The definitive 2020 ranked list of the best modular board games. For those of you who are not familiar, a modular board is one large board that is made up of smaller pieces. The reason why you would have this is so you can put different combinations of these pieces together creating variants and thus different games.
Sometimes modular game boards are important because you need to reveal or grow as you go, putting down piece by piece, and sometimes you need to dramatically change an overall game from one to the next. It is a very interesting mechanism and some people have really done it right. These are the top 10 best modular board games.
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#10 | Star Wars: Imperial Assault
Any time we can rightfully put a Star Wars game on a list we are very happy to do so because they are always well made and rich with story. That is the case with Imperial Assault and the best modular board games list. This Dungeon crawler variant uses the iconic IP and gives you so many different landscapes to explore and conquer.
Imperial is actually 2 different games. The campaign game pits the limitless troops and resources of the Galactic Empire against a crack team of elite Rebel operatives as they strive to break the Empire’s hold on the galaxy, while the skirmish game has you and a friend to muster strike teams and battle head-to-head over conflicting objectives. For 2 – 5 players, games last 1 – 2 hours.
#09 | Nemesis
Nemesis is a little bit dungeon crawler, a little bit space exploration and many other things. As you will see from this list, we argue over and over that those two areas make the most sense to dominate a list about the best modular board games. This has everything you want in change and modularity and it happens to be one fantastic game.
You and your crew-mates must survive on a ship infested with hostile organisms. To win, you will need to complete a variety of missions and return back to Earth alive. You will find many obstacles on your way: swarms of Alien organisms, the poor physical condition of the ship, the other players that will have their own agendas and, sometimes, just cruel fate. For 1 – 5 players, games last about 90 – 180 minutes.
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#08 | Mansions of Madness
Mansions of Madness makes the list of the best modular board games because it is probably the most popular game in the horror exploration space. What that sub-genre pertains to is being in a situation where you and a team (usually) have to explore the unknown and room by room you reveal a small area that may contain something terrible. Yes, this is what a dungeon crawler is but instead of being aggressive in those, you are more trying to escape in these. It is a great use of the modular board option.
You will be guided through the veiled streets of Innsmouth and the haunted corridors of Arkham’s cursed mansions as you search for answers and respite. Eight brave investigators stand ready to confront four scenarios of fear and mystery, collecting weapons, tools, and information, solving complex puzzles, and fighting monsters, insanity, and death. For 1 – 5 players, games run about 2 – 3 hours.
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#07 | Settlers of Catan
Settlers of Catan makes the list of the best modular board games because of the icon status it has rightfully earned over the years. The game came out in 1995 and showed the world that board games could be more. It launched a movement and renaissance of new board games. Its modular board game of new tiles and number trigger every game was revolutionary and it built a game you could play thousands of times and never play the same game twice. It still holds up today and holds strong.
You need to grow your empire. Each game is completely different because all the resource tiles and numbers on them are changed and randomized each game. These control everything. You need to build settlements and cities to gain resources that are going to let you build even more and ultimately lead to victory points for the win. Every turn starts with the roll of two dice and that number corresponds to one of five resource types on the board. If you have a presence on that tile (or tiles) you get that resource. For 3 – 4 players, games run about 45 minutes.
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#06 | Mage Knight
Mage Knight is another title on the list of the best modular board games that is just a fantastic dungeon crawler. There is really not much too it, it makes sense that a genre that is about completely changing areas from one game to the next, as well as, revealing as you go, would dominate a list about modularity. This just happens to be one of the best games in the space.
You are in control of one of four powerful Mage Knights as you explore a land under the control of the Atlantean Empire. Build your army, fill your deck with powerful spells and actions, explore caves and dungeons, and eventually conquer powerful cities controlled by this once-great faction! . For 1 – 4 players, games run about 2 – 4 hours.
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#05 | The 7th Continent
7th Continent may be the ultimate choice for the list of the best modular board games and it may be the worst which is why it hits smack in the middle at #5. That is because the whole game is one very large explosion of new tiles coming at you and leveling up and acting as you move through. Some may say this is something different and some may say that this is the most modular a board and/or world could ever be. You be the judge.
In a land fraught with danger and wonders, you have to use every ounce of wit and cunning to survive, crafting tools, weapons, and shelter to ensure your survival. The 7th Continent game is an exploration RPG with plenty to discover. What’s great about this one is that it could take thousands of hours to explore everything but there is a great system in place that will let you start and stop whenever you like. For 1 – 4 players and games are just one long open game, you decide the time.
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#04 | Spirit Island
Spirit Island makes the list of the best modular board games because like Settlers of Catan, the ability to change the board ever single game creates this halo of wonderful replayability that makes you want to play over and over and over again. Even the slightest things make the biggest differences.
You are a spirit of the land with your own unique elemental powers. Every turn, players simultaneously choose which of their power cards to play, paying energy to do so. Combos and weighing fast versus slow initiative are big here. In the Spirit phase, spirits gain energy, and choose how / whether to Grow: to reclaim used power cards, to seek for new power, or to spread presence into new areas of the island. For 1 – 4 players, games last 90 – 120 minutes.
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#03 | Gaia Project
Gaia Project is a game on the list of the best modular board games that helps prove that when you are in space, you need freedom and flexibility. This is another wonderful title in this area that has many many options and things to do. The replayability and change are high here and they are fantastic.
In Gaia Project, you lead a faction living on one of seven different kinds of planets. To develop and grow, you must terraform neighboring planets into your home environments before others do. You will need to excel in six different areas of development — Terraforming, Navigation, Artificial Intelligence, Gaiaforming, Economy, Research — leading to advanced technology and special bonuses. For 1 – 4 players, games run about 60 – 150 minutes.
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#02 | Twilight Imperium
Twilight Imperium makes the list of the best modular board games because when you are exploring the vast reaches of space, you need an ever-changing board to support that type of epic gameplay. To say Twilight Imperium is intense would be an understatement and yet the game is able to give you everything you need for all of it because if its modularity.
This is a game of galactic conquest in you take on the role of one of seventeen factions vying for galactic domination through military might, political maneuvering, and economic bargaining. Every faction offers a completely different play experience, from the wormhole-hopping Ghosts of Creuss to the Emirates of Hacan, masters of trade and economics. For 3 – 6 players, games last about 2 – 4 hours.
#01 | Gloomhaven
Gloomhaven easily takes the top spot on the list of the best modular board games. Not only is it an incredibly popular and high rated game that has set record after record, it uses the modular board in ways you have only dreamed about before. Each opening has the potential to be anything from the grand to the minute. It gives you so much control and spurns so much creativity.
This is a game of tactical combat in a persistent world of shifting motives. You take on the role of a wandering adventurer forced to work with other players to clear out menacing dungeons and forgotten ruins. In the process, you will enhance their abilities with experience and loot, discover new locations to explore and plunder, and expand an ever-branching story fueled by the decisions you make. For 1 – 4 players, games last about 1 – 2 hours