What Are The Most Difficult Board Games?

Sometimes, all you need is a few simple and straightforward table games that do not require any brain power at all, like Ludo or Snakes and Ladders. But equally, there are times when you need something to stimulate your brain. Throughout the years, decades, and even longer, board games have undergone something of an evolution. Hundreds of years ago, our choices were limited to just stick games. Fortunately, we now have more evolved games available to play that test both our skill and wit. So if you’re looking for something that offers advanced gameplay and strategy, here are the three most difficult board games available today.


This might contradict the idea of the oldest board games being more simple than challenging, but Go is both the oldest and most difficult board game in the world. Go was first played over 5,500 years ago in China. While the rules are simple enough, it takes player years to master, due to the unlimited number of possible moves.

The two-player game sees one player with black stones and the other with white. Each player is tasked with the goal of capturing the greatest amount of territory on the board. The board is empty at first, with each player assigned an unlimited number of stones. Players take turns placing stones on the board at specific intersections. Each attempts to surround as much space with their own stones as possible, while preventing the other player from gaining territory on the board. If one player surrounds the territory with stones that belong to their opponent, they are captured. The game is considered to be over when the winning player is convinced he’s unable to make any further moves to gain territory. At that point, each player counts the number of empty spaces remaining in their captured territory, along with the number of captured stones, to determine the score.


Released in 1959, Diplomacy is relatively new compared to Go. The board game features a map from 1914 that depicts a number of regions of the world from this time. There are no dice in this game, which instead asks players to rely on their negotiation skills. The aim is to work with some countries while working against others. The countries featured in the game include England, France, Italy, Austro-Hungary, and Russia, all superpowers at the time. Between two and seven players can play at any one time, with each vying to conquer and occupy cities vital to the countries they’re in. At the start of the game, each country features one navy and two armies, except Britain with its two fleets and a single army, and Russia with its two navies and two armies.


If you’re the kind of person who finds Chess too straightforward, Shogi could be for you. Believed to have been established around 500 years ago in India, Shogi later made its way to Japan, where it enjoyed huge popularity. Just like Chess, Shogi is a strategy game between two players that uses a checkerboard. One difference, however, is that it’s played on an 81 x 81 grid, as opposed to a 64 x 64 grid. Each piece moves in its own unique way. Many aren’t dissimilar to Chess, although players aren’t allowed to move most of them backwards. Once a player has moved a piece into their opponent’s territory or to the end of the board, that piece is promoted, similar to when a piece is “kinged” in checkers. Once a piece has been promoted, a player can move it in even more ways.

A player can continue to use a captured piece. Rather than the piece being removed from the board, which is the case in Chess, the player who captured it can “drop” and replay it. Since pieces in Shogi are recycled, the game rarely results in a draw resulting from a lack of pieces. The aim of Shogi is the same as in Chess: to capture your opponent’s king.

Honourable Mention: Chess

Like Go, Chess was first played thousands of years ago. It isn’t exactly clear how it originated, but the game pieces have appeared throughout Europe since the 7th century.

And like Shogi, the aim of the game is to capture your opponent’s king. How many pieces remain on the board at the end of the game is irrelevant. What makes this game so difficult to get to grips with is that each piece makes its way around the board in a unique way. Along with staying on top of all the various movements, the game also requires players to apply strategy in order to get past their opponent’s defences. With all that in mind, there’s a lot to think about with this one.