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The Board Game

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The game never ends.note 

Syd Lexia's First Law of Pop Culture: If it was popular between 1975 and 1995, then there is a board game based on it.

You've seen the movie. You've read the books. You've watched the entire TV series and achieved every ending in the video game.

Now it's time to play... the board game.

This is pretty much what it sounds like: A board-game adaptation of a popular book, movie, TV show, or even video game. A subtrope of this is the Home Game, for board-game adaptations of game shows. Common tropes include player markers shaped like characters or props from the work, landing spots on the board themed after places in the work's universe, and chance cards based on incidents from the work's history.

A Sub-Trope of The Merch.

See also: Themed Stock Board Game for when a pre-existing game is re-released in a special tie-in edition, and The Role-Playing Game for pen-and-paper adaptations.


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    Adapted From Comic Books 
  • The Walking Dead has at least two board games, one of which is not at all bad for a standard "move around the board collecting tokens and avoiding hazards" adaptation. What makes it is the sheer brutality; zombie encounters require decent weapons to even have a chance at escaping intact, but most weapons are single-use and once the deck is exhausted there's no more to scavenge. Allies act as extra hit points but again are removed permanently once they die. Oh, and the first couple of players to be eliminated come back as zombies trying to kill the survivors.

    Adapted From Comic Strips 
  • An official Dilbert board game, with surprisingly complicated rules, exists.

    Adapted From Film 
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978) spawned a surprisingly good tactical board game which captured the glacial inevitability of the zombies well. It even sported a solo play mode where one had to weld all of the doors shut and then eliminate all of the zombies in the mall.
  • The Shadow and The Mask both received 3D board games.
  • Aliens was adapted into a 2-players tactical board game that was never very successful, due to being both expensive (especially if one went to buying the figurines, instead of using the default, cheap-feeling cardboard miniatures) and with clumsy, heavy rules. It was converted later into a flash digital version, which had multiple advantages such as music, decent graphics, handling all the bothersome aspects and number-crunching, but probably most of all being free to anyone with an Internet connection.
  • Despite the mixed reception it received, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was adapted by Hasbro into the surprisingly good Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit. It was a simulation of the climax of the film on all four fronts (Amidala in the palace, Gungans vs. droids, Jedi vs. Maul, and Anakin in the space battle).
    • A number of the Parker Brothers Star Wars licensed versions of regular games actually add in new game mechanics to make the game a bit different. Force Jumping Stratego pieces, anyone?
  • The Goonies received a board game from the company Prospero Hall called The Goonies: Never Say Die, which later got its own expansion subtitled Under the Goondocks.

    Adapted From Literature 
  • Arkham Horror, a highly-rated and much-expanded boardgame set in the Cthulhu Mythos universe. Not a short game, though, and not easy either.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has a board game from Fantasy Flight Games in which players control the Houses to unite Westeros. It has mechanics for warfare, influence at court, and a common threat in the form of Wildling raids. It also has detailed, full-colour art, sometimes very different from the television show that would come years later.
  • The Baby-Sitters Club spawned two actually. A regular one and a mystery one.
  • The Discworld board game, Thud, has proved quite sucessful, largely because it's not so much a game based on the books as a game they might play in the books (and has since appeared as such). This is because Terry Pratchett maintains a high standard on spin-offs; in one piece about Thud he mentions the some of the other game ideas he'd been sent: "'In this game there's a war between the wizards and the witches...' No, I think there isn't, actually."
    • Two more board games have come out, both set in Ankh-Morpork, but made by different companies. Treefrog's Ankh-Morpork concerns power struggles between the various factions of city politics, while in Backspindle's Guards! Guards! the players are watchmen trying to track down the Eight Spells.
    • Treefrog later released The Witches, in which the players are the junior witches from the Tiffany Aching books, proceeding round Lancre helping people.
    • Backspindle later released Clacks, based on the Discworld's optical telegraph network.
  • The 1979 Dune board game, designed by Eon and published by Avalon Hill, is widely considered a classic. That didn't stop them from allowing Parker Brothers to make yet another Dune game in 1984, which hardly anyone cares about.
  • Goosebumps board games:
    • One of those boardgames had an appropriately Nightmare Fuel-ish ending where two of the kids playing turned into zombies.
    • One game involved various kids from different books sneaking through a graveyard. It truly was rife with Nightmare Fuel, a faceless grim-reaper figure, being turned into trees, death by falling into empty graves and tombs. Spooky stuff.
  • The Harry Potter series spawned a large non-trading card game based on the game Quidditch. It wasn't half bad, actually.
  • Both Jumanji and Zathura received board-game adaptations. The Zathura one could even be considered a mass-produced prop replica, too.
  • The Lord of the Rings has had many, many board game adaptations.
    • Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation is a highly rated boardgame that is similar to Stratego, except vastly better, seeing as each piece has different abilities, and players also get a hand of cards that they play to alter the course of a conflict. More importantly, it gets the feel of the books right. Boromir always dies early, Sauron's forces are MUCH stronger combat wise but lose if Frodo sneaks by them, and Gandalf god-modes the **censored** out of everything.
    • The Lord Of The Rings Strategy Battle Game from Games Workshop, which may very well be the most financially successful tabletop adaptation ever. It is (as of this writing) the third most popular game that the company offers, behind the two Warhammer franchises.
    • Back in its glory days in 1977, SPI produced The War of the Ring in its usual hexagon-and-die-cut-counter format. It's a visually appealing game with nice Tim Kirk art (characters in the story were represented on cards with a Tim Kirk portrait of the character). It's also a fairly decent simulation of the war that allows for some interesting and weird "what-if" scenarios. (E.g. what if Gandalf had stayed dead? What if Merry and Pippin had stayed behind in Rivendell?) It won the 1977 Charles S. Roberts Best Fantasy Board Game of the Year award. SPI also produced two other games to accompany it simulating the siege of Minas Tirith (Gondor) and the battle of Dagorlad (the climax of the Last Alliance) (Sauron).
    • There's also the Reiner Knizia version, in which the players play as the four hobbits (plus Fatty Bolger in the five-player game) and, rather than competing against each other, have to cooperate and plan strategies to beat the game.
    • Middle Earth Quest is regarded as one of the best licensed games for LOTR. It has up to three players as champions of the forces of good against one player acting as Sauron. Its popularity stems from the way it lets the Sauron player set up a web of schemes and smokescreens while the heroes struggle to uncover and stop their plans.

    Adapted From Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a fun search-and-fight boardgame adaptation with scenarios covering the first four seasons. There was also a different Buffy game, and an Angel one, which were the usual awful licensed fodder.
  • Doctor Who has had its fair share of board games, but the most unusual was "War of the Daleks," which was Parcheesi, but with a twist: turning the central Dalek Emperor piece caused the Dalek pawns to whirl about on fixed paths. If the Daleks reached one of the pawns, it was considered "exterminated." Woe betide the careless owner who breaks the small, toothed end-cap on the Daleks' base—they won't move at all without them.
  • The Battlestar Galactica board game is reportedly extremely unique and fun, especially if it's played similar to a roleplaying game: the game is co-operative, but one or more of the players is a Cylon and is actively, and secretly, trying to undermine everyone else. (In a nice thematic twist, a player may only discover they're a Cylon partway through the game and therefore might not want to play too strongly in the early game....)
  • Then there's Lost: The Game. It came out early in the run of the show. There's probably something in the game that has been contradicted in the show.
  • Star Trek-based wargame Star Fleet Battles is one of the most successful tabletop space combat games out there. However, with the exception of a few names, it has almost nothing to do with the show or movies. This is because it was mostly taken from the Technical Manuals, and went off into its own universe (and license) prior to the movies. Star Trek: The Next Generation in particular received an "interactive" VCR board game. Which is to say, not very interactive at all, but it's the thought that counts.
  • Charmed had an eponymous Adventure Board Game adaptation.
  • The Spanish series El Ministerio del Tiempo has a board game.
  • There's a board game based on Murder, She Wrote, where Jessica Fletcher has to solve a murder mystery. Each player plays Jessica - a different, separate one. And one of them is actually the murderer, and has to pin the blame on someone else. There's absolutely no explanation for this, but it's good fuel for the "Jessica is actually the real killer in every episode, and pins the blame on someone else" fan theory.
  • This was pretty popular in the 1950s-1970s. Among the shows that spawned board games were "Dennis the Menace", "Dr. Kildare", "The Bionic Woman" (a revision of an earlier game "Star Reporter"), and "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." (a surprisingly good game).
  • There's a The Queen's Gambit adaptation titled The Queen's Gambit: The Board Game. No, it's not just chess for people who didn't know chess was a real thing. It's a chess variant that adds support for 3-4 players, and adds a programmed movement mechanic — you have to plan 3 moves in advance.

    Adapted From Magazines 
  • The MAD Magazine Game (Parker Brothers, 1979) was specifically a parody of Monopoly-style games; the object of the game is to lose all your money, and the Community Chest cards bear instructions such as "Switch places with the person sitting to your left" or "This card may only be played on a Friday."
  • People Magazine had "The Trivia Game with Personality from Parker Brothers" (1984)
  • TIME Magazine called theirs "Time: The Game" (1983), a trivia game where the categories were each decade from the 1920s to the 1980s.

    Adapted From Tabletop RPGs & Card Games 
  • Exalted has two board game adaptations: War For the Throne and Legacy of the Unconquered Sun.
  • Vampire: Prince of the City is the board game version of Vampire: The Requiem. Since it was made and published by the same company it is faithful to the spirit of the RPG while still being fun to play.
  • Warhammer AND Warhammer 40,000 have seen a number of quality games from Fantasy Flight Games. Chaos In The Old World puts each player in the role of the Chaos Powers in a race to conquer the Warhammer Fantasy world first. Horus Heresy is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, an reenactment of the infamous event with one player as the traitors and the other as the Imperium. Part of what makes these games fun is the multiple paths to victory in addition to the random events/scenarios that prevent the game from getting stale too quickly.
  • Dungeons & Dragons, the juggernaut of a franchise it is, spawned a number of board game adaptations:
    • Dungeons & Dragons: The Fantasy Adventure Board Game (2002) was one of the first official attempts to codify the RPG into a board game.
    • The early 2010s saw a slew of new adventure board games based on the D&D IPs, such as Castle Ravenloft (2010), The Legend of Drizzt (2011), and Wrath of Ashardalon (2011). The conspiracy-minded would almost suspect these to have been an apology by the Wizards to the fans of the tactical combat gameplay of D&D 4E for the radical shift back to the freeform Theater of the Mind in 5E.
    • Lords of Waterdeep (2012) is a worker placement game taking place in the Forgotten Realms setting.
  • Candamir: The First Settlers turns Settlers of Catan, of all things, into an adventure board game.

    Adapted From Theatre 

    Adapted From Toys 
  • BIONICLE had three separate board games over the course of its development. The first was Quest for Makuta, a tile-exploration game that was generally well-received by the fans. The second was known as the Mask of Light, with a variable board size but a more linear gameplay. Finally there was one called simply The Quest, which introduced random cards but had no board variation.
  • The Rubik's Cube inspired the competitive game, "Rubik's Race" .
  • Tamagotchi has two.
    • Cardinal released one in 1997. The game involves caring for your Tamagotchi, like the pets.
    • Pressman released another Tamagotchi board game, Grow Your Pet, in 2007. Pressman's game does share some features from the Cardinal game, while adding an electronic pet in the center of the board.

    Adapted From Video Games 
  • Blizzard has licensed several of its computer games to Fantasy Flight for boardgame versions, including Warcraft, World of Warcraft and StarCraft. Probably because the makers of these games are tabletop game players themselves. In particular, the StarCraft boardgame has the feel and spirit of Twilight Imperium, but with several unusually clever mechanics.
  • Doom: The Board Game, again by Fantasy Flight.
  • If you want to play a first-person shooter on a board, Steve Jackson Games' Frag is designed to be this, from the ground up. You'll need a Santa's sack full of d6 to play it, though.
  • Gears of War: The Board Game, also by FFG.
  • In 2002, Eagle Games made a Board Game adaptation of Civilization called Civilization: the Boardgamenote  Although the rules can be quite convulted at times, there currently exists two interesting variations which seeks to streamline and make it more faithful to the game, respectively.
  • Pooyan had a board-game version that was actually quite well done.
  • Pok√©mon had a few board games, such as Pokemon Master Trainer.
  • Ganbare Goemon had a board game released in Japan to tie in with the first Famicom game.
  • There was a Tetris board game during its heyday, a kind of an ersatz 2D Jenga in reverse. And there appears to be a new version that operates more as a Connect-4 setup.
  • Pac-Man received a Hungry Hungry Hippos-ish game in which players moved their Pacs along a maze; these could actually "eat" the marble dots. There were ghosts and energizers, too, and one could even use a differently-colored marble as a "fruit" piece. Sadly, it was quite boring. A Ms. Pac-Man game was made, but with very different mechanics.
  • While The Witcher series originated as books, The Witcher Adventure Game is based on the video games instead (the first RPG, on the other hand, is firmly rooted in the novels, as it preceded the video games by six years).
  • The official Dark Souls: The Board Game went to Kickstarter around the time of Dark Souls III release and smashed through all of its goals. Its unofficial underdog competitor, Darklight: Memento Mori debuted a bit earlier and had more moderate success.
  • Mr. Card Game is licensed from Kingdom of Loathing, and it kind of works as a purely abstract numbers game. It doesn't have much to do with the game, though, and borrows its artwork but not its humor.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog has several board games which adapt Sonic's speediness and obstacle dodging onto the tabletop: a 90s-era Milton Bradley board game, Sonic the Hedgehog Crash Course (classic, was on limited run and notorious for its Guide Dang It! difficulty), Dice Rush (also classic), and Battle Racers (modern).
  • Released in 2019, Talisman: Kingdom Hearts adapts the rules system of the Games Workshop game (originally produced for Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 offshoots) to Kingdom Hearts.
  • BioShock Infinite: The Siege of Columbia, made by Plaid Hat Games.

    Adapted from Web Animation 

    Adapted From Webcomics 
  • Lackadaisy has its own themed card game.
  • The Order of the Stick has a board game that's basically a much simplified version of Dungeons & Dragons, filled to the brim with lampshade hangings. Of course even when simplified, it still takes a good hour to get through all the rules of the game and understanding how it all works. To help this he also includes a small comic to explain the basic gist of the game, and says if you don't feel like reading the manual, you can just wing it on stuff you don't get.

    Adapted From Websites 
  • eBay has at least two card-based games of buying and selling auction merchandise. One uses a battery-powered, plastic gizmo that makes sounds to cue bidding turns and end an auction.

    Adapted from Western Animation 
  • The Flintstones had a board game back in 1961. Titled "The Flintstones Stoneage Game", it was a bit more complex than one might expect, involving a board, cards, and a peg-like scoreboard. As such, the game really wasn't designed for kids (the box says "For Ages 8 to Adult") but then again, The Flintstones cartoon was originally intended for adults. Later board games based on the franchise were more kid-friendly.
  • Gargoyles first dipped its toes into board games with a VCR title included with the first home video release of the Five-Episode Pilot that took twenty minutes to play. It later received Gargoyles: Awakening by Ravensburger in 2021, a co-op venture for two to five players with four miniature storylines to play through.

  • For some laughs, read the rules for the "Melkor-Bradley" board game version of The Lord of the Rings. It's so awful it almost could be real.
  • Parodied by MADtv (1995) in the sketch Grand Theft Auto: The Boardgame. The game pieces are criminals such as drug kingpins and pimps, you can snort fake cocaine and get makeshift tattoos, and the game includes guns, drugs, and real cash for the family to fight over. Ironically, there was a real life board game based on Monopoly that was sort of like this: "Ghettopoly", set in an inner-city criminal neighbourhood. For obvious reasons, there was a public backlash and the game was discontinued.
  • Parodied by CollegeHumor with The Hunger Games: The Boardgame. The story about a publicly televised duel game in which teenagers have to kill each other until only one is left is now marketed towards love-crazed teen girls. (There is a fan-made non-collectible The Hunger Games card game which, while obviously a Munchkin re-skin, isn't half bad.)

  • There was a 1979 Monopoly knockoff called Beverly Hills, in which the goal wasn't buying property but accumulating wealth and increasing status via spending your money extravagantly, with increased opportunities based on "status points". But if you weren't careful and lost your wealth and status, you'd get banished to the San Fernando Valley.


Video Example(s):


Congress - The Home Game

The Daily Show mocks the American Congress' frustrating way of doing its job in the form of a board game.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheBoardGame

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