3 is an odd number for board games. Most games find their ideal player count at 4 (at least the mid to high complexity ones, because party games are for bigger groups).
Yet, how many times have we planned a game night with that sweet spot (Check our Top 15 Best 4 Player Board Games) only for one to cancel at the last minute and we find ourselves playing with only 3 people?
Let’s imagine another scenario, you are with your partner at home and a friend comes to visit, if he/she is an experienced player, you want to get one of those great games that you like so much but rarely come to the table.
If, on the other hand, he/she is one of those friends that you would like to introduce into the world of board games, you will surely want to convert him by presenting him with one of those tremendous introductory games to hook him/her.
It is because of these recurring situations that we bring you the 7 best board games whose best player count is 3, even if the games allow more players.
Top 7 Best 3 Player Board Games – Light Games
7. Can’t Stop (1980)
|Mechanics||Push Your Luck|
The quintessence of “push your luck”, is how far can you go before you fall? This instant 80’s classic just doesn’t get old.
In it, players must throw 4 dice and choose two pairs to add between them, in this way they will advance in the chosen numbers (statistically distributed).
They will be able to throw the dice as often as they want as long as they advance in a maximum of 3 numbers each round… or at least until no combination can be used.
If the player decides to stop before the catastrophe happens, their progress will continue from this safe point in the next round. But if they decide to push luck and “fall off”, they will lose all the advances made this turn.
6. Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers (2002)
|Designer||Klaus-Jürgen Wrede and Bernd Brunnhofer|
|Mechanics||Area of Influence, Territory Control|
This entry in the Carcassonne universe takes players back a few thousand years in the past, changing knights, farmers, and thieves for hunters, gatherers, and fishermen who, just like in the original Carcassonne, will take and place tiles that build the map, locating meeples and gaining control over forests, meadows, and rivers.
This version of Carcassonne implements 4 new mechanics that add a whole level of strategy to the proven and enjoyable formula of the traditional game.
5. Biblios (2007)
|Mechanics||Auction, Push Your Luck|
In this excellent game, players will represent monks who will compete to bring the best books to their abbey’s libraries.
First, during a “push your luck” filled research phase, where players will draw cards and decide what to do with them one at a time (being the most precious the one they have in hand, but without knowing which will be the best card of the 5 they´ll take), to then auction all the ones that have not been taken.
The cards are identified by a color and the player who has the highest value in their cards of each color will take the points awarded by those, points that may vary during the first phase of the game.
4. Takenoko (2011)
|Mechanics||Territory Building, Action Points, Set Collection|
In Takenoko, players will embody Japanese courtesans who must watch over the care of the imperial garden and the… HUNGRY PANDA that the Chinese emperor has given to our empire as a sign of peace.
Each turn you must choose 2 of 5 different actions to accomplish the objectives before your opponents, whether they are feeding a certain type of bamboo to the panda, designing the garden in a particular way, or growing a specific amount of bamboo.
The game ends as soon as a player has completed a certain number of random missions and the one who accumulates the most points in their completed tasks, wins.
This is a visually beautiful, fun, and kid-friendly game. It also has a magical effect: When you play it for the first time, you want to buy it!
3. Century: Spice Road (2017)
|Mechanics||Deck Building, Set Collection|
Masquerading as a game of trade route design (the spice road) and negotiation, Century: Spyce Road is a straightforward deckbuilding.
And one of the good ones.
Here, players will play merchants who start with a basic deck that produces spices, which they will accumulate to buy cards that will produce more valuable spices or allow them to interchange them.
Purchased cards will go into a discard pile and can be recovered, along with cards used by producing spices, taking a full turn to “rest”.
Alongside the production cards available for purchase, there will also be expensive mission cards that will ultimately give you victory points.
The most innovative thing about Century: Spyce Road is that it can be combined with two different games from the same series.
It also has a new version called Golem Edition, with updated art: A spectacular theme of Magic and Golems.
2. Splendor (2014)
|Mechanics||Engine Building, Set Collection|
Splendor is a game of collecting and amassing gems, represented by wonderful casino-style chips. Players are merchants who will buy mines and gem sites to gain prestige and the favor of the royal families.
Each turn players will be able to draw gems from the general deposit that they will use later to buy cards that will generate more gems, with which to buy more expensive cards that produce more gems that they will use to buy… and so on.
Some of these cards have prestige points and specific types of gems they produce. If at any time the player produces a particular combination, they will win the favor of a noble who will give them a generous amount of prestige points.
The game ends the round when someone reaches 15 prestige points, and the player with the most will win.
1. Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries (2007)
|Designer||Alan R. Moon|
|Mechanics||Hand Management, Network Building, Set Collection|
Who doesn’t love Ticket to Ride?
It is a fantastic game of building railway routes that connect cities, using colored cards that you can accumulate each turn and plan distant destinations to earn more points than your opponents.
It has always been one of the best games to enter the hobby because of how easy it is to understand and its controlled competitiveness.
But then… Nordic Countries enter the scene.
Designed for 2 or 3 players, it gives a twist by giving importance to blocking opponents and implementing a couple of mechanics that add to the experience.
Undoubtedly the best low-complexity game for 3 players.
Do you already know what game you are going to bring to the table for those quick 3-player games?
If you have more time or the players are more experienced and want bigger complex games, we recommend you to see our other articles on 3-player games:
Last Updated on 05/10/2022 by ARU