If you love books, board games and game nights, then this post is for you.
Well, it’s really for me since I’m obsessed with board games. Doing a strictly literary-themed game night is on my list of to-dos but I have yet to find enough friends who are book lovers and who also love game nights (and who live in the same place, plus whose schedules line up) to do it with me. But, I assume one day the stars will align to make it happen.
But anyway. Here’s my ultimate list of book-themed board games:
Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Board Game of English Magic (2019)
2-4 players | Strategy | More
A beautifully illustrated game. Collect magic and power to become the most celebrated magician of your era. To be released June 2019.
Moby Dick, or, The Card Game (2013)
2-4 players | 60 min playtime | Card Game | More
The last one alive wins. Will you survive your voyage on the Pequod?
Marrying Mr. Darcy (2014) + Undead Expansion (2014) + Emma Expansion (2016)
2–6 players | 45 min playtime | RPG | More
Attend events, improve your character, choose your suitors, get courted and get married. Good, clean Austen-y fun.
The Jane Game: A Jane Austen Trivia Game (2014)
2–7 players | 75 min playtime | Trivia | More
Test your knowledge of Jane Austen’s works.
Polite Society (2018)
2-5 players | 30 min playtime | Easy | More
Generate assets to lure the best characters to your dinner party! The first person to complete their dinner party wins. A lovely game with a genuinely Austen-esque victory condition.
Shakespeare (2015) + Shakespeare Backstage (2016)
1-4 players | 55 min playtime | Complex | More
This is a board game favorite of many. In Shakespeare, you have one week to put together your show at the Globe Theater. Recruit actors, craftsment, jewelers, and more to make your show a success (and net you the prestige points you need to win).
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island (2012) + Mystery Tales Expansion (2019)
1-4 players | 100 min playtime | Complex | Cooperative | More
This well-loved, cooperative game is for serious board gamers. Create your own version of the classic castaway story. (The one from Z-Man games and Portal Games are the same game.)
The Witches: A Discworld Game (2013)
1-4 players | 90 min playtime | More
Train as witches, learn your craft, manage crises. Play competitively, cooperatively, or solo.
Bards Dispense Profanity: A Party Game (2016)
4-20 players | 20 min playtime | Easy | More
A Cards Against Humanity / Apples-to-Apples-type game with a Shakespearean twist.
2-6 players | 120 min playtime | Complex | More
This highly anticipated board game was originally released in 1979, but is getting a 2019 reprint and update thanks to its many dedicated fans. Based off Frank Herbert’s Dune novels, this game is set on an uncharted planet in space. Manage your faction to gain resources (spices), fight off sandworms (bad guys!), and defeat everyone else. Control the most strongholds on the planet independently or via an alliance to win.
Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger (2018)
1-20+ players | 60 min playtime | Easy | More
It’s part (mini) board game, part Choose-Your-Own-Adventure. Choose options. Read about the outcomes. Collect points. Win!
The Masque of Red Death (2018)
4-7 players | 75 min playtime | Medium Complexity | More
Based on the Edgar Allen Poe short story of the same name, in this game, you’ll try to curry favor with the prince and get information about which rooms the Red Death will visit, all before the clock strikes midnight. If you’re still alive, the player with the highest social status wins.
Watson & Holmes (2015)
2-7 players | 60 min playtime | Detective Game | More
Be the first to solve a series of thirteen cases from the files of Sherlock Holmes. Note that this game is not replayable, once you’ve solved all the cases, it’ll be time to pass it on to someone else to enjoy.
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders (2017) + Jack the Ripper / West End (2018)
1-8 players | 90 min playtime | Detective Game | More
This detective game has gotten solid reviews, and players recommend it either solo or with one other person. Each game has 10 cases to be solved. Each case can only be solved once. (There’s a third game in this series, but the game is originally French and apparently the translation is abysmal.)
221B Baker Street: The Master Detective Game (2014) + Deluxe Edition (2016)
2-6 players | 90 min playtime | Clue-Styled Game | More
A Clue-styled game, but with little “cases” to be solved. It’s an update of the same game that was popular many years ago. The Gibson’s version has 100 cases. The Deluxe version has 200 cases.
Eldrich Horror (2013)
1-8 players | 180 min playtime | Complex | Cooperative | More
There are so, so many Lovecraftian games, but Eldrich Horror is one of the best, in my opinion. An ancient evil approaches, can you ward it off?
Pillars of the Earth (2006)
2-4 players | 100 min playtime | More
Based on Ken Follet’s Pillars if the Earth, this game is about the building of a cathedral. Get craftsman, gold, workers and victory points to win.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle (2016) + The Monster Box of Monsters Expansion (2017)
2-4 players | 45 min playtime | Deck-building game | Cooperative | More
Build your deck. Save Hogwarts.
Council of Verona, 2nd Ed. (2014) + Corruption Expansion (2015)
2–5 players | 20 min playtime | Easy | More
Play as the Montagues and Capulets as you compete for control of Verona. There’s also a gorgeous French version of the game, Verone, from Ferti games.
Mystery of the Abbey (1995)
3-6 players | 75 min playtime | Clue-styled game | More
This game was originally styled based on Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose (it’s a murder mystery set in a medieval monastary) according to its designer, though it’s not marketed as such. Collect clues, make accusations, find the culprit!
The Scarlet Pimpernel (2019)
2-6 players | 75 min playtime | More
A game based on Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel. Set during the precipice to the French Revolution, as the member of the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel you’ll help to save innocents from the guillotine! Work together, but only the best will become the Scarlet Pimpernel’s most trusted advisor.
The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet (2013)
2–5 players | 25 min playtime | All Ages (8+) | More
A fun game for the family, or just as a casual game for The Little Prince fans. Build a planet!
The Play’s the Thing (1993)
2–4 players | 60 min playtime | More
Set in Shakespearean London, you’re actors at the Globe. Make your way around the board, dueling, collecting scenes from the Bard’s plays and finally “perform” the most scenes to win.
The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth (2019)
1–5 players | 90 min playtime | Cooperative | More
Fantasy Flight makes a number of Lord of the Rings board games. Journeys in Middle Earth is the newest, cooperative game. Gather your party, battle foes, and have fun traversing through Middle Earth.
A Game of Thrones: Second Edition (2011)
3-6 players | 180 min playtime | Complex | More
King Robert Baratheon is dead. Now’s your chance to use diplomacy, strategy and military might to lead your House to take the Iron Throne in Westeros. Can you win the Game of Thrones?
2–6 players | 120 min playtime | Monopoly-styled game | More
Acquire book properties to win this monopoly-esque game.
Bring Your Own Book (2015)
3-8 players | 40 min playtime | More
This creative game turns your favorite books into the star of the game. Pick phrases from the book that fulfill the requirements on the cards to get points.
What games didn’t make the cut?
Some games were literary, but reviews suggested were just not very good games. For example, the Trivial Pursuit Book Lover’s Edition game apparently has rather dated literary references that make the game a little impossible and not very fun.
There are also about a gazillion more Harry Potter, Sherlock, LOTR, Lovecraftian games, so I selected a few of the best for the list instead of including them all.
A lot of other games that didn’t make the cut were good games, but aren’t being made anymore, so are only available if you buy it from someone online, probably for a large markup. For example, Discworld: Ankh-Morpork is supposed to be fantasic, but you’ll have to find it from a collector. There’s also the game The Great Penguin Bookchase, a trivia-styled game, that looks fun, but isn’t available anymore. A Study in Emerald, based on the Neil Gaiman short story, is sadly out of print (“OOP”) as well.
Hope you enjoyed this list of book-themed board games! Am I missing anything? Drop me a line, below!
P.S. Also see Jane Eyre, as told through internet memes
How fun! Love a good boardgame. I have to get my hands on Marrying Mr. Darcy!
Thanks! Board games are the best, and Marrying Mr. Darcy is one where you can tell the person who made it is clearly a genuine Austenite :)
Great list, many interesting games I should look out for! I’ve played and really enjoyed A Game of Thrones (despite not caring too much about the books). I haven’t played Eldritch Horror but I liked Arkham horror so I should try it. For Lord of the Rings Games I really like War of the Rings, but of course it is impossible to find enough time to actually play it…
Thank you! I prefer Eldritch Horror over Arkham, personally, but the’re both great games. Agree that the real challenge with board games is always finding time (and others with enough time) to play haha
Some of these look fantastic. Really want to try the Castaway and Eldritch Horror games 😊
Eldritch Horror and Robinson Crusoe are great, but they both take a bit of effort to learn the rules, so fair warning (esp Robinson Crusoe)! Totally worth it though!
I am a Dungeon Master at D&D … learning more rules than I care to count is becoming second nature 🙈
I’ve never thought to buy a board game based on books but some of these look genuinely cool and fun to play. Especially Bookopoly, it basically combines my love of books with my love of monopoly – and I can actually get my friends to play it (they aren’t as dedicated to books as I am.
I mean the best literary board games are probably ones that would be great games even without the literary theme. Monopoly is so great in that you can have fun with it regardless of how old you are, a true classic :)
I love Bring Your Own Book. So much fun.
I love the concept, it’s so original!
What great post!So much fun!
Thank you! :)
Thanks! And thanks for dropping by!
This was such a fun post, thank you! We love Harry Potter trivia pursuit :)
Thank you! Oooo I bet I would love that. There were sadly too many good Harry Potter games to list them all, that topic probably deserves its own post haha :)
Haha yes, there is so many monopoly, clue and trivial pursuit versions!
These look like fun!
Yup! the hard part is finding the time to play them all haha :)
I have the Trivial Pursuit “Book Lovers” edition. Even having worked in a bookstore and a library, it was hard! The other thing is that I think it came out in 2004 or so, and I think there’s a good bit of bias toward recent books and events in the book world, but those things are hard to remember ten or more years out!
Ahhh that makes sense. It’s a shame, I hope they update it at some point, since it sounds like fun!
The Witches and Robison Crusoe games look really interesting! I didn’t know there were these many games! Maybe because in India they’re not really popular or available. Moby Dick is on my TBR.
thanks for checking it out! moby dick is a tough book to read, but props to you if you’re able to finish it! :)
Great list! The Witches and Eldritch Horror added to my list :)
thank you! I love eldrich horror, though it takes a while to set up and learn the rules etc. It’s totally worth the effort though!
This is such a great list! I think I’ve heard of marrying mr darcy- it sounds a lot of fun :D And I’d love to play bookopoly and the discworld witches! I have play the game of thrones board game and really enjoyed it!
Thank you! I think a decent amount of board game lovers are also book nerds, so literary board games are definitely an area where you can find some great gems. Marry Mr. Darcy is totally one of them — the mechanics are a little more luck-based than I normally like, but it’s a game you can have a lot of fun with if everyone is enthusiastic about being silly with it. :)
Great post! I’ll be checking out a few of these games for sure!
Another good game that is book/story themed is ‘once upon a time’ which is a story telling game card game. Good fun if you’ve got some creative friends!
ooo thanks for the heads up, I’ll have to check it out! and thank you!
I do like the look of The Witches gqme
I’ve played the Eldritch Horror game–it’s not bad :)
Amazing blog post about board games!
I did not know nor realize there are so many board games that are based on or related to literature!
I am curious for the Jane Austen game because her novels are so extensive but genius in the same way. I like dictionary trivia’s so I think I’ll like Jane Austen’s game too!
Greetings by Sophie
Great List! I think This War of Mine is also an amazing board game and actually, you use a book.
haha I’ve heard great things about it, but this list is just for board games that are based on books!