Board Game Genres

What? There are different types?

Board games are actually quite varied not only in just their themes, but also in their play style. There are several genres of board games, and at Raven Forge Games we want to help you find the right game for you!

Abstract Strategy

Board games with no theme at all, or what theme is offered is so disconnected from the actual experience of playing that it might as well not be there. Low-to-no luck, highly tactical in nature.

Area Control

Board games with some form of map or board defining a space that players compete to dominate, usually through adding their own pieces to regions or areas or removing opponents’ pieces. Sometimes the control can come through denying access to areas rather than taking them yourself.


Campaign board games are defined by individual plays following a series of connected scenarios, where the actions and outcome of one scenario will usually affect the next. Legacy board games are a specific type of campaign game where your choices and actions cause you to make permanent (often physical) changes to the game and its components, such as applying stickers to the board or tearing up cards, often providing a one-time experience.


Each player starts with their own identical deck of cards, but alters it during play, with more powerful cards being added to the deck and less powerful ones removed. Deckbuilders are sometimes confused with deck construction games such as trading card games, with the difference being that in deckbuilders the act of creating and customizing your deck is part of the core gameplay experience, instead of something that usually happens away from the table between plays.

Deck Construction

A type of board game where the players use different decks of cards to play, constructed prior to the game from a large pool of options, according to specific rules. There are two main distribution models: trading or collectible card games sell booster pack products with a randomized set of cards in each, while living card games and expandable deck games provide a fixed set of cards in each expansion. (Living card game applies specifically to such games produced by Fantasy Flight Games, which has trademarked the term.)


Board games involving physical skill, whether using the whole body as in Twister or just the fingers for moving things about, as with removing blocks in Jenga. This can include flicking discs or other objects with your fingers like Flick ‘em Up, balancing things in games such as Beasts of Balance or even throwing objects around, like Dungeon Fighter.


Drafting is a mechanic where players are presented with a set of options (usually cards, though sometimes dice) from which they must pick one, leaving the remainder for the next player to choose from. The selection may be made from a shared central pool of choices, or from a hand of cards passed between players. This can be a small part of a game, such as selecting an ability for use during a round, or the entire decision space for a game.


Players take the roles of characters making their way through a location, often depicted by a map with a square grid or a page in a book, defeating enemies controlled by another player, a companion app or the game system itself.


Over the course of an engine-building board game, you’ll build an “engine”: something that takes your starting resources and/or actions and turns them into more resources, which turn into even more resources, which - somewhere along the line - will usually turn into a form of victory points.


Often shortened to just ‘Euro’, these are strategy-focused board games that prioritize limited-randomness over theme. Usually competitive with interaction between players through passive competition rather than aggressive conflict. Named for the fact many of the early games of this style were developed in Europe - particularly Germany - in contrast to the more thematic but chance-driven “American-style” games of the time.


Board games that invite you to take ever bigger risks to achieve increasingly valuable rewards - or to decide to keep what you’ve got before you lose everything. Think the card game blackjack or deciding whether to give an uncertain answer on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Sometimes also called press-your-luck.


Board games where you roll one or more dice and move that many spaces - commonly on a looping track of spaces, or a path with a start and finish. Often landing on certain spaces will trigger specific actions or offer the player certain gameplay options. Simple as that.


Roll some dice and decide how to use the outcome, writing it into a personal scoring sheet. Each decision impacts your options for the rest of the game, so even in games where everyone uses the same dice, slightly different choices at the start can lead to very different end results.

Social Deduction

One or more players around the table have a secret, and the rest of you need to figure out who! Expect lying, bluffing and wild accusations all round. Players are often secretly assigned hidden roles that only they know, and must achieve their own objectives - commonly either finding the odd one out, or hiding the fact that you are the odd one out yourself.


Board games with a focus on narrative and description that is directed or fully created by the players. This could be an overarching story lasting the whole game - or across a campaign of multiple sessions - read from pre-written passages, or a sequence of vignettes as players are tasked with inventing and describing something prompted by a single card.


Board games where you choose actions from spaces on the board by assigning your pool of “workers” - often thematically actual workers in your employ - to them. Usually Eurogames, with player interaction created because actions one player has taken often can’t be taken by or come with a cost for anyone else.


Players pit armies against each other, represented by collections of miniatures or tokens on a map, with a grid or actual measured distances for movement. Eliminate the opponent’s figures or achieve objectives to win, with combat usually dictated by dice rolls or card play.