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The 17 Board Games With The Best Wooden Pieces Ever

Posted Wednesday, 21-Jan-2015

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Which modern board games have the best wooden pieces? Players accuse many European board games of boiling down to nothing more than pushing wooden cubes around a board. And sometimes that’s true. But sometimes game companies go to great lengths to make sure that their pieces are not just another set of wooden cubes.

Quarto —All Pieces


Like “Connect Four” taken to the next  level, Quarto’s beautifully-shaped pieces serve a purpose: line up four with one aspect in common, and you win.

Gulo Gulo — Eggs And Alarm


Gulo Gulo adds a dexterity element to an otherwise-simple children’s game. Pluck one of the wooden eggs out of the bowl and advance to a tile of that color. But if the egg alarm hits the table — or you knock any eggs out of the bowl — you have to move backward.

Viticulture — Upgrade Pieces


The upgrade pieces in Viticulture are not just nice, they’re completely unnecessary. The designers could have gone with simple disks and spaces to mark players’ upgrades. Instead, they insisted on having a different wooden component for each.

Dungeon Lords — Minion Figures


Don’t be fooled by Dungeon Lords’ cute appearance. This is a seriously heavy game.

Camel Up — Camels


The pieces in Camel Up aren’t just endearing, they’re functional; when one camel moves onto a space occupied by another camel, it jumps on that camel’s back.

Niagara — Boats


Niagara has an abundance of clever component design — particularly the plastic discs that mimic the movement of water — but the boats earned it a spot in this list.

Pillars of the Earth — Castle Pieces


The publisher could have easily used cardboard chits to represent the stages of the castle in Pillars of the Earth. Instead, they want with wooden blocks to give the game more gravitas.

Villa Paletti — Platforms


Villa Paletti plays like an advanced version of Jenga, where players make some actual strategic choices — and it wouldn’t be possible without the game’s brightly-colored wooden platforms.

Cathedral — Whole Game


This game has come in a few different versions, but nothing beats the classic wooden set. Not only is it a solid game, but it looks better than most chess boards.

Reef Encounter — Shrimp


It’s the eyes that really put these guys over.

Carcassonne — Meeples


Meeple and meeple variants have appeared in many other games, but we still have to credit Carcassonne for popularizing the use of tiny wooden men.

Settlers of Catan — The Robber

The 17 Games With The Best Wooden Pieces Ever

Another classic that can’t be ignored.

Survive: Escape From Atlantis — Sea Creatures/Boats


While Survive includes its own variation on meeples, it’s the sea creatures and boats that put the game over the top. Each of those components are incredibly detailed — especially when you consider their size.

Scoville — Peppers


The pepper-shaped pieces in Scoville aren’t just a nice touch; they’re also intuitive. The taller the piece is, the more valuable it is.

Gobblet — Entire Set


Gobblet combines Tic-Tac-Toe with Memory and makes a surprisingly-compelling two-player game. In addition, the deluxe set comes in a wooden storage box that doubles as the game board.

Animal Upon Animal — Animals


Like a more complex Jenga, players in this game aim to be the first to get all of their animals into the pyramid pile.

Imperial Settlers — All Components (Bust Mostly the Apple)


The components in Imperial Settlers are way nicer than they have to be, considering that it’s primarily a card game. But the red food token has taken on extra charm due to the continuing argument over whether it’s an apple or a tomato.

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