The 10 Best Complex & Heavy Board Games for Epic Gameplay (2023)

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Many board game lovers shy away from games that take longer than one hour to complete. I think just about anyone would feel intimidated by a board game with a three-hour playtime and a 20-page rulebook.

Most complex games have a sharp learning curve, especially if you're used to lightweight games. Despite this, complex games are still worth learning—it's extremely rewarding to complete a game after hours of strategic thinking.

The following complex board games are perfect for players who want heavy gameplay that lasts a while.

10. Advanced Squad Leader

The 10 Best Complex & Heavy Board Games for Epic Gameplay (1)

Players: 2 players

Average playing time: 120 to 480 minutes

This game is a bit of throwback since it initially came out in 1985. Don't let its age turn you off though because it's a deep game with one of the highest weight ratings of any on the market.

If you're into deep military tactics, you should find its game systems to be rather rewarding—once you get the hang of them.

Advanced Squad Leader is only for two players, so you'll need to keep that in mind before you dive in for a session. Sessions can take anywhere from two hours to a staggering eight hours.

9. Gaia Project

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Players: 1 to 4 players

Average playing time: 60 to 150 minutes

The first thing we need to talk about with Gaia Project is the ridiculous rating it has on BGG. It carries a staggering 8.5, which makes it one of the highest-reviewed on the entire website.

That plus steep difficulty make it the perfect game for board game players looking to play something a little more intense.

At its core, this is a territory game, but it has tons of depth and an incredible amount of balance that makes it a cut above most games in the category.

You should expect games to take a minimum of an hour, but it could get longer depending on the size of your group and how they play.

(Video) Top 10 Complex Board Games | My Top 10 Heavy Tabletop Games of All Time | Board Game Brain Burners!

8. Mage Knight

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Players: 1 to 4 players

Average playing time: 60 to 240 minutes

Mage Knight is one of the few board games that actually feels like a full-blown RPG (in the video game sense, not the D&D sense). It has all the complexity and engagement you seek.

You play as one of four Mage Knights as you explore the world, build an army, acquire items, battle enemies, and conquer cities. Mage Knight can be played competitively, cooperatively, or even on your own—which some consider the best way to play.

If you want a rich and complex board game with deck-building mechanics, RPG mechanics, and lots of depth, then Mage Knight should absolutely be on your list.

Related: The best single-player board games

7. Spirit Island

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Players: 1 to 4 players

Average playing time: 90 to 120 minutes

Spirit Island is a standout board game in that it's intensely complex while being cooperative between up to 4 players. You can play it alone if you want, but it's way more fun with others.

The theme of Spirit Island is that you're inhabitants of a magical island where spirit powers still exist, and you need to fend off colonizing invaders who want to exploit the land of your home.

Spirit Island has simulataneous turns, and it's actually quite challenging. Be prepared to lose a number of times before you really start to understand the game—and even then, you'll lose several more times before your first win.

Related: The best collaborative board games with friends

6. Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization

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This is the kind of game you can get really sucked into for the long haul. You're looking at least two hours to get through a single game, and that doesn't include the amount of time it'll take for you to learn the deep and complex rules.

Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization is all about building the best civilization possible. At the same time, the other players are trying to do the same, which leads to some interesting land grabs.

Related: The Best Mobile Board Game Apps to Play on Your Phone

5. Dominant Species

The 10 Best Complex & Heavy Board Games for Epic Gameplay (10)

Players: 2 to 6 players

Average playing time: 120 to 240 minutes

Dominant Species takes place in 90,000 BC, the period just before the life-changing ice age. Each player represents one type of animal: a reptile, amphibian, bird, mammal, arachnid, or insect.

Your species will flourish at the start of the game... but that's all bound to change as gameplay progress.

(Video) Top 10 Best Board Games of the Century (So Far)

Throughout the game, you must work to increase the chances of your species' survival. Environmental changes, glaciation, migration, and speciation will affect your entire species.

The player who gains the most victory points before the ice age occurs wins.

4. Food Chain Magnate

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Players: 2 to 5 players

Average playing time: 120 to 240 minutes

Food Chain Magnate is a complex board game that revolves around the fast-food industry. The beginning of the game signals the beginning of your career as a fast-food mogul.

You'll compete against up to four other players in a game that lasts about two to four hours.

The game's map tiles are set up randomly in each game, and the amount you use depends on the number of players.

To build your company, you'll need to hire employees, train staff, and manage marketing campaigns. The richest player at the end of the game wins!

3. Agricola

The 10 Best Complex & Heavy Board Games for Epic Gameplay (12)

In Agricola, you and four other players assume the role of struggling farmers. You'll each start out living with a spouse inside of a simple shack. The game consists of 14 rounds and six harvests. It's your goal to grow your home, farm, and family.

At the beginning of each round, you'll get two actions: one for you, and one for your spouse. With these actions, you can choose to gather resources, have kids, and feed your family.

While kids can help you expand your farm, having them without enough resources and food can sabotage your gameplay. The player who has the best farm wins the game.

2. Twilight Struggle

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Players: 2 players

(Video) 10 most epic combo systems in gaming

Average playing time: 120 to 180 minutes

If you're a history buff, you'll love Twilight Struggle. The game centers around the events of the Cold War, starting from 1945 to 1989. Twilight Struggle is a two-player board game, but that doesn't make it any less complex.

You and a friend have the option of playing as one of the two world powers during this time: The United States or Russia.

On the game board, you'll find a world map that shows the United States' and Russia's global interests. As you progress through the game, you can control and influence other countries.

Meanwhile, the Cold War still remains in the background—the events that actually happened during the Cold War will affect your gameplay.

Related: The best 2-player board games and card games

1. Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game

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Players: 3 to 6 players

Average playing time: 120 to 180 minutes

Battlestar Galactica takes two to three hours to complete, but it's worth every minute. This game is based on the popular sci-fi Battlestar Galactica series. However, you don't have to be a fan of the series to play this complex game.

The game takes place on board the Galactica following the Cylons' devastating attack on the Colonies.

As the spacecraft makes its way back to Earth, the crew realizes that there's at least one traitor amongst them. This makes it even harder to manage resources on the ship.

Gather three to six players and embark on a semi-cooperative mission of survival. You'll get to choose from ten characters, all of which come from the Battlestar Galactica series.

At the beginning of each game, players will get a card that determines whether they're secretly a Cylon. If the humans manage to make it back to Earth, they win the game—otherwise, the Cylon will take over the ship.

Related: The best social deduction board games

Complex Board Games Are a Challenge

Approach a complex board game with confidence, and you'll have a lot of fun playing. If long, arduous gameplay is your thing, these games definitely won't disappoint!

If you like deep gameplay with epic outcomes but not as much complexity—for those game nights where you're feeling a wee bit lazier—then you should look into 4X strategy board games!

(Video) Top 10 2 Player Board Games | 10 Best Board Games for 2 Players

Read next: The best 4X strategy board games


Which board game is the most complex? ›

8 Most Difficult Board Games For Adults
  • 8/8 Scythe.
  • 7/8 Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective.
  • 6/8 Through The Ages: A Story Of Civilization.
  • 5/8 Eldritch Horror.
  • 4/8 Dead Of Winter.
  • 3/8 The Campaign For North Africa.
  • 2/8 Advanced Squad Leader.
  • 1/8 Twilight Struggle.
3 Sept 2022

What are the 10 most popular board games? ›

Some of these fun board games are perfect for one player while others are meant for two, while more still are best played with a large family.
Family Board Games
  • Uno. All you need to play this fun family game is the Uno card deck. ...
  • Cranium. ...
  • Dominoes. ...
  • Chutes and Ladders. ...
  • Carcassonne. ...
  • Traffic Jam. ...
  • Trouble. ...
  • Ticket to Ride.
16 Mar 2022

What's the heaviest board game? ›

Physically heaviest game is #Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion at 6.39 lbs (according to Amazon).

What game is the longest to 100%? ›

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Clocks 97.5 Hours

Completionists can expect to put 189 hours into this game. As the first open-world Zelda, it's fitting that Breath of the Wild is expansive and filled with content.

What is the #1 game in the world? ›

What PC Games Are People Playing Right Now?
Game titlePublisher
1.Overwatch 1 & 2Blizzard Entertainment
2.The Sims 4Electronic Arts
3.ROBLOXRoblox Corporation
4.MinecraftMojang Studios
16 more rows

What is the 10 most popular game in the world? ›

Top 10 Online Games in The World
GameOnline PlayerLaunch Year
Fortnite Battle Royale39 Million2017
Apex Legends50 Million (1 Month)2019
League of Legends (LOL)27 Million2009
Counter-Strike; Global Offensive32 Million2014
6 more rows

What are the top 5 highest selling board games of all time? ›

The Best Selling Board Games of All Time: Ranked by Decade
  • Monopoly (the Landlord's Game) (1904)
  • Bunco (1855)
  • Chess (1500s)
  • Checkers (3,000 B.C.)
  • Backgammon (3,000 B.C.)
5 Sept 2022

What is the world longest game? ›

Hockey players in Alberta hit the ice for 261 continuous hours to raise money for cancer patients at a children's hospital. After more than 10 straight days of gameplay, 40 hockey players in Alberta have broken the record for the world's longest game, beating their own record.

What board game takes the most skill? ›

What board game requires the most skill to play (chess, checkers)? It is generally agreed that the Japanese game of Go is by far the most challenging and skill intensive board game.

What is the longest board game in the world to complete? ›

Description. The Campaign for North Africa has been called the longest board game ever produced, with estimates that a full game would take 1,500 hours to complete.

What is the smartest board game? ›

Chess. No list of board games that help to develop thinking abilities and life skills is complete without the game of chess. Chess needs no introduction: created in India, it's been around for over 500 years and is one of the world's most popular strategy games.

Is there a 1% board game? ›

1% is a deckbuilding game where not only are you building your deck collecting point and/or useful card while also trying to take over sites that give you powerful abilities.

What is the top 10 hardest games in the world? ›

Top 10 hardest video games, ranked
  • 8) Cuphead (2017)
  • 7) Darkest Dungeon (2016)
  • 6) Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne (2003)
  • 5) Celeste (2018)
  • 4) Dark Souls 1, 2, 3 (2010-2016)
  • 3) Bloodborne (2015)
  • 2) Elden Ring (2022)
  • 1) Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)
7 Jun 2022

Which game has hardest difficulty? ›

10 Most Ludicrous Difficulty Settings In Video Games, Ranked
  • 10/10 1999 Mode - Bioshock Infinite.
  • 9/10 Survival Mode - Fallout 4.
  • 8/10 Champion's Mode - Punch-Out Wii.
  • 7/10 Very Hard - F-Zero GX.
  • 6/10 Master Ninja - Ninja Gaiden 2.
  • 5/10 European Extreme - Metal Gear Solid 3.
  • 4/10 AKUMU - The Evil Within.
23 Mar 2022

What game has the best story? ›

Many of the picks below also include a memorable cast that bring the story to life, with some of the best game companions around.
So get ready as we take you through the best game stories we've seen over the years.
  1. Silent Hill 2.
  2. Her Story. ...
  3. BioShock. ...
  4. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. ...
  5. What Remains of Edith Finch. ...
  6. The Last of Us. ...
2 Nov 2022

What is the shortest game? ›

The shortest game to beat is actually clue. The speedrun is less than a second, and can be found here: The speedrun is pure luck, as you immediately accuse the first person with the first options. If you are correct, you have beat the game in under one-tenth of a second.

What games lasted 1680 hours? ›

I read the longest monopoly game ever played was 1680 hours, 70 days. The longest monopoly game in a bathtub was 99 hours long.

What is the most downloaded game? ›

Garena Free Fire from Garena was the most downloaded mobile game worldwide for February 2022 with 21.8 million installs, which represented a 22.7 percent increase from February 2021.

What game is played the most? ›

Grand Theft Auto V140 millionRockstar Games
Apex Legends130 millionElectronic Arts
The Legend of Mir 3120 million registered accountsWeMade Entertainment
League of Legends111 million peak monthly playersRiot Games
69 more rows

What is the current most played game? ›

The 10 Most Popular Games Right Now
  • Minecraft.
  • Fortnite.
  • Fall Guys.
  • League of Legends.
  • PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.
  • CrossFire.
  • Roblox.
  • Lost Ark.
9 Aug 2022

What is the number 1 most downloaded game? ›

Globally we've collectively downloaded more than 70 billion mobile apps so far in 2022 and more than half of them are games.
Android: top 50 games of 2022 so far.
RankGameCombined score for downloads & revenue
2Candy Crush Saga143
3Coin Master130
46 more rows
30 Jul 2022

What is the rarest board game? ›

The 10 Rarest Board Games, Ranked
  • 5/10 Hounds And Jackals Is Remarkably Ornate For An Ancient Game.
  • 4/10 The Royal Game Of Ur Is The World's Oldest Board Game.
  • 3/10 The Lewis Chessmen Are A Viking-Age Artifact.
  • 2/10 Monopoly Has Humble Origins.
  • 1/10 Patolli Honored The Aztec God Of Games.
13 Jun 2022

What is the most used board game? ›

Chess was first played around the sixth century A.D. and is to this day the top-selling board game of all time.

What is the longest open world game? ›

The Longest Open-World Video Games, Ranked By How Many Hours They'll Steal
  • Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age (56 to 122 hours)
  • The Long Dark (20 to 171 hours)
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 (49 to 173 hours)
21 Jan 2022

What game took longest to make? ›

Pey'j turner. The long-awaited sequel to Beyond Good & Evil has overtaken Duke Nukem Forever as the game with the longest-ever development period.

What game has the largest skill tree? ›

Path of Exile almost made both the good and bad list. To be clear, Path of Exile is an excellent game, and it has possibly the largest skill tree in all video games. You can do literally anything and play any way you want. But that is also one of the problems with the skill tree.

What is the longest game series? ›

The Oregon Trail

What is the #1 game of 2022? ›

Top 10 Selling Video Games (Retail and Digital), Year-to-Date 2022
RankRank Last MonthTitle
11Elden Ring
22LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
35Madden NFL 23
43Pokemon Legends: Arceus*
6 more rows

What is the top 10 most played games in 2022? ›

  • GTA 5 music. The NPD Group recently shared the ten most played games of 2022 in North America (so far) courtesy of its PlayerPulse survey. Prepare for some golden oldies and other surprises... ...
  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Among Us. ...
  • Call of Duty: Warzone. NBA 2K22. ...
  • Fortnite. Madden NFL 22.

What games raise your IQ? ›

  • Sudoku. Sudoku is a number placement game that relies on short-term memory. ...
  • Lumosity. Lumosity is one of the most established brain training and mental fitness programs. ...
  • Crosswords. ...
  • Elevate. ...
  • Peak. ...
  • Happy Neuron. ...
  • Braingle. ...
  • Queendom.
24 Sept 2022

What games make your IQ higher? ›

15 Video Games That Make You Smarter
  • Lumosity.
  • Eidetic.
  • ReliefLink.
  • Brain Fitness Pro.
  • CogniFit Brain Fitness.
  • Brain it On!
  • Chain Reaction.
  • 2048.
20 Oct 2022

What type of games increase IQ? ›

Sudoku is one game, like crossword puzzles and riddles, that increase neuroplasticity and make your smarter. With increased neuroplasticity, you are better able to view something from multiple angles and anticipate and understand new patterns.

Who is the 01 in Squid Game? ›

Not only is Il-nam player 001 and the first "player" in the Squid Game, but he's also the creator of the game. He's the top ranked person among the guards, the Front Man, and the VIPs. He is The Host, the number one man in every way.

What is the second most popular board game in the world? ›

The second most popular game in the world, Catan, is a game you can't just play once.

What is a complex board game? ›

Most difficult board games

Eldritch Horror. Dead of Winter. Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. Ghost Stories. Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island.

What is the most unrealistic game in the world? ›

Blood Bowl 2. At number one, we've got one of the most amazingly unrealistic sports games ever created.

What is the most strategic board game ever? ›

Chess is one of the best strategy board games to play. The object of the game is to checkmate the other player, meaning their king piece cannot avoid being attacked. Each piece on the board can only move certain ways, so you have to think a couple of moves ahead in order to form the best winning strategy.

What would a AAAA game be? ›

In the video game industry, AAA (pronounced and sometimes written triple-A) is an informal classification used to categorise games produced and distributed by a mid-sized or major publisher, which typically have higher development and marketing budgets than other tiers of games.

What is the longest board game ever played? ›

Description. The Campaign for North Africa has been called the longest board game ever produced, with estimates that a full game would take 1,500 hours to complete.

What is the Boringest game in the world? ›

It's also a famously boring video game, called "Desert Bus." It was initially developed by the magicians Penn and Teller to make a point about what videogames do to us as a medium. Simon Parkin tells us about it. I first heard about the video game as "Desert Bus" on the Internet.

What is considered the scariest game ever? ›

1. Outlast. Outlast is honestly so terrifying, it makes Amnesia: The Dark Descent look like a sun-soaked vacation. Players control a journalist who sneaks into a remote psychiatric hospital to investigate reports of horrific events.

What game has the biggest open world ever? ›

Taking the top spot on our list and earning the title of the biggest open-world map in video game history, is The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall. With a whopping 62,000 square miles, this map is gigantic, and pretty much impossible to navigate without an actual map. What is this?


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