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Lights, Camera, Action: TV and Film Themed Games


Companies playing the Happy Slappy Name Game by rebranding their best-sellers to franchise theming is all well and good, if a little unimaginative, and trivia games are a great way of finding out who is truly the biggest nerd, but less entertaining for nan who doesn’t know her R2D2 from her Darth Vader. So here are some of my current go-to games which are unique to their television or film backdrop and don’t need an ounce of knowledge to still have tons of fun!

Bridgerton: The High Society Game (competitive, TV)

3-6 players 30 mins (advertised) probably closer to 60 mins 16+

This game follows the ton at a series of high society balls, where you compete with other players to secure the best match of the season whilst exposing the problematic traits of your opponents’ prospects. At each ball, all players select one of two cards in their hand, with the highest number card playing their action first, causing mayhem or striving to secure the affections of a prospect. At the end of the ball, Lady Whistledown spreads nefarious gossip which can alter the current standing completely.

I really enjoy playing this game as the turn order mechanism is not one I see a lot and makes targeting any one player require more strategy as you are unsure of whether you or they will play first each round. Traits can also have opposing values which adds some compelling scheming which you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a dating simulator. The game does seem more geared towards winning affections, but this part can be more short-lived than you’d anticipate, making the actions of quite a few cards redundant later on, although the second stage of bumping engaged prospects up and down the rankings is often more entertaining anyways.

Good Omens: An Ineffable Game (co-op, TV)

2-4 players 15-30 mins per battle 14+

Of the games I present here, this could be argued to be the most akin to a Happy Slappy Name Game as the Good Omens theming could definitely be removed from this game and it would still work fine, but I have yet to see any other copies of it so it shall remain on this list.

In this game, you work alongside your fellow players to battle a series of foes from the first season of Good Omens. With seven different battles, each with unique gameplay, this game offers a lot of intrigue. Whilst each battle is distinctive, they all rely on working with poker hands and/or dice rolls. When things get tricky, players can call on some of the heroes from the show, such as Aziraphale, Crowley or even Dog to help them out of a sticky situation and defeat the enemy. Battles can be standalone or played in any order, with some suggestions in the rulebook of the best orders of play to simulate the plots of the show.

The simple combination of cards and dice makes for easily understandable modes of play, without many minutes twiddling thumbs whilst the designated rule-reader wraps their head around it. The game can get a little repetitive, with no large variation between different sessions of the same battle, but the rule booklet does provide a fun achievements section at the back with different challenges for each battle that can be used to breathe life back into slightly stale gameplay. Where the rest of the games on this list fit better with a scheduled board game night, this game provides a fun dip-in dip-out mechanism with the standalone battles being combined into fuller campaigns which make it perfect for something to do when you have a spare half hour between activities but not enough time for a full gaming session.

Time of the Daleks (both, both)

2-4 players 120 mins 14+

Ever wanted to play as your favourite doctor from Doctor Who, travelling the universe fighting monsters and battling Daleks? Well now you can! In this game, each player chooses a regeneration of the doctor and shoots off across the stars, rolling dice to battle dilemmas in different time zones and places, but dice are rarely always on your side, so you can recruit companions to help increase the odds of winning against your foes. Work against your fellow doctors to be the first player to reach Gallifrey, but beware, for if the Daleks reach Gallifrey before anyone else, everybody loses and so you may have to rely on help from someone who you just betrayed to defeat them.

I do so love a good dice rolling adventure, and this game lets you roll a ton of them. The combination of both competitive and co-operative player interaction makes for entertaining dynamics and interesting strategy, taking a little more thought than a game solely about beating a common enemy or other players. On your first game, I recommend getting a seasoned rule-reader because this instruction booklet is thiiiick, gameplay is not especially difficult to understand but there are a lot of steps to each player’s turn, which can be tricky to remember at first and whilst there is a cheatsheet on the back of the instructions book, the game does not come with helper cards to remind you of the order of play conveniently.

Villainous (competitive, films)

2-6 players 40-120 mins 10+

If Doctor Who is not your thing, how about playing as your favourite villain from a Disney movie instead? Each player chooses a villain, with a unique realm, villain deck, fate deck and win condition. Players move around their realm gathering resources from the villain deck needed to succeed in their devious plans and defeating heroes placed in their path by other players from their fate deck, or get those pesky players back by placing heroes in their realms.

This game provides a lot of variation, there is a fair degree of randomness from card draws from both the villain and the fate decks making finding the best strategy challenging but rewarding, especially as the villains have such unique win conditions and action abilities. There are also now so many expansions that if you find the optimum strategy for any one character, there is always another that you can pick up and perfect. Whilst the game has only one degree of player interaction, through the fate decks, players still have to be alert to the moves in other realms to make sure that someone is not about to win without anyone realising. Sometimes the randomness of the decks can be frustrating, when you spend multiple moves trying to perform the same action and just not getting the right cards, or trying to place heroes to stop another player winning and just not picking up useful ones and them winning anyway. I guess this is the way of random card draws but it would be nice to have some mechanism of getting around that a little more.

Jurassic World (co-op, films)

2-6 players 60 mins 12+

It’s time to build the dinosaur theme park from the film Don’t Build a Dinosaur Theme Park! Each player takes on a different managerial role and they work together to discover dinosaurs, place them in the park, build entertainment centres to keep the ticket sales rolling in and combat dangers from the construction of a dinosaur theme park. If the required dinosaurs and ticket sales are obtained, then congratulations, you’ve successfully run Jurassic World! However, if you fail to counter enough dangers then the dinosaurs run the show instead and your attraction ends up on the top ten list of abandoned theme parks. Each role has a unique set of advantages and disadvantages on dice rolls, which are the main mechanic of this game.

I will never not be enamoured with a game about dinosaurs and this one is no exception. There is only one real mechanism which is roll the specified number of dice, if you reach a threshold you perform the action, if you don’t then you don’t, meaning that anyone can play, and the co-operative nature allows for more strategising players to take the lead in understanding the best moves to make. Playing with less than four players makes the game quite tricky, because it’s hard to find roles that have the right combination of traits to succeed across the board, and whilst there are some alterations made for fewer players, these do not adequately combat this problem. I’ve found that tweaking the rules a little, where all six characters are controlled communally by everyone at smaller numbers makes the game as playable as normal without the handicap from fewer players. This tweak also allows the game to be played solo which is always an added bonus in any game.