𝟭𝟳 𝗧𝘆𝗽𝗲𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗕𝗼𝗮𝗿𝗱 𝗚𝗮𝗺𝗲𝘀 𝗘𝘅𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗲𝗱!


So you’ve picked up board-gaming as a new hobby.

 Welcome, and we sincerely apologise to your bank account.

There’s a myriad of board games out there to suit every want, need and style, and as you progress in your never-ending search for the best of them all, you’ll start to notice the same descriptors come up; Abstract, Worker-Placement, Deck-Building, etc.

It can be a bit of a minefield to navigate what each term means and how to work out which games are classified under each category, so we have compiled a list of the most common categories to help debunk the mystery!


1) Abstract

Examples: Azul, Santorini, Hive, Chess

Games that lack a thematic element and rely solely on the decisions that players make. Abstract games can incorporate themes; however, they don’t impact game-play itself so it’s as if they may as well not be there.

2) Area Control

Examples: Risk, Dominant Species, Twilight Struggle, Small World

As the name suggests, these games consist of controlling an area of a collective payer board often through players adding their own pieces or removing the pieces of other’s.

3) Campaign

Example: LOTR: Journeys in Middle Earth, Scythe, Near and Far, Arkham Horror

Mini-games – scenarios – contained within a larger game or world, where the outcome of each scenario affects elements of the next. These games rely heavily on storytelling and are designed to be played long-term, i.e. over weeks, months or even years depending on the enthusiasm of the players.

Campaign games are often tied to and used interchangeably with Legacy Games and largely focus on a storytelling/journey element.

4) Cooperative/Co-Op

Examples: Pandemic, Spirit Island, MysteriumHanabi

Again, as the name suggests, this includes games where players work together against the game to achieve a common goal and win as a team.

5) Deck-Builder

Examples: Star Realms, Dominion, UndauntedPaperback

Games that consist of, or incorporate cards in which the objective is to purchase and/or exchange for cards with better abilities so you have a higher chance of drawing those cards during play. You are effectively “building your hand” of cards.

6) Drafting

Examples: 7-Wonders, Sushi Go!, Blood Rage, Bunny Kingdom

Games that present players with options to pick, with the remaining options being left for other players to then pick, in turn order. Selections are often made from shared pools or by passing options between players.

7) Dungeon-Crawler

Examples: Mansions of Madness, Mice and Mystics, Star Wars: Imperial Assault, Descent

Games where players assume a character that moves through a location defeating enemies controlled by other players or the game itself.

8) Engine-Builder

Examples: Century, Wingspan, Imagnarium, Terraforming Mars

Games that require you to build an “engine” over a set number of rounds, often equating to more victory points gathered as play moves along. By engine, we mean setting up your own system whereby you convert your starting actions or resources to more or better actions or resources throughout the game.

9) Eurogame

Examples: Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, Catan, Suburbia

Named for the fact that this style of game originated in Europe (Germany to be exact), Euro games are those that are strategy-focussed, competitive and involve player interaction through passive means as opposed to directed and aggressive conflict. Play depends less on luck and more on skill and often features elements of Worker-Placement and Resource Management.

10) Legacy

Examples: Gloomhaven, Pandemic Legacy, Charterstone, Betrayal Legacy

Akin to Campaign games where players play through a set of stories to complete a journey within the game’s world, Legacy games differ where they require players to inflict irrevocable permanent changes to the game as play progresses, based on the decisions made along the way. These changes are often physical, meaning that these mini-games along the way aren’t able to be played more than once.

11) Push-Your-Luck

Examples: The Quacks of Quedlinburg, King of Tokyo, Formula D, Welcome to the Dungeon

Games that encourage you to take big risks to reap better rewards but that come with a caveat of losing basic advantages if your attempts are unsuccessful.

12) Roll-And-Move

Examples: Monopoly, Snakes and Ladders, Clue, Cranium

Games where you roll dice and move as many spaces, triggering actions or decisions that need to be made based on where you land.

13) Roll-And-Write

Examples: Welcome To…, Corinth, Harvest Dice, Qwixx

Games where your roll dice and choose your outcome based on the roll. This is then written in a personal scoring sheet to keep track of during the game. Decisions made at the beginning of the game affect the options at the end, so roll and choose wisely!

14) Resource Management

Examples: Everdell, Imperial Settlers, Concordia, Scythe

Games that give players a limited amount of resources and require them to plan out – or strategise – how they will spend those resources through to game end.

15) RPG – Role-Playing Game

Examples: Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Arcadia Quest, Gloomhaven

Games that often require one player to take on a storyteller role and dictate the terms of the world set around the other players. Other players must now assume other character roles within this world and make decisions to navigate it based on the terms developed.

16) War Game

Examples: Axis and Allies, Twilight Imperium, WarhammerInis

Games that pit players against each other through armies (often represented by a variety of miniatures) to the death, by encouraging large-scale combat determined via dice rolls or deck building.

17) Worker-Placement

Examples: Tokaido, Caverna, Agricola, Stone Age

Games that require players to choose actions or gather resources labelled on the game board by placing their workers on those spots. This allows these workers to complete tasks or build items that will help players simultaneously achieve certain goals to win.


Of course, there are many other categories out there and oftentimes, games can be classified in more than one category!

Did we miss any important categories? What’s your favourite tabletop game style?

Let us know in the comments!

Reviews (1 comment)

  • Luke On

    Great article. Most of these genres I have at least one of in my collecrion.

    Twilight Imperium is not a war game. It is a 4x game. Grand strategy and diplomacy are the ways to win. Oftentimes, the people who participate in the most combats don’t win.

    Scythe is an interesting one as it spans so many genres. It could have also been included in engine builder.

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