Top 8 Best Space Exploration Board Games of 2024

Blast off on an adventure with the best space exploration board games! Perfect for family game night or with your pals.
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Race for the Galaxy coverCosmic Encounter coverTwilight Imperium Fourth Edition cover

Hey fellow board game enthusiasts! Today, we’re shooting for the stars with our roundup of the 8 best space exploration board games out there. Now, picking the crème de la crème wasn’t just about which game’s got the shiniest rocket – no sir! We focused on a mix of strategy, fun, and, of course, that sweet, sweet cosmic adventure feel. Whether you’re into building intergalactic empires, trading with alien species, or just terraforming Mars, we’ve got something that’ll tickle your astronaut fancy. So strap in and let’s launch into the universe of board games where space exploration is the name of the game!

On this list:

8 Race for the Galaxy

Race for the Galaxy cover

  • Age Range: 12+
  • Players: 2-4
  • Play Time: 30-60 minutes

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Kicking off our space exploration quest, we stumbled upon Race for the Galaxy. This gem had us building galactic civilizations faster than you can say ‘hyperspace!’ It’s all about playing cards to build worlds and social structures, which is cool because it makes you feel like a space emperor without the whole ‘heavy is the head’ business. Plus, the learning curve is a nice challenge – not too steep but enough to keep us on our toes.

7 Cosmic Encounter

Cosmic Encounter cover

  • Age Range: 12+
  • Players: 3-5
  • Play Time: 60-120 minutes

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Next, we rocketed into Cosmic Encounter, where making friends (and frenemies) in space is the name of the game. This one’s a classic, with a zillion different alien races (okay, maybe not a zillion, but close). What’s fun is every race has its own special power, which makes each game unpredictable. It’s like throwing a space party where everyone’s got a secret move. Never a dull moment!

6 Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition

Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition cover

  • Age Range: 14+
  • Players: 3-6
  • Play Time: 240-480 minutes

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If you want to take space exploration to the next ‘epic’ level, Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition is your huckleberry. This beast of a game is a day-long adventure of strategy, diplomacy, and conquest spanning an entire galaxy. We loved how every choice felt weighty, from diplomacy to warfare. It’s like being in your own space opera, minus the annoying love triangles. Definitely a game day main event.

5 Eclipse

Eclipse cover

  • Age Range: 14+
  • Players: 2-6
  • Play Time: 60-200 minutes

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Eclipse had us at ‘hello’ with its perfect blend of space exploration, empire-building, and epic space battles. It’s like someone took the best parts of board gaming and said, ‘Let’s set this in space.’ Managing resources and building fleets feels genuinely rewarding. Plus, the technology upgrade path is as satisfying as popping bubble wrap. Great for those who enjoy a bit more depth in their space conquests.

4 Star Realms

Star Realms cover

  • Age Range: 12+
  • Players: 2
  • Play Time: 20 minutes

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For a quick space fix, Star Realms hits the spot. This deck-building game is fast-paced, easy to learn, and insanely addictive. We found ourselves going from space rookies to strategizing admirals in no time. What’s nifty is its compact size, making it perfect for space exploration on the go. Plus, the thrill of building up a powerful fleet to crush your opponents never gets old.

3 Terraforming Mars

Terraforming Mars cover

  • Age Range: 12+
  • Players: 1-5
  • Play Time: 120-180 minutes

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Terraforming Mars had us feeling like bona fide planet engineers. The goal? Make Mars livable. This involves a lot of strategy around managing resources, building infrastructure, and advancing technology. We particularly loved the thematic depth and how the game mechanics echo real-world science (well, with a bit of a space twist). It’s a thinker’s game, where every decision counts and can lead to a triumphant ‘I terraformed Mars!’ bragging right.

2 Gaia Project

Gaia Project cover

  • Age Range: 12+
  • Players: 1-4
  • Play Time: 60-150 minutes

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For those who love Terraforming Mars but crave even more depth, Gaia Project is the next frontier. This game takes everything great about space exploration and turns it up to 11. You’re not just terraforming; you’re navigating different factions, each with unique abilities, across multiple planets. The variability and strategic depth are out of this world (pun intended). It’s a brain burner in the best way possible.

1 The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine

The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine cover

  • Age Range: 10+
  • Players: 2-5
  • Play Time: 20 minutes

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And here we are, the crème de la crème of space exploration: The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine. Why’s it the best? It’s cooperative, which means instead of beating each other up for space credits, we’re teaming up for the greater good. It’s also surprisingly challenging and rewarding with a series of missions that unfold a compelling story. The teamwork and problem-solving aspect had us hooked from mission one. It’s not just a game; it’s an adventure.

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.