Like Among Us? Here are 6 board games you should play
In space no-one can hear you scheme.
Among Us is the latest video game to blow up, with millions of people playing the massively popular PC and mobile game - and thousands more watching others play it in live streams and videos.
The game has a simple setup: ten people are stuck on a spaceship, and must perform a variety of tasks, from repairing the ship’s vital systems to just keeping things spick and span. That whole ‘staying alive’ part is made a whole lot trickier by at least one hidden imposter among the crew, whose only task is to sabotage things and quietly assassinate the crew one by one without getting caught. Unable to talk or communicate during their duties, the players must call an emergency meeting to discuss their suspicions and eject an accused traitor into space - hoping they’re not blasting an innocent bystander into the void - before they’re all taken out.
Board games like Among Us
- Burke’s Gambit: Find the imposter among your crew and stop the schemes of nefarious Company People in this tense Alien-inspired hidden-role game.
- The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31: Not everyone is as they seem in the board game of suspicion and shape-shifting based on the cult classic horror film.
- Dead of Winter: Struggle to survive a zombie apocalypse together while a secret traitor works against your group.
- The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine: A co-op card game played in silence if your friends can’t (or won’t) talk to each other.
- One Night Ultimate Werewolf: A modern update for the classic social deduction favourite.
- Spaceteam: Fix a ship against the clock in a hectic co-op party game.
It’s little surprise that Among Us has proved such a hit, because it has a lot in common with one of the most popular types of board games around: social deduction. Many of the best-known social deduction games such as Werewolf, Secret Hitler and The Resistance: Avalon all similarly pit friends against each other, as they lie about their true motives or interrogate their friends to weed out the traitor in the group.
With it harder than usual to get friends together in a big group to play board games around the same table, Among Us captures much of the same tense atmosphere and excitement of a party game in a video game. But there are a number of tabletop games that share many similarities with Among Us that are worth checking out if you’re looking for more entertaining deception, deduction and betrayal with a group of pals - and many of them can be played over the internet, too. Here are six board games like Among Us you should play.
1. Burke’s Gambit
Hunt an infected imposter in space
Burke’s Gambit takes inspiration from horror movie Alien as a parasite-like creature infects one member of a starship’s crew and sets the ship on a direct collision course with Earth. Like Among Us, it’s up to the remaining crew members to work out who among them isn’t as human as they appear and blast them out of the airlock before it’s too late.
In this case, the infected player might not be working directly against the group themselves, as everyone starts the game unaware of whether they’ve been infiltrated by the alien organism. The real threat are members of the Company, who want to get the organism to Earth for their own nefarious purposes. (Paging Weyland Yutani.)
Players roll dice to perform different actions, from healing their companions and looking at other players’ infection cards (but never their own!) to speeding up or slowing down the ship’s engines as it zooms towards its destination. Players can even eliminate other members of the crew to whittle down anyone standing in their way. Once there’s no more time left, the players must vote on who they send into the void - if it’s the infected player, the ship’s crew win. Otherwise, the Company People claim victory and the planet is doomed.
With its sci-fi theme, the nefarious motives of the hidden imposters and the tension as you hit the EJECT button on the airlock, Burke’s Gambit is among the closest board game equivalents to Among Us on the tabletop.
Buy Burke's Gambit on Amazon US and Amazon UK.
2. The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31
Who among you isn’t quite human?
Based on John Carpenter’s classic horror film The Thing, Infection at Outpost 31 swaps the cold of space for the cold of the Antarctic, as players attempt to survive the long winter in a research base infiltrated by a shape-shifting alien.
Although the alien in your number is a problem, much like Among Us the group also needs to complete a variety of tasks each round to simply last another day in the harsh environment. Every round sees a new mission that the players must achieve by collecting items and performing specific actions. Successfully finishing missions allows the group to sweep the station, clearing rooms and potentially identifying The Thing - allowing them to kill it before it evolves into an unstoppable force.
As the game progresses, the infection can spread and bring more players onto the side of the alien Thing. The infected players can undermine the group’s attempts to complete missions, slowing their progress towards escaping on the McMurdo Station helicopter and leading them to fail if they struggle to fully clear the station. If the group does make it to the helicopter, the humans must still be sure that no-one among them is an alien. Otherwise, they (and humanity) lose.
Infection at Outpost 31 effectively captures the tension and suspicion of The Thing, combined with its desperate fight for survival in an inhospitable environment. While its backstabbing might not be quite as literal as Among Us’ murderous betrayals, it’s no less thrilling and savage - whether you’re a fan of the film or not.
Buy The Thing: Infection at Outpost 31 on Amazon US and Amazon UK.
3. Dead of Winter
Work to survive together - or win alone
A modern board gaming classic in its own right, Dead of Winter drops players into the midst of a zombie apocalypse. The survivors must fight to survive together in a world populated by the walking dead, but there’s a traitor among them who only has their personal interests in mind.
Each round sees the group of survivors - each with their own unique abilities - venture out of their safe colony to gather vital supplies. As they search for food and equipment, they’ll need to deal with the danger of zombies, avoiding infection and death. Each round the group must fulfil a given objective, working toward an overall victory condition.
As well as the group’s shared goals, each player has a secret goal they must achieve to individually win by the end of the game. In some cases, this can see one person turn against the entire group as a lone traitor, scheming to win alone by undoing the survivors’ hard work. They can’t be too obvious, though, or they’ll risk the rest of the group voting to exile them from the colony.
Dead of Winter includes a wide roster of characters (Sparky, the gun-wielding dog, is a fan favourite) and an immersive world due to its use of the Crossroads system. The players draw cards that present them with tough decisions that can lead the story and outcome in different directions, weaving together its moment-to-moment action with interesting events and discussion as a group.
Although the game includes a fully co-operative variant that removes the individual goals and traitors, Dead of Winter is best with the seeping threat of betrayal behind the immediate danger of brain-munching undead.
Zombies may seem a world away from the deep-space scheming of Among Us, but Dead of Winter’s struggle to survive as a group while one person goes against your efforts makes it a great fit if you’re looking to bring more heated discussion to the table.
Buy Dead of Winter on Amazon US and Amazon UK.
4. The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine
Silence is golden in this co-op card game
One of the things that makes Among Us so entertaining to watch is the fact that players can’t talk while the video game’s main action is taking place. See the imposter slipping through an air vent? Call an emergency meeting and point the finger. Get a knife in the back yourself? Tough luck unless there’s a ghost whisperer on board. (Spoiler: there isn’t.)
There are a number of board games that similarly use silence to ramp up the suspense. Kids’ game Magic Maze has players going on a shopping spree in a mall, with the only way of communicating a big red pawn you can put in front of someone (or bang on the table). The Mind tries to create a psychic link between players as they silently stack numbered cards in order without knowing what - or when - their friends might play.
For our money, the best board game played in silence is The Crew, a card game about completing missions as the members of a spaceship team. That also means it has more than a couple of things in common with Among Us, but offers a fully co-op experience if you’re looking to rebuild all those broken friendships.
In The Crew, players each start with cards of different suits and numbers. Each round - or trick - sees the players take it in turns to play a card, before the person who played the highest card (or a trump card) claims all the cards. To succeed in their current mission, the group will need to work to get specific cards to certain players, carefully choosing what they play to avoid accidentally taking a card that someone else needs.
It sounds simple, but the players can’t talk (in space, no-one can hear you scheme) - meaning they must use the limited communication at their disposal to make it through each scenario. With 50 missions of increasing difficulty and inventive new gameplay elements constantly throwing up new challenges, The Crew is an excellent option to play after Among Us if you can’t - or won’t - speak to each other.
Buy The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine on Amazon US and Amazon UK.
5. One Night Ultimate Werewolf
The classic social deduction game in a matter of minutes
There’s a good chance you’ve heard of Werewolf (or Mafia, as it’s also known). It’s widely considered the original social deduction game: a true classic. In the party favourite, a group of villagers try to find the lycanthropes hidden among them before they all end up eaten. Helping them might be a seer who can learn the allegiance of one player each night and a protector able to defend one player, as well as other unique villager roles added to the game over the years in various different versions.
Although Werewolf remains plenty entertaining today, its simple ideas have been expanded and improved in a number of modern successors. Among the best is One Night Ultimate Werewolf, which offers a fast 10-minute game of deception and deduction with some interesting roles, rules improvements and additions to shake up the classic experience.
As the name suggests, One Night Ultimate Werewolf boils everything down to a single round - like Among Us’ tense emergency meetings, the villagers get one shot to win by identifying one of the werewolves. The game adds in new player roles, including the pesky role-swapping troublemaker and robber, and takes out the need for one player to serve as moderator and removes player elimination, so there’s no need to sit twiddling your thumbs for a new round to begin.
Among Us owes plenty to Werewolf and the social deduction games it’s inspired since. If you’ve never played a tabletop social deduction game before, picking up this modern update of the enduring classic is a good place to start.
Buy One Night Ultimate Werewolf on Amazon US and Amazon UK.
A co-op option when you’d rather collaborate than kill
Originally a free app played on smartphones, Spaceteam pits players against the clock as they race to repair a constantly malfunctioning spaceship. It’s hectic, loud and a lot of fun.
Spaceteam’s creators eventually turned the digital game into a card game, which stays true to the app by throwing up endless tasks for the players to complete as their unreliable vessel floats through space.
Players flip over cards to see what needs fixing, communicating with each other to share tools with ridiculous names and keep an eye on the sector for which they’re responsible. At the same time, the ship will be pelted with asteroids and sucked into wormholes, adding extra difficulty to staying on top of it all.
Everything happens in real-time against a ticking timer, with players performing actions whenever it makes sense and things quickly getting quite chaotic and noisy. It’s all part of the fun.
If the team manages to fix enough failing systems to work their way through the deck and collect the six cards needed to repair the ship before time runs out, they all win together. Otherwise: kaboom.
While it may not have the treacherous betrayal of Among Us, Spaceteam shares the video game’s lost-in-space theme and the need to keep on top of tasks to avoid everyone losing. If you’re after a short sci-fi game you can play with a bunch of people off-screen, it’ll set your heart pounding in a different - but equally thrilling - way.
Buy Spaceteam on Amazon US and Amazon UK.