There are a lot of games with historical themes, and I find that if you use one in your class that matches your topic, you can get a lot more engagement with the students. Experiencing the game will give more impact I believe, as well as give them the opportunity to critique the historicity of the game.
I played 1754: French Indian War, A Few Acres of Snow, and Age of Empires III with my grade 7 class and many of them got a lot out of it. Part of my assignment that went with the games was to compare the events that happened in their games with what happened in real life and explain it. I had students researching to see if there were battles in the locations that they fought, and who won to see if the outcome matched their game experience. They also needed to explain the significance of the event cards, and create one of their own that matched the gameplay, but also had some logical historical underpinning for its effect.
A few students came in at lunch time to play more.
On top of the historical context, I feel a lot more lessons can be taught with board games. Even getting students the idea of taking turns, and paying enough attention to be aware of whose turn it is, can be skills they haven't practiced much at this point. And of course, the thinking skills, such as planning and strategy are important, and reacting and responding to their consequence of their actions.