Tabletop Games That Would Make a Good Movie

Your uncle Geekly made a list like of tabletop games that would make a good movie three or four years ago, but a lot can happen over the course of years, Uncle Geekly’s a fickle bastard, so the list would’ve changed two weeks after the first one. Hungry, Hungry Hippos? Nah, too scary. Ouija? Ach! Hollywood already made a movie about that since the last list. Maybe the following five games would make a good movie.

And yes, there have been good board game movies. Clue was one, I think. Unfortunately, they’re rebooting it. Ugh!



At first glance, someone may think of Scythe as a war game, but it’s more of a cold war game. It’s set in an alternate sci-fi fantasy version of post-World War I Europe. The technology used to fight The Great War far exceeds our current tech. One look at a gargantuan Mech is a great cue, but despite its vast technology, this world is more of an agrarian continent destabilized by conflict.

Scythe’s story changes depending on how gamers play, but the overall concept has the makings of a political thriller with plenty of espionage. This is a cold war game after all. It’s just a cold war game with Mechs, and that’s awesome.


Pandemic: Legacy

The original Pandemic made the first list of this type, and one could argue that there’s already a Pandemic movie out there (Contagion), but Pandemic: Legacy adds what at first can be viewed as a subtle layer of storytelling that becomes so pronounced toward the middle of the game (gamers play a finite number of games, usually 24, because there is a story that unfolds like a movie or TV show) that you realize you aren’t playing base game Pandemic anymore. I won’t spoil anything here.

But the fact that I could spoil a tabletop game for someone suggests that it could make a great movie or TV show. I’m not that picky.



People have seen high fantasy movies where the heroes join forces to conquer a common evil or foe. Gloomhaven shakes things up by having these “heroes” motivated by selfish endeavors and that needs to happen more in high fantasy stories. The city of Gloomhaven is down on its luck. You can kind of guess that by its name. Its “heroes” or anti-heroes don’t mirror the world in which they live.

This has the potential to be a dark movie, but in the hands of the right people, Gloomhaven could have some of the deepest fantasy characters.


Dead of Winter

Dead of Winter may come off as a Walking Dead clone, but like Walking Dead, the zombies aren’t the most engaging thing about the story. The survivors take center stage. In Dead of Winter, players don’t know who the traitor is in their midst, they don’t even know if there is a traitor. This set up has the trappings of a good psychological thriller.

The setting of a zombie-apocalypse in the bitter cold adds another layer of tension. Finding out that food rations go missing or there aren’t enough being produced as before or that items like coats and firewood go missing would call into question everyone’s loyalty.


Fireball Island

Sometimes you just want a dumb action movie about grabbing treasure and getting the heck off an island. Hire a resident actor of weird roles like Tim Curry, Johnny Depp, Neil Patrick Harris, or Jim Carrey and add them to the formula of a huge volcano god puking fireballs, and you’ll have yourself a hit. You just need a volcano god puking fireballs.

These five games can’t be the only ones good for a movie adaptation. Slap me upside the head with a VHS tape—those are ancient movie viewing devices for younger readers—or let me know about it in comments. If you like what we do, subscribe to our page to get updates and then you can let me know how wrong I am as soon as possible.

3 Lists of 3 Tabletop Game Themes

Your uncle Geekly has talked about board game mechanisms in the past, so I figured it may be a good time to cover some tabletop games that tackle some great themes and intellectual properties. Let’s start with some board games that do a great job of putting their players in the middle of some other world.

Games that perfectly captured the intellectual property it used


Firefly: The Game

I resisted playing this game for several years because I heard it used the pickup and delivery mechanism, and it sounded boring flying around the ‘Verse picking up things and dropping them off at other planets. But that’s what Serenity’s crew does. Firefly: The Game excels at capturing the feel of the original TV show. Players fly around various ports, picking up passengers and crew and cargo and performing jobs, while avoiding Reavers and the Alliance.

Easter Eggs flood this game. Character abilities and motivations—yes, there’s enough character development and story for the characters to have motivations—make sense. I’ve played and replayed the scenarios more than I can remember. This is a must play for any Firefly fan.

star wars rebellion01

Star Wars: Rebellion

I liked this game a ton when it first came out and stand by what I’ve said in the past that Star Wars: Rebellion is the original trilogy in a tabletop game. The only issue I had with it was its runtime. Firefly isn’t a short game either, but it’s quick compared to Star Wars: Rebellion. But like Firefly: The Game, Rebellion feels like the original trilogy.

The Empire tries to find the hidden Rebel base and crush it. The Rebels perform various tactics to undermine the Empire, so the planets overthrow their oppression. Rebellion is a great example of how to design an asymmetric game, but it also happens to cast the two gamers playing it in two very different positions that mirror—but doesn’t duplicate—the roles in the original movies.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past

This is another one I’ve talked about in the past, but Shadows of Time deserves another mention. It’s another game that features asymmetric sides that play like gamers would expect them to. One player takes on the role of Shedder and the rest of the Foot Clan, while the rest of the players join forces as the Turtles.

Each turtle’s power set matches their strength as ninjas and their personality. This is by far the quickest of the three games mentioned so far and that’s a huge plus for my family. I also like how adaptable Shadows of Time can be. Gamers may play a campaign (an extended story) or play individual scenarios. The dice sharing mechanism is great; it brings the combat to life.

Can you feel that? I think it’s called Turtle Power.

Games that don’t use an intellectual property, but they are heavily based on one


Dead of Winter

There are plenty of Walking Dead board games out there; most of them stink, so don’t waste your time with them. Dead of Winter doesn’t use the IP, but it does a great job of capturing what makes the series great: internal struggle.

Are there zombies present? Yes, but like the TV show, player alliances and motives factor as much as the walkers. Traitors and the threat of traitors will have gamers doubting if the others seated at the table are friend or foe.

Dead of Winter also has plenty of survival elements, where players must determine which needs are most pressing. It’s a tense game that captures what the essence of The Walking Dead.


Wasteland Express Delivery Service

As the name implies, this is another pickup and delivery game, but this time players traverse a dystopia like the one found in the Mad Max franchise.

I’m not going to lie, I like the idea of delivering packages while avoiding berserk motorbike gang members—from the safety of my gaming table of course. The game shows the underrepresented people of this world who just want to live a normal life apart from the freaks patrolling the roads. How does the other half live?

Wasteland Express Delivery Service does a great job of combining a dissimilar mechanic (pickup and delivery) and theme (Mad Max), but it’s using the Mad Max theme and designer Jon Gilmour doesn’t try to hide it. Wait. Gilmour’s a co-designer of Dead of Winter and Wasteland Express Delivery Service. I’m sensing a trend.


Dinosaur Island

Yep. There is a trend. Gilmour co-designed the hodgepodge of game mechanisms that is Dinosaur Island, and Dinosaur Island is Jurassic Park the board game. Like The Walking Dead, there are a lot of bad Jurassic Park board games out there and Dinosaur Island is a great one that doesn’t have the license.

Players build their own Jurassic Park and how awesome is that? Dinosaur Island also happens to be a great study in how to combine seemingly unlikely game mechanisms to form a cohesive whole. I’m a Gilmour fan if you can’t tell.

Games with interesting themes



Sagrada’s been a critical darling and that stems from the marriage of its theme and gameplay. Players compete to construct the stained-glass window masterpieces in the Sagrada Familia. The game uses dice drafting, and the dice it uses are color-coded to match the windows. It’s a simple, beautiful game that I highly recommend.


Great Western Trail

Have you ever wanted to relive City Slickers? Well, you can with Great Western Trail. Players move cattle from Texas to Kansas city, taking turns to add to your herd, construct buildings, and contracting cowboys, engineers, and craftsman.

I’m not a huge fan of point salad games (point salad games are those games where players cobble together enough points from various means to achieve victory), but Great Wester Trail is a great strategy game and the theme of cattle wrestling isn’t used enough in tabletop games. My only complaint is that they don’t go through Omaha.


New York Slice

Pizza. There aren’t enough games that use pizza as their theme. “I cut, you choose” game mechanism. There aren’t enough games that use the “I cut, you choose” game mechanism, and New York Slice’s gameplay is mostly that. The first player in the round splits up a pizza composed of 11 random slices (meat lovers, pepperoni, cheese, veggie, and more). The player to the first player’s left picks which slices they want and play continues in a clockwise fashion until the player who split the pizza gets the slices remaining.

New York Slice is lightning fast, and I can’t think of a better way of teasing dinner for your guests. Mwah-ha-ha!

Do you agree with my picks? Cool. If you don’t, you can take to the message boards and let me know about it comments.

3 Lists of 3 Halloween Tabletop Games

It’s that time of year where gamers want to be spooked or maybe fight back against the things that go bump in the night. Happy Halloween, folks. Your uncle Geekly gets a little ahead of himself sometimes, but Halloween must be around the corner.

Since it’s the time for ghosts and goblins, let’s do a three lists of three for board games that use a horror, ghost, or spooky theme. Don’t worry. Uncle Geekly ain’t afraid of no ghosts.

Exploration and Investigation Games

Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition

Of the three games in this list, no one game combines exploration and investigation as well as Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition. This app-assisted Cthulhu game (you’ll see a lot more of Cthulhu on this list) can set the right mood for Halloween, but beware that Mansions takes a long time to play. Even short scenarios can take hours. Any time spent with Mansions of Madness is time well spent.

There are plenty of other, shorter games on this list. Mansions of Madness is the main course.


Betrayal at House on the Hill

My family and I play Betrayal at House on the Hill at least once every Halloween. It has a nice blend of horror and suspense genres in its various scenarios. The game can get unbalanced at times, but exploring the house is a lot of fun and perfect for a little spook time.

The Widow’s Walk expansion isn’t necessary, but some famous game designers like Christopher Badell (Sentinels of the Multiverse), Rob Daviau (grand master of all Legacy games), and Jonathan Gilmour (Dead of Winter) chip in with some new haunts. Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate is a standalone Dungeon and Dragons variant to the classic Betrayal, so if D&D is more your thing, it does a great job of combining the two genres.

TIME Stories

T.I.M.E. Stories

This one’s a little of a cheat. T.I.M.E. Stories isn’t necessarily a horror game, but it does exploration and investigation better than most games on this list, and the first scenario occurs in an asylum, so that gets a little spooky.

If you’re not familiar with T.I.M.E. Stories, think of it as a mash up of Assassin’s Creed and Quantum Leap. Players get sent a specific time/space by a secret organization and they have finite time to fix something or right a wrong. This setup allows for a lot of various themes and that makes T.I.M.E. Stories more diverse than many other games on this list.

Bust Some Ghosts or Goblins or Zombies Games

Dead of Winter

Dead of Winter

The goal of a most Dead of Winter scenarios may not revolve around busting zombies, but zombies will be busted along the way. To be fair, the zombies have an easy time overrunning the players, so players don’t usually feel that empowered, but when they do, it’s a great feeling.

Characterization and a good story—thanks to the Crossroads game system—do a lot to separate Dead of Winter from a lot of other horror or spooky games. It’s worth the play, especially if it’s cold outside.

Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories

Plenty of gamers get frustrated with Ghost Stories. It’s easily the most difficult game on any of these lists—in terms of how brutal it is to the players—and what’s worse is that players are typically lulled into a false sense of security. But Ghost Stories is one of the best ghost themed games on the market.

It almost works like a tower defense game with nightmare fuel bombarding the players each turn. The players assume the roles of Kung-Fu masters. It’s the power these masters possess that gives players that false sense of security I mentioned earlier, but the variable powers work well in this title. I’m glad Ghost Stories is back in print. Just in time for Halloween.


Elder Sign

Sometimes you just want to chuck some dice. There will be other dice games in the third list, but those dice games are quick and don’t offer much in the way of brain burning. Elder Sign combines dice rolling with high strategy.

As the name implies, Elder Sign is another Cthulhu title—I may have to come up with a third one of these for the last list, so I’ll have one Cthulhu game in each list—but Elder Sign feels like the players are going head-to-head against an elder god more than most other games of its type. That’s why it’s on our “Bust some ghosts or goblins or zombies” list. I like to kick Cthulhu’s butt, but to be fair, he usually kicks mine.

Quick, Fun, and Light Games


Zombie Dice

I’ve talked about Zombie Dice before, but it’s a great, quick game where players push their luck as zombies trying to eat brains. Mmm…brains.

Zombie Dice also has a small footprint—it doesn’t take up much space on the table—so you could play it while going Trick or Treating. But not in the street. Never play dice games in the middle of the street.


Don’t Mess with Cthulhu

Yes! I completed the Cthulhu trio. Don’t Mess with Cthulhu is a quick, social deduction game where some players are trying to figure out who’s summoning Cthulhu and other players are trying to summon the elder god.

Luck plays a huge factor in this game, but it’s so silly and fast that you won’t mind. When Don’t Mess with Cthulhu hits the table, my family rarely plays just one game.


King of Tokyo

I had to go a little off-topic again with King of Tokyo. Players control large monsters or kaiju. The gameplay resembles Yahtzee if Yahtzee had a King of the Hill aspect added to it—hence the title King of Tokyo. Sure, the game includes player elimination, but at fifteen to twenty minutes a game, one doesn’t have to wait long before exacting their revenge.

King of Tokyo is another fun party game that’s hard to play just one game of.

There are so many Halloween ready tabletop games I could’ve included. What are some of yours? Are there any categories your uncle Geekly left out of these three lists of three? I won’t answer the loud knock on my door, but you could let me know in comments.