Board games are a great way to pass the time, especially during social distancing. Sometimes, in the case of more difficult board games or tabletop roleplaying games, it’s great to have a baseline of knowledge about the source material. That’s where these titles come in. If you’re already a fan of Game of Thrones, The Expanse, Alien, or even the Dark Universe (RIP), here are some games to help bring you into the worlds you love.
Ravensburger’s Jaws is hands-down one of the best board game adaptations out there. It combines strategy-type guessing with roleplaying game battle mechanics to make something that’s suspenseful and action-packed. One player takes on the role of the shark, secretly swimming around the island eating swimmers, as one to three more players work as Quint, Hooper, and Brody to stop the carnivorous creature. It all ends in a high-stakes battle on a boat, trying to stop the shark for good... or be turned into chow.
The Alien franchise has gone in some, well, interesting directions over the past several years. But let’s not forget the fact that it started as a series about a bunch of blue-collar workers in space being forced to fight aliens. This tabletop roleplaying game from Free League Publishing heads back to Alien’s pre-“I’ll do the fingering” days, with players working together as space truckers and marines just trying to get by during a horrific crisis. What’s great about this RPG is that it features a “cinematic mode,” which turns a session into a single-play experience where characters may likely die by the end. But that’s all part of telling a good story.
This board game is truly a tale of survival against all odds—fitting considering what it’s based on. The Dune board game from Avalon Hill has players taking on the role of different noble houses from Frank Herbert’s series, fighting each other for control of Arrakis and the legendary “spice.” The game first came out in 1979, but it didn’t see a boost from the David Lynch film so it fell into obscurity. However, the game kept a devoted following for being one of the best adaptations of Herbert’s saga, eventually becoming a collectors item. Last year, Gale Force Nine released a remake of the classic game, ensuring its place among the stars. The spice (and dice) must flow.
There have been plenty of games set in the world of Star Trek, and the still-ongoing roleplaying series Star Trek Adventures from Modiphius stands out among them. It’s an incredibly rich and dense world that lets players create the Starfleet officers and teams they’ve always dreamed of seeing. The game can be intimidating to play at times; it has a pretty dense corebook with a lot of rules to follow. However, once you’ve gotten over the hurdle of learning how everything works, it can provide months if not years of entertainment.
Fair warning before starting this game: It may destroy friendships. Fantasy Flight Games’ A Game of Thrones is brutal and intense. It’s also the only way to truly immerse yourself in the Game of Thrones experience. Every player takes on a different House, trying to gain control of Westeros through wars, alliances, betrayals, and perhaps a red wedding or two. It will take several hours and you will most likely hate everyone around you by the end of it, but it’s worth it to feel like a true Khaleesi.
It’s really hard to recreate the feeling of being a bender—anyone who pretended to waterbend against their elementary school classmates can attest to that! IDW Games’ The Legend of Korra: Pro-Bending Arena turned the art of bending fights into a two-player battle royale, with players using various bending skills to overtake the other team and force them off the grid. It’s a surprisingly complex strategy game, and comes with some fantastic (and paintable!) miniatures. There’s no better way to spend time while waiting for Netflix’s live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender show to finally come out.
What’s great about The Expanse’s roleplaying game from Green Ronin is how open it is. The world of James S.A. Corey’s book series and Amazon Prime’s television show is Game of Thrones-levels of massive, covering everything from space exploration to interplanetary politics. This provides a lot of possibilities for characters, locations, and scenarios, which make for some fascinating player choices. There’s also a free quickstart version with pre-made characters and a campaign scenario, for anyone curious to try it out.
Okay, so this last one is a bit of a cheat, as it’s technically a shared-universe game based on Universal’s movie monsters. However, given how many crossovers we got in that franchise—Dark Universe (RIP) notwithstanding—it makes sense to put all of these monsters together in a single game. Horrified from Ravensburger is a cooperative board game where players fight one or more Universal movie monsters while trying to protect themselves and the citizens of the town. Each monster comes with their own skills and objectives, along with a unique way to defeat them. The variety of monsters and monster combos provides for several games worth of experiences. Plus, the artwork is just second to none.
For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.