Strategy games are fun to play, but they also have many benefits. Not only does it encourage using logic and reasoning, it requires thinking ahead, careful planning, patience and (especially when you win) a sense of accomplishment or at least learning from each move.
I am a very in-the-box type thinker. I struggle with seeing things differently, finding new approaches to things, learning from and developing strategies in games. I’d much rather pick up a word game than one that requires me to mentally think through each move in advance. Our eldest, The Boy, can be very much the same as me. He’s also an in-the-box thinker – he has to work hard to think creatively around certain things, and when something doesn’t follow the natural order, he gets very upset.
But in learning and playing strategy games, I’ve seen him develop and grow a sense of variation and flexibility. He still likes things to be just-so, but he’s becoming better at understanding working out strategies and the best way to move around other players. In all, strategy games have helped our in-the-box thinker to start thinking out-of-the-box.
These are some amazing strategy games that we’ve played or had introduced to us and are looking forward to learning together as the kids get older. For most of these you can introduce the basics around age 8, and with consistent practice, be able to play full games with all strategy involved by age 10 (though, of course, every child and adult is different, so try introducing it and see how they handle it).
Strategy Games for Kids
Carcasonne – Carcassonne is a clever tile-laying game. The southern French city of Carcassonne is famous for its unique roman and medieval fortifications. The players develop the area around Carcassonne and deploy their followers on the roads, in the cities, in the cloisters, and in the fields. The skill of the players to develop the area will determine who is victorious.
Cathedral – Cathedral challenges two players to place as many buildings as possible within the walls of a medieval city. There are two sets (light and dark) of hardwood buildings of various sizes. To begin the game, one player places the cathedral on the grid of the walled city. Then the two players vie for the remaining land. Their goal is to place their own buildings while thwarting their opponent’s land-grabbing tendencies. If a player can completely surround one of his/her opponent’s buildings, that building is removed from the board and the space gobbled up by a different building. The game ends up resembling a puzzle that must be thoughtfully pieced together. The winner is the player whose unplaced buildings would occupy the least amount of space in the city. Fans of chess should enjoy exercising their strategizing muscles on this one.
Go – The game’s playing surface is divided into 361 intersections. Players place stones on the corners of the squares, and the object is to surround the stones of their opponents.
Othello – I played this with my roommate from University and she creamed me every time! It’s fun, easy to learn, but with constantly changing strategy. On each turn, players flank the discs of the opposing player between two of their own. Once captured, the double-sided discs are flipped over and become the opposite color. If you have a move, you have to take it. Play ends when one player can’t make any more moves or the game board is full. The player with the most pieces of their color facing up wins. The more you play, the more certain strategies emerge, and the more likely you are to lead your opponent right where you want them.
Pandemic – Pandemic isn’t just about strategy – it’s also about teamwork. It’s an all-in kind of game!
Players must work together playing to their characters’ strengths and planning their strategy of eradication before the diseases overwhelm the world with ever-increasing outbreaks. For example the Operation Specialist can build research stations which are needed to find cures for the diseases. The Scientist needs only 4 cards of a particular disease to cure it instead of the normal 5. But the diseases are out breaking fast and time is running out: the team must try to stem the tide of infection in diseased areas while also towards cures. A truly cooperative game where you all win or you all lose.
Pentago – This is a two-player game in which the object is to create a row of five marbles, in any direction, before your opponent does, but with a twist. Each move consists of placing a marble and then twisting one of the four game blocks. Children will gain spatial orientation, eye-hand coordination, logic and problem-solving abilities with this mind-twisting game.
From Boardgame Geek: The gameboard is your battlefield. You have an army of men at your disposal and six bombs. Your mission–protect your flag and capture your opponent’s flag.
Secretly place your men, bombs, and flag on the gameboard with these objectives in mind. But remember your opponent is doing the same thing, so you must plan a defense as well as an offense.
Once the armies are in place, advance your men. When you’re one space away from an enemy, attack. You and your opponent declare ranks. The lower-ranking man is captured and out of play.
You control your pieces and risk your men in battles where the strength of your enemy is unknown. The suspense builds as your men move deeper into enemy territory. Move with caution and courage. The next piece you attack could be a bomb. And when attacked, it could “blast” your man off the board and out of play.
The first to capture an enemy flag is the winner!
What strategy games would you recommend? We’re always looking for new ones to try out!
Check out the other posts in this series:
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