As many of us face down triple digit days of sheltering in place, we’re all looking for new ways to be entertained this summer! And what better way to have fun (and release some competitive energy) with your roommates or family than by playing some board games? I’ve compiled a list of literary board games that you’ll definitely want to take for a spin—from family-friendly games for kids to more complex ones for adults that require a bit of strategy. Here we go!
Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger and War With an Evil Power Master
Did you know that there are two board games based on the classic Choose Your Own Adventure books House of Danger and War with An Evil Power Master? These games are awesome, and they ended up being a go-to Christmas gift last year for many friends. Both are collaborative, so everyone either wins or loses, and you can play solo or with however many people you’d like (although very large groups might get a bit unwieldy). Players take turns drawing cards that build a storyline, and then you must make a decision based on the options given. Roll a die to determine risk, and keep track of your overall luck and power on the board. The first time I played House of Danger, we lost—but it was so enjoyable we didn’t mind. Plus, it’s so dynamic and detailed that you can play again and again and still have a different experience! That said, I really hope that we get some more board game adaptations, because goodness knows there are plenty of Choose Your Own Adventure books to draw from.
This board game is based off of Edward Gorey’s book The Evil Garden, a delightfully foreboding book, told in rhyming couplets, about a family trying to survive an afternoon in an insidious garden. The board game is a similarly premise and prominently features his gorgeously creepy artwork! It’s a competitive game where players are garden party attendees who must escape from the Evil Garden, and the first one out wins! Each player picks a character with certain traits that will help them win, and there are two different ways to play, including a mode that allows a player to become the Evil Garden, so there are plenty of opportunities to play and have a different outcome each time. This game allows for 2–6 players, and is great for players ages 10 and up.STET! Dreyer’s English: A Game for Language Lovers, Grammar Geeks, and Bibliophiles
Okay, technically this is a card game and not a board game, but it’s too good not to mention! Based off of Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer, copyeditor extraordinaire, this is a fun game for grammar geeks that allows you to get competitive about punctuation. This game includes over 100 cards featuring different sentences, and the first person to spot the error—or declare STET!, meaning there is no error—wins the card. The person who has the most cards at the end of the round wins! This sounds like a great way to study, brush up on your grammar skills, or just have fun with language and style.
Based off of the Red Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, this is a board game set 400 years into the future about corporations who begin terraforming Mars for human inhabitation. As the terraforming process progresses, more and more humans settlers arrive, bringing its own set of challenges. This is a cool game because each player is a corporation and the corporations must work together, but you’re also competing for points and the credit of terraforming Mars, requiring you to be pretty strategic. This is a very involved game with multiple boards, hundreds of pieces, and lots of expansion pack options, which means it’s not great for most kids, but it’ll provide teens and adults with many, many hours of entertainment.
Based off of the adorable graphic novel Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill, this is a delightful board game about a coastal community wrecked by a terrible storm, which is the result of climate change. Players must assume the role of villagers rebuilding their town, but they must do so in a respectful manner that account for environmental health and equality. The cove is home to the magical Aquicorns, who assist the villagers and help them understand the environmental impact of their actions. The 2–4 players will have to rebuild the village, the reef ecosystem, and keep everything balanced and happy! I love O’Neill’s artwork, and it makes this game really pop. And if you really love her work, there’s also a card game based off of her The Tea Dragon Society graphic novel!
For all the Dog Man fans out there, check out this board game based off of Lord of the Fleas by Dav Pilkey! Perfect for ages 6 and up, this board game is about the fleas, who want to take over everything with their robot brontosaurus. Players have to work cooperatively as the Supa Buddies to stop their plan and defeat them! This is a family-friendly game for up to 6 players.
Which literary board games have you played and enjoyed? Let us know on social media!