I used to play a lot of video games. I still do, but I used to too.
Games can come in all different forms and media. Board games give me an amazing social outlet and are just all fun, whereas video games allow people to insult my mother from all around the globe.
Luckily for us, every now and then a video game developer looks at their IP and thinks, “We should turn this into a board game”.
Now players will have to trash talk in person around the table just like in the days of yore.
So let’s take a look at some of the best board games based on video games.
Divinity: Original Sin
Straight from the designers of the original video game comes the highly anticipated board game. There’s almost 2 million dollars pledged to the Kickstarter project already, and players have only recently gotten a look at it during the last PAX convention.
It’s set to be a cooperative RPG set in the Divinity world with a heavy emphasis on the RPG elements. The designers clearly know how to make an RPG and their first foray into the board gaming sphere looks to be a hit. Players will have a lot of options on how they complete each story, and the entire world unfolds in storybook style.
It honestly looks more like a tabletop pen and paper RPG than a board game, and I for one am always excited to see heavy storytelling in my board games. It’s set to release this year in 2020 and I’m keeping an eye out for this one.
World of Warcraft: The Boardgame
World of Warcraft has always been a bit of a love-it-or-hate-it franchise. There’s rarely people who I’ve met that don’t have strong feelings about it one way or the other once they’ve played it.
There is no denying that when it comes to the world of MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) games, Blizzard’s WoW reigns supreme.
How does it work on the tabletop though?
About as big as Azeroth itself. The WoW board game (if you’re lucky enough to find it) is a massive game full of minis that spans an entire world of conflict. Players will duke it out for the Horde or Alliance, trying to kill the Big Bad Evil guy or just everyone in general.
StarCraft: The Board Game
Zerg is by far the best faction. Go ahead, try and change my mind.
The StarCraft board game is awesome. It’s sometimes accused of being fiddly with the rules, but it’s about as close to the original video game as you can possibly get.
Everything from miniatures, units, and buildings are all themed perfectly to give the players the same Starcrafty feeling they know and love.
It’s so loved that it’s actually really hard to find, but if you’re a fan of Warhammer 40k the game itself was rethemed/skinned in 40k glory under the name Forbidden Stars.
Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms & Fallout: Wasteland Warfare
Bethesda made 2 of my favorite series. Fallout for its apocalyptic wasteland, and Elder Scrolls for its amazing fantasy world. Both games are completely open worlds and have been absolute black holes for time. I don’t ever want to look at the collective play time from either of these games… it’s bad.
Both video games are under the Bethesda umbrella, so it’s only fitting that a tabletop company handles both analog versions as well.
Modiphius Entertainment, known for bringing the wasteland to life in a Fallout miniatures game is just about finished putting the final touches on Call to Arms, the Skyrim-inspired tabletop miniatures game set to come out March 2020 of this year.
They’re both built on the same system so you’ll be able to choose your favorite setting and start your own epic story, whether you decide to become the Vault Dweller or the Dragonborn.
Cyberpunk has always been the superior punk… I’m looking at you, steampunk.
To coincide with the release of the highly anticipated cyberpunk video game starring Keanu Reeves comes the traditional tabletop RPG, Cyberpunk, which released a brand new starter module that acts as a prequel to the game.
It’s a really smart way of getting world-building out before the game is even released. It gives players a chance to get invested before the title screen is even loaded up.
If you’re looking for something traditional to play, and are a fan of the series you might be interested in checking it out.
I was intrigued when I first got hold of the Witcher video game. The world and lore that goes along with it are so cool. Do you fight monsters as some weird meta-human thing?! Hell Yeah!
Then I got into the combat of the video game and could not make heads or tails of it. It was a world that always interested me, but I could never get into it.
The board game world was a lot easier for me to get into and I was able to jump into it without any problems.
Take control of 4 iconic Witcher characters: Geralt, Triss, Yarpen, and Dandelion.
There’s another Assassin’s Creed board game available now. I’m sure it’s fine, but it looks so dull that I haven’t gotten around to checking it out yet.
On the other hand, Brotherhood of Venice looks amazing. It’s another game currently on Kickstarter, but it looks pretty fantastic and it’s not being designed by Ubisoft, so the chances of it actually being developed properly are pretty high.
Shovel Knight was a ridiculous indie game in which you a knight, armed with a shovel.
It was actually pretty hard to beat.
The board game takes a similar irreverent mashup from its predecessor. Players play as their own shovel knight and smash through a dungeon, armed with a trusty shovel.
It can be especially brutal as your fellow knights do whatever it takes to get all that sweet, sweet loot before anyone else.Exceed: Shovel Knight
I still remember playing DOOM on 3.5-inch floppy discs, and cheating with the God Mode code “iddqd”. It was scary as hell and I hated the giant red floating demons. They seriously scared the crap out of me.
DOOM actually creates a pretty decent rendition of First Person Shooter (FPS) video game and it translates it pretty well into the board gaming sphere.
It’s of course not first-person, but it creates the feeling of the run-and-gun gameplay that the original (and newest) versions of DOOM are known for.
The DOOM board game takes a run-and-gun dungeon crawler-style approach to the game in a 1 vs. 4 arena. The marine players will have various objectives and run through the arena blasting away the demons from hell, and one lucky player gets to control the monsters from hell, which are all modeled gorgeously and try to kill the marines.
You’ll definitely feel like you’re playing a DOOM game with this.
Another horrifying video game from my childhood. Resident Evil coined the term “survival horror” in video gaming, creating a whole new subgenre of video games.
There are actually several Resident Evil-themed board games if you’re looking to make the analog switch.
The first was the Resident Evil Deck-Building Game. It uses traditional deck-building mechanics to have players try and survive the horrors of Raccoon City and all the classic monsters you can think of.
The other is based on Resident Evil 2. It’s a more in-your-face thematic game with a box full of minis and nasty monsters, including Berkin, the scary ever-present monster from the classic game.
I’m a huge fan of the XCOM games. I got my butt whooped by aliens in the originals, under the ocean, and even fought in the resistance.
XCOM: The Board Game is a technology-enhanced board game that allows you to take that ridiculous amount of tension and base-building to the tabletop.
It uses an app to run the game while each player takes on a different role; commander, central, scientist, and squad leader.
Each role plays completely different and each one has to manage a different aspect of the alien invasion. It gets pretty hectic, especially with the app screaming at you that multiple alien attacks are incoming.
Is the cake truly a lie?
The Portal video game was one of the first games that actually had me laughing out loud. A dude sitting in front of his computer cackling to himself is not really a pretty sight…
Portal is a weird journey and the further down the rabbit hole, the weirder and more interesting it became, especially when it came to the 2-player co-op mode.
The board game attempts to recapture some of those weird “a-ha!” moments that the video game delivered so well. Just look at the name of the game, “The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game”, and you’ll see you’re clearly in for the tongue-in-cheek humor that Portal is known for.
The board game board will constantly be shifting as players bounce around the arena using portals and stealing cake from each other. Of course, the one with the most cake at the end wins.
Gears of War
<movie voiceover> In a world where every inhabitant is a roided out monster with massive biceps, except for the one female character left in the universe, comes GEARS OF WAR! </movie voiceover>
Gears of Wars took everything to an insane level. It was all about a bunch of roided-out soldier bros shooting and chainsawing roided-out mole people bros.
The designers knew what they were about and I have to say the chainsaw bayonet was pretty fun.
The board game takes a cooperative approach and puts players in control of the Cog soldiers (humans) in a randomized mission to kill and most likely chainsaw the locusts (mole people bros).
Bioshock Infinite: The Siege of Columbia
The Bioshock games blew me away when they first came out. I ended up playing all 3 and played Bioshock 2 all the way through several times.
The board game version takes us into the world of Bioshock Infinite (the third game) in the floating city of Columbia.
The Siege of Columbia takes a more overall view of the world as opposed to the video game which focuses on Booker and Elizabeth’s journey in Columbia.
Players will take control of one of two factions, Vox Populi or the Founders. They’ll battle it out for control of Columbia, and attempt to steer events from the video game in their favor as Booker and Elizabeth run around and cause havoc throughout Columbia.
I’ve spent countless hours on the Civilization PC game, and have been nuked numerous times by Gandhi. Yeah, that actually happens a lot.
The classic civ-building board game actually translates pretty well as a board game. Players start out with a singular city, worker, and soldier, and from there expand outward pushing the boundaries of their civilization.
It’s a fantastic board game, but I honestly like Through the Ages better. It just seems like a cleaner overall experience with a lot of the same themes.
I was very confused when I heard they made a Street Fighter board game. How do you turn the most well-known fighter into a tabletop experience? Don’t put Jean-Claude Van Damme in it, that’s for sure.
Street Fighter in a brilliant stroke uses deck-building mechanics. The fighter/deck-builder works wonderfully together, and players will be able to power up their move set by stacking their deck with powerful ability cards, and unique power cards for each character.
If you’re feeling froggy, you’ll be able to take a swing at the round’s boss who sits in the corner silently judging your card decisions.
If you defeat the boss and survive the counterattack you’ll gain victory points.
I was very impressed with this game. I would have like to see the old SNES artwork instead though. That was the last time I played a Street Fighter game.
Minecraft is a guilty pleasure of mine. There’s something about the procedurally-generated world that’s just freaking fun.
I’ve spent hours trying to get a house look just right, only to remember that I left the door open and a creeper had wandered in.
The Minecraft board game is basically just an analog version of the core video game mechanics. Wander around a pixelated world, kill monsters, dig, and of course, build.
One of the core audiences for Minecraft is the younger crowd and they weren’t neglected in the design of the board game. Players familiar with the game will easily pick up the rules and will be building up their fortresses in no time.
This War of Mine
Are you ready to get hit right in the feels?
Too fucking bad.
This War of Mine takes a look at war from a perspective not normally shown in games. This time you get to be civilians abandoned in a war zone simply trying to survive.
Seriously it’s depressing. Do you share your last shot of medicine with a group of orphans begging at the door? Do you rob the old couple who stocked up before the war? How much suffering are you willing to go through or inflict to survive?
These aren’t really trick questions. There are no space aliens or big baddies to point the finger at. This is just humanity at its lowest point and it’s not necessarily fiction. Every scenario and worse has happened in history or is currently happening.
It’s a fun game.
It’s not a happy game, but it does make you think.
Reigns: The Council
The original Reigns game comes from one of my favorite video game publishers, Devolver Digital. It’s a quirky sim where you rule an entire kingdom from your throne room. The entire game takes place in the form of audiences with various ambassadors, advisors, and peasants from your kingdom.
Ruling a kingdom is really just a never-ending parade of people wanting things from you.
The Council card game is a little bit of a different beast. They take the simple game theme and turns into a light party/bluffing game. One lucky player gets crowned monarch and all the other players become their “loyal” advisors. When the kingdom inevitably crashes and burns, the monarch is murdered and any advisor that had their secret objective filled, wins.
It kinda sucks being in charge sometimes.
Donkey Kong Country
Yes, there was a Donkey Kong board game and it REEKS of the 90s.
In the unlikely mashup of all mashups, Nintendo teamed up with the official POGs company to create the Donkey Kong Pog-flinging tabletop game.
There’s really not a whole lot tying either of these things together, but it does come with 36 Pogs.
Basically, you get a really cool cardboard target and fancy Pogs to fling at it. Oh, the 90s… it was a simpler time.
In the world of first-person shooters, Halo stands shoulder to shoulder with gaming giants like DOOM and GoldenEye.
Originally titled, Halo: Combat Evolved, it did just that.
Surprisingly, there are a lot of Halo board games from a tabletop miniature game to generic Risk and Monopoly versions. There was one game that really stood out though, and that was the Interactive Strategy Game. Arguably an awful title for a game, the game itself is pretty neat.
It comes with quite a few minis and a modular board that lets players build up levels. You could even recreate levels from the games and play through the entire video game story on your tabletop.
What’s your favorite video game turned analog? Did your favorite board game not make the list?
We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and let us know.
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Before starting GameCows with his wife Kendra, he used to teach English Language Arts in the US. He combined his love of gaming with education to create fun game-based learning lessons until he eventually decided to run GameCows with Kendra full-time. He’s known for pouring over rulebooks in his spare time, being the rule master during game night, and as the perma DM in his DnD group. Bryan loves board games, writing, traveling, and above all his wife and partner in crime, Kendra.