The Best Space Games
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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For a long time there was a real shortage of great Space games. There was even a geeklist titled "Where are all the good Space games?" or something like that.

Its been a stunning couple of years for Space games with a lot of really great games being released. In 2007 & 2008 we have had:

Race for the Galaxy
Battlestar Galactica
Space Alert
Galactic Emperor
Supernova
Galaxy Trucker
Warhammer 40,000 5th Edition
StarCraft: The Board Game
Planet Steam
Frontiers
Duck Dealer

I created a poll a few weeks ago to rate Space & Sci-fi games. Since then I realised its really Space games that I'm interested in.

So this list contains the best Space games I could find on BGG. In some cases it was tough to decide whether a game was 'Space' or 'Sci-fi', and I may have got some of them wrong, especially the large number of entries that I haven't played. If you think I've missed a great Space game then feel free to add it.

I've added some useful information on game: best number of players, how popular they are (number of plays), whether they are Free, what their majority rating was on the Poll (with in brackets the % who said that).
I've also included a comment (or two) from a fan of the game. It was interesting to see the number of unfamiliar usernames writing these comments - obviously Space game fans are a niche group on The Geek.

Update: I've included some more detail on the poll results to date.
Poll rating is the average score if Love it=2, Great=1, Okay=0, Poor=-1, Hate it=-2.
Median is what the middle person rated it as.
Love it! is the percentage who ticked "Love it!"

Update: Now this list has settled down I have created a "Weird combined rating" to sort the list by and have re-sorted by this.
The way it works is points are awarded for 4 categories: Rating, Ranking, #Plays and Poll score. The points are awarded based on where that game comes after sorting all the games on this list by each of those scores. Finally a bonus will be awarded for Print n Play games (as they are freely available and cheap). Low points are good and the games will then be sorted by their TOTAL points. You'll get the idea. Where no score is available (e.g. no rank or no poll rating) ratings will be used.
If any new games are added to the list I will score them relative to the other games on the list and sort them on that basis.

Other lists in this series:
The Best Co-operative Games
The Best Alternatives to "Risk"
The Best Party Games
The Best Dexterity Games (or 48 dexterity games that are better than Jenga)

And my full reference geeklist for choosing games:
The Which Game to Play/Buy Metalist
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101. Board Game: Imperial Starfire [Average Rating:6.59 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.59 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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User suggested # of Players: (no votes yet)

Total Plays: 2

No poll rating

Volfield: "Best star empire campaign system ever. And with a bit of work, adaptable to other space combat games as well.
VBAM does some things better, but it doesn't handle the technology R&D and player-constructed ships thing anywhere near as well.
I think a hybrid approach would be the best of breed in this genre."

Rating Pts: 80 Rank Pts: 101 Plays Pts: 101 Poll Pts: 80 PnP Bonus: 0
TOTAL: 362
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102. Board Game: Web and Starship [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:9029]
Xavier Salvador

Badalona
Catalonia
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Don't forget this 3 player gem!
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103. Board Game: 4000 A.D. [Average Rating:5.41 Overall Rank:16368]
Hunga Dunga
Canada
Oakville
Ontario
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Another oldie. I spent WAAAY too much time playing this game when I was a kid.
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104. Board Game: Blast-Off! [Average Rating:4.82 Overall Rank:16948]
Simon Hunt
United States
Roseville
California
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Blast-Off! was a game I played with my Dad when I was a kid. Played it again a couple of years ago.

Players race to be the first to visit each of the planets in our solar system. One cool feature of the game was the moon orbiting the earth, which your spaceship had to land on as a way-point.

Fond memories.

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105. Board Game: Babylon 5 Component Game System: Core Sets [Average Rating:5.78 Overall Rank:11882]
Roberto Silva
Italy
CARPI (MO)
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I like this one a lot ... it is similar to TWILIGHT IMPERIUM but set in the BABYLON 5 universe; I love it more than T.I. because I'm a great fan of the show.
In order to really appreciate it, you should have all the modules and you should play with a good number of players (4-6).

Roberto
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106. Board Game: Godsfire [Average Rating:5.71 Overall Rank:13948]
 
Davido
United States
California
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2-15 players (1 per system)
best with 4-6
total plays 7

Another take on the spacefaring epic. This one used a spiral of 15 spaces in a given hex, so like "3D Chess" etc. you could move across, up and down, but units/systems 'one hex apart' could take a while to get to, let alone across the map. Each system had 4 quadrants, each of which was controlled by a political party-conservatives built ground troops, reactionarys built assault ships (ground and limited space combat) and radicals built starships (space combat). This was an exercise in resource management-politics, gigabucks, to drive the engine of conquest.

Oh, and we quickly learned that the '3 in a hex triggers clusterbuster (Godsfire which wipes 1/2 of each sytem and all units in space) favored the weakest player-so we disabled that rule.

And after looking at all those descending spirals for 4+ hours, you start to see some very strange things
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107. Board Game: Shadowlord! [Average Rating:5.62 Overall Rank:14110]
myles
United States
Mustang
Oklahoma
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Anachronistic Dungeons and Dragons style art on the box cover and cards, all set in a space opera universe.
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108. Board Game: The Air-Eaters Strike Back! [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:11215]
Barton Campbell
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
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This is my all-time favorite space wargame. Another Metagame like Warpwar (a great game as well), this one is about an alien invasion of our solar system. The map covers all of the planets out to Jupiter, with two unique twists:
1) the planets revolve around the sun moving a bit of their orbits per turn and
2) in addition to the solar system map there are separate maps for each planet and some moons!

The game actually has a kind of WWII Pacific Theater feel. The aliens zoom in much like the Japanese at Pearl Harbor blasting the Earth Fleet (the aliens have unlimited movement but the Earth ships can only move a few spaces per turn). Then the aliens spread out to attack the other planets and various asteroid bases, etc. Eventually, the aliens have to go for a Mars or Earth invasion! If the Earth survives this invasion they slowly build their fleets up and conquer the solar system back. A real unknown sleeper. But it also has two Earth vs Mars scenarios without aliens, Martian Revolution and Expansion in the Solar System. This game really should be reprinted but with a better name.
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109. Board Game: Alien Contact [Average Rating:6.05 Overall Rank:13328]
myles
United States
Mustang
Oklahoma
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This is one we used to enjoy in high school. Need to pull it out and give it another go. It has exploration, tech development, resource collection, inter-player combat, and Space Pirates! Best with 5 or more players.
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110. Board Game: Rebel Moon Defense [Average Rating:5.96 Unranked]
Néstor Romeral Andrés
Spain
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Let me add this one.

I'm the publisher of this gem. Winner of the first NESTORGAMES game design contest. Lots of fun!

Néstor

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111. Board Game: StarGate [Average Rating:5.69 Overall Rank:13105]
United States
Vista
California
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My wife and I played many games of this at the local coffee shop. It oozes color and is great fun--of course, the Virunians win 3 out of 4 times.
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112. Board Game: Renegade Legion: Leviathan [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:7931] [Average Rating:6.30 Unranked]
Chuck Turnitsa
United States
Newport News
Virginia
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In the "Renegade Legion" universe of games (along with Renegade Legion: Interceptor, and Renegade Legion: Centurion – Blood & Steel, and Renegade Legion: Prefect).

This is a great capital ship oriented combat game, where the big boys really feel like big boys. There are some real fleet tactics required to play this one well, but luckily the game handles it all elegantly.

A nice system for differentiating the variety of weapons, and also handling massive barrages of missiles and squadrons of fighters.

Very enjoyable, sorry it is gone.
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113. Board Game: Star Conquest [Average Rating:6.95 Unranked]
José Carlos de Diego
Spain
Zaragoza
Zaragoza
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Star Conquest is a game of resource management that emphasizes three aspects: the extraction of minerals (mining) and its management, policy/diplomacy (Consuls), and militarization (Fleet of Ships). Players compete each other, economically, politically and militarily, in a grid game that represents the Alpha Centauri System.

Players build their own ships, increasingly powerful using combinations of different minerals (Neutronium, Duranium, Molybdenum and Tritanium) that are obtained in the different sectors System.

Each player starts the game on their home planet with a fleet Ships and mineral reserves. To prosper you must know properly optimize their ships, their consuls and Minerals Colonies obtained. For your empire grows you will need spread out (space exploration), for it must build more and better ships to control neighboring sectors in the system. Of course, the other players try to do the same, so you must provide at all times attention to their movements.
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114. Board Game: Andromeda [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:2592]
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Players: 3-5
Recommended with 3, 4, 5 players (better with more)
Play time: 60 min

Rank: 1038

plays: 878

Quick Look:
A set collection, area control game that has an interesting interactive bluff/trade mechanism. Players use cards drawn onto their hand as a method to move stations from Earth to the planets indicated on the cards. To try and increase the number of matching cards a player has they must offer for trade at least two from their hand, one at a time. Start player places one card down and the other players place one card that cannot match the start players card. Non-start player cards are shown simultaneously. The same is done with a second card, again the non-start players may not offer a card that matches the new or old card shown for trade. The start player then chooses which hand they want to trade for. Players clockwise from the start player do the same by choosing the hands present until all are traded or left behind. Left behind cards get picked up by the final remaining player.

Multiple cards of a type are used to move stations to planets, establish centers in orbit and earn bonus cards worth points at the end.

Additionally, this is the only game in existence with an ash tray as a key play piece.
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115. Board Game: Space Empires: 4X [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:445] [Average Rating:7.65 Unranked]
Jim Krohn
United States
New York
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You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
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Now on pre-order at GMT. All the 4X elements, but definitely a wargame. It manages to put a lot of sci-fi (inlcuding a nice tech tree) into simple rules.

1-4 players
1-4 hours
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116. Board Game: High Frontier [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:945] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
United States
San Clemente
California
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Here the truceless armies yet / Trample, rolled in blood and sweat; / They kill and kill and never die; / And I think that each is I. // None will part us, none undo / The knot that makes one flesh of two, /
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Sick with hatred, sick with pain, / Strangling -- When shall we be slain? // When shall I be dead and rid / Of the wrong my father did? / How long, how long, till spade and hearse / Puts to sleep my mother's curse?
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This game was released in October this year at Essen 2010. It is Phil Eklund's masterpiece, easily the best game in the genre. Play this game!
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117. Board Game: Saganami Island Tactical Simulator [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:7440]
Marleen O
Netherlands
near Nijmegen
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Space Combat in the universe of Honor Harrington, based on the books by David Weber.

The game is based on Attack Vector: Tactical, with some changes so it fits the setting better. I like the game because it has correct Newtonian mechanics (in 3D!): don't fly too fast or you'll overshoot your target! Despite that, it is quite playable, because the mechanics are summerized in a few tables. It does, however, require some imagination to determine how to roll and/or pitch the schip to be able to hit your opponent...
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118. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:39]
Touko Tahkokallio
Finland
Espoo
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4X civilization building game in space coming from Lautapelit.fi this year.

Best with 4,5,6 players
Recommended with 2,3,4,5,6 players
30 minutes per player
67 recorded plays of the prototype in BGG.
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119. Board Game: Orion: Combat Near the Speed of Light [Average Rating:7.75 Unranked]
M St
Australia
Unspecified
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This is an almost unknown game, which is a shame - I would probably consider it the the most fascinating space combat game I have ever seen.

Harder Science than Attack Vector: Tactical, vastly easier to play than High Frontier, simpler and more elegant than both. This is Triplanetary at interstellar scale, with scenarios at breathtaking scale, covering tens of lightyears and lasting for decades of real time. If you have ever read any of Larry Niven's ramship books and thought about those fights, this is the game for you.
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120. Board Game: Alien Frontiers [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:192]
Paul Mulders
Netherlands
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Zangief, child slammer!
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Why isn't this in here yet? Shame on you!!
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121. Board Game: Space Commander [Average Rating:7.25 Unranked]
Giorgio De Michele (Erebus)
Italy
Castelfiorentino
Firenze
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Give an eye to my http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/111240/space-commande... too maybe.

It's unpublished, but I can send a prototype scenario "print and play" if you ask me there or via PM


Card driven, medium-light fleet wargame, with enough tactical deepness to keep you involved, and still light enough to be explained to people completely new to the wargames
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122. Board Game: Eminent Domain [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:481]
United States
Portland
Oregon
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A deck building game where players use Role cards to build civilizations in Space.

45min
2-4 player
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123. Board Game: Conquest of Orion [Average Rating:5.38 Unranked]
Steven Cole
United States
Towson
Maryland
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Escape Velocity Games! Yay!
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A conquer the galaxy card game. Conquest of Orion is a sci-fi trick-taking game with a few twists.
 
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124. Board Game: Galactic Smugglers [Average Rating:9.00 Unranked]
Erik von Rossing
United States
Silver Spring
Maryland
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GALACTIC SMUGGLERS is a Print and Play game for 1-4 players. Players create their own Hero who is a pilot of a Starship. The Heroes must engage in trading, smuggling, privateering, and conducting missions to bring down an oppressive Emperor.

Game features space combat as well as surface combat on semi-tactical level, but, is resolved quickly.

Very Fun Game.
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125. Board Game: Leaving Earth [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:558]
Jordan Booth
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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Best with 1, 3 players
Recommended with 1–5 players
(5 voters)

Total Plays: 144

Steve Carey says, "Fascinating game - this a true race for space.

Rules are good (a few clarifications needed), and the artwork is excellent (very evocative of the 1956-1976 time period).

There is a heavy math element when planning your missions (charts are provided to assist yet it's still a brain-burner), but the associated tension and (hopeful) satisfaction in getting the job done is more than worth it.

Expect to have some mission or component failures along the way, just as in real life (your decisions and funds expenditures can help mitigate risk, but you can't do it all).

The design is very flexible - play solo, co-op, or competitively.

I'm really lovin' this game so far, players are part Budget Administrator, part Mission Control, and part Astronaut.

Lots of potential for expansions.

Leaving Earth has my mind constantly churning - this design has the right stuff!"
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