Sometimes, you just sit down with your friends and create an affront to creation.
Whether you want to mess with the fabric of the universe, alter reality, or build a Frankenstein – board games let you and your group make treasured memories together.
So, here are eight of our favorite games that let you tamper with powers you couldn’t possibly comprehend.
8. T.I.M.E. Stories (2015)
For all time. Always.
Launched in 2015, it almost feels like T.I.M.E Stories has been with us forever. With a mass of expansions, add-ons, and extras – the game tasks you with protecting the time-stream from paradoxes or temporal threats. In practical terms, this means working with your friends as they live through a unique tale and unpack the elements within as a narrative deck builder. This lets you visit asylums, the middle ages, ancient Egypt, haunted mansions, or more. Or, if that’s enough, a healthy fan community means a mess of homebrew modules and umpteen opportunities to bootstrap yourself into oblivion.
7. Gravwell: Escape from the 9th Dimension (2013)
Can you escape the black hole?
You’re trapped into a spaceship, slowly orbiting a black hole, without the fuel to get you home. Fun, right? A fantastic (and Mensa approved) game of careful movement, players are asked to use gravity to slingshot their ships to safety, skipping past dead spaceships, debris, and using all their ingenuity to escape certain death. This involves a tight and intuitive game of hand management where players bluff and power their way to freedom – using their opponent’s gravity to pull them free. Highly thematic and elegant, it’s perfect for every would-be space jockey out there.
6. The Manhattan Project (2012)
Can you become the dominant power?
Moving from fantasy to the frighteningly real, Manhattan is an economic brawl that sees you work to acquire and build the best atomic bombs possible for your nation. Built around worker placement mechanics, players work to acquire raw resources, spy on the opposition and take the time to delay your opponent’s progress by bombing the $&^% out of them. Moving from smooth opening turns to an agonizing late-game, Manhattan is perfect for players that love high stakes, sneaky plays, and slowly constructing innovations that will absolutely kill everyone a hundred times over.
Any game that carries the risk of players perishing in an explosion of their own making gets a nod of approval from us. With a combination of press your luck and player trading, the game puts players in the lab coats of hotshot chemists struggling to build compounds before their rivals do. Throw in a free-for-all bartering mechanic and you’re ready for a no-holds-barred exploration into competitive science. A great gift for nerds (the periodic table is the score chart for god’s sake), it’s a cut-price pick that definitely stands the test of time.
4. Dinosaur Island (2017)
All Dinosaurs welcome!
You’re already hearing the theme song in your head, aren’t you? Published by Pandasaurus in 2017, DI asks players to fulfill the dream of every child who saw Jurassic part…create their own dinosaurs and add them to your park. This involves careful worker placement to make sure your scientists are pulling their weight and crafting the dinos of your dreams. This sees your group compete to build the best park while keeping visitor deaths down to an absolute minimum. Add the Totally Liquid expansion into the mix and you can add the spectacle (re: danger) of sea creatures into the mix. And speaking of taking a trip into the murky depths-
3. Underwater Cities (2018)
Under the sea, it’s better
“Politics, production, and science”…three great tastes that go well together. An exceptional city and civilization builder from the mind of Vladimír Suchý, players are put in charge of the world’s first underwater city. The mission – to build the future of civilization deep under the waves (which I’m sure has never gone wrong before). This involves a carful card-based game of development and hand management as you work across purposes to build a city that scores you points and prevents your opponent from hoovering them up from the ocean floor. Brain burning and brilliant, this is a perfect pick for players looking to test their innovation to the limit. Although, if building a colossal biodome on the seabed is a little pedestrian.
2. On Mars (2020)
Can you colonize the Red Planet?
Got the brain of a scientist? Because you’re definitely going to need one. With a staggering 4.63 BGG difficulty level, the game asks players to not only colonize the red planet but to make it profitable. Players are corporations looking to leverage their technical genius and manage the game’s vital resources of minerals, energy batteries, air, water, and planets. A sprawling epic, we hope you’ve got the tablespace to match. Each game involves a smooth arc of moving to self-sufficiency, as you initially depend on Earth for supplies and start to build your own. Before long, your colony begins to flourish but the competition does not stop – with each player needing to compete to complete the most missions, crowning them the King of Mars. And if that title doesn’t excite you, you’ve probably come to the wrong website.
1. Pandemic Iberia (2016)
Can you cure the Iberian Peninsula?
Sometimes the best way to appreciate something is to get back to basics. One of the most beloved spinoffs of the iconic Pandemic series, Iberia puts you in the middle of the 1800s and asks your group to work together to cure diseases that ravaged the location over the period. This lets players scratch their favorite scientific itch, but grounds it in reality with real-world logistics. This means purifying water for citizens to drink, creating hospitals to treat sick patients, and maintaining a railroad that makes travel easier. A fantastic introduction of a compelling period in medical history, it’s worth picking up for scientists looking to turn their powers to good instead of destruction. And, for everyone else, there’s always the ability to go On the Brink…
What board game has you feeling like a mad-scientist? Tell us in the comments!