The 10 Best Space Board Games
Space is the final frontier. It’s also a fantastic setting for a variety of board games! Sure, you’ve got the usual suspects with licensed film and television characters, but plenty of non-branded games occupy the field as well.
Many of these games follow a familiar pattern of space exploration and combat, but the best of the best get there through replayability and execution. From serious to silly, space offers all types of pleasure and entertainment. Send a probe to scan these ten space board games, then pick up the game of your choice for your next gathering of friends.
The original space faction game has been entertaining playgroups since 1977. This game is mostly political, designed for 3-5 players, with alliance-forming and the potential for multiple players to win together. Players vie to colonize planets controlled by other players, using stylized spaceship tokens rather than detailed miniatures that appear in newer and fancier games.
Fighting can get you to your goals, but often it is better to negotiate or enlist the help of other players. And then there are secret alien powers, which players can unleash to alter the game rules and throw off the strategies opposing players hoped would lead them to victory. The variable rules and myriad combinations of alien powers mean the game is both replayable and totally unpredictable. If you enjoy lighthearted space battles and surprise twists that keep everyone guessing and winning strategies in flux, check out this classic of the genre.
Here we have the best part of Star Wars — space battles between rebel X-wings and Imperial TIE fighters — condensed into 30-45 minutes of fantastic two-player action. You don’t have to be a Star Wars lover to enjoy this game, but true aficionados can go very deep with additional pieces. The base game contains all the miniature ships you need for quick battles out of the box, but there are entire series of expansions with more collectible miniatures to expand the game to an epic scale.
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While there are many, many Star Wars-branded board games designed for two players or groups, X-Wing offers pure fun and lots of replayability without trying to encompass the entirety of the universe.
Star Trek: Ascendancy gives you the opportunity to play as the Federation, Klingon, or Romulan as you explore the galaxy we’ve all come to know and love from the many television series. Specifically for three players — a sweet spot that many other games on this list accommodate but not as well as with larger playgroups — the game unfolds over three hours as each civilization charts its course through famous planets while furthering their interests.
The gameplay follows a familiar pattern across space games: you take turns developing technology, building ships, exploring planets, and eventually fighting your rivals. While that can get overwhelming for new players, the familiar Star Trek lore can help ease players into the game. But if that sounds too simple for you, take a look at the next game on the list.
What if you want complex political wrangling between factions, but you also want to build a space armada to blow up opposing fighters? Do you have a handful of friends and 6-8 hours to set aside together for a single game? Many space games attempt to create the fully immersive experience of interrelated politics, trade, and warfare. Twilight Imperium is the most successful, but also the most complex.
The Fourth Edition base game features 17 distinct playable factions for games of 3-6 players, the recent Prophecy of Kings expansion adds 7 new factions (for a total of 24) and support for 7- and 8-player games, all while somehow reducing the time to play one game by an hour or two. Twilight Imperium offers the most complex and immersive space board game experience, with massive replay value from the modular hex-style board and numerous quirky interactions between factions.