12 Best Unique Board Games (List)

a group of people playing board game
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This might be the age of digital entertainment, but we would argue that board games just can’t be beat. The timeless charm of spending some quality time with your friends and family while playing a good board game is just an experience in itself.

With that being said, we’re sure all of us here have heard of and even played some of the more popular board games. We’re talking Monopoly, Checkers, Chess, Scrabble, and other board games of that caliber. Therefore, we wanted to highlight a list of some lesser-known board games you can enjoy.

So, without further ado, we’re here with 12 of the best and most unique board games that you might not have even heard of before. All of these picks are bound to give you an experience you and your loved ones will never forget. If any of these board games catch your eye, we’re pleased to tell you that ALL of them can be very easily purchased online at Amazon or other online marketplaces.

Why Play Board Games?

Before anything, some of you guys might be wondering what the point of playing board games even is. After all, with so many new devices and digital games, is there even a point to the old-fashioned tabletop games that our parents used to play? Well, we’re here to clear this misconception right here and right now.

For starters, board games encourage face-to-face interaction, strategic thinking, and healthy competition. Games like Mario Kart and Valorant might be fun, but they aren’t able to give the bonding experience that comes with playing games in front of each other. Don’t believe us? Just check out articles on how board games are excellent not only for kids but also for adults.

Additionally, we live in a world dominated by screens and electricity. In such a world, wouldn’t you want a refreshing way to disconnect from technology? That too while engaging in meaningful experiences with loved ones. Social bonding, critical thinking, and creativity are things board games best excel at.

Strategy Games

Starting off, we’re going through three strategy games that we think you should check out. In this list of board games, decision-making skills have a high significance in determining the outcome.


Onitama board game display

Player count: 2

Age Range: 10+

Play Time: 15-20 minutes

The goal of the game: Taking the opponent’s master piece, or moving your master piece into your opponent’s starting space.

The first strategy board game we want to highlight is Onitama. Here, two players go up against each other in a match of wit and cunningness, somewhat like chess. Created in 2014 by Japanese game designer Shimpei Sato, players take on the role of a Master. The goal? To guide your monk followers in an attempt to defeat your opponent.

Basically, the game has a super unique mechanic which involves using movement cards to determine how each piece can move. Using smart thinking and making every move count, you want to do one of two things. Either you want to capture the enemy’s master or you want to move your master piece onto the opponent’s Temple Arch.


Santorini board game and expansion set

Player count: 2-4

Age Range: 8+

Play Time: 20 minutes

The goal of the game: Get at least one of your builders to level three

Many people feel like one important element for a board game to be considered good is how easy it is to play for all ages. Well, if you’re like that then Santorini should be right up your alley. Simple enough to be played even by elementary school kids, but with enough depth and content for hardcore players to enjoy too.

Designed for two to four players, the game is played on a grid. On it, each turn players build a town by placing building pieces up to three levels high. Each turn of play has you moving one of your two pieces around a 5-by-5 grid. After moving it, you place a tile adjacent to the moved piece, building up that spot on the board.

The game is won when one of two conditions is met. Either you manage to successfully get one of your pieces onto the third level, or your opponent is no longer able to move. If you play some of the game variants, you might also have some god powers that help you break the rules.


Yinsh strategic board game

Player count: 2

Age Range: 9+

Play Time: 30-60 minutes

The goal of the game: Be the first player to remove three of your rings from the board

Up next on this board games list is YINSH. The game is played on a board shaped like a six-pointed star with a triangular grid and 85 spaces. There are a bunch of rings and reversible markers that are used to play this game.

This is one of the more unique board games, with multiple phases to the gameplay. The first phase has the players take turns placing one of their rings on the board. The second phase, meanwhile, involves trying to make lines. Once a line of a single color is made by a player, that player removes those markers and one of his rings. The first player to remove three rings wins!

Role-Playing Games

Up next are three unique role-playing games. All of these games have you taking the role of different characters in a fictional setting. Talk about immersion!

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion role-playing game, with the play book open and figured in play

Player count: 1-4

Age Range: 14+

Play Time: 30-120 minutes

The goal of the game: Reach the ending of a specific scenario

Some of you might have heard of Gloomhaven, the board game that took the world by storm. Well, Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion brings that same world of Gloomhaven into a more accessible environment.

Taking the role of brave adventures, players journey through a world full of monsters and other threats. Because of the super immersive and immersive storytelling of this board game, we’re sure every playthrough will be a memorable one for both you and your friends.

Folklore: The Affliction

The set of Folklore: The Affliction board games and expansion sets

Player count: 1-5

Age Range: 14+

Play Time: 90-120 minutes

The goal of the game: Complete a storyline

Folklore: The Affliction is next on this board games list. Combining role-playing and horror in a dark fantasy world, this isn’t for the faint of heart. As it is with many other role-playing games, players take the role of adventurers who roam the world defeating monsters.

However, what sets apart Folklore is the story. If you want excellent storytelling, character development, and modular scenarios, then you and your friends NEED to get on this game.

Agents of SMERSH

Display of board and pieces for the board game Agents of Smersh

Player count: 1-4

Age Range: 13+

Play Time: 90 minutes

The goal of the Game: Complete one of the many storylines

Set during the Cold War, we’re sure Agents of SMERSH must be one of the more unique board games on this list for many, at least based on the setting. In it, players take on the roles of secret agents. All the agents are working to thwart the plans of the sinister Dr. Lobo.

One super cool thing about this game is that it has a book of encounters feature. Through it, the choices players make will shape the narrative and outcome of the story. This makes every single playthrough unique.

Conquest Games

Up next are three of the best and most unique conquest board games. These board games best excel at warfare and don’t pull any punches on the losers.


Cover of the board game Inis

Player count: 1-4

Age Range: 14+

Play Time: 60-120 minutes

The goal of the game: Control six areas or more, be present in an area with a total of six Sanctuaries or more, or become the Chieftain in an area with six opponents’ figures or more

First up is Inis, a board game that focuses on Celtic mythology and conquest. Players lead tribes of soldiers across ancient Ireland. If you thought Mario Kart ruined friendships, just wait till you play Inis with your friends. You’ll find that some players will be playing their opponents more than they’ll be playing the game all to get as much domination of the land as possible.

With some clever use of strategy and area control, you’ll be dominating the land in no time at all. With multiple victory conditions and a super dynamic map, we’re sure Inis will be a breath of fresh air for veteran board game players.


Cyclades board game cover

Player count: 1-5

Age Range: 13+

Play Time: 60-90 minutes

The goal of the game: Be the first player to build two metropolis on your island

With Celtic mythology tackled, how about going through a board game based on Greek mythology? This game has players competing for the favor of the Gods as they work toward building up their civilization.

One thing to keep in mind is that Cyclades isn’t like other conquest board games. With a focus on auction mechanics, area control, and strategic warfare, players will spend more time negotiating and using tactics than on the battlefield.

Forbidden Stars

Forbidden Stars board game set up on a table

Player count: 2-4

Age Range: 14+

Play Time: 120-180 minutes

The goal of the game: Be the first player to either capture either four of your objectives or have the most objectives captured by the end of the game

That’s right, fans of the Warhammer 40,000 games will be more than familiar with this specific board game. In it, players command massive armies, conquer planets, and engage in epic battles. Oh, right, when we say conquer planets we MEAN conquering planets all across the galaxy.

Forbidden Stars has the same strategic depth and intricate yet super fun battle mechanics that are to be expected from a game set in this universe.

Cooperative Games

Now, board games don’t necessarily have to pit you against your friends every single time. How about playing some games alongside them with these three best and most unique cooperative board games?

The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine

The Crew card and board games laid out on a table

Player count: 2-5

Age Range: 10+

Play Time: 20 minutes

The goal of the game: Complete all 50 of the game’s missions (or 53 if you have the three additional missions published in spielbox 2/2020)

Ah yes, what spells cooperation more than a game set in outer space? The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine is a trick-taking game that has players fill the shoes of astronauts. All the players have to work together to perform activities and complete tasks if they want to finish the game.

Naturally, certain rules and unforeseen threats might make completing the game difficult, but it’s better if we keep the specifics of that a surprise for you to experience yourself.

Chronicles of Crime

cover to the game Chronicles of Crime

Player count: 1-4

Age Range: 12+

Play Time: 60-90 minutes

The goal of the game: Be the player to catch the killer of the current case in the shortest time possible

We weren’t kidding when we said we were going to go through the most unique board games. Chronicles of Crime is a game that merges traditional board game mechanics with app integration.

Players are to use a combination of physical components and an app to solve crimes. How can they do that? By examining crime scenes, gathering clues, interrogating suspects, and working together with your friends in real-time, of course!

Spirit Island

Spirit Island board game set up and play in progress

Player count: 1-4

Age Range: 13+

Play Time: 90-120 minutes

The goal of the game: Destroy every last settlement and city on the board

Here’s a rather unique board game that might resonate with a lot of players on a personal level. Spirit Island has you and your friends take the role of spirits that are defending their home from colonization and destruction.

This game emphasizes area control, cooperation, and strategic planning. Players have to use their unique powers, like every spirit having a different elemental affinity, to thwart the plans of their attackers and protect their land and its inhabitants.


This is a list of the best and most unique board games you should definitely try. Hey, we’ve all played Monopoly before. Now it’s time to try one of these board games because we guarantee you and your friends will have a blast.

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Brenda Coles
I'm an elementary school teacher who became a stay-at-home mother when my first child was born. I love to write about lifestyle, education, and news-related topics.