Government lockdowns have rekindled people’s interest in board games like never before. Folks worldwide are returning to their old games, throwing dice and flicking spinners to have a jolly good time.
That’s all well and good for the average tabletop gamer, but there’s a far more interesting aspect to the hobby. People have been pouring so much detail into board games over the years; some of them are nearly impossible to play in a reasonable amount of time.
This list features the board games with the longest legitimate playtimes, and they aren’t for the faint of heart. If you played any of these, share your experiences down in the comments and let everyone know how many hours you spent playing a board game.
Of all the games on this list, Risk is probably the one that most people have played. The game is all about world domination, and it is a work of strategic art. Risk has been around since 1959, and it’s one of the best strategy games on the planet. Its success has influenced every strategy game on and off this list.
The average playtime for a standard game of Risk is listed at 120 minutes (2 hours), but most people don’t get to experience that. For most players, an average game of Risk will keep them in their seats playing the game for as much as eight hours if it’s filled out with six people playing the game.
Some playthroughs can take as much as 12 hours, and Risk is well-known for this. There was an episode of Seinfeld, where Kramer and Newman played the same game off and on for days, which many players like to do.
It’s not uncommon for players to set up a board, play for a couple of hours and leave. They return to continue playing the game over days or weeks, depending on their schedules.
9 7 Ages
Don’t be fooled by the title for this one; it’s going to take more than seven hours to get through 7 Ages. The game takes place across 6,000 years of history, with players representing dynasties that decide the fate of humanity. The game is broken down into seven distinct ages spread across the millennia.
On the surface, you might think of 7 Ages as a military strategy game, but that would be inaccurate. Instead, it’s a highly complex strategy game that puts the player in a position of power. They must guide a civilization through its development from start to finish.
That makes it intensely complicated, and as a result, you can expect to play it for at least 480 minutes (8 hours). The game board features the entire planet, broken up into equally-sized spaces spread across the continents.
Players will need to manage everything from their civilization’s economy and military expansion to scientific discovery and more. It’s a game that requires a great deal of attention, but playing through it and winning offers up an achievement that won’t be matched quickly by your friends.
If you’ve ever read any of Machiavelli’s works, you know the man was all about the nuanced power relationships of Renaissance Italy. This game takes his example and converts it into an exceedingly intricate strategy game that four to eight players can play for an exceptionally long time.
Machiavelli goes to painstaking lengths to recreate the historical situation of Renaissance Italy, focusing on the shifting balance of power and struggles that existed at the time. The game features five major powers: the Kingdom of Naples, the Republics of Florence and Venice, the Papacy, and the Duchy of Milan.
There are also three foreign powers (Hapsburg Austria, Valois France, and the Ottoman Turks). All of them vie for control in the Italian peninsula. The game features everything from politics and rebellions to wars and assassinations, and it’s going to take most players at least 480 minutes (8 hours) to play.
There are different ways to play the game, so depending on how you decide to play it, you can limit or extend your gameplay. The average extended length of time most players enjoy is around 12 hours.
7 The Republic Of Rome
In one form or another, Roman history lasted for 2,210 years, but only 482 years covered the Republic. Fortunately, The Republic of Rome doesn’t take place throughout that entire run. Still, it does cover a good 250 years of Roman history for players to dive into playing the game.
The game pits players against one another as each takes control of a faction vying for dominance of the Roman Senate. They manage this by controlling powerful families who compete for military commands, state offices, new adherents, and economic concessions.
To win the game, the player must drive their faction to become the most powerful in Rome, but doing so requires them to maintain a balance, which is no easy task. The game requires confrontation and cooperation to succeed, making it particularly challenging to complete.
The average game length for The Republic of Rome is 300 minutes (5 hours), but many sessions have gone on for much longer. For most people, a standard playthrough runs around 10-12 hours. Like many strategy games, more experienced players can play extended gaming sessions.
6 2038: Tycoons Of The Asteroid Belt
While most long-play board games center around recreating battles from long ago, 2038: Tycoons of the Asteroid Belt is all about mining operations… in space! The game is an adaptation of the 18xx series of games, and it’s incredibly complex.
Players explore the asteroid belt to lay claims for various mining resources, which bring in money. The rounds are broken up to make this happen, so expect to trade stocks and move ships from mine to mine. Don’t forget to refuel your ships, or your mining operations will be limited!
Playing through this game (and any 18xx series game) will require an investment in time. You don’t play on a pre-printed map, as it is randomly generated when you set up each playthrough. This randomizes many factors in the game and makes it take an average of 360 minutes (6 hours) to play.
Of course, if you feel so inclined, you can add the Expansion Set, which adds another 240 minutes (4 Hours) of gameplay, and that’s just the average. Most players spend closer to 12 hours playing a single campaign of 2038: Tycoons Of The Asteroid Belt.
5 Paths Of Glory
Most war simulation games that take a lot of time to play center around the second World War, but Paths of Glory covers the Great War, otherwise known as World War I. The game places players into the role of the great rulers and generals who fought the campaigns, and it’s incredibly detailed.
The game comes with 316 die-cut counters, a large map sheet of Europe and the Near East, a 32-page rulebook, and more. Players take control of the monarchs and marshals who fought between 1914 and 1918 across all of Europe. Each side has its advantages and disadvantages, and it’s up to the players to make use of each.
The average gameplay length for Paths of Glory is around 480 minutes (8 hours). Still, it does have a relatively steep learning curve. It will take players quite some time to become comfortable with the game’s nuances, making initial playthroughs into long affairs.
As players become more comfortable with the game, it isn’t rare for a single playthrough to take twice the average length. Some players have spent more than 14 hours playing through a single round, so depending on your play style, it can take days to play through the game.
4 Europe Engulfed: WWII European Theatre Block Game
When it comes to detailed recreations of military combat, Europe Engulfed is one of the most complex. The game took 13 years of design and development to create. Despite featuring a fast-paced playthrough, it’s going to take an average of 720 minutes (12 hours) to play.
The game delves into the military conflict that engulfed Europe and Northern Africa during World War II. It doesn’t focus on a particular campaign — it focuses on all of them. It’s actually only one of two games in a series. Asia Engulfed features a 480-minute playthrough and covers the rest of WWII.
It is possible to limit your playthrough to only one campaign, but you need to play them all for the whole experience. The game’s description on the website puts it clearly enough, “The entire campaign is playable in a single 10-to-14 hour day once players become familiar with its elegant game systems.”
Europe Engulfed comes with dozens of dice and small wooden blocks, which represent units. Playthrough involves strategically moving them about the map while engaging with enemy units. The luck of the die determines the victor in this highly detailed recreation of WWII.
3 Axis & Allies
Axis & Allies is one of those games that can be over in a couple of hours, but it can also stretch on for 10+ if things get a little wonky. Of course, the first thing you’ll need to do is set up the board, which takes some time, as it represents WWII in 1942. Once all the players have placed all their infantry, armor, planes, and more on the board, play can begin.
The game’s playtime is listed at around 240 minutes (4 hours), which is a reasonable average for most players. The more you play the game, the faster you can get, but that can also work the other way around. Players often develop specific strategies. When they get good enough, you can sit around playing Axis & Allies for 10 or more hours.
The game is notoriously long for expert players, which is often a point of pride for them. You can find posts on Reddit of people describing games that took days to complete. One post described a 30-round playthrough that took eight hours a day for eight days (64 hours), and that’s just one of many similar posts.
Because it’s been around for more than 40 years, Axis & Allies has been significantly expanded. Some versions involve specific campaigns like Operation OVERLORD and the Pacific Theater. Each of these games has an average of a 4+ hour playthrough, making the franchise one of the longest board game series with the most entries.
2 The Campaign For North Africa—The Desert War 1940-43
When it comes to board games with the most extended average playtimes, the search begins and ends with The Campaign for North Africa. Military strategists don’t spend as much time planning real-world operations as they would sitting around a table playing this game, which can go on for weeks. Yes, weeks.
The game is so intricately detailed, it requires at least eight people just to play it. You can round it out with a couple more to the max of ten, but those folks better be patient because the average playtime is listed as 60,000 minutes. That’s a little more than 41.6 days. If you think that’s bad, it’s the average, and many games go on for much longer.
If you play the game correctly, you can expect to sit through 90,000 minutes of playtime, which equates to 62.5 days. If your gaming group meets once a week for three hours a session, it will take more than 10 years to play the game.
The Campaign for North Africa is so detailed, it is almost unreal. It comes with an incredibly thick rulebook, 1,600 cardboard chits, dozens of charts detailing morale, damage, mechanical failure, and other subjects, along with a 10-foot long map.
1 Monopoly—Longest Game Ever
If you’ve ever sat through an entire game of Monopoly without flipping the table, you know that a standard game can take anywhere from one to three hours. That’s typical for most people, but there have been Monopoly gaming sessions that have lasted much longer. One game stretched on for 70 days, but that’s hardly the norm.
Parker Brothers is well aware that its signature game takes some time to beat. So, the company decided to embrace it with Monopoly—Longest Game Ever in 2019.
The new version features 66 properties, which is three times the amount found in a regular Monopoly game. The rules are vastly different as well, and there is only one die, so no rolling doubles to keep moving. Worst of all, the only way to win is to own all 66 properties.
Declaring bankruptcy isn’t as easy in the Longest Game Ever edition, either. You can tear the bills along a dotted line to use them beyond their initial value, further prolonging the game. The average playtime isn’t listed on the Hasbro site for this game, and it’s unclear if anyone has subjected themselves to the horror it presents. Still, odds are, it can go on for months.