We all grew up playing Monopoly, Risk, Sorry, Scrabble, and other traditional board games. And while these games were fun as a kid, they all have mechanics that have been greatly improved upon since they were published. Modern games tend to have tighter rules, better reward skill, and usually seek to prevent any players from being removed from the game before it is complete. The following are the best modern games that are thematically similar to traditional board games.
Small World (Risk) – The traditional area control / war game model involved a lot of randomness and a high probability of player removal before the game was over. Small World removes both possibilities. You know exactly how many troops you need to conquer a region and players remain in the game until the end no matter how poorly they are doing. The game has features not seen in Risk like round-by-round scoring and switching to a new army when you tire of an old. It has a similar feel to Risk with significantly less frustration.
Last Will (Sorry) – Sorry is essentially a race game that occasionally allows you to interfere with your opponents. The game was incredibly luck dependent and skill had almost no part in determining the winner. Last Will has a very different design, but the concept of racing to be the first one to complete a goal is essentially identical. In Last Will you are racing to be the first to go completely broke. There is an almost identical feel in pacing between the two games where you commonly start by sprinting towards your goal and then need to take baby steps near the end. If you enjoy that feeling of Sorry, but would like less randomness, this game should fuel your desires.
Suburbia (Monopoly) – The goal in Monopoly is to earn the most money from buying properties while your opponent’s fall in to the poor house. Suburbia is similar, though you aren’t trying to bankrupt your opponents. You are simply seeking to make money through wise real estate decisions. Unlike Monopoly, which was dominated by random chance, you get to make strategic purchasing decisions in Suburbia. In an oddly similar feature, you can increase your earnings significantly if you buy buildings with synergistic features, just like Boardwalk and Park Place were worth more combined than individually. This is one of the best games if you enjoy strategic real estate games.
7 Wonders (Uno) – These games are very different, but they share an element that is a key feature to both games. Your play in both games is highly dictated by the decisions of the players directly to the right and left of you. In Uno this happens because play order can move clockwise or counterclockwise and you can only play cards that match either the color or number of the one previously played. In 7 Wonders, the player directly in front of you can draft a card you wanted and you can do the same to the player behind you. Additionally, you can borrow resources from your neighbors and have to pay attention to the decisions of your neighbors in regards to points you earn from wars. Everyone is essentially playing a three player game with their nearest neighbors, which has a domino effect on the whole game, in a fashion very similar to Uno. Another nice similarity is that both games are very quick to play.
Confusion (Chess) – In an odd way, the biggest flaw with Chess is that the game has no randomness at all. The game is far from solved, but it has been analyzed thoroughly enough that games often play out nearly identically. Confusion completely changes that by adding two significant random elements. First, you randomly place your pieces on the board. Second, you don’t know how your pieces can move. You only know how your opponent’s pieces can move. You then proceed to try to deductively determine what you pieces are and move them in a way to acquire an objective and bring it back to your side of the board. The game has all of the careful maneuvering of Chess combined with hidden information. It is definitely a great two player strategic game once you tire of more traditional choices.