Strategy games are one of the most popular board game genres on the Canadian market. Each game is unique, with its very own theme and mechanics. One of the great advantages of a quality strategy game is that it will capture your child’s attention while testing their intelligence, creativity and ingenuity during play.

Their complexity makes them ideal for children who are starting to leave their toys aside. And they’re not only good for kids: they have also become great entertainment for parents on evenings at the cottage or a night with friends and family. We designed this article to give you all the information you need to know about strategy games, and the best ones available to Canadians.

Key Facts

  • The variety of themes and mechanics in the strategy game sector is incredible. Some genres – like fantasy or combat strategy – dominate the market, but each game offers a unique experience.
  • This type of board games is usually tailored for older children, starting at around 8 to 10 years of age. The best games have no age limit and can be enjoyed by the whole family.
  • The most complex games immerse players in exciting narratives and fantasy worlds, and one round can last hours, or even days.

Ranking: The best strategy games on the Canadian market

The variety of strategy games on the Canadian market is extremely broad. The theme and dynamics of each strategy game make it a unique playing experience for everyone involved. This is why these board games are ideal to entertain children, teenagers and adults alike. In the following section, we’ve designed a selection of our favourite strategy games available out there, and we’ve got no doubt that in it, you’ll find the perfect game for your children and yourself.

No. 1: Hasbro — Risk

Hasbro is a world leader in the board game and toy industry, so it’s probably not a surprise to see one of their games at the top of our ranking. And we start off with an absolute classic: Risk is a game that was launched in 1957, but it’s still a fan favourite half a decade later. This game is recommended for kids 10 and over and its intricate mechanics make it fun for the whole family. The aim is to take over the world in this game of strategy conquest – the goal is simple: players aim to conquer their enemies’ territories by building an army, moving their troops in, and engaging in battle.

Depending on the roll of the dice, a player will either defeat the enemy or be defeated. This exciting game is filled with betrayal, alliances, and surprise attacks. On the battlefield, anything goes! Defeat all of the enemy troops in a territory to conquer that territory and get one step closer to global conquest! The player who completes his or her secret mission first — and reveals the secret mission card to prove it — wins. This new release of the game comes with a refreshed look that includes updated figures, compelling board art, and improved Mission cards.

No. 2: Mattel Games — Blokus Game

Blokus is the perfect strategy game for the whole family – less than a minute to learn with the depth to challenge all ages. As players take turns placing their 21 pieces on the board, each piece played must touch another piece of the same colour, but only at the corners. Stake your claim and protect your territory by fitting as many of your pieces on the board as you can while you strategically block your opponents. The game ends when no more pieces can be placed down, and the player with the lowest number remaining wins.

Easy to learn and great for families, Blokus is the fast-paced strategy game that delivers endless possibilities. This game from the industry leader Mattel, received a Mensa award for promoting healthy brain activity! This thinking game also delivers friendly competition to keep the mind sharp and the excitement going. With it, you can enjoy stimulating challenges, big laughs and even solo fun. The box includes 84 total pieces, game board and instructions.

No. 3: Z-Man Games — Pandemic

This game from Z-Man Games is aimed at children ages 8 and up, it is designed for 2 to 4 players and one game lasts about 1 hour. Unlike other games on this list, this is a truly cooperative game where either you all win or you all lose. The premise of the game is that you and your team are the last defence standing in the way of deadly diseases that threaten the world. Your task is to keep four deadly diseases at bay while working together to treat infections while collecting the cards you need to discover a cure for each disease.

Only by working together can you keep the outbreaks in check and find the cures in time. Each player manages a hand of cards matching the colours of the four diseases. But plenty of challenges stand in their way. Outbreaks can spread diseases across the board and random epidemics can intensify a disease in a moment’s notice. The game ends with either finding a cure for the disease or the diseases spread to the entire world. This game is highly ranked among Canadian users and is reported to be fun for the entire family.

No. 4: The Settlers of Catan by Asmodee

The Settlers of Catan is a classic board game that like other classics, has recently undergone rebranding in the form of a new image. The new Catan is still the same multiplayer board game from years ago. The players in the game assume the role of settlers establishing colonies on the island of Catan. Players build settlements, cities, and roads to connect them as they settle the island. In the game, players gain points as their settlements grow. The first to reach a set number of points, typically 10, wins.

This game has many expansions worldwide, and in Canada, it is published by Catan Studio. The Settlers of Catan became one of the first German-style board games to achieve popularity outside Europe and its popularity reach Canada over a decade ago. As of 2015, more than 22 million copies in 30 languages had been sold. This game involves large amounts of strategy, while still being fairly simple to learn, making it great fun for the entire family.

No. 5: Cardinal — Othello Classic

Othello – is the game that takes a minute to learn and a Lifetime to master. The lead can change hands from play to play and strategy is everything. Play is simple. Players are represented by either black or white discs on the board. 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 colour. 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 colour facing up wins.

This is the kind of game that the more you play, the more certain strategies emerge, and the more likely you are to lead your opponent right where you want them. The game in itself dates back to the 19th century and it is also known as “Reversi”. It is designed for two players and one game can last anywhere between 5 and 60 minutes. While the concept is quite simple, it may take your children a few tries to get a hold of it. It is a game that people of all ages can enjoy, and its quick setup makes it great for travelling.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about strategy games

You may have difficulties noting the differences between a standard board game and a strategy game. This game genre is quite specific, as it tests the intelligence of players and requires a high level of sustained concentration. In this next section we provide answers the most frequently asked questions among users, so that you can have a better understanding of strategy games before making a final purchase.

Certain games involve deciphering riddles, while others of misleading opponents.
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What are strategy games exactly?

They are a type of board game in which players must make decisions that will considerably affect the ranking results. Participants have to design their own tactic strategy throughout the game, while remaining attentive to others’ decisions. Certain games are relatively simple, while others are very complex and can last hours.

While many strategy games partially depend on chance, the majority prefer to focus on the players decision-making abilities. One’s intelligence, capacity to plan and to analyse other players’ strategies are key elements to come out victorious.

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Many games feature fictitious narratives or require players to take on a role.

At what age can children begin to play strategy games?

This genre is generally seen as one of the most complex amongst board games. The level of difficulty will naturally vary from one game to another, but even the easier ones require some degree of concentration. Each round also tends to be longer than that of average games. It is for this reason why it’s recommended to introduce children to strategy games around the age of 6.

As mentioned above, each game will offer a different level of complexity, with the more difficult games can also be fitting for both teenagers and adults alike. This is why they are ideal for children who reach an age where they’re starting to leave their child toys behind. Strategy games are not only fun for your child, but they are also great entertainment for the whole family.

Age group Type of game Examples of games
Children (6-10 years old) Low complexity games, with attractive designs and colours, and clear themes. We recommend games that last less than one hour. Liar and Labyrinth
Preteens (11-13 years old) Games with more elaborate themes can be introduced, such as abstract strategy games. Games can last longer, as children of this age have the capacity to spend hours playing a single round. Settlers of Catan and Express yourself!
Teenagers (13 years and older) Adolescents will quickly grasp all game mechanics. We recommend serious themes, such as battle strategy or role-playing games. Express yourself! and Risk

Are there different types of strategy games?

Of course! As we’ve mentioned earlier, each board game is unique. You’ll find an endless array of themes and game dynamics in this category. You might be interested to know some of the subcategories available out there. It may help you make the right decision at the time of purchase. Most strategy games fall within one of the following categories:

Type Game dynamics Special features
Abstract games They don’t try to recreate reality, but rather focus on the internal logic of the game. The complexity of these games varies greatly. Their design tends to be minimalistic yet pleasant to the eye.
Combat or military games As you’ve guessed, they simulate combats or battles. They generally require players to develop a strategy throughout the game. These games can be considerably lengthy, at times, even played over several days.
Simulation games They try to simulate the decisions and processes that a player would make in a real-life situation. Players usually have to take on a role and immerse themselves in a fictional narrative while playing.
Classic games These are the original strategy games. They can be played with cards, such as poker, or with chips, such as Ludo. They share similarities with abstract games, but include fewer elements.

Shopping Criteria

The strategy game genre is quite simply one of the broadest and most diverse board game categories out there. Every single game is unique, and you’ll find different themes, formats, levels of complexity and game dynamics. Here are some of the key aspects that we encourage you to evaluate when looking for the right strategy game for your children and yourself:

  • Age of your child
  • Theme
  • Difficulty and duration
  • Design
  • Game mechanics

Age of your child

The very first thing you should consider when the time comes to buy a strategy game is the age of your child. Products designed for teenagers have more complex themes or fascinating plots lines, while games designed for younger kids are simpler and often easy to identify, as they featuring popping and colourful designs.

As we explained in the previous section, older kids are the ones who will most enjoy these types of games. We encourage you to start with more traditional board games if your child is younger than 6 years old. From that age onwards, they can start experimenting with simple and fun strategy games, such as Liar.

 

This game genre is one of the most complex amongst board games.
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Theme

There is a huge diversity of themes in the strategy game genre. We would suggest checking what are some of your child’s themes of interest before purchasing one model or another. It’s also good to know that many classic games release new versions of the same game, but related to famous movies or series that your kids may love.

Fantasy is definitely a dominant theme in the board game sector. Your child may also find new interests by discovering unknown and unusual themes. The approach of some of these games are valuable and may even contribute to their academic development. A game like Risk, for instance, may lead to your child developing a genuine passion for history or geography.

The variety of themes and game dynamics is incredible.
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Difficulty and duration

As you may already know, the strategy genre offers games that are generally the most complex amongst board games. Each of these games tend to be longer, as players need the time to think and develop their own tactics and plan their course of action thoroughly. That being said, the difficulty of the game will of course influence its duration.

Games that require a more elaborate strategy, such as Risk, allow the players to build a narrative as the game progresses, and the players are caught in a fictitious universe. This type of games – and more particularly those involving fantasy worlds – can be played over hours or even days.

Design

Certain brands – especially independent brands – design their games to be as visually appealing as they are entertaining. Attractive games with bright colours are particularly stimulating for younger children, which is why we encourage to look for products with eye-catching designs when looking for games for the younger ones in the house.

The latest designs in these types of games have a tendency to be minimalistic and appealing. We recommend you opt for abstract strategy games if you want aesthetically pleasing games. They generally feature eye-catching figures, as they don’t depict specific characters.

 

Many classic games have special editions related to famous movies or series for everyone to enjoy.
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Game mechanics

Strategy games give manufacturers the possibility to offer very different mechanics. Certain games are designed to make players decipher enigmas, while others push them to mislead their opponents. Some games promote teamwork, while others thrive on confrontation. While themes like combat and fantasy tend to dominate strategy games, the mechanics of each game is what makes it truly unique.

If you’re looking for a new game and your child already has a nice collection of board games, don’t hesitate to opt for a product that works different from the games he already has. The Canadian market really offers an incredible selection of varied strategy games, so make the most of it. Remember that each game is a new adventure, and your children will never get bored of them!

Summary

Strategy games are the ideal form of entertainment for children and pre-teens who are starting to leave their childhood toys behind. These board games are designed to test their ingenuity, analytical skills, and organisational skills. Find the right board game and everyone in your household, children and parents alike, are guaranteed to enjoy endless hours of fun.

The variety of themes and mechanics available to Canadians is great, each game has its own personality. If your child is captivated by his or her very first strategy game, it could become the first one in a large board game collection. Remember to always have your child’s interests in mind when looking for the ideal product. And who knows, they might even discover in them new passions!

If you liked our guide on strategy games, feel free to share this article on your social media. You can also leave us a comment with your thoughts in the section below.

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