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Do you ever wish you could play Numberwang at home with out the risk of going to jail? Well now you can: with the release of the Official Numberwang Play Numberwang At Home Numberwang Board Game, you can play Numberwang at home, on a board! It's got everything you'll find in the program you love! It's got a board! It's got numbers! It's got two 400-sided dice! And all 37-volumes of the rules.

Syd Lexia's First Law of Pop Culture: If it was popular between 1975 and 1995, then there is a board game based on it.

You've seen the movie. You've read the books. You've watched the entire TV series and achieved every ending in the video game.

Now it's time to play... the board game.

Well, if you hate yourself, anyway.

You thought licensed video games were bad? Licensed board games have all the problems of licensed video games, compounded upon the fact that video games are quite a bit further out of the main stream than board games. Licensed video games will tend to be derivative, but at least they'll tend to be derivative of something that was good in the first place. Licensed board games will tend to be derivative of something that was mind-numbingly boring in the first place. In fact, often they won't even bother with making a derivative of an old game, they'll just take the game and change the name and pieces. For instance, the countless versions of Monopoly, Cluedo (or Clue, if you're a yankee) and Uno, regardless of whether the game fits the theme.

Not only that, but as board games fall under most people's radar, it's likely that more than one board game will be made of a franchise, with the exact same name, because nobody cared enough to keep track.

Even the best of series can easily get this treatment; whether or not the result turns out any good seems to depend on whether the makers bothered to find a company that actually makes good board games. (If they do, it's no guarantee the result will be good, of course, but at least it won't be abysmal, which is what will usually happen if they don't.)

A subtrope of this is the Home Game, for board-game adaptations of game shows. For adaptations that some tropers find particularly awful, see Bland Branded Board Game on Darth Wiki.


Exceptions:

  • The 1979 Dune board game, designed by Eon and published by Avalon Hill, is widely considered a classic. That didn't stop them from allowing Parker Brothers to make yet another Dune game in 1984, which hardly anyone cares about.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire was given a very good board game treatment by Fantasy Flight Games.
  • Blizzard has also licensed several of its computer games to Fantasy Flight for boardgame versions, including Warcraft, World of Warcraft and Starcraft. Probably because the makers of these games are tabletop game players themselves.
    • In particular, the Starcraft boardgame has the feel and spirit of Twilight Imperium, but with several unusually clever mechanics.
  • Doom the boardgame, again by Fantasy Flight.
    • If you want to play a first-person shooter on a board, Steve Jackson Games' Frag is designed to be this, from the ground up. You'll need a Santa's sack full of d6 to play it, though.
  • Gears of War: The Board Game, also by FFG.
  • The Lord of the Rings has had many, many board game adaptations. The last few have actually been good.
    • To be sure, it can be argued that RPGs are a sort of "Lord of the Rings" adaptation...
    • This troper enjoyed the Lord of the Rings version of Risk, if only because it gave a little more variety and a cooler setting to a game that can often get long and repetitive.
      • Did they make a LOTR version of Chutes and Ladders?
        • Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation is a highly rated boardgame that is similar to Stratego, except vastly better, seeing as each piece has different abilities, and players also get a hand of cards that they play to alter the course of a conflict. More importantly, it gets the feel of the books right. Boromir always dies early, Sauron's forces are MUCH stronger combat wise but lose if Frodo sneaks by them, and Gandalf god-modes the **censored** out of everything.
    • For some laughs, read the rules for this board game version of The Lord of the Rings. It's so awful it almost could be real.
    • Let us not forget the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game from Games Workshop, which may very well be the most financially successful tabletop adaptation ever. It is (as of this writing) the third most popular game that the company offers, behind the two Warhammer franchises.
    • This troper's favorite is the Reiner Knizia version, in which the players play as the four hobbits (plus Fatty Bolger) and, rather than competing against each other, have to cooperate and plan strategies to beat the game. If this troper remembers correctly, his family still hasn't won in the normal game, and hasn't tried it with the expansion pack since seeing how much harder it is.
  • Despite the mixed reception it received, Star Wars: Episode I was adapted by Hasbro into the surprisingly good Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit.
  • The Harry Potter games spawned a large non-trading card game based on the game Quidditch. It wasn't half bad, actually.
  • Tabletop RPG Exalted has two board game adaptations: War For the Throne and Legacy of the Unconquered Sun.
  • Inversion: The board game Clue has been adapted into a campy movie, a TV series, a musical, and a series of books.
  • The Discworld board game, Thud, has proved quite sucessful, largely because it's not so much a game based on the books as a game they might play in the books (and has since appeared as such). This is because Terry Pratchett maintains a high standard on spin-offs; in one piece about Thud he mentions the some of the other game ideas he'd been sent: "'In this game there's a war between the wizards and the witches...' No, I think there isn't, actually."
    • Two more board games have come out, both set in Ankh-Morpork, but made by different companies. Treefrog's Ankh-Morpork concerns power struggles between the various factions of city politics, while in Backspindle's Guards! Guards! the players are watchmen trying to track down the Eight Spells.
  • There was a Tetris board game during its heyday, which this troper remembers as kind of an ersatz 2D Jenga in reverse. And there appears to be a new version that operates more as a Connect-4 setup.
  • Star Trek-based wargame Star Fleet Battles is one of the most successful tabletop space combat games out there.
    • However, with the exception of a few names, it has almost nothing to do with the show or movies.
      • That's cause it was mostly taken from the Technical Manuals, and went off into its own universe (and license) prior to the movies.
  • Vampire: Prince of the City is the board game version of White Wolf's Vampire: The Requiem. Since it was made and published by the same company it is faithful to the spirit of the RPG while still being fun to play.
  • If there's a long running game show, there's a board game version around somewhere. (This troper particularly enjoyed the home version of Jeopardy!).
  • This troper has seen a Mortal Kombat CCG.
  • This troper remembers playing a Goosebumps board game in second grade that was rather fun. (She's heard that there's actually two of them.)
    • If memory serves, one of those boardgames had an appropriately Nightmare Fuel -ish ending where two of the kids playing turned into zombies.
    • One game involved various kids from different books sneaking through a graveyard. It truly was rife with Nightmare Fuel, a faceless grim-reaper figure, being turned into trees, death by falling into empty graves and tombs. Spooky stuff.
  • The Battlestar Galactica board game s reportedly extremely unique and fun, especially if it's played similar to a roleplaying game: the game is co-operative, and gimmick of the game is that one or more of the players is a Cylon and is actively, and secretly, trying to undermine everyone else.
  • Then there's Lost: the game. It came out early in the run of the show. There's probably something in the game that has been contradicted in the show.
  • Dawn of the Dead spawned a surprisingly good tactical board game which captured the glacial inevitability of the zombies well. It even sported a solo play mode where one had to weld all of the doors shut and then eliminate all of the zombies in the mall.
  • Pooyan had a board-game version that was actually quite well done.
  • Order of the Stick has a board game that's basically a much simplified version of Dungeons and Dragons, filled to the brim with lampshade hangings. Of course even when simplified, it still takes a good hour to get through all the rules of the game and understanding how it all works. To help this he also includes a small comic to explain the basic gist of the game, and says if you don't feel like reading the manual, you can just wing it on stuff you don't get.
  • Bionicle had a board game that was generally well-recieved by the fans.
  • Warhammer AND Warhammer 40000 have seen a number of quality games from Fantasy Flight Games. Chaos In The Old World puts each player in the role of the Chaos Powers in a race to conquer the Warhammer Fantasy world first. Horus Heresy is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, an reenactment of the infamous event with one player as the traitors and the other as the Imperium. Part of what makes these games fun is the multiple paths to victory in addition to the random events/scenarios that prevent the game from getting stale too quickly.
  • There is a Back to The Future card game that is a version of Chrononauts, but much more streamlined and with the rules tweaked a bit. It is actually better than the original.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a fun search-and-fight boardgame adaptation with scenarios covering the first four seasons. There was also a different Buffy game, and an Angel one, which were the usual awful licensed fodder.
  • Arkham Horror, a highly-rated and much-expanded boardgame set in the Cthulhu universe. Not a short game, though, and not easy either.

Almost exceptions:

  • Magic: The Gathering, when it first came out, launched a craze of Collectible Card Games, most of which were both licensed and imitations of Magic. Many of them may have been bad, but at least they imitated something good.
  • The Mad magazine board game was specifically a parody of Monopoly-style games; the object of the game is to lose all your money, and the Community Chest cards bear instructions such as "Switch places with the person sitting to your left" or "This card may only be played on a Friday."
  • A number of the Parker Brothers Star Wars licensed versions of regular games actually add in new game mechanics to make the game a bit different. Force Jumping Stratego pieces, anyone?
  • In 2002, Eagle Games made a Board Game adaptation of Civilization called Civilization: the Boardgame[1] Although the rules can be quite convulted at times, there currently exists two interesting variations which seeks to streamline and make it more faithful to the game, respectively.
  • Hikaru no Go deserves an honorary mention for being an inversion; a Shonen anime about playing a classic boardgame.
  • The Walking Dead has at least two board games, one of which is not at all bad for a standard "move around the board collecting tokens and avoiding hazards" adaptation. What makes it is the sheer brutality; zombie encounters require decent weapons to even have a chance at escaping intact, but most weapons are single-use and once the deck is exhausted there's no more to scavenge. Allies act as extra hit points but again are removed permanently once they die. Oh, and the first couple of players to be eliminated come back as zombies trying to kill the survivors.

Notes

  1. Which is interesting, as Civilization itself is a video game adaptation of a board game
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