The Venn diagram for people who play board games and the people that read books has a great overlapping area, so there are some great picks for the bookworms among you.
For our list, we scoured the ranks of collections for the most enjoyable and thematically brilliant collections of plastic and cardboard out there.
So, here are 8 of our favourite games that perfectly capture the tone of their source material and are just plain fun to boot. Starting with-
8. Consulting Detective (1982)
No list about game adaptions would be complete without mentioning the great detective himself. Perfect for couples and fine(ish) for groups, the game asks players to match wits with Holmes and solve byzantine crimes in the fewest possible steps. This firmly plants you in the headspace of Scotland Yard struggling to keep up with Sherlock, with session game ending with a literal lecture from the genius explaining how he unpicked the mystery and made you look like fools. An essential purchase for fans young and old, the game also offers a wealth of additional cases to help satiate the most demanding mystery seekers.
7. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (2019)
Perfectly capturing the period charm of Susanna Clarke’s phenomenal tome – Osprey’s faithful adaption lets you relive the journey of an aspiring magician as you gather power and status in an attempt to be crowned magus…and fight of the machinations of fairydom. Featuring gorgeous art from Ian O’Toole, the game revolves around proving your dominance in the world of magic and taking a tongue-in-cheek look at Victorian life. A perfect pick for fans of the book, this is rules-light and fun heavy. And the recent TV adaptation isn’t too bad either.
6. Dune (2019)
Another thematic masterpiece recently resurrected by the geniuses at GaleForce9. The latest adaptation of the game folds in every well-loved feature from the 1979 original covered in a modernized wrapper and timeless art. A game of negotiation and feints, players are charged with completing their faction’s unique win condition and harvesting as much melange as they can muster. Dripping with references to the source text, Dune is (quite rightly) a game of wits and brinksmanship – making it an essential choice for fans of space politics everywhere. And while it carries the ‘bumpers down’ ethos of the original, it’s a thrill that’s all too lacking in modern games. Just make sure your table is big enough to hold Arrakis.
5. Jurasic Park – Danger! (2018)
As an adaption of the film of the book, we’re aware that we’re stretching the limits of theme. But trust us, it’s worth it. Playing up to five, teams are split between survivors and dinos as the (delicious) humans escape to safety after fulfilling their personal goals. Surprisingly heavy on strategy for what is essentially an all ages game, players must plan their turns carefully – perfectly mimicking the propulsive momentum of the Crichton source text. A great budget pick for players looking for a fun evening and a return to everyone’s favourite childhood island. And of course we’re going to link you to the best part of the film.
4. Fury of Dracula (2015)
Dracula is here, and he is dreadfully upset. Set during the final race to destroy the evil count in Stoker’s iconic gothic masterpiece, Fury is a game of wits and trickery as the humans attempt to fence the great vampire in and deliver the killing blow. And promptly quickly find that they were wrong and now Jonathan Harker’s had his head pull off. Arguably the crown jewel of the hidden movement genre, the game is a perfect pick for a Halloween night’s gaming session. Or just to play the next time one of you fancies proving what an effective creature of the night they’d be…only for them to get jumped in Leipzig.
3. THUD (2002)
Though Patrick Rothfuss’ Tak is another brilliant example of an ‘in-world game’, there’s just something you can’t help but love about Pratchett. Whether you’re watching an animated adaption, playing a video game, or enjoying THE DULCET TONES OF DEATH – there’s a joyful quality that permeates through the Discworld series. And Thud is no exception. An abstract delight, Thud mimics Trolls being ambushed by a gang of angry dwarves, with the game built around the mechanics of Hnefatafl with a little additional streamlining. With only the most exceptional skill and forethought allowing players to come out on top.
2. A Game of Thrones: The Card Game (2015)
While the GoT board game would have been an appropriate pick for would-be despots, the FF published card game is just oozing with theme. Each session sees you pick a house and try to outsmart, fight, or manipulate your opponents. And fans of the series are in for a treat. Of course the Eddard Stark card would have no capacity for intrigue but rise to meet a challenge. Naturally, Stannis’ rigidity would force his opponents to bend the knee. And fielding Tyrion would certainly allow you the flexibility to pull out every trick in the *(&%ing book. Add in some stunning art and an involved global meta; picking a copy of the starter set carries the promise of something truly special.
1. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle (2016)
Do you want Harry Potter in a box? You get Harry Potter in a box. Covering the events of all the hugely popular books, Hogwarts is an exceptional co-operative deck builder that allows players to undertake their own journey with the boy wizard – plus tagalongs. This ranges from the mystery and raw panic of first year (re: the tutorial) all the way up to becoming a seasoned magician and finally disintegrating Ralph Fiennes. Packed in a beautiful box with distinct ‘packs’ for each chapter, this is the perfect gift for fans of the book, the astonishing movies, or just someone looking for an innovative design. A great choice for those that can find it.
Which is your favorite game for readers? Share it in the comments below 🙂