Screen Cardboard: Video game to Board game Adaptations
You’ve done it. The final boss is defeated. End credits roll. You seek someone to share your victory. Your dog becomes your partner, and its raised eyebrow is your kudos. If this scene feels real, explore video game to board game adaptations. Take favorite video games to the tabletop, where you can crush friends and enemies alike in your living room.
Board game publishers turn popular video games into tabletop adventures of various complexities and styles. Slay beasts, outwit friends, or build civilizations with your fingertips.
Bring along some friends and it’s the new split-screen gaming.
A Quest and a Quarry
The most common video game to board game adaptation is the role-playing adventure. While not quite an open RPG (though plenty of those exist too, if you want to role-play your way through your favorite video game setting), games like Witcher: The Old World put you in the rough-shod shoes of wizards, hunters, soldiers and slayers all trying to level up and destroy the mad monsters wrecking their worlds. In Witcher, every player controls their own adventurer, balancing building up a creature-killing deck with completing quests, meditating, and smacking each other around in the woods, just like humanity has been doing for millennia. Key: Upgrade your gear before others, but perfecting your deck may lose to a faster, messier opponent.
If battling big baddies together is more your thing, then Monster Hunter, by Steamforged Games (who also publish tabletop versions of Dark Souls along with an upcoming Elden Ring adaptation) is an almost literal translation of the video game, giving you and your friends a chance to pick classes and build up your skills over multiple boss-battling hunts. Classes differ; leverage chosen weapons, toss dice, react to monsters, and get gear like digital version. With an Iceborne version on the way too, you’ll soon have access to all the game’s greatest quarries.
Skyrim and More
Options like Skyrim: The Adventure Game and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood of Venice stay true to their inspiration while adding twists, with Skyrim finally giving you a chance to explore its dragon-filled world alongside friends, creating a character of your own from a huge choice array. Assassin’s Creed takes stealth gameplay to your table, taking your murderous guild through a campaign in Renaissance Italy. Infiltrate, bribe, and back-stab while soldiers chase you across tiles. Use gains to enhance your assassin enclave.
For those who prefer their questing on the scary side, consider the Dead by Daylight and Bloodborne adaptations. Dead by Daylight pits one player against the others in a slasher simulator, with everyone but the killer trying to scrounge for stuff and dodge death while the killer has to do what killers do: sacrifice hapless souls in the name of some evil entity. As a simpler game playable in under an hour, Dead by Daylight works to set the atmosphere for a spooky game night, leading right into a Bloodborne play.
Like its namesake, Bloodborne casts you as hunters trying to find out what happened to a monster-ridden gothic city. Explore, fight, find clues to a mysterious riddle, then confront a terrifying boss in each scenario. You’ll laugh, you’ll die, you’ll make friends along the way, though how well you’ll do at all those things is up to you, not fate: Bloodborne cares little for luck and a lot for strategy.
Just One More Turn
After adventuring and slaying beasts, take a seat, order a flagon, and relax with something soothing. Like Frostpunk, a video game about building a city in a brutal world overcome by ice. Now in boardgame form and equally difficult, you’ll find the challenge not quite so lonely in this cooperative city-builder.
Frostpunk uses a randomized setup, worker placement, and a slew of options to tempt you into its frozen land. Once there, face numerous problems, pitting ingenuity against limited resources, laws, and research for essential tech. Make the wrong play, and your settlement will find itself on the brink, possibly toppling over and asking you to start again, smarter and (hopefully) wiser than before.
A kinder yet competitive world comes with Civilization, which has had a number of adaptations over the years, all tasking you with doing what the name implies: creating an empire through clever play. The most recent version, Civilization: A New Dawn picks up some solid bite from its Terra Incognita expansion, which adds armies and new exploration options. Strive against buddies, form alliances, and seek global domination as the ultimate victory condition.
It’s War, on this Board or the Next
Tactical miniatures titles are commonplace in the world of video game to board game adaptation, with Fallout: Wasteland Warfare likely taking the title spot for cleanest crossover. The game lets you construct your post-apocalyptic crew and take them on a long narrative campaign, complete with solo AI. The two-player set offers Nuka-Cola fun with cooperative missions for defending strongholds, adventuring, and hunting monsters. Enjoy the experience with a buddy.
Warhammer 40K deserves another call-out here too, though this is a rare case where a board game became a (thousand) video games, with stories crossing back and forth between the two. Its fantasy variant, Warhammer: The Age of Sigmar, is riding the digital wave too, and both offer deep, dice-chucking fun across the skirmish-to-full-force gamut.
Both Fallout and Warhammer have dedicated gaming nights at Noble Knight’s home store too, so check out the event calendar if you’re local and swing by to smash some super mutants or sling it with Sigmar’s best faction: the Skaven techno rats.
Tokens flip, creatures emerge, lucky rolls catch monsters, battling the Elite Four with friends creates treasured memories. As you might guess, most of these are rare, but if you or a pal is a big fan, finding a special release like Devil May Cry: Bloody Palace could be the highlight of a collection. Devil May Cry adapts the series’ signature fast-paced action style, awarding points as you combo your way across the board without taking hits or missing a beat. Its co-op nature invites madcap delight as your team of devil hunters races to slaughter demons with panache and poise.
Stardew Valley goes hard in the opposite direction, taking the seasonal farming simulator and turning into an optimization puzzle. You’ll have to choose between planting crops, going fishing, or delving deep into the mine to scrounge up the bits and bobs needed to keep your quaint community safe from the giant Jojamart Corporation. Flush with dice and quirky, delightful art, Stardew Valley is difficult without being overly complex, and a great way to level up a friend from the TV to the tabletop.
Leaving this piece without mentioning Pokemon: Master Trainer, a ridiculous game from the late 90s, would be an insult to my childhood self. Taking up Ash’s original quest to cross Kanto and find powerful Pokemon, Master Trainer deploys a whole suite of mechanisms that might make an adult wince, but that shine when paired with a child’s imagination. Flipping tokens reveals creatures, lucky rolls snag pocket monsters, and battling the Elite Four with friends create cherished memories. While Pokemon has its focus on the trading card game these days, Master Trainer makes for a grinning throwback to an earlier era, pairing perfectly with beer, pretzels, and a classic debate over Charmander, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle.
From Video Game, with Love
The common theme among video game to board game adaptations is careful transition and love for the videogame’s world. Many games, digital and not, come out yearly, making diving into familiar stories, characters, and places even more enjoyable. Consider the screen first for a match with what you love when adding to shelves. Odds are you’ll find something, and it might not even be another Monopoly version.
And you know what, even if it is?
You’ll probably still get a few laughs. At least for the first hour.