Home Top Ten Game Lists Top 10 Games Based on Fantasy Books

Top 10 Games Based on Fantasy Books

3934
1

It tracks that the Venn diagram of board game players and readers would have an awful lot of overlap, considering the amount of time we spend squinting over rulebooks. Throw in some dragons, some swords, and a few world ending cataclysms that can only be averted by careful plotting and deft maneuvering? It’s a match made in heaven.

Many books have board games based on them, but it seems like the fantasy genre has an overabundance of riches when it comes to quality gaming content. The focus in the genre on building up incredible settings and creating fully developed worlds and magical systems lends itself well to board game design. This can be a double-edged great sword, though, as the sheer number of generic feeling Lord of the Rings games can attest to.

Not all games based on fantasy novels are created equally. Our favorites don’t just immerse you in the magical worlds created by the authors but capture the spirit and the tone of the books in gameplay. They let you experience what’s great about the original source material, while also building on that inspiration in unique and unexpected ways. Finally, the best games based on fantasy novels are just straight up fun to play, whether you’re familiar with the source material or not. Read about some of our favorites below!

Top 10 Games Based on Fantasy Books

10. The Tea Dragon Society Card Game

Tea Dragon SocietyHave you ever wanted to become best friends with an adorable dragon who helps you make exceptional cups of tea? No? Just me? Based on the Eisner Award winning Tea Dragon Society series by Katie O’Neill, this serves as a whimsical introduction to card drafting games. You’re a caretaker for a sweet little tea themed dragon (Jasmine, Chamomile, Ginseng, or Rooibos), with the goal of helping your dragon to learn and grow as the seasons pass. Players manage a hand of cards that provides them buy power. As the game progresses through the four seasonal memory decks, players must balance the simple strategy, deciding whether to bolster their dragon’s unique ability with market cards, or hurry to acquire a high value memory before another player can get to it. While not overly taxing, it does encourage thoughtful play, and is a cozy, gentle choice.

2-4 Players • Ages 10+ • 30-60 minutes • $19Get Your Copy

 

 

9. The Witcher: Old World

Witcher The Old WorldFighting monsters. Brawling. Traveling a brutal continent doing dark jobs for good coin. These are some of the hallmarks of The Witcher book series by Andrzej Sapkowski (which also feature top of class character development and nuanced fantasy politics). In The Witcher: Old World, set centuries before the events of the books, players race to be the first to earn a set number of trophies through several types of combat or skill improvement. Combining worker movement and card drafting, this game is better with more players, and it has a variety of expansions available that provide much needed additional content. Fans of the series will appreciate how well the game captures the tone of the series, though, and how it brings players into the Witcher world.

1-5 Players • Ages 14+ • 90-150 minutes • $85Get Your Copy

 

 

8. Embers of Memory

Embers of MemoryThe Throne of Glass book series by Sarah J. Maas took the fantasy world by storm when it was published, culminating in the 980-page tome Kingdom of Ash in 2018. Embers of Memory is a rethemed version of the 2013 game Ravens of Thri Sahashri, based on the final book in the Throne of Glass series. Both are two-player cooperative card games that focus on silent communication to achieve a shared goal. Players work together silently to assemble a puzzle of hidden cards, the task becoming more complicated as the players progress through sequential scenarios. This reimplementation has a clearer, easier to understand rulebook than the original, and it has added 5 additional scenarios increasing in difficulty. While silent communication games aren’t for everyone, this is a unique play experience with engaging mechanics that is really well thought out and designed.

2 Players • Ages 14+ • 45 minutes • $30Get Your Copy

 

 

7. Wonderland’s War

Wonderlands WarWonderland’s War is the biggest departure from the source material of any game on this list, but Alice in Wonderland has been adapted in so many crazy and creative ways over the last 150 years that it seems entirely natural to engage in a Wonderland wide war of madness and mayhem. An area control game that takes place while players attend a tea party with the Mad Hatter, Wonderland’s War involves card drafting, bag building, and sanity tracking. Players grab up the best resources that they can, and then deploy them across territories to take over the land. It’s a game full of whimsy, drama, and twists, and it creates something entirely new out of a well-loved IP.

2-5 Players • Ages 13+ • 45-125 minutes • $115Get Your Copy

 

 

6. Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game

Legends of DrizztThere are a variety of board games based on D&D, but The Legend of Drizzt Board Game, based specifically on R.A. Salvatore’s book series of the same name, does the best job of capturing the spirit of the source material. A cooperative dungeon crawler that runs players through scenarios pulled straight from the books, this game comes chock a block full of well rendered miniatures featuring characters from the stories. It lets you battle goblins, trolls, and a pretty neat dragon, all while taking on the roles of the heroes we’ve been reading about for 39 books straight. What more could you ask for?

1-5 Players • Ages 12+ • 60 minutes • $70Get Your Copy

 

 

5. Mistborn: House War

Mistborn House WarBrandon Sanderson is a literary phenom who has reset the paradigm for how to be a successful author in the fantasy genre. His Mistborn series is frequently cited on lists for the best fantasy series of all time, and Mistborn: House War plays with the theme of political intrigue in the novels. Players take on the role of different aristocratic families, managing their resources to tackle different problems that threaten the capital city, from invading armies to dwindling stockpiles of the metal that fuels their magic. I love that this game has two endings. Either the players defeat the hero of the books, winning the favor of the Ruler/villain, or they allow the city to be taken over by rebellion, winning by distancing themselves from the Ruler/villain. Putting the players in the position of the morally gray side characters is an interesting choice for a game based on a book and adds unpredictability to the story fans know.

3-5 Players • Ages 13+ • 60-120 minutes • $55Get Your Copy

 

 

4. Tak

TakBringing to life the game played by characters in Patrick Rothfuss’ The Wise Man’s Fear, Tak is a two-player abstract strategy game that plays like a fantasy chess variant. The game is described by players in the book, and the real-life product does a beautiful job of capturing the spirit of those descriptions while still delivering a really playable, challenging game. Tak has a whole competitive scene built up around it now and stands on its own as a quality product.

2 Players • Ages 12+ • 20-60 minutes

 

 

3. A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition)

A game of thronesFans of the Song of Ice and Fire series are blessed with a variety of quality games, but A Game of Thrones: The Board Game is the most critically acclaimed, and for good reason. After the death of the king, players take on the mantle of one of the great Houses of Westeros striving to take control of the map of the continent through scheming, battle, and careful alliances. Seeing these battles and rivalries play out on the board in front of you is a book lover’s dream. It’s especially rewarding to take a house that may be an underdog in the book series and lead them to victory.

3-6 Players • Ages 14+ • 120-160 minutes • $65Get Your Copy

 

 

2. Discworld: Ankh-Morpork

DiscworldOne of the most beloved fantasy authors of all time, Terry Pratchett’s collected works provide a wealth of material for adaptation. Discworld: Ankh-Morpork takes us to the main city on the disc that sits on the back of four elephants, standing on a turtle, floating through space. The area influence game assigns each player a secret identity that comes with its own goals and win conditions. Cards are played, effects are resolved, and players slowly infiltrate the city as beleaguered watch men, scheming nobles, stone faced criminals, or worse. What will you do if the city is invaded by Demons from the Dungeon Dimension? If there’s a mysterious murder? If a building you’re trying to control is designed by the worst architect in the multiverse? The game perfectly captures the chaos and humor of the books and playing it among fans is a treat.

2-4 Players • Ages 11+ • 60 minutes

 

 

1. War of the Ring: Second Edition

War of the RingThe ultimate book themed game, based on the ultimate fantasy series, War of the Ring sets the gold standard for IP based gaming content. One player controls the forces of evil through the Shadow Armies, and the other player controls the Free Peoples, working to prevent Sauron’s power from spreading across Middle Earth. A tense, multi-hour odyssey through the world of asymmetrical wargaming, War of the Ring blows other IP games out of the water and captures everything that fans love about the battles in the original books.

2-4 Players • Ages 13+ • 150-180 minutes • $99Get Your Copy

 

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Nice list! I think Conan by Monolith deserves a nod as well. It does a great job of capturing the sword and sorcery spirit of the original stories.

Leave a Comment