Best War Strategy Board Games
The battle is on! It’s time to put those military and political skills into action with our top picks for the best war strategy board games.
War comes in many forms. With themes varying from Star Wars to the Cold War, there is something for everyone.
Just like war, these games rely on clever tactics and planning. Build your armies, gain allies, and take down your opponents one step at a time. You might be successful in some battles, but do you ultimately have what it takes to win the war? Play to find out!
🏆 Our Top Picks for Best War Strategy Board Games
In a hurry? Take a quick peek before you go.
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War Strategy Games
War of the Ring (Second Edition)
Playing time: 150-180 minutes
“The board is set, the pieces are moving. We come to it, at last, the great battle of our time.”
Gandalf sets the scene for this war strategy game. While not a necessity to enjoy the game, it helps to have some knowledge of The Lord of the Rings.
In this war, it’s Free People versus Shadow Armies. The Free People need the motivation to fight. But with some provocation, the battle is on!
This game is about area control and movement. It’s a race against your opponent and the forces of Middle Earth. Actions depend on the roll of the dice – some luck is a factor, but strategy will ultimately determine the winner.
You may advance your armies, execute a political strategy, or take an Event Card. Events reflect what actually happened in the story or potentially could have.
At first, there is a learning curve, but War of the Ring is well worth the effort. The amount of depth gives gamers a satisfying battle. You’ll be creating new strategies in your head as you play— anticipating the next time. But for now…may the best army win!
Playing time: 120-180 minutes
Twilight Struggle takes you back to the Soviet era. In this fight for global power, players compete as either the United States or the USSR.
Played on a world map, Twilight Struggle mimics the Cold War period spanning a 45-year period. The goal is to gain influence and ultimately victory points across the board. While warfare is present, this battle was conducted more through spies, covert missions, and political power plays.
Event Cards put actual historical events in your hand. You determine how they play out. Who will win the race to space? Can we avoid nuclear war? Change or uphold history – whichever works to your advantage.
Twilight Struggle is easier to learn and play when compared to many war strategy games. Overall, it’s great if you’re looking for a high-complexity game with a strong, historical theme.
Star Wars: Rebellion
Playing time: 180-240 minutes
“To defeat an enemy, you must know them. Not simply their battle tactics, but their history, philosophy, art.”
Star Wars: Rebellion plays true to its theme. Players control either the Galactic Empire or the Rebel Alliance. Knowing your opponent’s strengths, weaknesses, and goals can steer you towards a win.
Actions taken are drawn from events in the trilogy. The Imperial side might launch attacks, instilling widespread fear in its opponents. The Rebels will need clever tactics to gain allies and overthrow the empire.
The board contains intricately designed playing pieces and covers a vast area within the Star Wars realm. You’ll see the familiar faces of Han Solo, Leia, and Darth Vadar as you execute your missions. It’s easy to immerse yourself in this theme, especially if you’re already a Star Wars fan.
Different winning conditions must be met for each side. Can you lead the Rebels to a successful revolt? Or will the Imperialists squash all opposition? Let the Star Wars commence!
Pax Pamir (Second Edition)
Playing time: 45-120 minutes
The Durrani Empire has come to an end, and power is up for grabs! The player with the most influence across the board will be named the victorious leader.
Players must fight for their right to rule these Afghan lands. This is done by managing your cards well. Collect cards and decide which to add to your court displayed in front of you. These can give you area control and allow actions. Actions can move you forward or sabotage another player – another fun element in the competition.
Strategy is critical in this game. Forming alliances will get you ahead, but you don’t want to help your opponents too much. A player can win if their lead is great enough or if sufficient Dominance Checks have occurred. Play your cards right, and that winner could be you.
Playing time: 60-90 minutes
Power comes in many forms — and there are several roads to victory in this Celtic kingdom. Will you dominate through leadership, land control, or religion?
Inis is a game of political balance. You might be tempted to hone in on one aspect, but you’ll need a bit of all to get that win.
Inis is a game of movement, drafting, and managing your hand. Action Cards can dictate moves, while Epic Tales can help persuade clans to move or follow leaders. With each new card you pull, you’ll make decisions. Pick new cards each round, and discard the old ones – forcing you to think on your feet and change strategy accordingly.
The cards, board, and miniatures all work to bring the Celtic theme to life. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a faster-playing war game requiring a more dynamic strategy.
Playing time: 90-120 minutes
The rising sun is a Japanese symbol tied to ancient military culture. It’s a fitting name for this game combining fantasy, war, and tradition.
War is highly political, and Rising Sun incorporates this element throughout the play. The game begins in a land where the current government has gone astray, angering the lords of the underworld.
Players choose clans with different spiritual beliefs, strengths, and goals. Seasonal rounds each have their own deck and conditions. Players earn victory points as the year passes.
But bear in mind — winter is coming. And as the snow begins to fall, the game comes to a close. The player with the highest honor, virtue, and power will be crowned ruler.
Rising Sun includes many elements of a war strategy: area control, movement, negotiations, and alliances. It’s a complex game that comes together gracefully.
Playing time: 30-60 minutes
It’s the year 1944. World War II is reaching a pinnacle, and pivotal battles are at stake. History buffs will love stepping back in time to reenact these critical events. Memoir ’44 brings this period to life with a detailed, double-sided board and accurate military figurines.
Two players, or teams, play as the Axis and Allied powers. Card drafting and luck of the dice will enable certain military operations. But you’ll need to constantly adapt to the ever-changing circumstances of war.
Memoir ’44 is easy to learn for a war strategy game. Newcomers can easily pick it up and get into the theme. With so many physical pieces – it’s easy to visualize and put your strategy into action.
Pericles: The Peloponnesian Wars
Playing time: 45-360 minutes
This is Sparta!
It’s Athenians versus Spartans circa 400 BCE. Players take on the role of one side. Things start off politically within each group but advance to battle against the opposing side.
There are many dynamics at play. Players create the narrative themselves, resolving issues of war through careful planning, strategy, and negotiation. While it’s complex, it allows for a good deal of creativity.
Pericles is heavy on rules and structure but an engaging, fun game once you’ve mastered them. There are several ways to play, including a solo option. War scenarios can last 30 minutes to a whopping 6 hours. So set aside time to see the entire war through.
Playing time: 60-90 minutes
This cute, creature-based theme brings some levity to the idea of war.
In Root, choose from cleverly designed factions such as Raccoon Vagabonds or Cunning Cats. They each have their own skills and abilities to use to your advantage. Explore the forested board to gain influence and area control.
But don’t let the adorable artwork fool you — these critters can be cruel in their quest for domination. It’s woodland warfare at its finest.
Each faction has a hidden objective. You’re never quite sure how close others are to the win. It’s a lighthearted war game with role-playing and an element of mystery.
Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan
Playing time: 180 minutes
Can you rewrite history?
The battle of Sekigahara was a crucial 7 week period that led to the unification of Japan. Or did it? It’s your chance to see what would happen if power was in your hands.
It’s a race between two wannabe rulers. This card-based game is driven by battles. The size of your army matters. But not so fast— having numbers doesn’t necessarily mean they have your back. Motivation and Loyalty cards are required for your people to follow you into battle.
Like most war games, Sekigahara is complex but flows once you get the hang of it. The uncertainty and natural chaos of the Sekigahara game even add to the fun.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best war strategy board games! These games span a range of historical, fantasy, and sci-fi themes — so there’s sure to be something for every type of gamer here. Have you tried any of the games on this list? Did we miss any of your tactical favorites? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.