Games Like Chess That Will Put Your Mind to The Test

Here’s the good news: you love chess. The bad news: you want to try other games like chess. Luckily, there are variations of the well-loved battle of the mind two-player game. Some are traditional games, while others have interesting play pieces (think insects as chess pieces!) and twists.

What are these games? You can find a list of 22 games like chess below. We’ve also included the mechanics and objective of the game so you can get a head start and determine if it’s right for you! And don’t worry. There are also abstract games for beginners!

1. Azul

Azul Board Game | Strategy Board Game | Mosaic Tile Placement Game | Family Board Game for Adults and Kids | Ages 8 and up | 2 to 4 Players | Average Playtime 30-45 Minutes | Made by Next Move Games

Azul is a strategy game with a simple objective – put the mosaic tiles on the board to score. Here’s the catch, though. Some tiles score more points than others, and you must plan your move to give you the most points. Whoever gets the most points at the end is the winner.

2. Blokus Duo

Blokus Duo: It's the intensity of Blokus for two players only!

Blokus Duo allows two players to start with 21 game pieces. Each player takes turns placing down a black or white tile. However, each tile must touch another tile of its tile and by one of its corners. When no more pieces can go on the board, the person with fewer tiles is the winner.

3. Dvonn

Rio Grande Games Dvonn

Dvonn, the 2003 Games Magazine Game of the Year winner, is one of the popular games similar to chess on the market today. So, what is its objective? Well, two players each take turns placing down hexagonal pieces on the Dvonn board.

There are 46 hexagons, and each player will get 23 hexagons. First, you put the red Dvonn-pieces on the board and then the other hexagonal pieces. Then, the pieces stack on one another as players make their moves. How’s the stack work?

If there are two in a stack, it can move two spaces. When there are three, you can move three spaces, and so on until there are no more possible moves. If the stacks are no longer connected to the Dvonn pieces, they get removed from the game.

The person with the highest amount of pieces stacked up at the end is the winner.

4. Rock Me Archimedes

Rock Me Archimedes, Balancing Strategy Puzzle Marbles Family Board Game Retro STEM Learning Educational Toy, for Adults and Kids Ages 8 and up

Rock Me Archimedes is a marble balancing game. It is also a Math STEM toy for children eight years old and above. The principle of the game is the balancing lever that Greek mathematician Archimedes studied.

This game is for two players. One player controls black marbles as the other player controls white marbles. Whoever gets 4 of their marbles on the opponent’s side of the board is the winner.

5. Shogi

Yellow Mountain Imports Wooden Shogi Japanese Chess Game Traditional Koma Playing Pieces Set

Shogi which means “game of the generals” originated from Japanese culture. One player tosses the furigoma to decide who goes first using five pawns.

As each of the two opponents takes turns, the game’s objective is to checkmate your opponent like in a game of chess. The person who has checked the other person’s king does not have to say that it’s in check. This makes it more challenging than chess.

Fun fact: This Japanese chess is derived from Xiangqi or Chinese chess. It surfaced during the rule of Nara (710-794) when the imperial ambassador delivered it to the nation.

6. Xiangqi

Yellow Mountain Imports Chinese Chess (Xiangqi) Magnetic Travel Board Game Set (12.8-Inch) with Jade-Colored Playing Pieces

Xiangqi is a Chinese chess invented by military commander Han Xin in 200 B.C. While the game referenced capturing that commander in a notable Chinese battle, the meaning fell off and was replaced with “Xian Qi,” which means “elephant game.”

Each of the two players in Chinese chess takes turns moving one of their tiles to a spot. An opponent’s pieces can be captured if you land your piece in an area where your opponent’s piece lies. The General piece may only move vertically or horizontally and not diagonally. Whoever “captures” the general is the winner.

7. Arimaa

Z-Man Games Arimaa

Arimaa allows two game players to battle it out with strong animal pieces such as elephants and camels. There are also rabbits on either side of the board. When a rabbit reaches an opponent’s end of the board, that person is the winner.

8. Hive

Hive- A Game Crawling With Possibilities

The object of Hive is to protect the Queen Bee. Each opponent controls five insects with a different way of navigating the game board. Whoever captures the Queen first is the winner.

9. Hnefatafl

Hnefatafl Viking Chess Set - Authentic, Traditional Two-Player Strategy Board Game Classic - Historic European Tabletop Asymmetric War Game

Hnefatafl is a two-player Viking-themed strategy game where each player takes turns attacking or defending the king.

10. Santorini

Santorini, Strategy Family Board Game 2-4 Players Classic Fun Building Greek Mythology Card Game, for Kids & Adults Ages 8 and up

Whether you want to play Santorini one-on-one or in two teams of two people, you will have to strategize while taking turns to build the tallest tower. Each team is allotted building pieces and God cards to move throughout the board and set up a 3-story building. If a player is having a rough time achieving their strategy, a God card can be used to throw in a curveball to make the game go your way.

12. Patchwork

Patchwork Board Game | Strategy Game | Puzzle Game | Family Board Game | Two Player Game for Kids and Adults | Ages 8 and up | 2 Players | Average Playtime 30 Minutes | Made by Lookout Games , Brown

Patchwork allows two-four players to compete and make the most unique and highest-scoring patchwork quilt. Every player begins with five buttons – the points system for the game. Then, you take turns putting down a quilt piece. Of course, you must utilize the buttons to connect the pieces into a patchwork quilt.

13. Courtyard

Courtyard a Medieval Game of Challenge

Courtyard is one of the games similar to chess in that you play with serfs, kings, and guards instead of classic and regular chess pieces like pawns, knights, and rooks. Once a player captures the other serfs and guards while controlling their king, they are declared the winner.

14. Checkers

Pressman Checkers -- Classic Game With Folding Board and Interlocking Checkers

Checkers is a more straightforward form of chess where two opponents play either as black checker pieces or red. Unlike chess, each piece can move only diagonally. If one piece jumps over the opposing color, that opponent can remove the piece from the game. The person who gets all the opponent’s pieces first is the winner.

15. Element

Rather Dashing Element Silver

Each player starts with an element of their choice: fire, earth, water, or wind. You can also choose from wood, metal, and lightning if you have the silver expansion. Every element has a unique way of navigating the game board and understanding how your element works will be the key to overcoming your opponents and claiming victory.

16. Indigo

Indigo from Ravensburger is one of the best games like chess

Indigo is a tile game that consists of 3 paths called Linie 1, Tsuro, and Metro. Each player takes turns placing down a tile in one of the paths, and one player cannot own a specific path. Strategic tile placement will help players collect gems with a points system for each color. The person with the most gem points is the winner.

17. War Chest

War Chest - Strategy Board Game, Chess Like Challenge, Abstract, Easy to Learn, 2 to 4 Players, 30 Minute Play Time, for Ages 14 and Up, Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG)

Two to four players aged 14 and older can engage in a game of War Chest. Each player is tasked with creating an army, managing those already on the battlefield, and readying the warriors in the process of being drafted.

18. Onitama

Onitama Board Game

Each player acts as a Master that acts as the leader of a group of monks. You can win in two ways – when the opponent captures the Master or if one Master makes it to the Temple of the Arch.

19. Photosynthesis

Blue Orange Games Photosynthesis Board Game - Award Winning Family or Adult Strategy Board Game for 2 to 4 Players. Recommended for Ages 8 & Up.

Play a strategy game that also teaches you about trees’ life cycles. You can earn points from the sun rays that hit your trees as they go through from a seedling to a full-grown tree.

20. Pentago

Pentago Game

Pentago is set up like a Mancala board, but it’s one of the games like chess in that you must try to get a row of your marbles 5 in a row. For every marble placed, one of the moveable squares is turned in another way that could throw off your game plan. Overcome the obstacles to get your five marbles in a row.

21. Tiles Chess

Tiles Chess

Tile Chess is one of the best games like chess, but it doesn’t have a game board right off the bat – you’ll be building the board as each player takes a turn! You cannot make moves to take away pieces like in traditional chess.

22. Backgammon

Crazy Games Backgammon Set - Classic Blue Large 18 Inch Backgammon Sets for Adults Board Game with Premium Leather Case - Best Strategy & Tip Guide (Blue, Large)

Backgammon allows two players to engage in a strategic game. Player 1’s checkers can only move counterclockwise, while Player 2’s can only move clockwise. Like checkers, whoever removes all the opponent’s checkers wins the game.

22. Nine Men’s Morris

Nine Men’s Morris was a game that Shakespeare mentioned in his play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Each player has their own set of colored pieces and must create rows of 3 to capture the other opponent’s piece. Hence, this game not only plays like chess but much like tic-tac-toe, too.

What’s Your Favorite Strategy Board Game Like Chess?

We hope that you have enjoyed our lineup of games like chess. Tell us your favorite strategy game that plays like chess, and let us know in the comments below!

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