Discover a new magical world with these board games like Gloomhaven. Below, you'll find popular board games as awesome as the original, whether you live for role-playing combat or an ever-changing fantasy world. Read on to find games like the cult classic.
You probably already know that Gloomhaven is a strategic game with fantasy scenarios where players collaborate to explore dangerous dungeons or ancient ruins with a slew of fantasy races to interact with. This happens by putting cards into play on the board and role-playing; with each player's move, the game's world transforms, meaning every session is ever-changing for high replay value.
Gloomhaven is a combination of a tabletop role-playing , a campaign-driven, and a dungeon crawl game. What that means when you're looking for games like it is that in a tabletop roleplaying game, players interact as their character in the game's world. In a campaign board game, players participate in an ongoing storyline with recurring characters; where a dungeon crawl means players explore a "labyrinthine environment" to treasure hunt and fight monsters. The games below intersect with at least one, if not a few, of these three key characteristics.
When shopping for tabletop games like Gloomhaven, pick strategic board games set in a fantasy world that require collaboration. With a complexity rating of 3.8 out of 5, stick to relatively complex games, but I've also included one simple enough for younger kids.
Scroll on for games to liven up your next game night.
1. A Simpler Cooperative Adventure Game
Legends of Andor is similar to Gloomhaven in the sense that it focuses heavily on adventure, fantasy, and fighting; but it also has a bit of a puzzle component. Players must work together on quests to protect a fantasy realm — more specifically, the castle of old King Brandur — from advancing hordes by going on dangerous quests over the duration of five unique scenarios, as well as one scenario the players create themselves. The scenarios are largely determined by the game's Legend Cards.
The roleplaying aspect is one way Legends of Andor compares to Gloomhaven. But it's also similar since this game has a card component and miniatures, plus it’s a collaborative and adventure-based board game. Since it’s set in a fantasy world, it’s also highly thematic. However, Legends of Andor is not as complex, with a complexity rating of 2.76, making it better for younger players than Gloomhaven. It boasts over a dozen board game awards and nominations, and Amazon shoppers give it a 4.6-star rating.
- Basics: 2 to 4 players, 60 to 90 minutes, ages 10 and up
2. A Fantasy War Game Based On Game Of Thrones
Like Gloomhaven, A Game of Thrones is both strategic and thematic; unlike Gloomhaven, it requires a fair amount of bluffing and negotiation. Players must take on one of the great houses of Westeros, build their armies, and march to war. The game's objective is to secure the Iron Throne for your house, within 10 rounds. At that point, the player who has conquered the most castles or strongholds is declared the winner — the strategic conquest aspect is similar to Risk; and when you add the fantasy aspect, this pick is kind of like a Gloomhaven and Risk hybrid.
The card-drawing component, miniatures, and complexity rating of 3.71 makes this game really comparable to Gloomhaven, but in true Game of Thrones fashion, there’s more potential for backstabbing than collaboration in this pick. Even so, this board game has a 4.3-star rating on Amazon, and it was the 2013 Ludoteca Ideale Official Selection winner and a 2011 Charles S. Roberts Best Science-Fiction or Fantasy Board Wargame nominee.
- Basics: 3 to 6 players, 120 to 240 minutes, ages 14 and up
3. A Dice-Driven Fantasy Board Game
Highly thematic, Descent: Journeys in the Dark is very much a quest-driven, collaborative, fantasy board game that focuses heavily on adventure, exploration, and fighting. This pick has a complexity rating of 3.20, so it's a little bit easier than Gloomhaven, but like Gloomhaven, it's campaign-driven and a dungeon crawl game. It also comes with miniatures, but there’s no card component. One player takes on the role of evil overlord while up to four other players must take on the roles of courageous heroes who go on quests and adventures to overturn the evil overlord.
Not unlike Gloomhaven, Descent: Journeys in the Dark takes players to dangerous caves, ancient ruins, and dark dungeons; plus, combat is a necessity throughout. Players’ actions are determined largely by the game’s dice-based system: Players tailor-build their dice pools to meet the abilities and weapons of their characters, and each dice roll affects attacks in different ways. This pick has earned a 4.5-star rating on Amazon, and it was a Golden Geek Best Thematic Board Game nominee in 2012 as well.
- Basics: 2 to 5 players, about 120 minutes, ages 14 and up
4. An Adventure Board Game The Whole Family Can Enjoy
Mice and Mystics is a cooperative fantasy board game with a heavy focus on adventure, exploration, and fighting. Turned into mice, players have to work together to escape the evil Vanestra and save their king — all while navigating through the castle’s many perils, including spiders, cockroaches, and the castle’s house cat, Brodie.
Like Gloomhaven, Mice and Mystics has a card-drawing component, it comes with detailed miniatures, and scenarios are ever-changing. However, kids as young as 7 can play this game since it has a complexity rating of 2.68, so it’s definitely not as strategic or complex as Gloomhaven. Board Game Geek also qualifies it as both a dungeon crawl and a role playing game.
- Basics: 1 to 4 players, 60 to 90 minutes, ages 7 and up
5. A Fantasy Board Game Even More Complex Than Gloomhaven
The most complex board game featured in this list, even more complex than Gloomhaven, Mage Knight Board Game is thematic and strategic, with lots of focus on role playing, adventure, and fantasy, as well as exploration and fighting — all components that are similar to Gloomhaven. This pick is part deck-building (or games that revolve around obtaining stronger and stronger cards to add to your stack to advance your character in the game), part roleplaying game, and part traditional board game. Using these elements, players explore the Mage Knight universe as one of four powerful Mage Knights, build their deck with spells, and go on quests with the ultimate goal of conquering civilizations in the Mage Knight universe.
Mage Knight may be a good pick if you're looking for a challenge since it has a higher complexity rating than Gloomhaven at 4.28, but it does have a card-drawing component and it comes with miniatures. Not unlike Gloomhaven, players can work together as they explore caves and dungeons and attempt to conquer cities. Mage Knight players can choose cooperative play, competitive play, or even solo play; and this pick boasts over half a dozen board game nominations and awards, plus a 4.5-star rating on Amazon.
- Basics: 1 to 4 players, 60 to 240 minutes, ages 14 and up
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