From screen to board and back again: 9 excellent "cross platform" games

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There has long been a crossover between the digital and tabletop mediums, even though the PC/console-focused sites tend not to mention it all that frequently. Even before there was a Final Fantasy, there were gaming enthusiasts gathered around tables rolling dice and moving miniatures across boards.

It's obvious why there's so much overlap between the two groups. Clearly the folks hanging out down at the local gaming / comics shop picking up anime and playing a few rounds of Magic: The Gathering are also going to be interested in games like Pillars Of Eternity or Witcher III (we're also those people filling your Facebook feed with Game Of Thrones memes and arguments from Sunday night through Monday morning).

There are plenty of instances where the two worlds collide and are in fact completely intertwined, like Pokemon in its digital and physical card game versions. The biggest news lately on that front is that Witcher III's in-game tabletop card experience Gwent getting its own standalone release.

There's plenty more beyond Gwent though, with even the Souls-style Bloodborne having a card game in the works (jokes abound across the net of every card reading “You Died” or “Prey Slaughtered”).

If you've missed the many excellent cross platform board / video games released in recent years, we've got you covered with a list of nine entries well worth checking out.

Witcher Adventure Game

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A truly recursive entry, this is a PC digital recreation of a tabletop board game that is based on the Witcher video game (which is based on a series of books). When a movie gets made about it and then a book adaptation is spawned from that movie, the universe will probably implode.

This one's a fairly faithful adaptation of the board game, essentially transporting it to your computer screen and remembering all the rules for you. If you can't get enough of Geralt, there's some fun to be had here either against A.I. or even other players.

Pathfinder Adventures

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The newly released Pathfinder Adventures is a mobile recreation of a card game, which is a card game recreation of a tabletop RPG, which is itself based on the earlier D&D 3.5 ruleset. How many levels deep did we just go there?

I was more than a little ticked off in my review at how buggy and unplayable this one was at launch. Frankly, I expect better from both Obsidian Entertainment and Paizo.

Thankfully several of those bugs have since been patched out, but there's still more in need of addressing. If you are one of those lucky few who hasn't experienced any crashes or problems, then Pathfinder Adventures is a very fun card version of the typical fantasy romp.

Warhammer Diskwars

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The Diskwars version of Warhammer is recursive to a different degree: it's a board game spin off using a different rule set based on a video game that's based on the original tabletop war game.

This re-imagined version of the classic fantasy series is a fantastic option if you want to try out war gaming but don't have the time, patience, or skill to paint all those minis (not mention simply buying them with the outrageous prices Games Workshop charges).

The ever-awesome Fantasy Flight created this version, and that's a company that will be referenced more than once on this list. FF has been making top quality board, card, and roleplaying games for decades. If there was an excellent open game license universe that was released during the hay day of the d20 system, it's a good bet Fantasy Flight was responsible.

Gears Of War

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This franchise might seem like an odd choice – Gears is as action packed and visceral as you can get – but if you think about it, the cover mechanics and constant moving forward to new objectives actually works for a board game.

This one is a player versus board mechanics game, where all the players are cooperatively battling against the “A.I.” (enemies controlled by card text and changing scenario objectives based on what mission you select), so it's basically a physical rendition of online horde or co-op mode. Based on the quality of the video below, can you guess which company put the Gears Of War board game together?

Frankly I'm surprised there hasn't been a Gears spinoff that goes the RTS route or even ends up a fully turn based strategy game along the lines of X-COM or Heroes Of Might And Magic. Hey Microsoft Studios, are you reading this slide? Be sure to put my name in the credits when that game happens.

World Of Warcraft

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Alright, so while this is a very fun board game, there's a major caveat here (besides the high prices now that its out of print): there is a truly massive setup time involved.

Seriously give yourself two hours the first time before you even start playing, and definitely invest in some large ziploc bags to arrange out the huge number of minis included here.

Once you learn the rules and figure out how to put everything together though, this is easily one of the highest quality fantasy board games you'll ever have the pleasure of playing. While the mechanics are quite different from either the RTS games or the MMO, the feel of Azeroth is very much still on display.

Resident Evil

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The series may have degraded from atmospheric survival horror to action-focused shooter (with some entries even going fully on-rails), but there's another spin off you might not have seen coming: a deck building card game.

Although there are several large expansion sets, this isn't a collectible game like Magic: The Gathering, so you don't have to continuously put down new money on an endless stream of booster packs, and that's a very big plus.

Magic Duels

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Here we're going the opposite direction – Magic Duels is a digital version of a physical card game. To be honest, I'm a little on the fence about this entry in the series, and I actually liked the numbered year entries (2013, 2014, etc.) a bit better as they stuck to the core rules more faithfully.

That being said, this entry in the series is free to play, so there's no reason not to try it out, even if it isn't strictly speaking the same experience as the real-world CCG. Its a great way to pass the evening, whether you love Magic or haven't ever tried the world famous card game before.

Bioshock Infinite: The Siege of Colombia

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A totally unexpected board game entry, obviously Siege Of Colombia doesn't quite match the time twisting storyline of the video game, but its still an interesting player-versus-player, area control game worth trying out.

Rather than gunning down enemies and sliding across rails as Booker, you take up the role of the Vox Populi or the Founders and attempt to gain as much control as possible of the city each turn, with fortunes quickly changing as cards are drawn.

Space Hulk: Death Angel

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Here we go with that recursion again! Space Hulk: Death Angel is a card game recreation that has a video game spinoff based on an old board game, which was itself based on the tabletop war game Warhammer 40,000K. Whew, that one got confused!

The idea in Space Hulk is to play as a powerful genetically modified space marine whose abilities are greatly reduced due to the cramped corridors of a giant hulking space wreck. While searching the derelict vessel for ancient technology and cleansing it of any suspected xenos taint, you will be under siege by terrible Tyranid creatures like genestealers.

Death Angel takes the original board game and turns it into a card experience instead, which can even be played solo. If you want to play this original board game version on PC instead, check out the Space Hulk computer game.

What did you think of our list of cross platform board and card games, and what should we have mentioned that didn't make our list? When Bloodborne and Gwent finally land, we suspect they'll make the top of lists like these across the web.

If you're looking for more digital card games, don't discount the mobile platform, as Android / iOS are chock full of titles gamers will love, from fantasy entries like Ascension and Deck Heroes (or the ever-reliable Hearthstone) to sci-fi entries like Star Realms.

Sadly there are some that should make the jump from digital to physical (or vice verse) that probably never actually will, like any number of Final Fantasy in-game CCGs. Final Fantasy 8's much-loved Triple Triad and Final Fantasy 9's Tetra Master did get a limited run of physical cards internationally, but good luck finding them anywhere in North America!

What's the mini-game you'd most like to see translated into a different medium for your weekly gaming sessions?

Published Jul. 1st 2016

Featured Contributor

Ty splits his time between writing horror fiction and writing about video games. After 25 years of gaming, Ty can firmly say that gaming peaked with Planescape Torment, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a soft spot for games like Baldur's Gate, Fallout: New Vegas, Bioshock Infinite, and Horizon: Zero Dawn. He has previously written for GamerU and MetalUnderground. He also writes for PortalMonkey covering gaming laptops and peripherals.


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