Ever found yourself vibing with the strategical symphony that is chess, but kinda itching for something a little… different? 

Trust me, I get it. Chess is the OG of strategy games, but sometimes even the classics need a lil’ remix. 

I’ve rolled the dice, made my moves, and hopped across countless boards to bring you the ultimate lineup of games that’ll give your noggin a workout, just like chess does. 

If you’re ready to embark on a new quest of kings, knights, and maybe a few curveballs, then let’s dive deep into the world of strategy. 

Similarities Between Chess and Other Strategy Board Games

kids playing chess

Checkers: The Classic Alternative

Checkers is a strategy board game that shares some similarities with chess, such as a grid-based playing field.

Both games involve capturing opponent’s pieces and strategic positioning.

Pressman Checkers — Classic Game With Folding Board and Interlocking Checkers, 2 Players
  • Checkers is a two-player strategy game played on a checkered board with 64 squares arranged on an 8×8 grid
  • Makes a great addition to your game collection – an easy to learn, timeless classic
  • Features folding game board for easy storage and years of play, plus interlocking checkers
  • Great set for teaching the next generation of players
  • For 2 players, ages 6 and up

Last update on 2024-02-21 / Affiliate disclosure / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / Valid prices are those listed on Amazon.com

However, checkers has simpler rules and fewer types of pieces, making it an accessible alternative for those new to strategy games.

Shogi: The Japanese Variant

Shogi is a Japanese strategy board game that is comparable to chess in many ways.

Both games have distinct pieces with unique movement patterns and require players to think several moves ahead.

Wooden Shogi Japanese Chess Table w/Drawers and Chessmen Game Set
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  • Maple Wood Playing Pieces: Traditional Koma playing pieces feature kanji characters in painted running hand script font (Bantarou-goma) using Genpai-goma style with a black character on the head and a…
  • Ready To Play: Full English illustrated instruction manual included

Last update on 2024-02-22 / Affiliate disclosure / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / Valid prices are those listed on Amazon.com

Shogi, however, introduces the concept of “drops,” where captured pieces can be reused by the capturing player, adding an extra layer of complexity to the game.

Xiangqi: The Game of Chinese Commanders

Xiangqi, also known as Chinese chess, is another strategy board game with similarities to its Western counterpart.

It shares a similar objective of delivering checkmate to the opponent’s commander piece, and both games contain a varied cast of pieces with unique movement strategies.

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  • Compact, Folding Xianggi Set: Hone your strategic thinking skills on this portable set; Board measures 12.8 x 12.6 x 1.1 inches (32.5 x 32.1 x 2.7 centimeters)
  • Complete Playing Pieces: Includes a total of 32 jade-colored playing pieces with red and white Chinese characters; Each piece measures 1.2 x 1.2 x 0.3 inch (3 x 3 x 0.7 centimeter); Game pieces can be…
  • Magnetic Chinese Chess Set: The board is outlined with golden grids and edges featuring decorative chariot designs; Strong built-in magnets on the board and playing pieces allow you to play virtually…
  • Fun And Educational: Learn and enjoy this alternative chess game and sharpen your strategic thinking skills
  • Entire Set Weighs 2.2 lbs (1.02kg)

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However, Xiangqi incorporates specific board regions and a river, creating additional strategic opportunities.

Arimaa: A Modern Board Game

Arimaa is a contemporary strategy game with a chess-inspired setup.

Both games use an 8×8 board and have similar starting positions for the pieces.

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  • 2 Player game
  • 60 Minutes to play

Last update on 2024-02-22 / Affiliate disclosure / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / Valid prices are those listed on Amazon.com

However, Arimaa’s pieces have different movement rules and abilities, and the game is focused on reaching a specific location on the board rather than capturing the opponent’s pieces.

Chaturanga: The Ancestor of Chess

Chaturanga, an ancient Indian game, is considered the predecessor of chess.

With similarities in the board layout and piece movement, Chaturanga laid the foundation for the modern version of chess.

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While the basic mechanics of the game are similar, there are differences in the piece names and various rules, making it a fascinating look into the history of strategy games.

Hnefatafl and Tafl Games: The Viking Board Games

Hnefatafl, along with other Tafl games, are Viking strategy board games that present an asymmetrical setup, offering an alternative experience to chess.

The goal is for one player to move their king to the edge of the board, while the other player aims to capture the king.

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  • Fight For Your King – Test your wits with Hnefatafl, a two player abstract strategy game for fans of traditional board games like chess. This authentic viking game was a favorite medieval board game…
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  • Ragna-rock On – Hnefatafl is inspired by a long heritage of strategy board games, and in turn as inspired countless more. A viking chess game makes a great gift for fans of unique chess sets and cool…

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Although different from chess in objective and gameplay, the strategic depth and planning in Hnefatafl is comparable to chess.

Makruk: The Thai Version of Chess

Makruk, often referred to as Thai chess, is closely related to chess in terms of gameplay and strategy.

While the board and objective are similar, Makruk has unique piece movements and specific rules for promotion.

Last update on 2024-02-22 / Affiliate disclosure / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / Valid prices are those listed on Amazon.com

The game requires a high level of strategic thinking and adaptation for those familiar with traditional chess.

In-Depth Look into Board Games Influenced by Chess

Blokus Duo: A Strategy Tile Game

Mattel Games Blokus Duo 2-Player Strategy Board Game, Family Game for Kids & Adults with Black and…
  • Perfect strategy game—takes less than a minute to learn and offers a fun challenge for two players, age 7 and up!
  • Players take turns placing their 21 pieces on the board, and each piece must touch another of the same color, but only at the corners.
  • Stake your claim and protect your territory by fitting as many of your pieces on the board as possible while strategically blocking your opponent!
  • The game ends when no more pieces can be placed down, and the player with fewer pieces remaining wins!
  • Great for game nights with family and friends!

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Blokus Duo is a two-player strategy game that challenges you to place your colored tiles on the board while blocking your opponent from doing the same.

Your goal is to place as many of your tiles as possible without giving your opponent too much space.

This game requires strategic thinking and spatial reasoning, much like chess.

Onitama: The Strategy Game of Movement

Onitama Board Game, 2 players
  • 2 minutes to learn, 10 minutes to play, a lifetime to master
  • Second game in the dice tower essentials Line of games approved by Tom Vasel
  • A game of elegance and simplicity

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In Onitama, you take control of a martial arts master and their students in a head-to-head battle against another player’s team.

The game involves capturing your opponent’s master or moving your own master into the opponent’s temple, which are similar concepts to king capturing or checkmate in chess.

The main difference is that each game of Onitama features randomly selected cards dictating the legal moves for each character.

Hive: An Insect-Themed Strategy Game

Hive- A Game Crawling With Possibilities
  • High quality
  • Soldier ants and grasshoppers
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  • Dr.Toy product of excellence award winner
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Hive is a tactical board game where your goal is to surround your opponent’s queen bee using a variety of insect-themed tiles.

Each tile represents a different insect, each with its own unique movement abilities.

The strategic placement and movement of tiles create a chess-like experience, where controlling the board is crucial to your victory.

Photosynthesis: A Sun-Turning Strategy

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  • How To Play: Photosynthesis Uses An Action Points Allowance System Mechanism. Take Your Trees Through Their Life-Cycle, From Seedling To Full Bloom To Rebirth, And Earn Light Points As Their Leaves…
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  • English (Publication Language)

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In Photosynthesis, your goal is to strategically grow trees and collect sunlight points.

You need to carefully manage your resources and position your trees in areas where they can receive the most sunlight.

Much like chess, this game requires you to think several turns ahead to optimize your strategy and block your opponents.

Cathedral: A Strategic Area Control Game

Cathedral Wood Strategy Tabletop Board Game Classic
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  • Challenge your opponent to a game of strategy with Cathedral Classic from Family Games
  • This logical thinking puzzle pits 2 players against each other as they battle to build castles on the game board

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Cathedral is an abstract, area control game where you place your buildings strategically within a walled city, aiming to control the most significant portion of the area.

Placement must be done carefully, considering your opponents’ moves and planning for future turns.

This strategic placement aspect has a chess-like feel to it.

Azul: The Game of Portuguese Tiles

Azul-Board Game Strategy-Board Mosaic-Tile Placement Family-Board for Adults and Kids Ages 8 up 2 to…
  • BECOME AN ARTISAN: Craft exquisite tile mosaics in this award-winning board game.
  • STRATEGY MATTERS: Plan your moves carefully to outscore opponents and disrupt their plans.
  • HIGH-QUALITY COMPONENTS: Enjoy top-notch components and beautiful tile pieces.
  • FAMILY-FRIENDLY FUN: Suitable for players of all ages, making it a perfect addition to game night.
  • DESIGNED BY A MASTER: Created by world-renowned game author Michael Riesling.

Last update on 2024-02-21 / Affiliate disclosure / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / Valid prices are those listed on Amazon.com

In Azul, your goal is to create beautiful tile patterns on your player board.

The game requires you to select particular tiles from shared collections while also predicting and blocking the moves of your opponents.

This combination of strategy and foresight is reminiscent of chess, where planning your moves and anticipating your opponent’s actions are key.

7 Wonders: A Card Drafting Masterpiece

7 Wonders Board Game BASE GAME (New Edition) for Family | Civilization and Strategy Board Game for…
  • STRATEGY GAME: You are a leader of one of the seven greatest cities of the Ancient World. Gather resources, develop commercial routes and affirm your military supremacy. Build your city and erect an…
  • BUILD YOUR CIVILIZATION: Players draft cards over multiple rounds, carefully building towards long-term goals. Keep an eye on your neighbors’ progress since they share similar ambitions. Will your…
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7 Wonders is a card drafting and civilization-building game where you aim to develop your city to accumulate the most victory points.

Each turn, you select a card from a hand and pass the rest to your neighboring players.

This strategic card selection and drafting mechanic can be likened to positioning chess pieces on the board, making 7 Wonders an excellent strategic alternative to chess.

Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game: A Zombie Survival Game

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Dead of Winter – Post-Apocalyptic Survival Strategy Board Game for 2-5 Players Ages 13+, by Plaid…
  • A META-COOPERATIVE SURVIVAL EXPERIENCE: Step into a world where humanity teeters on the brink of extinction. Dead of Winter immerses players in a small colony of survivors facing flesh-craving…
  • PSYCHOLOGICAL SURVIVAL: Delve into a story-centric game. Survivors grapple with personal psychological imperatives. Collaboration is crucial to fend off external threats, resolve crises, scavenge for…
  • STRATEGIC DECISIONS: Frequent challenging decisions require you to weigh the greater good of the colony against personal interests. The survival of the colony, the battle against the undead, and the…
  • COOPERATION AMIDST CHAOS: While coping with their own psychological burdens, players must find ways to cooperate, defend against external dangers, and ensure the colony’s survival. Trust is a rare…
  • UNIQUE CHARACTERS: Dozens of unique characters each have their own stories and motivations. Experience an emergent narrative. Navigate wildly-varying decisions, ensuring that no two games are alike….

Last update on 2024-02-21 / Affiliate disclosure / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / Valid prices are those listed on Amazon.com

Dead of Winter is a cooperative game where you and your fellow players face the harsh challenges of living in a post-apocalyptic world filled with zombies.

While the theme differs vastly from chess, the game emphasizes strategic decision-making and resource management, making it an engaging alternative for fans of chess.

Risk: The Game of Global Domination

Risk Board Game, Strategy Games for 2-5 Players, Strategy Board Games for Teens, Adults, and Family,…
  • Take over the world in this game of strategy conquest
  • Features updated figures — includes 300 figures
  • Improved Mission cards speed up the game; features 12 Secret Missions
  • Rich board art draws players into the Risk gaming world
  • Includes gameboard, armies with 40 Infantry, 12 Cavalry, and 8 Artillery each, deck of 56 Risk cards, 1 card box, 5 dice, 5 cardboard war crates, and game guide.

Last update on 2024-02-22 / Affiliate disclosure / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / Valid prices are those listed on Amazon.com

Risk is a classic game of global conquest, where you control armies to achieve dominance by invading territories and defeating opponents.

This game requires strategical planning, tactical thinking, and clever alliances.

The concept of controlling and dominating territories has a similar feel to chess, making Risk an excellent board game choice for chess enthusiasts.

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