Skyrim is now an endlessly playable board game, and it’s awesome

Posted by Charlie Hall on February 13, 2023 at 12:00 p.m

When it was announced in late 2021, many saw The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim The Adventure Game as little more than a dope. Many wryly noted that this would be the last time Skyrim would be remade in any form, sort of a final physical apotheosis for the classic video game. More than a decade after its release, Skyrim remains playable on virtually every console and computer platform known to man. So why not a board game too?

I’ll admit that there were many lighter-hearted versions of the headline that ended up appearing on Polygon. And yes, most of these variants mentioned Todd Howard by name. But it turns out that Modiphius’ interpretation of the Land of the Nords is actually a solid little board game. And just like the video game, you can essentially play it forever. It’s like a tiny clockwork continent sitting on your dining table.

Skyrim – The Adventure Game takes place long before the events of The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. Players take on the role of Blades, agents of the Emperor, driven north by conflicts at the heart of Cyrodiil. Across three scenarios, one to four players must work to defuse a violent civil war and then uncover a conspiracy before time runs out. The narrative plays out through a sequence of numbered maps, not unlike the sprawling cooperative horror game The 7th Continent, or the tight and agile narrative engine at the heart of Fantasy Flight Games’ Fallout.

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But Skyrim – The Adventure Game goes one step further. You can actually pull out some of the biggest endgame event cards, merge all three scenarios, and embark on an endless outdoor tabletop adventure. In this way, the board game reflects my favorite way of playing Skyrim – wandering around with powerful spells and various sharp objects and using them to fuck shit.

I’ve been running around in this little 2D world for weeks now, poking around in the game here and there as I walked around the room. The pace of the game feels more like a puzzle than a traditional board game, and I’m fine with that. In fact, this may be the first time I’ve really engaged with solo mode in a board game for an extended period of time.

I love the double-layered plaques that contain my hard-earned experience, gold, soul gems, and alchemical items in one place. I love the small miniatures including an adorable Khajiit. The only thing I feel is missing is a little home somewhere in the mountains that I can fill with cups and bowls and butterfly wings. But the gameplay itself is lively, relatively simple, and a lot of fun.

If you have a Skyrim superfan in your life I just can’t recommend this little gem enough. Without prior experience of Bethesda’s masterpiece, it won’t attract board game grognards, but it’s just the ticket for those who’ve traveled the woods in search of frost trolls, dragon masks, and magical swords.

I hope that somewhere while Todd Howard contemplates infinity in the final stages of Starfield’s development, he’ll enjoy his copy as well.

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The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim – The Adventure Game has been verified with a pre-release provided by Modiphius and is available in stores now. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions on products purchased through affiliate links. For more information on Polygon’s Ethics Policy, click here.

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