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Next Steps in Board Gaming

Once you’ve gotten a few of the most popular board games under your belt, there’re still whole worlds yet to discover!

Here are ten board games that the Board Game Guru thinks will provide you with plenty of good times at a slightly higher level of complexity than our “New to Board Games” recommendations. Ramp up your strategic skill level with these next steps.

1. 7 Wonders

7 Wonders provides as much strategic pleasure of much more complex civilisation-building games like Sid Meier’s Civilization, only without some of the drawbacks (like having to wait for your turn). It plays in about 20 minutes, and once you’ve mastered the fairly simple iconography, you’ll be building the Colossus and the Pyramids in no time at all! Plays well with any number of players from 3 to 7. Remarkably smooth and easy-to-learn.

2. Stone Age

An entry into the world of worker placement. Use your tribe’s members to gather resources, spending them on improving the fortunes of your stone age family. Gorgeous artwork; plays inside 60 minutes.

3. Fresco

A top-notch production. Like Stone Age, Fresco is a worker placement game, only here the theme is particularly unusual. Players are Renaissance artists whose aim is to complete the ceiling of their local cathedral in the most vibrant colours possible.

4. Airlines Europe

Airlines Europe is similar to the popular favourite Ticket to Ride in some ways, but a huge upgrade in others. It has the familiar route-building mechanics using cards, but it adds a stock game that has players buying routes to inflate the growth of each airline. Watch out, though – your opponents can sometimes sneak up behind you and take control of your company if you’re not careful...

5. Commands & Colors

If you liked Memoir '44 or think of yourself as a history buff, the Commands & Colors line of games from the high-end publisher GMT is essential. There are now two eras of warfare to play with, Ancient and Napoleonic. Reenact famous battles of Scipio and Hannibal, Napoleon and Wellington, Alexander the Great and, well, everybody... all with a smooth and relatively easy system of card play and dice rolling.

6. Pandemic

A classic of the burgeoning cooperative games genre, Pandemic has you curing diseases before they spread to neighbouring countries. The difficulty scales from fairly easy to maniacally tough, depending on preference – a great advantage that keeps Pandemic replayable. Plus, it’s great for any number of players from two to four.

7. Carcassonne: The City

An elaboration on a favourite tile-laying game, only this time you’re just building the city. But don’t be fooled, Carc: The City is tougher. Players have to position guards all along the city walls, and the better their guards’ vantage points, the more points they’ll get.

8. Lords of Vegas

The American company Mayfair makes some mighty fine games, and this is one of their recent masterpieces. With a whole lot of money that’s ready to burn, you buy casinos and strategically place them where they’ll earn the most money. You can even gamble away some of your profits in hopes of scoring enough cash to build the kind of massive casino that only a legend could put together...

9. Small World

Small World is a fiendishly nasty game that works well for any number of players from two to five. Players are in control of successive fantasy civilisations, controlling them as they’re born, flourish, and picking carefully when they die off... Each civilisation has two special advantages, and the many combinations of these abilities makes Small World endlessly replayable. There's lots of player interaction, and to win you'll have to spend quite a bit of time picking on your opponents, but the lighthearted theme keeps even younger players from taking their losses too seriously.

10. Neuroshima Hex

A tactical sci-fi game of tile laying and battle. Neuroshima Hex is a game of logic and timing in which each one of several factions has special powers that help them defeat their foes. The hard part is figuring out how to use each of your pieces to the best of their abilities. Don’t let the science fiction trappings fool you - this masterful Polish game has more in common with chess than Star Wars!

Once a few of these have hit the table, you'll be ready for just about anything.

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