Game Theory: The Best Board Games Based On Scientific Ideas

When I was a kid, if you had told me that the board game industry had reached the point it has today, I would have laughed and probably made a snide remark about the Monopoly Guy. Today, however, the board game industry has hit heights that many couldn’t have imagined. More than rolling dice and falling down snakes or climbing ladders, the industry now covers a huge variety of themes and play styles.

Naturally, one of the themes covered by board games is science! While it doesn’t have the full scientific accuracy that one would get from actually studying science, it’s a great way to get people interested in the sciences and how they can be fun and relevant. There are actually dozens of science themed board games, but some are too “educational” to be fun. Here’s our list of games that are both fun and educational:

Pandemic

Pandemic is a highly exciting game, primarily because you know you’re playing on a clock. A clock that can be suddenly shortened based on random events. This is a great reflection of what the game is representative of in the real world: a disease outbreak and the race to find a cure.

It’s a good game to introduce people to the idea behind pandemics, how viruses or bacteria spread to reach pandemic level, and how different branches work together to identify the disease, how it’s spreading, and how to isolate and eradicate it. All within a set number of turns, though!

Evolution

In Jurassic Park, Ian Malcom makes reference to a real theory called the Red Queen theory. Based on a line from Alice Through The Looking Glass, the theory states that all living things have to run as fast as they can in order to stay where they are. That’s pretty much the gist of the deceptively simple, yet tremendously fun Evolution.

Rather than using the existing evolutionary paths our world has seen, players struggle to evolve their starting species to make them better adapted to surviving the slowly changing world of the game map, which is slowly entering an ice age. The premise seems simple but with multiple players vying for the same evolutions, players can be forced to evolve down paths they didn’t plan to in order to survive.

Fauna

Similar to Evolution but with greater focus on biogeography than evolution, Fauna is a less hectic game, which makes it significantly easier for new players to get into. After all, complexity isn’t always a requirement to make a fun, addicting game. By presenting a relatively simple game that’s based on point scoring, gamers looking to recruit new players can use Fauna as a “gateway” game, so to speak.

It also introduces players to the concept of biogeography and the interrelation between ecosystems, and how frail the balance between them can be. You’d be surprised how concepts learned from board games and other forms of entertainment work their way into your mind, making players aware of environmental issues they would otherwise be blissfully unaware of.