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Different Types of Board Games: Explained and Examples

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Types of Board Games List

There are countless types of board games out there. Many you probably already know of, but some you might not.  Hopefully, this list can help you learn more about some of the most prominent ones so you can better know which category games fall under and maybe which ones you prefer to play.

This list of board game types isn’t meant to be exhaustive or definitive and we have probably missed quite a few, but it should cover some of the most important and well-known ones. 

Now some of you who are more fluent in board game terminology may notice that we have included some “game mechanics” in this list, but in our opinion, some of these are pretty important and common enough that they deserve to be labeled as a category of board games at this point.

It’s also important to note that many board games don’t just fit into one category or type but fall under multiple of them.  If that wasn’t the case, most board games would probably be quite boring.


Types of Board Games

Abstract

Abstract games include some of the most popular games such as chess and Go.  These games usually have little to no theme or one that is fairly disconnected from the actual gameplay.  These types of games typically have one or many of the following characteristics:

  • Have perfect information, meaning all players know all game conditions at all times.
  • Minimal or non-existent luck factors or randomness
  • Usually very simple or low complexity

Examples of Abstract Games: Azul, Patchwork, Santorini, Hive, Onitama 

Bluffing

Bluffing games encourage or often require players to use deception.  For there to be bluffing in any game there must also be some hidden information for players to “bluff” about.  

Examples of Bluffing Games: One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Coup, Secret Hitler, Sheriff of Nottingham

Cooperative(Co-op) 

Cooperative Board Games Coop Games

Cooperative board games have players working together towards a common goal.  They are great for my friendly game nights and include some of the highest-rated games in the hobby.  

There are also semi-cooperative board games where players are mostly working together, but they may have players still trying to get the highest score or have one player take on the role of a hidden traitor.

Examples of Cooperative Board Games: Pandemic, Spirit Island, The Crew, Horrified, Codenames Duet, Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle

Deduction Games

This category of game requires players to form conclusions based on available and often limited information. 

A lot of deduction games are very social in nature, and some include bluffing.  Some even divide this category of games into deduction and social deduction games but that’s being a little too specific for the purpose of this list in our opinion.

Deduction games often feel like a logical puzzle.

Examples of Deduction Games: Search for Planet X, Codenames Duet, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective

Dexterity Games

Dexterity games involve some sort of physical action from players such as stacking, flicking, or moving of various pieces or game components.

These games are typically low in terms of complexity and are often meant to be more lighthearted and fun.

Examples of Dexterity Games: Space Invaders, Crokinole, Klask Klask, Flick Em Up, Animal Upon Animal, Junk Art

Dice Games

Dice Games Type of Board Game

This might seem like an overly generic category of game but most will agree there is something special about a game that has you chucking dice and crossing your fingers.

Dice games by nature often have a large luck component due to the obvious reason of the uncertainty of the roll.  

Examples of Dice Games: Cubitos, Galaxy Trucker, Yahtzee, Tiletum, Castles of Burgundy

Economic Games

A lot of games fall under this category because of their use of money as a point system.  These games often simulate markets and encourage players to use, buy, sell, or trade resources or goods.  

Sometimes these games are often referred to as resource management games.

Examples of Economic Games: Brass Birmingham, Terraforming Mars, Ark Nova, 7 Wonders Duel 

Educational Games

This is a category of games that are labeled a little too liberally in the industry.  In our opinion throwing a few facts on cards doesn’t make a game deserving of this category but to each their own I guess.

Educational board games should be thought of as games that were designed with the main intention being to teach or information about something.  

Examples of Educational Games: Wingspan, Evolution

Engine Building

Engine Building Type of Board Game

This category of game may sound a little obscure to those new to the modern board gaming world but in actuality, it is one of the most popular ones.  

To be honest this is more of a game mechanic but it’s prominent and important enough that it can be considered a type of board game at this point.

These games require players to construct an “engine” that often produces resources or converts them into other points or benefits.

Examples of Engine Building Games: Terraforming Mars, Res Arcana, Race for the Galaxy

Euro Games

One of the most talked about and prominent categories of board games are Euro Games.  If you’re new to the hobby you might be wondering what these are.

These are games that focus more on strategy than luck, while also having a fairly high level of competitiveness between players with conflict that is on the more passive side.

These types of games are referred to as Euro games only because that is the region of the world where most of the original ones originated from.

Examples of Euro Games: Castles of Burgundy, Concordia, Carcassonne, Five Tribes

Exploration

These games encourage or often require players to explore in order to succeed or achieve a goal.  This exploration is often in the form of worker placement or movement and discovering what is in a space or unexplored tile.  

Examples of Exploration Board Games: Lost Ruins of Arnak, Gloomhaven, Robinson Crusoe

Legacy Board Games

Legacy Board Games Type of Board Game

Legacy board games or what some might refer to as campaign board games provide some of the best gaming experiences out there.  

These games have an overarching story that typically takes place over multiple games, each having effects on future games. 

Legacy games are some of the most thematic, exciting, and fun games in the hobby.

Examples of Legacy board games: Pandemic Legacy, Gloomhaven, Clank Legacy

Memory

Memory board games as the name would suggest require players to utilize their memories.  As a result, this category of games is less broadly liked than some of the others on this list.  

It can be quite frustrating to have how well you can do in a game rely on this skill as opposed to other critical thinking skills.  Memory games aren’t always necessarily bad games but they are a type of game you’ll either love them or hate them. 

Examples of Memory Board Games: Silver, Hanabi

Miniatures

These games include miniatures that are most often the main components of the game they are a part of.  The miniatures are used to depict the gameplay and are moved around their surrounding area which is typically not restrained to a board.  

Not all games that have miniatures in them are necessarily considered miniature board games.  

Examples of Miniature Board Games: Warhammer 40,000, Star Wars Legion, Star Wars Shatterpoint

Murder/Mystery

Murder and Myster Board Games

These games have quickly risen in popularity in recent years and often have players looking at and gathering evidence to solve a crime, murder, or other mystery.  This category of games often has a lot of reading material and relies heavily on storytelling.

Examples of Murder/Mystery Board Games: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Exit Games, Mysterium, The Night Hunter

Negotiation

This is another quite small category of board games due to the difficulty in creating a good game that features this mechanism.  Negotiation board games have the bonus of being very social and fun but often fall victim to runaway leader and balance issues.

Examples of Negotiation Board Games: Catan,  Monopoly, Bohnanza

One Vs. Many

One vs many board games type of board games

These board games pit one player against all others.  This one player can either be known or sometimes has the role of a hidden traitor.  

This is a much smaller category of board games than some of the others but are also some of the most fun if you have the right gaming group.

Examples of One vs. Many Board Games: Fury of Dracula, Narcos: The Board Game, Mind MGMT, The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31, Jaws

Party

These games are typically designed for more players and focus more on fun, social, and casual gameplay.  These games are typically looked down on by some in the hobby, but there is no denying that they are great to play with non-gamers and can be a lot of fun with the right group.

Examples of Party Board Games: Cards Against Humanity, Telestrations, Decrypto, Codenames, Just One

Pen and Paper

These games require players to write their way to victory or a certain goal.  Players will mark or keep track of various things on their paper player board, erasable board, or cards and score points at the end of the game as a result of what they wrote down.

These types of games are often fairly simple but can also be some of the more puzzly board games out there.  

Examples of Pen and Paper Board Games: Silver and Gold, Search for Planet X,  Cartographers, Telestrations

Point Salad

This a very broad category of games but a category that is used often nonetheless.  Point Salad board games are ones in which there are many paths to victory with numerous ways to score points.  It can often be difficult to determine which actions are optimal in these games due to the narrow trade-off between them

Examples of Point Salad Games: Castles of Burgundy, Five Tribes,

Push Your Luck Games

Push Your Luck Board Games

This category of board game has a strong luck factor but we can narrow it down a bit more than that.  Push Your Luck games have players risking greater and greater rewards with each successive action.

Do you decide to roll the dice again and take your chances or call it quits and collect your reward?  These games resemble gambling in board game form and are some of the most exciting and fun types of board games out there.

Examples of Push Your Luck Board Games: Quacks of Quedlinburg, Cubitos, Clank

Puzzle

These games have players attempting to solve a puzzle or attempt to logically reach as optimal of an outcome as possible.  Puzzle games typically use patterns, organization, and sequencing with players having to think critically about these things to do well in the game.

This category of games could also be considered to contain escape room style games like the Exit games.

Examples of Puzzle board games: Azul, Cascadia, Patchwork, Search for Planet X, Exit Games, Box One

Racing 

These types of board games have players racing against each other to achieve some sort of goal first.  That goal may be as simple as a point limit or an actual finish line they have to move across.  

In our opinion racing games are very hit-or-miss and quite difficult to do right.  There are very few that capture the excitement of a race while still being balanced and fun, but there are some games out there that have succeeded at just that.

Examples of Racing Board Games: Cubitos, Heat Pedal to the Metal, The Quest for El Dorado, Camel Up, 

Real-Time

Real Time Board Games

These games are less common than some of the other categories in this list, but they are unique in the sense that they typically don’t have player turns with everyone at the table playing simultaneously in real-time, often with constraints on time.

These games are very subjective due to their chaotic, frantic, and often stressful nature, but some love this style of game for those very reasons.

Examples of Real-Time board games: Fuse, Pandemic Rapid Response, Space Alert

Roll and Write, Roll and Move, Flip and Write… 

These games often have players rolling dice, or flipping cards and marking on paper or erasable boards or cards to strive for various goals.  This concept sounds a little confusing but they are some of the most simple, low complexity, and smallest types of board games.  

Roll and Write board games are some of the easiest to play and are great for new and experienced games alike.  

Examples of Roll and Write Board Games: Yahtzee, That’s Pretty Clever, Long Shot: The Dice Game

Role-Playing

This category of games is often thought of outside of the realm of board games, but there are quite a few games that use this mechanic and still would be considered “board games” by most.  

Role-playing board games have players taking on the role of a character and taking actions and making decisions as that character.  The characters may change throughout the game or players may be encouraged to add their storytelling to their character.

Examples of Role-Playing Board Games: Gloomhaven, Fog of Love, Mage Knight

Worker Placement

Worker Placement Games Type of Board Games

This is more of a game mechanism, but it is prominent and important enough that many probably consider this a type of board game at this point.  Worker Placement board games have players placing their pawns or player pieces in various spaces to work towards a goal.  

These games are some of the most strategic due to high competition for limited spaces and options.  This category includes some of the highest rated board games in existence and also some of our favorites from the past few years.

Examples of Worker Placement Board Games: Dune Imperium, Lost Ruins of Arnak, Viticulture, Robinson Crusoe

Wargame

This is a category of game that is so massive almost to the point where many probably consider it outside of the realm of modern board gaming.  There are some games that fall under this category though that in our opinion appeal to the board game community more broadly.

These games pit players against each other in ways that strongly focus on combat and conflict in a militaristic way.

Examples of War Game Board Games: Twilight Imperium, War of The Ring, Twilight Struggle, Star Wars Rebellion, Root, Memoir 44

Word Game

Word Game Type of Board Game

This category of board games is pretty self-explanatory but game designers are finding some new and unique ways to incorporate words.  These games typically require players to use their knowledge of language and grammar to do well and succeed at various goals.  

Examples of Word Board Games: Scrabble, Werewords, Codenames Duet, Decrypto, Medium, Just One


Hopefully, this list has helped you learn a little bit more about the different types and categories of board games.  If there are any board game types you think we should add to this list let us know in the comments below.  

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