The best space board games of 2020
With the holidays on the horizon, it’s time to start shopping. For those loved ones in your life who love both space and game nights, Space.com has you covered. The Space.com staff (most of whom are also game lovers!) has kept their eyes peeled for the best space-related board games.
Some of the games in this guide take a cosmic twist on classic games, like Monopoly and Trouble, and some are brand new space adventures (one that involves butts).
Check out our space games gift guide below. And for more out-of-this-world gift ideas, check out our other buying guides:
Terraforming Mars and expansions
(Image credit: Stronghold Games / Fair Dealing)
Terraforming Mars: $69.95 $49.69 on Amazon
It’s smart, challenging and beautifully crafted and now you can get the Terraforming Mars base game with a huge 29% discount, saving you $20 on the usual price.View Deal
We can’t live on Mars yet, but you can try and make the Red Planet a New Earth in the amazing Terraforming Mars board game from Stronghold Games. At $49.69 on Amazon, the game is a whopping 29% off its normal $70 price, which is a great deal for even the stingiest space agencies.
Terraforming Mars challenges two to four players to transform the Red Planet in a game that’s at once cooperative and competitive. The first to get Mars past the tipping point of habitability with their megacorporation wins the 24th century. You’ll need to raise the planet’s temperature, make some air, build cities and oceans while managing your resources.
Terraforming Mars: Venus Next: $29.95 $23.05 on Amazon Venus is a deadly world, but one full of potential. Can your corporation succeed in building huge flying cities and introducing life in an inhospitable environment?
Venus Next adds a side game board as well as new tiles, tokens and Venus cards to the deck.View Deal
Terraforming Mars: The Colonies: $29.95 $25.39 on Amazon
The pursuit of resources has expanded to all corners of the solar system. Help your corporation colonies the clouds of Jupiter and trade with faraway moons in this expansion.
Colonies adds Colony tiles and includes new cards and corporations.View Deal
Terraforming Mars: Turmoil: $34.95 $29.74 on Amazon
All is not well on Mars. This expansion lets you struggle for control of the transforming Council and influencing the politics that have developed.
Turmoil includes new corporations, projects, and new global events cards that can throw anything from dust storms to uprisings at the players.View Deal
And if Mars is not enough, several expansions are on sale for Black Friday, too. In Venus Next available from Amazon, you’ll match wits with competitors to make Venus the next home for humanity. It’s on sale for about $23, down from $40. Terraforming Mars: The Colonies (on sale for $25.39 on Amazon) takes aim at the outer solar system, while the expansion Terraforming Mars: Turmoil (on sale for $29.74 on Amazon) returns to the Red Planet, where political tensions, civil uprisings and more make Martian life a challenge!
Battleship Outer Space
(Image credit: Hasbro)
This game takes the classic Battleship out of the water and into the cosmos. Instead of trying to sink ships, you’ll be trying to vaporize spaceships. And while the old game was 2D, this game is in 3D. Opponents will have to search for enemy spaceships in three coordinates: row, column, and sector. The game spans three vertical sectors, with five spaceships hiding out for each team. Each fleet includes the same five types of spaceships: the Dueler, Tricorn Fighter, Celestial Crawler, Rocket Raider, and the mighty Quadron.
To make a hit, a player calls out two of the three coordinates (the sector and either the row or column). If an enemy spaceship occupies any part of that space, it gets hit. Once an opponent has found every part of the ship, it’s “vaporized” and out of play.
With a little more complexity and a modern space theme, Battleship Outer Space is a fun time for the whole family.
(Image credit: Hasbro)
This isn’t the Monopoly you remember as a kid. Instead of racing around collecting properties like Boardwalk and Park Place, you’ll be racing around collecting bits of the planets in our solar system and their moons. Monopoly Space is a race to own the universe.
The pieces are astronauts, rovers, spaceships, and satellites. Of course, the game’s most classic spaces — passing Go, going to jail, chance, and community chests, are all the same. It wouldn’t be Monopoly without them.
Trouble on the Moon
(Image credit: Hasbro)
Another classic turned cosmic, Trouble on the Moon makes some space-themed updates. Instead of trying to get several blob-shaped pieces “home,” you’re trying to get a group of astronauts exploring the moon safely into their airlocks. For the most part, playing this version is similar to playing the original Trouble. You pop a bubble in the middle of the board to roll two dice, which tell you how to move.
But in Trouble on the Moon, one of those die has a series of actions instead of numbers. Depending on the roll of that die, your astronauts might be afforded extra safety (like if you get fresh oxygen) or put into danger (like when you run into low fuel). The game also has a series of space tethers, which allow players to move more quickly around the board.
As with the original, the first player to get all four astronauts safely into their designated airlock wins the game.
The Crew: Quest for Planet Nine
(Image credit: Thames & Kosmos)
If you’re looking for a game that’s fun for the older space nerds in your life, The Crew is a perfect option. The Crew is a cooperative strategy game. Each player is on a team of astronauts traveling through the solar system in search of the mysterious Planet Nine. With cards and tokens, players need to complete 50 different missions on their journey, getting more and more difficult as the game progresses.
Each mission takes five to 10 minutes, and the game can be picked up over several different game plays (as long as you have the same team).
With a truly unique plot and challenges that require cooperation, The Crew makes for a fun game-night adventure.
(Image credit: Stellar Factory)
Once again, you and the other players in Spaceteam act together to save your crew. The premise of Spaceteam is that three to six astronauts (ie, players) are on a spaceship hurtling through space. But the ship is falling apart. In order to save yourselves, you have to work with the other members of your team to rebuild faster than it breaks.
Each player has a set of blue “space tool” cards with ridiculous names like “centrifugal dispenser” and a set of orange “malfunction” cards. When it’s time to play, you flip your first malfunction card face up on the table. And then you start shouting. Each malfunction care has a set of space tools that will fix it — you might have those tools in your hand, or they might be in someone else’s hand. In order to get the tools you need, you have to yell and hope someone on your team passes you the right card.
What makes this difficult (and a bunch of fun!) is that everyone else is trying to fix their own malfunction. And so, this becomes a game of yelling over, and listening to, each other to work together and fix the ship.
Anomaly cards thrown into the deck provide extra challenges, and “systems go” cards (6 of them, which represent different parts of the ship) need to be collected before time runs out to win the game.
Take it from Space.com staff, who are big fans of Spaceteam — this is a bundle of fun at any nerdy game night.
Butts in Space
(Image credit: Butts in Space)
As you might be able to guess, Butts in Space is hardly the most serious space game. As the story goes, Evil Butt has stolen all of the toilet paper in the universe and destroyed your toilet-shaped spaceship. Two to four players join the game as “Bow Butt,” “Hairy Butt,” “Classy Butt,” or “Butt Butt.”
This team of butts takes off on a quest throughout the universe to take the toilet paper back. These are, of course, no ordinary toilet papers. You have toilet paper that looks like a gumball machine, toilet paper that looks like a cupcake, like a pineapple, like a unicorn, and many more.
Throughout your quest, you’re dodging obstacles like “Power Farts” and gaining safety cards like a lucky pair of underpants. Whoever has the most sets of toilet paper cards at the end of the game wins.
This colorful, cartoony, hilarious game is a fun time for any space nerd who doesn’t take themselves too seriously.
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