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Popular Area Control Board Games (Mechanic)

These are the board games with the Area Control mechanic.
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Area Control (Weekly Challenge #5) Like| 10 comments | [+]
Favorite Area Control Games? [El Grande, Blood Rage, Root, Dominant Species]Like| 47 comments | [+]
Kickstarter Roundup: Starlight, Mint Control, and MIND MGMT image
CrowdfundingKickstarter Roundup: Starlight, Mint Control, and MIND MGMT [Mint Control - The Minty Fresh Area Control Game, Starlight, MIND MGMT: The Psychic Espionage "Game"]Like| 6 comments | [+]
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#6 Nimmt! is great at all player counts and the higher player count changes the strategy and increases the chaos.  Doesn't matter though since its such a quick/fun/silly game.

#Wits & Wagers Party Edition is great at all player counts and I've bought extra dry erase boards so I can go higher than the player count when taking it to family events.

#Gloomhaven is fun from Solo to all 4 players.  It does a great job of scaling. 

#For Sale is geat at all player counts.

#Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition#Welcome to... - All roll & writes work no matter the player count

#Azul - while the strategy changes depending on player counts...all are fun

In general the following things would be true:

  1. Co-ops in general work at all player counts since everyone is working together
  2. Area control games typically play better at the higher player counts then lower player counts.
  3. Games with simultanious action selection works well with games with higher player counts (5+) so that the down time between turns/actions is reduced. 
  4. Games that are silly/light also play better at higher player counts because there is less AP that can drag the game down.  If you are playing with 10 people in #6 Nimmt! there is very little planning you can do so  just pick a card and hope for the best. 

As I type this I am switching back and forth on my BGG ratings for comparison:

#Scythe - this didn't always get 10/10 but time has pushed it up the chart for me.  I used to only give a 10/10 if a game was perfect and I felt there was no design flaw.  I have since softened that approach.  Scythe is a great game.  Its sprawling area control style is not the type of game I would normally pursue and yet Stonemaier has woven together a phenomenally interconnected menagerie of mechanics with high-quality components. 

#Heaven & Ale - Great euro-style game that is well designed with thematic components and remains a top selection in my game collection.  It doesn't hurt that I enjoy brewing beer and so the theme sits well with me too.  This has scene quite a few game nights and has not failed to please each time.

#Gloomhaven - I don't want to say too much that has already been said of this game.  Childers nailed it with this one.  I am not the biggest fan of high fantasy as a theme (one reason I don't have #Pendulum ) but Isaac included what I would term as 'lore' to backbone the game and in the vein of Tolkien has created a masterpiece of story and game mechanics.  

#Wingspan - This is a game I don't want to give 10/10 as I generally feel R&D value is a little high.  That being said, the art, the flow of play, the theme, the boards and components, the expansions, and the number of times this gets played at my house makes it perfect for us.

#Clans of Caledonia - I didn't think I'd like this as much as I did until I played it.  I don't play a ton of economic management games but this is very well designed, has great historically connected Scottish clans, solid components, and well craft gameplay, and a surprisingly small footprint for a game with quite a bit going on.

#Viticulture: Essential Edition - is my last 10/10 game that I love to play, has great game flow, and the theme is engaging and fun throughout the game.  I enjoy the 5-6 player games most and try to get this to the table whenever I can.

Runner ups and possible future 10/10:

#Maracaibo - needs more play but already ranks at 9.75 and a 4 positive 4 player experience would push it to the top.  This is another game I thought would be fun but not this good.  

#Rococo: Deluxe Edition - again, need more plays and would like to see a 5 player game at the table.  My first impressions are quite good though and I love playing this game. 

I started on this and then realized that I can use so many categories that I could probably keep my entire collection for one reason or another. :)

So I narrowed it down to my top 10 favourite mechanics from the BGA mechanics list and games I own and would keep:

Action Selection: #Scythe

Area Control: #Forbidden Stars

Coop Play: #Spirit Island

Deck Building: #Clank! In! Space!

Dice Rolling: #Big Trouble in Little China: The Game - Deluxe Edition

Network and Route Building: #Brass: Birmingham

Rondel: #Teotihuacan: City of Gods

Tableau Building: #Terraforming Mars

Tile Placement: #Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King

Worker/Dice Placement: #Village



  • #Orléans: 4p - Very different feeling game to Altiplano even though they use similar mechanics. The area control aspect and the trade board really made the game feel tight and competitive, but the multiplicative scoring of the trading stations, citizens, and scholar's track felt like it was the main focus of the game.  It seemed pretty heavily weighted toward those mechanics above the others, and winning those areas gave the win pretty handily.  Very fun game overall, and the production quality is great.
  • #Altiplano: 2p - My wife and I really enjoy this one. We decided to extend the main game by a few rounds until all the extensions were gone, but we counted points both at the normal end of the game, and after our extended rounds.  She won the normal point scoring by 6 points.  Then we tied in the extended game, but she still won with 2 more coins, argh. The game is clearly designed well for its normal end game conditions as we were running out of chips for the extra rounds, so we may not play that way again, but it was a fun experiment. 
  • #Beyond the Sun: 2p - This game is just great all around.  I really enjoy games that have action spaces that vary and get created during the game.
  • #Wild Space: 1p - Simple way they solo'ized this game, keeping it really straightfoward, quick, and easy to play.  You control the solo opponent's action, which will never be great for you, but you can strategize their actions to minimize the damage to you.  Good small twist on it.

Oh wow another $200 giveaway!  I hope I get it this time for sure.

1. I think a perfect discover page would allow me to select some mechanics/play styles and have games come up that match them.  So for instance... if I select Area Control, Asymetry, and Combat #Root would come up...

2. Right now it's still #Root but... my copy of #Pax Pamir (Second Edition) is finally available to pick up so I'll be grabbing that later this week!

I guess for me it depends on how I look at it. One on hand, yes, I have a variety of games that I could play and enjoy for a long time. In that sense, I am comfortable. If I were to stop buying games for a long time, we wouldn't get bored.

On the other hand, there are, like you mentioned, areas or genres into which I would like to expand my collection. One of these is area control, as I've been discussing here lately. The games I'm considering in this category are #Inis, #Rising Sun, and #Battle for Rokugan. I doubt I will get all 3, but I may get 2 of them, as they all have different things going for them.

What got me more interested in these games was the realization that I don't love Euro-style engine building with little to no interaction. I like it and will not say no to a good game in that vein, and I indeed have a couple that I very much enjoy and will pull off the shelf willingly. So this kind of parallels your theme realization, and I think I'm there with you.

Let me immediately contradict myself to talk about the other category I'd like to fill. My favorite game to play with my wife is #Everdell. I know, it's pretty Euro, what with the worker placement and tableau building. It's definitely not dry, though. The theme is adorable and charming. Anyway, that's one of her favorite games as well. Aside from that, I don't think there are really any other games that we both put near the top of our favorites list. I'm happy whenever she'll play any game at all with me, and she'll often oblige my choice of game, but what I really want is to find a few more games that we both really love, and love to play with each other. I'm not so secretly hoping for this out of #Dale of Merchants. The theme and art are adorable, and it's customizable enough to hopefully be able to tailor our gameplay experience to what we're wanting that session.

The problem is that she tends to prefer games with low interaction since she doesn't really like thinking about what her opponents are doing. Careful readers will realize that this is the opposite of the direction I described my tastes going toward, haha. Anyway, that's the other big "hole" in my collection I'd like to fill - games that my wife and I both love.

I usually go by category/mechanism, as well. For example, I don't have any bidding or betting games and I'd quite like to have the option.

I'd like to vote for Rokugan in the battle of the area control games :)

Games that hit the sweet spot for you and your partner are so satisfying. I get so much joy from Sarah liking games. For example, she loves #Brass: Birmingham which was a complete surprise. In fact, we love it so much, we went on a city break to Birmingham just to play it in a local pub lol.

Thanks for the write-up! #Arctic Scavengers: Base Game + HQ + Recon has been on my radar ever since I got into the hobby 4 years ago.  Every once in a while I get the urge to look into it again.  How would you rate that one?

I also really like deck-building as a mechanic, not as a complete game.  So games like #Dominion or #Ascension: Deckbuilding Game don't interest me very much.  Even #Star Realms got old pretty quickly for me.

Have you heard of #Path of Light and Shadow? It's an interesting take on deck building mixed with area control and a tech tree.  You don't get to choose your cards directly (though you do have some influence over what kind of cards you get).  The main point of the game is to cultivate your deck to work for your strategy.  I do wish the component quality was a little better, but it's a solid game.

I had a great weekend of gaming, mostly online, but still! 

#Endless Winter: Paleoamericans - this was as good as advertised -- worker placement + deck building + some spatial puzzles and area control? Count me in! 

#Wingspan: Oceania Expansion - more plays of this expansion, which so far has some of the most fun cards I've seen. Love the 'wild' nectar mechanic and the tension / fun that it brings. 

#Lorenzo il Magnifico - I finally one a game of Lorenzo playing on Yucata! It was a two player game against a friend, and we played it as if it were real-time, so I could see the flow through of decisions. I really, really like this game the more I play it. 

Three Sisters -- the spiritual successor to #Fleet: The Dice Game by Motor City Gameworks. It is coming to Kickstarter in a couple of months, and I was lucky enough to snag a review copy. Yes, it is a 'thinky' randeauxwriter, but the back half of the game has so many combos that you feel like you are popping bubble wrap. Plus, it has a fun theme of gardening in your backyard. 

What's your interest level on Glory to Rome? Would you ever spend $250 for your "grail game"?

I would definitely dish out $250 for #Glory To Rome if I had that laying around, but I’d rather not sleep on the couch. Is the game worth it? One could argue that it is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it. I do wish I had backed it originally, but I do feel that it will eventually be reprinted despite its complicated history. I have spent some money on some Kickstarter projects like #Tokaido Collector's Edition, but never on a single game without some extras. It is not lost on me that I’ve spent way more collectively on games like #Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game which brings to mind that marshmallow test by Mischel (2014).  Aside from Glory to Rome and #The Palaces of Carrara, I don’t think that there a many grail games that I want that won’t get reprinted. I had my eye on #City of Chaos, but it looks like a second edition will be on Kickstarter some point next year as will #ZhanGuo.

Which game did you enjoy playing the most this year and why?

This year was a little odd for me as I did not have a lot of extra time to play as much. I would honestly say Covid minimally impacted that fact. I will say playing simplified versions of games with our youngest was one highlight. The better half and I did manage to get #Rajas of the Ganges to the table at some point. I feel like the game is a bit open with two and we would be interested in playing with higher player counts. I do think it is neat that the end game is the same for everyone, but how a player arrives to the end is varied.

As we end 2020, what are your current Top 5 games and why?

I feel like I keep bringing up the same games. I am terrible at ranking so I’m just going to throw my picks out there:

#El Grande: I don’t think I would ever turn a game of this down (unless it includes the expansions and or has less than 4 players). This has a little of everything, hidden information, area control, and action selection. Game is still as relevant in 2020 as it was in 1995. I do wish that just the base game would get reprinted as the current big box is a waste of space. I am not so hung up on the mini meeples vs cube debate.

#Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game: Probably my most played game at this point. I have most of the expansions aside from the Spider-man homecoming and the villains’ standalone. I was a big marvel fan growing up and this game is able to conjure up comic scenarios. It is deckbuilding a team rather than playing as a single hero which I do not mind. With all of the current expansions, the game is infinitely repayable. Downside is that it is difficult to store of the cards at this point. While it is listed as a semi-co-op, we strictly play it as co-op because some of the schemes and mastermind combos are taxing that not working together makes the game much harder than it needs to be. I also won’t play this with more than two because the difficulty does not scale well with more people.

#Ra: My favorite Kniza design. I normally don’t like auction games, but this one is so elegant and streamlined how could I not like it. The game also has that press your luck and set collection element along with the calamities to keep everyone on their toes. Everyone needs to try this one at least once.

#The Castles of Burgundy: This is another one of those games where I dislike it with more than two. This is an example of where the quality of the game does not match its components. Dice placement at its finest. Game is flexible and it mixes strategy and tactics well. There is one sure path to victory here which makes it difficult to solve.

#Seasons: Game plays like a TCG/CCG so it scratches that itch for me. Does have a bit of a learning curve as figuring out which cards to draft together is paramount to success. Wish they would make at least one more expansion.

There are so so many classics that I havn't played, but really want to.

  • #Twilight Struggle: Classic two player GMT cold war game. This was number one on the BGG for a number of years. And it seems to be one of those rare hybrid games that appealed to both euro gamers and wargamers.
  • #Concordia: I have never played any games from Mac Gerdts, and honestly there are a few others of his that interest me more, but this does seem to be a great game. And, I really want to try it sometime.
  • #Die Macher: A game about german parlimentary elections???? sounds thrilling, doesn't it??? Seriously, this game looks good.
  • #El Grande: One of the classics, if not THE classic area control from the mid 90's.
  • #Hansa Teutonica: One of the old ugly euros. It looks like it could be really fun.

There are also a number of classics that I have no desire to play:


1. I am somwhat interested in GtR. I owned and sold the original (ugly) version. Enjoyed the game play. Too confusing for my playing partners at the time. I have spent more than $250 on some games (expansions, upgrades, crowd funding campaigns) so yes. I didn't think I would but I suppose that I would.

2. Enjoyment is tricky to valuate. #The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine stands out as my "Game of The Year". #On Tour was my most played game. But #Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated is one of the best gaming experiences ever!

3. My biggest surprise is the double header of #Point Salad and #Truffle Shuffle. Easy, portable, tough mini decisions. Everyone can play. I though they would be just another pair of card games to toss in the pile. These are great!

4. My Top 5 games of all time:
#Scythe - Resources, expansion, fast turns, meaningful decisions, a touch of randomness, awesome expansions, beautiful.
#The Castles of Burgundy - Fast to play, highly variable, dice rolling with mitigation, multiple strategies.
#El Grande - Still the best area control, El Castillo, variability, intrigue.
#Concordia - Deck building with muti-purpose cards, exploration, resources, clever combinations, awesome expansions.
#Endeavor: Age of Sail - Engine building with exploration, thematically brilliant, fabulous presentation, modular

Love little lists like this!

  1. #Food Chain Magnate - The heavy game itch has been getting me recently and this bad boy is at the top of my list. 
  2. #Clans of Caledonia - I've heard a lot of good things about this one and I want to give it a shot. The streamlined, shifting market interests me, as well as the spatial element the board provides. Just looks like a nice, solid euro.
  3. #Inis: Seasons of Inis Expansion - Going to nab this one whenever it finally restocks. Which, hopefully, will be very soon. #Inis at 5p sounds fun and the cards and tiles really intrigue me.
  4. #El Grande Big Box - Been eyeing this one for a while. Another great area control game that works better at higher player counts, which is something I'd love to add to the collection. The auction mechanisms and surprise of the Castilla seem right up my alley.
  5. #Imperial 2030 - Board Game Barrage put me onto this one. Their description of it is very intriguing and I'm a big fan of Concordia, another Mac Gerdts game. 

Great post!