Nerds love a challenge. That’s why easy games like Yahtzee don’t appeal to some of them. Instead, they look for board games that push the envelope in strategy and smarts. Chance isn’t an option; they want a victory because of their gameplay. Here are nine games that satisfy that need to win.


The Clue board game is an iconic American mystery game that actually has its origins in Great Britain. The object of the game is to solve the mystery of the murder of Mr. Boddy, or Dr. Black in the UK. Players assume the role of one of six suspects, taking turns questioning other opponents about the suspect, weapon, and scene of the crime.

The strategy involves making deductions about what cards each player holds. The ones that are missing point to the details of the murder. The trick is not to divulge too much to give other players the advantage.


Stratego is like chess with a war theme involving two players. The object of the game is to incapacitate your enemy or capture his flag. The game was marketed to children but requires strategy worthy of adult gameplay. Like Clue, it had its origins in Europe, specifically, the Netherlands. But its wide appeal across the pond make it seem like an American product.

The game has more of an esoteric mystic about it which will appeal to nerds. It’s about bluffing and concealing your strategy from your opponent to gain the upper hand. In many ways, it’ll help you develop your poker skills.


The Risk board game is similar to our last nerd game in that it involves a war theme with a strategy to conquer your opponent. The difference is that it is a multiplayer game with up to six players. It takes the gameplay to the next level with alliances and reinforcements to secure your position to overtake every territory.

Like many nerd games, it’s a game that can last hours—or even days. That’s what distinguishes it from popular games that wrap up in less than an hour. You have to want to win to play this game to the end.


The Life board game by Milton Bradley now Hasbro is a stark departure from games of warfare. Perhaps because of its tamer theme, it began an older parlor game, originating in 1860. The modern-day version succeeded in part because of the endorsement of popular TV personality, Art Linkletter. In many ways, the game replicated real life.

Players go through many everyday experiences like getting married and having a family while managing finances, insurance, and investments. The game works despite its sometimes heavy themes.


The Sorry board game is a modern twist on an ancient Indian game with a similar objective to get around to the end as quick as possible. It has a polite spin with the iconic Sorry when stalling another player’s progress. The game involves the chance of dice play with the strategy of deciding how you move around the board.

Unlike many classic nerd games, Sorry had several rule changes in 2013 that may or may not have turned off fans of the original version. We love the traditional game for its simplicity and quick gameplay.


The Pandemic board game shares another dark theme as some of the previous nerd games. This time, the object is to develop a strategy to deal with a rage of virulent disease striking across the world. It’s a thin line between the devastations of the epidemics and the expertise of each player’s specialists’ strengths. The object is to cure the plagues before they overtake the people.

It began life as a board game but has since branched out into the mobile realm like many of these classic nerd games. You can play the traditional way or on the go whenever you need a break.

Steampunk Rally

The Steampunk Rally board game is an adult game for two to eight players. The object is to win a race through the Swiss Alps while taking on the personalities of famous scientists of the era such as Marie Curie. This dice game embraces the unique features of steampunk to add a bit of extra flair to the gameplay. It is as much a visual game as it is one of strategy.

The game uses dice and cards to move through the sequence that involves strategy for activating parts and avoiding damage. The design is gorgeous and epitomizes the style.


The game Catan takes on some of the same romantic qualities as our previous selection with the mystic quality of an uncharted island as its base. It has a Sim feel about it with the ability to create settlements and road on an isolated island. That’s where the strategy and challenge come into play. You have to make the calls to maximize your resources.

Adding to the fun are other settlers with similar missions. You’ll need to plan well to succeed in the face of your competition. It is a wonderful game for a bit of escapism when you need a break from everyday troubles.

Ticket to Ride

The Ticket to Ride game is less of a challenge than the other games we have considered. It isn’t unlike other travel-themed games where players embark on a cross-country train adventure to collect cards, your means to win the match. Though the game is simple to learn, it is hard to master with strategy playing a vital role in your ultimate success.

The object of the game is to claim railway routes in North America. And while that sounds simple enough, it demands strategic planning to capture the prize. There’s an undeniable elegance with the game that captures the romance of foreign travel.

Nerdy board games capitalize on the things that geeks love in gameplay. There is an emphasis on strategy. You have to pay attention to win. You also have to think. These aren’t games you coast through to finish. That’s what makes them classics destined to last the test of time.