Ready, Set, Roll: 11 Best RPG Board Games in 2023

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Hello there, weary traveler! Come in, come in. You must be soaked from the rain outside. Please, have a seat and rest your feet by the fire. Tonight is a quiet evening. Let me get you a mug of our finest beverage and some food to ease your journey. Ah, so you wish to ask me about something? I am always happy to help. The best RPG board games, you say? Aye, I know of some. Here, let me get you that drink so that we may begin.

Best RPG board games – Our Top Picks

  1. Gloomhaven
  2. Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition
  3. The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth
  4. Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) 
  5. Dungeons & Dragons Adventure System Board Games
  6. Mansions of Madness: Second Edition 
  7. Pathfinder Adventure Card Game
  8. Star Wars: Imperial Assault
  9. Stuffed Fables
  10. Mice and Mystics
  11. HeroQuest

Choosing Our Board Games

Everybody knows that adventuring can be tough, and the choices that follow it can be even tougher, so believe us when we say we had our hands full when compiling the list of board games for today’s topic. If there’s anything we love, it’s RPG board games, so the choice wasn’t easy to make.

But what are RPG board games? At its simplest, they can be described as board games that incorporate elements of traditional Pen & Paper RPGs in a more streamlined format. They are designed to save time for players while still providing a focus on some RPG aspects, such as dungeon crawling and storytelling. 

Please keep in mind that our list isn’t meant to be a direct comparison of which game is better. We’re also sure there are some great games that we’ve missed. With all that in mind, we guarantee that every single game we’ve chosen will be a fantastic pick for when you and your gaming group, so let’s get right into it, shall we?

1. Gloomhaven

gloomhaven
Number of players:1 to 4
Playing time:60 – 120 minutes
Age:14+

Alright, let’s start with the big one – the elephant or the Inox Brute in the room. This 2017 Kickstarter by designer Isaac Childres and published by Cephalofair Games took the #1 spot for the best rpg board game, taking the niche by storm. And rightfully so, with its massive number of awards, nominations, and recommendations. 

Gloomhaven is described as a cooperative legacy dungeon-crawling, role-playing, tactical card combat game that even has some eurogame elements. Made to be played by up to four players, this RPG board game sets the players up as a mercenary group on a campaign deciding the fate of the city of Gloomhaven and its surrounding lands. This scope alone gives you a hint about just how massive this game is.

Within its giant 22lb box, Gloomhaven offers an abundance of game components, including 17 playable character miniatures, 47 monster cardboard standees, 700 tokens, 1,500 cards, 100 scenarios, a multitude of stickers, game tiles, and a beautiful map that you will explore and interact with during gameplay. All in all, it’s a massive box that’s full of surprises!

One thing that can be said about getting this board game is that you need to be fully invested in it, both in terms of time and money.

The game mechanics are fun and well thought out, and while they may feel repetitive at times, the game has surprises in store for you when you least expect them. It encourages you to try playing different characters, giving you a totally new dynamic and keeping the gameplay fresh and interesting. All the while driving the story forward and leaving the players wanting more.

Pros

  • Deep and engaging gameplay with a rich and evolving storyline
  • Unique card-based combat system
  • Huge amount of content with a long campaign and lots of unlockable content

Cons

  • Can be overwhelming for new players and requires a significant time commitment 
  • The combat system can feel repetitive

2. Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition

mage knight
Number of players:1 to 5
Playing time:150 minutes
Age:14+

Originally published in the 1990s as a tabletop miniatures game, and later republished by WizKids in 2011 as a traditional tabletop board game, Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition, designed by Vlaada Chvátil, is one of the most popular RPG board games of all time.

Mage Knight comes in a huge box that gets you the original game and three of its expansions, along with new cards and characters. And that’s a lot of content.

Set in the Atlantean Empire of the Mage Knight universe, players select one of seven hero characters to fight and conquer the broken empire for their own gain. (*cough* not very heroic of them *cough*)

Mage Knight is a board game played in scenarios, and we won’t lie, you may not fully understand it in the first playthrough. The rulebooks can be overwhelming, and you might find it helpful to go with the walkthrough first.

But don’t let this intimidate you, as this RPG board game has a lot to offer, from its card play and hand management system to character development and replayability value. Plus, it’s one of the few games of this type you can really enjoy playing solo. 

We recommend that you check it out and see why it’s called the king of deck builders by some, and the best fantasy solo rpg board game by others. 

Pros

  • Deep and complex gameplay that rewards strategic thinking and planning
  • Wide variety of character and enemy types, providing a lot of replayability
  • Beautifully designed components, detailed miniatures, and high-quality cards and tiles
  • Includes all of the expansions and content from the original Mage Knight game

Cons

  • Steep learning curve, difficult for beginners to get into

3. The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth

The Lord of the Rings Journeys in Middle-Earth
Number of players:1 to 5
Playing time:60 – 120 minutes
Age:14+

Fantasy Flight Games’ The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth is a cooperative app-assisted board game for one to five players and a fan favorite among both LOTR fans and non-fans alike. The game takes you on an epic adventure through Middle-Earth as one of the well-known characters from the books. You must overcome mighty foes, recover lost treasures and uncover forgotten lore all the while saying “FOR FRODO!” (or not).

The app serves as the game master, guiding players through the story while also handling all of the game’s content. This makes it easy for players to focus on the game’s narrative and ensures that all content is organized in one convenient location. The app provides access to various campaigns and DLC adventures, some of which are free, while others require a purchase.

The game’s campaigns are both fun and story-driven, allowing players to continue to their next adventure in the campaign even if they fail a previous one. Additionally, players can customize their characters’ skills and abilities to better fit their roles within the Fellowship.

The rules are easy to follow and the board game components are beautifully designed, from the cards and miniatures to the hexagonal tiles.

So, pack your lembas bread, don that elven cloak, and dive into one of the most iconic stories ever written. Oh, and… keeping the game hidden and safe (or not) is entirely up to you!

Pros

  • Immersive storytelling and thematic elements, capturing the feel of Middle-earth and its characters
  • The companion app provides an adaptive experience, with different paths and encounters based on player choices and actions
  • A variety of heroes and enemies, each with their own unique abilities and mechanics, allows for a diverse and replayable experience
  • Modular board and card decks allow for a customizable and expandable game

Cons

  • App reliance may be a turn-off for some players
  • Limited customization of heroes, with few options for upgrading abilities or gear

4. Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition)

Descent Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition)
Number of players:1 to 5
Playing time:120 minutes
Age:14+

Now is the perfect time to introduce the second edition of FFG’s original classic dungeon crawler, Descent: Journeys in the Dark. This game, which was released in 2012, became an instant hit, just like its predecessor. However, the second edition is much more streamlined and polished.

This is a one vs. many fantasy RPG board game where four players choose characters from the classic four hero archetypes (tank, healer, ranger, magic user), each with unique special abilities, while another takes on the role of the evil overlord (dungeon master). The game is also app-assisted, which is FFG’s preferred approach for their RPG board games nowadays.

Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd Edition features individual missions known as “Encounters,” with two connected Encounters forming a quest, and a group of quests forming a cohesive campaign that emphasizes strategy and cunning over mere brute force.

It’s a game of brains versus brawn, and it’s sure to delight anyone who enjoys a good challenge. What’s more, even the Overlord player has their own quests to undertake, which we found to be a great touch. After all, even villains need some love – perhaps that’s why they ended up as villains in the first place.

This is one of our first dungeon crawlers here at Boar Gamer, and we absolutely love it! If you’re looking to expand your gameplay options, we recommend checking out the multiple expansions that came out. These add new quests, heroes, monsters, and other gameplay elements to enhance the overall experience, and are a great addition to the game.

Pros

  • Highly thematic and immersive, strong focus on storytelling and character development
  • The robust character customization options allow players to create unique and powerful heroes
  • High degree of replayability and variety
  • Wide variety of enemies and bosses, with each scenario providing new challenges and obstacles to overcome

Cons

  • The game requires a dedicated group of players for a campaign

5. Dungeons & Dragons Adventure System Board Games

Dungeons & Dragons Adventure System Board Games
Number of players:1 to 5
Playing time:60 minutes
Age:12+

Not so long ago, Wizards Of The Coast was influenced by the ever-growing popularity of MMORPGs and RPG video games and tried to incorporate some elements into the pen-and-paper Dungeons & Dragons. This resulted in the creation of the 4th edition of D&D. 

Some people liked it, and some outright hated it, but we found it to be just a different kind of experience with a more board game-like feel. We mourned its role-playing limitations while enjoying the combat aspect of it. Guess we weren’t the only ones…

Dungeons & Dragons Adventure System Board Games are a series of cooperative board games where players use pre-generated characters and go through various adventures and dungeon crawls, all while fighting monsters and gaining treasure.

The games are played fast and casually, and yes, there is a d20 dice involved! The only thing we suggest is for you to get to know the cards you play. You can call them instant dungeon crawls, minus the GM. They come in all flavors, from the spookiness of Ravenloft to the rumble in the jungle of The Tomb of Annihilation. 

So, if you’re someone who misses and loves the Dungeons & Dragons experience but doesn’t have the time or desire for four-to-eight-hour long sessions, these games are ideal for you.

Pros

  • Easy to learn and play, great for new players
  • Designed to be played cooperatively, players work together to overcome challenges and achieve objectives
  • A lot of replay value, no two games are exactly alike
  • Several expansion sets are available, adding new scenarios, characters, and equipment to the game

Cons

  • Limited customization for individual characters
  • Set up in a linear fashion, may not appeal to players who prefer more open-ended gameplay

6. Mansions of Madness: Second Edition

mansions of madness
Number of players:1 to 5
Playing time:120 – 180 minutes
Age:14+

Fantasy Flight Games’ Mansions of Madness: Second Edition is a fan-favorite cooperative app-assisted horror rpg board game. It puts the players into the shoes of investigators trying to solve puzzles and mysteries while dungeon-crawling through different locations taken from the Cthulhu Mythos.

The board game’s use of the app sets the tone and theme nicely at the beginning of each scenario, and it has four scenarios in the core game and a total of 22 scenarios with the expansions. Another good thing the app does is randomize the scenario layouts, monsters, and tokens, giving the game a high replay value.

The mechanics are simple enough, with only two game phases that allow the players to strategize to their liking. And of course, what Lovecraftian board game worth its salt would it be if it didn’t have an insanity mechanic? In this case, it’s in the form of cards, adding a little unpredictability factor to the game.

As for the components, this beautiful game comes with 32 detailed miniatures that can also be used in other Arkham Files games. Of course, there is also the game board and dice. 

We had an absolute blast playing Mansions of Madness, and firmly believe that this is one horror rpg board game that any Lovecraftian fan out there must try out.

Pros

  • High-quality components and artwork
  • The companion app enhances the gameplay experience with sound effects, music, and interactive puzzles
  • The scenario-based gameplay provides a good amount of replayability, with each scenario offering different challenges and outcomes
  • Good balance of strategy and luck

Cons

  • Best played with a full group of players, as it can be difficult to balance the difficulty level with fewer players

7. Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game
Number of players:1 to 4
Playing time:90 minutes
Age:13+

This cooperative deck-building RPG card game, designed by Mike Selinker and published by Paizo Publishing, was initially released at GenCon 2013 and can be played by 1-4 players. It has been considered one of the top solo board games and in 2019, it received its second edition. 

Players begin by selecting their character’s class and building their deck, which typically includes equipment, magic, and allies. They then embark on adventures, fighting monsters, overcoming perils, and avoiding traps, all while attempting to close off enough locations to corner the scenario’s boss and defeat them. And let us tell you, all of this can involve making a lot of checks. 

Once a scenario is completed, players upgrade and proceed to the next one. The game is designed for a series of scenarios that can be combined into a larger campaign or adventure path. So it can feel a little repetitive at times, especially when you’ve played the game several times.

The rules are simple, and a nice touch when playing with somebody is that you can assist them in their checks, which adds to the feeling like it builds camaraderie among the players. 

If you like developing your main character and going through multiple campaigns, never knowing where it might take you, then this board game is for you.

Pros

  • Easy to learn and play, accessible for beginners
  • Good balance of strategy and luck
  • The deck-building adds a level of customization and replayability
  • The game features an ongoing storyline, with multiple expansions

Cons

  • Can feel repetitive after multiple plays

8. Star Wars: Imperial Assault

star wars Imperial assault
Number of players:1 to 5
Playing time:60 – 120 minutes
Age:14+

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… Fantasy Flight Games had an idea to publish a one vs. many dungeon crawl campaign game set in the Star Wars universe. And it was a good idea!

In Star Wars: Imperial Assault, one player takes the role of the Imperials, while 1-4 other players control Rebel scum… I mean heroes. There are six to choose from, and each can be customized for a specific role with various deck builds and can level up as the game progresses.

This RPG board game is played through individual branching scenarios, all building up nicely to a grand finale, and it follows the usual Star Wars cliché story where the Rebels are trying to obtain sensitive information to defeat the evil Empire. Many people compare it to Descent (Second Edition) but with a Star Wars theme. Additionally, there is a skirmish game that can be played with only two players.

Gameplay-wise, the game is fun and easy to understand. The miniature sculpts, cards, and components are top-notch, as you would expect from an FFG title. 

And all that is left for all you Star Wars fans now is to play the Imperial March theme and immerse yourselves in this exciting and fun RPG board game. May the Force be with you!

Pros

  • Captures the feel of the Star Wars universe
  • Campaign mode with a branching storyline, which adds replay value
  • Competitive and cooperative gameplay options
  • Customizable and upgradable characters
  • A variety of scenarios with different objectives and environments

Cons

  • Campaigns can be time-consuming
  • Could use more playable characters

9. Mice and Mystics

mice-and-mystics
Number of players:1 to 4
Playing time:60 – 90 minutes
Age:7+

Let us start this review by saying the game features little mice with hoods and weapons. And cheese! That’s it, that’s really all you should need to know. Hooded mice. With weapons. And cheese. What do you mean that’s not enough? Fine, we have a review too….

Despite its cute and whimsical appearance, this is a story-driven fantasy RPG board game that deals with serious themes. Its main premise involves the evil sorceress seizing control of your father’s kingdom and imprisoning all who remain loyal to the king, including you, the prince. 

With the aid of your court wizard, you and your band of loyalists are transformed into mice to facilitate your escape. However, you soon discover that there are numerous obstacles and challenges to overcome before you can escape to safety and save the king. 

The game follows a chapter-to-campaign mechanic, where you dungeon crawl through various rooms with your group, fighting spiders, rats, and cats while collecting cheese and leveling up along the way. 

This one is a true gem for those who enjoy story-driven fantasy RPG board games and is the perfect entry-level cooperative game for kids. What we love most about the game is the exceptionally well-written story, which is complemented by fantastic artwork that truly immerses players in its highly thematic world.

It’s all dandy and nice with talking mice! Just ask the fans of Brian Jacques’ Redwall novels, E.B. White’s Stuart Little, or those who love the adventures of Despereaux Tilling by Kate DiCamillo.

Pros

  • Engaging and immersive storyline; charming artwork and characters
  • Unique and inventive gameplay mechanics
  • Great for families and younger players
  • Multiple expansion packs are available

Cons

  • Limited replayability, linear storyline, and scripted events
  • Combat mechanics are overly simplistic and often repetitive

10. Stuffed Fables

stuffed fables
Number of players:2 to 4
Playing time:60 – 90 minutes
Age:7+

Loved Mice And Mystics? Then you’ll definitely love Jerry Hawthorne’s latest co-op storybook adventure horror RPG board game, which feels like Tim Burton’s version of Toy Story. 

Get ready for a thrilling ride as you and your friends take on the roles of a little girl’s stuffed animals, working together to protect her from the scheming Nightmare King and his minions who lurk under the bed.

Stuffed Fables, like its spiritual predecessor, heavily relies on its story elements but takes it a step further by making the storybook double as the game map. One page features the map where players engage in combat and encounter various NPCs, while the other page goes over the rules, the setup, the objectives, and the story. 

Played over a series of seven stories, each consisting of various adventures, Stuffed Fables’ design is wonderfully thought out and executed, resulting in a fun, easy-to-play, and streamlined experience that’s perfect for families with young kids to play together on your family game night.

So, gather your stuffies and prepare to save the day… I mean night.

Pros

  • Unique storybook gameplay system that doubles as the game map
  • Highly thematic world and a well-written story
  • Fun and streamlined gameplay 
  • Beautifully designed miniatures and artwork

Cons

  • Limited character customization and progression options
  • Combat can be simplistic

11. HeroQuest

HeroQuest
Number of players:2 to 5
Playing time:90 minutes
Age:14+

HeroQuest can be considered the granddaddy of most titles on our list. Even so, it still holds up surprisingly well, despite having decades on most of the competition. 

First published in 1989 by Milton Bradley in collaboration with Games Workshop, and later revived in 2020 by Hasbro’s Avalon Hill, HeroQuest is one of the classic fantasy dungeon-crawler games of all time. It is a role-playing board game that has influenced hundreds of young minds and later games in its genre. 

In HeroQuest, one player takes on the role of the evil sorcerer Zargon and acts as the game master, while the others control the four heroes. As a fun fact, the Dwarf and Elf heroes in the game are both classes and races. It’s a true old-school experience! 

Speaking of which, despite its age, you’ll find that HeroQuest is still incredibly enjoyable, with its own unique twists on campaigns and rules that are entertaining and refreshing. It’s not something you would typically expect from a game that was first released in 1989.

So, if you’re craving that RPG nostalgia feel or just want to see how the game has stood the test of time, we highly recommend checking it out. You can also find it at a relatively cheap price, making it a great option for budget-conscious gamers.

Pros

  • A great introduction to RPG board games for beginners
  • Campaign of multiple quests, and a cohesive story keeping the players engaged
  • High replayability
  • High-quality game components

Cons

  • Not enough depth for experienced gamers
  • Can feel linear
  • Combat mechanics can be simplistic and repetitive

Final Words

From the Prancing Pony in Bree to the seedy bars of Mos Eisley, and the speakeasies of Arkham, there are adventures, mysteries, and quests aplenty for brave souls willing to embark upon them. We hope we have aided you in your quest by selecting some of the best RPG board games out there. 

Until next time, we wish you all happy adventuring!

FAQ

What are the best RPG board games?

Our list has covered some of the best RPG board games on the market including the likes of big hits such as Gloomhaven, Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Imperial Assault, and HeroQuest. These games offer different levels of complexity and gameplay styles, making them accessible to a wide range of players. Whichever one you choose, you’re guaranteed to have hours of fun with your friends

Can you play RPG board games solo?

Many RPG board games on our list can be played solo, such as Gloomhaven, Mage Knight Board Game, Descent: Journeys in the Dark, The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth, and Imperial Assault. Some games are designed for solo play to start with, while others can be modified for it with house rules. Keep in mind that some titles may be more challenging to play this way, as they were originally designed for multiplayer.

Which RPG board games are good for beginners?

HeroQuest, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate, Mice And Mystics, and Stuffed Fables are some of the games we found perfect for beginners and younger audiences.

What is the most played tabletop RPG? 

The most played tabletop RPG game, and by far the most famous one, is Dungeons and Dragons, now in its fifth edition. Other popular tabletop rpg worlds include Pathfinder, World of Darkness (especially Vampire: The Masquerade), Call of Cthulhu, Cyberpunk Red, and Shadowrun, to name a few.