• Vintage Board Games
  • Classic Board Games, Clue, Awkward Guests: The Walton Case
  • Classic Board Games, Monopoly, Acquire
  • Vintage Board Games, Carcassonne, Miyabi
  • Classic Board Games, Shogun, Samurai Swords, Ikusa

Beyond the Mainstream: Alternatives to Your Favorite Board Games

Game bloggers and YouTubers often say, “If you like this board game, you should try this (other) one.” Games fall into categories, usually broad and overlapping, but related. If one enjoys a word-based game such as Scrabble, for example, there are hundreds of other word games you might like to try. Narrowing recommendations is difficult and, perhaps, arbitrary. I have chosen game alternatives based on play methodology and, in part, popularity.

Mystery Games
The game Awkward Guests: The Walton Case (2016) resembles the play of the famous game Clue (Cluedo). Players try to solve a murder, where and why it took place, how it happened, and whether there was an accomplice. But, unlike Clue, the possibilities are almost endless, with extra new scenarios provided by an app. Players exchange cards as clues on each turn including trustworthy clues such as police reports, but opponents may also purposefully mislead them. Originally published in Spanish, Awkward Guests now boasts several different versions.

Financial Games
Are you bored with Monopoly and looking for a great financial game? You may enjoy designer Sid Sackson’s award-winning game Acquire, which has been in nearly continuous production since 1963. Currently published by Renegade Game Studios, Acquire pits players as real estate speculators against each other to control hotel chains by buying and selling stocks. Acquire is a classic financial strategy game, very much beloved by serious gamers.

Tile Placement Games
Carcassonne is a tile-placement game published in 2000 in which players compete to gain points as they build a French landscape. Carcassonne also helped coin the word “meeple” during a game in which a young woman created it to describe the game’s wood tokens. A similar game is Miyabi, from 2019, which involves designing a Japanese garden with tiles representing various elements such as stones, ponds, and trees. Like Carcassonne, Miyabi won multiple awards upon its publication. In addition, it includes seven mini-expansions.

War Games
The latest television series adaptation of James Clavell’s 1975 novel Shogun was shown on FX network in 2024. If you enjoyed that, there are several popular war games taking place in 15th- and 16th-century feudal Japan. One example, from 1986, became part of Milton Bradley’s renowned Gamemaster Series. The name was changed from Shogun to Samurai Swords in 1995 to avoid conflict with the novel and again updated to Ikusa by publisher Avalon Hill in 2011. Players play one of several clans or factions that erupt into Civil War — loosely based on historical facts and marked with miniature figures on a map-like board. None of these versions are in current publication, but most can be found on the secondary market. They remain popular with serious gamers and collectors.

These are just some of the options for players in search of games that resemble favourites, and there are many, many more. Game on!