The Perfect Pair: Board Games and Books

By Kaley

Starting a round of Scythe.

I love reading, but I am also completely obsessed with board games. I meet up with a group of friends every week and we dive into another world. We start wars and build armies, we come up with ways to defeat a pandemic, evil monsters, and robots; or we just try to make each other laugh by creating the worst possible date imaginable.

Educators have embraced board games as a tool to help strengthen skill development. It’s a sneaky way to have fun while learning, much like getting lost in a great book. If you’re a fellow bibliophile who has a deep appreciation for tabletop games, it is officially your lucky day. Below you’ll find that I’ve picked a few popular games and paired them with a book. Get ready to explore some strange universes. I hear it’s dangerous to go alone though, so this time take a few friends.

If you like Scythe…

The Forever EngineThe game, Scythe, is wildly popular right now. Set in an alternate history 1920s era in which all players are fallen leaders. They must conquer territories, enlist new recruits, increase your popularity, farm resources, build structures, and activate huge mech-machines to gain as many points as possible. Similar to Scythe, The Forever Engine is set in alternate-history Europe but several decades earlier. Jack Fargo is sent back in time from 2018 to 1888 after a mysterious temporal explosion. Despite wanting to get back home to his daughter, Jack must stop what will surely be the end of several worlds if the Old Man in the Mountain successfully finishes his devastating device. The writer of The Forever Engine also co-created and RPG called Space:1889 set in the world of this book.

If you Like Terraforming Mars…

Red Mars Terraforming Mars is a strategy game in which huge corporations (the players) are trying to make Mars habitable. The Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson​ is a great pairing for this game! The first of the series starts with Red Mars​ when scientist have colonized Mars and bring about a new world. Since they’re completely changing this planet, there is the question of whether they’re activities there is an ecological crime or what must happen next in human evolution.

If you like Pandemic…

InfectedPerennial favorite Pandemic requires players to work as a team to defeat global pandemics to save humanity. Scott Sigler’s novel Infected features a CIA operative and epidemiologist working together to stop a disease that is turning docile citizens into murderers.

If you like Captain Sonar…

 The Mathews MenCaptain Sonar​ is an intense cooperative RPG wartime game that requires players to work together to sink an enemy sub before they can destroy you. If naval battles and moving stories are your thing, consider picking up The Mathews Men. Tasked with delivering supplies to American military, merchant marines often fought various rough conditions without protection despite being such a vulnerable target by Hitler’s U-boats. William Geroux has meticulously researched one family’s allegiance during the war by sending seven of their sons to act as marine merchants.

I could easily go on forever about these match-ups, so there’s a few more in my list below.

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2 responses to “The Perfect Pair: Board Games and Books”

  1. Danielle Dreger says:

    Any suggestions for people who play Settlers of Catan?

  2. Kaley Costello says:

    Hey Danielle! I’ve got a few and I’ll post links to the books I mention here at the bottom of my comment in order.
    Believe it or not, there is actually a book called Settlers of Catan inspired by the game! I tried to get a few more in a similar vein and idea of settlers, clans, or civilizations trading and/or trying to survive, though.
    A Deepness in the Sky is about a civilization called the Spiders who live on a planet that doesn’t see the sun for 200 years. As they come out of their latest icy hibernation they are trying to make up for lost time through rapid innovation.
    The Queen of the Tearling came to mind as well. Kelsea Raleigh has been hidden away her whole life until her 19th birthday when she is expected to take the throne as queen. She inherits a kingdom in complete disarray and must carefully navigate delicate political relationships with local nobles, a violent neighboring kingdom ruled by a witch, and a questionable church. Let me know if I’m close at all to what you are looking/hoping for! 🙂

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