The cold season is upon us (at least for most people in the northern hemisphere), which means it’s time for books. And board games. Maybe both? Can the feel of a book be transported into a board game or the other way round? Naty from Naty’s Book Shelf and I are on a mission to find out!
In case you read fiction, definitely check out Naty’s blog for some interesting takes on books. If you don’t read fiction, what are you even doing with your life? Start reading fiction! Naty’s Book Shelf has some nice recommendations for you.
So, today we will give you some ideas which books resemble which board games and vice versa. I’ll start with two book recommendations based on board games you might have enjoyed, and Naty gives two recommendations the other way round. We have purposefully avoided books/board games which are from the same intellectual property (“If you liked this Star Wars book, play this Star Wars game). It’s about the feel of a game!
Legends of Andor: The Lord of the Rings
You’ve played Legends of Andor. You and your group have gone out exploring lands far away and have returned to defend your home. You know that you are at your strongest together, but that sometimes one of you needs to go their own way – for the quest, for the good of the group. You’ve found treasures, defeated dark mages, found your own purpose, and all of it before the last day you had to complete your quest was over. And yet, something is missing. Something that elevates your task to an epic. Something that gives more meaning to your actions, to your heroes. Something that does not only deal with how you achieved your goal, but also how you felt while you did it.
No book fits that bill better than the revered classic The Lord of the Rings. It has defined, nay, almost invented the genre of high fantasy. A small group of heroes (some of them unlikely, and, a bit unwilling) must confront the great evil spirits rising again. While they fight frequently, it is not their goal – they just do it to achieve their quest of destroying the One Ring on which the power of the dark lord Sauron rests. However, they must hurry lest the narrator reach the N space… pardon me, lest Sauron overpower the Free Peoples before the Ring can be destroyed. And, as it happens, more often than not, someone needs to leave the group to do fulfill their own destiny as a part of the greater plan – like a certain wizard who never explains where he is going.
Terraforming Mars: The Martian
You’ve played Terraforming Mars. You love turning a barren wasteland into a planet worth inhabiting. You’ve done it on a grand scale. On Mars. For science, and a bit also for profit. And sometimes you dream that Elon Musk confesses during an interview that he wants to be as great a visionary as you. Then you feel pretty good about yourself. Until you remember that in order to do it, to indeed terraform Mars, you had an entire corporation’s resources at your disposal. Could you do it alone? Just yourself, alone, with whatever you had at your hands?
That’s the challenge in which Mark Watney finds himself in The Martian. His fellow astronauts leave him behind on Mars believing he died in a storm. And now Watney can either come to terms with his death or try to prolong his life as long as possible – until, four years later and 2,000 miles away from his position, the next manned mission will land. Watney needs to grow his own food, to power-up his rover for the long journey, to cope with the unpredictability of Mars and the frequent setbacks. Join him on his quest to live off his own ingenuity. And maybe, in the end you’ll confess that you want to be as a great a visionary as he is.
Stalking Jack the Ripper: Letters from Whitechapel
Stalking Jack the Ripper is one of the most exciting historical fiction books I’ve read, its story revolving around Audrey Rose, the daughter of a lord who secretly studies forensic medicine. When she finds herself entangled in the serial murders by Jack the Ripper, her life gets a lot more complicated. This book has a mysterious atmosphere, it’s thrilling and a bit sinister. It keeps you immersed in the world of Victorian England and those dark times.
So Letters from Whitechapel will be a nice match for fans of this book! Not only does it have the theme of Jack the Ripper’s murders, but also I feel the atmosphere is quite close to the book’s: it’s quite thrilling to chase Jack the Ripper (or to be Jack and try to outsmart the police), having no idea where he is, trying to collect evidence and to out-think a serial murderer. The rules are easy to follow, so it’s nice even for people who aren’t used to playing boardgames very often. Once Clio got the game, we played this SO many times. It’s lots of fun!
The Naked Chef: Frutti di Mare
Alright, this is a very funny match, but bear with me! My mom has been a fan of Jamie Oliver for a long time, and we’ve been watching his shows for a long time (not that I learned any recipe). The Naked Chef was wildly popular when it came out, and I think it still is. I think my mom has a copy, and my most vivid memories of Jamie Oliver’s episodes are pastas, steaks and rosemary leaves.
So, if you like cooking and eating (or, really, just a fun theme), Frutti di Mare is a great game. It’s a more entertaining version of chess for 2 to 6 people, with each piece being a seafood. Mount your army of mussels, salmon, calamari and others to beat your opponents in a battle field made of spaghetti! The rules are easy and they come in a menu. I also recommend this for beginners!
If you liked this post, make sure to check out our first collaboration on bookish board games!