We’re currently in a golden age of board games. Since the Euro game redefined the hobby in the mid-90s, thousands of new games with exciting and innovative designs have been released. With the steady growth of the hobby over the last two-and-a-half decades and the introduction of crowdfunding ten years ago, we’re at a point where hundreds of great games are being released every year. With so many different designs and styles, no matter what you like, there’s probably a board game out there that you’ll love.
Unfortunately finding that board game can be hard. It\s difficult to find something that fits you when you don’t really know what kind of games you like. We thought we’d put together a list to help people find a game they’ll enjoy. Since video games are a lot more popular than board games, and most people already know what kind of video games they like, we thought we’d start there. We picked ten popular video games from different genres, and we paired them with ten popular board games that we feel are similar.
We’re totally ignoring theme and we’re not trying to find board game adaptations of video games. What we did was we looked at what people enjoy about different games and why they play them, and then we found board games that offer a similar experience. It’s not really a top ten list, so the order is arbitrary. This is our list of 10 board games for People Who Like Video Games.
If You Like Dragon Quest XI, Try Arkham Horror.
Do you like linear story driven RPGs? Do you like learning spells and buying weapons to improve your party's characters? Do you have fun exploring towns, having adventures, and fighting or running away from random battles before facing off against a boss character? In other words, are you a fan of classic-styled JRPGs like the Dragon Quest series and earlier Final Fantasy games? If that's your thing, you should try Arkham Horror.
In Arkham Horror players are investigators in Lovecraft's fictional town of Arkham. There's a bunch of different investigators to play as, and each one has their own special abilities, but all of them also fall into one of three basic categories: good at fighting, good at magic, and balanced. Players move through town fighting and avoiding the monsters that roam the street as they collect clues to shut down magic portals. When players go to a location, they draw a story card about what happens there. At certain locations they can buy new weapons and spells, at others they can pay to be healed. If players manage to shut down all the portals they win. If they fail, they have one last chance to win in a battle against a final boss.
The base game comes with a variety of final bosses, each of which changes the game, along with a lot of different weapons, spells, and location cards. There are also four large and four small expansions, which add new locations, new location cards, new weapons, new spells, new investigators, and different ways to play the game to keep it fresh.
If You Like Cuphead, Try Space Alert.
Do you enjoy the adrenaline rush you get from playing a fast-moving, tough-as-nails platformer? Are you okay losing more often than you win? Do you think more stress means more fun? Would you find it funny if you lost a hard fought level not because of a lack of skill, but because your idiot friend hit the A button when he meant to hit the X button? When people complain that your favorite game is too hard, do you just shrug and tell them to 'git gud'? If you answered yes to most of these questions, give Space Alert a whirl.
In Space Alert you and three or four friends are crew members aboard a cheaply made spaceship. During ten minute rounds the ship will be attacked by alien vessels and boarding parties, and you'll have to work as a team to man the weapons and fighter crafts, move energy through the ship, command robots to fight alien invaders, and make sure you push a button on the ship's computer every so often, because if the screen saver comes on all of the systems will crash.
The game is played by laying down cards to show what actions your character takes and when. A CD track tells you when new threats are pulled from the deck, when you can trade cards, and when you have to all work silently because your communication system is down. Once the round is over, players spend about twenty minutes playing out the cards they laid down to see what they actually did. In video game fashion, players will get mixed up and repeatedly run into walls, have shoot-outs in empty rooms, or waste time firing an empty gun as the enemy destroys you. The game is a frantic, stressful mess that's hard to survive, and it's short enough that once you finish you can do it all again.
True to its video game nature, Space Alert comes with a tutorial that slowly introduces new rules, abilities, and threats over several rounds of play, variable difficulty levels, and there's a New Frontier expansion, which is essentially DLC for when you want to spice up the base game a bit.
If You Like Final Fantasy Tactics, Try Agricola (Original Edition).
Are you a fan of Strategy RPGs like Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre? Do you enjoy pouring over stats to figure out the advantages and disadvantages of different classes and characters? Do you like planning out the best way to build characters with levels in different classes? Do you like figuring out what party composition will have the best synergy? After you've done all that, do you like seeing how well your party can perform in battle? If so you'll love Agricola, a game about 17th century European farming.
By Agricola we mean the original 2007 edition. The recent revised edition is okay, but the original is preferable. Also we're only recommending the game to Final Fantasy Tactics fans if you play it with the drafting variant. This variant is the most popular way to play the game, and it's how the game is played in tournaments. We also recommend playing with 4 or 5 players, and never less than 3.
The goal of Agricola is to have the best farm while keeping your family fed. You do this by building a better house, breeding animals, growing crops, and making babies. This is all done through a worker placement mechanic that's very competitive and lots of fun on its own. Players are also dealt 7 occupation cards and 7 Minor Improvement cards. These cards give players special powers and advantages when played. The draft variant lets players pick what they feel are the best cards, or the cards that have the best synergy together. Players can get a huge advantage from having a well drafted hand, but even the best hands have to be played well to win.
Agricola comes with a ton of different cards to pour over and learn. The base game has 166 occupations and 136 minor improvements, although some of those should be removed because they're too powerful when drafting. Some cards are obviously very strong or weak, but some are subtle enough that you have to play them to really see how good or bad they are. If that's not enough variety, there are five large expansion decks of about 120 cards that can be added to the game or played individually. We recommend getting the World Championship and French decks, as these are full of interesting cards and the most well-balanced of the bunch.
If You Like Stardew Valley, Try Tokaido.
Do you want to relax and play a game that's beautiful looking and stress free? One that's more about playing than competing or winning? If so, give Tokaido a try.
In Tokaido you're a traveler in 17th century Japan walking down the Tokaido road. On the way you'll eat good food, buy souvenirs, enjoy hot springs, paint pictures, and meet new people. Points are gained by collecting sets of things, and the game's strategy is choosing between staying behind to see more stuff, or racing ahead to claim the best spot. But this isn't really a game about getting the most points or coming up with the best strategy. It's a game about chilling out with your friends as you enjoy the journey down Tokaido road and the game's serene artwork.
If You Like Cities Skyline, Try Suburbia.
Do you like sim games, specifically games like SimCity and Cities Skylines? That's all I have to ask, because Suburbia is SimCity reincarnated as a board game. That doesn't seem like it should be possible, but it works. Surburbia isn't too complicated, is pretty light on the rules, doesn't require lots of computations, and even though it's a little bit fiddly, it's not that bad.
Each player has their own district of a city to build. Like in SimCity players put down tiles that represent residential, commercial, industrial, and government buildings. Different buildings give different bonuses and penalties when played, and they might also have effects on buildings adjacent to them, in the same district to them, or anywhere on the board. While doing this players have to juggle tax revenue, population, and citizen happiness.
The large number of tiles available in the game gives players a lot of options to build different kinds of cities, and it's fun to watch the different ways tiles interact with each other. In one of our games a player filled his district up with industrial areas and garbage dumps. He made good revenue, but the area was so crappy that literally everyone moved out. We joked about how he had created a garbage island.
Suburbia plays fine by itself. Its first expansion, Surburbia Inc, adds a bunch of new tiles and a few new rules. It's a great expansion if you want to get even more out of Suburbia. It's second expansion, Suburbia 5-Star, was not as well received, but comes with pieces to add a fifth player to the game. There's also a new deluxe edition that has enhanced artwork and both previous expansions along with an entirely new one.
If You Like World of Warcraft, Try Pandemic Legacy.
Do you like getting together with the same group of friends to play the same game every week? I'm specifically talking about the sort of game where you and your friends work together as a group against an enemy, and where every week your player character advances a little bit more and you get a little bit further along in the story. Where what you do one session is going to have an effect on what happens next session and the session after that. Also a game that isn't about role-playing, but about playing the game. I'm more specifically talking about subscription based MMORPGs like World of Warcraft. If you like those kinds of games, you should try Pandemic Legacy.
The original Pandemic was a simple cooperative game. Players played against the board to stop outbreaks around the world. The game took about a half hour to play, and winning and losing was almost as dependent on the card draw as it was on the skill of the players. It was an okay game that was well liked by coop fans and had several spin-offs, and then it was given the legacy treatment.
Pandemic Legacy is meant to be played as a campaign that takes 12-24 sessions to complete. Players work together to try to stop an outbreak. Every session moves the story forward a little bit more, and introduces new rules and components. The choices players make, along with their victories and failures, will have lasting effects that change the game. Players will write on the board, apply permanent stickers, and destroy pieces during gameplay. As with all Legacy games, by the time the campaign is completed, the game will be wrecked. If players want to play more Pandemic Legacy, they can either purchase season 2, or buy another copy of the game. Just like with an MMORPG, if you wanna keep playing, you gotta keep paying.
If You Like Street Fighter IV, Try At The Gates of Loyang.
Do you like a good 1-on-1 game that's relatively short? A game that isn't that hard to learn, but takes a lot of practice to play well? A game where timing is really important? Do you want a game so punishing that a strong player can exploit a single mistake made by their opponent to win the match? If so, you're probably into well-made fighting games, like Street Fighter IV, and you'll probably also like At The Gates of Loyang, a game about farming in 1st century China.
At The Gates of Loyang is best played with 2 players, even though it has rules for 3 and 4 player games.
In 2-player Loyang, every time a player makes a move they have to weigh how advantageous it is to them against how advantageous it may be to their opponent. They have to react to their opponents previous moves, and anticipate how their opponent will react to theirs. Once players know how to play well, certain mistakes can leave players open to an attack that will put them into an unwinnable position. Aggressively positioning oneself for such an attack can force an opponent to play it safe to stay in the game.
Players that are familiar with the rules can finish a full game of Loyang in 20-30 minutes, but it's just as likely that a player will forfeit the game early. Most games are won by fractions of a point.
If You Like Bomberman, Try Wiz-War.
Do you like madcap multiplayer rumbles? The kind of game where you can run across the playing field killing each other and randomly gaining power-ups? The kind of game where when you win it feels like you earned it by playing better and smarter, but when you think about it, it was probably just dumb luck? Are you okay playing a relatively short game that you can lose by being unlucky? If so you probably enjoy Bomberman games, and you'll probably like Wiz-War.
Wiz-War is an old game that's been around since 1983. It underwent seven edition and had two expansions through out the 80s and 90s. Then, after going out-of-print for fifteen years, Fantasy Flight finally released an 8th edition that gave the game a beautiful new facelift, updated the rules, and balanced it a bit. They also released two expansions for their edition.
If Bomberman was a board game, it would be Wiz-War. Players are wizards, and they draw cards to get spells and items. Then they race across the board using those spells and items to steal each others treasures and occasionally kill one another. First wizard to get two treasures wins.
Wiz-War is fast, frantic, and you get to kill your friends. Every once in a while, when you get the right combination of cards, you manage to do something truly amazing. Ultimately it's more luck than skill, and more about having fun playing a zany game than winning because of your well-planned strategy. If that doesn't bother you, Wiz-War is a great game.
The 8th edition by Fantasy Flight is definitely the one to get. It looks much better than the older edition, and it benefits from all the rule updates and balancing that was added to the game. The back of the instructions have a bunch of 'optional' rules that were in earlier editions but taken out of 8th, and the game's more fun when they're used.
If You Like Deponia, Try T.I.M.E. Stories.
Do you like story driven adventures dripping with theme? Solving puzzles? Beautiful graphics that may hide clues to solving said puzzles? Going to locations to find items and using them in other locations? Are you okay with occasionally getting stuck on a puzzle that requires moon logic to solve it? In other words, do you like graphic adventure games like the Depona series and the King's Quest games? Do you know what Scummvm is? T.I.M.E. Stories is the Scummvm of board games.
In T.I.M.E. stories players are time travelers who have to travel back in time and have adventures. They enter the bodies of different characters and then explore locations, find items, and solve puzzles. They also occasionally have to roll dice. If players fail their mission, they can try again using the knowledge they gained during their previous run.
The $50 game comes with a single adventure, and just like graphic adventure games, once you complete it you know the solution, so there's not much replayability. Several expansion adventures are published every year, and they sell for $30 each. There are several fan made adventures available for download on the Internet as well.
If You Like Aerobiz, Try Food Chain Magnate.
Are you an Aerobiz fan? If you are, Food Chain Magnate is the game you've spent years searching for.
Aerobiz and its sequel, Aerobiz Supersonic, are pretty unique video games with a cult following. There's nothing quite like them, except for a second sequel that was only released in Japan. Aerobiz is a competitive business simulation for up to four players. Players run an airline, buy airplanes for it, pick routes to fly, invest in auxiliary businesses, and most importantly have cutthroat price wars. Aerobiz isn't everyone's cup of tea, but people who fall in love with it spend the rest of their lives searching for something else like it. Unfortunately there are no video games like Aerobiz.
A number of the more open-minded Aerobiz fans have ventured into board gaming hoping to find something close to Aerobiz only to be disappointed. Although there are a number of economic-themed board games, modern economic Euros tend to be about building a better business than your opponents. Aerobiz fans want to ruin their opponent's well-laid plans by outflanking and underpricing them, and then shove it in their face. Some 18XX games are like that, but they do it through stock market manipulation, and they just don't feel like Aerobiz.
Then in 2015 Splotter released Food Chain Magnate, and it has all the things people love about Aerobiz. And it feels like playing Aerobiz. Also it's a bit shorter than Aerobiz, which is good, because Aerobiz games can take a long time to play.
Food Chain Magnate is a game about running fast food chains in 1950s America. The game starts by using tiles to randomly generate a neighborhood full of customer homes. On their turns, players hire and promote workers to do things like make food, change prices, and open new stores. Players advertise to create demand, and then they compete to fill that demand by cutting prices and opening stores that are closer to customers. Players win by making the most money.
Food Chain Magnate is unforgiving and cutthroat. Early mistakes compound themselves so much that one bad move on the first turn can leave a player in an unwinnable position. Between strong players, the game is won and lost by strategic price cuts, smart advertising strategies, and opening stores at the right locations.
An expansion, the Kethcup Mechanic and Other Ideas, has been developed and is due to be released soon. It's supposed to include 17 new modules that can be added into the game. Food Chain Magnate has gone Supersonic.