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The modern board game scene has absolutely exploded over the past decade, and there are more great board games available than ever. So many, in fact, that it can be difficult to decide what to play next.

These seven board games from the latter half of 2016 should be high on your list of titles to play!

1. Terraforming Mars [UK/CA]

terraforming mars board game

This game was such a smash hit that it can be difficult to find (though a second printing is almost certainly assured). If you can get your hands on a copy, though, you absolutely should. It’s a game of card drafting, resource management, engine-building, and occasional conflict. Players take control of corporations intent on terraforming the red planet and making as much money out of it as they can.

You’ll crash asteroids into the atmosphere, raise livestock, set up companies and conglomerates, and engage in some under-handed activities to ensure that your company is the richest at the end of the game. The rules aren’t especially complex, and the game provides a great amount of strategy and fun. And with the average playtime sitting at about two hours, it doesn’t take all day to play.

(If you want to be one of Elon Musk’s Mars colonists, you could use the practice.)

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Terraforming Mars Board Game Terraforming Mars Board Game Compete for different Milestones and Awards worth many VPs Buy Now At Amazon $48.68

2. Star Wars: Rebellion [UK/CA]

star wars rebellion board game

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a good Star Wars board game that wasn’t part of a series (and, therefore, very expensive to get into). Rebellion perfectly channels the conflict of the space opera by pitting a powerful Imperial player against a smaller, agile Rebel crew. The Empire wins if they can find the Rebel base, while the Rebellion secures victory by surviving long enough and swaying the galaxy’s opinion in their favor.

With over 150 detailed miniatures, two game boards (featuring 32 of Star Wars‘ most recognizable planets), a wide variety of missions, and a host of familiar faces, Rebellion is a perfect addition to any Star Wars fan’s collection. It’s rather expensive, and takes in the three-to-four-hour range to play, but it’s a phenomenally good game, and worth the time and money it requires.

Star Wars: Rebellion Board Game Star Wars: Rebellion Board Game A board game of epic conflict between the Galactic Empire and Rebel Alliance for 2 - 4 players " Buy Now At Amazon $93.55

3. First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express

first class board game

If you’re not into sprawling, conflict-driven games, give First Class a try. Each player is in charge of building up two Orient-Express-era trains. By drafting cards, players lengthen and upgrade their trains and send them along their routes. By having the biggest, most luxurious train, and the most passengers, you’ll accrue the most victory points and win the game.

The game comes with five different modules, and every game uses a set of base cards and two of those modules. This gives First Class a huge amount of variety and replayability. After a few plays, you’ll start to see the potential for creating chains of actions that rapidly accrue points, and this is where the game really shines.

First Class Board Game (4 Players) First Class Board Game (4 Players) An exciting game of building railroad lines for two to four players Buy Now At Amazon $50.99

4. Scythe [UK/CA]

scythe board game

This is one of my personal favorites and definitely a standout from late 2016. It looks like a 4X game Get Your Dose of Strategy with 8 Great 4X Games for iOS Get Your Dose of Strategy with 8 Great 4X Games for iOS Most of 4X strategy games are limited to powerful gaming PCs, but several great strategic games are available to play on your iPhone or iPad. So grab a couple of them and have fun! Read More , and you might expect it to be full of combat and tension, but you’ll be surprised to find that it plays more like a calmer Eurogame. Set in an alternate 1920s Europe, the game sees players trying to develop the strongest faction after the first World War.

To win, you’ll need to harvest and manage resources, research upgrades, recruit new workers, build massive mechs, and make your way to the Factory, where you’ll find powerful new technologies. And while combat does figure into the game, the specter of it is more important than the actual battles themselves, which tend to be few. Combine this gameplay with breathtaking art from Jakub Rozalski, and you have a winner.

(You can also play this on Tabletopia, one of the best places to play board games online The 5 Best Sites to Play Free Board Games Online The 5 Best Sites to Play Free Board Games Online Love to play board games? Want to play them in the digital space? These five online board gaming sites will help you get started, and they won't cost you a dime. Read More .)

Scythe Board Game Scythe Board Game For 1-5 players Buy Now At Amazon $57.99

5. Great Western Trail [CA]

great western trail board game

Journeying from an alternate 1920s Europe to the 1800s American West, we come to Great Western Trail. You’re a rancher, moving your herd from Texas to Kansas City to ship them off. By managing your herd, taking advantage of stops along the trail, hiring staff, and working to develop the railroad, you’ll become the most successful rancher on the plains.

This is a highly strategic game, and will definitely appeal to people who like to do a lot of thinking when they play. You’ll need to manage a number of different resources while optimizing your plays to ensure you’re getting as much out of each turn as possible. Your brain might hurt after you play, but you’ll be glad you did.

Great Western Trail Board Game Great Western Trail Board Game 2 to 4 players ages 12+ Buy Now At Amazon $49.97

6. Mansions of Madness (Second Edition) [UK/CA]

mansions of madness 2e board game

Lovecraftian games are a dime a dozen, but Mansions is a perennial favorite. Players take control of investigators trying to solve paranormal mysteries while keeping a hold on their fragile sanity. Collect weapons and tools, solve puzzles, and fight off terrible monsters to save the day. This is a co-operative game in which players must work together to find success.

The first edition of Mansions of Madness required that one person play the keeper, who controlled the monsters and other eldritch horrors of the game. The new edition, however, relegates this role to an app, allowing all players to take part in the mystery-solving fun.

Mansions of Madness Board Game, 2nd Edition Mansions of Madness Board Game, 2nd Edition A fully cooperative Lovecraftian board game for one to five players Buy Now At Amazon $104.91

7. Robo Rally [UK]

robo rally board game

While Robo Rally first came out in 1994, it’s been released with some new features, and the latest version is absolutely worth picking up. Robo Rally sees players trying to race their robots through courses full of treacherous obstacles and traps. The catch is that everyone chooses their moves in advance, and these are not the intelligent robots you’ve been warned about Here's Why Scientists Think You Should be Worried about Artificial Intelligence Here's Why Scientists Think You Should be Worried about Artificial Intelligence Do you think artificial intelligence is dangerous? Does AI may pose a serious risk to the human race. These are some reasons why you may want to be concerned. Read More . If conditions change, your robot will still be carrying out its program, meaning it may be gleefully rolling itself into a pit or through a laser barrage before you can stop it.

The result is a fun, hilarious race that anyone can win. The new version of the game has simplified some of the clunkier rules of the original, making it easier to learn and play. And with a recommended age of 12 and up, everyone in the family can enjoy this chaotic romp.

Richard Garfield's Robo Rally Avalon Hill Game Richard Garfield's Robo Rally Avalon Hill Game The board game is a strategic race of survival and sabotage Buy Now At Amazon $23.81

Which Board Games Are You Playing?

Board games are more popular than ever, and new ones hit the shelves all the time. With so many great options, it can be difficult to figure out what to play next. But these seven games will definitely not let you down. So grab one of them, get a group together, and start playing!

What are your favorite new board games? What have you been playing lately? And what are you looking forward to this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Image Credits:abstrkt.ch by Game via Flickr

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  1. Robin
    January 14, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    7 Sins - The Others is the game I've been playing lately. It is a blend of SciFi, Horror and Fantasy in which one plays a Sin trying to corrupt the world, and the other 1 - 4 players use a group of partly supernatural heroes to stop it. The choice of Sin, heroes, story and some other variable elements make each game different.

    Then, Dead of Winter along with its expansion The Long Night, a zombie survival game with many personal elements and difficult decisions, not just zombie killing.

    • Dann Albright
      January 15, 2017 at 3:57 pm

      I've heard of 7 Sins, and it sounds awesome! I'm a big fan of sci-fi/fantasy/horror, so I think I'd like it a lot. The minis look great, too. I haven't had a chance to play it, but I'll definitely have to find a way to check it out.

      I played Dead of Winter for the first time not too long ago, and I thought it was good. Not great, but good. I didn't feel like I was very immersed in the story. But the traitor won that game, which was pretty cool. :-) I'll have to play it again. I think knowing what I'm getting into would definitely help. And The Long Night is supposed to be pretty good, too, so maybe I'll find a way to try that one as well.

      Thanks for sharing your favorites!