pieces to games for three 3 players at home

The 30 Best 3 Player Board Games for a New & Exciting Gaming Experience

Discover Why These Top 3 Player Games Deserve a Place at Your Table

We’re excited to share with you 30 of the best board games for 3 players as well as over a dozen excellent runner up choices! Whether you want a quick three player game for busy weeknights or are hunting for a heavy 3 player strategy game with tons of depth, you’ll find a game here for you!


After the game reviews (see the table of contents), we’ll also give some suggestions, offer more info on the complexity rating and how to use it to find the best game for YOUR 3 player group, and talk about games that play well 2-3 player or 3-4 player to give you some flexibility.


Before we jump into the full list, here are a few of our favorites!

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Overall Best 3 Player Board Game

Sale Indie Boards and Cards Terraforming Mars Board Game, Multicolor (6005SG)

Best Heavy 3 Player Board Game

Sale Gaia Project

Best Family Board Game for 3 Players

Sale Wingspan Board Game - A Bird-Collection, Engine-Building Stonemaier Game for 1-5 Players, Ages 14+
Table of Contents
Best 3 Player Board GamesBest 3-4 Player Board Games
Runner Up Best 3 Player Board GamesGames for 3 Players Like Catan
Best 2-3 Player Board GamesComplexity Rating Overview

You may also enjoy: 25 Best Dungeon Crawl Board Games I Top 20 Best Deck Builder Games I 20 Best 5 Player Board Games I The 50 Best Co-Op Board Games of All Time I Best Single Player Board Games

And now, on to the games!

30 Best 3 Player Board Games

Complexity: Medium-high
Time: 2+ hours
Ages: 14+
Players: 1-4
Company: AEG

As guild leaders, players vie for leadership of the city of Aegis, but while you’ll seek power and influence and victory, guilds still must work together to see their city safe from darkness. There’s so much going on in this game and so many ways to earn victory points; it’s beautiful, slightly complex, and completely addicting.


With elements of worker placement and card crafting, actions here are predominately card driven. You have shared deck building elements, as you’ll have to choose from the common street, and you have the card-crafting elements of the excellent deck builder Mystic Vale, that let you sleeve advancements, improving the cards in your hand.


Send your agents to various locations, battle threatening monsters, and defend your guild from attacks as the threat tower looms. Work to claim more cards and increase your sphere of influence (other players must pay to use your cards). This game is delightfully intense (not for new gamers!), and while you may only be able to get it on kickstarter right now (or by signing up for release info at Alderac Games – AEG), it’ll hit normal shelves soon too, I’m sure. I just had to include this as a best 3 player board game.

ProsCons
✅ Complex and beautiful integration of multiple game mechanics: card crafting, deck building, worker placement🅧 Takes a lot of time to set up/break down
✅ Heavy strategy and many ways to earn victory points with deep, satisfying gameplay🅧 Games can last for several hours if people really think several moves ahead or are AP prone
✅ Gorgeous artwork🅧 Not easily available right now
✅ Tremendous replayability🅧 Rules will also take a while to learn and read through
✅ High quality cards & extra sleeves

29. Ingenious

Sale Thames & Kosmos Ingenious | Ultimate Family Strategy Game | 1 – 4 Players | Spiel Des Jahres-Nominated | Fun Abstract Tile Laying | Winner Golden Geek Award, Red, Standard (696116)

Complexity: Low
Time: 45 min
Ages: 10+
Players: 1-4
Company: Kosmos

This Mensa Select winning board game (learn more about this prestigious award at MensaMindGames.com) is a fantastic bridge to the world of modern board games for those that haven’t played much since the days of Sorry or Monopoly. Use your hand of tiles (sort of domino-like) to connect to tiles already on the board. Each hexagonal half has a colorful symbol printed on it, and you’ll try to maximize the number of identical connected symbols to score the most points.


Track your score for each symbol on your personal victory board, but try to focus on all the symbols because you’ll only win if your lowest score is higher than everyone else’s lowest score! Ingenious is a lightweight, easy to learn family board game for 3 players.


Adjusting to the scoring might take a few rounds, but you’ll quickly pick up pattern/puzzle game, and we think that children a couple years below the indicated age will likely still do well with Ingenious. There’s solid strategy, but it’s fun and easy to play for new and experienced gamers alike.

ProsCons
✅ Sturdy, colorful plastic components🅧 Scoring rules might take a few rounds to grasp
✅ Excellent pattern/puzzle game
✅ Perfect 3 player family game
✅ Easy to learn, pretty quick to play!

28. Dice Forge

Sale Asmodee Dice Forge, English Version , Purple

Complexity: Low
Time: 45 min
Ages: 10+
Players: 2-4
Company: Asmodee, Libellud

Welcome, heroes, to the world of Dice Forge! In your quest to become the greatest hero, you’ll need to earn and manage your resources and complete quests to earn yourself glory and perhaps vanquish some foes. In Dice Forge, players roll resource dice on every player’s turn, earning themselves victory points, gold, sun shards, or moon shards.


Spend gold to purchase better faces for your upgradable dice, or surrender your shards in exchange for quest cards, ranging from high victory point enemy cards to lower victory point character cards that give special benefits.


Choose your strategy, craft your dice, and create your path to victory! Dice Forge is an quick, fun three player game perfect for families or casual gamers!


**Pro tip: turn a dice face upside down and use the corner of the face to pry faces off your current dice; it’s much easier this way.**

ProsCons
✅ Fun, very easy to learn and play dice rolling game🅧 Initial box setup and organization takes a while (but it’s excellent once done)
✅ Ability to craft better dice with many available faces🅧 Very very limited player interaction/attack (only one attack card)
✅ Multiple card options for variable set ups and increased replayability🅧 Still elements of luck, as it is a dice rolling game
✅ Many strategies for victory🅧 Gamers looking for more intense strategy or depth may not find this satisfying
✅ Incredibly well organized box
✅ Quick gameplay with minimal downtime (everyone rolls on every turn)

27. Ticket to Ride

Sale Ticket to Ride Board Game | Family Board Game | Board Game for Adults and Family | Train Game | Ages 8+ | For 2 to 5 players | Average Playtime 30-60 minutes | Made by Days of Wonder

Complexity: low
Time: 30-60+ min
Ages: 8+
Players: 2-5
Company: Days of Wonder

If you’ve never played Ticket to Ride, you’re in for a treat. It’s super simple to learn, fun, and easily accessible game for 3 players at home! It’s also a fantastic introduction to modern board games.


On the board, colorful train routes connect various cities across the US and into a bit of Canada (or Europe, Asia, Nordic Countries, etc. in other versions), and in order to place your trains on them, you’ll have to pay the appropriately colored cards from your hand.


Not only is Ticket to Ride one of the best 3 player family board games, but it’s an overall excellent addition to your game closet, as it also works well with 4 players and can even stretch to 5. It’s a great game and a nice brush up on some geography too!

ProsCons
✅ Fun for new board gamers and still enjoyable for experienced players looking for simpler, quicker game🅧 Luck involved with what cards are available to draw
✅ Learn (or reinforce) some geography🅧 Not a super deep or complex strategy game, if that’s what you’re after
✅ Cool, colorful, quality plastic trains!
✅ Works well for many player group sizes (at it’s best 3-4 player)
✅ Very easy to learn and play

26. Splendor


Sale Splendor Board Game (Base Game) | Family Board Game | Board Game for Adults and Family | Strategy Game | Ages 10+ | 2 to 4 players | Average Playtime 30 minutes | Made by Space Cowboys

Complexity: Low
Time: 30+ min
Ages: 10+
Players: 2-4
Company: Asmodee, Space Cowboys

Splendor is an easy, lightweight but very satisfying tableau-building game of gemstones that’s easily accessible to new gamers and younger players but is still quite enjoyable for experienced gamers too.


Gather your gemstones (traditionally plastic chips like poker chips with gem pictures on them, but you can upgrade to fancier plastic gemstones if you’d like), earn victory points by exchanging gems for cards, and attract nobles for the most victory points.


Cards give you permanent gemstones, allowing you more purchasing power, so you’ll build your tableau of cards in front you as you play, working to buy cards worth more victory points and the needed sets to entice specific nobles to your door.


While we love the traditional Splendor with it’s loosely integrated Renaissance trader/jeweler theme and pretty artwork, there’s also a Marvel version. Instead of gems, it’s Infinity Stones, and your cards are familiar Avenger characters!

ProsCons
✅ Enjoyable for new gamers, younger gamers, and experienced players alike🅧 If you want fancy plastic gemstones instead of the weighted poker chips, you’ll have to order separately
✅ 2 options available: traditional (Renaissance merchant and gemstones) or Marvel (Avengers characters & Infinity Stones)🅧 Not a heavily strategic or complex game (but still very fun!)
✅ Easy to learn, play, and teach🅧 Luck involved with what cards come out to buy
✅ Nice components
✅ Quick 3 player board game

25. Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game

Sale Upper Deck Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game

Complexity: Medium
Time: 30-60 min
Ages: 14+
Players: 1-5
Company: Upper Deck Entertainment

Legendary:  A Marvel Deck Building Game is precisely that – a deck building game revolving around characters in the Marvel universe. In the base, you can choose from heroes like Spidey, Hulk, Iron Man, and Wolverine and work together as a team to defeat villains like Magneto and Dr. Doom.


As maybe the most well known of the Legendary deck builders by Upper Deck Entertainment, Legendary Marvel creates a great co-op experience in a favorite comic book world. With tons of expansions (Deadpool, anyone?), you’ll never lack for replayability. Also, thought it’s fully cooperative, you can keep track of individual victory points if you want to add some friendly competition to this team card game


Though Legendary Marvel is certainly one of the best card games for 3 players, it’s also very flexible and can expand up to 5 players or even play single player. You can also change up the difficulty with several challenge modes, to keep your group working and fighting together in ever more challenging scenarios.

ProsCons
✅ Easy to learn while you play, so go through a few rounds or a first game with learning in mind 🅧 Can seem a touch confusing reading through the rules the first time, but you’ll pick it up more quickly as you start playing
✅ Will be very popular with Marvel/comic fans🅧 Organization becomes challenging with lots of expansions
✅ Significant replayability, both initially and especially with the multitude of available expansions🅧 Set up and clean up both take some time sorting cards (as is the case with many deck builders)
✅ Wonderful Marvel artwork and theme
✅ Great card game for 3 players but also plays well in other group sizes
✅ Multiple challenge modes to keep it interesting and add difficulty

24. Dominion (2nd Edition)

Sale Dominion: 2nd Edition

Complexity: Medium- low
Time: 30+ min
Ages: 13+
Players: 2-4 (5-6 with Expansion)
Company: Rio Grande Games

As discussed in our best deck building games list, Dominion is the classic deck builder that launched the ever popular and evolving genre. Players compete for victory as the best monarch in the land, and while the theme isn’t super relevant, the gameplay is a lot of fun.


Everyone starts with the same hand of cards, and you’ll work through the game to build your deck by purchasing actions, victory cards, and treasure. Consider powerful card combinations as you design your strategy, which must adjust with each game as you incorporate new and varied sets of cards.


Dominion plays fantastically with three players, but player interaction is extremely minimal in the base game; Dominion’s expansions certainly adjust that, though, if you want more attack cards. You don’t use all cards each game and have lots of set-up options, providing great replayability. Expansions provide waaaayyy more gameplay and new card types, too, so if you get hooked, you’ll have tons to play.

ProsCons
✅ Lots of replayability🅧 Basically no direct player interaction in base
✅ THE classic deck building experience🅧 Minimally engaging theme
✅ Easy to learn, play, and teach🅧 Luck elements of getting cards to line up together
✅ Second edition cleans up some rules and card wordings🅧 Might wantsome expansions for a richer experience
✅ SO many expansion to add variety and new card types

23. Azul

Sale Azul Board Game | Strategy Board Game | Mosaic Tile Placement Game | Family Board Game for Adults and Kids | Ages 8 and up | 2 to 4 Players | Average Playtime 30 - 45 Minutes | Made by Next Move Games

Complexity: Low
Time: 30-45 min
Ages: 8+
Players: 2-4
Company: Plan B Games

In Azul, you play as a tile laying artist working to create a beautiful (and high-scoring) tiled wall in the Royal Palace of Evora in Portugal. Draft tiles from multiple “factories” to place on your board, slowly creating the indicated pattern. Score bonus points for completed rows and columns as well as completed sets of tiles.


You can minimally influence your opponent’s options with your choices, by taking their preferred tiles or forcing them to take too many tiles, leading to negative points. However, there is no direct player interaction (no attacks or anything) in Azul.


Azul is easy to learn, takes minutes to teach, and is a quick game that’s easy to understand for young players and novice board gamers! This a fantastic family board game for three players.

ProsCons
✅ Great for families and quite accessible to children🅧 No active player interaction – passive only (could be a pro depending on your group)
✅ Two sided board for different challenges🅧 Not a tremendous amount of complexity/depth
✅ Very easy to learn and play
✅ Quick play time
✅ Nice plastic tile pieces

22. Sagrada

Sale Sagrada - Board Game by Floodgate Games

Complexity: Low
Time: 30-45 min
Ages: 10+
Players: 1-4
Company: Floodgate Games

Enter the world of beautiful stained-glass windows in Sagrada, where you’ll create your own masterpiece using colorful transparent dice! In this pattern and puzzle game of dice drafting and placement, you must design the best board by achieving personal and public objectives.


Sagrada is incredibly simple to learn and play, but it has sufficient strategic depth to engage fans of more complex games as well. Keeping objectives in mind–and your unique window pattern–draft carefully to maximize points while obeying placement rules (same colors or numbers cannot touch orthogonally, and new dice must connect to a current die). Tools give you greater control, though their use is not unlimited.


Another game with minimal direct involvement, Sagrada appeals to those looking for a 3 player family board game and those looking for a good board game for three adults. It’s also versatile in player count, as the base accommodates 2-4 players but it does have an expansion to include 5-6 players, if you need options (check out our best 5 player board games if you also play in a larger group).

ProsCons
✅ Enough strategic depth for fans of harder games but easy enough for new gamers or young gamers🅧 No real player interaction beyond potential “hate drafting” of dice
✅ Fun, very easy to learn game
✅ Nice components: colorful transparent dice and bright, beautiful, sturdy window boards
✅ Lots of replayability with varied tools and community objectives each game
✅ Expansions available for more cards and players

21. 7 Wonders

Sale 7 Wonders Board Game (BASE GAME) - New Edition | Family Board Game | Board Game for Adults and Family | Civilization and Strategy Board Game | 3-7 Players | Ages 10 and up | Made by Repos Production

Complexity: Medium-low
Time: 30 min
Ages: 10+
Players: 2-7
Company: Repos Production

In 7 Wonders, you use resources and coin to build your unique Ancient Wonder while also developing your military, scientific knowledge, and citizen buildings over the course of three Ages. This is a play and pass card drafting game, which means you can have some impact on what you leave for the next person too!


Cards grant everything from resources, coins, military might, scientific knowledge, buildings, and more, and you’ll have to decide how best to utilize the ever-changing cards available to you to score more victory points than your fellow builders. Building the levels of your Wonder can score you points or give you special abilities or advantages throughout the game, too.


While it’s best as a 3 player game, it holds up quite well with many player groups. In fact, it’s a popular 5 player board game in our group too, so having 7 Wonders in your game closet gives you a lot of flexibility.

ProsCons
✅ Easy to play and fast-paced🅧 As with any draft and pass game, there’s some luck involved
✅ Pretty quick set up🅧 Scoring can take a game or two to understand fully
✅ Many strategies and ways to earn victory points🅧Can be difficult to keep track of opponent’s scores during the game
✅ Very versatile for different number of players
✅ A little bit of player interaction 

20. Pandemic

Sale Pandemic Board Game (Base Game) | Family Board Game | Board Game for Adults and Family | Cooperative Board Game | Ages 8+ | 2 to 4 players | Average Playtime 45 minutes | Made by Z-Man Games

Complexity: Medium
Time: 45 min
Ages: 8+
Players: 2-4
Company: Z-Man Games

Pandemic has become one of the most popular cooperative board games of all time. Play as one of several specialized roles (medic, researcher, scientist, etc.), and coordinate your actions in order to save the world from rampaging diseases before you run out of cards or suffer too many outbreaks.


Travel across the world map board, treating infections (colored cubes for each of 4 diseases), building research stations, and eventually researching and curing the diseases to win. Each turn, you’ll take your actions then collect cards from the player deck, most of which represent a city and have a specific color related to one of the viruses.


You’ll need to collect enough cards of the same color to cure that disease, but beware: the player deck also contains Epidemic cards which will speed up the rate of infection and cause new outbreaks. After each turn, you’ll use the infection deck to find out where new infections are popping up, as you race to contain the spread and find the cures.


With several difficulty levels, you’ll never lack for a challenge, and because of the cooperative nature of the game, Pandemic is definitely accessible to younger and new gamers as well! This game also spawned one of our absolute all-time favorite games: Pandemic Legacy, Season 1. Pandemic has several expansions and variations available too.

ProsCons
✅ Challenging cooperative game with multiple difficulty levels🅧 No competitive elements (not really a con – just how the game is)
✅ Multiple character roles to increase replayability🅧 You’ll have to shuffle quite well between games to avoid similar clumps of cards making your next game less challenging
✅ Fairly to learn and play with helpful player reference guides🅧 Some experienced gamers find the game repetitive or less challenging after a while
✅ One of the best 3 player co-op board games🅧 If this is your first foray into modern board games, the rules might seem a little in depth. Play a few rounds to get the hang of it!
✅ Great for player communication
✅ Nice bit of geography review too

19. Roll for the Galaxy

Roll for The Galaxy Board Game

Complexity: Medium
Time: 45+ min
Ages: 13+
Players: 2-5
Company: Rio Grande Games

Grab Roll for the Galaxy if  you like dice rolling and tableau building games with engine building potential and quick gameplay with minimal downtime. Build the ultimate space empire as you expand, explore, build, and ship or trade goods to earn the most victory points.


This is a dice version of the popular Race for the Galaxy, where colored dice represent your workers/citizens, each type with its unique faces. Explore the galaxy for tiles to add to your tableau (once developed or settled), or produce goods on worlds and either ship them off either for victory points or credits, which you’ll need to pay your citizens in order to rehire them for more work.


With actions and decisions happening simultaneously, this game moves fairly quickly and tends to stay moving along even for analysis paralysis prone players, simply because there aren’t that many choices at any moment. If you get the right worlds and developments, you can get some engine building going, too.


It might take a bit to learn the rules to Roll for the Galaxy, but once you do, there are convenient references on your screen. It’s got some depth, though there’s definitely luck elements in play with both dice rolling and blindly choosing tiles during exploration, which can frustrate some.

ProsCons
✅ Quick playtime and fairly minimal down time throughout🅧 Rules can seem tricky at first; may take a bit to get used to rules and gameplay
✅ Fun dice rolling and tableau building game with engine building capabilities too🅧 Has too much luck for some players (starting tiles, exploration tiles, and dice rolls)
✅ Versatile for different group sizes: Best 3-4 player board game but also works well 5 players 🅧 No player interaction
✅ Has several expansions to increase replayability and add new elements and complexity🅧 Not a great game for young players; works best as a 3 player game for adults (or at least teens +)
✅ Many new players find this easier to master than Race for the Galaxy

18. Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Complexity: Medium
Time: 90 min
Ages: 13+
Players: 1-4
Company: Bezier Gamers

Build your dream castle in the style of the late Bavarian King Ludwig II, known for his lavish castle building and questionable sanity. Buys unique rooms from those currently available for purchase and connect them to your castle. Score points in a variety of ways: base room points, connection bonuses, your individual building goals, and community goals.


Be careful how you build, though, as rooms can only connect via doorways, and you’ll be limited by the sizes and shapes of rooms you choose. You’ll also earn helpful bonuses for connecting all doorways in a room (completing the room), but make sure you still have at least one entrance to the outside world!


While direct player interaction is low, you can still impact others during your turn as Master Builder, where you set the costs for the rooms. During this turn, you pay the bank for new tiles but other players must pay you!


I adore this tile-laying game; Castles of Mad King Ludwig has been a long-time favorite of mine, and it’s just an all-around good, fun 3 player board game.

ProsCons
✅ Fun tile laying game with excellent components🅧 It can take a playthrough or a couple rule reads to get the hang of scoring the rooms
✅ Must think about how rooms interact physically (space and connection points) as well as how they connect/earn points combined🅧 No box organization: just bags for the room tiles
✅ Historically inspired game with lots of intriguing rooms🅧 No direct player interaction/attack options(could be a pro depending on preference)
✅ Some nice indirect/passive player interaction with Master Builder deciding price points for each room
✅ Small expansion available with a couple interesting additions

17. Space Base

Space Base

Complexity: Medium-low
Time: 60 min
Ages: 14+
Players: 2-5
Company: AEG

Ready to rule the galaxy? Or at least race against your opponent’s fleets to get to 40 victory points first? Space Base is a fun and fast paced space-themed engine building game where you earn gold, income, and victory points through dice rolling, but unlike Catan, you can earn on anyone’s turn (and can control what you earn much better!).


Start with 12 bays of ships and a starter ship in each bay. On your turn, roll two dice to earn victory points, income, or gold based on the ship(s) in the bays rolled (example: you roll a 5 and a 6 – you can take the rewards from the ship in bay 11 OR rewards from both ship 5 and ship 6). Then, buy another ship to improve your fleet or build a colony for massive points.


When your new ship enters a bay, the previous ship there gets deployed in that sector. On other people’s turns, you still roll, but you’ll earn resources from deployed ships instead; think carefully about where and how you’ll grow and deploy your fleet!


Though very simple to learn and play, Space Base is tremendously fun, and you’ll have plenty of strategic opportunities as you decide how best to get to 40 victory points first. Strategies shift dramatically depending on player count, and Space Base is another truly versatile game. We frequently play it 2 player, and our larger group enjoys it as a great 5 player game, too.

ProsCons
✅ Resource gains possible on anyone’s dice roll🅧 Will be some luck involved with dice rolls and cards available
✅ Versatile – works well in many group sizes, not just as a 3 player game🅧 Can be frustrating at the start if your numbers don’t seem to come up
✅ Very easy to learn, play, and teach
✅ Quick play time and easy, fast set up
✅ Many strategies/approaches to earning victory points
✅ Cards exist that allow you to take rewards from neighboring bays, allowing greater control and minimizing some luck elements (still some luck involved though)
✅ Tremendous replayability with numerous cards

16. Raiders of the North Sea

Sale Renegade Game Studios Raiders of The North Sea

Complexity: Medium
Time: 60-80 min
Ages: 12+
Players: 2-4
Company: Garphill Games, Renegade Game Studios

Grab Raiders of the North Sea if you’re looking for an easy Viking themed game of raiding, plunder, and glory wrapped up in a unique worker placement style game with hand management/set collection elements as well.


Recruit your chosen Vikings and gather the necessary supplies to sail to ever more difficult outposts and settlements in search of glory and plunder. At its core, Raiders of the North Sea is a worker placement game with a twist — you must set a worker down to take the chosen action and then pick another worker up from a location on the board to take a second action.


Workers come in three colors to be placed either in town or at various raiding points on the game board. Specific colors are required for some placements and may earn different resources at certain locations too. Hire a crew (cards), gain resources and supplies to sail or upgrade, and then if you have enough power, go raiding, though Valkyries may claim the lives of some of your warriors.


With many paths to victory and excellent game mechanics all wrapped up in a fantastic Viking raider theme, you’ll see why we love to break out this medium weight three player board game with friends!

ProsCons
✅ Fun and well integrated Viking theme with great art🅧 Limited direct player interaction
✅ Unique worker placement mechanic that is satisfying but less complex than other games in the genre🅧 May need expansions to maintain replayability long term, especially if you want to add more complexity
✅ Great gameplay; fun and easy to learn but with enough strategy to keep you engaged (and many ways to earn points)🅧Does not have the depth or complexity of other worker placement games (not inherently a con, just depends on what you want in a game)
✅ Good, quality wooden components and metal coins
✅ Several expansions available

15. Lords of Waterdeep

Sale Lords of Waterdeep: A Dungeons & Dragons Board Game

Complexity: Medium
Time: 60-120 min
Ages: 12+
Players: 2-5
Company: Wizards of the Coast

Play as a secretive Lord of Waterdeep, the City of Splendor set in the Forgotten Realms of the Dungeons and Dragons world. D&D fans will appreciate the familiar settings and supporting flavor text on the cards, but if you’re not a D&D player, no worries: you can still enjoy a nice worker-placement game full of quests, intrigue, and glory!


As in standard worker placement games, you’ll receive resources based on where you put your meeples, and your choices will also impact other players, as they will not be able to utilize already occupied spaces. However, you can also build buildings here, expanding the board and the available choices and requiring opponents to pay you if they use your building.


You’ll also work through quests in the quest deck: defeating monsters with a warrior, healing with a cleric, or kidnapping with a rogue. So instead of building up supplies of “typical” resources (wood, sheep, grain, etc.), you’re recruiting heroes to aid in your quests, and higher victory point quests may require more or a variety of adventurer types.


Intrigue cards in Lords of Waterdeep also allow for much more direct impact on your opponents. Combine all this with a well organized box and easy to understand rules, and you’ve got a fun, engaging game with a little bit of depth (and maybe just a bit more heft than Raiders) all wrapped up in a fantasy theme.

ProsCons
✅ Good bit of depth without being overwhelming or getting super long🅧 Has elements of luck that some find frustrating
✅ Nice mechanic for adding places to the board that also gain you benefits from others🅧 Is a mid-weight game; those looking for more intense depth of strategy may be disappointed (see Tzolk’in further down the list for a heavier worker placement)
✅ Great for D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) fans 🅧 Some non D&D players feel the fantasy theme is a bit tacked-on and not as engaging
✅ Solid player interaction, both passive and active with intrigue cards 🅧 Adventurers (warrior, cleric, rogue, etc.) are just represented by colored wooden cubes; not a deal breaker, but a little disappointing to some
✅ Easy to follow rules
✅ Well organized box

14. LeHavre

Le Havre -Including Le Grand Hameau

Complexity: Medium-high
Time: 30-150 min
Ages: 12+
Players: 1-5
Company: Mayfair Games

Another stellar example of Euro-style worker placement by famed designer Uwe Rosenberg (see his bio and 30+ games on BoardGameGeek), LeHavre may feel similar to his Agricola game in an overarching sense, but LeHavre has added commercialization elements and increased player interaction. LeHavre, a port town in the Normandy region of France, is a hub of commerce in which players seek their fortunes as shipping magnates.


On your turn, you have two basic options: gain the goods/resources from a space or use a building. Buildings have a variety of useful actions, including upgrading and selling goods or using your resources to build your own buildings and ships. Your buildings not only increase available actions spaces, but other players must pay you when using them.


As in Agricola, during the games Harvest phase, your cattle and grain will multiply, and you must feed your workers, which is helped by the building of ships. At the end of the set number of rounds, the wealthiest player (buildings, cash, ships) wins. Though the gameplay sounds pretty straightforward, you’ll be pleasantly satisfied by the depth and complexity of LeHavre, especially after a few rounds.


If you’re looking for a good three player board game like Catan (in the sense of a Euro-style game) but with more heft and depth, you might like LeHavre!

ProsCons
✅ Great depth and complexity that seems to grow as you get used to the game🅧 May be overwhelming for less experienced gamers
✅ Many strategies for how exactly to amass your winning fortune🅧 Can take a while to play, even longer the first time or two as you read rules and get into it
✅ Simple core gameplay mechanics but many options for how to proceed🅧 The theme isn’t as terribly significant or as well integrated as some other games (like Agricola)
✅ Fantastic worker placement game with some extra player interaction with pay-to-use building mechanic

13. Clank!

Sale Renegade Game Studios Clank! A Deck Building Adventure!

Complexity: Medium-low
Time: 30-60 min
Ages: 12+
Players: 2-4 (5-6 with Expansion)
Company: Renegade Game Studios

The extremely popular Clank! combines deck building with dungeon crawling and does it so well that it made both our best dungeon crawler list AND our best deck building games list! In Clank! you’re all adventurers seeking plunder in the Dragon’s lair, but skulk quietly through the dungeon, as loud noises (Clank!) may rouse an angry dragon!


Escape the dungeon alive with your Artifact, and build your deck of Skills, Swords, and Boots to earn more cards, fight monsters, and move skillfully about the dungeon. Clank! is simple and fun; it’s a great family board game for 3 players but also plays quite well with strategy board game groups looking for a lighter title.


If you need flexibility in your player counts, the  Adventuring Party Expansion allows up to 6, though playtime and downtime between turns increases with larger groups.

ProsCons
✅ Great deck building and dungeon crawling combination🅧 If you play a lot, you’ll need some expansions to keep it interesting
✅ Fun, lightweight game with quick play; great for family gaming or strategy groups wanting a lighter game🅧 Minimal player interaction
✅ Easy to learn and play🅧 Has too much luck for some players
✅ Has multiple expansions for more variety as well as Clank! In Space option

12. Agricola

Agricola

Complexity: Medium-high
Time: 30-150 min
Ages: 12+
Players: 1-4
Company: Mayfair Games (Uwe Rosenberg)

Build your farm and provide for your family in this excellent worker placement game with wonderful wooden components; it also helps if you like a little sense of tension and don’t mind longer games as long as they’re strategically satisfying!


Plant and harvest crops, gather resources or food, acquire livestock (and build fences and barns to accommodate them), and even decide to expand your house and have kids (they grow up quickly and help on the farm)! Occupation and minor improvement cards help you develop a grander strategy as you progress through the game.


Agricola is often a slow-burn; you may feel like it takes most of the game to get things really going, and just when you’re really feeling good, the game comes to a close. That’s not uncommon, and that feeling of tension and mild stress often accompanies a game of Agricola. Though the game truly is about building up your farm, after more plays, you can get some engines built a bit earlier with at least a little more time to profit from them!


With detailed wooden components (little wooden sheep and cows and pumpkins and more!) and a lot of depth, strategy, and possibilities, Agricola is one of our favorite worker placement games and one of the best 3 player strategy games (not as much a light family game), but it also plays well with 4.

ProsCons
✅ Excellent depth and complexity. Plenty of strategy to satisfy experienced gamers🅧 It can become a longer game, especially for very thoughtful or AP prone players or larger groups
✅ Thematically wonderful; you really feel the struggle of the farmers and find satisfaction in growing your farmstead – well integrated for sure 🅧 It tends to take a bit to learn; you might spend a game or two getting comfortable before really starting to have time to consider strategic possibilities
✅ Fantastic wooden components🅧 Due to complexity/difficulty, it might be more challenging to pick up for less experienced or younger players
✅ Popular and well designed worker placement game

11. Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar

Sale Czech Games Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar, Multi-Colored (CGE00019)

Complexity: Medium-high
Time: 90+ min
Ages: 13+
Players: 2-4
Company: Czech Games Edition (CGE)


Become a Mayan leaders in this award-winning dynamic worker placement game that will challenge your planning skills with its intriguing time delay mechanic. Each of the five primary worker tracks areas (Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Tikal, and Palanque) sits on interconnected gears that move one space each turn. Thus, your workers travel around the tracks turn by turn and complete the associated action when you remove them; not surprisingly, more desirable spaces require more time on the tracks.


Since you cannot place workers and remove workers on the same turn, you’ll have to consider your movements carefully while balancing feeding your workers and constructing a cohesive overall strategy to earn you the greatest victory points. Will you worship at the temples? Place crystal skulls at Chichen Itza? Amass resources to build buildings and monuments? Advance your technology tracks?


We love Tzolk’in; it’s one of my favorite 3 player strategy games of all time (I adore worker placements in general), but it may not be ideal for kids or families; it’s longer and heavier weight. If needed, it can even accommodate up to five players with the Tribe and Prophets Expansion, though it can get a bit more frustrating to place workers effectively with more limited choices.

ProsCons
✅ Fascinating time-delay/dynamic worker placement strategy game with many paths to victory🅧 Less player interaction beyond limiting your opponent’s options (no attacking or other direct player interaction)
✅ Great iconography (once you learn what it all means) for in-game easy reference🅧 Rules may seem a bit daunting; might take a game or so to get the hang of everything
✅ Nice components (heavy plastic gears & tiny blue plastic crystal skulls!)🅧Box has basically no organization, but it did provide bags to separate components
✅ Involves advanced thinking and preparation

10. Puerto Rico: Deluxe Edition

Sale Rio Grande Games Puerto Rico Deluxe Multi-colored

Complexity: Medium-high
Time: 90-150 min
Ages: 13+
Players: 2-5
Company: Ravensburger, Alea

Winner of almost a dozen board game awards and nominee for several more, Puerto Rico still shines despite the years passed since its creation. In this Euro-style game, you’ll become colonial governor on the island, tasked with accumulating the most victory points through a combination of erecting buildings and shipping goods.


Each round, the active player selects a role (mayor, trader, builder, captain etc.) and takes the associated action and bonus. Then all players get to take the action (but not the bonus) as well, in turn order; this mechanic helps keep the feel of multiplayer solitaire at bay. Consider your opponent’s carefully to deduce what they’re likely to do in order to make the best choice yourself.


Station colonists on every tile, from crop fields to buildings, in order to produce and process goods, and manage your resources carefully to ensure you still have enough doubloons, or you’ll be too strapped for cash to continue to build and grow. We do play Puerto Rico as a 5 player strategy game, but we feel it shines best at 3-4 players.


Deluxe Edition includes 2 expansions, has updated artwork, illustrated building tiles, and nicer, better quality components as well. It’s easily worth the minor price increase.


**Note: the theme may feel quite insensitive and a bit uncomfortable, as it revolves around the colonization of the island, building plantations, and processing/shipping island resources and goods back to Europe. It’s about managing the land economically, and while gameplay is mechanically solid, we understand how the game can definitely come across as thematically insensitive**

ProsCons
✅ Excellent depth and strategy – need to consider your own plans as well as those of others🅧 Theme of colonization may be historically accurate but also feels disconcerting and insensitive
✅ Deluxe version has fantastic value: two included expansions, better components, updated art, etc.🅧 May seem challenging at first, but with a game or two, it’ll start to feel simpler mechanically and you’ll grasp the strategic depths
✅ Very minimal luck involved
✅ Lots of indirect player interaction (not just multiplayer solitaire)
✅ Many paths to victory

9. Spirit Island

Greater Than Games Spirit Island Core Board Game

Complexity: High
Time: 90-120 min
Ages: 14+
Players: 1-4
Company: Greater Than Games

Play as one of the resident spirits of the island, equipped with unique powers and abilities, and work alongside your fellow spirits to root out the invaders attempting to colonize your land. You wield powerful magic, but some abilities take longer than others to enact, so consider carefully what you play and whether it will take effect before or after the Invaders spread and ravage the land.


During the Spirit phase each turn, you can gain energy, add or recover power cards, or spread your presence further into the island. The Invaders, on their turn, will explore sections of the island, and on the subsequent turn will build and settle those lands. The next turn, they’ll turn on the land and its inhabitants–attacking islanders present and blighting the land in their wake.


With so much happening during the span of each turn and over a series of turns, you’ll need to be prepared to think ahead and communicate well with your partner Spirits. Spirit Island is not an easy, simple game, but if you’re willing to commit the time (in both learning and playing), it is immensely satisfying to play, especially if you enjoy depth and complexity.


Spirit Island plays 1-4 but is best at 2-3 players; it’s also a shining example of a complex 3 player co-op board game. It is however, a board game for three adults (or at least patient teens); this one is a heavy strategy game that most kids won’t enjoy.

ProsCons
✅ Complex, challenging, & deep. One of the all-time best cooperative board games (also excellent as a single player board game)🅧If you prefer lightweight/medium-weight, easy-to-learn, and quick-to-play games, Spirit Island will likely feel overwhelming, frustrating, and rather long
✅ High quality components🅧 Set up does take a while
✅ Tremendous replayability in base game alone🅧 Box isn’t super well organized (it’s ok, not great)
✅ Requires coordination among players but doesn’t lend itself to one player “running the show” due to overall complexity🅧 Learning the rules will absolutely take some time and patience to learn
✅ Simultaneous actions for lessened down time between turns
✅ Several expansions for even greater replayability, challenge, and depth
✅ Beautiful artwork and nicely thematic
✅ Requires lots of advanced thinking and planning
✅ Minimal luck and random elements

8. Viticulture: Essential Edition

Sale Stonemaier Games Viticulture Essential Edition Board Game

Complexity: Medium
Time: 45-90 min
Ages: 13+
Players: 1-6
Company: Stonemaier Games

Grab Viticulture if you want a fantastic worker placement game that falls somewhere between Raiders of the North Sea/Lords of Waterdeep and Tzolk’in for complexity with incredible value, fantastic components, and unique mechanics all wrapped up a delightful wine-making theme!


After inheriting a small, unassuming vineyard in pre-modern Tuscany, it’s up to you to build your winery from its meager start into a bustling success. Work seasonally to build your reputation (represented by victory points) and your vineyard.


In Spring, you determine the schedule of your workers. Should they rise early to get to spaces first, or should you let them sleep in a bit and gain some bonuses? In Summer, you can plant vines and build to expand your vineyard. In Fall, you can encourage visitors to come help you for future seasons, and in Winter, you’ll spend your time harvesting grapes, making wine, and filling orders.


Viticulture: Essential Edition includes the second edition as well as components from the popularly Tuscany expansion, which really rounds out the game play with some more depth. The value is also increased by the ridiculously high quality wooden components, including 8 unique buildings, roosters, worker meeples, wine bottles, and glass bead wine tokens.


Viticulture is one of the best 3-4 player games, but it’s also very versatile. We enjoy it 2 player and have also played it with 5 players, and while it gets a bit long, it still works quite well. The solo game mode is also very engaging and well designed.

ProsCons
✅ Essential Edition includes Viticulture 2nd Edition AND hand-picked elements of the wildly popular original Tuscany expansion for a rich and satisfying game and incredible value🅧 Can feel overwhelming or more complex, especially for newer players (it’s still medium-weight, but it’s heftier than the other worker placements on this list for sure!)
✅ Engaging, satisfying worker placement game with excellent mechanics for nice depth and complexity without being overwhelming🅧 Game can get long, even with just 2-3 players, especially for analysis paralysis prone players or those that really enjoy thinking through their strategy. (it’s still quite engaging, though!)
✅ Very high-quality components🅧 Rules & gameplay might take a bit (perhaps the first game) to get all figured out
✅ Wonderful artwork and excellent theme: well integrated and satisfying, especially for wine lovers!🅧 If you want metal coins, you’ll have to purchase them separately

7. Wingspan

Sale Wingspan Board Game - A Bird-Collection, Engine-Building Stonemaier Game for 1-5 Players, Ages 14+

Complexity: Medium
Time: 40-70 min
Ages: 10+
Players: 1-5
Company: Stonemaier Games

Create the ultimate wildlife preserve by bringing the best (and most) birds to your area! As an avid bird enthusiast, you’ll work to create the most successful bird sanctuary in this absolutely stunning card-driven game with elements of engine-building, set collection, hand management, and so much more.


Place birds in each of four unique habitats that each allow different actions to be taken. Gain food tokens based on the dice in the bird feeding dice tower (it’s adorable, and you’ll love it!), and you’ll even get to lay and hatch eggs (tiny, colorful plastic eggs!!) . Use the unique powers of your birds, combining them skillfully for the best set-up, and work towards victory by scoring points in a wide variety of ways.


Fairly new to the board game realm, Wingspan has wowed audiences again and again. It’s our pick for the best family board game for 3 players, but it’s also a fantastic at 2 player and even as a 4 or 5 player board games. While I know I’m a sucker for pretty games, this one is not only elegant, beautiful, and supremely satisfying in its components, it’s mechanically excellent as well.

ProsCons
✅ Detailed, beautiful, thematically fantastic components with overall excellent illustrative artwork and gorgeous design🅧 Some find it takes a round or two to get comfortable with the gameplay (but not an entire game like some!)
✅ Many strategies to implement for victory and great gameplay even if you don’t love birds
✅ Well developed and immersive bird theme
✅ Truly one of the best board games to play with three players but also very versatile: performs nicely in other group sizes too

6. Scythe

Sale Stonemaier Games Scythe Board Game - An Engine-Building, Area Control for 1-5 Players, Ages 14+

Complexity: Medium-high
Time: 2 hours
Ages: 14+
Players: 1-5
Company: Stonemaier Games

Join us in the reimagined world of 1920s Europa, where players take on the role of faction leaders of Eastern Europe setting out to seek fortune and stake their claim in the land surrounding the mysterious “Factory.” In this highly strategic and asymmetrical game, players each control a faction, complete with unique abilities and a starting location with access to certain resources, as well as private objectives.


Throughout the game, you’ll enlist recruits, move across the land, build mechs and buildings, seek to control areas, encounter citizens and events in the land, amass and spend your resources, level up your tech trees to make actions easier or cheaper, and battle with your opponents for resources, land, and to display your ultimate strength. With countless paths to victory and incredible player control, Scythe is one of best strategy board games of our day.


If you’re looking for a heavy 3 player board game that’s highly rated (Board Game Geek ranks it 14th overall and 12th in strategy) Scythe is your game. The gameplay is incredible, and we are addicted. We play it 2 player; it has a great solo gameplay mode, and it’s even on our Best 5 Player Board Game List.

ProsCons
✅ Incredible, deep strategy game that’s complex but not overwhelming for experienced gamers🅧 Rules will take a while to read, and it may take a game to get the hang of it (and more to really start seeing all the possibilities)
✅ High quality components: wooden resources & meeples, mech miniatures, and large character figures🅧 Set up does take a while, though this is significantly lessened by the Broken Token Organizer
✅ Fantastic board game for 3 adults but also versatile and plays well 1-5🅧 Not great for beginners or kids; it’s a longer, deeper thinking game that may overwhelm or irritate young or new players
✅ Excellent gameplay and many paths to victory with minimal luck (very player driven)
✅ Has great expansions too, as well as Broken Token organizers and upgraded resource and coins if you want even higher quality versions (metal coins and molded/painted resources)

5. Great Western Trail

Pegasus Press PEG54590G Great Western Trail Board Game

Complexity: Medium-high
Time: 75-150 min
Ages: 12+
Players: 2-4
Company: Eggertspiele

Play as a rancher herding cattle from Texas to Kansas City. Navigate the changing trails with each herd, utilize buildings you find along the way, and learn to manage and care for your precious cows until you sell them in KC!


Nominee for at least a dozen game awards across the globe (and winner of more than a couple), Great Western Trail seamlessly combines multiple mechanics, including deck building (it’s also on our best deck building game list, though the mechanic is just one of many), movement across a game board, set collection, and more.


The theme is wonderfully integrated into the mechanics, and even if you’re not initially captivated by the thought of playing as a cattle rancher, the gameplay is so stellar that you’ll still love it.


Though initial rule reading will take some time, once you get the hang of the iconography of the game, you won’t need a lot of rule book references. With many ways to achieve victory points, Great Western Trail has a lot of replayability as well.

ProsCons
✅ Great integration of several gaming mechanics🅧 Some might not find the theme as appealing (it’s still worth it, though!!)
✅ Quite fun but with plenty of strategy🅧 Some minor complaints about less viable paths and some less ideal objective cards
✅ Nice complexity without being overwhelming
✅ Many routes to earn victory points
✅ Useful iconography for easy understanding of components throughout play

4. Gloomhaven: Highest Rated 3 Player Board Game

Sale Cephalofair Games Gloomhaven Multi-Award-Winning Strategy Boxed Board Game for ages 12 & Up, Multicolor

Complexity: Medium-high
Time: 60-120 min
Ages: 12+
Players: 1-4
Company: Cephalofair Games

Topping many of the charts for best dungeon crawl games (and co-op board games and single player games), Gloomhaven has seen astonishing popularity ever since its release .Choose your character from a set of classes, each with unique abilities, skills and traits; then set out with your party, moving across a modular game board, taking actions through cards, and working together to win each successive scenario.


While this isn’t our personal choice for best 3 player board game overall (it’s not for everyone, and it’s a big commitment due to the legacy format), it is undeniably amazing and currently sits atop Board Game Geek’s list as the #1board game… and it’s been there for quite a while.


As this is a legacy style game, your characters will level up as the game moves forward, giving you more abilities and making them stronger and better. Your choices impact the game going forward, so though the box contains 75 different scenarios, you’ll not play through all of them in any given play through.


You’ve got over 100 hours of wonderful gameplay here, and if you’re a fan of the dungeon crawler genre, you simply have to check out this rich and immensely popular game. You’ll want to stick with the same group of players in Gloomhaven, so consider your game mates carefully. It is complex; be prepared to sink some serious time into learning and playing this game. You’ll almost assuredly want the Broken Token, too (or a dedicated space to just leave it all out), to minimize the long set up time.


If you’re interested in a campaign style board game spanning many, many games (and hours) that checks the boxes of dungeon crawler, RPG elements (limited -not the full scope of a traditional tabletop RPG), legacy, and complexity, you’ll adore Gloomhaven.

ProsCons
✅ Epic adventure dungeon crawler legacy game with some RPG elements🅧 Settle in: this will take a while to learn, and games can be long
✅ So much content – 75 scenarios (won’t play them all in a single legacy run) and over 100 hours🅧 It takes serious time to set up/tear down (you want the Broken Token – trust us)
✅ Engaging and deeply enjoyable; one of the best options for cooperative 3 player games🅧 Cannot accommodate more than 4 players, so does not work for larger groups
✅ Several unique character classes and characters that level up and improve as the game progresses🅧 Takes a committed, serious group of players (not really a con, just a fact)
✅ Legacy style means that your choices and actions shape the future of your game
✅ Upgrades and expansions available

3. Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization

Czech Games Through The Ages: A New Story of Civilization

Complexity: High
Time: 120+ min
Ages: 14+
Players: 2-4
Company: Czech Games (CGE)

This is the updated and improved version of the original Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization; make sure you get the NEW Story version! This is one of the best 3 player strategy board games and one of the heaviest and hardest 3 player games as well; it comes with a steep learning curve and serious play times, but it’s fantastic.


Build the best civilization possible from the age of antiquity through the modern era, and in the end, the player with the most culture wins. To succeed, you must balance many aspects of your civilization: technological advancement, military prowess, resource management, election of leaders, building of wonders, and more.


Throughout play, you’ll build civilian and military buildings, and you’ll find yourself asking things like: Have I mined enough ore to build this? Do I have enough science to discover this tech? Enough food to feed my population in order to man it? There’s so much to this game, and opponents can exploit your weak spots; so while having something like an epic military may not be enough to win you the game, having a meager one might cost you victory.


There’s no area control in Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization, as there is no map, and much of your interaction is card-driven. This will require up-front commitment of rule-learning and time; it’ll likely take a game or more to start to grasp fully the array of possibilities and strategies, but it is absolutely worth the effort for experienced board gamers looking for a challenge.

ProsCons
✅ Incredibly deep and strategic board game requiring lots of planning, consideration, and balance🅧 It is time consuming, both in play and in learning, even more significantly as you’re figuring it out the first few games. (often takes longer than the 120 min manufacturer rating).
✅ New version (has “New” in the title) updates, cleans, and changes certain aspects of play for overall improvement🅧 This is not a game well-suited for less experienced and young gamers due to the high level of complexity
✅ Excellent, engaging civilization building theme
✅ Player interaction – can exploit opponents’ weaknesses
✅ Significant variety and replayability
✅ Euro-style game driven with card mechanics
✅ Fabulous strategy game for the experienced gamer that enjoys complexity

2. Gaia Project: Best Heavy 3 Player Board Game

Sale Gaia Project

Complexity: High
Time: 60-150 min
Ages: 14+
Players: 1-4
Company: Z-Man Games

Thee next game in the line and style of Terra Mystica, Gaia Project quickly became a smashing success. Choose from 14 different uniquely skilled factions who live on 7 different types of home planets. Terraform neighboring planets in order to expand your foothold in the galaxy while also considering upgrades needed to improve your capabilities.


Advance your skills in Terraforming, Navigation, Artificial Intelligence, Gaiaforming, Economy, and Research as you expand your influence, upgrade your structures, and gain resources. With a modular board and 14 faction choices, the replayability factor here is pretty incredible. The components are good quality as well. Fan of Terra Mystica will love it, and even if you’ve never played Terra Mystica (you should check it out!), you’ll love Gaia Project for its depth, complexity, and rich gameplay.


In this Euro-Style game, luck has practically no role, so your destiny truly rests in your hands. It’ll take some time to learn, but this is the best heavy board game for 3 players, with Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization right behind it (also check out Terraforming Mars, Scythe, and Great Western Trail for more excellent strategy games for three players).

ProsCons
✅ Very minimal luck🅧 Box has basically no organization
✅ Complex, deep, and challenging but very enjoyable🅧 May take a game or two to get fully accustomed to the rules and iconography
✅ Well done space colonization theme with many ways to earn victory points and thus multiple viable strategic paths🅧 The game takes up a lot of table space (not really a con – just be aware!)
✅ Rules are well written and very thorough🅧This is complex – not for young or new gamers. This is a good 3 player board game for adults (or experienced gamer young adults), not so much for families and kids
✅ Good quality components

1. Terraforming Mars: Overall Best 3 Player Board Game

Sale Indie Boards and Cards Terraforming Mars Board Game, Multicolor (6005SG)

Complexity: Medium-high
Time: 120+ min
Ages: 12+
Players: 1-5
Company: Fryx Games, Stronghold Games

At the head of a major corporation, you’re goal is to make Mars hospitable for human life, but terraforming the planet will take time and significant effort. You must alter the planet’s atmosphere, temperature, and water levels to ensure plant life can take root here before the planet can support humans.


Each turn, you can take a variety of actions, including building to improve access to resources, place lakes and forests, and otherwise assist in the terraforming efforts. As you research, you’ll gain access to more building cards and further upgrades, allowing for greater resource production, which you’ll have to manage wisely.


Terraforming Mars is fantastically designed, engaging, and honestly just a lot of fun. We think it’s the best 3 player game because it’s challenging but not out of reach for most gamers and has wonderful gameplay and a fantastic theme. It’s not as heavy or hard as the previous two games, and it doesn’t require the commitment (or set up time) of Gloomhaven.


Once you try Terraforming Mars and become addicted, you can add expansions to the game, and we also adore the Broken Token here for a highly organized box, quicker set up, and much better quality (wooden, grooved) player mats for tracking resources. If you’ve got a group of gamers interested in a slightly more complex, deeper strategy game, pick upTerraforming Mars today.

ProsCons
✅ Fully satisfying strategic depth with fantastic gameplay with careful resource management and production and many viable strategies to victory🅧 Without the Broken Token organizer, the box organization is lacking and set up does take a bit longer
✅ Engaging, integral theme and quality components🅧 This is a 2+ hour game, which can feel long for some
✅ Multiple expansions for greater depth, variety, and replayability🅧 Greater complexity means rules might feel a little challenging, especially the first time
✅ Exceptional at 3 players but still very versatile for multiple game groups. Also made our lists for best solo board games AND best board games for 5 players

Runner Up Best Three Player Board Games

Thanks to the incredible innovation of game creators and the current popularity of gaming, there are far more excellent games on the market than I’ll ever be able to cover in a single post, so here are a few more great 3 player games, grouped by complexity level (from lowest to highest in each group) to help you find more great games for 3 people!

Low Complexity (Quick & Easy) 3 Player Games

Ordered from low to medium-low by increasing complexity level.

Sale
Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) Smash Up
Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) Smash Up
For 2-4 players; Takes about an hour to play; "Shufflebuilding" card game; English (Publication Language)
Victory Point Games Trieste - Three-Player Boxed Card Game
Victory Point Games Trieste - Three-Player Boxed Card Game
Three player game; Fast-paced; Competitive; Standard box packaging and component storage
Sale
Mystic Vale
Mystic Vale
Innovative card crafting system creates a game experience like you've never played before; Beautiful artwork and graphics that bring the game to life

Medium Complexity 3 Player Games For Casual Gaming

Small World: Underground
Small World: Underground
Small World Underground - when in a hole keep digging; This is a standalone game; Recommended for experienced Small World players
Sale
Mansions of Madness Board Game, 2nd Edition
Mansions of Madness Board Game, 2nd Edition
A fully cooperative Lovecraftian board game for one to five players; Required companion app available on iOS, Android, windows, and Mac
Suburbia Collector's Edition
Suburbia Collector's Edition
An amazing new edition of a classic city building game!; All previous expansions included, as well as a brand new one called nightlife!
Sale
Everdell
Everdell
A BOARD GAME FOR 1-4 PLAYERS: Only 20 minutes per player. (40 - 80 minute game play); STUNNING ARTWORK: A detailed world realized through stunning artwork.

Heavy 3 Player Board Games (High Complexity for Experienced Gamers)

Merchant of Venus
Merchant of Venus
The return of the beloved classic space trading game; Play as any one of four different races: Human, Whynom, Qossuth, or Eeepeeep
Sale
A Feast For Odin
A Feast For Odin
Innovative home board mechanic.; Fun and fair dice-managed actions.; Over 200 occupation cards.
Sale
Capstone Games Maracaibo
Capstone Games Maracaibo
Alexander Pfister's newest big-box strategy game!; Unique (and optional) story-mode presents a Nondestructive legacy-like experience
Roxley Games Brass Birmingham Board Games
Roxley Games Brass Birmingham Board Games
Martin Wallace's original masterpiece

Best 2-3 Player Board games

Playing in a three player group is fantastic, as it opens up a tremendous number of games for you, and–convenient for those of you with multiple game groups–several of the best three player board games also play splendidly in other group sizes.

If you usually need games for 3 players at home but occasionally just have 2 people around, here are some favorites from this list that shine with 2-3 players! (Honestly, most of the games on here also play pretty well 2 player, but here are the highlights.)

  • Ingenious
  • Azul
  • Sagrada
  • Space Base
  • Raiders of the North Sea
  • Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
  • Tzolk’in
  • Viticulture
  • Wingspan
  • Scythe
  • Terraforming Mars
  • Spirit Island
  • Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization

Best 3-4 Player Board games

If you need your 3 player games to occasionally flex into 4 player games, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best board games to play with 3-4 players from this list.

  • Dice Forge
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Roll for the Galaxy
  • Castles of Mad King Ludwig
  • Pandemic
  • Space Base
  • Lords of Waterdeep
  • Agricola
  • Tzolk’in
  • Puerto Rico
  • Viticulture
  • Scythe
  • Gaia Project

3 Player Board Games Like Catan

If you’re a fan of Catan but want to shake things up, here are some ideas from the list above for three player games like Catan in some way, such as a similar style or incorporating familiar concepts or mechanics.


Agricola: This is another Euro Game and has great wooden components, but it’s definitely heavier weight. Instead of settling a new land, you’re building up a farm, and the worker placement idea may be new. If you’re starting to tire of Catan and want a greater challenge with even less luck, check out Agricola.


Space Base: You roll dice to collect resources and victory points, except in Space Base, you roll on every players turn and are customizing your personal board (fleet) to optimize your rolling power!


Puerto Rico: Another Euro style game with minimal luck that’s become a staple in the board game community.


Similar complexity: If you want a three player game like Catan in the sense of weight class (complexity) but want to shake it up with different themes and mechanics, here are some great options:

Difficulty Level/Complexity of Board Games

To help you navigate our suggestions, look at the complexity rating for each game. Low complexity games are easier and faster to learn, have fewer rules or mechanics to get used to, and often play quickly. On the other end of the spectrum, high complexity games may require an hour or more of gameplay, have a lot of strategic depth, more game mechanics and rules (that often take a while to read and understand).

Low Complexity:

These games tend to be the easiest and quickest to learn and play. They generally have fewer elements or mechanics in play and are great introductory games for new players and generally play well with younger players.


Of course, all the games above are great, and even experienced gamers can appreciate a well-designed lightweight game between longer strategy titles. If you’re looking more for easy, quick three player board games (also generally great family games), low and medium-low complexity games are a great choice.

Medium Complexity:

Games in the medium complexity category have a little more going on with them than their low complexity counterparts but are often still accessible to newer board gamers, though they’ll have slightly denser or more rules than light games. These games tend to be popular with casual and strategy gamers alike.


If you’ve had some experience playing modern board games (Catan, Dominion, Carcassonne, Pandemic, etc.), you’ll be fine here. Mid-weight games can also make great 3 player family games because they’ve got some depth, are tons of fun, and don’t require quite the commitment (in time or rule learning) of higher complexity games.

High Complexity:

Among our choices for best 3 player games, those considered higher complexity range are listed as medium-high or high. Those listed at medium-high tend to have a wider range of elements in play, many available strategies for victory, and multiple mechanics in a game. They’ll take more time to learn, may require more references to the rule book, and might even need a game or two to feel like you’ve really got a handle on what’s going on (or what all those icons mean).


For the few truly high complexity games, all of that is still true; however, these games step it up another notch. Only the truly heavy three player board games (the hardest) are listed as “high” complexity. We recommend these only for experienced gamers willing to take more– potentially significantly more– time to read the rules and play the game.

Final Thoughts on Best Three Player Board Games

Hopefully by now you’ve found several enticing new board games to play with your 3 player group! What’s your favorite 3 player board game? Is there an excellent three player game that didn’t make the list or the runner ups? Let us know in the comments!

Overall Best Board Game for 3 Players

Sale Indie Boards and Cards Terraforming Mars Board Game, Multicolor (6005SG)

Hardest 3 Player Board Game (Heavy!)

Sale Gaia Project

Best Casual 3 Player Board Game

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