At one time, digital video games may have been at odds with the analogue nature of tabletop games, but now the two hobbies very much live in harmony thanks to the growing number of video game board games.
Despite the major differences between the medium of video games and board games - outside of the shared potential to drain your bank account - the two are actually more similar than one might think. Not only do video games and board games both seek to provide entertainment through play, they also have the potential to transport their players to entirely new worlds - and the best video game board games showcase the highlights from both the digital and analogue worlds.
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. Gone are the days of cheap cash-ins and lazy spin-offs - a number of modern video games board games are now among the best board games on the tabletop, whether you’re familiar with the original video games or not.
Best video game board games
1. Sid Meier’s Civilization: A New Dawn: Race to become the most prominent civilisation in the world across thousands of years in the board game based on the long-running strategy series.
2. Doom: The Board Game: Inspired by the classic first-person shooter, this semi-cooperative board game sees a team of marines facing off against a horde of demons.
3. Fallout: Explore a post-apocalyptic wasteland in a series of adventure scenarios set in the irradiated world of the roleplaying series.
4. Resident Evil 2: The Board Game: Players must work together to fight zombies and other terrifying monsters in the survival horror video game’s deadly Raccoon City.
6. This War of Mine: The Board Game: A survival board game that has players working together to collect enough resources to live in a city ravaged by conflict.
7. Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game: If the name hasn’t made it obvious enough, this humorous board game is about collecting the most slices of delicious cake.
8. The Witcher Adventure Game: Set in the world of the fantasy video game series - not the books - this board game features monster-slayer Geralt and his comrades.
9. Street Fighter Deck-building Game: Iconic video game characters such as Ryu and Chun-Li go head-to-head in an all-out brawl.
10. Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate: A crossover between the horror board game Betrayal at House on the Hill and the classic PC RPG series Baldur’s Gate, in the world of Dungeons & Dragons.
The growing number of adult tabletop gamers has meant that more and more mature video games have been adapted into board games, from first-person shooters such as Doom to dark survival horror series Resident Evil. This means that family board games can be a little less common when it comes to video game board games, often relegated to video game-themed versions of age-old classic board games such as Monopoly Gamer, starring Nintendo characters such as Mario and Donkey Kong. Luckily, there are still plenty of great board games for kids out there inspired by big video games, such as Minecraft: Builders & Biomes.
Despite the sometimes disappointing lack of variety in terms of age-appropriateness and theme (something that could arguably be said for video games as a whole), video game board games certainly deliver when it comes to providing some amazing thematic experiences. With such rich source materials to draw from, is it any wonder that some of the best board games out there happen to also be video game board games? From the dark and dirty streets of Raccoon City to the epic landscapes of Nilfgaard and the hellish craters of Mars, this list of the best video game board games is packed full of incredible worlds to explore beyond the screen.
1. Sid Meier’s Civilization: A New Dawn
Live your dreams as a leader worthy of a place in the annals of history
Sid Meier’s Civilization is possibly the most appropriate video game series to make into a board game, with the long-running computer strategy series started in 1991 originally inspired by the Civilization board game released way back in 1980. Things have come full-circle since, with Sid Meier’s Civilization being adapted into video game board games multiple times over the decades.
The latest attempt to bring Sid Meier’s Civilization (back) to the tabletop is Sid Meier’s Civilization: A New Dawn, loosely based on the newest entry in the video game series: Civilization VI.
A follow-up to 2010’s Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game, A New Dawn makes considerable improvements to the tabletop franchise by streamlining the gameplay from past entries into a far quicker and easier to learn experience that still feels suitably strategic.
As with all of the Civilization games, A New Dawn enables players to step into the shoes of leaders from a variety of different nations and attempt to establish the greatest civilisation known to humankind. Spreading their nations across the world’s tiles via troops, cities and impressive constructs, players take turns to use natural resources to gradually build their empires. The victory cards drawn at the start of the game determines the three ways players can win the game, with the first player to accomplish one of the agendas on any of these cards becoming the winner.
The card-driven gameplay of A New Dawn draws from the feel of playing the video game series while providing a unique player experience. Sitting opposite your rivals, breathing in their sweat as you bear down on them, it’s a more visceral experience than playing online or against AI. For Civilization players who want to experience the game around the table - or strategy board gamers looking for a slick addition to their collection - you can’t go wrong with Sid Meier’s Civilization: A New Dawn as a video game board game.
Players: 2-4 players
Playtime: 60-120 minutes
Best for: History lovers and strategy gamers
2. Doom: The Board Game
The gates of Hell are open and only you can stop the spread of evil - or encourage it
Almost as old as Sid Meier’s Civilization series, Doom is one of those classic video game franchises that continues to haunt the public consciousness. Renowned for its graphic art style as well as its pioneering of the first-person shooter genre, Doom became an instant hit when it first reached PCs in 1993.
After two sequels and a couple of spin-offs, the video game where a marine - affectionately known as the ‘Doom Guy’ - fights demons on Mars sunk back into the darkness for a few years. Eventually, publisher Bethesda and Id Software - the original developer of the series - revived the franchise for a reboot in 2016 that was aptly titled just ‘Doom’. (Not in the least bit confusing.) To coincide with the new release, the Doom video game board game released in 2004, Doom: The Board Game, was similarly rebooted with a new polished edition. Its name? Doom: The Board Game. Yep, not confusing at all.
A horror board game featuring both playable marines and demons, Doom: The Board Game sees up to four players facing off against a lone player controlling the forces of Hell. Doom is a co-op board game of sorts, because the opposing groups each have their own separate set of goals and advantages. For the demons - simple-minded as they are - it’s a rather straightforward affair of eliminating every single one of the marines to achieve victory, preferably in the most violent manner possible. As for the marines, they’ll be looking to restore power to the United Aerospace Corporation’s space facilities or delving down into the depths of Hell itself.
Like the video game, Doom: The Board Game largely focuses on combat, with miniatures representing each of the different sides clashing on a series of map tiles and players rolling dice to win battles. It might not be as visually violent as the video game series, but nothing stops you from imagining the terrible things the marines and demons are doing to each other as you rip and tear your way to glory.
Players: 2-5 players
Playtime: 120-180 minutes
Best for: Demon worshippers and metal heads
Establish a new life in the Wasteland and try not to die of radiation
Fallout is another one of those classic PC franchises that has become a video game icon. The original PC RPG was released all the way back in 1997 and earned a number of 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.
Players: 1-4 players
Playtime: 120-180 minutes
Best for: Fallout fans who want a good multiplayer experience
4. Resident Evil 2: The Board Game
Relive the survival horror classic with this atmospheric board game
The first few entries of the Resident Evil franchise proved that horror could provide the foundations for a successful video game series, but showed how important imagination was when it came to providing scares.
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.
Taking place in the infested streets of Raccoon City - a location that’s mere miles away from the mansion explored in the first Resident Evil - Resident Evil 2: The Board Game has players teaming up as Leon, Claire and, everyone’s favourite character, Tofu as they attempt to escape the hordes of ravenous undead stalking the streets.
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.
Players: 1-4 players
Playtime: 90-120 minutes
Best for: Fans who weren’t satiated by the Resident Evil 2 remake
5. XCOM: The Board Game
Drive off an alien attack on Earth in your own Independence Day
XCOM is another video game series that’s seen a revival in the last decade or so, despite its origins as classic PC games. XCOM has its roots in brutally unforgiving nineties computer games such as UFO: Enemy Unknown, which forced players to become emotionally attached to their squad of soldiers only to witness their untimely demise at the hands of alien opponents. Players got to experience this feeling again with 2012’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a revival of the franchise that updated the original’s tactical gameplay whilst remaining true to the series’ challenging strategy.
A few years after this video game revival came XCOM: The Board Game, which sought to translate the intense stress of the PC game onto the tabletop. A co-op board game designed by Eric Lang - the creator of Blood Rage, Rising Sun and upcoming board game Ankh: Gods of Egypt - XCOM: The Board Game has players take control of the XCOM organisation to lead humanity’s last hope against the intergalactic invaders.
Instead of controlling the ground forces of XCOM, players issue commands to the organisation as a whole, deciding where to send units, how to use resources, which technology projects to pursue and more.
XCOM: The Board Game features a companion app that determines how and when the aliens launch their various invasions on Earth, including reactions to the players’ successes and failures. It’s the app that really elevates XCOM: The Board Game above being a standard co-op board game, creating a strong sense of atmosphere and driving home the feeling of fighting against the odds.
Players: 1-4 players
Playtime: 60-120 minutes
Best for: Gluttons for punishment
6. This War of Mine: The Board Game
A survival board game that challenges players to make the best of a bad situation
If there was ever any doubt that games can tackle serious topics, you need only look to This War of Mine. Originally a video game released in 2014, This War of Mine focuses on the civilian experience of conflict by having the player control a group of vulnerable individuals attempting to live in a war-torn city. Rather than having the player embody people with military or survival experience or skills, This War of Mine puts players in the shoes of ordinary people facing seemingly insurmountable odds - with only their wits and determination to rely upon. As a strategy video game where the major mechanics are managing limited resources and crafting, it makes complete sense that This War of Mine received a video game board game adaptation a few years after its release.
Whilst the tabletop version of This War of Mine does indeed revolve around collecting resources during the night and crafting useful items needed for survival during the day, it also provides a whole new experience by giving players the chance to play with their friends. As well as featuring a solo board game mode similar to the video game, This War of Mine can be tackled as a co-op board game with multiple people.
There are plenty of hostile groups looking for their own methods of survival - even if it includes killing and stealing from you - who need to be fended off during the long hours of night. When not at home, players can stumble across other individuals such as runaway soldiers, refugees, traders and more who open new narrative storylines for the players to engage with in the game’s extensive Book of Scripts. How you decide to deal with these individuals will ultimately decide the ending for the game, with an epilogues mechanism designed to provide a unique climax for each playthrough depending on the choices made by players.
Video game board games such as This War of Mine don’t just offer a way to kill time with friends and get immersed in another world - they can open your mind to the experiences of others and make you think about how society sometimes fails people. With a thought-provoking and sobering story, This War of Mine isn’t necessarily fun, but it’s undoubtedly a memorable experience.
Players: 1-6 players
Playtime: 45-120 minutes
Best for: Players looking for a deeper gaming experience
7. Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game
Escaping from a murderous machine? Piece of cake
When it comes to iconic video game quotations for the modern era, you’d be hard pressed to find anything more popular than “The cake is a lie”. This particular line is from the puzzle and exploration video game Portal, in which a young woman named Chell finds herself trapped in a series of lab rooms with only a portal gun to rely upon. Luckily enough, it turns out that you can do quite a lot with a gun that produces portals, such as avoid face-melting laser beams and gun-toting robots and, most importantly, perform science experiments.
Throughout the game, Chell receives instructions and insults from an artificial intelligence called GLaDOS, whose dry wit has since made her a favourite of the video game community. After receiving a bevy of praise and a full-blown sequel, it was kind of inevitable that Portal step through its own wormhole into the board game world with Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game.
As the unusually long-winded name implies, the video game board game is centred entirely around the supposedly false cake promised to Chell by GLaDOS as a reward for completing dangerous science experiments. As unnamed and unfortunate test subjects, you and your friends must navigate the various test rooms of the lab in search of the forbidden cake, sometimes sacrificing your fellow test subjects along the way.
Being a rather malicious AI, Glados enjoys destroying test chambers within the lab - whether or not someone or some cake happens to be in there - so players will need to be ruthless in their pursuit of sweet treats. This means playing cards in order to move themselves, other players and even pieces of cake across chambers in order to prevent the loss of test subjects and the blessed cake. After a series of brutal rounds full of double-crosses and many fried test subjects, whoever has the most cake becomes the winner.
Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition doesn’t just capture the humour of the video game series, but also its mind-bending spatial puzzles with a devious twist of player competition. Despite not being a co-op board game - far from it - the Portal video game board game brings players together in understanding that cake is, indeed, delicious.
Players: 2-4 players
Playtime: 30-45 minutes
Best for: Cake enthusiasts lacking moral fibre
8. The Witcher Adventure Game
Become immersed in the fantasy world of The Witcher with this exploration board 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.
Players: 2-4 players
Playtime: 120 minutes
Best for: Witcher fans who don’t want to invest another 100 hours in the video game
Buy The Witcher: Adventure Game on Amazon UK.
9. Street Fighter Deck-building Game
Travel the world in search of new combat challenges in the fighting game
Video games, animation, Hollywood: were there any lands unconquered by Street Fighter by the time 2014 came around? Despite having a monopoly on a number of different types of merchandise - including a rather snazzy Christmas jumper - Street Fighter had yet to really crack the tabletop market, aside from a terrible Street Fighter II released in 1994.
Fast-forward to 2014, Ultra Street Fighter IV has just been released and the video game fighting franchise is once again beloved in the hearts and minds of its fans. Here comes a new challenger on the tabletop: the Street Fighter Deck-building Game. Don’t let the unwieldy name fool you - this is one fast-paced, smoking-hot video game board game.
The Street Fighter board game’s structure works somewhat like the fighting series’ story mode. Each player starts with a basic deck of ten cards, with the aim to use power to purchase cards from the available market on their turn and gradually build their deck. These cards can be everything from heroes to villains, super powers to locations - all from the Street Fighter video games, of course - that will provide players with more options to take on each of the stage bosses. Defeating a boss will grant players victory points, the board game’s winning currency, but players will need to be prepared to take plenty of hits alongside dishing them out.
What makes the Street Fighter Deck-building Game work is that it mirrors the experience of playing the video game by having players slowly gain strength until they’re powerful enough to win a battle. Both Street Fighter and deckbuilding are all about momentum - making it the perfect match.
Players: 2-5 players
Playtime: 45 minutes
Best for: Players who want a more methodical approach to street fighting
Buy Street Fighter Deck-building Game on Amazon US.
10. Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate
The world of Dungeons & Dragons collides with a classic horror board game
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 game 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.
Players: 3-6 players
Playtime: 60 minutes
Best for: People who didn’t think Baldur’s Gate was scary enough