30 Board and Card Games Based on TV Series

Which of your favorites TV shows have spawned a fun board game?
Odin Odin (32)
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Who doesn’t like to binge a good television series? These days, binging shows has become synonymous with watching shows, and one of the best ways to relax after a hard day’s work is to kick back with four to fifty episodes of your favorite series. Heck, entertainment giants like Netflix are built on the model of making new series just for the purpose of being binged!

Board game designers have been making games themed off of our favorite television series for decades, and it’s easy to see why! However, if you’re like me, then you have a fair few classic shows that just mean something extra special to you — the sort of shows that you’ll go back to and re-binge, over and over, no matter how well you’ve memorized all the lines. When that happens, it’s time to find another way to access the flame of your fandom… and what better way is there than by finding a game themed off of your favorite show?

Board game designers have been making games themed off of our favorite television series for decades, and it’s easy to see why! Some of these board games are based on just one moment in an episode, or a particular aspect of a series; television shows offer so much range for game designers to work from. With so much great television content, there’s a whole range of delightful possibilities for fresh board games that allow fans to find renewed joy in all their favorite shows.

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Who Wants to be a Millionaire Board Game

Regardless of whether or not you’re a reality TV show fan, there’s little doubt that you’ve at least heard the name of this classic tension-filled game show before. How to Be a Millionaire is one of the debut '90s shows that broke big across the international scene and helped define a number of the big reality trivia shows to come.

How it’s played

Like the TV series, the board game version of WWTBAM (as it’s known by its fans) is all about answering the hardest questions around, gaining more money, and strategically using your fellow player’s input to decide on the right answer. It does a great job recreating the vibe of the series, allowing for classic moves like calling on your “Lifeliners” to help remove incorrect answers or checking in with the “audience” (the other players) to see if they have suggestions for you (though there’s nothing to keep them from subtly misdirecting you!).

I’d say this is a fun party game even if you’re not a big fan of the series, simply because the format’s tried and true for trivia experiences, and the questions can be tricky enough to really allow people to show off their miscellaneous knowledge.

Scooby-Doo! Fright at the Fun Park

I loved Scooby-Doo as a kid and still go back as an adult sometimes for a Saturday morning cartoon fest with cereal to re-watch the old seasons. One of the best things about Scooby-Doo that I think is really awesome is how it provides kids with a fun and light introduction to the horror genre, offering a lot of the aesthetic and using many of the common tropes, but never going for the pure scare. It’s also a great introduction to mysteries for kids, with many of the episodes giving kids the experience of trying to figure out who might be behind the supernatural menace before the big reveal.

How it’s played

This kid’s mass-market Scooby-Doo game is a total blast that fits well with the classic cartoon because it’s a deductive game, which is so cool for kids. Players move their pieces around the board and pick up mystery tickets, which give you the clues you need to begin solving the mysteries. A monster is randomly chosen, and each monster has certain locations on the map where it is hiding. By using a dry-erase marker on the included map, in combination with the cards that are randomly drawn from the mystery ticket deck, players can figure out where the monsters are located.

Young children (the game says it can be for four-year-olds) might have a little difficulty getting into the game without adult help, but six-year-olds and up will be fine. Adults will end up having fun, too, though, because the mystery in the game will always be different. It’s a worthwhile game to pull out for anyone who is either a light game for parties or a fun game for those who really loved Scooby-Doo.

Friends Trivia Game

Friends is one of the most iconic TV series of all time, and even if viewer opinion has never completely aligned regarding whether Ross is a terrible person or not, the show as a whole has remained one of the most beloved and often-rewatched series of all time. Its cultural impact was huge, and it helped to launch more than a few big-name careers.

With such a popular series, there just had to be an accompanying board game. In this case, it’s a game of trivia, where players are rewarded for how deep down the fandom rabbit hole they’ve descended.

How it’s played

The game mechanics behind the trivia are simple: players roll dice, move around the board, and answer a different question. Really little more than a vehicle for the questions about the show, there’s not much here to satisfy a hard-core gamer, but conversely, there’s more than enough here to satisfy a hard-core Friends fan.

Sons of Anarchy: Men of Mayhem

Sons of Anarchy lost some of my attention when the bike gangs started having full-on wars in the middle of town and nobody in the outside world seemed to notice, but the action-packed seasons certainly kept most viewers glued to their seats. With more than enough drama to satisfy anyone, Sons of Anarchy managed to provide a classical melodrama of Greek proportions and Roman violence, often delivered by a surprisingly superb cast of actors.

The board game takes a top-down view of the series’ premise and gives players a sense of what it’s like to control one of the big gangs vying for control of the town. This one could be fun for someone who’s never seen the show, too, and I think that’s a winner.

How it’s played

Each turn, the players try to gain control of different locations around the board and try to stay on top by managing different resources (including contraband and guns, of course). It’s a very back-stabby game, where success in some instances can only be claimed if two players team up to take down another one — but then the survivors are left facing off themselves. Friends can become enemies in an instant in this game, but, luckily, I think that the friends gathered around the game table will all walk away feeling pretty good about the experience.

Bob's Burgers: Belcher Family Food Fight

Bob’s Burgers is simply hilarious, there’s no way around it. In my home, every time Thanksgiving rolls around, a mighty chorus of “Pass the Turkey” bellows forth (much to the alarm of the neighbors). It provided enough quirky moments where it took life’s drama and offered back something relatable and funny that it couldn’t help but be a big hit.

The board game for the series is just about as quirky, and centers on... a food fight (what else?). This is a really easy game to learn and play and is good for kids (though we don’t recommend letting kids see Bob’s Burgers, it’s on Adult Swim for a reason!).

How it’s played

The mechanics of the game are incredibly simple: players just try to get rid of all the food tokens on their plates as quickly as possible. Special dice are rolled and food is moved either to someone else’s plate or into the center of the table and out of the game. Whoever gets rid of all their food first gets a golden spatula, and the person who gets three spatulas first wins!

Game of Thrones board game

King Robert Baratheon has died and, in the wake of his passing, all the lands of Westeros brace for war. Such is the thematic setting of A Game of Thrones: The Board Game, where three to six players take on the roles of the major Houses of Westeros as they vie for dominance and trickery in that most subtle of games, the game of thrones.

This game actually manages to be just as complex as you’d expect an original board game based on this IP to be. Combat alone will not lead a player to victor here, where diplomacy, trickery, and careful planning are really key.

How it’s played

The goal of the game is to control seven territories containing a castle or a stronghold. Each turn has three phases, including a random event phase based on cards drawn. In the planning phase, players give secret orders to their pieces while trying to predict the actions of their opponents. Then, in the action phase, all actions are revealed at the same time (in specific orders of operations). This mechanic is similar to Court of the Medici, a super fun portable game with lots of backstabbing and politics. The mechanic is super cool because it goes far in recreating the sense of dramatic tension experienced in the show: you’re never quite sure what move anyone else is going to make and making the wrong tactical choice can cost you the game!

Star Trek Five-Year Mission

Star Trek is one of the most iconic and influential television series in all of history, and its vision of a socialist future guided by the principles of scientific exploration, peace, and diplomacy, remains just as poignant today as it did during the decades of its inception (perhaps even more so). Between the Star Trek reboot films and the new series, the show continues to capture the imagination of a new generation, boldly going where nobody has gone before.

How it’s played

Star Trek: Five-Year Mission is based on an old-school-flavor, that of the classic Star Trek series and from Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s an awesome game for three to seven players who, in the role of different crew members from the Enterprise or the Enterprise-D, and work together to cooperatively solve different emergency alert scenarios. It’s a simple game, based on dice-rolling and card drawing, so mechanically there’s not much here, but the combinations of the different alerts can make complicated experiences for the players to solve.

Big Bang Theory board game

The Big Bang Theory struck a powerful cultural chord, and though it evolved and morphed over time, the core concept of a bunch of socially inept geeky scientists interacting awkwardly with the “normal” world around them never ceased to bring audiences to tears (usually with laughter).

Given that the show features a wide variety of gaming references, it would seem silly for there not to be a unique game based on the series. In this case, we have a party trivia game that derives its humor from moments from the show. The Big Bang Theory: The Party Game is naturally all about answering geeky questions about the series, but it has some fun moments that are certain to make fans of the series happy.

How it’s played

Really this is just a simple trivia game, much in the same style as Cards Against Humanity. Each player takes a turn as the referee and flips over a red card on which there is a phrase that references some aspect of the show, such as, “Often leads to disaster” and the players play blue cards to provide the best or funniest answer, such as “killer robot.”

There are some other mechanics that help mix up the cards and create some random possibility, but it’s definitely a simple set-up. Still, for fans of the series, it has a lot of potential to be a fun way to take your next Big Bang Theory marathon to a whole new level.

Doctor Who: Time of the Dalek

Doctor Who is the longest-running series around, and for good reason. In all their various incarnations, Doctor Who has provided viewers with a delightful range of the impossible, the profound, the mysterious, and the heartfelt. I mean, who among us didn’t cry at the end of Rose’s arc? Who doesn’t love the way the fourth Doctor asks, “Would you like a jelly baby?”

The iconic series has been notoriously difficult to capture on the board, however, with some of the Doctor Who board games being ranked so low by fans that you’d have to dig them out with a spade. Into this strange dearth of Doctor Who board games steps Time of the Daleks, which manages to offer a good aesthetic and good game-play mechanics in one great package for two to four players.

How it’s played

Players take on the roles of one of the incarnations of the Doctor, who is up against the Daleks once more as they try to erase the Doctor from all of time and space. The game is semi-cooperative in that players do need to impede the Daleks and aid each other, but the end-game goal of reaching Gallifrey before the Daleks can only be accomplished by a single doctor (so there’s only one “winner” from a mechanics sense). Players collect companions in the form of companion cards, which help them achieve their goals, and use dice pools to overcome different adverse conditions.

This is a pretty average game in terms of difficulty, and players can pick it up quickly. The mechanics of the game are going to be interesting even for players who have never watched Doctor Who before, but this is ultimately a game that will be most enjoyable for those who are long-running fans. The more seasons of Who you’ve seen, the more fun easter eggs you’ll recognize.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Board Game

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was one of the first shows to properly capitalize on the “James Bond Phenomena”, arriving on the scene with only two Bond films released, U.N.C.L.E. immediately became the #1 spy show in the world and a cult favorite. The first two seasons, especially, received critical acclaim, before poor decisions by the producers turned the remaining two seasons into pure camp.

Board games back in the '60s were, generally speaking, simpler than modern games — except for a few rare diamonds, many of which were firmly entrenched in the wargames genre. But this two to four person tie-in proved good material from which to draw. Though it is still simple in some regards, some nice mechanics allow for more subtle play than might be expected.

The artwork is also well done, providing a solid 1960s spy-noir vibe to the game.

How it’s played

The goal of the game mirrors a theme from the show: capture a Thrush agent and deliver him back to U.N.C.L.E. headquarters. In a pathways-style game, players roll dice to move their character pawn a certain number of spaces along with the network of paths, fighting Thrush agents whenever they land on certain squares. Capturing lesser agents allows players to then capture Chief agents, and each player needs a certain chief agent to win. This adds the competitive factor, as players can also steal captured agents from one another, so trying to hold onto the Chief agent that you need to win can be tricky.

Buck Rogers: Battle for the 25th Century Game (1988)

Buck Rogers is one of the oldest pieces of American science fiction, published by Philip Francis Nowlan in 1928. Since then, there have been a number of silver screen explorations of the classically heroic Buck and his adventures, including a 1930s serial film series and a low-budget 1950s TV series. But it was the 1979-1981 TV series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century that most remember, and from that this great board game was born!

How it’s played

Battle for the 25th Century is a territory control game with multiple possibles ways to win, from controlling all territories to having the last leader left alive, to a timed progressive experience where the game ends after one year of in-game time. There are resource control elements, advanced tactical abilities, and strategic modules that allow for different play-through experiences. Honestly, there’s so much to cover in this game that you really have to get into playing it to see it all. This is one retro game that thrives really well among modern audiences.

There is also a 2008 fan-made update of the game which is absolutely wild and makes tracking down a used copy of the original an absolutely vital bit of treasure-hunting.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Board Game

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation ran from 2000 to 2015, gained a massive cult following of amateur criminologists, and spawned several spin-offs and other series within the crime genre. Taking place in Las Vegas, CSI followed a cast of crime scene investigators who analyzed the clues at crime scenes using forensic techniques and deductive reasoning and offered audiences enough interpersonal drama to keep the tensions high.

How it’s played

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation The Board Game plays on the themes of the show by having players work to track down clues at a crime scene and catch the criminal. Players are competing to be the first to get to Grissom’s office with proof of the criminal behind the crime, so it’s a competitive game (which always feels a bit weird to me when it comes to crime games) but it has some fun easter eggs for fans of the series.

By reading different suspect cards, players gain more information about the different suspects at a crime scene. The more information about these suspects that comes out, the more clues the players gather, and the more likely the choice of criminal becomes. It’s not a bad little mystery game for anyone, but fans of the series will probably have the best time.

The Office TV Show, Assistant to The Regional Manager Party Game

The Office started out on the BBC, but it was the American remake that took the world by storm. Starring Steve Carrell, The Office’s acerbic humor and 4th-wall breaking mockumentary shooting style made it the comedy series that everyone could quote with ease. Trying to build a board game off of such an iconic IP is no easy task, but Spin Master Games proved themselves up to the task.

How it’s played

Scheme, sneak, and prank your way to the top of the company chain and gain the position of Assistant to the Regional Manager! Complete challenges, win raffles, and get the most points. Every turn has three turns, the goal of which is to complete challenges (where the players actually compete against one another, say, with an arm-wrestling competition, or by telling three jokes in sixty seconds). Prank cards (like saying the grossest word you can think of aloud and forcing someone else to comment on it) make things even more fun.

Farscape The Unofficial Board Game

Sometimes you just cannot wait around for the big guys to come along with something official. If there’s no official board game for your favorite IP then the only recourse is to make one!

Now, Farscape has long been one of my favorite television series. Gritty, deep, emotional, silly, and bizarre, it’s one of the best (and most frequently overlooked) series in the last thirty years. But, sadly, there was never a good board game set in the Farscape universe. A tie-in card game did get developed, but it didn’t quite meet fan expectations. So that’s where Reddit user wusashicat decided to take matters into their own hands with Farscape: War for the Uncharted Territories, a two to four player game set in the Farscape universe.

How it’s played

In this game, you will control the leader of a powerful faction trying to spread your influence across the Uncharted Territories and crush your opponent. While your influence spreads you are being harassed by the outlaw crew of Moya and their increasingly legendary exploits. Can you conquer the Uncharted Territories before your opponents do?

Players compete through multiple rounds, each with three distinct phases. The game incorporates research, deck building, and area-control (via the game board).

Now, since this is an unlicensed fan creation, you probably won’t ever be able to buy this in stores, but wusashicat hopes to make the rules and materials available for free online so people can print them out and put together their own set. Definitely an awesome DIY project!

Star Trek Scrabble

Scrabble is one of the most loved classic games around and is the devoted passion hobby of a select group of people who take it pretty darned seriously. But what about specialty Scrabble?

Star Trek has long been considered one of the greatest classic science fiction series, and the show writers' famously vague use of scientific-sounding words (or “treknobabble”) has been a staple joke of the fan community. So what happens when you take that treknobabble and make it all legal for Scrabble play? A madness that only a true Trekkie could excel at, that’s what.

How it’s played

The game doesn’t differ from classic Scrabble, save that it includes a cool Star Trek-themed mat and a dictionary of legal words from the Star Trek universe. Players can also get bonus points for spelling out “Klingon,” “Khan,” “Andoria,” or “Romulan”.

Master The Elements (Unofficial Avatar: The Last Airbender Board Game)

When a favorite IP has yet to release a board game, sometimes you need to design one yourself… but what if you’re a family that makes and markets board games as a professional hobby? That’s what we have in Master the Elements, a game that is so clearly inspired by Avatar that no fan could miss the connection— but which tastefully avoids any direct connection to the wonderful Avatar: The Last Airbender series.

It’s a very simple game, but for those who love Avatar and always wanted to play a board game set in that universe, it’s a worthy purchase.

How it’s played

This is a token-shifting game, where players attempt to stack their tokens in a specific order and relation to specific locations on the map, all while stealing tokens from other players and trying to defend their own. Element cards add a further dose of randomness to the gameplay.

The best thing about this game is the design and quality of the build, which is frankly quite gorgeous. The gameplay rules can be a little difficult to understand at first play, so looking up a playthrough video is a good idea. Overall, while a simple game, it makes a great addition to any Avatar fan’s collection.

LOST The Game (Cardinal Industries)

Lost drew fans in with its clever mystery and mythology and led viewers on a wild ride for a total of 121 episodes. Given its premise (survivors of an aircraft crash trying to understand the strange and apparently supernatural mystery at the heart of the island they now call home), it always seemed like a board game tie-in would have plenty of opportunities to draw players into the mystery.

How it’s played

With a modular hex playing board, not unlike the one found in Settlers of Catan, Lost: The Game gives two to eight players the chance to compete with one another as one of 17 Lost characters through exploration, beating encounters, recruiting tribe members, and attempting to neutralize their opponents. Special rules exist for certain characters as well, and the game has plenty of easter eggs for die-hard Lost fans.

The X-Files The Board Game

The X-Files was a huge part of my childhood, and I was obsessed with all things Mulder and Scully. Now, I happily re-watch my DVD copy of the X-Files Mythology collection (featuring just the core episodes of the alien plot) every couple of years. Getting to play a game in the X-Files world is a total dream, but trying to find one that played well and gave my true inner fan the search for truth he was looking for proved difficult in the face of other sub-standard tie-ins. So, when I discovered that Legendary Encounters had made an X-Files game, I knew I needed to grab it ASAP (after all, Legendary Encounters is responsible for turning another of my favorite IP, Alien, into an amazing game as well).

Gosh, I love deck-building games. There’s something truly wonderful about the huge range of options available to players in a deck-building game, where replay value is massive and the possibility for new tactics and situations appear with every game. I’m also a massive fan of cooperative games, which LE: X-Files also is! Playing with your friends instead of against them is one of the best ways to game, in my opinion.

How it’s played

Players take on the role of one of the classic X-Files characters (Mulder, Scully, Doggett, or Reyes), and investigate the X-Files and the greater conspiracy lurking in the background. Players begin with their own small deck and add cards to it through play. Players then play those cards during their turn, fighting enemies that they draw, uncovering mysteries, and recruiting new allied character cards to their deck for use during the next round of play. All the players need to work together to reach the "end game" and the conspiracy that awaits them there.

Stranger Things Card Game

Stranger Things did everything right: it is one of those magic television series that had just the right random stuff in it to make a massive splash with audiences around the world. Part nostalgia trip into the '70s and '80s aesthetic of classics like E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, and part action-horror masterpiece, Stranger Things continues to deliver seasons that are fun, witty, and delightfully creepy, all with the sort of incredible acting from its young cast that cannot help but cement fan loyalty.

Until the Stranger Things: Eggo Card Game came along, we only had a couple of terrible tie-in games based on Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit. So what about Eggo? Well, unlike the IP that spawned it, this game doesn’t deliver anything especially new, so I can really only suggest it unless you’re a huge fan of the show. If you are a huge fan, however, grab a copy, because it’s a cute tie-in that at least pretends to a bit more originality than the other Stranger Things games out there.

How it’s played

It’s Uno. No, seriously. It’s Uno. There’s a feature that complicates the game wherein players must escape the Upsidedown by playing a certain card… but otherwise, it’s essentially just Uno with a Stranger Things facelift. If you love Uno and you love Stranger Things, this is absolutely the right game for you.

Battlestar Galactica the Board Game

Battlestar Galactica broke the mold in so many ways. A powerful post 9-11 series with dark terrorist-haunted plots and a gritty, U-boat-in-space aesthetic, Battlestar Galactica also featured some incredible acting on the part of its principal cast. By taking the premise of the older and campier original series, the remake created a series that many modern viewers have come to identify with as the quintessential modern science fiction experience.

Given how many great twists and turns there are in the show, and how much range between grand military plots and tight conspiracy storylines, there was a huge amount of content for a game designer to draw from when constructing a tie-in.

How it’s played

One of the coolest factors here is that Battlestar Galactica is a cooperative game, where the players take on the roles of the crew of Battlestar Galactica who are trying to hold the ship together and reach the safety of Kobol in one piece. The complication? Not all of the characters are human! Some are Cylons in disguise and their goal is to stop Battlestar Galactia at any choice.

Nobody knows going in if they are, or are not, a human or a Cylon, which makes the game super fun and massively replayable, and makes great use of one of Battlestar’s most important plot points.

Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery

Shirtless men gleam as they spar in a desert arena. “Mmm,” you say, looking on from your leisure balcony while eating peeled grapes. “Mmmmm.”

Spartacus was one of those super-stylized and sorta lower-budget television series that pretended to be a historical show to mainly have a generic Roman aesthetic and lots of drama… but don’t think I’m coming down hard on it! This may have been its goal, but it’s a goal that Spartacus excelled at, gathering a huge cult following and delivering several seasons of bloody, action-packed drama with plenty of steamy sub-plot on the side.

Given the storylines focus on gladiators duking it out in an arena, it doesn’t take much to guess what the game tie-in, Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery, concentrates on.

How it’s played

First off, be aware that the game is rated 17+, given some of the flavor text and the bloody graphics. It’s not actually that terribly over-the-top, but the rating makes sense given the 17+ content of the source material.

The game itself actually managed to break tie-in expectations by being really good. Every player starts with a player board and competes for different coins using a combination of special abilities, assets, and influence. Players take on the role of one of the leading Roman characters from the show and the play revolves around using gladiators to compete with other players, gaining slaves, and defending against the ever-present threat of intrigue. There is resource management in the game, backstabbery, and plenty of room for tactical decision-making. Honestly, it’s a blast.

Peaky Blinders Under New Management

With its 1920s English setting and an exceptional cast, Peaky Blinders struck gold with its post-WWI crime-drama aesthetic. Focused on the exploits of a Birmingham street gang fighting to survive despite the working class deprivations of the era, the series delivers the sort of gritty morality and harsh drama that fans of crime shows cannot help but fall in love with.

The board game uses not just the aesthetic of the series but also the thematic premise, and players take on the role of different gang members vying for control of the streets of Birmingham.

How it’s played

Players try to manage and expand their gang’s business, control henchmen, collect materials, and attack the turf of opposing games. By completing different missions, players steadily gain control of the town and edge out their opponents. By winning enough of these missions, victory is achieved and one gang survives to rule them all.

Call the Midwife Board Game

The period drama goodness of Call the Midwife grabbed the hearts of viewers as it told the stories of a group of midwives working in London’s East End in the 1950s and '60s. Pregnancies, births, and the difficulties of human life are explored in all their difficulty… but compassion and hope still manage to burn surprisingly strong.

Given that the series is all about midwifery, it sort of makes sense that the bard game would be as well — but it’s never quite as easy as all that in the series, and the board game tie-in doesn’t make it easy either.

How it’s played

The game’s design is quite simple: a player wins by delivering the most babies. Players take on the roles of one of the four midwives from the show, and they travel around Poplar delivering babies. By drawing a delivery card, players are given instructions on the next address they need to get to for delivery, but things can come up and they might get called away for another more urgent delivery, or some other crisis, that might delay their getting to the original destination.

The game is simple but well thought out, and I’d be surprised if the designer wasn’t a huge fan of the show themselves, since it plays a lot like the episodes of the show's run. If you’re a fan of Call the Midwife, this is a great buy.

Saturday Night Live Board Game

SNL is one of the great cultural treasures of our TV-saturated culture, a powerhouse of comedic silliness and satirical genius, all rolled into one intensely funny package. Since Geroge Carlin hosted the first SNL series in 1975, Saturday Night Live has only grown in popularity, taking on every topic imaginable and launching the careers of many of the most famous comedic actors around today.

There have been a few board game tie-ins for SNL over the years, but this one concentrates on one of the best parts of SNL: the stand-In sketches!

How it’s played

Players play through a series of classic SNL sketches, with everyone in on the sketch except a single-player: the stand-in. The stand-in must try to improvise and keep up with the sketch, figuring it out for themselves and not letting any of the other players know that they're not in on the joke! This is a great one for groups and small parties and allows players to laugh themselves silly as their friends act out the greatest sketch comedies of all time (or fail to).

Dexter the Board Game

Dexter, the dark and darkly-comedic crime drama series featuring everyone’s favorite serial killer-who-only-kills-serial killers, became a cult fan favorite in no time. The constant tension of Dexter’s day-job and “normal person” facade running up against his extracurricular activities (murder) made for a great premise, and as bad as Dexter ever seemed, he was always up against a character who was even worse.

Fans of the show will love this board-game tie-in, which delivers a great Dexter experience even despite some of its mechanical imperfections.

How it’s played

The game objective is to be the first player (or first “Dexter”) to collect a set of particular tools, nab a particular suspect (randomly received from the suspect card’s pile), kill your victim and dump their body in the marina. It’s a very simple roll to move mechanic and it achieves most of its playability from its tie-in nature. Fans of Dexter will absolutely enjoy this for its Dexter aesthetics, and the gameplay is enjoyable enough to keep everyone engaged, but it probably won’t turn the heads of experienced gamers looking for their next deep thrill.

Knope for President Party Card Game

Parks and Recreation is certainly in my top-five comedy series of all-time list, and might even be up in the top ten of all my favorite shows ever. I wasn’t a fan of The Office, so when I first encountered Parks and Rec, I dismissed it as just a repeat of something I wasn’t that interested in. Then I actually watched a few episodes in a row and found myself utterly hooked. Clever, witty, socially introspective, charming, and just plain excellent, Parks and Rec really blew all the comedic competition out of the water. I can’t say that I’ve found as perfect a comedy show since.

But how to take such a great series and gamify it? Well, in this case, the game focuses on the political themes of the series, drawing from Leslie Knope’s bid for a seat on the Pawnee Council as the setting for the action.

How it’s played

Knope for President Party Card Game is designed for three to six players and works a bit like a more complicated version of Apples to Apples. As different scenarios arise, players take quotes from drawn cards to try and form their own improvisational speeches. If you and your friends are fond of acting out scenarios and being way over the top, this game will delight you, but even if you’re just a bit quieter simply playing an Apples to Apples simplified version of the game is certain to make you want to re-watch Parks and Rec right there and then.

The Walking Dead: All Out War (2016)

The Walking Dead capitalized on the intense drama and complex characterizations of the graphic novel series of the same name and delivered an epic and sprawling horror series that drew in all the tropes of the zombie genre. Despite the numerous spawned spin-off series, the original Walking Dead remains the true fan favorite, and it clearly cemented itself as a staple work in the zombie mythos.

How it’s played

There are plenty of more generic zombie games out there, some of them really excellent, but for fans of The Walking Dead not just any random game will do. That’s why I’ve got to recommend The Walking Dead: All Out War, a one to two person tactical game set in the Georgia countryside where players take on the task of keeping their group of survivors alive from the dangers of zombies and other survivors alike.

Players vie for resources and try not to make noise because noise attracts walkers, and walkers are bad for everyone. There’s a great AI mechanic built into the game to control the walkers, meaning that The Walking Dead: All Out War can be played and enjoyed by a single player, not a commonplace occurrence with tabletop games.

Star Trek Fleet Captains Board Game

If you’ve yet to realize that I’m a huge Star Trek nerd, then you clearly need to read more of my articles. I love Trek, especially the classic '90s shows and the films from the first two major incarnations. I even dug the more action-packed reboot films, which were really more akin to Star Wars than Star Trek, don’t get me started!

I’ve already placed a few other Star Trek games on this list, but this one deserves a spot not simply because it’s a Star Trek tie-in, but because it’s a darn fine strategy game with more than enough depth to give even the most seasoned gamers a run for their money.

How it’s played

Star Trek: Fleet Captains incorporates some of the best miniatures ever, so its massive price tag makes sense — the game really is beautifully designed. It takes players through an entire season of a Star Trek series, pulling together deep storylines with exceptional mechanics that make strategic and tactical play take a front seat. Players control several starships and attempt to complete science, influence, or combat missions drawn from a mission deck.

The locations on the deck are formed by placing hexagonal location cards down to form the “board” and there are a large number of such cards, giving each playthrough a huge range of different landscapes to play on. As players explore, they establish bases and solve random events (like Q showing up) and through this gain victory points.

Trust me, this is the ultimate Star Trek game for any fan of the series, and even if you’ve only watched a few episodes but love a really deep gaming experience Star Trek: Fleet Captains has what you desire.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Board Game

Ah, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the TV show that stole my teenage heart and never gave it back. Joss Whedon’s masterpiece series had everything one could wish for: campiness, friendship, an evolving storyline, complex characters who changed over time, a bit of horror, a bit of action, plenty of romantic tension, and, with some of those episodes, enough feels to crack the toughest heart. Seriously, I haven’t cried so hard ever as I have during an episode of Buffy. If you’re a fan you know the one. Darn you, Joss. Darn, you straight to heck.

Okay, but what does a board game set in the Buffyverse look like?

How it’s played

Tie-In games can be hit or miss, but with Buffy The Vampire Slayer it’s hit all the way. It’s a little like a cross between Arkham Horror and Pandemic, where there are clues to find but a steadily-increasing hoard of monsters arriving to destroy Sunnydale and bring Armageddon to the world. What really gets me the most about this game is how clearly the designers absolutely love Buffy The Vampire Slayer and understand the show, and that passion shines through.

The game is pretty simple, but that simplicity serves the game well. Players take on the role of one of the heroes and fight off three “monsters of the week” that leave clues that lead up to the “big bad”. There are a lot of great secondary game mechanics that complicate things though and alter the town of Sunnydale, making this harder and more interesting as the game progresses.

Seriously, this one is pure magic. Buffy is one of the greats and this is absolutely the game to accompany it.

Firefly the Board Game

Firefly, forever in our hearts, your brilliance was snuffed out far too early. Firefly may have only run for a single season (and one film plus some cool graphic novel versions), but it left fans with the taste of something truly magical: a living breathing ‘verse, filled with all the space-cowboy drama that anyone could ever wish for. Seriously. Humor, drama, action, romance, horror, this show had it all.

I think it’s safe to say that I will never fully come to terms with Firefly’s untimely end, but in a certain sense that early demise allowed it to exist as a perfectly imperfect moment in time: it never had time to grow beyond itself or get swept up by bad Producer decisions (mainly because the producers decided to make a whole decade’s worth of bad marketing decisions before the show was even aired). It captured the hearts of its loyal Browncoat fans forever, and can safely be called one of the great masterpiece works of the genre.

Of course, for all that, I could not have imagined a board game that would do Firefly justice. And then my sister introduced me to the humbly named Firefly the Board Game, and a wonderful ‘verse of Firefly-themed play opened up before my very eyes.

How it’s played

Each game has a different set of win conditions as decided by a story card, and each player attempts to complete the goals on this card as the captain of a different smuggling ship floating through the ‘verse. Players assemble crews, add improvements to their ships, fend off reaver attacks, and try to outwit the ever-watchful alliance — all while competing with other players for resources and jobs.

I think that it just happens to be a darn-near perfect tie-in game, and has more than enough mechanical depth to provide players with play-through after play-through.

Travel sized games that are deep, simple, and fun!
Odin Odin (32)
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Board games are not always the most portable affairs, especially once you go beyond the abstract and start looking at themed games, war games, or more heavy-duty RPG-style experiences.