What It’s Like Dating Best Abstract Strategy Games?


If you generally enjoy strategic thinking and systematic planning in real life, you’re guaranteed to enjoy playing abstract strategy games. Unlike other games, abstract strategy games do not rely on chance or luck, but rather on the players’ skills and strategy.

As thrilling as it may be to other people, chance can significantly reduce your probability of winning. But if you want to carry your fate in your own hands, then strategy games are the way to go.

Although they may seem simple to some people, strategy games entail a lot of in-depth thoughtfulness. Unbeknownst to the players, masters of these games will often size up their opponent’s game plan way in advance and eventually beat them without revealing their tricks. However, if you’re just starting on such games, the best approach is to pay close attention to the master’s plan as they usually leave behind “footprints” of their strategy. You will eventually be able to beat them at their own game.

Why You Should Play Abstract Strategy Games

Besides the undeniable fun that most games can offer, abstract strategy games are beneficial to the human brain in several ways that you may not initially realize. When played in groups, strategy games improve the players’ teamwork. Such games can be beneficial to friends, family, and colleagues who don’t get along. How?

If the players are cooperative and competitive, they will need to push their misunderstandings aside, discuss strategy, and be in agreement before making their next move. If well-executed, their mutual interest will result in a victorious finish, which will eventually open up room for real growth.

Strategy games prompt players to exercise their brains. If you find your job monotonous and without challenges, playing strategy games will help with mental stimulation. On the other hand, if your job requires critical thinking, strategy games will help keep your mind alert and productive. Playing strategy games after a stressful day at work can also help distract your mind. A few laughs and possible victories, especially with friends and family, are sure to improve your mood in no time.

Types of Abstract Strategy Games

Whether you’re trying to defend the “king” from being overthrown or planning the perfect assault, strategy games always require well thought out plans. Here are some examples of both classic and modern abstract strategy games that you can try out.


Chess is undisputedly one of the classics and most popular board games of all times associated with military strategy as well as sheer genius. Origins of chess date back to India almost 15 centuries ago. Although it is available online today, its principles remain the same.

Two individuals typically play chess on a gridded black and white board called a chessboard. Each player picks a side, i.e., black or white, and sets up 16 pieces of the selected color. These pieces include one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns. Each of these 16 pieces moves differently and serves different purposes. The desired end goal is to overthrow your opponent’s king.

Chess was so popular that a world championship was created for contestants in the 19th century. The games were initially played in private and with private funding from enthusiasts who would bet on either player. The first world championship match, albeit privately held, was in 1886 between Wilhelm Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort. By the beginning of the 20th century, a players’ union called FIDE (a French acronym for International Chess Federation) was founded and grew to become the recognized chess federation it is today. Men, women, and children alike can now play in tournaments against players from all over the world.

International Draughts

Commonly referred to as draughts by the British and checkers by the Americans, draughts is a strategy board game played by two players on opposite sides of the board. The local draught games are played on 8×8 inch boards.

However, the internationally acceptable board size is 10×10 inches. Similar to chess, the players select their color, i.e., either dark or light, and play in turns. Players can only move pieces diagonally to adjacent unoccupied squares. If your opponent’s piece is on an adjacent square and the square beyond it is empty, you will have to capture it by “jumping” over it.

One of the ironic rules of draughts is that players must capture their opponent’s pieces. Failure to do so is an offense, and their playing piece is eliminated as punishment. Another irony in this game is that a player cannot stick to a defensive strategy. The best approach is getting your pieces to gain a king title while sacrificing others in the process. The game ends when a player is not able to make any further moves due to being blocked by his opponent, or when a player’s pieces are over.


Considered one of the hardest abstract strategy games that requires deep thinking, GO is the second most played classic board game in the world. GO’s history dates back to China more than two millenniums ago, making it one of the oldest board games played to date. Although it may seem complicated, a determined novice player can soon master the strategy behind the game.

The game entails two opposing players using either black or white stones as the playing pieces. Although you can play GO on a 19×19 inch board, there are other board varieties available. The smaller the board, the shorter the game length. The players play alternatingly by placing their stones on the intersection points of the grid lines. Each player aims to control the board area as much as possible. You can capture your opponent’s stones by surrounding them. The captured stones are then removed from the board and counted at the end of the game. You determine the winner by calculating the total area surrounded and the captured stones.


Designed by James Ernest in 2016, Tak is a two-player abstract game based on a fictional novel called The Wise Man’s FearThe set comprises of square boards that can vary in sizes from 3×3 inches to 6×6 inches, although the latter is most common. The larger the board, the more complex the game.

Each player has matching flat stones and a unique piece called the capstone, which comes in a form similar to the pawns used in chess. The game initially starts with an empty board. Each player then strives to build a “road” to connect the opposite sides of the board, while at the same time blocking and capturing their rival’s stones. The captured stones are stacked on top of each other, creating a three-dimensional effect.

On every turn, the players place a stone in a vacant space or move stacks of stones that they control in a straight line. When moving these stones, players can drop them alongside other pieces as they go along. You can choose to play your pieces in an upright position called wall or standing stone. However, these vertical pieces don’t become part of the road. The first player to build the road becomes the winner of the game.


Published in 2001, Hive is a table-top game that revolves around bugs. The Hive set has a total of 22 hexagonal pieces, with each player having 11. They comprise of three blue soldier ants, three green grasshoppers, two purple beetles, two brown spiders, and one yellow queen bee. Similar to Tak, this game also starts with an empty layout. However, in this case, there’s no board involved.

The first player places his first piece down, and subsequent pieces are set to form patterns that become the board. Unlike most strategy games, there is no capturing involved, and you don’t need to play all your pieces. The game’s objective is to surround your rival’s queen bee while still protecting your queen from your opponent. The first player to do so becomes the winner of the game.


With its origin dating back to the 7th century in ancient Egypt – Africa, Mancala is one of the oldest strategy board games. Today, Mancala is played all over the world and comes in different names depending on locality. It a game for two players who take turns to place stones or marbles in pits or depressions found on the board. The boards come in varying shapes, although the most commonly available boards are rectangular.

The objective of Mancala is for a player to capture more stones than their opponent. At the start of the game, players select a hole with seeds that they “sow” on the board until the last seed is sown in an empty pit. Common belief states that the game borrows from the actual sowing in farms.

Other popular abstract strategy games to look out for include:

  • Torres
  • Ingenious
  • Photosynthesis
  • Quoridor
  • Blokus Duo

Final Thoughts

Strategy games, in general, are fun and enjoyable for people looking to improve their cognitive development. Whether you play these games online or on a solid board, you’ll notice an overall improvement in your crisis management and problem-solving skills. If you’re a novice player, don’t be discouraged. Grab your board and get started.