I love board games. They are a fun way to improve on many skills that are useful in everyday life. Recently I began thinking about games that can be used to learn valuable business skills, such as strategy, negotiating, and team work. Below is my list of 7 games that teach useful business skills.

1. Pandemic

This is one of my favorite board games. The thing that makes Pandemic unique is that you aren’t playing against the other players. Instead, you are all on the same team, and your goal is to stop four deadly diseases before they destroy the world. Each person is given a unique role that has special abilities that can help eradicate the disease. However, you don’t get to choose what role you get; they are assigned randomly, requiring people to take what they get and work with it.

Pandemic requires an extraordinary level of teamwork to beat it. You all must work together to travel the world, share resources, and research a cure before it is too late. I’ll admit, this game is hard, but it is so much fun.

2. Chess

At first I would assume that chess would go without mentioning, but I am frequently surprised by how many people have actually never played it. It is one of those games that is deceptively simple. The movements can be learned in one sitting, but to actually become good at it requires lots of practice.

Good players are constantly thinking about all possible moves, and all possible counter-moves, and counters to those counter-moves, and so on. If you want to learn strategy, there is no substitute for chess.

3. Poker

I don’t play as much poker as I would like to, because I don’t know many other people who like it. But it is a great way to improve skills that are useful in negotiating, such as the ability to read people and sense when they are bluffing. Poker has a lot of subtleties that require practice to pick up.

4. Risk/Axis & Allies

These are technically different games, but they are similar enough that I grouped them together. The basic idea of both games is to manage your army and take over the world. Risk is more straightforward, with basic units called “armies” that you move around the board. A&A actually has different units, such as ships, planes, tanks, and infantry.

Whichever you prefer, both games are a great way to practice logistics and strategy. To be good at these games, you have to figure out how to move your units efficiently. If you spread them out too much, you won’t have enough in any one place to fend off an attack. If you pack them together too tightly, you won’t have enough reach to get units where they need to be. Sounds a lot like managing money.

5. Monopoly

I hesitated to put this one on here, because it almost a cliché. But it does teach some useful skills, even if most people don’t realize it.

Monopoly teaches you about cash flow, because you need to put your money to work while keeping enough around to pay expenses. It also teaches you about leverage. I’ve never seen anyone win Monopoly without mortaging properties to grow their empire.

6. Magic the Gathering

Magic the Gathering– usually just called “Magic”– is a trading card game. You are a wizard, and your deck represents your spells and abilities that you can cast. Each player has a set amount of life, and the spells, creatures, and weapons can be used to attack your opponent to decrease their life total. If they lose all of their life, they are out. The last player standing wins.

The cool thing about Magic is that every game is different, because every deck is different. There are thousands of cards that can used to construct a deck, creating a wide range of possible decks. The best players build decks that work as one coherent system, with cards that work in synergy to create the most effective combinations. Magic is an excellent way to learn about building systems, and any good business is built the same way.

7. Starcraft/Age of Empires/etc.

This is the only video game on the list, but it represents an entire genre of games broadly called “Real Time Strategy” games. The idea with these games is to gather resources to build a base or a city, while simultaneously building an army that can be used to destroy your opponent’s city. The last one standing wins.

RTS games are great for teaching resource management. You have to use resources to build an army while also improving your city and researching new technology. If you don’t do research, you will have a lot of soldiers that stink. If you don’t build an army, you will have a lot of tech but no soldiers to defend your city. You also have to make all of these decisions in a fast paced environment while someone is trying to blow up your stuff.

Those are some of my favorite games that teach business skills, although I’m sure there are plenty more. Leave a comment to let us know which ones are your favorites.