are 10 missions, with each mission ranging between 60-90 minutes in playtime. This set is all-inclusive and contains everything you need to put your programming and piloting skills to the test. With this beautifully-crafted story-driven campaign, there is endless fun to be had and each mission is bound to be unique.

The power is in your hands. Do you have what it takes to hold off the horde of minions?

Mechs vs. Minions
  • cooperative tabletop game

#6. Robo Rally

Dive into the world of dangerous schemes and mad machines as you control your very own robot! During the busy week, the robots of the Robo Rally automobile factory spend their days toiling at the assembly line. But, on the weekends, the factory comes alive, and the bots engage in their own epic race of wit, speed, and conniving tricks.

Using game cards, players will control their robots, speeding through the treacherous course, dodging traps, and outsmarting rival bots. The ultimate goal is to be the first bot to reach the checkpoint. But, beware, gaping pits, industrial lasers, and moving conveyor belts are awaiting your arrival.

Only the strongest robots will have what it takes to survive. Are you up for the challenge?

Robo Rally
  • The board game is a strategic race of survival and sabotage
  • Use playing cards to direct robots' moves through the racecourse
  • Dodge obstacles and make it to each checkpoint to win

#7. Lovelace & Babbage

Travel back in time to the 19th century as you adopt the role of a computing pioneer to help some famous patrons solve some of the most challenging technical problems. In Lovelace & Babbage, you and your friends will work to program the world’s first computer.

As you complete special tasks for award-winning patrons, you will also be competing against your fellow programmers to achieve set goals. Simultaneously, the accomplishments that you make will contribute to the progress of your engine.

To create the best possible program, you will need to balance care, speed, and clever technical maneuvers, developing your subroutines and upgrading the shared computer. To receive affluence from your patrons, you will need to show off your computing, programming, and technical skills.

Have you got what it takes to be a computing pioneer?

Lovelace & Babbage
  • FAMOUS SCIENTISTS -  Play as a pioneer of early computing, like...
  • HIGHLY STRATEGIC - A fast-paced programming game where you must...
  • HISTORY OF SCIENCE - Build the world’s first computer in this...

#8. Fresco

As master painters, you and your friends will work to restore a magnificent fresco in a Renaissance church. In doing so, players must efficiently manage a team of apprentices to keep the bishop happy.

Apprentices will have to buy paints, mix colors, raise money, and repair sections of the mural in order to get the job done. In each round, players decide what time to wake up the apprentices for the day. The earlier the wakeup, the earlier your turn, and the better your options will be. Players will then get to assign their apprentices to several locations, to complete different tasks for the job.

At the end of the game, the player who has earned the most points from restoring the fresco, and impressed the bishop, wins the game.

Fresco
  • Fresco Revised Edition - DE/EN

#9. Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kur

This nostalgic reboot of the classic 1986 game is now set in a unique 3D island with lots of marble mayhem. Offering an incredible new island, some magnificent new components, an intriguing new narrative, and exciting new gameplay, Fireball Island, is sure to excite both new and old fans.

While you may have heard stories from the original Fireball Island, don’t underestimate it, because Vul-Kar is back and ready to reign destruction all over again. Meaner than ever, Vul-Kar has come for revenge after having his gem stolen way back in time. Now, there are more treacherous obstacles with an explosive snake population, feral tigers, swarms of bees, and ultimate volcanic upheaval.

Race down the winding paths, avoid all the types of hazards and collect treasures along the way. Do your best to outrun the fireball, beat your opponents, and get off the island before Vul-Kar blows!

Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar
  • Family Friendly
  • Press Your Luck
  • "Take That" Easy and Quick to Learn

#10. Ad Astra

In this intuitive game of space conquest, players will compete in a race to explore, exploit, and settle in unknown planets across the galaxy.

Far, far, into the future, humans have assimilated new lives beyond our planet and evolved into five diverse races. To continue evolving the human species, you and your friends will program one of the human factions, guiding them in their exploration of the galaxy.

For humanity to jump into the stars and beyond, you will need to exploit resources, develop space colonies, and settle upon new planets. Along the way, you may even discover some intriguing artifacts from long-lost alien civilizations.

With the power in your hands, and technology on your side, you will terraform worlds, and advance the human race. Do you have what it takes to guide the greatest star-spanning civilization?

Ad Astra
  • An intuitive game of space conquest
  • Designed by Bruno Faidutti and Serge Laget
  • Age: 13+

Wrap-Up

…and that’s our list!

If you’re ready to have the power of the story and the destiny of the game in your hands, look no further because we’ve got you covered. We’ve collected the best programming board games on offer, and we’re sure that these will please.

So, if you happen to check any of them out, or have another suggestion that we’ve missed, be sure to let us know. We’d love to hear from you!

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