Being frustrated with setting up and gathering around the countless pieces on the board is something that has—at some point at least—happened for every gamer.
However, there are many other reasons why you’d be interested in good board games that are simple to handle but still challenging enough to be interesting on the deeper level of gameplay.
You might be on a ride, short on time, dealing with newbies etc. For these reasons and many others, a good board game that features not too many pieces is a valuable item of utility to have in the trunk.
What are the best board game titles without too many components?
These are games that are fun, popular, compressed and mobile. This list intends to cover the best board games without a lot of pieces.
10. Ecosystem – Practice Being Mother Nature
We’ve discussed Genius Games’ Ecosystem before and this game is just great from so many aspects that I can’t help but to mention it whenever I can. This time, because of the subtle number of pieces used in playing the game. As you probably already know, players of Ecosystem take on the role of species, competing to survive and reproduce and eventually form the best functioning ecosystem.
2-6 players place their species card on their decks one on each turn, trying to create harmony and relevance between their selected species. Each turn, players exchange their hands to find new threats and opportunities.
In addition to adding species, players can play cards to manipulate the ecosystem. For example, a player might play a card that allows them to move a species to a different part of the board.
The most successful ecosystem is determined by the number of points each player scores at the scoring phase of the game, depending on how they have laid out their cards and how well their natural habitat functions in harmony. It’s peaceful, fun, challenging yet quick to learn and a must-play for anyone who already hasn’t.
9. Hive – Chess but Not Ancient
If you like chess, you’ll love Hive. This title was originally published all the way back in 2000 by Gen42 Games and is considered a classic by many gamers.
Hive is a board game that is played on a board-less, flat surface. It is played with hexagonal tiles that represent various insects. Each insect has a unique movement pattern, and the goal of the game is to surround your opponent’s queen bee with your insects, while preventing your opponent from doing the same to your queen.
Hive is an exciting two-player strategy game that requires players to think ahead and plan their moves carefully. With its fast-paced gameplay, Hive is perfect for gamers who are short on time but still want to enjoy a challenging game. Each game is unique, as players must use their wits and strategy to outsmart their opponent and capture their Queen Bee. With its simple rules and quick setup, Hive is a great game for both experienced and novice gamers alike.
8. Lost Cities – Discover the Forgotten
Lost Cities is a 2-4 player board game that was first published in 2008 by KOSMOS. It is a game that is designed to be easy to learn but difficult to master. The goal of the game is to score more points than your opponent by embarking on and successfully completing expeditions to various exotic locations such as the Himalayas, the Brazilian Rainforest, and the lost city of Atlantis.
In this game you take the role of archeologists and need to work out which journey is worth making to assure you get the biggest rewards for smaller risks. You invest time and resources on each of your expedition adventures and once finished, you’ll walk out with your prize, whether or not you are satisfied, however, depends on your own decisions.
Lost Cities is a fast-paced and strategic game that is suitable for players of all ages. Its simple rules make it easy for new players to pick up, while depth of strategy keeps experienced players coming back for more.
7. Onitama – Borrow the Powers of Ancient Warrior Spirits
Onitama, published by Conception, is a two-player strategy board game that was first published in 2014. It is a chess-like game that is played on a 5×5 grid, with each player controlling a set of five moveable pieces. The goal of the game is to either capture the opponent’s King or to move your own King to a specific location on the board.
In Onitama, each player starts with five pieces and a randomly selected set of four movement cards. The movement cards dictate the way that each piece can be moved on the board, with each card representing a different martial arts style. Players take turns making moves with their pieces while working their way towards capturing their opponent’s throne.
The twist in Onitama is that, after each turn, players must exchange one of their movement cards with one of the cards in the middle of the board. This means that players must constantly adapt their strategy as the game progresses, as they never know which movement cards they will have available to them.
Its high replay value, combined with its simple rules and engaging gameplay, make it a great choice for anyone looking for a pocket-sized tabletop experience that’s immersive enough to invest time in.
6. Siam – Elephants vs. Rhinos vs. Boulders
Siam is a two-player abstract strategy game that was made in 2005 by Ferti. The game is played on a square board, typically with 7×7 cells, but other sizes are possible as well. The main goal of the players is to be the first to place all of your pieces on the board.
Each player starts with 21 pieces of their own color, called tokens. On each turn, a player must place one of their tokens on the board and then slide one of the pieces already on the board to a different location. The piece that is moved must be adjacent to the piece that was just placed, and it must be moved to an empty space on the board.
The game ends when one player has placed all of their tokens on the board. The winner is the player with the most tokens on the board at the end of the game.
Siam is a game of strategy and control, requiring players to think ahead and plan their moves carefully. Players must maneuver their pieces to block their opponent and create opportunities for themselves, while also ensuring that all of their tokens are placed on the board before their opponent. With careful planning and strategic thinking, Siam can be an exciting and rewarding game for all players, with not too many pieces in the box that would confuse new players.
5. Yinsh – Become the Lord of the Rings
Yinsh is a two-player abstract strategy board game designed by Kris Burm. It was first published in 2000 by Don & Co. and is played on a circular board with rings and markers of two different colors.
In Yinsh, players take turns placing markers on the board, trying to create rows of five markers of their own color. They can also remove their opponent’s markers from the board by “hopping” over them with one of their own markers. The objective of the game is to place three markers of your color in a row, which can then no longer be moved.
This game has received positive reviews from many players and is considered a classic of the abstract strategy genre. If you enjoy challenging, mind-bending games that require careful planning and strategy without a confusing number of setup elements, then Yinsh might be just the game for you.
4. Codenames – What Could it Mean?
Another popular game that isn’t swarming with tokens and miniatures but is just as good if not better than titles full of them. While providing easy mobility and setup, Codenames challenges your perception, teamwork, decryption skills and much more.
Each team has a designated leader who’s tasked with leading their squad of undercover agents to safety and consequently, victory. Players are divided into two groups and must work together and compete with their rival team.
Codenames has received several awards and accolades, including the prestigious Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) award in 2016. This recognition, combined with its high replay value and wide appeal, has made Codenames one of the most popular party games in recent years.
I always have and will continue to recommend Codenames to players who enjoy putting their social and deduction skills to the test in the form of a captivating tabletop experience.
3. Coup – Are You Better at Bluffing, or Calling Bluffs?
Coup is one of if not the most popular social deduction board game. In Coup, each player is dealt two cards that represent different positions in an imaginary government. The game is set in a dystopian future where players are trying to gain control of the land by bluffing, accusing and eliminating their opponents.
Each player starts with a set amount of money and must use it to take actions, such as claiming to have a particular role, using a power associated with that role, or accusing another player of having a specific role. The goal is to be the last player standing with direct influence on governmental affairs, either by eliminating all of the other players or by forcing them to lose all of their power and credibility.
Coup is known for its fast-paced gameplay and its high level of player interaction, as players must constantly try to outwit and outmaneuver one another. It is a great choice for those who enjoy games that require strategy, deception, and deduction and are physically easy to handle.
2. The King Is Dead – A New Ruler Must Rise
The King is Dead, by Osprey Games, is a popular board game that has received many positive reviews from players and critics alike. The game is set in a medieval kingdom where players represent noble families competing to become the new ruling house after the death of the king. The kingdom is divided and each player’s final goal is to unify it under their own flag of dominance.
In this game, players collect resources, build alliances, and gain support from the other nobles in order to gain influence and power over the kingdom. The gameplay is well-balanced and the mechanics are designed to keep players well engaged and involved all throughout the game.
The King is Dead is an excellent strategy game that requires careful planning and execution of your actions. With its high level of replayability, the outcome of the game can be drastically different each time you play, depending on the decisions made by the players. Furthermore, the game features a variety of different scenarios and objectives, allowing for a unique take each time you play.
Overall, if you enjoy games that challenge you to think critically and outmaneuver your opponents, The King is Dead is definitely worth checking out.
1. Mr. Jack – Victorian London is Not Kind at Nights
Mr. Jack is a two-player strategy board game first published in 2006. In the game, one player takes on the role of Mr. Jack, a notorious criminal aka Jack the Ripper, and the other player is a detective trying to track down and arrest him. The game is set in Victorian London and takes place over eight rounds. The objective of this game is for the detective to correctly identify Mr. Jack’s hiding place while Mr. Jack attempts to evade the law and stay hidden.
The game is played on a board representing a neighborhood in the city of London, and each round, the players move their characters and gather information on Mr. Jack’s identity and his whereabouts. The game is known for its tension, as players have limited information and must use deduction and bluffing to come out victori(an)ous.
It’s a popular game among fans of strategy and deduction games, and has won several awards for its top tier level design. A recommended title for people who enjoy murder mysteries and strategy planning, with a not very high number of pieces.
These are games that we consider to be easy to setup, properly portable and fun to play. Not to mention that the less pieces there are in the box, the less probable it is that they go missing. Feel free to drop your favorite board game that has few number of components, down in the comments section.