If you’ve ever listened to people talk about their Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) campaigns and wondered, “What is that all about?” welcome to this post.
This article is where you’ll learn what role player board games are all about. And you’ll learn more about 11 of the best RPG board games in particular.
Because there’s something to be said for setting the scene for an epic adventure.
It also helps to have physical materials to represent heroes, villains, monsters, and all the natural and unnatural challenges you’ll face.
Enjoy our list of 11 top RPG board games.
What Are Role Player Board Games?
In a role-playing game, the players assume the roles of characters and collaboratively create stories.
Each participant determines the actions of their character based on their unique positions, talents, weapons, or responsibilities.
Role-playing board games apply the same principle to a tabletop game, usually with a board and pieces representing characters, tools, weapons, etc. Sure, you could play an RPG video game, but role player board games have advantages worth considering:
Greater camaraderie among playersMore enjoyable competition with RPG rivalsShared snacks
11 Of The Best RPG Board Games
The best role-playing board games draw you right into the adventure with the details, the storytelling, and personal investment in the outcome. Look over the details for the following options and go with your gut.
LOTR: Journeys in Middle-Earth
Use the companion app to track each campaign and guide you along the way. The app varies each adventure with content from one of many unique scenarios to ensure each game offers different and exciting challenges.
Play alone or with up to four companions and form your own fellowship to defend Middle-Earth. Choose from six heroes, journey across 22 map tiles, and develop your hero skills as you battle with 25 detailed enemy miniatures.
Free immersive companion appBeautifully detailed character pieces and cardsWorks as well for groups of five as for one or two players
Not enough time to explore everything before actingNeeds more variety (compared to Mansions of Madness)The app’s background music is looped; needs some variation
Gloomhaven — Cephalofair Games
Take on the role of a wandering adventurer with a unique skill set and your reason for traveling to the dark corner of the world known as Gloomhaven. Work together with your companions to clear dungeons and ruins of their lingering threats.
Build a fortune as you build your story by facing challenges in a changing world. Play over multiple game sessions to make the most of each campaign. Collaborate with your fellows using the innovative card system to defeat each new adversary and accomplish your goals.
Tons of missions to play (90+) so it doesn’t get boringLarge box weighs over 20 lbs, loaded with well-constructed game materialsPlay solo or with up to four extra players
Pricey at $139.99The miniatures are unpaintedIt takes on average two hours+ to complete a single quest
Mice & Mystics — Plaid Hat Games
Punished for your loyalty to the king with the loss of your human form, now you and your companions must race through a castle as mice to find and rescue the king from the scheming Vanestra.
Play alone or with up to three companions (aged 7+) to find and exploit Vanestra’s weaknesses while avoiding the castle’s housecat and other threats. Each game lasts 60 to 90 minutes and requires close collaboration with your fellow mice.
High-quality, detailed mouse figures (unpainted but easily recognizable)Provides an immersive and challenging RPG experience for younger playersIdeal for players who enjoy D&D and want to introduce their kids to RPG games
Mediocre packaging and rulebookChapter 9 only allows one to two playersTwo much dice-rolling (made the game lag for some reviewers)
Descent Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) — Fantasy Flight Games
In this game, one player takes on the role of a treacherous overlord. Other players collaborate as heroes — embarking on quests, venturing into dangerous territory, and battling monsters to set things right and thwart the overlord’s evil plan.
You’ll need at least two players for this (one overlord and one hero), and be prepared to play for 1 to 2 hours at a time. The story is based in the vibrant fantasy world of Terrinoth, where the heroes must complete a range of scenario-specific challenges.
Watch It Played videos help illustrate the rules of the gameFinely-detailed mini figures and clearly-labeled dungeon partsCompanion app makes solo play possible
Games with 2 to 3 heroes tend to favor the overlord (more balanced with 4)Long set-up and tear-down time makes for a big-time commitmentComplex rules make it less than ideal for new RPG players
Legends of Andor Board Game / Cooperative Strategy Adventure Game — Thames & Kosmos
Enemies are advancing toward the castle of Andor, and only your small band of warriors can defeat those enemies and protect old King Brandur. Each hero and heroine (one on each side of the hero cards) has unique abilities. And each will journey through five different legends to protect the land of Andor.
Strategy and luck are only part of the game; thoughtful collaboration is a must to achieve victory. Play with one to three companions and expect each game to last around 60 to 90 minutes. The QuickStart guide introduces you to the first legend, “Arrival of the Heroes.”
Great for strategic gamers; rich and complex storytellingSimple game mechanics make this beginner-friendlyPlayers have the choice of playing a hero or heroine
Tearing can happen when punching out the cardboard tilesLong set-up and tear-down time and MANY parts to keep track ofGame structure makes it too easy for stronger willed players to dominate others
Dungeons and Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game — Wizards of the Coast
The master of Ravenloft has invited you (along with other carefully chosen guests) to dinner. But with the evil lurking in the tower and dungeon, only the bravest and most cunning of guests will survive the horrors.
Play alone or collaborate with up to four more players — five if you want a dungeon master (DM). Made with a generous supply of well-crafted components, this game will keep you occupied for at least half an hour at a time and quite a bit longer if you’re inclined.
More accessible form of D&D for new RPG board game playersDetailed (unpainted) figures for the heroes, monsters, and villains (42 total)No need for a dungeon master, so you can play solo
Flawed rulebook with missing information and poor descriptionsMight be too simple for hardcore D&D enthusiastsSlower than some other dungeon-crawling games (like Descent)
Mage Knight Board Game — NECA
As a mage knight in this game of epic exploration and conquest, you have the option of playing competitively or collaboratively with up to 3 other players. Or play alone to determine the outcome for your character.
Acquire powerful spells and abilities to press your advantage and conquer the Atlantean cities. By the end of your first victorious game, whatever role you’ve chosen, you’ll feel like a warrior with a sixth sense for making the right decisions.
Excellent game for playing solo — or with companions (or competitors)Beautifully designed (by Vlaada Chvátil) and constructed game materialsComes with two rulebooks, one of which is a walk-through to get you started
The more comprehensive rulebook is more difficult to followNot ideal for RPG beginners or for a casual game nightMinimal interaction and steep learning curve can make for a very long, tiring game
Eldritch Horror — Fantasy Flight Games
Inspired by the best-selling board game, Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror accommodates up to eight players for a collaborative quest to protect Earth from the Ancient One — an elder bent on its destruction.
With four different Ancient Ones (including Cthulu and Azathoth), twelve investigators, plenty of monsters, and hundreds of possible scenarios, you’re guaranteed a unique adventure with every game. Play alone or with up to seven intrepid companions.
Similar to Arkham Horror (AH) but with adventures around the globeRules are better organized and easier to follow than those for AHDetailed and engaging artwork and theming
Complexity makes for long gaming sessions (4 to 6 hours for some)One bad dice roll is enough to get all your characters killedNot for beginners
Dark Souls: The Board Game — Steamforged Games
As one of the Chosen Undead and Bearers of the Curse, the fate of this world rests on you. Will you join the Soul of Cinder and prolong the curse of undeath, or will you fight your way to the top to usher in a new Age of Humanity and lift the curse? You’ll meet a variety of challenges and collect strength as you search for the Boss.
Play alone or with up to three companions. If even one of you falls in combat, the game doesn’t end, but the whole party returns to the bonfire, and all enemies reset, costing you time as well as any “souls” you use up to regain your strength.
Multiple difficulty levels and a high level of replayabilityGood quality game piecesIdeal for those who enjoy the Dark Souls video game or D&D.
Pricey at just under $90Easy start-up with no fixed scenario layoutsPoorly composed and confusing rulebook
Mansions of Madness Board Game (2nd Edition) — Fantasy Flight Games
This Lovecraft-inspired narrative board game — from the makers of Eldritch Horror — takes you and up to four companions on an adventure through the misty streets of Innsmouth and the cursed Arkham mansions. Use the required app to collect weapons and tools, solve puzzles, and fight monsters, insanity, and Death.
Enjoy the well-crafted stories and the varied scenarios and outcomes for each campaign. Play an entire campaign in one go or use the app to save your progress and continue another day.
Free, required app (iOS, Android, Mac, and PC)Over 500 detailed components, including 32 plastic figuresThe app allows you to stop mid-campaign and save your progress
Time-consuming set-up before each gamePricey at $80+Many of the campaigns cost extra (through the app)
Sherlock Holmes: The Thames Murder & Other Cases
You’re ready to dig into a 90+ minute game to solve a murder mystery (and other cases) as Sherlock Holmes would. So, dig into a game that gives you the tools and a variety of challenging cases to work with.
Work alone or with a trusty sidekick. Or solve a case with a group of mystery-loving friends or relatives. Just make sure you pay attention to the clues. This is a game to play when you have loads of mental energy, and you’re up to the challenge.
Comes in a new standalone box with investigative toolsPlay alone or with up to 7 others (aged 12 and up)Unique game structure draws you into the world of Sherlock Holmes
Very time consuming and can be frustrating (when you follow the wrong leads)No guaranteed winnersBest with 1 or 2 people; can be painfully slow with more
Did you find your next RPG board game?
Now that you know what RPG board games are and you’ve had a chance to look over some of the best available, which ones stood out for you the most?
Maybe one of the games’ storytelling resonates more than others. Or perhaps you think your friends or your kids would be most interested in playing a particular game with you.
There are no wrong answers. So, while it never hurts to browse the product reviews, go with what honestly appeals to you. You’re more likely to open the box and get acquainted.
May your first game be the first of many.