I’m sure this a familiar scene for many of us: It’s Christmas day, and you’re eager to get back to your brand new console/game, but gran’s round, and Uncle Phil is already dealing out the cards for your fifth game of Cluedo.
Now, I enjoy Cluedo as much as the next guy, but I’m also a keen gamer (like many of you). If only there was a way to somehow combine a passion for video games and the ancient art of the board game to try and keep everyone happy at Christmas…
There is, by the way – but I reckon you knew that’s where I was going with this.
Dark Souls – The Board Game
Leaving aside the fact that I’ll never forgive them for not calling this Dark Souls: Prepare To Dice Edition, the board game based on From Software’s infamously diffcult RPG series is a rollicking good time.
Despite the fact that the board began life as a Kickstarter project, it’s an official piece of merch that does a remarkably good job of translating the Dark Souls gameplay to a tabletop format.
Expect massive boss fights, various classes to choose from, and a pack of beautifully detailed models, which has nothing to do with the actual gameplay, but it’s worth mentioning that they make the whole thing a rather handsome collector’s item.
Gears Of War The Board Game
Turning the gloriously violent and famously action packed Gears of War franchise into a board game wouldn’t be the obvious choice to most of us, but it works, and works well.
The Gears of War board game sees you and up to three friends work together to take on the locust hordes and drive them back to their holes.
Games can last between one to three hours, making it a pretty hefty investment, but still less time than a game of Monopoly with the whole family.
The Witcher Adventure Game
Another gem from Fantasy Flight Games, The Witcher Adventure Game takes CD Projekt RED’s sublime adventure franchise and turns it into… well, an adventure board game.
Play as Witcher Geralt, Mage Triss, Dwarven Warrior Yarpen, or the Bard Dandelion and set off together or go your seperate ways on a board that invites adventure, questing, and cunning.
There’s also a digital version available for those of you who suffer from a cardboard allergies, which you can see above.
Videogame Monopoly boards (Mario/Fallout/Skyrim/Zelda, etc)
Alright, so Monopoly at Christmas with the family is hardly a novel concept – it’s probably tradition for a lot of you, but you’d surprised at how fresh it feels when you approach the savage money making game with a new board.
And there are plenty for the discerning gamer to choose from, too: Zelda, Fallout, Super Mario, even Skyrim, all of them offer unique themed takes on the classic gameplay, as well as their very own models – so long thimble, hello Triforce.
Sid Meir’s Civilization: The Board Game
Thankfully, the Civilization board game is pretty much exactly the same as the videogame upon which its based, apart from the fact that you can finish a game in a decent amount of time, which is great – otherwise we’d all be playing a single round from Christmas through to the New year.
Two to four players take on the roles of famous leaders in charge of historical civilizations, each with their own unique abilities. It’s familiar stuff for anyone who’s played the game really.
Explore, build cities and buildings, fight battles, research powerful technology, and advance culture. It’s probably the best board game approximation of a videogame you could hope to find.
Batman: Arkham City Escape
Here’s a cool little two player game for the superhero fan and/or gamer in your life. Arkham City Escape puts one player in the role of the caped crusader, while the other takes controls of 20 classic Batman rogues, each with their own unique ability.
The aim of the game for Batman is to apprehend all of the criminals on the board, while the other player must guide all the bad guys to freedom.
I would say that the Batman player has the odds stacked against him somewhat, but using your gadgets and cunning to gain the upper hand feels all the sweeter for it.
Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game
Not only does Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game have the greatest title of anything ever, it also manages to transfer the humour and creativity of the Valve classic to the board in a flawless manner.
This is because Portal: TUCAG is actually made by the same team who gave us Portal 2, and who better to understand the franchise than the folks directly responsible for it?
A revolving carousel of experiments, cake, and random deaths, this is one board game that the whole family can get on board with.
BioShock Infinite: The Siege Of Columbia
This is tabletop strategy set in the wild and colourful world of BioShock Infinite. Players take on the role of either the Founders or the Vox Populi in a fierce battle for control of Columbia.
The game is peppered with all manner of fun random events to keep things fresh, including several nods to the videogame as we hear of Booker and Elizabeth running around Columbia creating havoc.
The rules can take a while to pick up for those who aren’t intimately familiar with this kind of gaming experience, but it’s an aesthetically pleasing and wonderfully creative piece of work that should appeal to the BioShock fans out there.
XCOM: The Board Game sees you and up to three friends take on different roles within XCOM, to fight off the alien evil invaders.
This one is an especially perfect game to play with those awful types of people that take forever to play a board game, as each turn has a time limit in which time all kinds of crazy shit will go down, including alien assaults, UFO strikes, and much more.
One other particularly interesting feature with this one is that the game requires a pretty handy (and free) companion app, which keeps track of the game and lets you know what the aliens are up to. After all, this is the future, and even board games need apps.
Let’s be honest, the odds are that you’ll try and pull out any of one of the above board games out on Christmas from the family, and they’ll shoot you down and demand you grab Kerplunk quicker than you can blink.
Maybe save ’em for Boxing Day with your mates instead.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.