The best combinatorial games 🧮 2024

Looking for a really good game where there is no chance? Then we have just the thing: A list of the 30 best combinatorial games 🧮.

What does "combinatorial" mean in games?

Combinatorial is a term from mathematics. Combinatorial games have finite or countably infinite discrete structures. I.e. in combinatorial games you can predict all possible moves - in contrast to games of chance.

Definition of combinatorial games

Almost all combinatorial dice, card & board games meet the following definition:

  • no hidden information
  • no randomness during gameplay (random setup (e.g. TZAAR, Fischer Schach 960) is allowed)
  • typically two players or teams (or one player/team against one computer)
    • but rarely more teams are possible (e.g. Blokus)
  • finite number of rounds
  • players/teams act alternately (i.e. do not move simultaneously, not in real time)
  • no memory needed
  • draw possible - but usually there is a winner
  • theme allowed, but not mandatory

Combinatorial does not necessarily mean "abstract

Often the two categories "abstract games" and "combinatorial games" are mixed together. However, abstract refers only to the subject of the game. Abstract games do not require a story or scenario in which the game "takes place." In combinatorial games, a theme is not required (e.g. Blokus, Shōbu), but possible (e.g. Santorini, [Patchwork])(/patchwork)).

List of the best combinatorial games 2024 🧮

This list was last updated on May 13, 2024. We compared 1203 board games for this list and selected the top 30. There's also a print version for this list.
  1. Patchwork

    All details for the board game Patchwork and similar games

    Patchwork is a two-player game where you compete to create the most beautiful and high-scoring patchwork quilt on your personal 9x9 game board.

    Nominated for 11 awards and won 3.

    More details for Patchwork
    • 2 Players
    • 15 - 30 Minutes
    • 8+ years old
    • Easy to learn

    Video reviews for Patchwork

    • YouTube Review for the game "Patchwork" by BoardGameGeek
      Video is in English
    • YouTube Review for the game "Patchwork" by BoardGameGeek
      Video is in English
  2. Onitama

    All details for the board game Onitama and similar games

    Immerse yourself in the world of Onitama, a dynamic two-player abstract game offering perfect information and a randomized starting setup on a 5x5 board. Both participants begin the game with five pawns each, strategically placing the main pawn at the board's center.

    Nominated for 6 awards and won 1.

    More details for Onitama
    • 2 Players
    • 15 - 20 Minutes
    • 10+ years old
    • Easy to learn
  3. Santorini

    All details for the board game Santorini and similar games

    Santorini is a beautifully re-imagined strategy game that combines abstract elements with accessible gameplay, suitable for a wide range of players.

    Nominated for 7 awards.

    More details for Santorini
    • 2 - 4 Players
    • 20 Minutes
    • 8+ years old
    • Easy to learn
  4. boop.

    All details for the board game boop. and similar games

    Nominated for 4 awards and won 2.

    More details for boop.
    • 2 Players
    • 20 - 30 Minutes
    • 10+ years old
    • Immediately playable
  5. SHŌBU

    All details for the board game SHŌBU and similar games

    Nominated for 4 awards.

    More details for SHŌBU
    • 2 Players
    • 15 - 30 Minutes
    • 8+ years old
    • Easy to learn
  6. Hey, That's My Fish!

    All details for the board game Hey, That's My Fish! and similar games

    Embark on a frigid escapade with Hey, That's My Fish! as players compete to secure the most fish using their waddle of penguins. Each turn unfolds a strategic journey as players guide their penguins in a straight line across hex-shaped ice tiles, each adorned with 1, 2, or 3 fish.

    Nominated for 8 awards and won 1.

    More details for Hey, That's My Fish!
    • 2 - 4 Players
    • 20 Minutes
    • 8+ years old
    • Immediately playable

    Video reviews for Hey, That's My Fish!

    • YouTube Review for the game "Hey, That's My Fish!" by BoardGameGeek
      Video is in English
  7. Caesar's Empire

    All details for the board game Caesar's Empire and similar games

    Nominated for 1 award.

    More details for Caesar's Empire
    • 2 - 5 Players
    • 30 - 60 Minutes
    • 10+ years old
    • Immediately playable
  8. Qawale

    All details for the board game Qawale and similar games

    Nominated for 2 awards.

    🔥 Deal: 27% cheaper than the best Geizhals deal, likely for a short time only!

    More details for Qawale
    • 2 Players
    • 15 Minutes
    • 8+ years old
    • Immediately playable
  9. A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King

    All details for the board game A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King and similar games

    A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King is a fast-paced card game set in the world of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. Players are thrust into the heart of King's Landing's court, where they must use cunning and strategy to outmaneuver their opponents in a quest to become the Hand of the King. This game for two to four players is filled with conspiracies and unexpected turns of fate, where influencing key characters from the series is crucial to gaining power.

    More details for A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King
    • 2 - 4 Players
    • 15 - 30 Minutes
    • 14+ years old
    • Immediately playable

    Video reviews for A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King

    • YouTube Review for the game "A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King" by Shut Up & Sit Down
      Video is in English
  10. Hive

    All details for the board game Hive and similar games

    Hive is a highly strategic two-player game that stands out for its versatility and unique gameplay mechanics, involving a variety of insect-themed pieces.

    Nominated for 4 awards and won 2.

    More details for Hive
    • 2 Players
    • 20 Minutes
    • 9+ years old
    • Easy to learn
  11. YINSH

    All details for the board game YINSH and similar games

    YINSH is a strategic abstract game that is part of the renowned GIPF series of games. It involves a clever combination of movement and flipping of markers on the board, with players aiming to align five markers of their own color. The unique aspect of YINSH is its balance between advancing towards victory and simultaneously weakening your position.

    Nominated for 6 awards and won 2.

    More details for YINSH
    • 2 Players
    • 30 - 60 Minutes
    • 9+ years old
    • Medium difficulty
  12. Blokus

    All details for the board game Blokus and similar games

    Blokus is an abstract strategy game known for its simple rules and deep strategic gameplay. It features colorful Tetris-shaped pieces that players aim to place on the board.

    Nominated for 6 awards and won 4.

    More details for Blokus
    • 2 - 4 Players
    • 20 Minutes
    • 7+ years old
    • Easy to learn
  13. First Rat

    All details for the board game First Rat and similar games

    Nominated for 1 award.

    More details for First Rat
    • 1 - 5 Players
    • 30 - 75 Minutes
    • 10+ years old
    • Easy to learn
  14. Polyssimo Challenge

    All details for the board game Polyssimo Challenge and similar games
    • 2 - 4 Players
    • 10 - 30 Minutes
    • 7+ years old
    • Immediately playable

    Video reviews for Polyssimo Challenge

    • YouTube Review for the game "Polyssimo Challenge" by BoardGameGeek
      Video is in English
  15. Northern Pacific

    All details for the board game Northern Pacific and similar games
    • 2 - 6 Players
    • 60 Minutes
    • 7+ years old
    • Immediately playable
  16. New York Zoo

    All details for the board game New York Zoo and similar games

    New York Zoo invites players into a world where they can unleash their creativity while managing a unique animal park. Designed by the acclaimed Uwe Rosenberg, this game combines the joy of puzzling with the challenges of animal breeding. As a player, you'll embark on a journey to construct captivating animal enclosures, introduce diverse animal species, and nurture their offspring. Your choices are simple: strategically fit new enclosure tiles into your zoo or acquire new animals to enrich your exhibits. Timing is key, as you aim to maximize animal breedings and create a thriving and harmonious zoo.

    More details for New York Zoo
    • 1 - 5 Players
    • 30 - 60 Minutes
    • 10+ years old
    • Easy to learn
  17. Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small

    All details for the board game Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small and similar games

    Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small offers a specialized, two-player experience derived from the popular Agricola game, focusing exclusively on the aspect of animal husbandry.

    Nominated for 6 awards and won 2.

    More details for Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
    • 2 Players
    • 30 Minutes
    • 13+ years old
    • Easy to learn
  18. TZAAR

    All details for the board game TZAAR and similar games

    TZAAR is a compelling abstract strategy game that emphasizes the delicate balance of weakening your opponent versus strengthening your own position. With 30 pieces each, divided among Tzaars, Tzarras, and Totts, players navigate a game of tactical decisions where every move counts. The core challenge lies in managing these three distinct types of pieces, each essential to the game's strategy, as players aim to either deplete one type of the opponent's pieces or trap them in a position where they can't capture anymore.

    Nominated for 4 awards and won 1.

    More details for TZAAR
    • 2 Players
    • 30 - 60 Minutes
    • 13+ years old
    • Medium difficulty
  19. Blokus Duo

    All details for the board game Blokus Duo and similar games

    Blokus Duo, also known as Travel Blokus, is a two-player version of the popular abstract strategy game Blokus. It offers a compact and travel-friendly design, perfect for on-the-go gaming sessions.

    Nominated for 3 awards.

    More details for Blokus Duo
    • 2 Players
    • 15 Minutes
    • 5+ years old
    • Easy to learn
  20. Okiya

    All details for the board game Okiya and similar games

    Nominated for 2 awards and won 1.

    More details for Okiya
    • 2 Players
    • 10 Minutes
    • 7+ years old
    • Immediately playable
  21. Great Plains

    All details for the board game Great Plains and similar games

    Nominated for 1 award.

    🔥 Deal: 50% cheaper than the best Geizhals deal, likely for a short time only!

    More details for Great Plains
    • 2 Players
    • 20 Minutes
    • 10+ years old
    • Easy to learn
  22. Battle Sheep

    All details for the board game Battle Sheep and similar games

    Battle Sheep, formerly known as Splits, is a light-hearted yet strategic board game where players aim to spread their flock of sheep across the pasture to occupy the most territory. The game is known for its simple rules, quick gameplay, and fun theme, making it a great choice for families and casual gamers.

    Nominated for 3 awards and won 2.

    More details for Battle Sheep
    • 2 - 4 Players
    • 15 Minutes
    • 7+ years old
    • Immediately playable
  23. Through the Desert

    All details for the board game Through the Desert and similar games

    Through the Desert is a strategic board game where players guide caravans through the desert to claim oases and territory. Often compared to the classic game Go, it combines strategic planning with a visually appealing setup featuring colorful plastic camels.

    Nominated for 2 awards.

    More details for Through the Desert
    • 2 - 5 Players
    • 45 Minutes
    • 10+ years old
    • Easy to learn
  24. Quarto

    All details for the board game Quarto and similar games

    Quarto is an abstract strategy game that offers a unique blend of simplicity and depth. This game captures the essence of strategic thinking, wrapped in an elegant and easy-to-understand design.

    Nominated for 3 awards and won 3.

    More details for Quarto
    • 2 Players
    • 20 Minutes
    • 8+ years old
    • Easy to learn
  25. Blokus 3D

    All details for the board game Blokus 3D and similar games

    Blokus 3D, originally known as Rumis, is a spatial puzzle game where players engage in building ancient Inca structures using uniquely shaped, three-dimensional pieces. Each player aims to cleverly place their pieces next to those of the same color on the board, with the challenge of accommodating different shapes to maximize space and block opponents.

    Nominated for 4 awards and won 2.

    More details for Blokus 3D
    • 2 - 4 Players
    • 15 - 20 Minutes
    • 7+ years old
    • Easy to learn
  26. Six Making

    All details for the board game Six Making and similar games
    • 2 Players
    • 25 Minutes
    • 12+ years old
    • Easy to learn
  27. Kamisado Max

    All details for the board game Kamisado Max and similar games
    • 2 Players
    • 20 Minutes
    • 10+ years old
    • Easy to learn
  28. Tak

    All details for the board game Tak and similar games

    Tak is a beautifully simple yet strategically deep two-player game, originally conceived by Pat Rothfuss in his novel The Wise Man's Fear and brought to life by game designer James Ernest. In Tak, players aim to build a continuous path of their pieces across the board, connecting two opposite sides. The game's elegance lies in its minimalistic ruleset which belies the rich tactical decisions it demands.

    Nominated for 4 awards.

    More details for Tak
    • 2 Players
    • 20 - 60 Minutes
    • 12+ years old
    • Easy to learn

    Video reviews for Tak

    • YouTube Review for the game "Tak" by BoardGameGeek
      Video is in English
  29. Kulami

    All details for the board game Kulami and similar games

    Nominated for 2 awards and won 2.

    More details for Kulami
    • 2 Players
    • 30 Minutes
    • 10+ years old
    • Easy to learn
  30. Photosynthesis

    All details for the board game Photosynthesis and similar games

    Photosynthesis is a green strategy board game where players engage in the growth and development of a forest. The game revolves around the central theme of photosynthesis, the process by which trees and plants use sunlight to produce energy.

    Nominated for 10 awards and won 4.

    🔥 Deal: 42% cheaper than the best Geizhals deal, likely for a short time only!

    More details for Photosynthesis
    • 2 - 4 Players
    • 30 - 60 Minutes
    • 10+ years old
    • Easy to learn

    Video reviews for Photosynthesis

    • YouTube Review for the game "Photosynthesis" by BoardGameGeek
      Video is in English
    • YouTube Review for the game "Photosynthesis" by BoardGameGeek
      Video is in English

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