Catan board game set up on a table

The 10 Best German Board Games

Germany is well known for creating exciting and addicting board games. In fact, they create some of the world’s best board games.

What sets the best German board games apart is their focus on strategy and teamwork over mere luck. This is what gives them universal appeal and it’s what keeps players (like me and my friends) coming back for game after game.


1. Catan (formerly The Settlers of Catan)

Buy it here: Amazon

Catan board game box

Summary: One of the most popular board games of the last 10 years and my personal favorite, Catan is a game of resource management and trading. Players collect resources like brick, wood and wheat to build roads, settlements and cities in their quest to dominate the island of Catan and win the game.

Age range: 10 and up

Number of players: 3-4 (expansion packs available for up to 6 players)

How to play: The game board is made up of hexagonal tiles representing different types of terrain (fields, forests, hills, mountains, pastures and desert). To play, you place two settlements and two roads on the board at the beginning of the game and go from there. It sounds simple but it’s actually quite complex once you get started.

Players use resources to build roads, settlements and cities. Roads cost brick and wood; settlements cost brick, wood, wheat, and sheep; and cities cost wheat and ore.

2. Carcassonne

Buy it here: Amazon

Carcasonne board game box

Summary: Created by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede and named after the French medieval city, Carcassonne lets players conjure a southern French landscape, building cities, roads and monasteries to score points. I personally love this game because you get to do a bit of fantasizing about Europe as you play.

Age range: 7 and up

Number of players: 2-5 (expansion packs available for more players)

How to play: Players take turns drawing tiles and placing them next to tiles already on the board, matching features like roads to roads, fields to fields and cities to cities. Essentially players are building a lovely French rural scene as they play.

3. The Castles of Burgundy

Buy it here: Amazon

The Castles of Burgandy board game box

Summary: This personal favorite German board game involves players taking on the role of 15th-century aristocrats controlling small princedoms. You develop your territories by placing tiles representing different types of buildings, animals and ships.

Age range: 12 and up

Number of players: 2-4

How to play: Players build their own castle-strewn piece of the Burgundy countryside.

There are tiles of buildings, ships, pastures, mines, knowledge and castles, each providing specific benefits.

The game is played over five phases, during which players develop and expand their territories and score points for completed regions. 

4. Puerto Rico

Buy it here: Amazon

Puerto Rico board game box set

Summary: Created by Andreas Seyfarth, Puerto Rico is a strategy game where you assume the roles of colonial governors on the island of Puerto Rico. You plant crops, build buildings and ship goods to earn points. It’s really a fun game that requires a lot of strategy.

Age range: 12 and up

Number of players: 2-5

How to play: Players select roles such as Settler, Mayor, Builder, Craftsman, Trader, Captain or Prospector—each role offers specific benefits.

As Settlers, players plant crops like corn, coffee, and sugar. As Mayors, you gain colonists to work on plantations and buildings. Builders allow the construction of various buildings that provide advantages and points. Craftsmen produce goods based on the plantations and buildings players have. Traders sell goods for money, while Captains ship goods for victory points.

The game continues with players choosing roles in each round until a set number of victory points are earned, buildings are constructed or colonists are used up. 

5. Tikal

Buy it here: Amazon

Tikal board game box

Summary: One of my personal favorites, this German-designed board game by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling is an exploration and treasure-hunting board game set in the Central American jungle. You send their expedition teams to uncover treasures and temples.

Age range: 10 and up

Number of players: 2-4

How to play: You take turns drawing hexagonal tiles to explore the jungle, uncovering temples and treasures as you move along. I know it sounds simple, but it gets quite complex as you play.

As the game progresses, you can move your expedition members, find and excavate temples and collect treasures.

You score points by controlling temples and collecting treasure sets.

6. Agricola

Buy it here: Amazon

Agricola board game box

Summary: Agricola is a farming simulation game where you must balance feeding your family with developing and expanding your farms as you go. If you like farm games like I do, you’ll love this rich and complex board game.

Age range: 12 and up

Number of players: 1-5 (expansions available for more players)

How to play: Each player starts the game with a small farm and a couple of workers. From here, you take turns enlisting your workers to perform necessary farm tasks such as plowing fields, sowing crops, building fences or buying animals.

While developing your farm, you must balance the needs of your family—because a failure to do so results in negative points.

7. Camel Up

Buy it here: Amazon

Camel Up board game box

Summary: Camel Up is a popular and fast-paced racing game designed by Steffen Bogen. Players take on the roles of spectators betting on a camel race across the desert. I love this game and you can play it with both kids and adults, so it’s great for family gatherings.

Age range: 8 and up

Number of players: 2-8

How to play: During your turn, you can do things like bet on the outcome of the race, manipulate the race through placing desert tiles or tr to predict the movements of the camels, which are often unpredictable.

The game is played over several legs, with camels moving based on dice rolls. It’s a really fun classic German board game.

8. Funkenschlag (Power Grid)

Buy it here: Amazon

Power Grid board game box

Summary: Designed by Friedemann Friese, in this board game, you take on the roles of competing entrepreneurs trying to supply cities with electricity. You must manage resources, expand your power networks, and outmaneuver your opponents to become the most successful power company.

Age range: 12 and up

Number of players: 2-6

How to play: Essentially, players represent a number of electrical companies competing to extend their network to power more cities than anyone else. In every round you’ll bid on resources and power plants against other players, choose which cities to expand to and spend your natural resources on power (watch out for your coal reserves!).

The genius is that the game gets faster with every round as the power plants become more efficient. At the same time, though, the player in the lead is actually disadvantaged every turn to maximize strategy and prevent someone from steamrolling through the game. I find this game incredibly fun and involving and it’s perfect for a party.

9. Die verbotene Insel (The Forbidden Island)

Buy it here: Amazon

Summary: Die verbotene Insel, or The Forbidden Island, is a cooperative board game designed by Matt Leacock. Players take on the roles of adventurers on a sinking island in search of ancient treasures. You must work together to collect the treasures and escape the island before it sinks completely. What I most love about this game is the cooperative nature. You have to really work together, which makes it super fun.

Age range: 10 and up

Number of players: 2-4


How to play: A mysterious island in the middle of nowhere is slowly sinking into the sea—with treasure buried somewhere on its shores.

You’re an adventurer attempting to find four treasures on the Forbidden Island. This is a cooperative game, so if one player loses, the game is over for everyone.

A series of cards are arranged into the shape of an island, with the players spread out around it. Each player can perform up to three actions per turn, including moving, collecting treasure, transferring treasure to other players and shoring up a flooded tile.

During play, a Die Flut steigt (Waters Rise) card may be drawn at any time, forcing the game board to become smaller and the flood meter to inch toward a skull and crossbones.

10. Hase und Igel (Hare and Tortoise)

Buy it here: Amazon

Hase und Igel board game box

Summary: Hase und Igel, or Hare and Tortoise, is a classic racing board game designed by David Parlett. Players take on the roles of animals racing to the finish line. They must manage their resources and movement strategically to outpace their opponents and reach the end first.

Age range: 8 and up

Number of players: 2-6

How to play: You might have an idea what’s going on just from reading the name. Players take part in a woodland race, fueled by carrots and lettuce.

There are 65 spaces until the end, and you have 65 carrots to spend, each of which propels you forward one space.

Sound simple? Well, you can go as many spaces you’d like per turn, but the carrot cost rises exponentially. And you can’t land on the same space as another player. And you can’t cross the finish line with more than 10 carrots, or any lettuce heads at all.

Moving backward gains you carrots quickly, and discarding your lettuce gains you huge numbers of carrots.

These carrot economics are the reason this game can take upwards of 45 minutes, and the reason that it won Spiel des Jahres (“Game of the Year”) in 1979, the very first year the prestigious award began.

I love this game for playing when there are kids around but the adults still want to have fun and play a game.


Getting into any hobby in a foreign language is a great way to make friends and put your skills to the test.

Sit down with any of these games and some German speakers, and you’ll come out of the experience having given your brain a massive workout. If you play too well, you might even end up learning some rude words!

And remember, the German board game scene is enormous. If you have the opportunity, visit the SPIEL board game convention in Essen, Germany, where it’s held every year. Nothing better than going straight to the source!

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