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Gaming in the Library: Strategy Games

Get your game on at the Library!

7 Wonders

In 7 Wonders you become the leader of one of the 7 great cities of the ancient world! Gather resources, develop commercial routes, and affirm your military supremacy. Build your city and erect an architectural wonder which will transcend future times. Players compete with each other to build one of the wonders of the ancient world.

Players: 2-7, Time: 60-90 minutes


The Emirite of Granada, AD1278. At the foot of Europe's Sierra Nevada mountains, one of the most exciting and interesting project of the Spanish Middle Ages begins: the construction of the magnificent Alhambra by Nasrid emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar.

The best master builders in the whole of Europe and Arabia want to demonstrate their skill. Players employ the most suitable teams of builders and make sure that you always have enough of the right currency. Because no matter whether they are stonemasons from the north or horticulturalists from the south, they all want a proper wage and insist on their homeland's currency. With their help towers can be constructed, gardens laid out, pavilions and arcades erected, and seraglios and chambers built.

A 2003 Spiel des Jahres winner, Alhambra is a game where players compete to build the biggest and best Moorish palace.

Players: 2-6, Time: 60-90 minutes


Introduced by the Moors, azulejos (originally white and blue ceramic tiles) were fully embraced by the Portuguese when their king Manuel I, on a visit to the Alhambra palace in Southern Spain, was mesmerized by the stunning beauty of the Moorish decorative tiles. The king, awestruck by the interior beauty of the Alhambra, immediately ordered that his own palace in Portugal be decorated with similar wall tiles. As a tile-laying artist, you have been challenged to embellish the walls of the Royal Palace of Evora, Portugal.

In the game Azul, players take turns drafting colored tiles from suppliers to their player board. Later in the round, players score points based on how they've placed their tiles to decorate the palace. Extra points are scored for specific patterns and completing sets; wasted supplies harm the player's score. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Players: 2-4, Time: 45-60 minutes

Chicago Express

Not just another train game. In Chicago Express, the industrial boom in the 19th century America is re-lived, along with the struggle to become the most successful railroad in the country! In the game the B&O, C&O, Pennsylvania and New York Central railroads drive from the eastern seaboard, across the growing eastern United States, to Chicago, Illinois. Smaller, more aggressive railroads like the Wabash spring up to further expand America's extensive network of railroads. The best railroad executives vied for the maximum return on their investment. The most important goal of all was to make as much profit as possible. The players assume the role of an investor and attempt to achieve dividends that are as high as possible. But the more companies there are, the more difficult it gets. The most cunning investor will win.

Players: 2-6, Time: 60-90 minutes


In Evolution, players adapt their species in a dynamic ecosystem where food is scarce and predators lurk. Traits like hard shell and horns will protect your species from carnivores, while a long neck will help them get food that others cannot reach. With over 4,000 ways to evolve your species, every game becomes a different adventure.

Players: 2-6, Time: 60-90 minutes

Explorers of the North Sea

Explorers of the North Sea is set in the latter years of the Viking Age. As ambitious sea captains, players seek out new lands to settle and control. They will need to transport their crew among the newly discovered islands to capture livestock, construct outposts and fulfill various other goals. So ready the longships, there are new horizons to explore!  This game is part of a trilogy which includes Raiders of the North Sea, also in the CSS Library collection.

Players: 1-4, Time: 45-60 minutes


The sun shines brightly on the canopy of the forest, and the trees use this wonderful energy to grow and develop their beautiful foliage. Sow your crops wisely and the shadows of your growing trees could slow your opponents down, but don't forget that the sun revolves around the forest. Welcome to the world of Photosynthesis! Players plant and shape the ever-changing forest as they cultivate seeds and plan their strategy. The goal is to take trees through their life-cycle, from seedling to full bloom to rebirth, and earn points as their leaves collect energy from the revolving sun's rays. Players must carefully pick where and when to sow as the richest soil grows the strongest trunks, and the trees left in the shadows are blocked from the sun.

Players: 2-4, Time: 60 minutes

Power Grid

According to the box, Power Grid is "an energetic economic game." It does indeed use the law of supply and demand as a primary mechanic. Players race to power the most cities before time runs out. The object of Power Grid is to supply the most cities with power when someone's network gains a predetermined size. Players mark pre-existing routes between cities for connection, and then bid against each other to purchase the power plants that they use to power their cities. However, as plants are purchased, newer, more efficient plants become available, so by merely purchasing, you're potentially allowing others access to superior equipment. Additionally, players must acquire the raw materials (coal, oil, garbage, and uranium) needed to power their plants (except for the 'renewable' wind farm/ solar plants, which require no fuel), making it a constant struggle to upgrade your plants for maximum efficiency while still retaining enough wealth to quickly expand your network to get the cheapest routes.

Players: 2-6, Time: 90-120 minutes

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is one of the top-rated board games of all time (according to It is also fairly complex. If you're new to board games or prefer games that use chance (dice) as the main mechanic, you might not want to try this Caribbean plantation game just yet. In Puerto Rico players assume the roles of colonial governors on the island of Puerto Rico. The aim of the game is to amass victory points by shipping goods to Europe or by constructing buildings.

Players: 3-5, Time: 90-120 minutes

Raiders of the North Sea

Raiders of the North Sea is set in the central years of the Viking Age. As Viking warriors, players seek to impress the chieftain by raiding unsuspecting settlements. Players will need to assemble a crew, collect provisions and journey across the board to plunder gold, iron and livestock. There is glory to be found in battle, even at the hands of the Valkyrie. So gather your warriors, it’s raiding season!  This game is part of a trilogy which includes Explorers of the North Sea, also in the CSS Library collection.

Players: 2-4, Time: 60-120 minutes


As a skilled artisan in Sagrada, you will use tools-of-the-trade and careful planning to construct a stained glass window masterpiece for the Sagrada Familia. Players will take turns drafting glass pieces - represented by dice - carefully choosing where to place each one in their window. Windows have unique color and shade requirements, and similar dice may never be adjacent so placing each die is more challenging than the last. Gain prestige by adapting to the preferences of your fickle admirers, and of course, by adding your own artistic flair while completing your glass masterpiece.


Players: 1-4, Time: 30-60 minutes


Every year the Emperor walks through the imperial gardens to greet the spring, every year he stops beneath the sakura trees, and every year you try to paint his picture. Artists from near and far will step over their rivals to be closest to the Emperor as he reaches the cherry blossoms, hoping to paint a portrait that will please him. 

Sakura is a strategy game of pushing your luck, and pushing your friends. Each player will simultaneously decide how far to move both their character and the Emperor. The player closest to the Emperor when the Cherry Blossoms are reached will gain a huge amount of prestige, but if you push too far you risk bumping into the Emperor and walking away in disgrace.

Players: 2-6, Time: 30-45 minutes

Settlers of Catan

The German game that started it all.  In Settlers of Catan, players try to be the dominant force on the island of Catan by building settlements, cities, and roads. Multi-award-winning, "Catan" is one of the most popular games in recent history due to its amazing ability to appeal to non-gamers and gamers alike.

Players: 2-4, Time: 60 minutes

Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar Game

The Maya were a highly advanced civilization known for unique art, complex architecture, sophisticated mathematics and advanced knowledge of the universe. At the heart of Mayan society was the mysterious Tzolk'in, a 260 day calendar that used the movement of the planets to predict the right time to plant, harvest, perform ceremonies, and build monuments. Become a Mayan Ajaw and lead your people to prosperity using the Tzolk'in, a set of gears that rotate through time bringing you and your people opportunities to defeat your opponents. Be sure to choose your actions wisely. Tzolk'in is a complex game which uses dynamic worker placement where workers are placed on one of several interconnected wheels all of which move as the time ticks away.

Players: 2-4, Time: 90-120 minutes