Best Science Board Games [Our Top 14 Picks for 2020]

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If you dig board games and you like science, you might be wondering what games are available that combine the two. The great news is that we’re in a golden age of board gaming and there are some incredible options that put some science into tabletop gaming!

My top pick as the best science board game for kids and adults is Wingspan. It’s a beautiful game that everyone can learn something from. The whole thing is well thought out and cohesive, and the gameplay is varied and engaging. For people over the age of 10, this is a winner.

Our Top Picks
Best Overall
Wingspan Board Game - A Bird-Collection, Engine-Building Stonemaier Game for 1-5 Players, Ages 14+
Best Engine Building Game
Indie Boards and Cards Terraforming Mars Board Game, Multicolor (6005SG)
Budget Option
eeBoo Life on Earth Memory Matching Game for Kids
Name
Wingspan
Terraforming Mars
Life on Earth Memory Game
Features
This science board game is beautiful to look at, it’s fun and engaging to play, and with 170 different bird cards, it’s very replayable.
Is an exciting and challenging board game that explores all of the challenges involved in terraforming planets.
This nature-based memory game has beautifully illustrated cards and is suitable for kids ages 5+.
Best Overall
Our Top Picks
Wingspan Board Game - A Bird-Collection, Engine-Building Stonemaier Game for 1-5 Players, Ages 14+
Name
Wingspan
Features
This science board game is beautiful to look at, it’s fun and engaging to play, and with 170 different bird cards, it’s very replayable.
Best Engine Building Game
Our Top Picks
Indie Boards and Cards Terraforming Mars Board Game, Multicolor (6005SG)
Name
Terraforming Mars
Features
Is an exciting and challenging board game that explores all of the challenges involved in terraforming planets.
Budget Option
Our Top Picks
eeBoo Life on Earth Memory Matching Game for Kids
Name
Life on Earth Memory Game
Features
This nature-based memory game has beautifully illustrated cards and is suitable for kids ages 5+.

Related post: Best Educational Board Games

Best Science Board Games

Best Overall – Wingspan

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Best Overall
Wingspan
This science board game is beautiful to look at, it’s fun and engaging to play, and with 170 different bird cards, it’s very replayable.

The aim of Wingspan is to fill your aviary with as many birds as possible. You attract birds by offering them the foods they like to eat. As you collect birds, you get more options and actions to take. 

Wingspan’s designer, Elizabeth Hargrave, says that she wanted to create a game inspired by nature and that breaks away from the typical tabletop theme. The bird cards in the game have gorgeous and accurate illustrations. You will learn details about their diet, habitat, and, as the name implies, their wingspan. 

The game comes with a case to store and display the cards while you are playing, which is a nice touch. You also get a bird feeder themed dice tower, which adds to the aesthetic.

You can choose from two different scoring styles. One option is more competitive, so it’s an excellent way to add an extra level of the challenge once you’ve mastered playing it.

The game works for 2 – 5 players and takes about an hour to play. Included in the box, there is also a single-player version – the Automa – which makes this science board game playable solo. It’s suitable for kids aged 10 and up.

If you fall in love with this game, you’ll be pleased to learn that Stonemaier Games already has one expansion that adds European birds, and there is an Oceania Expansion on the way as well.

Best Engine Building Game – Terraforming Mars

Best Engine Building Game
Terraforming Mars
Is an exciting and challenging game that explores all of the challenges involved in terraforming planets.

Terraforming Mars takes you to the year 2400. You are competing with the other players to terraform as much of Mars as possible. However, doing so is not simple. You have to find ways to raise the temperature, add water, and grow plants to turn Mars into a habitable planet.

Terraforming Mars is an engine-building game. That means you can’t just take the actions that earn you points. You have to build up systems to grow your resources before you can take game-winning steps. Terraforming Mars goes about this in interesting and thought-provoking ways.

By its nature, Terraforming Mars is not a quick game. It takes around 2 hours of play to turn Mars into a place you might want to live. So it’s not a good choice for younger children. Older kids and adults will get a lot out of playing this game, though. The recommendation is for kids ages 14+

The game has been so popular that four different expansion sets go with it, which means this board game has the potential for many replays.

The only negative about this product is that some of the box items feel a little flimsy. It’s the only negative on another wise enjoyable and thought-provoking science board game.

Best Budget Option – Life on Earth Memory Game

Best Budget Option
Life on Earth Memory Game
This nature-based memory game has beautifully illustrated cards and is suitable for kids ages 5+.

Memory games are one of my favorite types of kids’ board games. The Life on Earth Memory Game is a simple game. It’s just a classic card turning game, where you hunt for pairs of matching cards.

The pictures on the cards are beautiful, colorful illustrations of plants and animals. There is a wide variety of creatures on them that you might not usually see. It’s a great way to introduce younger children to the diversity of life on the planet.

It’s not only the illustrations that make this memory game stand out from the rest; it’s the quality of the cards. The cards are nice and thick and have a protective coating. This means you know that they will survive a lot of use, which is ideal for a game where every card gets handled so much.

With 24 pairs to match, the level of challenge is just right for elementary school kids. It also keeps the playtime nice and short, which is ideal for younger kids.

Biology Themed Games

Best Strategy Game – Photosynthesis

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Best Strategy Game
Photosynthesis
This beautiful game lets you build a 3D forest as you play and learn about trees.

Photosynthesis is a great strategy game. The winner is the player who can most successfully grow their trees. This means competing over resources, the most important of which is sunlight.

While this is a competitive strategy game, it’s not cutthroat. You aim to grow your trees in the best position to get sunlight, but as the sun moves during the game, it’s hard to box someone else out completely. This means no one will feel aggrieved at the end of the game.

The biggest draw of this game is that you get to build 3D trees during the game. By the end, you’ll have created a lovely little forest. The gameplay is excellent and engaging – it doesn’t just look good; it plays well too.

This game supports 2 – 4 players, and the playtime is around an hour. It’s suitable for kids over the age of 10.

Best World Building Game – Planet

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Best World Building Game
Planet
In this game, you will build your own 3D planet with a variety of different habitats to try and support as many different animals as possible.

Planet is a literal world-building game. You have a 3-dimensional world, and on your turn, you get to add a tile to it. Each round, you’re trying to win the animal cards in the middle by having the right habitat combinations.

This game is really attractive because it has a different look to it than other board games. The tiles stick to your core planet using magnets. They attach firmly with a satisfying click. It’s the sort of game that will attract anyone’s attention.

It supports 2 – 4 players. It’s a pretty easy game to learn. The recommended age is 8+, but younger kids can certainly get the basic idea. Developing strategy and forward-thinking means that it can be an interesting and challenging game for players of any age.

Best Worker Placement Game – Cytosis

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Best Worker Placement Game
Cytosis
This game is a great way to learn and practice high school level biology.

The aim of Cytosis is to gain as much health as possible. You do this by collecting proteins and hormones. You get these by building them, just like your cells do.

If you’ve played any other worker placement games, then the gameplay will make sense, quite quickly. It’s a little like Lords of Waterdeep, just inside a cell. For players not used to worker placement games, it can seem a bit overwhelming. So, it’s better for older kids and adults.

This game is a great way to learn and practice high school level biology. Just playing the game will give you some familiarity with a cell’s components and how they work. If you want to learn more, the game comes with a ‘science behind the game’ booklet. This lets you discover what’s going on inside your body.

Best Original Game Mechanics – Evolution

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Best Original Game Mechanics
Evolution
This is a game where you get to create your own species. You play the role of mother nature, deciding how your creatures should evolve.

Evolution is a really interesting game. Over the course of the game, you can grow and build several species, all with different features and traits. You are in direct competition with all the other players to see who can create the species most able to survive.

This game is fun because every time you play, it will be different. This is because there are a lot of different traits you can combine in your species. But, it’s also because the choices other players make will affect you. 

There comes the point in the game where your species can become a carnivore and start attacking other players. These interactions between species make for an entertaining tug of war between attack and defense. It nicely mirrors what happens in nature.

The gameplay is really original, so it will be refreshing for any player, no matter how many board games they’ve played.

The only negative I can share about this game is the first player marker. This is a little nit-picky because you’ll either love it or hate it. It’s a giant dinosaur model! In my opinion, It just doesn’t fit with the rest of the artwork for the game. Artwork, by the way, that is beautiful. But, it’s certainly not a reason to miss out on this fun game.

Best Cooperative Game – Wildcraft!

Best Cooperative Game
Wildcraft!
This cooperative board game introduces young children to different types of herbs and the challenges of problem-solving.

Wildcraft! is a lovely board game for younger players. The premise is simple: you all have to get down the mountain before nightfall. What were you doing up a mountain? I hear you ask. You were collecting huckleberries for Grandma, of course.

Since you all have to get back to Grandma, you help each other out as you travel down the mountain. Each player focuses on their own actions but can offer help to others.

As you travel, you’ll be able to collect herbs. These come in handy when a player suffers a misfortune. With the right herb, you can make the problem go away.

The cards are well designed, so you don’t have to be able to read to play. This means that kids from the age of 4 can join in. It is an excellent introduction to the power of plants and problem-solving.

Physics Themed Games

Best Game About Rockets – Xtronaut: The Game Of Solar System Exploration

Best Game About Rockets
Xtronaut: The Game Of Solar System Exploration
This game for 2 -4 players gives kids the chance to build rockets and complete missions in space.

Xtronaut: The Game Of Solar System Exploration is very detailed. It introduces a lot of the principles behind rockets and is based on real-life missions. The game can take you further than NASA has so far gone.

The players draw cards to build the components of their rocket. They have to get enough Delta-V to make it to their destination, but they can use the gravity of other planets in the solar system to give themselves a boost.

Obstacles can appear in the way as you try to plan your mission, including audits, government shutdowns, and canceled projects, just like in real life. 

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The gameplay is simple and easy to pick up. Kids from the age of 7 can play this game with no trouble at all.

The game also comes with an additional workbook. It guides your kids through learning all about the challenges of managing real space missions and rocket launches.

Best Puzzle Game – ThinkFun Circuit Maze

Best Puzzle Game
ThinkFun Circuit Maze
This color-coded game lets your child build circuits to solve the puzzles and turn on the lights, with 60 challenges to try it’ll keep them entertained.

The ThinkFun Circuit Maze is a great introduction to electric circuits for kids ages 8 and up. There are 60 challenges to solve. They start easy and gradually get more challenging as your kid learns how circuits work. 

The circuits are safe and easy to build—the pieces slot into the board with ease. The set includes LEDs, switches, and a power supply. Your child has to use these to solve the puzzles.

This game actively teaches your child about how electric circuits work. There are multiple solutions to problems. Add to that the open-ended option to build their own circuits, and this becomes more than just a science board game. 

Best for Younger Children – Magnetic Matching Game

Best for Younger Children
Magnetic Matching Game
Players use magnetic rings to recreate the pictures on the card. The power of the magnets lets the rings float to offer more challenging puzzles.

This Magnetic Matching Game is a fun game for kids as young as three. For younger kids, they can practice their fine motor skills. For older kids, they can learn how magnets work. Everyone can develop their problem solving, memory, and matching skills.

The cards show arrangements of rings. Players then have to recreate what they see. The first one to do so gets the card. There are many ways to vary the game to make it less directly competitive. You can even play alone, just for the challenge. 

This is an enjoyable game with a lot of flexibility.

Chemistry Themed Games

Best Science Game With Ninjas! – Science Ninjas Valence Card Game

Best Best Science Game
Science Ninjas Valence Card Game
This simple to learn card game introduces kids to advanced chemistry ideas and is great fun to play

Science Ninjas Valence Card Game is a great way to introduce kids to a lot of concepts that many students find challenging. Without releasing it, they will learn about periodicity, valance, and common chemical reactions.

Kids need to be able to add positive and negative numbers to play this game. Once they can add to zero, they’re ready to play.

Players build molecules using the element cards. Different molecules can be used to do different things, including reacting with other players’ molecules. Each molecule is worth a different number of points. The aim is to be the first one to earn 10 points. 

This excellent game is really fun. The artwork is cute and appeals to kids and adults alike. It’s one of those games that your kids will love to play. It will also help them learn some of the fundamentals of advanced chemistry, whether they realize it or not.

Best Elements Game – Periodic A Game of The Elements

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Best Elements Game
Periodic A Game of The Elements
This science game will help you to learn the properties of the elements of the period table, all while having fun.

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Periodic A Game of The Elements is a science board game for 2 – 5 players. The playing time is usually just under an hour. It’s suitable for kids ages 10+.

In this science board game, you move around the periodic table collecting elements. Playing will teach you about the periodic table because you can only collect elements with the right properties. And you get around by using periodic trends to guide your motion.

There is a bit of a hill to get over to learn how to play, but once you get the hang of it, it flows nicely. 

Best for Learning Reactions – Operation Escape EVIL

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Best for Learning Reactions
Operation Escape EVIL
Easy to play game that combines luck and science trivia knowledge as players race to escape from prison using science.

Operation Escape EVIL has a very silly premise. You’re trying to collect the ingredients needed to perform a science magic trick. The idea is that it will distract the warden, letting you make a run for it. 

Players roll a dice to move around the board and collect the ingredients for one of 16 different reactions. The first to get everything they need and escape wins.

The great thing about this game is that the 16 reactions in the game are doable in the real world. As you’ll learn by playing, you can find many of these chemicals in everyday household game items. It can be a great inspiration for a science project.

What to Consider When Buying Science Board Games

Fun Factor

Science board games should be fun to play. If they aren’t, then they fail on every front. No one will play them, and no one will learn anything. Great science games are ones that kids love to play, but still have some science thrown in that they’ll get to grips with as part of playing the game.

Difficulty

A lot of science board games can be challenging to play. It would be best if you matched the level of science and the difficulty of the gameplay to your kids or your abilities. If your household loves board games, then you’ll be up to the challenge of more intensive games like Terraforming Mars and Cytosis.

If you’re newer to board games, you might want to try some of the lighter games first. Games like Photosynthesis and Planet are great games to start with.

Terraforming Mars Board Game

Renessaince / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Science

Some games that are labeled as being science board games can contain science that has been ‘twisted’ to fit the game. So keep an eye on the games’ content to make sure the games you’re looking at are really science games and that they’re not just pretending to be.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best science board game?

The best science board games are the ones that suit your kids. They should balance fun and science to create an engaging experience that your child wants to repeat.

Why do people play science board games?

Because they’re fun! That’s why anyone plays board games. Science games are like any other board games for kids. They are fun to play. The only difference with science games is that there is some interesting science theme behind the fun.

Can you actually learn any science playing these games?

Each of these games has some science to learn. They can help your kids learn about the world around them, the life on the planet, magnets, electricity, and even how to settle another world. There is lots of learning hidden within the fun of playing these games.

Sandy Fargus

Last update on 2020-10-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API