If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Learn more.

10 best sports board games 2021

A league of their own.

Board games and sports are sometimes presented as diametric opposites, but does it have to be that way? Why can't you prove your spirit on the field before proving your cunning around the table? Little shock then that some board games designers have taken direct inspiration, and crafted some great board games based on the trials and tribulations of real-world sport. Whether you're brawling in the ring or racing for the finish line, we've listed some of the best sports board games you can buy right now. Eye of the tiger, Chariots of Fire, welcome to the Jam, etc, etc.

Best sports board games

1. Flamme Rouge

It’s all about the timing in this cycling sprint finish

Flamme Rouge board game layout
Race to the finish line in this board game version of the Tour de France.

If you’ve ever watched the Tour de France - or any tour cycling, really - you’ll know that there are two basic ways to win a stage. You either carve out a big enough lead throughout the stage that you cross the finish line unopposed, or you stay with the peloton until the final stretch and burst out at the perfect time.

This cycling board game deals with the second scenario: the vein-popping sprint to the finish, as you navigate slipstreams and jostle for position before making a late dart for the finish line.

In the game, you control two cyclists: a Rouleur and a Sprinteur. To win, you have to make sure one of these riders crosses the line first. Each team gets their own deck, and you must take care to play the cards in such a way that you don’t fall too far behind the pack, while also not giving opponents the opportunity to use your slipstream and not leaving your attack too late. Flamme Rouge is the mad dash to the finish line frozen in time for us to pick apart the moment-to-moment action.

Buy Flamme Rouge on Amazon UK and Amazon US

2. Baseball Highlights 2045

Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the ‘Borgs

Baseball Highlights board game layout
Get ready to command your team of cyborg baseball players.

Let’s examine the future of baseball’s history. In the year 2032, the game has grown stale, so the league decides to shorten games to six innings each. Added to that, some pitchers have bionic arms installed and have become known as ‘Borgs, while the all-human players are the Naturals. There’s also ‘Bots, who are fully automated and can both pitch and bat, but cannot field. All caught up? Great! Because it’s your job to manage the team!

It’s the ‘Highlights’ in the title of this game which is of crucial importance. Unlike some other sports games that focus on the play-by-play of a game or day-by-day of a season, Baseball Highlights 2045 cranks the pace up. Each match sees you draw just six cards, deciding on whether defensive or offensive play is best; although some cards and players will allow you to do both simultaneously.

Buy Baseball Highlights 2045 on OnBuy.com and Amazon US

3. The Football Game

Lead your own football club to the top of the table, on the table

The Football game board game layout
Imagine a tabletop version of the Football Manager video game series.

The Football Game is essentially a Football Manager board game, with the added challenge of keeping fans happy, maintaining the stadium and dealing with the day-to-day running of the club. So in that respect, it’s closer to a Football General Manager board game.

You play through six games, using coloured dice and tactics cards to determine the outcome of the football matches. A mixture of skill and luck is needed to earn your team the victory.

There’s also off-the-field drama like press scandals, social media blow-ups and injury crises that can work both for or against you. For added realism, each club has different expectations, so finishing higher up the league doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve won.

Buy The Football Game on Amazon UK

4. Crash Tackle Rugby

All the strategy, intricate timing and bone-crunching body slams of rugby

Crash Tackle Rugby board game layout
Plan your strategies and formations carefully to outwit your opponent.

Crash Tackle Rugby, sometimes known as simply Crash Tackle, describes itself as ‘rugby chess’ - and, honestly, that’s not far off. It deals with a full game of rugby union, with you and your opposing coach managing the manoeuvres of all 15 players on your team.

As you control every individual step, pass and kick of each player, there’s an added level of control that stats-based manager sims can’t offer. Stats, tactics and positioning still play a big part, along with dice rolls and pressure play cards that lean into the thundering pace and knife-edge luck of top-level competitive sport. Of all the games here, Crash Tackle Rugby puts you right in the centre of the game, rather than controlling it from overhead.

Buy Crash Tackle Rugby on crashtacklerugby.com

5. Camel Up

Place your bets early and win big, or wait to see how the madcap race unfolds

Camel Up: Second Edition beginner board game gameplay layout
The Camel Up board has an incredibly striking design thanks to its 3D pyramid.

While many other sports board games revolve around you managing the outcome of a match or competition, in racing game Camel Up you’re just betting on the results. Sitting on the sidelines doesn’t mean the pressure is off, however.

In this quick and easy game, you watch camels race around a pyramid. The earlier you bet, the more you stand to win. The camels move along the track based on the roll of a die, but - to add to the fun - can also hop on each other’s backs and be carried along to victory. Easy to pick up and engrossing from the start, Camel Up is perfect for any and all skill levels.

Buy Camel Up: Second Edition on Amazon UK and Amazon US

6. K2

Battle against other players or just the elements during a dangerous descent

K2 board game layout
Will you make it to the top of the mountain or get iced?

Mountain climbing is usually a sport where you’re only competing against yourself and the elements. Board game K2 does offer a solo experience, but also allows you to go head-to-head with up to four other players in a race.

You need to ascend the mountain and make it back to base camp while keeping your climbers alive. As everyone uses identical decks, there’s limited luck here - instead, it’s all about tactics. When do you move, and when do you shelter? Wait for a storm to pass, power through it, or try and beat it down the mountain? These are the sorts of decisions you’ll have to make that can mean life or death for your climbers on K2.

Buy K2 on Amazon UK and Amazon US

7. Jab

The fists fly as fast as the cards in this boxing game

Jab board game artwork
This real-time card game keeps doesn't pull its punches.

Boxing’s fast and furious pace can be difficult to gamify without taking the sting out, but somehow Jab manages it. By drawing cards, you take direct control of your boxer’s fists in the heat of the moment.

Rather than a turn-based game, the fists are constantly flying. You need to keep your wits about you and strategise off the cuff, making sure to play the right offensive cards while still managing to defend. All the rush of boxing and none of the risk. It features some referential humour too, with bonus cards in the form of famous faces - Barack Obama’s Obamacare card can heal you up if you draw it mid-fight.

Buy Jab on Amazon UK and JustForFun (US).

8. Blood Bowl

Dungeons & Dragons meets the NFL, and they’re going hell for leather… or is that hell for pigskin?

Blood Bowl is a decidedly more violent version of its real-world counterpart.

Blood Bowl is quite literally fantasy football, as players are tasked with running a twisted game of American football between a team of humans and a team of orcs. There’s a plethora of statistical analysis in play but, basically, the humans are all-rounders and the orcs are wrecking balls.

Various dice are used as the players move, pass, block or blitz leading to often violent outcomes. The game has several expansion factions to bring in more teams from the world of Warhammer, and has collectible figurines for every blood-splattered star player. It’s all-out war on the pitch, and the players are giving it their all - sometimes even their limbs.

Buy Blood Bowl on Amazon UK and Amazon US

9. WWE Dice Masters

Wrestling stars old and new alike enter the ring in this strategic dice-rolling game

WWE Dice Masters board game layout
There's a wide range of classic wrestlers to choose from in this WWE game.

WWE Dice Masters is a great game for wrestling fans because it includes old legends such as Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart and ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage alongside more contemporary superstars including Becky Lynch and AJ Styles.

Another entry in the Dice Masters series, the game sees two players taking control of a dice-based team to do battle with one another in the ring. All of the Dice Master games are fully interchangeable, so if you want to blend your WWE set with your Avengers set, your Justice League set or your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles set, just grab the expansion packs and you’re all set.

Buy WWE Dice Masters on Zatu or Amazon US

10. Downforce

Start your engines and try your best to win… or secretly bet big money on your opponent instead

Downforce board game layout
It's F1 racing, but this time you get to watch all the action unfold.

Like Camel Up, Downforce sees you placing bets on the racing on the board - cars rather than camels, this time - but instead of relying on the chaotic luck of dice rolls there’s a little more tactical thinking involved.

You play cards to bid on which car you receive at the beginning of the game, but these cards may end up helping other players out more as everyone lays cards to race the cars around the track. A well-timed bonus card might even give you the perfect boost. You can also make secret bets on your opponents to cash in even if your own driver flames out. Downforce manages to capture the burning rubber mayhem of elite racing, while also embodying the spirit and glamour of the shady backroom deals of high-stakes gambling.

Buy Downforce on Amazon UK or Amazon US.


Stacey Henley avatar

Stacey Henley

Contributor

Stacey can often be found wandering new lands, exploring vast terrains and journeying to the edge of the Earth, but only in video games. In real life, she normally stays home. Previously published in The Washington Post, VG24/7, Fandom, Polygon, IGN, Eurogamer, Fanbyte and more.

More Best Games

Latest Articles

Dicebreaker logo

Critical hits, perfect fits

Buy Dicebreaker T-shirts, hoodies and more

Dicebreaker Merch