The Most Difficult Board Game to Learn: Unraveling the Challenge

Choose the board game you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Jun 16, 2023 10:17 (Updated on Dec 4, 2023 06:24)
Welcome to StrawPoll, the ultimate destination for board game enthusiasts and strategists! We've crafted an intriguing and challenging ranking for you - "What is the most difficult board game to learn?" Dive into the world of mind-boggling gameplay, complex strategies, and steep learning curves as you explore our list of the most formidable board games ever created. Do you have what it takes to master these games? Cast your vote for your favorite or suggest a missing option to see where it lands in our ever-evolving leaderboard. Unravel the mysteries of these intricate games and join the conversation with fellow board game aficionados. Don't miss your chance to weigh in on the ultimate battle of wits and strategy – click further and start your journey towards conquering the most difficult board games!

What Is the Most Difficult Board Game to Learn?

  1. 1


    Go is considered one of the most challenging board games to learn due to its complexity and the vast number of possible moves. It has been played in China for over 2,500 years and is still popular today.
    Go, also known as Golang, is a statically typed compiled language designed to be efficient, expressive, and productive for building scalable and reliable software.
    • Concurrent programming: Built-in goroutines and channels for easy and efficient concurrency management.
    • Garbage collection: Automatic memory management with garbage collection.
    • Static typing: Statically typed language, providing better compile-time error checking and performance.
    • Compiled execution: Code is compiled to machine language, resulting in faster execution speed.
    • Simplicity: Language design emphasizing simplicity, readability, and ease of use.
  2. 2
    Bridge is a card game that involves strategic bidding and playing to win tricks. It has a steep learning curve and requires a lot of practice to master.
    Bridge is a complex trick-taking card game played with a standard deck of 52 cards. It is widely regarded as one of the most difficult board games to learn due to its depth of strategy and intricate bidding system.
    • Number of Players: Four players, divided into two partnerships
    • Deck: Standard deck of 52 cards
    • Playing Time: Typically around 2 to 3 hours per session
    • Objective: To accurately estimate and win the number of tricks specified during bidding
    • Bidding System: Involves a complex set of bidding conventions to accurately communicate hand strength and suit distribution
  3. 3
    Diplomacy is a strategy board game that involves negotiation and alliances between players. It is known for its complex rules and the need for careful planning and diplomacy to succeed.
    Diplomacy is a strategy board game that simulates the political and military struggles of the European countries during World War I. The game focuses heavily on negotiation and alliances between players, making it a complex and challenging game to learn and master.
    • Complexity: High
    • Game Mechanics: Negotiation, Area Control
    • Genre: Strategy
    • Number of Players: 7
    • Playing Time: 4-12 hours
  4. 4
    Chess is a classic board game that involves strategic thinking and planning. It has a large number of possible moves and requires a lot of practice to master.
    Chess is a strategic board game played by two players on a checkered gameboard consisting of 64 squares. It is believed to have originated in India around the 6th century, and later spread across the world. The objective of the game is to checkmate the opponent's king, putting it under attack in such a way that there is no legal move to escape. Chess is renowned for its deep complexity and has captivated players for centuries.
    • Players: 2
    • Board: 8x8 checkered gameboard
    • Pieces: 6 types - King, Queen, Rook, Bishop, Knight, Pawn
    • Movement: Each piece has specific rules for movement and capturing
    • Objective: Checkmate the opponent's king
  5. 5
    Warhammer 40,000
    Airman 1st Class Timothy Kim · Public domain

    Warhammer 40,000

    Rick Priestley
    Warhammer 40,000 is a tabletop game that involves miniature figurines and complex rules for combat and strategy. It requires a significant investment of time and money to learn and play.
    Warhammer 40,000 is a tabletop miniatures wargame set in a dystopian science fiction universe. It is played with highly detailed miniatures, representing various factions and armies, on a customizable battlefield. The game features intense tactical combat and strategic maneuvering.
    • Year of Release: 1987
    • Number of Players: 2 or more
    • Average Playtime: 2-6 hours
    • Complexity: High
    • Recommended Age: 12 years and older
  6. 6

    Android: Netrunner - Android

    Richard Garfield
    Netrunner is a card game that involves bluffing and deception. It has a complex set of rules and requires a lot of strategy and planning to win.
    Android: Netrunner - Android is an asymmetrical living card game set in a dystopian cyberpunk future. It is a two-player game where one player assumes the role of a powerful corporation and the other plays as a cunning hacker called a Runner. The game is focused on bluffing, deception, and strategic decision making.
    • Players: 2
    • Playing Time: 30-60 minutes
    • Complexity: Medium-High
    • Mechanics: Deck building, Hand management
    • Theme: Cyberpunk, Science Fiction
  7. 7
    The Game of Thrones Board Game
    BrokeTheInterweb (talk) (Uploads) · CC0

    The Game of Thrones Board Game

    Christian T. Petersen
    The Game of Thrones Board Game is a strategy game that involves political alliances and military conquest. It has a large number of rules and requires a lot of planning and strategy to win.
    The Game of Thrones Board Game is a strategic board game based on the popular book series 'A Song of Ice and Fire' by George R.R. Martin. It is known as one of the most difficult board games to learn and master, requiring careful planning, negotiation, and resource management.
    • Player Count: 3-6 players
    • Playing Time: 3-4 hours
    • Complexity Level: High
    • Strategy: Deep and complex
    • Negotiation: Critical element of gameplay
  8. 8

    Mage Knight

    Vlaada Chvátil
    Mage Knight is a strategy game that involves building an army and conquering territories. It has a complex set of rules and requires a lot of planning and strategy to win.
    Mage Knight is a fantasy-themed board game that combines elements of deck-building, role-playing, and strategy. Players take on the role of mage knights, powerful beings who venture into a mystical land to conquer cities, explore dungeons, and defeat enemies. The game is renowned for its complex rules and deep immersive gameplay.
    • Players: 1-4
    • Playing Time: 2-4 hours
    • Age Recommendation: 14+
    • Complexity: High
    • Mechanics: Deck-building, Hand Management, Action Point Allowance, Variable Player Powers
    Mage Knight in other rankings
  9. 9

    Twilight Imperium

    Christian T. Petersen
    Twilight Imperium is a strategy game that involves building an empire and conquering planets. It has a large number of rules and requires a lot of planning and strategy to win.
    Twilight Imperium is a highly complex and immersive board game set in a distant future, where players take on the roles of different space-faring factions competing for dominance in the galaxy. It is known for its deep strategic gameplay, intricate rules, and epic narrative.
    • Number of Players: 3-6
    • Average Playtime: 4-8 hours
    • Complexity: Very high
    • Strategy: Intense
    • Thematic: Highly thematic
  10. 10
    Descent: Journeys in the Dark - Descent
    Matěj Baťha · CC BY-SA 3.0
    Journeys in the Dark is a dungeon-crawling game that involves cooperative play and strategic combat. It has a large number of rules and requires a lot of planning and strategy to win.
    Descent: Journeys in the Dark - Descent is a fantasy-themed board game designed to immerse players in thrilling dungeon-crawling adventures. It combines elements of role-playing and tactical combat, offering a rich and engaging gaming experience.
    • Game Type: Fantasy-themed board game
    • Designer: Kevin Wilson
    • Number of Players: 2-5
    • Playing Time: 2-3 hours
    • Complexity: High

Missing your favorite board game?


Ranking factors for difficult board game

  1. Complexity of rules
    The number of rules and their intricacies, including exceptions and special cases, can make a board game difficult to learn. Games with more straightforward and simplistic rules are typically easier to pick up and play.
  2. Game mechanics
    The interplay between different components or aspects of the game, such as resource management, movement, and combat. Complex mechanics with numerous variables can be challenging to grasp and master.
  3. Strategy
    The level of depth and multiple layers of strategy that the game offers. Games with an extensive range of strategic options and decision-making processes can make it harder to learn, as players must understand and execute these strategies effectively to be successful.
  4. Learning curve
    The amount of time and effort it takes to understand the rules and mechanics as well as develop the skills necessary to play the game proficiently. A steep learning curve indicates a more difficult game to learn.
  5. Number of players
    Games with more players can be more complex, as they often involve additional rules, interactions, and strategies to manage relationships and alliances with other players.
  6. Game components
    The number of unique game pieces, cards, tokens, or other components can contribute to the complexity and difficulty of learning a game. Players must familiarize themselves with each component and its role in the gameplay.
  7. Game length
    Longer games can be more challenging to learn, as they often involve more detailed rules and strategies. In addition, players must maintain focus and engagement over a longer period of time, which can be challenging for some.
  8. Rules variations and expansions
    Some games have multiple variations or expansions that alter gameplay and add additional rules. This can make it more difficult to learn the base game, as players must also consider these additional components and rules.
  9. Accessibility and clarity of rules
    How well the rules are written and explained, as well as the availability and quality of resources (such as tutorials, rulebooks, and videos) for learning the game. Poorly written or unclear rules can create confusion and make the game more challenging to learn.
  10. Previous experience and knowledge
    A player's familiarity with similar games or game mechanics can influence the difficulty of learning a new game. For example, a player with experience in strategy games may have an easier time learning a new strategy board game than someone who primarily plays casual or party games.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult board game to learn. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or board game is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 209 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each board game once every 24 hours. The rank of each board game is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

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More information on most difficult board game to learn

Board games have been a popular source of entertainment for centuries, providing a fun and engaging way for people to spend time together. While some games are easy to pick up and play, others require a bit more effort to learn and master. In fact, some board games are so complex that they can be downright intimidating for new players. So, what is the most difficult board game to learn? The answer to this question is subjective and varies depending on who you ask. However, there are a few games that consistently make the list of the most challenging board games to learn. Games like Chess and Go have been around for centuries and are known for their complexity and depth. These games require players to think several moves ahead and anticipate their opponent's moves, making them difficult to master. Other games like Twilight Imperium and War of the Ring are known for their intricate rules and vast array of pieces and components. These games can take hours to set up and require a significant time investment to learn and play. Regardless of which game you choose, learning a difficult board game can be a rewarding experience. It requires patience, strategy, and critical thinking, and can provide hours of entertainment for players of all skill levels.

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