Board games encompass a wide range of genres, including Terraforming Mars, Monopoly, and Dixit. All of these games are very different. Read on to find out how to categorize them into genres and make it easier to find what might interest you.
What is a board game?
Defining a board game can be challenging, as drawing a concrete line between many genres is very difficult. Therefore, we will define a board game as any game that involves playing around a table using components from a single box.
In the following, we will explain some of the most popular genres in the board game world. Most board games belong to multiple genres, but following the indicators listed below will greatly help you choose your next game.
Party Games - easy to learn and great for big groups of people
This is a broad category that mainly includes board games "on the edge." By this, we mean that the board and pieces are very loosely defined. Examples of such board games include Pictionary and Jenga.
They are designed for social gatherings and parties. Generally, they are very fast-paced and require very little knowledge of rules to play successfully. They are ideal for social situations where the game itself is secondary to socializing. Furthermore, the replayability of the game is essential since they are often designed to be played many rounds.
- Dynamic and allow for quick gameplay.
- Very simple rules.
- Can be set up quickly and require minimal preparation.
- Great entertainment for medium to large groups.
- Not games that are easily played as a hobby, as they can become relatively dull quickly.
- A highly diverse genre; Jenga may appeal to some but not others, for example.
Eurogames - strategy games that get more interesting the more you play them
Eurogames are one of the most popular genres of board games. They are suitable for both casual players and those who consider board gaming a hobby. Fans of Eurogames often follow particular authors in their later projects because approaches to solving problems and puzzles vary widely from author to author, and some players prefer certain authors over others.
Eurogames mainly focus on economic development and resource collection, as opposed to direct conflict between players. Moreover, most of them aim to minimize the element of luck. All these elements make Eurogames a highly competitive genre with a small amount of direct negative interaction, placing success (and failure) on each individual player.
While this genre requires a higher level of skill, the popularity of video and board games has made it more accessible and appealing to a broader audience. Games like Carcassonne and Puerto Rico, which were once considered complicated, now have a cult following.
Unlike Monopoly and similar games, Eurogames almost always have a mechanism to end the game after a certain amount of time or a specific number of moves. A great example of a Eurogame is Terra Mystica.
- A huge number of quality games on the market, from classics to modern titles.
- The most well-known genre for board games with significant strategic depth.
- Games have a defined endpoint.
- If you like one game, it's easy to find others by the same author.
- Generally have quite a few rules.
- There's a big difference between experienced and inexperienced players.
- Games are mostly abstract.
Legacy Igre - for dynamic experience of playing only one game
Legacy games are one of the newer and more diverse genres. The key characteristic of legacy games is that the game itself changes through multiple play sessions. These games are often designed to be played through several sessions within a "campaign," usually with the same players. Because of this, they are often compared to tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs) like Pathfinder or Dungeons & Dragons.
During play, new rules may appear that allow the game to change mechanically or thematically. Some of these games, like Pandemic Legacy, use so-called "chapters" to tell their story.
In these games, the game board may physically change, and components may be permanently altered (removing cards, placing permanent stickers on the board, etc.). However, most newer legacy games try to minimize these aspects.
- Easier to focus on the story compared to regular games.
- Players have more influence on the game than in most other alternatives.
- Unique experience within the board game genre.
- Often feature deep mechanics.
- Require a much larger time investment than most other games.
- The replayability of some titles is very low.
- As a new genre, there are relatively few titles within it.
Social Deduction - try to trick your friends
Social deduction games are where players try to uncover the secret roles or affiliations of others. Typically, these games are played either in teams or with one player against all others. A digital example is Among Us, making them increasingly popular among both children and adults.
In these games, the emphasis is on logical and deductive skills. For example, one group of players will try to avoid being discovered and bluff their way through the game, attempting to blend in with the other team. The other team must achieve specific goals while simultaneously trying to identify who among the players is playing against them.
Examples of such games include Mafia, where only the mafia members know who the other mafia members are. Some consider this group of games party games, while others distinguish them as a separate category because they are a popular and specific subgenre for playing with larger groups of people.
- Usually have relatively few rules.
- Reward skills that most board games do not.
- Many online versions are available.
- Often quite short.
- If played consecutively with the same group, it can become too obvious.
- Some players may not enjoy the aspect of bluffing and lying.
- Most games in this genre are quite similar to each other.
Deckbuilding - build a deck during playing together with your opponents
This type of game often overlaps with one or two other genres. What is central to them is that each player constructs their deck of cards during the game, which changes their approach to in-game situations. Many games in this genre resemble the video game Slay the Spire, which is heavily inspired by this board game genre. Well-known and popular examples of these games include Clank! and Dominion.
In these games, a significant part of the fun lies in creating your unique deck during the game. The possibilities are often vast, which adds depth to these games if you want to invest time in them.
- The element of luck ensures that no two games look the same.
- Building a deck adds another layer of fun.
- Often has considerable depth.
- Can have complex rules.
- Games in this genre are generally quite different from each other.
Which game is best for you?
Unfortunately, only you can answer this question. Of course, these are not all the genres of board games. Depending on the classification you choose, you will come across dozens of games that are just right for you.
Our suggestion is to find a few genres that sound interesting to you and try some of the more accessible games in those genres. This way, you won't buy games just to find out that you don't like them, but you'll have information about what you're looking for and want from a game.