So thanks everyone who got in touch about the best boardgames this Christmas! Because so many people made alternative suggestions, I’m going to do a rundown of five further SF boardgames to keep you entertained over the festive period…
FIREFLY by Gale Force Nine (£45)
1-4 players, ages 13+
This was a game recommended by lots of people, so I feel that I have to include it! As you’d probably expect, the game is based around travelling to planets, hiring crew and dodging bad guys. All of this supported by game mechanics that are well-grounded in the FIREFLY universe. Get flying the ‘Verse…
The boxed game includes the usual stack of playing cards, currency markers and tokens, but also 6 miniatures representing starships. While I’ve never played FIREFLY, it has a pretty great rep and a big fan following. There are also lots of expansion sets, alternative ship models, and card boosters sets, which have been released to support the game.
THESEUS: THE DARK ORBIT by Portal Games (£26.99)
2-4 players, ages 8+
THESEUS is an original science fiction boardgame, in which players take the role of one of five factions involved in a conflict aboard a space station. The setting is nicely familiar, and the reviews have been really positive.
THESUS is a more “traditional” game than some of the glossier releases this year (it has pawns for playing pieces, and relies heavily on tactical card deployment), but it’s a fine example of a well-thought out SF game. It’s very well done and plays fast and smoothly: you can finish a game in 45-90 minutes, and the mechanics are easy to understand. The factions involved are also evocative of well-known SF themes – you can play as the Marines, the Scientists, the Aliens or the Greys. There are already expansions creating additional playable factions (the ‘Bots and Hunters).
RISK: THE WALKING DEAD EDITION (£34.99)
2-3 players, ages 13+
It’s hard to say which edition of RISK is best. RISK is a bit of a chameleon: adapting to current trends, with a basic game engine to which almost any setting can be applied. I’m still partial to RISK: LORD OF THE RINGS, as well as RISK: 2210 AD. I could probably fill a telephone directory with the various versions of RISK, but one of the best received has been a version based on THE WALKING DEAD franchise.
Yeah, I know this is not exactly SF, but – you know – zombies? Everyone likes zombies, especially at Christmas…
It comes with a beautifully-illustrated comic-style game board for the Atlanta area, loads of colourful cards, and a ton of zombies, jeeps and human figures. RISK is a great game in itself, playable by almost anyone aged 12+, and THE WALKING DEAD is a very good version of the game. It’s more random than some other editions, with the walkers adding a highly-variable dynamic to the game. You have lots of tactical choices to make here: do you castle-up and defend your territories? Do you try to take neighbouring human settlements? Or do you wait for the walkers to do it for you…?
GHOSTBUSTERS by Cryptozoic Entertainment (£69.99)
1-4 players, ages 15+
While I accept that this is beginning to look like a Halloween games list rather than Christmas, Cryptozoic’s GHOSTBUSTERS deserves a mention. GHOSTBUSTERS is going to be a pretty hot franchise next year, and the tabletop game is a well-executed example of a themed boardgame.
The box contains 48 miniature playing pieces (representing the ‘busters, ghosts, and even the Marshmallow Man!), and comes with dice, playing tokens, cards and a board. This looks to be a nice, easy to grasp ruleset; don’t let the manufacturer’s age suggestion fool you, because lots of players are suggesting that GHOSTBUSTERS can be played by younger participants with some adult guidance. The actual rules are apparently similar to those of ZOMBICIDE, another runaway Kickstarter success. Those who bought into the original Kickstarter will already have tons of extra components, but as with many of the boardgames on this list there’s a series of expansions planned to support the game.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA by Fantasy Flight Games (£32.92)
3-6 players, ages 10+
Fantasy Flight Games has a good pedeigree for making involved and thematic boardgames, and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Is no exception.
Like GHOSTBUSTERS, GALACTICA is a cooperative boardgame, with the twist that one or more players might be a Cylon agent… It has high production values and a unique rules engine, together with the usual stack of playing cards and tokens. Playable in 2-3 hours, players of the game speak very highly of GALACTICA. It is supported by a series of three expansion to date (EXODUS, PEGASUS and DAYBREAK).