There was a time when tabletop games was how people entertained themselves at home, whether it be cards, chess, or the classic Monopoly game. That time is long gone, with video games having taken over as the de facto play-based home activity. It makes sense. Most video games can be played alone, while most board games and card games require two or more participants to even start a round. Tabletop games are also a bit inconvenient, with cards, tokens, dice, and all sorts of little trinkets involved, any of which can be easily lost and misplaced. With video games, you also get tons of content at a very affordable price, while tabletop games, with its physical components, tend to cost a bit more.
Despite the advantages of video games, there are some definite merits to the analog appeal of board games. For one, it offers a chance to play without having to stare at a rectangular screen, a break we all likely need these days. It’s also more social, requiring you to play with people face-to-face, all while requiring planning and preparation to organize, so it engages skills you don’t really use when jumping into another online lobby. Board games also have a technical appeal, since all the mechanics are laid out there in the open, with no need to account for physics, timing, and other factors that may not be apparent from the onset, all while offering a contained experience with fixed starting and stopping points, instead of feeling like you’re progressing towards something without an actual end in sight.
If you’re a video game fan, now’s a great time to get into board games. With all the time you spend at home, tabletop gameplay can offer a refreshing change not just for you, but for the friends and family you spend all that time with. Being into video games, what better way to dip your toes in board games than one based on your favorite digital titles? Here are some of our favorites.
Doom: The Board Game
Basics: 2 to 5 players, 2 to 3 hours playtime
After 23 years since the original video game out, Doom received a proper reboot back in 2016. Along with it came an updated version of the title’s 2004 board game. While we’re not actually familiar with that 2004 release, the newest tabletop game puts one player in control of hell’s invading demonic forces while a squad of up to four marines team up to keep them buried in the depths where they belong. Each of the marines will have their own objectives in the game, which will dictate how each of them plays, so it’s not quite a straightforward showdown between soldiers and demons, with a little nuance required to get the cooperative element just right. With that said, the game is heavily combat-focused, so it delivers a whole lot of Doom’s signature violence, albeit without the graphic animations, which means, you’ll have to use your imagination to fill in the gory visuals.
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Sid Meier’s Civilization: A New Dawn
Basics: 2 to 4 players, 1 to 2 hours playtime
Unlike many board games in this list, this isn’t the Civ franchise’s first run as a tabletop game. In fact, the original 1991 PC game was based on a board game from 1980. As such, A New Dawn is merely the latest entry in the tabletop franchise, so it’s got a full back catalog of board games to learn from. In this iteration, the gameplay is much more streamlined, making it easier for new players to get into, all while retaining the steep strategy requirements that make the franchise so compelling.
General premise remains the same: you play the role of one of history’s great leaders and grow your civilization to become the leading global power. You control everything, from the scientific fields and cultural developments your society pursues to the kind of military power your empire aspires to become. Except… you know… instead of clicking on items onscreen, you draw cards and move your tokens across tiles to signify your power’s growing reach. To win a round, a player has to be the first to reach one of the goals randomly drawn at the start of the game.
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Basics: 1 to 4 players, 2 to 3 hours playtime
In this board game version of the post-apocalyptic RPG, each player takes on the role of a nuclear survivor exploring what the Wasteland has to offer. The map is hidden at the start, with players uncovering familiar locations from the video games as they unlock each tile, making their way across abandoned towns, radiated marshes, and crumbling ruins while completing quests and battling enemies. The board game sticks close to its source, by the way, with plenty of narrative scenarios based on Bethesda’s video games, along with characters, armors, and equipment that will be familiar to anyone who’s played them. We’re particularly fond of the narratives here, which branches out based on each player’s in-game decisions, making the game feel especially dynamic, no matter how many times you’ve played through it. If there’s any downside, it’s probably the randomness, as the eventual winner need not necessarily be the person making the best plays. This game, however, is one you play for the evolving adventure, as it’s really immersive, fun, and engaging, regardless of who wins in the end.
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The Witcher Adventure Board Game
Basics: 2 to 4 players, 2 hours gameplay
In this board game version of the open-world fantasy RPG, players take on the role of either Geralt, Triss, Yarpen, or Dandelion, all characters that should be familiar to anyone who has played the games. As with the video game, it drops you into a world teeming with monsters to the brim, each of whom you can defeat as part of a quest to secure yourself an assortment of rewards, along with a variety of dangerous individuals you’ll end up facing throughout the adventure. Each player has their own unique abilities, all of which you can develop as you go further down the path, allowing you to deal with every encounter differently, depending on which character you’re using. And yes, you can call on other players to help you with difficult quests, although each player will have their own individual objectives if they want to play to win, so you don’t want to be too trusting.
- Enter the world of The Witcher, and immerse yourself in a dark fantasy universe
Dark Souls: The Board Game
Basics: 1 to 4 players, 1.5 to 2 hours playtime
Just like FromSoftware’s high-fantasy RPG, the board game gives players an action-exploration adventure that has you braving dark environments, collecting loot, and battling enemies, each with their own peculiar behaviors. A variety of familiar elements from the video game are onboard, from spawning at the nearest bonfire after dying and spending Souls for strength to requiring strategic combat and stamina management to survive each new location. Like the video game, it’s designed to be punishing and brutal. Unlike it, though, it offers the players different difficulty levels, so Soulsborne newbies can get their first taste of the category in a more accessible manner. Well… as accessible as “punishing and brutal” can be anyway. And if you ever get bored with the game, the medieval-themed character miniatures can make for gorgeous additions to any toy shelf.
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Street Fighter Deck Building Game
Basics: 45 minutes, 2 to 5 players
Not a fan of two-hour long tabletop sessions? We get it. Some people prefer quick bites to a full sit-down meal. If that’s the case, this Street Fighter game just might be your kind of tabletop adventure, as it lets you get through a session in 45 minutes or less. While the deck-building nature of the game might sound like it’s a slow burn, that’s really not the case, as this is meant to play in a fast pace just like the arcade game it’s based on. A game starts with each player getting 10 cards, which gives you characters and abilities you can use during battles, with players able to use their turn to get new cards to beef up their decks before they step up to fight bosses.