8 Best Chess Alternatives

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Chess is of course a fantastic two-player strategy game that will test both the wits and patience of anybody who plays. As far as strategy games go, it’s definitely one of the harder ones out there, although not the hardest. That said, what if you want to play something either a bit easier or a bit harder? Moreover, what if you would like to play a game that also involves an element of luck, such as a dice game or card game? What if you want to play something that tests your manual dexterity?

No worries, because right now we are going to talk about some of the very best chess alternatives out there at this time. There are plenty of awesome games out there for you, your friends, and your family too.

Best Chess Alternatives

#1: Checkers

Checkers If you would like to play a game that still involves a lot of strategy but is a bit simpler than chess, then a good game to play is checkers. Checkers is what many people would call the children’s version of chess, and just like chess, checkers is also very old.

Checkers is also played on that same eight-by-eight grid with squares of alternating colors, but unlike chess, in checkers, all of the pieces move in the exact same way, and movement is also much more restricted, thus making things a whole lot easier than in chess.

Checkers is a great game to play for two people, and it’s more than ideal for a bit of relaxation and children alike. Checkers is a strategy game, with no element of luck involved, but that said, it’s quite a family and child-friendly game to play.

Read my comparison of chess and checkers for details on how the two games differ.

#2: Backgammon

Backgammon Another good alternative to chess is backgammon, with backgammon also involving a good deal of strategy, but also a bit of luck. Backgammon, like chess, is also a two-player game, and cannot be played by more people than two. Backgammon sees two opposing people attempting to remove all 15 of their stones from the board before the other player.

Players take turns rolling the dice, and according to the role, a player can then move his or her stones forward or backward. The point here is to get your stones from the start to the finish (moving in a circle or a U-turn shape), and when each stone gets to the finish, it is removed from the board.

Players start at opposite ends of the board and move in opposing directions. Of course, due to there being dice, there is a bit of luck involved, but because you can choose which pieces to move at which times, there is also a good deal of strategy present as well. You have to get your pieces off the board while also working to prevent your opponent from doing the same.

Read my comparison of chess and backgammon for details on how the two games differ.

#3: Risk

Risk If you are looking for a game that can be played by more than just two players, potentially up to six players, then you might want to check out Risk. Risk is a strategy board game that is all about dominating the world and taking over territory. The game features a world map with a variety of countries, and players start with a certain number of pieces of soldiers.

Players must then roll a dice, and according to the roll of the dice, move their soldiers from their own territory into that of the opponent’s, with the aim being to use superior numbers to conquer and take over all territory on the board. The game of risk is won when all players but one are eliminated, or in other words, when one player owns all land on the board.

Risk is a game that can take hours to play, but that said, it is a game that kids can play. Yes, there are some very strategic ways to play this game, but that said, there is also a bit of luck involved too, especially in terms of where you start on the board and how the dice rolls go for you.

#4: Carcassonne

Carcassonne Board Game If you are looking for a game that can be played by as many as eight people (six without an expansion), and you are looking for a very family-friendly game that can be played by kids, then Carcassonne is definitely an option to keep in mind. Now, this is a very unique type of board game, because technically speaking, it’s not really a board game at all. Rather, although you do build the board out of tiles as you go, the game does not start with a board.

Carcassonne is played by each player drawing tiles, and these are the tiles that then form the board (the board is supposed to be Carcassonne, a town in the French countryside). Players draw tiles such as churches and farms, and each player also has various character pieces, such as followers. The point of Carcassonne is for players to lay down tiles to build various structures such as farms and churches and to then put their character pieces or followers on their properties or constructions.

The game ends when the last game tile has been placed, and the winner of Carcassonne is the player with the most followers placed on the most properties. As you can tell, there is a good bit of strategy involved, because you need to figure out what the best location for any given structure is, and you need to figure out how to prevent your opponents from building usable structures. There is of course also a good bit of luck involved, because it all depends on which tiles you draw.

#5. Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride Board Game If you are looking for a super family-friendly game that is not all that difficult, involves both some strategy and luck, and can be played by as many as five players (over the age of eight), then Ticket to Ride is definitely something to keep in mind. Ticket to Ride is a German-style train-themed game that is all about having the biggest and best train routes that connect various cities.

Players get destination cards, and they then draw train cards (train cars) from the deck. The aim of the game is to be the player that claims the most railway routes in North America (this is where the game is set), to connect your two destinations to each other with one continuous railway, and to have the longest possible route on the board.

Points are awarded to players based on all of these factors, and the player with the most points (once all routes have been accounted for), is declared the winner. In terms of ease of play, this is probably the easiest and most family-friendly game on the list so far today.

#6: Clue

Clue Game If you are looking for a game that is all about logical thought, deductive reasoning, and solving the biggest murder mystery of the century, then this Whodunnit game is hands down one of the best out there. Clue can be played by up to six players, one of which is always the murder responsible for killing Mr. Boddy of Tudor Mansion.

The game is played by players who ask each other a series of logical questions, with the aim being to eliminate suspects, and to find the murderer. The player who correctly accuses the murderer is declared the winner.

Now, some people find Clue to be a very hard game to play because it requires solid logical thinking processes and great deductive reasoning skills. Essentially, you are playing at being a homicide detective. This is of course a very unique game because there is no luck involved, but it’s really not strategic in nature either.

#7: Uno

Uno Card Game If you are looking for a very fun and family-friendly alternative to chess, a game that is very easy, straightforward, and can be played by as many as eight people, as well as by very young kids, then there is just nothing better than Uno.

Uno is of course a very old and popular card game, where players start with seven cards and take turns laying down one card at a time, based on colors and numbers, with the aim being to be the first person to lay down all of your cards. You match cards either by color or number and besides that, there is really not much to it. Uno is like 95% luck with a teeny bit of strategy involved, but nothing overly difficult.

#8: Poker

Playing Cards Last but not least, we have poker, a card game that involves a lot of strategy, bluffing, and a good bit of luck too. If you want to play a game with your friends that is all about deception, and you like winning money too, then poker is obviously one of the best options out there.

Read my comparison of chess and poker for details on how the two games differ.


Chess is of course a fantastic game to play, but it’s not for everybody. If you are looking for some great chess alternatives, whether you want to play games that are more about luck or strategy, or maybe a bit of both, then we recommend trying any of the eight games that we talked about today.