Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Five Video Game Tabletop Adaptations You Shouldn’t Miss

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The eternal loop of board games and video games continues even faster these days. The mechanics of digital game design have for a long time had their roots in tabletop, and as video games develop so too have they changed how tabletop games of all kinds operate. So now we’re at a point where our new board game mechanics are adapting to video games and, honestly, creating some of the coolest games of their respective years. Some people can be dismissive of licensed video game titles but it’s rare for there to be a video game that doesn’t translate to the table. Except Stardew Valley. That one…doesn’t work.

Age of Wonders: Planetfall

Publisher: Arcane Wonders

MSRP: $44.99

Strategy games are some of the most natural fits to board gaming, thanks to usually flat layouts and resource management as well as elements of area control. Age of Wonders: Planetfall adapts the 4X game of the same name, which is the 2019 installment of the long-running Age of Wonders series. In it, you are exploring new planets (one each round) for The Empire. Players earn points by killing things, studying technology, or claiming landmarks. The interesting thing about it is that it doesn’t have the big table footprint you’d expect from an RX adaptation. Instead, much of the information is laid out in cards. It speeds the game up a bit and allows for more surprises while still capturing the exact feel of a bigger game.

Northgard: Uncharted Lands

Publisher: Studio H

MSRP: $79.99

Northgard: Uncharted Lands was a game I didn’t even know was based on a video game until I actually unboxed it for the first time. The art is so unique and interesting you really can’t tell. You don’t even need to know much about the video game since under that themeing is a really great title that mixes a lot of different mechanics and dumps them onto a growing and changing map. It moves a lot faster than a lot of strategy titles and it has a ton of replay ability thanks to all the variables that make games unique. You develop your warriors and your base over time, learning new strategies and technologies while also gaining fame from your hunting, fighting, and more.


Publisher: Pure Arts

MSRP: $39.99

As much controversy as there was around Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, people did like the new dice game they added in that was similar to previous games’ Liar’s Dice: Orlog. It’s a pretty simple duel for two players who roll dice to do everything from generate attacks to helping appease the gods. By combining special effects with attacks and godly favors, the two players will throw dice until one of them is vanquished. I just like this game for the speed of it as well as the high amount of fidelity put into the production. It’s not proper wood or real bone, but the bowls and dice have a great feel to them that definitely makes them feel close. It occupies kind of a halfway point between Liar’s Dice and Yahtzee, with some cool bits of Norse flavor thrown in as well.


Publisher: Pegasus Spiele

MSRP: €40 (around $44)

You may not have heard of the original city building puzzler, but if you’re a board gamer you’ve CERTAINLY heard of Pegasus Spiele’s adaptation. It won the Spiel des Jahre in 2022 and it’s not a surprise considering how well it adapts its source (which already had a lot of board game energy). It’s a cooperative tile-placement title that has you placing your tiles down to meet population needs while also trying to meet other objectives and maximise your score. It’s sort of like a cooperative Catan in some ways. But the puzzling elements are what help it stand out thanks to how many little things you must track in order to not just make legal plays, but also get your final score as high as possible. If you see it at your FLGS, pick it up and give it a shot.

Skyrim: The Adventure Game

Publisher: Modiphius

MSRP: $198.00

Skyrim: The Adventure Game is very much their answer to the popularity of big, beefy storytelling titles like Frosthaven. But they have one thing all the others don’t: a really, really cool license. And yes, for those keeping score, this is yet another way Todd Howard has been able to re-release Skyrim. It’s set before the titular game, though, as it has you take on the role of Blades (elite bodyguards of the Emperor and elite Dragon Hunters). You’ll be exploring the whole of the province, working through your main quest while taking care of side missions and leveling up over time. It uses cards to help track everything, with the lovingly rendered map board is where you monitor things more broadly. While it may seem like a lot, trust me when I say it’s well worth the money thanks to the sheer amount of story packed in here along with action-based combat and plenty of dice rolling. The Elder Scrolls are a natural fit for the tabletop, and there’s a lot to love here even for a non-fan (though those of us who’ve sunk hours into the source game will certainly find more to enjoy.

Images via respective owners

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