Gathered your loved ones around the table to play some of the best space board games. Some of our picks are out-of-this-world, quite literally!
Whether you’re in the mood for a planetary exploration adventure, a galaxy-hopping conquest, extra-terrestrial encounters, or tactical starship combat, we’ve got you covered with the best space board games in the universe. Most are intended for those aged 12 and over, and can be finished in two hours or less. We've not put them in a particular order, as each one offers something a bit different.
We've included something for every need and every budget on this page, but if you still can't find what you're looking for then be sure to check out our best gifts for space fans, best Star Wars gifts and deals and our Lego space deals pages.
Space.com has combed the cosmos to deliver this bold collection of the finest tabletop sci-fi games to entertain relatives and friends, to infinity and beyond. Now, pull up a chair, roll the dice, and let’s dive in…
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- Publisher: FryxGames
- MSRP: $69.95
Terraforming Mars challenges two to four players to transform the Red Planet in a game that's at once cooperative and competitive. The first to get Mars past the tipping point of habitability with their megacorporation wins the 24th century. You'll need to raise the planet's temperature, make some air, build cities, and oceans while managing all your resources.
If Mars isn't enough, turn your sights on this selection of expansions on the base game, which takes you to the deadly atmosphere of Venus (Terraforming Mars: Venus Next) and beyond in Terraforming Mars: The Colonies as the colonising of the Solar System continues. Or there's one called Terraforming Mars: Prelude that can be combined with any expansion you like to jumpstart your gameplay. It says a lot about a game when there are so many expansions available!
The Crew: Quest for Planet Nine
- Publisher: Kosmos Games
- MSRP: $14.99
If you're looking for a game that's fun for the older space nerds in your life, The Crew is a perfect option. The Crew is a cooperative strategy game. Each player is on a team of astronauts traveling through the solar system in search of the mysterious Planet Nine. With cards and tokens, players need to complete 50 different missions on their journey, getting more and more difficult as the game progresses.
Each mission takes five to 10 minutes, and the game can be picked up over several different game plays (as long as you have the same team). With a truly unique plot and challenges that require you all working together, The Crew makes for a fun game-night adventure for all (ages 10+).
Alien The Role Playing Game
- Publisher: Free League Publishing
- MSRP: $44.99
Sweden’s Free League Publishing is putting out an impressive roster of award-winning RPGs lately. Check out this starter set for their official Alien role playing game that introduces you to a universe of body horror and corporate brinkmanship, where synthetics play god while lowly space truckers and gung-ho marines are host to newborn xenomorphic nightmares.
When the Weyland-Yutani Corporation diverts you to answer a distress call from a ghost ship that disappeared 80 years ago, a derelict vessel carrying something twisted and alien is found. What the ship’s frozen crew brings back with them is bad enough, let alone what they themselves are turning into. Hold your breath and play your cards right. You just might walk away rich... or dead.
- Publisher: Pearl Games
- MSRP: $79.99
As resources dwindle, in a desperate attempt to save the human race the nations of Earth band together to create Black Angel – a gigantic, technological-advanced spacecraft that’s completely controlled by AI to safely transport human genetics across the galaxy.
Play this beautiful, brightly-colored board game solo, or with up to three of your friends, as you take on the role of the AI workers whose mission it is to get the precious cargo to its new viable home, planet Specs. On a journey that’ll last thousands of years (about two hours in real life), you’ll forge alliances with friendly aliens and defend against those who threaten to wipe you out, earning victory points throughout. The AI workers with the most points at the end get the honor of overseeing the genesis of life on the new planet… if you make it there.
There’s a slight learning curve to this one, but once you’ve surpassed that hurdle Black Angel is a challenging game that requires thoughtful planning – and a handful of luck – that’s extremely satisfying when pulled off.
Star Wars: Outer Rim
- Publisher: Final Flight
- MSRP: $74.99
If you’re into the Disney+ hit The Mandalorian, then Outer Rim will definitely be your RPG jam! For one to four players, aged 14 and up, it’s a thrilling contest of smugglers, mercenaries, and bounty hunters all crafting their own personal legacies in the Star Wars universe.
You’ll get to play as some of your favourite scoundrels in this fun, fast-paced game - Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Jyn Erso, and Boba Fett, to name a few. Mod your ship (yes, you can have the Millennium Falcon) and build up your crew whilst you boost your reputation by completing bounties, delivering cargo, and even stealing supplies from the Imperial army. But beware, you’ll want to steer clear of the warring factions and patrols who don’t find you so charming.
Intuitive to play and with so many different in-game encounters, Star Wars: Outer Rim is a joy and a game you’ll definitely want to make time for (about three to four hours to be exact).
- Publisher: Lucky Duck Games
- MSRP: $26.99
If you’re all for colonizing distant planets, then Ganymede is the game for you. It’s a development and tableau-building strategy game for two to four players where the goal is to launch four setter ships. Do this by recruiting settlers on Earth, shuttling them to Mars, then Ganymede, and then finally blasting them off into the far corners of space.
Ganymede is easy to play and gameplay is pretty quick, taking around only 20-40 minutes – perfect for those with shorter attention spans. This also means that the ending can sneak up on you, so it’s important to stay sharp as there are several paths to victory – just because you were the first to send all four ships doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the winner, as settlers with the right skills and your corporation’s reputation all play an important role too.
The isometric illustrations are simply stunning and give off retro-futuristic vibes that are very fitting for a space-themed game. We also really like how the meeples come in yellow, blue, red, and purple (not green ) which makes the game more color-blind friendly.
- Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
- MSRP: $64.99
Who wouldn’t want to be crowned the greatest explorer in the entire galaxy? The gaming narrative here begins in the year 3042 just as humanity is prepared to start exploring other stars. After many centuries of studying the neighboring celestial bodies, scientists have now identified the best candidates for human colonization and habitation.
Kepler-3042 is a competitive game of adventure, exploration, and colonization as you strive to develop critical technologies for your exotic settlements. Resource management is critical in this game, so plan wisely. As you colonize, exploit, and terraform the planets of the Milky Way, players will unlock more powerful capabilities to further their interstellar empires.
A full playthrough for one to four players can take anywhere from one to two hours, so it’ll require a bit of patience. On the design side of things, the component quality is high. For example, the large, foldable board is just gorgeous, with its mix of comic blues and purples against the blackness of space and the planet card illustrations are also breathtaking (however, we wish there were more of them). Kepler-3042 would be a welcome addition to any space board game collection.
- Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
- MSRP: $44.99
Here’s a lively intergalactic dice game of fleet management suitable for two to five Space Base Commodores ages 14+. You won’t be left twiddling your thumbs as there is always something happening. As the ambitious director of an interstellar Space Base, your duty is to draft new spaceships into your fleet to work and patrol a dozen sectors under your command. Use a variety of cargo vessels, mining ships, and deploy carriers to earn maximum profits and expand your power and influence to possibly gain a coveted promotion to U.E.S. Admiral of the Fleet. Be greedy and capitalize on your exploits to earn your place in galactic history!
High Frontier 4 All
- Publisher: Mr. B Games
- MSRP: $70.00
Designed by Phil Eklund, an actual rocket scientist (yes, really!), High Frontier 4 All is one of the most scientifically accurate space exploration games out there. Space geeks will absolutely adore the attention to detail of the solar system map (the game board is a work of art) and the technical illustrations on the cards as well. It’s on it’s fourth edition so you know that they’ve taken the time to really iron out the rules and refine the game mechanics to create a stellar gameplay experience. It’s a bit of a heavy game which will require some thinking (hence the 14+ age recommendation), but it’s so rewarding to play.
Okay, enough gushing about the design, what do you actually do? Well, one to five players each play as a space agency intent on exploration and industrialization of our solar system – this starts off with auctions for rocket parts and leads to the ultimate goal of building factories at different sites in space. This sounds easy enough, but there are many steps and different scenarios along the way which will test you.
We’d definitely recommend High Frontier 4 All for those who have long dreamed of building their own rocket to explore the vast beyond and are ready for a cognitive challenge.
- Publisher: CGE
- MSRP: $59.95
Warp forward to the year 2849 and you’ll find that humanity has harnessed the power of mighty pulsars. Your mission is to compete against the other players to set up a massive energy network that spans throughout the stars. To do this, players will race to control the pulsars and claim them with a machine called a gyrodyne to harvest the energy that is produced.
As gameplay advances, players learn to explore space, call dibs on pulsars, and encounter technologies that will assist them in building an energy-distribution infrastructure on a grand cosmic scale. There’s a fair bit of dice rolling involved, that’ll determine certain actions and affect your choices, making for unique situations.
Pulsar 2849 has great replayability as there are several different ways to score points, instead of just one single objective to strive for, so two games are never the same. Plus, the circular board is double-sided with two different maps to play, there are plenty of options for each level of the technology trees, and the unique player boards are double-sided too. For that fantastic reply value, this space game is worth every penny!
Race for the Galaxy
- Publisher: Rio Grande Games
- MSRP: $34.99
Check out this immensely popular, lightning-fast card game that introduces two to four players to the Race for the Galaxy gaming universe where players try to build the most prosperous civilizations using various card combinations. Race for the Galaxy has won numerous awards, including the Boardgamegeek’s Golden Geek Award for best card game.
The revised second edition comes with six new start worlds and is designed to be a quick stand-alone game and thanks to its shorter, more streamlined rules you’ll be in and out of a round in 30 minutes.
This is a space card game that you’ll want to play again and again because as you understand more with each playthrough, you’ll uncover new strategies and combos to try. If this still isn’t enough, there are five expansions available for more worlds to explore and conquer, such as highly rated Race for the Galaxy: Rebel vs Imperium.
- Publisher: Plaid Hat Games
- MSRP: $59.95
For those who are into epic RPGs, then you'll love this! This is a fantastic game of warring clans arranged for two to four players. Become a daimyo of a major clan and battle for your right to the coveted throne of the Lotus Galaxy. To do so, use diplomacy and smarts to bring honor to your clan, or crush your opponents with the thunderous might of the noble-looking Samurai mechs. Devastate the strategies of your enemies with power-shifting action cards or forge alliances with lesser clans to gain their allegiance and backing for your claim to the throne. Exert influence, seize key destinations, and return order to the seat of imperial power. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon!
If you’re after more badass, giant mech fun, then you’ll be delighted to know that there is an expansion called Starship Samurai Shattered Alliances out now.
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Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.