What do you do when your favorite game is coming to an end? Grab the board game edition of course!
At one time, digital video games may have been at odds with the analog nature of tabletop games, but now the two hobbies very much live in harmony thanks to the growing number of video game board games.
While video game board games can span a variety of tabletop experiences – from solo board games to beginner board games – many of the best video game board games stay true to the original source material, translating the feeling of playing their on-screen counterparts to the tabletop without trying to replicate their exact gameplay.
Best Video Game Board Games
XCOM: The Board Game
XCOM: The Board Game is the most fun you'll have watching everything go horribly wrong. You and up to three friends take on different roles within XCOM and must work together to repel the alien menace.
Each turn has a time limit, and within that brief window UFOs descend upon Earth, aliens assault your base, countries fall into panic, and so much more. You're constantly prioritizing and re-prioritizing different tasks on the fly in a mad dash to complete everything you need to before the end of turn.
Why does it work? It's all about the app. Playing this board game requires the use of a free companion app, which keeps time during turns, tells you what the aliens are up to, and keeps track of your overall progress. Turns here feel like a round in the cooperative shouting game Spaceteam, with one player calling out commands and updates while the others scramble to address them.
In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, you constantly feel like you have 10 things to do but only enough time to finish one. The board game perfectly adapts that frantic desperation for the tabletop.
Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate
Set in the Forgotten Realms setting of tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons, the Baldur’s Gate series of PC games have cemented a reputation as some of the greatest roleplaying computer games ever made.
With players taking control of a party of memorable characters, the video games played the role of DM, telling a story of a mysterious individual with an unknown past who has ties with the terrible murder god, Bhaal. Rich with narrative and well-rounded characters, Baldur’s Gate and its sequel, Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn, were praised by video games and D&D fans alike.
Despite this, the nineties video game series lay dormant for several decades until the recent announcement of upcoming sequel Baldur’s Gate III by Larian Studios, the company responsible for modern RPG Divinity: Original Sin 2 and its upcoming board game adaptation.
Before this recent promise of a revival came a video game board game crossover that no-one could have anticipated: Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate. Combining two very different series – Baldur’s Gate and Betrayal at House on the Hill – this horror board game emerged in 2017 and turned out to be a fantastic idea despite the unexpected mashup.
Set on the streets of Baldur’s Gate, this video game board game begins very much like the original Betrayal at House on the Hill as players explore the environment together in a co-op board game format. Treading the winding paths of the iconic city, players will come across strange individuals, happenings, and items that all link back to the dreaded murder god Bhaal.
Each one of these spine-tingling events could lead to one – or sometimes more – players suddenly turning to evil and preying upon the others in one of 50 possible scenarios somewhat inspired by the original video game series.
The Witcher Adventure Game
Despite the last video game in the series releasing in 2015, The Witcher has arguably never been more popular than it is now – largely thanks to the Netflix television series starring certified hunk Henry Cavill. Originally based on a series of fantasy novels written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, the trilogy of Witcher video games stars grumbly monster slayer Geralt of Rivia in his adventures across The Continent, encountering sorceresses, elves, kings and countless beasties along the way.
Known for being enormous open-world RPGs, the Witcher video games contain grand overarching storylines with an interesting cast of characters and heavy emphasis placed upon player choice. So it’s unsurprising that the video game board game based on the series, The Witcher Adventure Game, chooses to focus on these elements.
Featuring beloved characters from the video game series such as Dandelion the roguish bard, Yarpen the dwarven mercenary, Triss the sorceress and – of course – Geralt himself, The Witcher Adventure Game drops players into a world stuffed to the brim with monsters and the rewards for killing them.
Though not a horror board game, The Witcher Adventure Game leans into the dark tone of the video game’s world by having players face off against terrible creatures and dangerous individuals. Players can choose to pursue various quests – often involving the slaying of monsters – that they can solve through careful diplomacy or good ol’ fashioned combat.
As your character grows in strength, they’ll be able to develop their unique abilities down different paths depending upon your preferences. For example, Geralt can choose to develop his skills for elixir-making or spell-casting, with both having their own benefits.
With players pursuing their own individual goals and storylines, there are plenty of opportunities to be mean to each other throughout the game – just remember to keep your sword(s) close.
Cryptozoic Entertainment Portal The Uncooperative Board Game
If the internet's ceaseless discharge of memes and references haven't ruined Portal for you, then you may yet enjoy this game of uncooperative cake acquisition. Players assume responsibility for a herd of test subjects and guide them through Aperture Science performing tests and collecting cake tokens.
Cake is your key to victory, as having the most cake wins you the game. Much of this game's strategy revolves around keeping your cake pieces safe while driving your opponent's pieces into the incinerator.
Why is this one good? It doesn't focus on portals. In fact, portals are just a small part of the larger puzzle that is Aperture Science, which is a modular game board players reshape throughout the game. Players also collect and play cards that change the rules of the game itself for all players – until another card overrides it. Together, these mechanics and others make PTUCAG very unpredictable. Plans are often useless – but planning indispensable – as you try and navigate the chaos unfolding around you.
Assassin’s Creed: Arena
Assassin's Creed: Arena introduces what is perhaps the grimmest premise on this list: competitive assassinations. You and your heated assassin rivals start at the edges of a large game board and must work your way towards the center, which is full of poor saps awaiting the pointy end of a hidden blade.
Completing assassinations – among other tasks – earns you points needed to win the game. Guards also patrol the board and can weaken, or kill, your character if you're spotted, and there's a fair amount of in-fighting that inevitably breaks out among the assassins themselves.
Why is it awesome? When it gets rolling, AC: Arena only takes about a half-hour to finish, making it one of the shortest games on this list. It's very easy to pick up and learn as well; the most complicated component is probably the equipment cards, which provide simple modifiers.
There's a great sense of rivalry between the players as you try and balance keeping others down while boosting yourself ahead. The most common complaint is that the various components aren't as high quality as, well, the other games on this list – but don't let that stop you from enjoying this fast-paced assassination game.
Gears of War: The Board Game
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Gears of War follows the story of a couple of dudes and their quest to clamber over every chest-high wall in existence–and deal with a few unsavory Locust while they're at it. The board game adaptation exchanges its so-visceral-that-word-is-now-meaningless combat for dice rolls and plastic figurines.
Why does this one work? Gears of War has always been about the teamwork between its four main heroes, and the board game highlights that perfectly. Up to four players take on the roles of the various members of Delta Squad as they run through a series of missions included in the game, and you'll have to work together to make it through each scenario.
With randomized map layouts and enemy placement (thanks to the modular tiles it uses), running through the same battles will feel different every time. And yes, you can even use chest-high walls as cover.
Bioshock Infinite: The Siege of Columbia
Find the girl, wipe away the debt. And deal with a bunch of jerks in giant mech-suits. And Thomas Jefferson robots with rocket launchers. And two factions that both want to use you for their own gain. Oh, and time rifts, too–can't forget those. Bioshock Infinite's many individual parts make for a compelling whole, but It's a hell of a lot for a board game to take in. This is why The Siege of Columbia wisely focuses its strategic gameplay on the struggle between the Vox Populi and the Founders.
This one is pretty cool. While running around Columbia as Booker and Elizabeth are fine in a video game, it probably wouldn't work so well as a board game. Instead, The Siege of Columbia provides a grander, birds-eye view on the conflict raging throughout the flying city, as you attempt to control Colombia's different territories while preventing your opponent from doing the same.
Not that Booker and Elizabeth are gone completely–no, they're off blowing shit up on their own, and you'll have to fend them off, as well as your opponent.
Civilization: The Board Game
World domination is an ambitious goal but doing so over the course of thousands of years seems especially daunting. Luckily, you've got friends that can help you out–or stab you in the back if you're not careful. Building your civilization up from the stone age is hard work but seeing all of your efforts culminates in a fleet of jet bombers is worth the wait. Just watch out for Gandhi–he doesn't look like much, but he's a wily one.
You’ve probably heard of this one. Civilization was already a turn-based strategy board game that Sid Meier admittedly cribbed from during development of the PC version back in 1991, so a board game version of the video game just makes everything come full circle.
Actually, make that two versions–the Eagle Games edition (now out of print) is incredibly complex and features a static map of Earth, while the more recent Fantasy Flight edition is far less obtuse and more closely emulates the exploration aspect of the computer game.
Starcraft: The Board Game
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Starcraft: The Board Game is A turn-based adaptation of the real-time sci-fi strategy game (zerg rush) that pits three wildly different races (zerg rush) against each other, with dozens of buildings, units, vehicles, and upgrades (zerg rush!) that allow for countless strategic avenues (ZERG RUSH!) against your foes. Or you could always, you know, zerg rush them.
If there's one thing that board games do insanely well, it's finding ways to turn resource management into a competition–and a game like Starcraft certainly fits the bill nicely.
Plus, by focusing on the conflict between the Terrans, Protoss, and Zerg on a much larger scale, it feels like you're engaged in a full-sized campaign every time you play.
It's a showdown between the greatest fighters in the world–fighters like Ryu, M. Bison, and Chun-Li, who are capable of shooting fireballs out of their hands and kick a thousand times in a split second. And what better way to exemplify the bare-knuckle brawl between two hardened opponents than a turn-based card game?
I know what you're thinking, but Street Fighter as a card game actually works pretty well. Here, you have a set of basic cards that you use to upgrade your attacks to become more powerful special moves.
There's never a moment where you're not reacting to something, whether it's chaining massive combos or waiting for the right moment to strike. You can even customize your deck with additional cards to tailor the game to your fighting style. Not too shabby.
World of Warcraft: The Board Game
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Take the biggest massively multiplayer online role-playing game and take out about half of those words, and you've got World of Warcraft: The Board Game. It's definitely massive though–you get nearly 1000 different cards, tokens, chits, figures, and other components, and games take at least four hours to play through. Hey, at least you are interacting with other humans in the same room while you play–that's something, right?
Why does this awesome concept work? Players break off into teams of Alliance and Horde, and scour the lands of Azeroth, gaining experience and loot as they try to defeat the “Overlord.” Warcraft lore flavors each of the different cards, classes, and items you find, and the game makes a grand attempt at evoking the sense of scale in World of Warcraft–honestly, all that's really missing from it are lag, raid queue times, and the horrors of trade chat.
Fallout is another one of those classic PC franchises that have become a video game icon. The original PC RPG was released all the way back in 1997 and earned several fans, getting a handful of sequels and spin-offs before being largely forgotten for a number of years.
With the launch of first-person roleplaying game Fallout 3 in 2008 and the subsequent releases of Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4 – we don’t talk about Fallout 76 – the once-dead franchise was given a stimpak, turning it into one of the most popular video games around.
The Fallout board game may initially appear as a by-the-numbers adaptation of the series – 1950s tropes included – but it’s actually a surprisingly in-depth peek into the world of the Wasteland from a tabletop angle.
As characters from the video game series, including the vault dweller and Brotherhood of Steel knight, players are all thrown into the same fetid pot together and expected to find their way across the radiated marshes, towns, ruins and plains of post-apocalyptic America – each with a shared objective that’s determined by whichever scenario the players choose to tackle.
Despite a shared sense of discovery and endurance, Fallout isn’t a co-op board game. Players will discover quests of their own, which – if completed – provide new sources of influence and equipment for them to benefit from. As with the video game series, there are several warring factions spread across the wasteland that players can choose to either align with or oppose. However, they’ll have to be careful not to imbalance the power between factions too much, as it can cause chaos.
Along the way, a deck of story cards captures the roleplaying elements of the video games, with players' decisions leading to various possible outcomes – from recruiting new companions to helping inhabitants of the wasteland.
For Fallout fans who want a taste of the Wasteland without having to invest hundreds of hours, the Fallout video game board game is the perfect way to get your fix.
Everyone knows Resident Evil. So take all the characters, weapons, locations, and oodles of zombies from Resident Evil, and stick them in a card game–because why not? It doesn't even matter if the game fits the theme, people will buy it anyway! Trust me, you're not fooling anyone when you tell people to “explore the mansion” when all you're really doing is flipping a card over.
Why is this one worth it? Because it uses the same tried-and-true mechanics of other deck-building games–like the fantastic and immensely popular Dominion series.
Players customize their deck by gathering weapons and use them to take out zombies. It may not score any points for being unique, but at least it's a pretty fun game to play
Resident Evil 2: The Board Game
Resident Evil 2’s mechanics may have been incredibly influential for modern horror video games but the original PlayStation game wasn’t a looker, requiring players to fill in the gaps when it came to the blocky visuals. Despite the slick-looking remake that was released last year, its tabletop adaptation in Resident Evil 2: The Board Game provides plenty of opportunities for fans to use their mind palaces in order to conjure up terrifying visions of zombie people, zombie dogs, zombie spiders, zombie snakes and so much more.
With locations such as the Raccoon City Police Station and Umbrella’s underground lab, Resident Evil 2 is a co-op board game that takes players through several scenarios inspired by the video game.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a horror board game without plenty of monsters and dangers involved – luckily, Resident Evil 2: The Board Game is filled to the brim of Lickers, giant crocodiles, and the dreaded Mr. X himself. All these individuals will attempt to eat and/or kill the player characters if they get overwhelmed, so you’ll have to pick your battles wisely, take shots carefully and flee if the going gets too tough.
Thanks to the number and variety of scenarios on offer, Resident Evil 2: The Board Game provides some serious replayability and can even be approached as one incredibly long campaign of blood, guts, and tension that loosely follows the video game. For fans of the franchise – and of horror board games in general – Resident Evil 2: The Board Game is one heck of a chunky morsel to sink your teeth into.
Doom: The Board Game
The granddaddy of all first-person shooters is turned into a cooperative overhead tabletop game, and the frenetic pace and ludicrous gibs typically found in Doom are conveyed via turn-based combat (and illustrated by your imagination). At least you get shotguns and hellspawn–otherwise, why call it Doom at all?
While the theme is a bit skin-deep, the game design itself is amazing. The modular board is made of puzzle-like pieces that fit together in any order you like, letting you play the included scenarios or create your own. The Dungeons & Dragons vibe continues even further, with movement values, area of effect attacks, line of sight, and more.
Plus, one player is essentially a dungeon master, controlling the monsters as they attempt to eviscerate the space marines. In fact, the game design was so successful, that when Doom: The Board Game went out of print, they basically converted it into the wildly successful fantasy board game Descent: Journeys in the Dark.
Angry Birds: Knock on Wood
The ridiculously popular physics-based bird-flinging app has its face plastered on everything nowadays, from t-shirts to party supplies, to coloring books, to the actual food, to everything else in between. So what if I told you that there's a fairly decent board game that replicates the experience of the game in real life–hey, where are you going? Get back here!
Who wouldn’t want to launch plastic birds at their creations in real life? You get a bunch of pieces, you construct the sets displayed on various cards, and you get to launch plastic birds at your creations with an actual catapult. It's incredibly dumb, but my goodness it works.
Plants vs. Zombies Risk
Like Monopoly, Risk is one of the oldest contemporary board games still being produced today, and there are countless variations based on popular franchises. Unlike Monopoly, the game of global domination is far more strategic, and it uses its additional source material in new and inventive ways–and the Plants vs. Zombies variant is one of the more interesting ones out there.
First of all, Plants vs. Zombies Risk is scaled down to for only two players, meaning games are much quicker–which already makes this a million times better than plain old Risk. Second, there are several game types included, one which tasks you with controlling territories like conventional Risk, while another is essentially a turn-based version of the popular tower-defense game, complete with the same lawn from the video game. If you're a Plants vs. Zombies fan, this game is a no-brainer.
The Wrap Up
Board games created from video games has become an awesome transition. It is a great way to connect with friends and play a different version of your favorite games.
You may also find that there are board games that you enjoy even if you have not played the game yet! Sounds like a great way to explore and find new games to play.
So grab a few of these board games along with a few of your friends and let the fun begin!
Scarlett Rose is a professional cosplayer, actress, voice actor, published model, and mother of rabbits. When she is not crafting armor or building costumes, she can be found playing the latest video game or enjoying a retro classic.