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Frank Beddor
Marco Arizpe
May 17, 2024

The Best Wonderland Card and Board Games

Greetings enjoyers of All Things Alyss!

This is Marco Arizpe, Lead Game Designer at Automatic Games, and occasional blog writer for Frank’s wonderful repository of All Things Alice. Recently I have been hard at work developing an exciting table top card game set in the expansive wonderverse of The Looking Glass Wars. In doing so, I have studied the wide world of Alice-Inspired games.

No stranger to daring battles played out among friend & foe, the enduring legacy of chess & the versatile deck of cards lend their imagery to some of Wonderland’s most iconic characters. The vivid familiarity of Lewis Carroll’s creation manifests continually in this medium. However, there are many varieties of games, some with more familiar rules & pieces, while others go a little mad along the way.

In this spirit, please allow me to bring to your attention a sampling of some of the best Wonderland-inspired board & card games you could play at your next tea party.


A card-collecting game where players cooperate or compete to create a hat collection that would make the Millinery jealous.

With a 42-card deck of seven different Hat cards to collect, a “tea table” board for exchanging cards, a dry-erase “napkin” to keep score, and a plastic cookie which is very much inedible (you have been warned.) With these delightful pieces in hand 2 players can enjoy a simplified version with 1 less card on the tea table and 2 fewer hat suits in the deck, while 3 or 4  players utilize the whole game board and have access to all 42 hats.

A turn is simple, players can exchange a hat from the board with one from the hand and place their newly collected hat in front of them, or you play a hat face-down in front of you as a “black hat.” Once all players have 1 hat in hand, they have made all their moves, and the true strategy of Hats is revealed. Your final hat is your “favorite” and if the players have favorite hats of the same style as the ones on the tea table, those hats are placed face-down and do not count towards the final score. The hats in your collection are scored based on the position of their matching styles on the tea table, your black hats counting for 1 point, and the player with the most varied styles earning that 5-point cookie previously mentioned. 

Hats falls in a rare middle ground of colorful game pieces that catch the eye and a level of portability that allows players to enjoy the game out and about. Though admittedly the scoring system of Hats can be confusing initially as players get a handle on how to set up the tea table and their collection, even playing a round of Hats incorrectly still merits a good time. If you are looking to enjoy a quickly-paced game of cards with wonderful art Hats is a solid recommendation, but if you need more Wonderland read on.


Combining Carroll’s vision of Wonderland and the energetic card game designed by the delightfully named Looney Laboratory, Wonderland Fluxx is a game where the rules are made to go mad.

Starting with a very basic rule set of “draw 1, play 1” a game of Fluxx begins with very little but transforms with each card played. The Fluxx deck includes New Rules, Actions, Goals, and Keeper cards, as well as other advanced card types that ensure no two games play alike. Each round players can change the rules, perform special actions, set new goals, and collect Keepers to meet those goals. All this is merely the core of Fluxx as a game before it has been steeped in the imagery and themes of Wonderland.

Between 100 different cards, there are many flavorful links between Fluxx card mechanics and the iconic tropes we associate with Wonderland, perhaps my favorite is the use of the Jabberwock as the sole “Creeper” card of the deck. In Fluxx, one of the additional types of cards that can be found are Creepers which force themselves to be played when drawn. These cards tend to be “opposites” of the Keeper cards players need to collect to win and depending on the version, Creeper cards can add further chaos to your game. The Jabberwock is Wonderland Fluxx‘s only Creeper which adds a level of mythic menace to the creature that I find charming.

Wonderland Fluxx is an excellent choice for a group of players who enjoy thinking on their feet and are comfortable with the rules changing at any moment. Admittedly, Fluxx as a system can have linear win-conditions as players merely need 1 or 2 Keeper cards to complete any Goal. The fluctuating variables might keep newer players away but fits the madness of Wonderland that fans of LGW would appreciate an easy recommendation.


In this cooperative puzzle game, players must use their wits please to outsmart the Queen of Hearts, which is no easy task.

Published by North Star Games, Paint the Roses has players taking the role of royal gardeners toiling under the vicious Queen of Hearts who demands that the palace gardens be arranged to her mad whims. Based on these secretive Whim Cards, players must create a garden using Shrub Tokens to give their friends clues on what patterns to develop before the Queen’s ax can reach their neck. These whims come in a trio of difficulty and must be kept secret by the players, only using tokens to leave clues for your fellow players that the Shrubs on the board to lead you in the right direction. Once the planting of shrubs and clues has taken place, Players must take their guesses as to what is on the Whim cards. Guess correctly and move your gardener token along the board, but guess wrong and the Queen begins her mad march.

Now the win-condition of Paint the Roses is straightforward enough, however working to stay ahead of the Queen’s ax solely on you and your teammate’s ability to read each other’s clues can make this game fly by or slow to a crawl. For those who’ve mastered the base form of this game, North Star Games has released a deluxe version which includes the Escape the Castle expansion. The deluxe version boasts 6 unique modules that introduce familiar faces to Paint the Roses to assist players in their quest.

Returning to the meat of this review, the core retail version of Paint the Roses is an enjoyable romp around the palace grounds and is an excellent addition to the collection of those who appreciate all things Alyss. Even without the deluxe version’s expansions, the number of play variations available grants Paint the Roses a lifespan at your gaming table that is hard to match.


A 2-5 player game where each faction leader meets at Hatter’s Tea Party to gather resources before going to the battle against each other to lay claim to Wonderland.

Set in a Wonderland where the Looking Glass has shattered and the inhabitants have lost the madness that fuels them, players have a number of options to gain allies and advantages before the battle. During the Hatter’s tea party, players move around the table drafting cards to add to their army, build their tower, upgrade their faction leader, or complete Quests to gain bonuses in the various regions of Wonderland they’ll be fighting over. The tea party phase can be quite involved with each of these options, but for players who appreciate a steady progression of resources & abilities, this is your time to shine. After the tea party is over it is time for a bit of warfare, going region by region players will clash based on whose forces are present while other players can wager on the outcome or complete Quests in that area. Depending on player preferences, either phase could be the thrilling gameplay they were seeking or the dreadful drag as they wait for the other players to make their move.

Like the previous entry, this is a tabletop game for the gaming group that enjoys a long game with many moving parts and a focus on gaining & controlling resources and is not quite suited for a casual night in. Visually this game is ahead of the rest, pulling from a darker vision of Wonderland with an emphasis on battle, Wonderland’s War is as close to the Looking Glass Wars that is currently available. For the advanced tabletop game enthusiast, if you still have room on the shelf for some Wonderland madness, do give this a look.

From simple card play to table-creaking boards, it is clear that Wonderland remains an evergreen realm for gaming and will continue to be so for fans present and future. It can be mind-boggling to see all the various ways that the iconic characters have been incorporated into card & board games, but how the madcap thinking and imagination associated with Wonderland have influenced some fantastical game mechanics worth experiencing with friends.

Some or all of these tabletop offerings might satisfy your desire for gaming in Wonderland, we here on this side of the Looking Glass do hope you have an appetite for more.

Meet the Author:

Marco Arizpe

Marco Arizpe graduated from the University of Southern California and The American Film Institute with degrees in filmmaking and screenwriting. His brand of borderland gothic horror stems from his experiences growing up in a small town where Texas and Mexico meet. Culturally steeped in a rich history of all things terrifying, Marco never fails to bring forward indigenous folklore in contemporary and fresh settings.

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