Enabling escapism during the current pandemic, picking up a novel allows us to enter a different world and enrich our lives after a long day of work. This amazing ability to transport readers is shared by the best that our hobby has to offer, with many classics allowing the ability to explore iconic, fictional worlds with their friends. And then kill them for points.

Here are some of our favourite games that allow bookworms to experience something truly special. Starting with-

8 | WAR OF THE RING (2012)

When it comes to boardgaming crossovers with Lord of the Rings, you’ve got a lot of options. You could have pitched battles with tactical nuance, co-operative jaunts that risk tooth and nail, even exploratory adventures that guarantee a fresh experience every time. Or you could just replicate the entire War of The Ring in one evening and be done with it. Beloved by strategy, book, and fantasy fans alike – War is just that, a colossal battle between the forces of good and evil that you’re in control of. Create your own fellowship, slay orcs, and finally, finally, get your hands on those loathsome little hobbits and make your displeasure truly known.  

7 | Johnathan strange & Mr Norrell (2019)

Based on the iconic book by Susanna Clarke, Strange perfectly captures the tongue-in-cheek atmosphere of the book and enjoys gorgeous art from the talented Ian O’Toole. The game follows the decidedly British goals of acquiring status in the world of magic and the power necessary to stop The Man With the Thistle-Down Hair. The game is a balance of acquiring renown, squirrelling away magic texts, as you get your head around a magic system that actually makes you feel like you’ve earned the spells you end up blasting out. While the game may run the risk of outstaying its welcome with return appearances from TMWTTH, but this is another exceptional showing from Osprey that captures the spirit and true heart of its namesake.

6 | Beowulf (2005)

One of the oldest texts in existence, Beowulf tracks the life and adventures of a Geatish hero as one of his followers as he tackles monsters, beasts, and his own hubris. Naturally, Reiner Knizia is the only creator who could answered the call to adventure with a stunning card-drafting game that captures the Beowulf cycle. Building on mechanics from Knizia’s much loved Lord of the Rings and Taj Mahal, Beowulf is an adventure of attrition as you calculate how much each of you are willing to sacrifice to earn the mighty hero’s favour and eventually succeed him as a hero of legend. This involves cunning, bravery, and treachery to get the results you need; the same skills that our hero prizes in the source text. Add in stunning illustrations from the iconic John Howe and you have something that sits between a piece of art, experience, and the perfect pick-up-and-play game after some wine and cheese. Well…it’s playing this or putting something on the TV isn’t it?

5 | Tak (2017)

“Tak is the best sort of game: simple in its rules, complex in its strategy”. So says the wily Kvothe in Patrick Rothfuss’ best selling ‘Wise Man’s Fear’. Brought to life by CheapAss games in 2016, Tak is an exceptional turn-based strategy game that perfectly evokes the source text while proving to be pretty damn fun to play. While not described in detail in the book, the boxed version asks players to create a road from one side of the board to the next. In creating this road, you can block other players, move your ‘stacks’, and more – triggering clever plays that require three dimensional thinking at its best. Gorgeous to look at, the game’s healthy competitive scene proves that the gruelling game truly has legs. And stones. Lots and lots of stones.

4 | The Expanse (2017)

A book and TV series that has flown under the radar for many, the Expanse has proven to be the ‘Sci-Fi Game of Thrones’ that genre fans have been clamouring for. And the board game isn’t a slouch either. Set in a solar-system-wide cold war, the Expanse mirrors the political intrigue and manoeuvring that made the series such a hit. Melding razor-sharp tactics and ongoing strategy, the game uses event cards to move your fleets, pick up influence, or ruin your friend’s day. With a short playing time and exceptional depth, each game rattles along to a conclusion and leaves players hungry for more.

3 | The Extraordinary adventures of baron Munchausen (1998)

Never before have we seen a game so perfectly capture the spirit of its source material. Especially when that essence is a healthy dose of unvarnished bullshit. A freeform roleplaying game, players are socketed into the riding boots of the Baron’s friends as they attempt to outdo each other with tall-tales. Best played in a pub or round your table with a pint to hand, play involves responding to a prompt from the last individual to speak: “I say, Baron. Regale us with the story about the time you stole the Maharaja of Ragu’s prize ocelot!” The player then has to weave a tall tale, improvised on the spot while ducking interjections from their rivals. Add in the fact that the rulebook is written from the Baron’s perspective (dictated while drinking a friend’s wine cellar dry) and you have a very special little game indeed.

2 | Discworld - Ankh-Morpork (2011)

Combining heart, wit, and social consciousness, the loss of Terry Pratchett is still felt today. And while you can enjoy his extensive back catalogue (psst – Mort’s the best!), there’s something to be said for taking to the cobbles of Ankh Morpork in your cardboard-insoled boots and saying hello to some classic characters. A game of worker placement and area control, players vie to fulfil specific win conditions as they place underlings and chain actions to cede control of the famous (and flammable) city. While it may be surpassed by other fare like Lords of Waterdeep may refine the mechanics and offer more options, it’s hard not to recommend spending some time with Captain Carrot and his friends. Especially when it has art from Paul Kidby adorning its oversized box.

1 | Dune (2019)

Ok, so-

Pro: If you’re looking to enter the world of a book and re-enact the adventures of your favourite characters, there’s no better option.

Con: That ‘world’ and all its ‘characters’ are either warmongering backstabbers, high on space drugs, or both.

No on its umpteenth iteration since first being release in 1979, the latest version of Dune is an exceptional piece of design from the minds of Galeforce9, letting you inhabit the roles of the noble Atreides, the monstrous Harkonnen, and or the wily Bene Gesserit. With variable wind conditions, an insane number of references to the show, and sandworms; there’s no excuse for not gathering your friends together and ending your first game early in a nuclear blast as you forgot how shields and lasers work. Hoover up a handful of spice and pick up a copy asap.


What is your favourite adaptation?! Tell us in the comments below :)

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