Star Trek first introduced 3D Chess with a piece that had been cobbled together from other board games by the show’s prop designers. The concept of multidimensional chess took off, but these still aren’t seen too often at most game nights.
Multidimensional board games add one (or more) levels to the traditional, flat playing field. The chase isn’t limited to around the board or forward but extends possible player movements to up and down.
Here’s a look at some of the most popular multidimensional board games for taking your board game night to the next level.
Upwords is the perfect board game for Scrabble fans who have always wanted the ability to stack their words. Created by Milton Bradley, Upwords is a great word game that doesn’t get mentioned enough.
Rules are familiar to anyone who has played Scrabble, but with a three-dimensional difference. Points are given for coherent words that go up.
Rude words are against the standard rules, but no rule says that you aren’t allowed to play Rude Upwords anyway.
Triopoly was first released in 1997 by Reveal Entertainment. It must have been at a time when companies were less likely to be sued for a release that was called “inspired by Monopoly”.
The concept of Triopoly is much like its inspiration.
It’s a turn-based property management game, except with multiple game boards as floors. The game’s idea is to make your mark on all three levels to win.
Game pieces are the least original thing about it and include a cone and a familiar-looking hat.
3. Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb
Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb launched in 1988, published by Games Workshop. Creator Stephen Hand is credited for creating this gaming oddity, which capitalizes heavily on ancient Egyptian mythology.
Players (2 to 4) assume the roles of explorers in the game. The goal is to make it through the three-tiered board and up to the top of Khonsu’s pyramid before any other players.
The game is a good fast-paced chase on an unusual board. Costumes optional.
4. Chopper Strike
Chopper Strike is one of the lesser-known board games made by Milton Bradley, released in 1976.
The top song on the Billboard Hot SIngles List that year was Silly Love Songs by Wings; the second was the unfortunately catchy single Don’t Go Breaking My Heart by Elton John & Kiki Dee.
Everything must have been weird that year.
Chopper Strike is a turn-based wargame that can be thought of as multiple level Battleship with different vehicles. Video game fans can think of it as a board game version of Commanche.
While discontinued, copies of Chopper Strike are still available on sites like eBay.
5. Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion
Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion is a turn-based discovery game that involves a physical Haunted Mansion miniature that acts as the board.
While Scooby-Doo isn’t the first title you might reach for when selecting board games, it plays better than you would think.
Clues are given through cards and found at random as players make their way through the map. A mixture of 50 different clues guarantees a different game every time you play.
When you’re done with the game, the Haunted House makes for a great storage box to put your weed in. Sorry, “Scooby Snacks”.
6. Mord im Arosa
Mord im Arosa translates to “Murder at the Arosa”. It was first released in 2010, created by Alessandro Zucchini.
The title references a large hotel in Germany that might be slightly lost in translation.
The game plays through as a murder mystery for 2 to 6 players, though it contains a cube for a field instead of a regular board. Gameplay relies on something you don’t often see: sound.
Players drop blocks through the cube and have to listen for the sound difference to figure out their move and the eventual mystery.
The game’s first move is fairly dark: two red cubes that represent bodies are dropped in first while players have to listen for where they land.
It’s like the movie Cube, but without the terrible third sequel.
7. Clue: Star Wars
Clue: Star Wars is an official Hasbro release that doesn’t play quite like their usual titles in the series.
Murder, cards and dice rolls are still consistent elements for the Star Wars conversion of Clue.
The difference for Clue: Star Wars lies in the game’s rare multidimensional aspect. Instead of a board, players take turns navigating through two levels of the Death Star.
8. Star Trek Tridimensional Chess
Star Trek Tridimensional Chess is the actual, defined version of the popular 3D Chess game played between Spock and Kirk throughout the Star Trek Universe.
At the time of the game’s theoretical appearance in the original Star Trek series, rules for it didn’t exist. The prop had been improvised, and the show’s creators had thought of different games that might be popular in future times.
Rules later made it to the official Star Trek Fleet Technical Manual, available on Amazon for serious fans.
Turns out they were right. Tridimensional chess is pretty popular, and this is the official three-level version.
9. Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit
Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit proves one thing, and it’s that Star Wars couldn’t get enough of the three-dimensional angle after just one board game.
The Queen’s Gambit is also an unrelated book and miniseries, plus the name of a famous chess move. Apparently, that’s fine for George Lucas – just not for anyone else.
It’s a mixture of Star Trek’s tridimensional version and old-school battle chess set to a Star Wars backdrop. An online, more visual version of it can be found on Steam.
It’s such a blatant clone of Star Trek that it could have been stolen from Spock’s locker.
Alex J. Coyne is a journalist, writer, and regular seat-filler at various tabletop games. He has written for CollegeHumor, Great Bridge Links, Funds for Writers, Bridge Base Online, and more. His website is the best place to find him for samples, writing projects, and more.
What’s your favourite multilevel or threedimensional board game?