5 Popular Hobby Board Games and Their Lesser-Known Alternatives for 2023

Board Games
Wingspan bird art with cards in the bottom right corner

Finding good alternatives to great games can be difficult. Let us help you out.

If you’re like me, and you find a board game that you love, you want to keep the fun times going. But sometimes you get burnt out on that beloved board game. Maybe you’ve explored all the possible strategies or have completed all of the quests for the game’s campaign? Those expansions cannot come soon enough, but in the meantime, it’s always good to try other, lesser-known board games with the same vibe. That's why we've compiled a list of lesser-known alternatives to some of the most popular hobby board games on the market.

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1: Gloomhaven? How About Mage Knight?

Gloomhaven has taken the board game world by storm, offering a tactical RPG-style game where players control a character with unique abilities and try to complete missions. Mage Knight is a lesser-known alternative that offers a similar gameplay experience. Players explore the game board, fight monsters, recruit new units, and improve their characters. The game includes a campaign mode and a variety of scenarios to play. Mage Knight is a good alternative because it's more accessible than Gloomhaven, with a shorter play time and lower price point.

Mage Knight is also based on an older, once popular game by WizKids, so it has some credibility. Mage Knight is different from Gloomhaven in that adventures are carried out from a bird's eye view, whereas Gloomhaven's adventures are more akin to a Dungeons & Dragons adventure. 

2: Terraforming Mars? Give Space Base A Try

Terraforming Mars is a popular game where players compete to terraform and colonize the red planet. It's among the most popular board games that have been released in recent years, winning multiple awards, and going on many hobbyists' must-play lists.

Space Base is a good alternative that offers a dice-rolling mechanic instead of cards and tiles. Players build a space station and roll dice to gain resources and score points. Players can upgrade their space stations and purchase new ships to add to their fleets, adding to the strategy of the game, and resembling the sort of gameplay that makes Terraforming Mars so popular.

3: Scythe? Try Out Anachrony

Scythe is a popular game set in an alternate history 1920s Europe where players control factions competing for resources and territory. Anachrony is a good alternative that offers a similar post-apocalyptic future setting. Players manage resources, upgrade equipment, and recruit workers to score points. The game offers a unique time-travel mechanic where players can go back in time to give themselves resources. But meddling with the timeline can be dangerous for players, adding a unique sense of risk to the game.

4: We Love Wingspan, but We Also Love Planet

We love Wingspan so much that we made a strategy guide for it. Our love for Wingspan inspired us to go looking for games with a similar feel, and Planet is the board game for that. 

Wingspan is a popular game where players collect birds and build an avian ecosystem. Planet is a good alternative that offers a similar ecosystem-building mechanic. Players compete to create the best ecosystem by placing various animals and environments on a rotating globe. Players score points by creating habitats that match the needs of their animals, and by forming different types of environments.


5: Azul? Give Sagrada A Shot

I'll be honest. I don't know why people enjoy Azul. I've tried it at game conventions and do not see the appeal. The only thing I like is the colorful tiles, but that's not enough for me to enjoy the game. That being said, I do realize the game is a smash hit that people love. So why not try Sagrada?

In Azul, players compete to create the most beautiful and efficient tile mosaic. Sagrada is a good alternative that offers a similar dice-drafting mechanic. Players roll and draft colored dice to create a stained glass window, with each player having a different objective to complete. The game includes various tools that players can use to manipulate their dice and gain advantages, something that Azul, in my opinion, is sorely missing. It has the same, beautiful table presence as Azul, and makes for a great alternative.

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  • Cartoon pic of the authorJay C. Shepherd
  • Content Creator
  • Jay is a graphic designer, board game enthusiast, and professional wrestling fan who loves all things 80's, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and of course, video games. He is one of the rare few that believes that one can be a Trekkie and Star Wars fan at the same time.