Best Sci-Fi Board Games: Fantastic Fun Reviews

Looking for the best sci-fi board games? I’ve rounded up some of the best sci-fi games in the board game world, and my top pick is Terraforming Mars.

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Whether you’re talking about space empires, aliens, or blasters, the sci-fi genre is fascinating. It has captured the imaginations of countless fans over the years. What better way to enjoy science fiction than to combine it with board games?

I enjoy Terraforming Mars for its themes, world-building, resource management, and its entertainment value. It’s an entertaining board game in its own right, but add in space exploration and competing corporations? And you’ve got a winner.

But there are many wonderful games with sci-fi themes that might appeal to you. Whether you wish to wage an epic galactic battle, use technologies from the future, or involve alien races as you seek universal domination, there’s a board game for you.

Which sci-fi board game will land at your table? Keep reading to learn more.

Sci-Fi Genre Board Games: At a Glance

What is it about the sci-fi genre that pulls you in? What makes a great sci-fi board game? If you’re looking for the best science fiction board games, there are several elements you might look for.

If you enjoy games based on your favorite sci-fi movies and TV shows, you might consider Star Wars Imperial Assault, Battlestar Galactica, or Firefly: The Game. Nemesis isn’t technically based on a movie, but it does have a very cinematic feel to it.

Half body image of a stormtrooper

If you’re playing with family, you’ll want board games that are appropriate for younger players. Galaxy Trucker, Tiny Epic Galaxies, and the Gaia Project are suitable for players as young as 10 to 12 years of age.

For heavier games of epic proportions, you’ll definitely want to look at Twilight Imperium, Terraforming Mars, or Cosmic Encounters. For faster-paced games that don’t require hours and hours, you might like Space Base or Galaxy Trucker.

Finally, for those times when your gaming group can’t get together, Star Wars Imperial Assault, Terraforming Mars, Nemesis, and Gaia Project all have solid solo-player modes.

Best Sci-Fi Games: Reviews

Terraforming Mars: Best Overall

Players: 1-5

Playing Time: 2+ hours

Age: 12+

Terraforming Mars is an award-winning, middle-weight strategy game with plenty of complexity and an immersive theme. It’s a great sci-fi game for experienced gamers.

Players act on behalf of corporations seeking to earn money and transform Mars into a habitable planet. They do this by increasing the temperature, oxygen levels, and water levels.

Players receive victory points for successfully terraforming the red planet and advancing human infrastructure. The player with the most points, known as Terraform Rating (TR), wins the game.

This game works well as a solo-player game, but it’s made for up to five players. It has a unique blend of cooperation and competition. There are multiple paths to victory, so it makes for an exciting game each time you play.

Terraforming Mars is a game you’ll want to play again and again. There is a learning curve, so plan to spend the first run-through getting the hang of the rules. But after that, you’ll be hooked.

The game pieces are okay. Could they use a little upgrade? Sure. But these elements add to the game’s “building a new world from the bare red planet” feel.

The game mechanics are where Terraforming Mars really shines. It’s well-balanced and has a fantastic game arc. There’s plenty of strategy with just enough luck to make the game interesting. It’s difficult to win but so much fun to play.

Indie Boards and Cards Terraforming Mars Board Game for 2 to 5 players, Multicolor (6005SG)

Terraforming Mars is a great sci-fi game, but you don’t have to be a huge science fiction fan to enjoy it. It’s essentially a sci-fi-themed engine builder, so if you enjoy games like Wings, Everdell, or Splendor, you’ll like this game.

Simply put, Terraforming Mars is one of the best board games in the sci-fi genre, full stop.


  • Multiple paths to victory
  • High replay value
  • Solo player variant
  • Highly entertaining
  • Expansions available


  • Learning curve
  • Components could be better

Star Wars Imperial Assault: Best for Star Wars Fans

Players: 1-5

Playing Time: 1-2 hours

Age: 14+

You can’t have a list of the best sci-fi board games and not include Star Wars. Star Wars Imperial Assault by Fantasy Flight is a classic dungeon-crawler board game that’s perfect for sci-fi fans.

In Star Wars Imperial Assault, one player leads the Imperial Army, while the other players lead the Rebel Alliance. The two sides face off in a series of tactical combat missions, leading up to a final showdown.

This board game has two modes: campaign or skirmish. In campaign mode, you experience an engrossing narrative that unfolds over multiple missions. The skirmish mode is designed for head-to-head combat between two players.

Star Wars Imperial Assault Core Set - Epic Sci-Fi Miniatures Strategy Game of Rebel Resistance vs. Imperial Forces, Ages 14+, 1-5 Players, 1-2 Hour Playtime, Made by Fantasy Flight Games

You can recreate your favorite Star Wars battles from the movies or come up with your own narrative.

I like the choice between campaign and skirmish. You can play the game over several sessions with your buddies or in a single sitting with your spouse. If you’re like me, you appreciate that flexibility.

Each rebel player controls a unique character with their own backstory and special abilities. It’s also possible to unlock a “hero” or “villain” character to use in the game.

You’ll find several minis with some familiar faces, like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Other characters are only available in the expansion packs, however. You can customize the miniatures to your liking since they come unpainted.

This is a heavy, complex game. Expect to spend a lot of time consulting the rulebooks (you read that right–there are multiple books). But it’s worth the learning curve.

I found some of the rules a bit vague in spots. If you’re an experienced gamer, however, you can fill the gap by writing your own house rules.

Imperial Assault is a great game for Star Wars fans. It will require an investment of time and money, but you’ll get hours and hours of Star Wars-themed fun as a result.


  • High-quality minis
  • Two game modes
  • Narrative-driven
  • Great dungeon-crawler format
  • High replay value


  • Complex, too heavy for beginners
  • Expensive

Twilight Imperium, 4th Edition: Best Space Opera Game

Players: 3-6

Playing Time: 4-8 hours

Age: 14+

Twilight Imperium does space opera like no one else. This board game has all the elements of a proper science fiction game: space empires, political intrigue, spaceship combat, and planet colonies… and did I mention it has space lions?

In Twilight Imperium, players represent one of 17 alien races vying for the title of galactic emperor. Players must use combat, diplomacy, and strategy to defeat opponents and seize control of the galaxy. The first player to achieve 10 victory points wins the game.

Twilight Imperium 4th Edition | Strategy Board Game for Adults and Teens | Adventure Game | Ages 14 and up | 3-6 Players | Average Playtime 4-8 Hours | Made by Fantasy Flight Games

The game board is constructed using 51 modular galaxy tiles that feature planets, asteroid fields, supernovas, and much more. Each faction has its own abilities and offers a completely new play experience, so no two games are the same.

Twilight Imperium screams, “go big or go home.” It requires a lot of table space and time to learn and play. It’s a complex game of strategy, so it’s better suited for experienced gamers.

Even though this game can be played with three players, it’s better with four to six players. It really shines with six players, although finding five others to commit that kind of time to a game could prove difficult.

Even though Twilight Imperium is on the pricey side, you’ll get high-quality game components. We’re talking stunning artwork, detailed miniatures, and sturdy cardboard tiles.

This fourth edition is a streamlined version of the third edition, with updates to technology, art, and some rules. Many of these changes are small, but they have a big impact.

When it comes to the best sci-fi games, Twilight Imperium is definitely at the top of the list.


  • Highly variable
  • Complex strategy
  • Brilliant artwork
  • Blend of cooperation & competition
  • Super entertaining


  • Pricey
  • Requires a lot of time and space

Cosmic Encounter: Overall Runner-Up

Players: 3-5

Playing Time: 1-2 hours

Age: 14+

Cosmic Encounter has been around since 1977, but Fantasy Flight Games published a fantastic updated version in 2008. This science fiction game stages an epic galactic battle.

The premise is simple. Alien races are vying for control of the universe. Players choose to lead their own alien race, each with its own special abilities, as they seek to spread their empire across the galaxy.

Cosmic Encounter 42nd Anniversary Edition Board Game - Classic Strategy Game of Intergalactic Conquest for Kids and Adults, Ages 14+, 3-5 Players, 1-2 Hour Playtime, Made by Fantasy Flight Games

Players must form alliances, negotiate deals, and defend their home planets against opponents. The first player to successfully colonize five other planets is the winner.

Cosmic Encounter is a highly variable board game. With 51 alien species to choose from, you’ll be able to play a different game each time.

The only way to expand is through diplomacy or war, so you have to be strategic about how to approach your mission. But there’s enough randomness to ensure some hilariously chaotic situations.

Even though Cosmic Encounter is competitive, it has a lot of storytelling elements to it. The player interaction is off the charts, as long as you don’t have someone who takes things too seriously in your group. But you should expect some backstabbing!

There are other editions of Cosmic Encounter, but this is my favorite updated edition. It comes with flare cards and adds technology cards, which are a nice bonus. The artwork is good, and the components are solid.

This is one of the best sci-fi board games out there. I highly recommend it.


  • Easy to learn
  • High replayability
  • Great player interaction
  • Super fun game


  • Learning curve

Civilization: A New Dawn: Best Abstract Game

Players: 2-4

Playing Time: 1-2 hours

Age: 14+

Civilization: A New Dawn is the tabletop version of the popular video game series. In this sci-fi board game, players become some of history’s greatest leaders as they advance their people through history.

Players take on the role of leaders of competing nations. They must expand their domains, acquire new technology, and build wonders to become a world power.

Rulers can ensure their nation’s survival through the ages by advancing culture, science, economy, industry, and military. Players must decide which cards to play in order to pursue one of two agendas listed on their three victory cards. The first player to complete their objective wins the game.

With randomized objectives and a mobile tile map, each game is sure to be different. If you’re a fan of the Sid Meier PC game, you’ll enjoy the rich theme of New Dawn.

Civilization A New Dawn Board Game | Tactical Strategy Game for Adults and Teens Based on the Hit Video Game Series | Ages 14+ | 2-4 Players | Average Playtime 1-2 Hours | Made by Fantasy Flight Games

The game mechanics revolve around the five action cards, which the game calls the Focus Row. Those cards include trade, culture, industry, military, and technology. This works well and streamlines the game rules in a way that keeps it from being too heavy.

If you were hoping for a strong combat element, you’ll be disappointed. Yes, there are battles with the barbarians and other city-states, but there isn’t much fighting over territories.

There isn’t as much direct military conflict between players, and there are no dice rolls or other ways to decide outcomes. Some users came away feeling the combat was lacking.

I, for one, enjoy the more abstract mechanics, but it depends on what you’re looking for in a board game.


  • Strong theme
  • Nice blend of board and card play
  • High quality components
  • Strategic depth
  • Good pacing
  • Streamlined action cards


  • Light on combat (for a civilization game)
  • Learning curve

Battlestar Galactica: Best Traitor Mechanism

Players: 3-6

Playing Time: 2-3 hours

Age: 14+

What do you get when you take a hit SyFy Channel TV show and put it into a board game? Battlestar Galactica. This great game is exciting and full of intrigue, strategy, and betrayal.

Battlestar Galactica puts you in the role of your favorite characters from the show. Each person plays as either the Admiral of the Colonial Fleet, the President of the Colonies, a Viper pilot, or a number of other characters.

Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica is a cooperative game with an awesome hidden traitor mechanism. One or more players in every game are secretly Cylons, with the goal of defeating the humans.

Throughout the game, players need to deal with crises that arise. Cylons attack, ships take damage, and they’ll have to work together to save the last bastion of humanity.

Players move around the ship and take specific types of actions. Each attack depletes the fleet of fuel and/or population. If the fleet runs out of resources (fuel, food, morale, or population), the humans are lost to the Cylons.

As the crises continue, players begin to discuss who might be the traitor in the group. Who didn’t contribute enough to defeat the Cylons? As if that’s not enough, everyone must draw another Cylon card halfway through the game, so a person could potentially switch sides mid-game!

As with all Fantasy Flight board games, there’s a learning curve. You’ll want to keep that rulebook close. But it’s worth it.

At its core, Battlestar Galactica is a strategic social deduction game. It does lack some balance. It is difficult for the humans to win, especially the first few times you play it. But it’s fun to play, even when you’re getting attacked by Cylons.

Battlestar Galactica is a game you’ll want to revisit, although it might be difficult to find people who can spend several hours playing. Still, this game is one of the best sci-fi board games out there.


  • Great sci-fi theme
  • Good player interaction
  • Wicked hidden traitor mechanism
  • Quality components
  • Complex strategy & social deduction


  • A little off-balance
  • Long game times

Galaxy Trucker: Best for Families

Players: 2-4

Playing Time: 30 minutes

Age: 8+

Who says science fiction games can’t also be silly? Galaxy Trucker is a goofy game of tile-laying, spaceship-building, and dangerous adventures.

In this family game, players begin by simultaneously building spaceships in real-time by frantically grabbing and assembling parts from the warehouse.

But watch out! After construction, anything illegally placed on the ship falls off. That’s right, you could have your ship fall apart, right as you’re about to launch.

After liftoff, your job is to deliver the goods still on the ship and make money while avoiding the hazards that come your way. Asteroids, pirates, and other dangers are ahead, all of which could disconnect parts of your ship… and send your cargo or crew hurtling into space.

Your goal is to have the most credits at the end of the game. But don’t get too wrapped up in winning. Some of the most hilarious stories will come from those time when everything seems to fall apart, literally.

The game components are solid, and the artwork has a fun cartoonish theme to it. But you might want to get your own storage. The ziploc bags that hold the pieces are flimsy.

Galaxy Trucker can be played in a short amount of time, the average game lasting just 30 minutes. It’s great for families and for beginners as well as more veteran gamers.

Czech Games Edition Galaxy Trucker 2nd Edition

This game was so well-received that the creator, Vlaada Chvatil, developed a video game version of it in 2014.

If you’re looking for chaotic ship-building fun for the whole family, this could be one of your favorite games.


  • Fast-paced
  • Great for families
  • Easy to learn
  • Quality pieces and tokens
  • Good replay value
  • Quirky and fun


  • Storage is flimsy

Nemesis: Best Horror Sci-Fi Game

Players: 1-5

Playing Time: 1-2 hours

Age: 14+

Nemesis is a Kickstarter survival board game with a blend of science fiction, horror, and adventure. It has a cinematic feel with plenty of suspenseful moments. Basically, it’s ALIENS in a board game format.

In Nemesis, players are crew members on a spaceship that has just experienced a critical system failure. They must find the problem, make the repairs, and travel through space back to Earth.

But that’s not all. You’ve discovered one crew member dead, and there are terrifying noises coming from the ship corridors. Can you root out the threat, repair the ship, and survive?

There are three game modes: solo, fully cooperative, or semi-cooperative. In the semi-cooperative, each player has a secret objective they must meet as the game progresses. And if your buddy’s card requires them to be the only survivor, watch out.

Nemesis Board Game | Sci-Fi Horror | Miniatures | Strategy | Cooperative Adventure Game for Adults and Teens | Ages 14+ | 1 - 5 Players | Average Playtime 1-2 Hours | Made by Rebel

Nemesis has plenty of tension. It requires you to make tough decisions with high stakes. As you move through the ship, you’ll create noise, which can attract aliens. So you must try to remain as silent as possible to move past the invaders.

A randomized setup of room layouts on the ship, as well as other elements, means the game will be different each time. The artwork and graphic design are spot on and high-quality. That’s good, too, because the game is on the pricier side.

An important note. If you’re looking for family-friendly sci-fi board games, you might want to skip this one. If you wouldn’t let your child watch ALIENS, I wouldn’t let them play Nemesis.


  • Detailed minis
  • Cinematic feel
  • Three game modes (solo, coop, semi-coop)
  • High replay value
  • Tense, strategic


  • Pricey
  • Not for kids

Gaia Project: Best Solo Player Game

Players: 1-4

Playing Time: 1-3 hours

Age: 12+

When it comes to science fiction board games, Gaia Project one of the best for advanced gamers. It has a solo mode but works well with small groups, as well. This board game is the follow-up to the popular game Terra Mystica.

You can choose from 14 different factions which live on 7 kinds of planets. Each faction can only thrive on their specific type of planet. To grow, a faction must terraform neighboring planets while competing with other factions.

Your goal is to convert as much of the universe as possible into your own little world.

All factions can improve their skills in six unique areas of development. To help out, each faction has its own unique special skills and abilities.

Capstone Games: Gaia Project, Strategy Board Game, A Follow Up Game from Terra Mystica, Includes a Challenging Solo Mode, 1 to 5 Players, Ages 14 and Up


  • Includes solo variant
  • Detailed minis
  • Challenging strategy


  • Learning curve

Space Base: Best Lightweight Game

Players: 2-5

Playing Time: 60 minutes

Age: 14+

Space Base is a dice game of fleet management set in space. It’s designed for two to five players, and it’s great for teens and adults.

Each player is the Commodore of a Space Base, and your job is to acquire new ships for your fleet and patrol the 12 sectors under your watch. Your ultimate goal is to be the person promoted to U.E.S. Admiral.

Use cargo vessels, mine ships, and deploy carriers to earn profits and expand your influence. On your turn, you’ll roll a couple of six-sided dice.

All players use their cards to claim rewards from the dice roll. You’ll have the cards on your board, while the other cards are “deployed” (i.e., above your board).

Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) Space Base - Board Game, Dice Game, Build The Best Galactic Port, Heavy Interaction, 2 to 5 Players, 60 Minute Play Time, for Ages 14 and Up

One thing I like about Space Base is the low down time. Even if it’s not your turn, you’re still claiming rewards for your deployed cards on each dice roll. This keeps everyone engaged. On top of that, a game can be played in an hour, so you don’t have to commit all day to a game.

Space Base doesn’t have much of a learning curve, so you can begin playing in practically no time. It’s an engine-builder card game played with dice. And it has enough variation that you can play Space Base over and over again without it getting repetitive.

Space Base is one of the best science fiction board games, perfect for beginners or those who want something lighter weight and easy to teach.


  • Easy to learn
  • Engaging
  • Engine-builder
  • Lighter weight
  • Solid replay value


  • Player decisions can lag

Firefly: The Game: Best Thematic Game

Players: 1-4

Playing Time: 2 hours

Age: 13+

I still haven’t recovered from the cancellation of Firefly after a single season. But at least there’s a board game to enjoy. Firefly: The Game is based on the hit TV show, and it packs plenty of entertainment in one game.

In Firefly, players captain their own transport ship, traveling the universe with their own handpicked crew of fighters, mechanics, and other travelers. You’ll need money, which means you’ll have to take any job that pays.

You must overcome all the obstacles as you stay the course. You’ll encounter Reavers, Alliance patrols, and shifty underlords. Your goal is to be the first to finish the story objective to win the game.

There is plenty of variation, so no games are the same. And when you’re ready to take on a new challenge, there are several expansions available.

Firefly: The Game

This game can be played solo, but it’s much better with other players. Two to four is best. The artwork, game board, and minis are high quality. It does require a lot of table space and takes a while to set up.


  • Highly thematic
  • Quality board and pieces
  • High replay value
  • Expansions available


  • Solo play is clunky

Tiny Epic Galaxies: Best Compact Game

Players: 1-5

Playing Time: 30 minutes

Age: 14+

What game wouldn’t be a hit with a name like Tiny Epic Galaxies? This is one of the more popular science fiction games. It’s a strategy space exploration game perfect for adults and kids alike.

Like other games in the Tiny Epic series, Tiny Epic Galaxies is small enough to fit in a backpack. It doesn’t require the large table space that other sci-fi games do.

In this sci-fi board game, each player controls a galactic empire in the alien world. Your goal is to acquire highly-contested planets and upgrade your cosmic armada. You also have a secret objective that you draw at the beginning of the game.

Player score points through leveling up their empires, adding planets to their empires, and fulfilling their secret mission. The last round of the game is triggered when one player reaches 21 points. The player with the highest point total wins.

In Tiny Epic Galaxies, energy and culture are the primary resources. You must manage them strategically to win the game. Rolling dice is central to the game, but there’s plenty of strategy involved.

One unique feature is the follow mechanic. In Tiny Epic Galaxies, you can follow the actions of an opponent by spending a culture resource to mimic the action. This adds an interesting dynamic and keeps players engaged, even when it’s not their turn.

Gamelyn Games Tiny Epic Galaxies

This board game has excellent artwork and graphic design. The pieces are good quality, although the galaxy cards could have been a bit larger, closer to the size of the box. This game also has a good solo variant for those who prefer to play solitaire.

Although the manufacturer recommends a minimum age of 14 to play, many buyers said they were able to play with younger kids. I recommend this game for children ages 10 and up.

Tiny Epic Galaxies is a home run for those who have limited table space but enjoy sci-fi games.


  • Easy to learn
  • Quick gameplay
  • Has a solo variant
  • Unique follow mechanic
  • Great artwork
  • Blend of strategy & dice rolls


  • Card gets a little cramped

Sci-Fi Board Game Buying Guide

The best sci-fi games are the ones that appeal to your personal gaming tastes. However, there are a few non-negotiables for any board game, regardless of themes or genre.

First, the game must have quality artwork and game components. This is especially important within the science fiction genre, where the game must capture your imagination. Second, the game must fit the target audience. Lastly, the game must be one you can play more than once. High replay value is essential to getting your money’s worth.

Top Science Fiction Games: Wrap-Up

If I had to pick one sci-fi board game, I’d go with Terraforming Mars. It’s a great Eurogame with plenty of strategy and decision-making. If that’s not your thing, though, there are plenty of wonderful games to choose from in the sci-fi genre.