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An abstract strategy game is a board, card or other game where game play does not simulate a real world theme, and a player's decisions affect the outcome. Many abstract strategy games are also combinatorial, i.e. they provide perfect information, and do not rely on physical dexterity nor on random elements such as rolling dice or drawing cards or tiles. Some board games can also be played on pen and paper.


Chess and chess-like gamesEdit

Paper and pencil gamesEdit

"All-in-a-row" gamesEdit

All-in-a-row games[1] involve placing and/or moving pieces on a game board attempting to create a layout of n of your pieces in a straight line (often n=3, but not always). Positional games[2] involve only playing pieces, with no movement or captures afterwards. Many of these positional games can also be played as paper and pencil games, and these are marked †. (Generally, 3D games are difficult to play on paper.)

Positional "n-in-a-row" games
Non-Positional "All-in-a-row" games, i.e. games with movements and/or captures

Blockade gamesEdit

Blockade games[3][4] primarily involve moving your pieces, following the game rules, so as to block your opponent from having any move they can make. In symmetric blockade games, both players have the same number of pieces with the same movement capabilities. In asymmetric blockade games, players have different numbers of pieces with different movement capabilities—usually one player having a single piece of greater movement range and the other player having multiple pieces of lesser movement capabilities.

Symmetric Blockade Games
Asymmetric Blockade Games

Connection gamesEdit

A connection game[5] is a type of abstract strategy game in which players attempt to complete a specific type of connection with their pieces. This could involve forming a path between two or more goals, completing a closed loop, or connecting all of one's pieces so they are adjacent to each other. Those marked † can also be played as paper and pencil games.

Stacking gamesEdit

Capture gamesEdit

This category is in development, while we re-analyze the collection of games listed under "Other Games".
Capture games have as a central goal the idea of capturing all of the opponents pieces before they can capture yours. The rules for how a capture is accomplished vary greatly. A classic example of this category is checkers. The two most common forms of capture are jump (one piece jumps an opponent's piece) and surrounds (one piece is surrounded by two or more opponent pieces). We include here both "capture and remove from the board" games and "capture and convert to one of your pieces" games.

Counting gamesEdit

'This category is in development, while we re-analyze the collection of games listed under "Other Games".
These games involve some aspect of counting, especially to determine the relative outcomes of various alternatives at points along the way. A classic example of this category are the various Mancala games.

Positional gamesEdit

'This category is in development, while we re-analyze the collection of games listed under "Other Games".
Positional games allow no captures, but require some arrangement of pieces that constitutes a "win". This is a broad category that includes, as sub-categories, both the "All-in-a-row" games and the "Blockade" games. We include here only the positional games that do not fit into those two categories.

Hunting gamesEdit

'This category is in development, while we re-analyze the collection of games listed under "Other Games".
In "hunting" games, one player's pieces are "hunting" the other player's pieces, so that one player is trying to capture the second player's pieces, while the second player is trying to avoid captures, arranging their pieces to surround the hunters, to be protected from the hunters, etc. A classic example of this category is Fox and Geese. These games tend to have the hunter playing a "capture" game while the prey is playing a "positional" game.

Abstract strategy games that are not combinatorialEdit

These games include hidden information or set up, random elements (eg. rolling dice or drawing cards or tiles) or simultaneous movement.

Other gamesEdit


  1. ^ Drabble (2010)
  2. ^ Hefetz, et. al., 2014
  3. ^ Popova (1974)
  4. ^ Michaelsen (2014)
  5. ^ Browne, C. (2005). Connection Games: Variations on a Theme. Wellesly, MA: A. K. Peters, Ltd.


  • Bell, R.C., (1979), Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations, p. 478, which refers to our "Blockade Games" as "Blocking Games".
  • Drabble, Margaret, (2010), The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws, p. 66. "Irving Finkel, the colourful curator of the Department of Ancient Near East at the British Museum, is an expert on games of the ancient world. All games, he claims, fit into groups -- race games, all-in-a-row games, hunt games, position games, counting games and war games."
  • D. Hefetz, M. Krivelevich, M. Stojaković and T. Szabó: Positional Games, Oberwolfach Seminars, Vol. 44, Birkhäuser Basel, 2014.
  • Michaelsen, Peter, (2014) "Haretavl – Hare and Hounds as a board game", in Sport und Spiel bei den Germanen, M. Teichert, pp. 197–216
  • Popova, Assia, (1974). "Analyse formelle et classification des jeux de calculs mongols" in Études Mongoles 5, pp. 7–60.