10 Great Sci-Fi Board Games

Space Alert

Boldly game where no man has gone before. Image via Amazon.com

If you crave the adventure of a good "Star Trek" bridge scene, then the 2008 board game "Space Alert" delivers the goods without all the flailing around.

Yes, "Space Alert" is a cooperative game in which each player assumes the role of a spaceship crewmember on a mission of cosmic discovery. Each game revolves around a single mission lasting exactly 10 minutes. To keep things tense, a thematic 10-minute audio track serve to keep track of the time. During this action phase, the players move around the ship and activate the necessary ship systems in order to mitigate threats. Afterwards, a 10-minute resolution round allows the players to see if they survived and how well they performed.

Counting set-up, a whole game takes a mere half-hour, significantly shorter than a full episode of Trek. The threats vary from meteorites to monsters, all drawn from a deck of 55 threat cards, so each game plays out a little differently. Most importantly of all, the game stresses teamwork. If the players can't work together, their survival is doubtful.

"Space Alert" is the creation of Czech game designer Vladimír Chvátil, who also designed "Galaxy Trucker," another popular sci-fi board game. As the name implies, it favors space-age industrial shipping over cosmic exploration, but you do have to contend with space pirates.

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.