Video games owe a lot of its success to board games. Dungeons & Dragons alone has had elements of its gameplay cribbed by countless video games, such as the concepts of quests, health points, item usage, combat and more. If you dig far enough into the history of video games, you can probably find a theme or gameplay concept rooted in a board game. Video games have also innovated within its own space. From Super Mario to Call of Duty, there are a ton of unique experiences that have their roots in this digital medium.
Nowadays, you’ll see those video game specific concepts appear in board games. Whether they’re board games based on video game properties or digital gameplay mechanics that have gone analog, they feed off one one-another to push each other forward.
In this edition of the Board Game Night Playlist, we embark on an adventure that marries the best of both worlds. This list should be particularly interesting for video game fans looking for a smooth transition into the analog side of things. Time to press start on this playlist!
Ages 8 and up
Yomi is basically Street Fighter: The Card Game. In fact, it was actually being designed as such by a former Capcom employee until Capcom got cold feet. Thankfully, it came out with original characters while retaining the core of what makes it great.
In this card battling game, each character is represented by a deck of cards with normal attacks, special attacks, blocks, dodges and a super move. You’ll play cards at the same time to determine which move wins. In its simplest form, it’s Rock, Paper, Scissors, but the extra layers of fighting game depth from the ability to create combos down to managing powerful character-specific abilities put this one over the top for me. For that Street Fighter experience on the tabletop, Yomi can’t be beat.
XCOM: The Board Game
Ages 14 and up
The alien threat hits a bit too close to home in XCOM: The Board Game. Like the video game its based off of, aliens are invading Earth and its up to you and your friends to stop them. Unlike the video game, where most of the action involves commanding a squad in a firefight with aliens, the board game takes a macro approach. With the board depicting a world map, you and your teammates will conduct research to build better weapons, intercept UFOs, defend your base and complete missions in hopes of ultimately driving them away.
This might not be the XCOM board game you were expecting, but it does what it sets out to do extremely well. Each player is going to be very busy managing their own aspects of the fight and every dice roll is filled with tension. What truly sets the whole experience apart is the required use of a digital app, which is used to manage a number of things, including the onslaught of enemies that will bombard you throughout. Because of this, it’s a neat hybrid of the digital and analog worlds.
Ages 12 and up
As a member of an organization that is essentially the time police, you and your group travel to different areas of time and space to stop evildoers from breaking the space time continuum. Your first mission takes place in a 1920s asylum, though communication between you and the base broke up before you got your instructions. Now stuck in the past, it’s up to you all to piece together what’s going on and to stop the threat before it’s too late.
T.I.M.E Stories translates the classic adventure video game experience to the tabletop. Traveling around the asylum, you’ll pick up clues that will aid you in moving forward, get into fights and encounter surprise after surprise until the game ends. While its experience is limited to just one playthrough, it’s one phenomenal playthrough that you’ll fondly remember long after its done. Also, with one expansion already out and more on the way, this might just be an incredible start to something that could grow much bigger. Admittedly, this is probably a game night in itself, but if you’re not going to binge through it in one sitting, you can end on a cliffhanger and pick this up at the start of the next game night.