10 Best Board Games About Space (2022 Guide)

Who doesn’t love space? It’s the final frontier, and it’s full of mystery and danger! If you want to play a board game exploring the galaxy we list the best options available.

Space games are great for people who like science fiction or people who want to pretend they’re in outer space. These games will help learn more about planets, or you can pretend to be an engineer building rockets, or be rulers of galactic empires trying to fight each other!

The requirements for this list are that the game is set in space, that can be educational, future space exploration, building space ships, fantasy sci-fi settings such as Star Wars, basically anything that is set in space.

One of my favourite things about games is the ability to transport you to a different world, whether that be a fantasy world or literally off this planet and into space.

Best Board Games About Space

Name# PlayersTimeComplexityGood For
#1 Star Realms2 (to 6)20 minsEasyBest fighting action
#2 Race for the Galaxy2-430-60 minsMediumBest strategic space game
#3 Clank! In! Space!2-445-90 mins EasyMost fun!

1. Best Fighting: Star Realms

Star Realms is a deck-building game where you fight each other.  The game is made up of cards that each have special abilities, it’s suitable for 2 players and plays in about 20 minutes, but you can add more decks of cards to play up to 6 players (though it works best with two).

In Star Realms there is a pool of cards in the centre, called the trade row, where you are purchasing cards to build up your own deck.  In your deck, you are trying to build up cards for bases and ships which let you trade (so you can get more cards for your deck) and attack your opponent’s bases.   When you attack enough to reduce your opponent’s authority to zero then you win.

This is a cheap, quick game, with a lot of strategies and a heap of replay value.  It really is the type of game you can get hundreds of plays through and still not be sick of.

Pros

  • Quick light game with easy rules
  • Strategic game
  • Lots of replay value
  • Great artwork brings through the space theme

Cons

  • Has an element of luck
  • Very competitive – you are attacking each other!

2. Best Strategic: Race for the Galaxy

In Race for the Galaxy, you are building a galactic empire – all by drawing and playing cards!

In this game, the cards are the planets and developments you build, as well as being goods and money that you pay. There are multiple phases in each round that let you explore, settle new worlds, develop new technologies and develop and ship goods throughout the galaxy,  which makes for a lot of different options for what actions you can take.

While this game is based on picking up cards, this doesn’t feel very luck-based.  As you can use your cards as money, even if you pick up cards that you don’t want to use you have a use for them.  Throughout the game you are building an engine you add more cards to the table that gives you bonuses on each phase, defining the overall strategy you are taking.

This game has so many different strategies and ways to win, as you can win by gaining victory points from trading goods, developing technology or exploring worlds.  As each player starts with a  different starting world and different cards, this will change the best strategy for every game.

And the theme is great, for a very strategic euro-style game the theme really fits in and exploring planets, and shipping goods really makes sense, with great sci-fi artwork and components to match.

Roll for the Galaxy is another game worth considering that is a reimplementation of Race for the Galaxy, with dice instead of cards. Roll for the Galaxy is more approachable, as I find since Race has so many symbols on the cards it’s harder to get to the table.  But Race is cheaper (due to not having as many custom dice) and when I do get it to the table I prefer it as I find it has more strategic decisions.

Pros

  • So much replayability – we’re talking hundreds of games easily!
  • Lots of different strategies to win
  • Plays well with 2, 3 or 4 players
  • Quick playtime – usually under 30 minutes
  • No spite of other players – you can’t attack

Cons

  • Medium complexity game with lots of symbols so it’s harder to get new players up to speed
  • Not a lot of player interaction or confrontation (could also be a pro)

3. Most Fun: Clank! In! Space!

Clank! In! Space! is a game for 2-4 players, it’s a relatively easy game but takes about 45 to 90 minutes to play, so feels meaty when you play it.

In Clank! In! Space! the evil Lord Eradikus has taken over the galaxy, and you have snuck aboard his spaceship in order to steal from him.  This is really a dungeon crawler set in space, where you need to crawl through the spaceship without making too much noise and getting caught.  This is a competitive game, as you want to be the first to steal an artefact and escape.

There is a board in this game that represents the spaceship, and the players each build a deck of cards that give them abilities, such as moving around the board or fighting.

This game is just pure fun, you really do feel like you are racing through a spaceship fighting things and trying to get out!  There’s quite a lot going on and quite a few rules, but it’s thematic and the rules make a lot of sense so even new gamers or older kids can learn to play pretty easily.

Pros

  • Lots of replay value
  • Lots of interaction between players
  • So much fun!
  • Engrossing gameplay

Cons

  • Set up takes time
  • Has player elimination (rarely but it can happen)
  • Dungeon crawler means no specific reason this needs to be in space

4. Most Approachable: Space Base

Space base is a light game for 2-5 players that takes about 1 hour to play.  This game reminds me a lot of Splendor and Machi Koro but in space.

In space base you have a fleet of 12 ships, in spots numbered 1 to 12.  You roll 2 dice, and the numbers rolled let you activate different ships (by either using the two digits on the dice separately or taking the sum of the dice).  When you activate a ship you can earn resources (money, income or victory points).  You then spend the resources to buy new cards, which take the numbered spot of the ship you already have.  The old cards are now deployed space ships, and you can use them when other players roll.

Space base is a great game, that’s accessible to new gamers and easy to teach.  It does have a few symbols on the cards that make it more difficult to teach to children, and a luck element that may annoy some players, but for the majority of gamers it is really fantastic.

Pros

  • Easy, can learn to play very quickly
  • Very limited downtime as there are actions on other player’s turns
  • Plenty of tactical choices
  • Looks great

Cons

  • Poor dice rolls or cards can affect your gameplay negatively
  • Symbols on cards you need to learn (though very simple in comparison to Race for the Galaxy)
  • Not the most thematic game, more of a puzzle set in space than an engrossing theme

5. Best Light Game: Tiny Epic Galaxies

In Tiny Epic Galaxies, you are controlling a galactic empire, wanting to acquire planets.  It’s a game for 1-5 players (and has a great solo mode) that takes around 30-45 minutes and is pretty light and easy to teach.

In Tiny Epic Galaxies, you roll dice to determine which action you take, and you can reroll your dice but it costs you resources.  There is also a follow action where on someone’s turn, the other players can also play the current player’s actions if they pay resources in order to do so, meaning there is very little downtime in the game.

There are three actions you can take: move a ship to a new planet (which gives you resources or other abilities), acquire resources from planets you have a ship on, or advance colonisation, which gives you more dice, ships and victory points.  You also have secret quests (eg. get 3 points if you have the fewest planet at the end of the game) that can change your strategy.

This game is very quick and light to play, yet you feel like you have plenty of decisions and its tense and engaging throughout.  

Pros

  • Easy and quick to teach
  • Quick playtime
  • Small and transportable
  • The theme is fantastically implemented
  • Good solo mode

Cons

  • Factions don’t feel different from each other
  • One player can get a big lead

6. Heavy and Complex: Terraforming Mars

Terraforming Mars is a game for 1-5 players that takes around 2 hours and is quite a complex game.  This game is set in the future when corporations of the earth are, you guessed it, going to terraform Mars.

The players are working together to terraform Mars, by building greenery, cities and oceans in order to increase the temperature and the oxygen of the planet and make it livable. So you play on one big board that represents the planet, but each player is a corporation who wants to do their best and get the most victory points to win.

In order to get victory points you complete projects by buying project cards into your hand.  It’s an engine builder in that these cards give you bonuses when you get them as well as increasing your production of resources when you play them.  The projects can be anything from introducing plant life to the planet, clearing out junk, mining resources or building cities.  

There are many different paths to victory in this game, and since each corporation has its own strengths and weaknesses and there are so many project cards, no game uses the exact same strategy twice.

Pros

  • A deep game you can really sink your teeth into
  • Very strategic
  • Very competitive without any take that aspect
  • Lots of variety in gameplay

Cons

  • Heavy game with lots of rules
  • Lots of reading
  • There’s a lot going on in the game
  • Art is somewhat lacking
  • Fiddly components

7. Best Chaotic Thrill: Galaxy Truckers

Galaxy truckers is a fun chaotic game, where you are each trying to build the best spaceship and then see how well it fares.

The game is played in 2 stages, in the first stage, each player places tiles on the board that represents their spaceship, trying to build the best spaceship they can.  This involves building things such as battery areas, shields and guns on your spaceship.  It’s quite a hectic game as you only have a certain amount of time to complete your spaceship build.

In the second phase, you are going for a romp around the galaxy, running into things and watching how well your spaceship fares as it effectively gets torn apart by all the hazards you find in space.

This is the type of game that has a strategy in what you build, but you can’t really take it too seriously as you’re watching all your hard work get destroyed!  Everyone’s ship is going to come out bruised and battered, but it’s just pure fun watching all the ships get ruined.

Pros

  • A fun, chaotic game
  • Approachable for the whole family
  • Great theme and artwork
  • Competitive in that you want to build the best ship, but you’re not fighting and destroying each other

Cons

  • Can be stressful as you are working to a time limit
  • Some people don’t like watching their work get destroyed
  • 1st and 2nd phases play quite differently
  • Low player interaction

8. Best for Large Group: Cosmic Encounter

Cosmic encounter is an oldie but a goodie.  It’s a game for 3-5 players (but it’s really best with 5 players), and takes 1-2 hours.  It’s a light to medium complexity game but has some fiddly rules that can be difficult to teach new players.

In this game, you have 5 planets and 5 ships, and the point of the game is to establish colonies on other players’ planets, and the first person to establish 5 colonies wins. There are 50 different types of aliens you can be, and each gives special powers that make it play differently.

There are a lot of alliances, attacking players, negotiation and working together, so this game involves a lot of player interaction.  It’s a little bit chaotic and not the most serious, strategic game, but with the right group is the type of game that you will have lots of fun with and create great memories together!

Pros

  • The alien powers make every game different
  • Each game plays very differently
  • A lot of player interaction
  • One of the few strategic games that plays best with more players

Cons

  • Relies on good group dynamics
  • Can be difficult for new players to understand all the rules
  • Not the most strategic game

9. Best Family Game: The Crew: The Quest for Planet 9

The crew is a quick game for 2-5 players that takes 20 minutes.  In this game, you are cooperatively working together to find planet 9 (I guess because we are down to 8 planets since Pluto was demoted).

At the heart of it, this game is a trick-taking card game (like the card game spades), and you go on missions by needing to complete certain “tricks” as a group in order to complete the mission.  The catch is that you aren’t allowed to talk to each other, you can only give clues by putting out a card from your hand each turn for the other players to see.

This is a great light fun card game and is one of my family’s favourites.  It’s technically set in space, but the theme is pretty light on and could easily be set elsewhere (as evidenced by the successor, Mission Deep Sea).

Pros

  • Cooperative and team building
  • Great entertainment
  • Good for all ages (simple enough for young children and older people who are familiar with card games)
  • Better with more people

Cons

  • Not the most thematic
  • Doesn’t play well with 2 people
  • Better to play through the missions with the same gaming group

10. Best Mystery: Search For Planet X 

Search for planet X is a game for 1-4 players that takes around an hour to play and is of light to medium complexity.

In the search for planet X, there is a map with 12 sectors that each contain an object.  You need to deduce which objects are in which sectors, and when you identify them correctly you earn points.  When you correctly identify planet X, you get a large number of points and trigger the game ending.

The game is quite interesting in that it works with an app, which gives clues to the players.  As a player gets clues, they write the information they have on their deduction sheet, which makes this game feel a bit like solving a sudoku puzzle but better.

I don’t usually like apps in my games, as I prefer to have my board game time off technology, but this one does work extremely well.  The theme is fairly lightly painted on (as it’s really just a puzzle you are solving), but it actually works well and genuinely feels like you are conducting an astronomy investigation.

Pros

  • Requires a lot of thinking
  • Can play on different difficulty modes for different players in the same game
  • Great solo mode
  • Can’t get incorrect information from the app

Cons

  • Minimal interaction with other players
  • Needs an app (I personally like my board games to be off technology)

Honourable Mentions

There are so many great space games, it was really hard to pick only 10.  My tastes in games tends to be a bit lighter (as they make it to the table a whole lot more with my family and friends), so a few heavier games that are absolutely fantastic got pushed to the honourable mentions.

  • Space Alert – This is a cooperative real-time game for 1-5 players that takes around half an hour.  In this game, you are a spaceship and you have to survive various threats on each mission (battles, breakdowns, asteroids, intruders).  You do this by programming your moves in advance and then see them played out in the action phase.  This game is a lot of fun, but you want to have a regular group to play this so everyone can learn the strategies required.
  • Gaia Project – This is a civilization-building game where you are factions living on planets and need to terraform and build on neighbouring planets in competition with each other.  It’s really good, and the only reason it didn’t make this list is that Terraforming Mars hits the same heavier strategic spot for me and I like it better.
  • Star Wars: Rebellion – This is a conflict game for 2-4 players where there are 2 teams, the galactic empire and the rebel alliance.  In this game, the rebels are trying to sway people to their side while sabotaging the empire, while the empire wants to crush the rebel alliance.  This is a very thematic game with a lot of strategies involved but takes around 2-4 hours to play so you really want to have a whole afternoon set aside to play.
  • Quantum – You are fleet commanders trying to take over sectors of space, and do so through exploring, combat and researching.  It takes about an hour to play, and it’s like a really light 4x game that plays really quickly, and the space theme comes through well.
  • Aeon’s End – A great cooperative deck builder that is set in space.  It’s one of my favourite games but it probably has a few too many fantasy/magic elements for me to call it a space game.

Conclusion

Far out, there are so many great board games about space!  Maybe that’s because the type of person who enjoys board games also has an affinity to like sci-fi and space (I know I sure fit into that category), but it was so hard to narrow this list down, and even the special mentions were hard to pick.

I do really love the quick card games in this category, Race for the Galaxy, Star Realms, Space Base and The Crew: Quest for Planet 9. All are fairly light quick games to play that still provide a heap of strategy!

If you are looking for something strategic to sink your teeth into then Terraforming Mars is a fantastic choice, or Race for the Galaxy or Tiny Epic Galaxies if you are looking for something a little lighter.  

Or if you are looking for something fun I’d highly recommend Clank! In! Space!, as well as Galaxy Truckers and Cosmic Encounter will all bring out a lot of laughs from your group.

And while I’m not that into the heavy options (I just don’t have the right group to play them with)  – there were of course a lot in the honourable mentions, with Dune: Imperium, Star Wars: Rebellion and Gaia Project all being awesome games of epic strategy that will keep you busy well into the evening.

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