Minecraft’s starting to look a little more lifelike. Who knew all it took was a table, some friends, and about 40 minutes?

If you’re a Minecraft fan looking to refresh your world, climb out of your 8-bit hole and dig into Ravensburger’s latest board game, Minecraft: Builders & Biomes.

Builders & Biomes is a welcome addition to the strategy game genre, building an original and competitive board game concept around Minecraft’s best, blockiest, and creepiest elements (you know what you are, Enderman).

The objective of the game, clearly mined from its video game origins, is to rack up experience points (XP) by building homes with raw materials, strategically placing those homes in one of several biomes, and using signature weapons to fight off creepers, zombies, and other freaky monsters. The player with the most XP after three rounds is the winner (and should definitely get dibs on the next PC game run).

The game incorporates the original Minecraft’s blocky environment in lots of visual ways: square player boards, square weapon cards, rectangular (close enough!) player pieces, and of course, the coolest of squares: a giant cube, composed of randomly assorted cube-shaped building materials (in wood, sand, stone, emerald, and obsidian) that players can “mine” for construction, as the game’s centerpiece.

There’s also a number of other popular elements from the Minecraft-verse respawning in the home game, like diamond swords, treasure chests, and player skins – but don’t worry, Builders & Biomes is enjoyable for all types of players, not just fans of the game.

Despite being based on a preexisting universe, the gameplay in Ravensburger’s creation feels fresh. A less-adept game company could have very easily reached into their board game catalog and given a preexisting game a Minecraft reskinning and called it a day; in Builders & Biomes, every action of the game sequence feels logically tied to the Minecraft elements rather than forced together. 

The only downside is that a new game like this has a bit of a learning curve: Just put on the soothing Minecraft soundtrack and tell your friends to be patient — they’ll be fighting over Tundra tiles in no time.

Ravensburger’s Minecraft: Builders & Biomes, the best new addition to game night, is available now on Amazon.

Photo: Ravensburger