Cardboard Cinema: Board Games For Video Gamers

great board games for video gamers 2

board games for video gamers

Space Cadets: Dice Duel

Don’t let the goofy box art fool you: this may be one of the most intense gaming experience of your life. A spin-off from the very good (and very different) Space Cadets, Space Cadets: Dice Duel successfully recreates the tension, fear and stress of a pitched space battle on your table. Those who love micromanaging space sims like FTL or hilarious, scream-inducing mobile experiences like Space Team have just found a new great way to spend an evening with their buddies.

Dice Duel, which is best played with a full squad of eight players but also functions great with four or six, divides everyone into two teams representing the crews of two spaceships. Everyone on each ship is in charge of several key ship functions – shields, weapons, tractor beam, engines, piloting, etc. – and as the name of the game implies, you operate your little corner of operations by rolling dice. And you roll them as fast as you can, because this game is played in real time. Your ship moves as fast as your pilot can roll the dice and find the proper combination coordinates. You can fire your torpedoes as soon as the weapons officer has rolled the dice well enough to assemble your arsenal. You survive if the poor schmuck running shields managed to roll well enough to get them up in time. Meanwhile, the beleaguered engineer has to roll well to give the other players the necessary power to do anything they want to do.

While the dice themselves do rely on a certain amount of luck, they do an incredible job of simulating the chaos of a pitched battle. After a few minutes, it no longer feels like you’re rolling a fistful of dice. If starts to feel like you’re struggling against the clock to get the ship’s computer to cooperate with you, to find a way to re-route power to where it needs to be, to enter whatever algorithm is necessary to lock on a target. Don’t let the dice fool you. This is very much a game of skill and using your judgment in the heat of the moment to make the right choices, to utilize your dice correctly, is the key to winning.

If you do play with eight players, one person on each team will not roll any dice at all. They are the captain and they are in charge of their team. In this scenario, only they are allowed to announce the firing of a torpedo (which pauses the game) and every other member of the crew must rely on their judgment, listening to him or her as he or she tries to get the team working in union. Playing as the captain is a humbling experience. When you scream “Fire!” and realize too late that no one was ready and you just wrecked your crew’s hard work, you will find yourself melting under their stares. Here is a game that asks you to be Captain Kirk… and here is a game that shows you exactly why you’re not Captain Kirk.

board games for video gamers

Rum & Bones

Board games and video games have been borrowing from each other for years, but Rum & Bones represents the rare time a tabletop game has attempted to directly replicate a specific video game experience. The back of the box doesn’t even try to hide its inspiration: this is a “multiplayer online battle arena,” or MOBA, on your table.

Although relatively new in the grand scheme of electronic gaming, MOBAs are often the game of choice for “hardcore” gamers, requiring countless hours to learn and genuine skill to master. There’s a reason Dota 2 and League of Legends have led the charge in organized professional gaming tournaments – there is a thrill in watching people who are actually good at these games play them well.

Rum & Bones has the basic elements you’d expect from a MOBA: unique heroes, AI controlled drones, “lanes” where players do battle, etc. It just wraps everything in one helluva theme – ship-to-ship combat between pirates on the high seas. Players pick a side (the box comes with both regular pirates and undead pirates, with more on the way), assemble their forces, and simulate a scenario where two dueling crews attempt to board one another’s ship for the purposes of destruction and plunder. Players directly control their individual heroes, who have unique figure sculpts, names, special abilities, and so on, while their crew is controlled by the game itself through some surprisingly simple and elegant movement rules.

The result is a game that feels and plays like exactly what it set out to emulate. It also looks amazing, with publisher Cool Mini or Not’s renowned production values on full display. If there’s a real problem with the game, it’s the eye-roll-worthy depiction of several female characters, who look like they were ripped out of the imagination of a horny teenager with a naval fetish. Still, if you want a handsome game that will scratch that MOBA itch while allowing you to stare your opponent right in the eye, this is the purchase for you.

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