top 10 board games 2023 reviews what to buy

Board games are an excellent way to spend time with friends. The popularity of board games has been on the rise for the past few years. As the number of existing board games increases, choosing a board game that is right for you has never been more difficult. Board Game Geek (BGG) is an excellent tool you can use to find board games that fit your preferences. Unlike many websites that rank their sponsor’s games among top games, Board Game Geek is a website that uses community ratings to rank board games. 

Each board game on BBG has its own page with a forum, expansions, reviews, manuals, and many other useful tools. In this article, I will give you a short overview of the board games that rank top 10 on BGG in 2022.  I will also talk about a few other fun games from the top 100 board games list. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will find a board game you can enjoy with your friends.

Gloomhaven - Expansive adventure RPG with loads of content

Players: 1 – 4
Playing time: 60 – 120 min
Age: 14+

Gloomhaven is a cooperative Euro-inspired tactical RPG board game focused on combat tactics and dungeon crawling. In Gloomhaven, players take on roles of adventurers and work together to clear out dungeons. The world players explore changes with each completed scenario.

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Each character in this game has a unique feel to them. In most fantasy RPGs characters are defined by roles every gamer is familiar with, such as healer, tank, and DPS. Gloomhaven brings a breath of fresh air to stale fantasy tropes by mixing things up abilities to create characters uncharacteristic for the fantasy RPG genre. The system of character retirement keeps the game fresh and prevents players from becoming overpowered through leveling. 

Each encounter can be viewed as a puzzle to be solved. As the encounter progresses, you will lose cards used for performing actions. This mechanic imposes a time limit on each scenario and forces you to make risky moves and act quickly.

This game has plenty of content. Each scenario takes 1 – 2 hours to complete. The campaign book has 95 scenarios that utilize legacy elements to permanently change the game as you play it. This makes Gloomhaven one of the best RPG board games for a group of players who meet up regularly to play together. If you play board games only occasionally or with a different group of people every time, you should consider a game that is more suited for one-shot sessions.

Pandemic Legacy - Cooperative campaign game that changes permanently as you play it

Players: 2 - 4
Playing time: 60 min
Age: 14+

Pandemic Legacy is a cooperative campaign game played through 12-24 1-hour sessions. As you play the game, new rules and components will be added, some of those require you to place a sticker on board or tear up a card, permanently altering the game.  

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Each player in this game is a disease-fighting specialist. Players travel around the world to treat diseases, build research stations, and work on the cure. The ultimate goal is to eradicate diseases plaguing the world.  

The core mechanics of the game are action management and hand management. Players are limited to 4 actions each turn. Players have to carefully manage the actions to keep the disease in check while they work on the cure. At the end of each player’s turn, the diseases progress, infecting more people and new cities.

Pandemic Legacy is similar to the original Pandemic; it is basically a campaign mode of the original game. It is an excellent legacy campaign game, but such games aren't for everyone. If you aren't a fan of legacy games or if you just want to play an occasional one-shot game, you should check the original Pandemic instead.

Brass: Birmingham - Strategy masterpiece set in the industrial revolution 

Players: 2 - 4
Playing time: 60 - 120 min
Age: 14+

Brass: Birmingham is an economic strategy game set in Birmingham during the industrial revolution. The game is a sequel to Brass. Each player is an entrepreneur running a company, building networks and buildings, and earning money. Players work together on the development of an industrial-era city while simultaneously competing with each other.

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The goal of the game is to be the top industrial entrepreneur and accumulate the greatest number of victory points. Players have two actions on each of their turns. The actions are used to build industries, expand the network of rails and canals, develop existing industries, sell resources, loan money, and scout locations.   

Mechanics of the game; hand management, income, money management, and building and connecting industries, are well intertwined. Players use industries and networks built by other players in the same way real-life entrepreneurs use the infrastructure built by their competitors. This element of gameplay gives players a feeling of a real industrial-era entrepreneur.  If you love economic strategy games, Brass: Birmingham is one of the best board games in the genre.

Terraforming Mars - The most popular territory building game

Players: 1- 5
Playing time: 120 min
Age: 12+

Terraforming Mars is a resource management strategy game. Players are corporations that terraform Mars by raising the temperature, oxygen level, and ocean coverage. Players compete for territory, milestones, and awards while working together on the common goal of making Mars habitable.

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To make Mars habitable, players have to get three parameters to the peak level; oxygen, temperature, and water. Every time a player increases one of the three parameters, the player’s income, and score are raised based on their Terraform Rating. When all three parameters get the maximum level, the game ends. To determine a winner, each player counts the victory points they acquired throughout the game.

Since this game is card-driven, it makes sense that project cards play an important role in it. Players acquire cards by buying them into their hands. Some of the cards can be played only when certain parameters are satisfied. When played, cards do a variety of things in addition to giving players victory points.

A huge appeal of this game comes from the variety of play styles you can use to get victory points. While we are on the topic of victory points, a lot of end-game scoring makes this game stand out among similar games. In many other games, you often know who is going to win the game long before the game is over. Terraforming Mars is a game that remains interesting to the last turn. If you love tile placing, card-driven games, or resource management games, this one is a must-buy.

Twilight Imperium: Fourth Edition - An epic grand strategy that is different every time you play it

Players: 3 - 6
Playing time: 240 - 480 min
Age: 14+

Twilight Imperium is a strategy board game where players explore space and fight for domination as one of 17 factions. The goal of the game is to be the first player to reach ten victory points through negotiation, research, political deals, and military might.

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The beauty of this game lies in the fact that no two games of Twilight Imperium are the same. The game starts with building the universe by placing tiles and creating a different play area for every game. Victory points are scored by completing objectives. This means that players will have to constantly adapt and won’t always be able to play to the strengths of their faction.

The game is played by performing actions. There are three types of actions in this game; strategic, tactical, and component actions. Strategic actions add the element of action drafting to the game. There are eight strategy cards, and each player chooses one at the beginning of the round. These cards determine initiative order for the turn and have primary and secondary effects that influence the gameplay for the turn.  Tactical actions allow a player to interact with the game board by moving ships, initiating combat, producing units, and similar activities. Component actions are actions printed on components (such as action cards) and have a wide range of effects.

This is a huge and complex game with numerous other mechanics and components. Among my favorite mechanics are promissory notes. They bind players to honor a certain agreement. This game isn’t for players who want to enjoy a simple board game at a beach. Playing this game makes you feel like a real grand strategist. The game is brilliant for anyone who enjoys complex strategies and intricate diplomacy while managing the economy and military might of his empire.    


Gaia Project - Thrilling economic strategy for fans of complex gameplay 

Players: 1-4
Playing time: 60 - 150 min
Age: 12+

Gaia Project is a space exploration economic strategy board game. The game is a sequel to Terra Mystica, another popular territory-building board game. In Gaia Project, players navigate space, research technologies, and terraform planets in competition to be the most developed civilization.

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Each player chooses one of fourteen different factions to play. Factions are bound to one of seven different types of planets. Each faction has a special ability, a special building, and two different styles of play. Factions grow through six areas of development; economy, research, terraforming, gaiaforming, navigation, and AI.

The game has a variable setup; the play area is constructed from ten different sectors that represent space and planets. The game finishes after six rounds, and the player with the highest score wins. Players score points by completing tasks that change each round and competing for long-term goals that award points in the final scoring. Round scoring and final scoring tasks are randomized every game, so each game plays out differently.

Gaia project is a game that will be enjoyed by anyone who loves economic strategy and civilization development through territory building. Similar to Twilight Imperium, this game isn’t for people who don’t like complex strategic gameplay.

Star Wars: Rebellion - Asymmetric wargame with vast and sweeping scope

Players: 2 - 4
Playing time: 180 - 240 min
Age: 14+

Star Wars: Rebellion is an asymmetric wargame for two or four players. The game takes place during the Galactic Civil War. The Rebel Alliance player has to face Galactic Empire, rally the planets for the rebel cause, and survive long enough to start a full-scale revolt in the galaxy. The imperial player has to use his vast resources to find and obliterate Rebel Alliance’s base before the rebels accomplish their goal.

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You will need a lot of space to play this game. The game features a huge board with beautiful art and over 150 high-quality miniatures.  Miniatures represent Death Star, X-Wings, Imperial Star Destroyers, stormtroopers, and other units used in combat. Players also use well-known Star Wars characters such as Emperor Palpatine, Prices Leia Leia, and Han Solo to complete missions.

Star Wars: Rebellion is a game that feels very thematic. If you were a fan of old Star Wars films, you will love this game. Most of the major characters are in the game. You can even relive some of the most epic moments from the movies such as capturing Han Solo and putting him in carbonite!


Spirit Island - Cooperative strategy with an enthralling theme

Players: 1 - 4
Playing time: 90 - 120 min
Age: 13+

Spirit Island is a cooperative strategy game set in an alternate history. Players represent spirits of the land and defend their island from colonizing invaders. The spirits use their powers to scare away or kill colonialists and destroy colonial settlements with the goal of driving them off the island.

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At the beginning of each turn, players choose which action of growth to use. Players can reclaim already played cards, gain power cards, or gain energy that is used to play power cards. There are two types of power cards in the game. Fast cards take effect immediately. Slow cards take time to resolve, so they require planning to be efficient.

Scaring enough invaders away will earn the player a fear card that is extremely powerful. After enough fear cards are played, the game will enter a new phase, and the win condition will change. When fear is at tier level one, players have to kill all explorers and destroy all colonial cities and towns to win. At tier level two, the win condition changes to destroying cities and towns. When fear hits level three, it is enough to just destroy cities. If fear reaches tier level four, all invaders flee the island, and players win the game.

Spirit Island is a thematic game with beautiful art and superb components. Anyone who loves cooperative games will enjoy this game. The game includes different scenarios and specific invaders you can play against. Each scenario and invader will let you play the game in a different way and at different difficulties.    

War of the Ring: Second Edition - Thematic wargame with a unique approach to actions

Players: 2 - 4
Playing time: 150 - 180 min
Age: 13+ 

War of the Ring is a fantasy wargame based on the Lord of the Rings novel. In War of the Ring, one player controls the Free Peoples. Their goal is to get the Ring past Shadow Armies and hurl it into the fiery chasm of Mount Doom. The other player controls Shadow Armies with the goal of stopping the Fellowship of the Ring and crushing the Free People Nations.

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Action dice are the core mechanic of the game. At the beginning of each turn, the active player rolls action dice that determine what actions they will be able to take on that turn. Depending on the result of the roll, players can move armies, play event cards, use special actions, and so on.

Both players have two paths to victory. The Free Peoples player can win by getting the ring to Mount Doom or by defeating Shadow Armies through military action. The Shadow Armies player can achieve military victory or stop the Fellowship from getting the ring to Mount Doom.

The armies and champions on both sides are represented by miniatures on a huge board. Miniatures are high-quality, but they have one downside; it can be hard to tell some armies apart. If we ignore that problem, War of the Ring is an excellent wargame. Every Lord of the Rings aficionado who likes strategy gameplay will enjoy this game. The game can take over three hours to finish, so you will want to avoid this game if you don’t like playing long games.

Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization - Brilliant adaptation of a famous video game

Players: 2 - 4
Playing time: 120 min
Age: 14+

Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization is an economic strategy game based on Sid Meier’s Civilization. Players in the game represent different nations and compete in the development of the best civilization. As time progresses through different eras, players discover technologies, manage resources, and attack each other. Once the modern age ends, the nation that achieved the most culture wins the game.

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One of the core mechanics of this civilization-building game is card drafting. A certain number of cards from the civic deck are placed face up in a collective pool of cards. At the end of each player’s turn, that player can buy cards from that pool. Cards from the civic deck represent all elements needed to build a thriving civilization; buildings, leaders, technologies, world wonders, military units, systems of government, and so on.

This game is an excellent adaptation of Sid Meier’s Civilization. The two games are different in many aspects, but the board game captured the essence of Sid Meier’s Civilization. If you enjoyed the video game, you are going to love this adaptation.

Honorable mentions 

Ark Nova – An economic strategy that emphasizes environmental protection

Players: 1 - 4
Playing time: 90 - 150 min
Age: 14+

Ark Nova is an economic strategy game where players compete in the development of the most successful zoo. The success of a zoo is measured by two parameters; appeal and conservation effort. The two parameters are tracked by markers that start on opposite sides of the board. When any player’s two markers pass each other, the end of the game begins. Player whose markers pass each other by most wins the game.

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The game handles action economy in an interesting way. Each player has five action slots marked with numbers. The numbers represent the power of the action. Every slot is occupied by one of five action cards; animals, build, association, cards, and sponsors. When a player uses an action, it is moved to slot 1. All other actions are moved one slot to the right, becoming more powerful.

Ark Nova borrows a lot of mechanics from other successful strategy board games. If you are a veteran board gamer on the lookout for original mechanics, you won’t find them in Ark Nova. On the other hand, if you want to try out a new game that will feel familiar while being different from the other games you played, you should check out Ark Nova.   

Arkham Horror: The Card Game – A living card game with a compelling story

Players: 1 - 4
Playing time: 60 - 120 min
Age: 14+

Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a cooperative living card game with excellent balance between deckbuilding, game mechanics, and story elements. It is one of the most popular living card games. The game is set in H. P. Lovecraft’s rich horror setting. Players construct decks that represent investigators and use them to explore Arkham and investigate Arkham’s horrors.

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Arkham Horror is a campaign game that consists of multiple scenarios you can explore in more than one way by playing around with investigator decks. Once you get the feeling that you explored everything the game offers, you can refresh the game through new expansions or by downloading fan-made adventures for free.

Dune: Imperium – An intriguing mixture of deck building and worker placement

Players: 1 - 4
Playing time: 60 - 120 min
Age: 14+

Dune: Imperium is a deck-building worker placement game where players represent different leaders that compete in a battle to control the production of the Spice. The goal of the game is to be the first player to get to 10 points or to have the most points when a certain number of rounds passes.

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Each player starts the game with an identical deck and unique leader. This is a card drafting game; as the game progresses players’ decks will become more individual. Players will build decks that will flesh out their strengths and weaknesses. Some will lean towards military domination, while others will aim for political power.

Dune: Imperium not only combines deck building and worker placement but also lets you choose which play style you want to focus on. Dune: It is an excellent game for players who enjoy both of those elements. If you prefer complex deck building or enjoy worker placement with no element of luck, you should skip this game.

Scythe – Dieslelpunk engine-building strategy with amazing artwork

Players: 1 - 5
Playing time: 90 - 115 min
Age: 14+

Scythe is an engine-building strategy game with euro-game elements. The game is set in an alternate history of 1920s Europe. Players build structures, activate mechs, and recruit units for their faction in a battle for popularity in Eastern Europe.  

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I love games with asymmetric gameplay and unique factions, and this one excels in both of those elements. At the beginning of the game, players choose a faction mat and a player mat. This gives each player an opportunity to have a unique play style.

Each turn, players can pick one action they are going to perform. Players use actions to move around the board, fight for territory, engage in encounters with locals, and visit the factory. The only luck elements in the game are encounter cards and hidden goal cards.  

Scythe is a great game that features a minimal amount of luck elements, excellent asymmetric gameplay, amazing artwork, and brisk gameplay. It more than justified the $1.8 million it raised on Kickstarter. I believe that every fan of strategy games will enjoy this game.  

Sleeping Gods – A cooperative storybook adventure

Players: 1 - 4
Playing time: 60 - 1200 min
Age: 13+

Sleeping Gods is a cooperative nautical exploration campaign game where up to 4 players sail on a steamship, the Manticore. The crew of the Manticore is transported to the Wandering Sea. The players, representing the crew, have to work together to wake the gods in order to return home.

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The game features Captain Sofi Odessa and eight other characters with specific abilities. Players split characters among themselves and embark on a campaign of three rounds, each consisting of eighteen events. Each round ends with a story, and the campaign finishes in one of thirteen possible endings. The storytelling element in this game is decent, but don’t expect full-blown roleplaying experience. If you are looking for complex roleplay, you should learn how to play Dungeons and Dragons. 

The gameplay consists of three steps; choosing a ship action, drawing an event, and choosing two world actions. The story requires players to make often difficult decisions to progress. The goal of the game is to find totems, awaken Sleeping Gods, and safely return home. 

Author - Ante Radoš

Board games

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