Alien and Aliens remain two of the greatest movies ever made. Serving up tense isolated space-horror and pulse rifle-blasting action, plus the hardy endurance of timeless hero Ellen Ripley, Ridley Scott’s 1979 seminal sci-fi film and James Cameron’s endless quotable follow-up are the perfect cinematic double-bill. It’s hard to believe they never made any more sequels. Luckily, there are some excellent Aliens board games that let you relive and continue Ripley’s struggles against the xenomorph horde.
Best Aliens board games
- Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game
- Alien: Fate of the Nostromo
- Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps
- Aliens: Bug Hunt
- Burke’s Gambit
Aliens board games tend to split between the slow, creeping survival-horror of Alien and the weapons-free bug hunt of Aliens, putting players in the boots of Ripley (and expendable crew) as they try to flee the lone xenomorph pursuing them through the Nostromo or the colonial marines as they defend Hadley’s Hope on LV-426.
While many Aliens adaptations have faded into obscurity in the four-plus decades since the movies’ release, their modern successors offer some of the best Aliens board games on the tabletop to date. There are also countless board games that take direct inspiration from the influential sci-fi franchise, serving up an excellent Aliens experience in everything but name.
In celebration of Alien Day - taking place on 4/26, of course - we’ve gathered together some of the best Aliens board games fans should pick up today, along with a couple of the best board games like Alien.
1. Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game
Relive the original quadrilogy with friends in this co-op card game
While most Alien board games tend to - understandably - focus on the first and second entries in the long-running movie franchise, Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game extends a rare consideration to their lesser-loved sequels.
Yes, this deckbuilding game with an unwieldy name (we’ll just call it Legendary: Alien from here on) includes characters, places and events from both Alien3 and Alien: Resurrection on top of Alien and Aliens.
The co-op card game tasks players with fending off attacking xenos by building up their deck of characters, from Ripley and Corporal Hicks to friendly android Bishop, and playing cards to explore locations and clear them of eggs, facehuggers and xenomorphs. Take too many strikes, and you might find yourself turned against your former allies as an alien bursts from your chest.
Different decks can be used to replay the events of the four films, with the game’s expansion adding a new competitive one-versus-many mode as one player takes control of the alien Queen Mother off the bat. Rather than just using screenshots from the films, the game includes artwork of familiar moments and faces - plus some new ones - adding to the sense that this is a thoughtful, generous take on the series.
Legendary: Alien is suitably tough, with a hard fight on your hands if you want to survive. Don’t expect to win on your first try - but luckily, you’ll be more than happy to play again.
2. Alien: Fate of the Nostromo
Try to survive the perfect organism in a survival-horror take on the first film
While Aliens’ more action-packed atmosphere - and swarms of xenos - perhaps makes it more obvious for a typical tabletop translation, the creeping dread and survival-horror tone of the original Alien gets its due in Fate of the Nostromo.
Based on the first film, this co-op board game puts players in the boots of the titular mining vessel’s crew - Ripley, Dallas, Lambert, Brett and Parker - as they attempt to survive the lone perfect organism in their midst.
Rather than simply blasting away the xenomorph (they’re not colonial marines, after all!), the crew must try to avoid encountering the deadly invader that lurks in the ship’s vents and corridors. Collecting enough scrap allows the chance to craft helpful items and weapons, offering some protection, even if temporary, against the xenomorph’s attacks.
If the crew are able to complete their objectives - which can differ from game to game - without losing all their morale, they might just make it out alive. Although, if you choose to play using the even harder Science Officer Ash variant, the alien isn’t the only threat aboard…
3. Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps
Go on a bug hunt in this action-packed dungeon-crawler
If Fate of the Nostromo is the ultimate Alien board game, Another Glorious Day in the Corps is the perfect sequel for those seeking out a true Aliens board game.
Amping up the tabletop action to match the gunfights and now-there’s-multiple-of-them terror of James Cameron’s legendary 1986 instalment in the film series (“This time it’s war”), Another Glorious Day in the Corps follows Ripley and the colonial marines as they attempt to survive the xenomorph infestation of Hadley’s Hope.
Another Glorious Day in the Corps puts Aliens’ iconic motion tracker front-and-centre of its co-op dungeon-crawler gameplay, as players nervously watch for approaching blips on the radar before letting loose with volleys of pulse rifle fire. (You’ll need to provide your own sound effects.) There are some clever mechanical touches that bring the chaotic fights of the film to life, such as guns becoming less accurate the longer they are fired - meaning that short, controlled bursts are more effective. When you have a choice, that is.
There’s the option to play in a campaign mode spanning three linked missions - plus some optional side quests - that loosely follow the plot of the movie, with the outcome of each mission affecting later sessions: dead characters stay dead, and discarded cards are gone for good. You can also choose to go on a one-shot Bug Hunt mission, a gruelling survival challenge that starts characters with just a pistol in their possession and the need to seek out equipment in order to make it through the entire deck.
With Ripley, Newt, Hicks and crew are represented by detailed miniatures - along with the xenomorphs hunting them - Another Glorious Day in the Corps is a faithful, thrilling recreation of Aliens in a board game. I love the Corps!
4. Aliens: Bug Hunt
Dice with deadly xenomorphs in this tense co-op board game
Aliens: Bug Hunt packs a lot of game into its surprisingly small box. This is a compact co-op game that puts players back in the boots of the colonial marines - plus familiar faces from the movie, such as Ripley and Bishop - as they look to sweep an infested complex clean of xenomorphs.
Those xenos look a little different from their usual appearance, too. Here, the swarms of terrifying aliens are represented by foreboding black dice that appear on tiles as the players explore. The players must use their character’s unique abilities and the firepower of their grunts - along with a bit of luck - to eliminate the threats by rolling their dice.
Bug Hunt keeps things simpler than other Aliens board games, tasking the squad with completing three fairly standard missions before escaping. The missions are drawn at random for each playthrough, but normally amount to finding a specific tile and claiming an objective token. Each character can use three movement points - with blocked doors required extra points to move through - and then perform an action such as shooting bugs or claiming tokens.
Gameplay is simple enough, but there’s a good bit of strategy to be had. Being too trigger-happy will quickly deplete your marines’ ability to perform actions, requiring them to spend their action to reload. Reload at the wrong time and you could find yourself in a tricky spot.
Bug Hunt is a challenging take on Aliens that won’t eat up much room on your game shelf while capturing the excitement of the movie. It’s also a great Aliens board game for solo players looking to embody their inner Ellen Ripley.
5. Burke’s Gambit
An Alien-inspired social deduction game for fans of Werewolf
While Burke’s Gambit isn’t an official Aliens board game, it’s clearly heavily inspired by the film series - down to its name, which pays homage to the slimy, double-crossing Weyland-Yutani employee encountered by Ripley in Aliens.
While Burke’s Gambit namechecks the foiled villainous plot in the action-movie sequel, its setup is similar to events seen in the original Alien. Players are the crew of a spaceship employed by a nefarious organisation known only as The Company, who discover the vestiges of an ancient alien civilisation - only to discover that one of their companions has been infected by a mysterious organism.
With the ship sabotaged to put it on a collision course with Earth - allowing the organism to spread across humanity - it’s up to the rest of the crew to figure out who among them is infected and eject them out of the airlock before it’s too late. The infected crewmember isn’t alone, though - other corporate stooges lurk among the group, working to further The Company’s aims.
The big problem is that while everyone knows which side they’re on, nobody knows if their companions are to be trusted - or if they are the infected one themselves. Like other social deduction games such as Werewolf, players must use their intuition and unique role abilities to identify the traitors and the infected before time runs out.
With social deduction being the key, gameplay is otherwise simple: everyone has a public role (with a unique power), and a secret affiliation with either the Company or crew. Each player rolls a die on their turn, choosing whether to perform its action - ranging from looking at other players’ hidden cards to dealing or healing damage - before the timer ticks down and a final vote occurs. (If anyone’s left alive…)
While Burke’s Gambit doesn’t have the Aliens logo on its box, it’s a tight and tense board game deserving of a place in any Aliens fan’s collection. You can trust me on that; I work for the company, but don't let that fool you. I'm really an okay guy.
A punishing yet entertaining tabletop love letter to Alien
If the evocative, one-word title didn’t give it away, Nemesis is Alien: The Board Game in all but name. This sprawling, semi-cooperative sci-fi horror board game is a love letter to both Alien and Aliens, throwing players into a dark space station populated by deadly xenomorph-like organisms.
Like the crews of the Nostromo and Sulaco, players’ characters have unique talents and equipment that they can use as they look to complete their personal objectives aboard the station. While the players might be working together to fend off the aliens and keep the ship in one piece, there can be some traitors among them who are only looking out for themselves.
The ship itself becomes a character too, with each room presenting a variety of options to players - such as scavenging for helpful items or restoring power to areas of the ship. Players must use the cards in their hand to carefully move around the ship without generating too much noise - risking the intruders being drawn to their location - and choose when fleeing is safer than fighting. (Most of the time!)
Nemesis is far from an easy game, but forcing players’ characters to struggle in the face of insurmountable odds means that it feels like a faithful tabletop tribute to Alien and Aliens - even as you see your crew torn apart by ruthless creatures, it’s a cinematic and entertaining tribute to the beloved films.