BoardGameGeek's Top Ten - Which Board Games Are Going Digital?

By Admin 24 Mar 2020 3

We're currently enjoying a resurgance in board games the likes of which has never been seen before, and in recent years this has been propelled further by the rise and rise of digital board game ports. From Scythe to Twilight Struggle, not to mention all of the board war games out there, there's plenty of interesting new projects getting released in the physical and digital realms.

This is a spin-off of a similar article posted to our sister website Pocket Tactics which has since been retired. We'll check in with this regularly to see how much we can update, but the goal is to look at BoardGameGeek's top ten board game list, have a look at what is currently popular, and then offer up some research into whether those games are getting digital adaptations or not. You'd be surprised what is and isn't being considered for porting!

So, without further ado, let's get started!

Board Game Geek's Top Ten Board Games March 2020

Now that we've resolved 2014'a list, let's have a quick peak at the list as it stands today to see where we're at in terms of digital adaptations for mobile. As we're going to be updating this article semi-regularly, this part especially will change as BGG's own top ten list changes over time.

1. Gloomhaven

If any game needed a digital conversion, it'd be this behemoth of an Adventure/RPG. It'd certainly be a load off everyone’s minds (and backs, for the game weighs 10 kg). Thankfully it's definitely coming to PC at least thanks to Asmodee Digital, and the Early Access kicked off in July 2019. We had Matt take a look at it and come up with some pointers for anyone not familiar with the game.

2. Pandemic Legacy: Season 1

Unlikely, given that Legacy games stake their niche on physical alterations and a permanent end-state, concepts which don't exactly translate well to a digital app. Although that's not going to stop ACRAM Digital from trying with Charterstone, which is due out at the end of this month. The original game, Pandemic, already has a digital version that's quite good, so we imagine that'll be enough for most people.

3. Terraforming Mars

Asmodee digital released their digital adaptation in October 2018 for PC, although the mobile version wouldn't arrive until December 2020! You can read what we thought of the adaptation in our review.

4. Brass: Birmingham

It's been a while since there's been a significant change to BGG's top ten, and Brass: Birmingham's ascent has taken us by surprise. If you want to know more about this one you can read its entry in our list of excellent strategy board games, although as far as we know no digital adaptation is currently being considered.

5. Through the Ages

Through the Ages was ported back in September 2017, and it was well worth the wait. Available on PC and mobile it's one of our favourite board game ports. In a rare turn of events, some even enjoy playing the digital game more than the table-top version. In an even rarer turn of events, Through the Ages got its first expansion in September 2019, which released for the digital version of the game before the physical version.

This game was #4 for a long while, but was recently knock off its spot by Brass.

6. Twilight Imperium (Fourth Edition)

No, and not in the pipeline for similar reasons as Rebellion below (since FFG owns this one as well). Stretching back aeons (okay, 1997,) this sci-fi game featuring seventeen playable races in its present incarnation (4th ed.) is epic in duration and execution. Its ambitious design has stood the test of time, offering a related tabletop version of the intricacies of 4X genre, what with the conflict of warfare being counterbalanced by technology, economy and general politicking and ‘diplomacy,’ which is as genteel a front for betrayal and vendetta as any.

Given the massive scope, a digital version of this game would be near indistinguishable from a made-from-scratch Space 4X strategy game, and there's precious few of those on Mobile.

7. Twilight Struggle

Twilight Struggle is an extraordinarily cerebral head-to-head contest between players taking the roles of the US and the USSR during the Cold War, waging an indirect campaign against one another as you vie for influence with client states and spread your ideology.

First released in 2005 (and designed by XCOM: Enemy Within designer Ananda Gupta), Twilight Struggle was released for PC & iOS in 2016 by Playdek, and it was glorious. An Android release followed shortly afterwards, and there was much rejoicing.

twilight struggle steam

8. Star Wars: Rebellion

No digital plans that we know of, and probably not going to happen for a few reasons. Like Twilight Struggle, this game simulates a struggle between two factions for ultimate control and is heavy on bluffing and deception. While there's no reason an AI couldn’t reasonably emulate these qualities, FFG generally doesn’t make digital versions of games. They do have a dedicated digital studio which is hard at work making A Game of Thrones: The Board Game 2nd Edition into a digital product, so going from that to Rebellion isn't that large a step.

It's worth keep in mind though that Rebellion is also a premium product of a premium IP so its exclusivity on that front means a digital version might cheapen the game’s status, from a business standpoint.

(You should all check out the late-90's grand strategy game of the same name, which is available on Steam. The board game is pretty much a physical successor-ED)

9. Gaia Project

Possibly, especially since its spiritual precursor, Terra Mystica, already has a digital port. If Terra Mystica were re-imagined from the ground up and shot into space, it would look something like Gaia Project, which is a little more sandbox-y and a little less blueprint-y. Still every bit as cutthroat but, going with that space theme, a more capacious and innovative design.

10. Great Western Trail

While there is a free mod for Tabletop Simulator, no 'official' digital implantation has been done yet, and so far nothing has been announced. This is a game released in 2016 that sees you trying to herd cattle from Texas to Kansas City via train. It involves hand management and point-to-point movement, and is a very much a post-child for the modern board game Renaissance. It seems to have over-taken Scythe in terms of popularity recently, which is interesting.

We hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane - let us know if there are any other older articles you want us to take another look at and update! 

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