Last Updated on January 17, 2023
Aliens, blasters, and warp drives, OH MY!
Science Fiction is one of my favorite genres, and of course, it translates very well to the tabletop. With a galaxy-wide selection of board games to choose from, it’s hard to find that perfect game for your table.
Luckily for you, we’ve scoured the stars for the best Sci-Fi board games available.
Let’s jump to lightspeed and take a look.
Our Top Picks for Best Sci-Fi Board Games
In a hurry? Check out our favorites below.
If you want high-end Sci-Fi with a space opera feel, without dedicating a solid week to playtime, Cosmic Encounter will set you up right.
Cosmic Encounter is a pretty epic game. It’s simple to learn and offers an incredible amount of gameplay to the box. With all the expansions and extras, there are 135 different races to choose from, each with a unique ability.
It has everything you might want from a Sci-Fi game in an incredible package. The components are amazing, the artwork is fantastic, and my favorite part is the story you create.
You won’t be writing a novel or anything, but the player interactions that come out of Cosmic Encounter are unforgettable.
Will your friends hold a grudge for not allying with them?
Do you risk sleeping on the couch by betraying your spouse?
Is it more beneficial to stay neutral while the powerhouse races duke it out?
The player interactions and story that unfolds on the board push it over the top from a great Sci-Fi game to one of the best.
Star Wars: Imperial Assault
Star Wars is quintessential Sci-Fi. You usually can’t even talk about science fiction without mentioning Star Wars. Although there are plenty of Star Wars-themed games out there, this is probably one of my favorites.
Imperial Assault is a dungeon-crawler type board game where one team of players leads a band of plucky misfit rebels against the player that controls the Empire.
Each rebel player controls a unique character with their own backstory and abilities from a specific arch type. The Han Solo-type rogue, the raging wookie, and even some Force-sensitive players too.
The Empire player gets to control and run the entire Empire faction. MwaHaHaHa!
You’ll find a lot of awesome minis in the game along with some familiar faces. The base game even comes with AT-STs and Darth Vader.
If you’re craving a Star Wars fix you can’t go wrong with Imperial Assault.
Android has often been called the Bladerunner of board games. It created its own lore and world that heavily reminds me of Shadowrun, but without magic. In Android: Netrunner, mega-corporations are pitted against a Netrunner.
The mega-corporations basically run the world and want to keep it that way. The Netrunners are hackers looking to bring down the corporations for political ideology, money, or just for funsies.
It’s definitely a rabbit hole when you start diving into everything Android: Netrunner has to offer. It’s a living card game, meaning that there are multiple expansions out for the game, but each pack has identical cards, so you only need to buy the ones you want. You won’t have to sift through a pallet of booster packs to get the cards you want.
After you get the rules down (it takes a few games) you can actually build your own deck beforehand and customize your corporation or runner.
There’s a huge cult following for this one and plenty of online support. If you’re looking for an awesome cyberpunk dueling card game, THIS IS IT!
It’s hard to talk about Sci-Fi board games and not talk about Twilight Imperium. It defines the Space Opera genre when it comes to board games.
It has everything you would come to expect from quality science fiction: multiple alien races, political intrigue, spaceship combat, a dead emperor, planet colonization, and a ridiculous amount of gameplay.
If you want Space Opera-level gameplay and scope, nothing beats Twilight Imperium. The only problem is getting enough players to commit to the time required to sit down and really play the game. (It’s especially awesome with 6 players.)
Shadowrun is one of the quintessential CyberPunk IPs and is still a major player in the traditional role-playing game world.
Players will run missions for “karma” (XP) and money. Levels are persistent between games and as players level up, they’ll choose powerful abilities to bestow upon their runner in the form of ability stickers.
If you’re worried about the legacy elements where you actively alter the game components, don’t be. Catalyst Games has so many spare stickers in the game that even if you wanted to just peel them off and start a character over, you’d have plenty of spares to last you a long time.
Galaxy Trucker is a dumb game… but that doesn’t make it a bad game.
It’s actually a really funny and silly game. The premise of the game just cracks me up every time.
You are a trucker. Not just any trucker, though. You’re a SPACE TRUCKER! And you work for the cheapest company in the galaxy, transporting construction materials.
Your cheapo employers have you building spaceships out of the same materials you’re transporting (to cut costs, of course).
Galaxy Trucker comes in two parts. The first is actually building your spaceship. Players have to scramble against a ticking clock to fit a handful of tiles together to form their ship and… guess what? There are a lot of rules for what makes a legal placement.
Afterward, anything that isn’t legally placed on your board actually falls off your ship! You could accidentally not connect half your ship and have it fall off, right at the launch pad.
Part 2 is the actual trucking bit of the game. Players try to deliver the goods that are still on the ship and it’s a dangerous journey. Asteroids and pirates are almost guaranteed and remember your hastily slapped-together ship? If something gets blown off and disconnects, it’s gone for good.
It’s such a weird and quirky game but its a ton of fun to play, especially for a family game night.
Tiny Epic Galaxies
If you’ve read a lot of Game Cows reviews, you’ll find we mention the Tiny Epic game series a lot.
There’s a reason for that. Kendra and I travel a lot and LOVE board games. Enter the Tiny Epic games that individually, can almost fit into my pocket (not Kendra’s because girl pockets are stupid). Each one has a different set of mechanics and themes, but they all have a big box feeling to them rather than that of a microgame.
Enough fanboying though, Tiny Epic Galaxies feels just like the title implies.
Players start with a single planet and will expand their galactic empire by colonizing new worlds. There’s some serious strategy packed into this little box, though. Every action taken can be “followed” by your opponents and allow them to perform the same action.
Is it worth getting that extra victory point if your opponent gets 3 more? Be sure to read the full review here before you buy!
Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game
I was never a big Battlestar Galactica fan until Kendra made me watch the reboot of the series and I was completely hooked.
Battlestar Galactica is a “cooperative” game, but there’s always a possibility that some of the players will be traitorous Cylons in disguise.
Throughout the game, players need to deal with crises that arise. Cylons attack, ships take damage, and you’ll need to work to save the last bastion of humanity.
Battlestar Galactica has not only taken the Sci-Fi world by storm, but also the board game world. It’s consistently highly ranked in lists and is a must-play for fans of science fiction or the series.
Firefly: The Game
Who doesn’t love Firefly?
Kendra’s weird Nathan Fillion obsession aside, the Firefly board game is a surprisingly awesome game. It’s got solid mechanics and gameplay underneath all of its top coat of fandom.
Set in the Firefly universe, players pick a captain and a ship. I always play with Kendra, so I’ve never actually gotten to play as Mal or the Serenity.
Captains need money to keep their ships and crew flying but as we all know, the ‘verse isn’t exactly a safe place. You’ll encounter Reavers, Alliance patrols, and even some shady underlords.
Find a crew.
Find a job.
Have you ever played a game of Terra Mystica and thought, “Man, I wish this was in space instead of in a fantasy world.”
Well, guess what? Gaia Project is a whole new reimagining of Terra Mystica.
You’ll have the option to choose from 14 different factions that live on 7 different types of planets. Your faction’s goal is to convert as much of the universe into a lovely little world for your own race.
Each race has its own unique set of abilities and powers. The board itself has a variable setup so no two games are ever alike.
Terraforming Mars is a complex game… you are working to terraform an entire planet after all.
In this science-fiction game, players are part of corporations sent out to transform the red planet into the big green/blue planet part 2.
Players will earn victory points for terraforming the planet and getting it closer to livability.
It won’t be an easy task. Players will need to manage oxygen, plants, water levels, and a myriad of other resources in order to get the planet rolling.
For a little bit more of the SCIENCE in sci-fi, Terraforming Mars delivers a thoughtful puzzle for thinking gamers out there. It’s also won a host of awards since it came out, so it’s definitely worth a look.
If you can’t get your buddies together, don’t worry. Terraforming Mars is also an awesome solo game.
First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet
An actual mission to Mars has been a dream for many Sci-Fi and space-enthusiasts for years.
First Martians is a reimagining of the Robinson Crusoe board game. If that gives you any indication about it, then you know what you’re in for.
It’s a hardcore worker placement game that can be punishingly difficult. Players need to manage the colony’s oxygen level, power, and a myriad of other finicky bits needed to keep the colony going.
It’s not easy, and you’ll often find yourself sidetracked by random encounters and problems that crop up during your time on the Red Planet.
Space Hulk: Death Angel
Lost in space on a derelict ship.
There is no help coming.
There’s only you and the alien onboard.
Luckily, you’re not just any mere mortals. You are Space Marines, the emperor’s chosen warriors. Even Space Marines are not immortal, however, and there’s only so many of you left. The waves of aliens are endless.
In this Warhammer 40K-themed card game, players take control of 2-man teams of Space Marines and attempt to navigate a Space Hulk, an ancient abandoned space ship, that has been infested with Genestealers, the precursor to a swarm of alien monstrosities.
Players will need to carefully plan their tactical movements if they don’t want to become fodder for the swarm.
I am a huge fan of 40K-themed games and Death Angel is a simpler card version of Space Hulk: The Board Game, and it’s a lot easier to find copies than its predecessor. It also works well as a solo game if you feel the need to purge some aliens with blaster fire.
Space Empires 4X
Get ready for some serious galactic conquest.
Space Empires is a 4X board game:
Graphically, it’s not the prettiest box on the shelf but it’s a heavy strategic space warfare game. Players start at one end of the galaxy and expand their empire until there’s nothing left to explore. Space Empires puts players in complete control with plenty of options to eXterminate their opponents.
#15. Race for the Galaxy
Race of the Galaxy is a card-based galactic civilization game. There was a lot of controversy over this one because it was hugely popular when it first came out and it got a lot of hype.
Personally, I think whenever anything becomes popular it becomes a target for a lot of hate. My advice: ignore the hype and ignore the hate.
Race for the Galaxy is just a fun game. It takes a minute to get through the rules but once you’re in, it’s amazing. You’ll colonize worlds and take over the galaxy with the best of them.
One of the major contentions with the game is that there’s no real direct player interaction. You won’t be sending in star fleets to blast opponents out of the sky, so it’s been called a multiplayer solitaire game. Not necessarily true.
Players will find that although you can’t directly attack other players, the gameplay is a lot more subtle than that. Anticipating and blocking players is what it’s all about.
TL;DR: The game is fun and offers a lot of strategy. It’s a great game for nongamers, and the more you play it, the more it gives back.
Nautilus: Fortunes on the Ocean Floor
This is probably the most colorful game on this list. Nautilus puts a slightly different spin on the Sci-fi take. Players are searching for the lost city of Atlantis.
After sinking a bunch of scientists and engineers, it’s up to them to search and uncover fragments of Atlantis and any other treasures the deep has hidden.
I always like to add a weird theme into the mix, and an underwater research lab with whale-shaped submarines fits the bill.
Players will have to manage resources, expand their bases, and explore the ocean floor. This game reminds me of the first time I read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
It’s a fun and very colorful management game that looks so pretty when completely set up.
Who’s up for some alien planet colonization?
Alien Frontiers is a dice-based resource management game and worker placement game, in which players orbit an alien world that’s ripe for colonization. You’ll have to manage any alien technology you find, build new colonies, and expand your influence in this new world in order to surpass your peers.
What makes Alien Frontiers really special are the dice mechanics. Normally, you would have your standard meeples or spaceship tokens to represent your workers, but not here. Here, workers take the shape of… DICE!
Dice rolls determine what actual actions you’ll be able to perform in a turn, so maybe you’re wanting to put out a colony next turn, but BAM! the dice gods are fickle.
Alien Frontiers uses a fresh concept that works nicely to create a tense and fun management game.
Spaceteam was originally a smartphone app game in which everyone had a different screen on their phone and had to shout out nonsensical directions to other players. They marketed it as the cooperative shouting game, and it’s not far off.
The Spaceteam card game is an analog version of that same nonsensical shouting match. Players are on a perpetually crashing space ship and it’s up to the team to get all the parts back in order.
It’s super tense and fast-paced, and you’ll be running around the table swapping positions as the cards shift hands. It almost feels like a workout. Your heart will be pumping and you’ll find yourself saying odd things like “WHO HAS THE QUASIPADDLE?!”
It’s a fast-paced and intense party game. Maybe let grandma sit this one out, though.. you gotta be quick to be successful.
If you only have a short amount of time to play and need your Sci-Fi board game fix… just listen to the emergency alarms going off.
Space Alert puts a small team of spacemen on the unluckiest ship ever and you all need to work together.
A full game of Space Alert takes about 10 minutes…
Seriously, 10 minutes?
It uses a soundtrack complete with robotic voices and sirens to notify players of what’s happening. You could have an incoming asteroid, space pirates, or monstrous aliens attacking your ship, and all players must work cooperatively in real-time to save the ship within the 10-minute timeline of the soundtrack.
It’s hectic and stressful, but it is a lot of fun.
Space Cadets: Away Missions
Space Cadets: Away Missions is the third standalone box in the Space Cadets series, and it’s one of my favorites. Everything about it is top-notch.
The rules are easy enough for beginners to pick up, but there’s a definite strategic element to keep everyone interested. The components are well done and include painted minis that have a nice quirky art style to them.
Away Missions comes with 20 scenarios to change up the gameplay and when played together, create a linked story campaign. It’s got everything you’d want for some classic Sci-Fi blaster shootouts and space jumping, all in one box.
Science Fiction has always had a place in my heart. It’s a genre that allows creators to look at humanity’s hopes and dreams as a whole. Sci-Fi historically has been a genre that has opened (and pushed) the discussion on a ton of hot-button topics like racial boundaries and societal morals and ethics.
People tend to accept new concepts more easily when placed in a hypothetical world in a galaxy not too far away.
To me, it’s not all about the blasters and aliens, although it’s a heck of a lot of fun. Every time I sit down to a Sci-Fi board game, movie, or book it makes me hopeful that the better parts of Science Fiction will someday become nonfiction.
Did we miss any of your favorites on our list? What are you favorite parts of science fiction?
Drop a comment below! We’d love to hear from you.
Looking for more Sci-Fi board games? Why not check out our best Star Wars Games below: