While board games translate to video games relatively well, the reverse translation is usually quite terrible. Many video game mechanics simply can’t be replicated with cardboard, wood, and plastic. Attempts to do so often result in truly terrible games like The Legend of Zelda board game released in 1988. Not all video game translations have been terrible, though. In fact, a few have actually been quite enjoyable and rank among some of the best games ever made. If you’d like to try one of these rare games, the following are the top five board games based on video games.
5. Bioshock Infinite: The Siege of Columbia – This adaptation of the Bioshock Infinite video game is an area control / war game with objective based play. It has slight similarities to games like Twilight Imperium, but is significantly less complex. Unsurprisingly, the game has excellent production value and the board is such a faithful representation of the game world that you are instantly carried into alternate reality. The strategic elements of the game should generally appeal to the type of player that is drawn to Bioshock instead of traditional first person shooters, but it is definitely more cerebral than your average board game.
4. World of Warcraft Board Game – This massively sprawling game has a nearly unprecedented production value for a board game. It has over a hundred miniatures, hundreds of cardboard counters, and hundreds of cards. Including the expansions, these numbers might reach the thousands. The game is a team based competitive game to defeat one of the many overlords of Azeroth. While the mechanics are multiple versions out of date, they are still relatively faithful to the video game it is based on. An average game will take about an hour per player and may take as much as twice that long. This time commitment is beyond most game players, but for the devoted few, this is a fun romp in a magical land.
3. Starcraft: The Board Game – Starcraft is an objective based war game with similar play to games like Mage Knight. You control a faction of one of three races from the original video game with the goal of completing a specific victory condition. Each turn all players give orders simultaneously to their units and then enact those orders. Like the video game, you research new technology, ever growing your faction while simultaneously engaging in battle. The game does a remarkable job of simulating a real time strategy game. If you can manage to find a copy of this incredibly rare game, it is worth taking the time to play.
2. Age of Empires III – While the board game actually has very little similarity to the video game it is based on, except for general theme, the game itself is actually quite brilliant in design and a lot of fun to play. You control a civilization during the race to discover, explore, conquer, and pillage the new world. With your force of settlers, missionaries, merchants, soldiers, and ship captains you attempt to gather the most influence over the course of the game. A variety of interacting game mechanics allow for numerous winning strategies and the game rarely plays the same way twice. It may be a little difficult for casual players, but only barely, which makes a good gateway game for area control and worker placement games.
1. Sid Meier’s Civilization: The Board Game – This game is such a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the original video game that it is almost creepy. Sure, just about every single mechanic has been altered in some major way and the game combines major elements from Civilization 2 and Civilization 4, but the board game just feels like you are playing the video game. If you are familiar with the video game, the technologies do what you expect them to, map movement seems intuitive, and wonders feel appropriately difficult to get while also being appropriately powerful. The game had a few problems at first, but the following two expansions cleaned up all those problems and easily made it not only the best board game based on a video game, but one of the best 4X board games on the market.