Video games and board games are two parts of the same whole. It’s all about having fun in a world you help create through your actions and decisions.
You’re certainly not alone if you prefer video games, though. There’s something about first-person shooters, real-time strategy games, and dungeon crawlers that’s tough to capture on the tabletop.
But some games have managed to do it. So if you’re a video gamer, here are 11 board games you should play — based on your favorite video games.
If You Like…
…Call of Duty or Overwatch: Adrenaline
Let’s start with the obvious big challenge: first-person shooters. It’s impossible to capture the chaos and mayhem of run-n-gun gameplay in cardboard, right?
Czech Games Edition’s Adrenaline is a fast-paced, combo-seeking, slightly tongue-in-check tabletop shooter. Each player takes control of a character and goes on a mad dash to pick up weapons, do as much damage as possible, rack up points, and not get killed… too much.
Fortunately, getting killed isn’t a huge setback, because you keep your gear and new guns are available at spawn points. Setting up huge combos is a core part of the game. If you knock your opponent outside the minimum range of your sniper rifle to set up a high-damage shot, you have the right idea.
Each game takes 45 minutes to an hour, and ends with a Final Frenzy in which everyone gets one more turn to run around and do as much damage as possible before the timer runs out. There are different games modes, and even an AI bot that you can include.
It’s hectic, unique, goofy, and a lot of fun.
…Civilization or Endless Legend: Scythe
I mentioned Scythe when I covered the best board games of 2016, but it’s so good that I’ve included it again here.
As with any turn-based strategy title that you’re used to, you’ll need to gather resources, build up your military forces, decide which objectives to pursue, and keep a close eye on your opponents. Balancing your priorities can be difficult, as the game ends when any player finishes six objectives — but there are ten that you can complete.
Staying focused, looking for synergy, and taking advantage of your faction’s special powers are all key to victory.
And I’d be remiss not to mention the absolutely phenomenal artwork in this game. If you like games that create an immersive atmosphere, this is the game for you.
…Diablo or Bloodborne: The Others: 7 Sins
For a game with a darker feel, The Others is a no-brainer. Set in the city of Haven, it sees multiple players facing off against a single opponent that controls the forces of Hell.
The player controlling the Deadly Sins seeks to spread corruption throughout the city. Other players (members of the Federal Authority for Interdiction of Transdimensional Horror, or F.A.I.T.H.) need to complete a number of missions to counteract the influence of the Sins.
Each game has a different narrative element, so players must complete different types of missions every time they play. This makes for a highly replayable game.
The 47 miniatures that come with The Others are highly detailed and exquisitely sculpted. And because they’re unpainted, if you’re feeling the artistic urge, you can paint them yourself.
Or, if you’re like me and have no painting talent or patience, you can find someone else to do it for you.
…Grand Theft Auto: Sons of Anarchy: Men of Mayhem
It might seem strange to recommend one franchise game for fans of another, but hear me out.
Most board games that bear similarities to Men of Mayhem have bland themes. You’re building up a countryside, or expanding a city, or trying to amass the most crops and gold. But not in this game.
You’re hoarding guns, setting out hits on rival gang members, avoiding attention from the ATF, selling drugs, and other assorted types of mayhem. The board is comprised of randomly chosen tiles with names like “Impeccable Smokes,” giving you an idea of the subject matter here.
Carefully place your Dudes — seriously, that’s what they’re called — and fight for contested areas and patch in new members. If you’re looking to commit some crimes without running the risk of being arrested, this is the game for you.
Fortunately, it’s also quite easy to learn and play. The mechanics are simple, and the games only take about an hour.
We may never see a Sons of Anarchy video game, but the board game is good enough that it might not matter.
…Metal Gear Solid: Fury of Dracula
Board games that reward stealth are few, but Fury of Dracula is a highly-regarded title.
“Hidden movement” games reward a single player for avoiding detection. That player moves around the board, but the other players don’t know where she is. Only by careful deduction — and a whole lot of trial and error — will you reveal Dracula.
The patriarch of vampires is tasked with sneaking around Europe, leaving traps and encounters to slow down his hunters. The hunters, of course, need to find Dracula before it’s too late. The fact that he can transform into a wolf, a bat, or a cloud of mist doesn’t help his potential captors.
Unfortunately, Fury of Dracula can be hard to get a hold of. If you’re interested in this type of game, you can also check out similar titles:
- Letters from Whitechapel (for a Jack-the-Ripper-themed experience) [UK/CA]
- Captain Sonar (for a wild, high player count bout of chaos) [UK/CA]
- Specter Ops (for a science fiction take on the genre) [CA]
- Scotland Yard (for a faster and family-friendlier, but still very fun, option) [UK/CA]
…Resident Evil: Dead of Winter or Zombicide
Depending on why you love Resident Evil, either of these two games might appeal to you.
Dead of Winter channels the suspense and psychological drama of post-apocalyptic zombie mayhem. As the member of a small surviving band, you’ll need to work together to ensure that your colony survives — but you’ll also need to pursue your own objective.
This could mean betraying the members of your team.
You’ll spend most of your time collecting supplies and avoiding zombie attacks, but you’ll also face a number of hard decisions. It can quickly get really tense.
If you’re more into killing as many zombies as possible, Zombicide is for you. The premise is simple: find weapons, kill zombies, level up, kill more zombies. Against an overwhelming horde, you’ll need to cooperate to survive.
While the game itself is fairly simple, staying alive in the more advanced scenarios is a hefty challenge.
…Gran Turismo or Need for Speed: Thunder Alley
When a storied publisher of war games like GMT puts out a car-racing game, people pay attention.
Instead of pushing around small cardboard chits to win battlefield supremacy, you’ll manage a team of three to six cars in a stock car race. You wouldn’t think that car-racing board game would be a big hit, but Thunder Alley has gotten some big praise.
You’ll have to manage accidents, drafting, teamwork, lap times, and pit stops if you’re going to emerge victorious. Cars even suffer different types of wear throughout the race. Manage your team by playing the right cards at the right times and you’ll pull off a win — play the wrong cards, and you’ll get left in the dust.
Thunder Alley comes with a variety of tracks, including speedways and a street course. Unlike some other racing games, Thunder Alley plays well with lower player counts. It’s even great as a two-player game.
With a 90-minute play time and surprisingly deep gameplay, this is a great game for fans of car racing. If you’d rather race something else, Flamme Rouge is a highly-regarded bike racing game that includes some of the same principles.
…Total War: Memoir ’44
The Total War series combines turn-based strategy with a healthy dose of tactical combat. If you like the tactical part of the game, you’ll love Memoir ’44.
Memoir ’44 is a great introduction to the world of war games. And while you might think of Risk when I say “war games,” there’s an entire world of extremely complex and tactical games out there. If jumping into the deep end isn’t for you (and I certainly can’t blame you), Memoir ’44 is a great place to start.
With 15 different scenarios to play and easy-to-grasp mechanics, this game is designed well for beginners. You’ll have to play cards to move your troops and gain a tactical advantage — and hope for the occasional good die roll. With those basics, you can re-enact a number of famous battles from World War II.
As far as war games go, this is a simple one. But it’s a lot of fun, and will definitely give you the tactical challenge you’re looking for.
…Skyrim or Final Fantasy: Descent
Role-playing games (RPGs) owe a lot to tabletop games. Role-playing games did, after all, start at the table. But board games — which are distinct from tabletop RPGs — can blend storytelling and combat, too.
Descent is a great example of a tabletop dungeon-crawler. One player takes on the role of Overlord, who controls the fantastic monsters and villains. Other players work together to complete quests, gather loot, and battle a whole horde of monsters.
The second edition of the game allows for campaign play, so you can level up your character from game to game. This, combined with the wide variety of settings and stories you can tell, makes it great for fans of RPGs.
If you’re a Star Wars fan, you may also want to check out Imperial Assault (UK). It’s similar to Descent, but set in your favorite long-ago, far-far-away galaxy. Be warned: if you get hooked on either of these, you will spend a phenomenal amount of money on the myriad expansions.
But it’ll be absolutely worth it.
…Stardew Valley or Farmville: Puerto Rico
Farming video games belong to a strange genre. It doesn’t seem like a game about farming would be fun for long, but some of them have become wildly popular.
And if you’re into setting up your fields, harvesting, storing, and selling wares, Puerto Rico is a perfect board game to get into. During each turn, you get to choose a role, and that determines the actions players can take. If you take the Builder role, for example, everyone can build a building.
But whoever chose the role that opens up a specific action gets a bonus. The Builder gets a building bonus. The Trader gets a trading bonus. And so on.
So you’ll need to take care with your timing. Choosing a role depends on your resources, your goals, and what’s currently available. You can put a surprising amount of thought into what is actually a fairly simple game.
The game is easy to learn, but there are a huge number of strategic possibilities. If you want to give Puerto Rico a try, you can check it out on BoardGameArena, one of the best places to play board games online.
What Did We Miss?
From first-person shooters to farming games, we’ve covered a lot of ground. But there are a lot more video games out there, and there are certainly board games that will appeal to their fans. So we want to hear from you.
Which video games would you like to see tabletop “equivalents” for? Or which board games do you think fit well into the categories above? Share your thoughts in the comments below!