Love Dungeons & Dragons, but looking to shake things up? Below, you'll find several magical board games like Dungeons & Dragons. From the game's RPG aspect to the dice-rolling component to the cooperative spirit, my picks tick many D&D-like boxes so there’s surely a new game for you and your fellow heroes.
While there are a few variations of Dungeons &Dragons, my recommendations are based off the Starter Set, which comes with pre-generated characters, a rules booklet, and pre-planned adventures. If you’ve played any version, you probably already know D&D is a fantasy, cooperative, dungeon crawl game where players collaborate to navigate adventures their Dungeon Master generally develops.
To recapture the classic, choose fantasy-themed games with a role-playing component and perhaps a dice-roll mechanism, but also pay attention to game complexity. Board Game Geek gives the D&D Starter Set a rating of 2.50, making it one of the easier role-playing games around; but even my pick that kids can play has a higher complexity rating than the Starter Set.
While the D&D Starter Set can accommodate up to six players, most of my picks can only accommodate between one and five players; though one does come with an expansion that can accommodate up to six players. Some of the games below are for older age brackets than D&D's Starter Set, which is for ages 12 and up, but one of my picks is for players as young as 7. Finally, the D&D Starter Set takes about an hour to play, but some of my picks can take up to two hours. So, consider which similarities are priorities for you.
Scroll on to check out the best board games like Dungeons and Dragons.
1. A Strategic, Fantasy Board Game
Like D&D, Gloomhaven is a role-playing game full of fantasy scenarios and fantasy races. It’s also a collaborative, battle-driven game where strategy is key and players work together on campaigns — like clearing out dangerous dungeons and ancient ruins.
This game uses miniatures and battle cards to move game play forward, but no dice are included. It’s also significantly more difficult to play than D&D, with a complexity rating of 3.81, but like most campaign-driven legacy games, Gloomhaven does require some role-playing skills — each turn, one player must choose two cards to play from their hand; the cards determining both their initiative for the round as well as the power they’ll use. The world of the game is constantly changing with each move the players make, meaning every session is new and exciting.
- The Basics: one to four players, for ages 12 and up, with 60 to 120 minutes of game play
2. A Dice-Driven Board Game With A Twist On The Dungeon Master Role
Descent: Journeys in the Dark is a quest-driven, collaborative fantasy board game with a role-playing component that focuses heavily on adventure, exploration, and fighting. Not unlike D&D’s Dungeon Master, 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 — though their goal is to ultimately defeat the overlord rather than follow their lead.
Also similar to D&D, Descent takes players to dangerous caves, ancient ruins, and dark dungeons. 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 affects an attack in different ways. It's a bit easier than my first pick but still more complex than Dungeons & Dragons, with a complexity rating of 3.20.
- The Basics: two to five players, for ages 14 and up, with about 120 minutes of game play
3. A Card-Based, Character-Driven Fantasy Board Game
D&D and Lord of the Rings are frequently linked, and it’s really no surprise. D&D co-creator Gary Gygax even admitted that the LOTR trilogy had a “superficial” effect on the creation of D&D. That’s one reason why Lord of the Rings: The Card Game seems like a natural selection for this roundup, even though it's still a bit more complex than D&D, it's easier than my first two picks with a complexity rating of 3.16. Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is a two-player card game in which players get to immerse themselves in classic Middle Earth scenarios with three heroes of their choosing.
The game comes with three scenarios, 12 characters, and four pre-constructed player decks; however, players can also build their own decks if they want to from the four "spheres of influence" which include leadership, spirit, tactics, and love. Players choose from 12 of Tolkien’s most popular characters — from Aragorn to Legolas to Eowyn — and each round consists of players sending their heroes out on various quests or battles. There are no dice-rolling components, but at each turn, players have to choose between focusing on their quests or attacking enemy forces to keep them from gaining power.
- The Basics: two to four players, for ages 13 and up, with 30 to 60 minutes of game play
4. A Cooperative Fantasy Board Game Kids Will Love
Mice & Mystics is a cooperative fantasy board game with a storytelling element where players must unite on a dangerous adventure to defeat a common enemy. Turned into mice to escape the evil sorcerer Vanestra, players have to work together to escape the castle and save their king — all while navigating through the castle’s many perils, including spiders, cockroaches, and the house cat Brodie.
Like D&D, Mice & Mystics has a role-playing component, a fantasy setting, and a heavy focus on quests; unlike D&D, there’s no dice component. Scenarios are ever-changing in Mice & Mystics, and the only way to complete your quest and save your king is to band together with other heroes (aka players). But despite being recommended for players as young as 7 years old, this game’s complexity rating is actually a tad higher than the D&D Starter Set’s at 2.68, but is hands down the closest.
- The Basics: one to four players, ages 7 and up, with 60 to 90 minutes of game play
5. A Dice- And Deck-Driven RPG Bundle
This Pathfinder board game bundle combines the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Core Set with the Curse of the Crimson Throne expansion. Many of the central elements of the Core Set are in line with those of D&D: Pathfinder includes role-playing, adventure, fantasy, fighting, cooperation, dice rolling, and a heroes’ quest against monsters and villains — but with a card component added. Even its complexity rating, at 2.75, is relatively close to the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set. Players build decks full of equipment, magic, and allies before embarking on an adventure with their fellow players to become the heroes of their endangered Belhaim.
The Curse of the Crimson Throne expansion can accommodate two more players, and ups the complexity rating to 3.00. Rather than defending Belhaim, players have to fight to save the city of Korvosa — which is cursed to never see its ruler live to old age, making it a city always on the cusp of anarchy and ruin.
- The Basics: one to four players (with the Crimson Throne expansion, six players), for ages 13 and up, with about 90 minutes of game play
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