Best board games for fans of D&D
Convince your adventuring party to try some of these tabletop titles.
If you love Dungeons & Dragons with a passion, a big part of that is probably down to the people you play the game with, as much as the tabletop roleplaying game itself. But sometimes, maybe you and your friends at the table feel like mixing things up a bit with a board game or two, but you have no idea where to start when it comes to appeasing fans of D&D.
Best board games for fans of D&D
- Lords of Waterdeep
- Descent: Legends of the Dark
- Catacombs: Third Edition
- Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate
Here’s where Dicebreaker comes in with a list of board games that you and your adventuring party will absolutely have fun with. Whilst some of them capture the intense combat and open-world adventuring found in Dungeons & Dragons, others are actually set in The Forgotten Realms universe and so provide an even more authentic experience. Either way, here are the best board games for fans of D&D.
Control a party of adventurers in and around the city of Gloomhaven
Even if you’re on the outskirts of the tabletop gaming community you’d have likely heard of Gloomhaven. This campaign-driven dungeon-crawler board game is all about battle, strategy and choices. Gloomhaven is so popular that it’s even been adapted into a particularly excellent video game version. However, we’re talking about the physical board game today. This is a game in which you explore the city of Gloomhaven and its surrounding areas via an in-depth map, completing the various scenarios available to your adventuring party. Those party members match up nicely with your classic D&D classes with the scoundrel taking the role of the rogue, the tinkerer serving as an artificer and the spell-weaver being a wizard or sorcerer archetype, but to name a few.
The character classes in Gloomhaven come with their own little character sheet, backstory and more, making any D&D player feel right at home. Gloomhaven also features random event cards that are drawn whenever you’re within the city itself or on the road, allowing for that unexpected hit of adventure that all D&D fans crave. These random events are way more profitable to the party when you’re within the city walls, whereas on the road you’re more likely to get a nasty surprise.
Whenever you encounter any enemies there are a few combat rules you might recognise from Dungeons & Dragons, such advantage and disadvantage, line of sight and critical hits, thereby allowing you to slip pretty seamlessly into Gloomhaven from there. If you’re worried about not feeling like you’re playing an interesting character, then bear in mind that your playable character in Gloomhaven will have a backstory, goals and can make decisions that will affect the entire campaign. There’s a reason this board game is so popular, so you should give it a shot.
Buy Gloomhaven on Amazon UK and Amazon US.
2. Lords of Waterdeep
Assert your dominance over an iconic Dungeons & Dragons location
Lords of Waterdeep is set in the Forgotten Realms location of Waterdeep, a city on the Sword Coast. This particular board game is a quest for victory points that requires players to have a canny understanding of worker-placement gameplay in order to win. As Lords of Waterdeep was made by Wizards of the Coast themselves, you can be sure that you’re about to have an authentic D&D experience.
In the D&D board game you can gather various fighters, clerics, wizards and rogues from across the city of Waterdeep as you control areas and block other players. You have quests to complete and even a secret personal objective to navigate that will score you additional victory points at the end of the game. When you send your agents to certain locations on the board, you might receive the corresponding adventurer that is listed on the location. Alternatively, you might prefer to go to a place that offers you a little bit more gold or enables you to be the first to take your turn in the next round. You’ll have to keep all of these possibilities in mind as you play in order to maximise your point total.
There are definitely quite a few different things to focus on when playing Lords of Waterdeep, from constructing buildings to completing quests, but your playstyle really depends upon what you want from your game. What’s fun about this game is that the quests and goals available, like looting crypts or taking down a dangerous mage, do a lot to immerse you in the world of Waterdeep. You might even find something to incorporate from the Lords of Waterdeep into your own future D&D campaigns.
Buy Lords of Waterdeep on Amazon UK and Amazon US.
3. Descent: Legends of the Dark
An app-assisted sequel to the beloved dungeon-crawler board game
Whilst Descent: Legends of the Dark – the sequel to Descent: Journeys in the Dark - might have one hefty price tag, it can also be found in local board game cafes, thereby providing players with the opportunity to give it a try before they buy. Descent: Legends of the Dark is a dungeon-crawling co-op board game in which certain scenarios are set up and carried out using companion app. This companion app allows for all the planning you get from having a dungeon master pulling the strings, but this time the DM actually gets to be a player.
That’s right, players who find themselves forever stuck in the role of a DM can now play as a wide roster of interesting characters including a hard-hitting warrior, a highly intelligent artificer and a sneaky little cat boy. Among the cast of characters is also a ranger who is hard of hearing, which is handled really well as the other members of the party try to learn to communicate in a way that works for everyone. In this game you can discover loot that can be turned into upgraded weapons with their own special abilities. You can also unlock various features for your character that can improve how they play and can buff other party members as well.
What’s more, is that player characters can don items at the beginning of their mission that will give certain characters unique advantages. The difficulty scales as you progress through the 35 plus hours of content available in Legends of the Dark, whose total length will depend on the number of players. You also get to build the terrain and props yourself too in the game, which might provide enough of an incentive to drop the money for Legends of the Dark.
Buy Descent: Legends of the Dark on Amazon UK and Amazon US.
4. Catacombs: Third Edition
Flick pucks instead of rolling dice in this fantasy dexterity game
It's a great thing to include a dexterity game on this list. Catacombs: Third Edition is a team-based board game that utilises the art of flicking to enable players to take down their enemies and progress through the dungeon. But whoever lays out that dungeon? Well, the Dungeon Master of course! In Catacombs: Third Edition one person plays as the DM who decides the layout of the dungeon, how difficult the monsters will be and which traders you will meet as you travel, just like a regular game of Dungeons & Dragons!
Unlike a game of D&D, Catacombs: Third Edition does not involve rolling dice to hit, it involves flicking counters. In the game, you can play as a variety of different characters including a barbarian, a wizard, a rogue and a cute skeleton ranger guy who is really good at bartering for some reason. During the game, a group of players can control one character each or a single person can control multiple characters, using their special abilities and found items to take down whatever lurks in this dungeon.
Whilst the wizard has a shield that he basically uses to shield-bash harmful enemies away from him before recalling it to himself - like a squishy Captain America - the rogue can run in, smack someone and then run away again for free. There are also items and cute little familiars that live on their own tiny little pucks. Catacombs: Third Edition is an extremely well designed and very fun gaming experience that fans of D&D should try.
Buy Catacombs: Third Edition on Elzra.
5. Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate
Two popular series combine in this unusual spin-off board game
You might recognise the names of both ‘Betrayal’ and ‘Baldur’s Gate’ as entirely separate series – one being a horror board game and the other a classic video game RPG - but Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate smushes them together to make for an unusual experience. Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate somewhat mimics the gameplay structure of Betrayal at the House on the Hill, in which everyone enters a haunted house as a united party until an event causes them one of the players to turn on their allies.
Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate presents a similar scenario, except players enter a city in the Forgotten Realms as a plucky adventuring party doomed to encounter all sorts of misfortune. As a classic D&D adventuring party, everyone character’s role is clearly assigned, with the game including a cleric, a paladin, a warlock, and a rogue. The characters then set out to explore various parts of the city and uncover helpful – and sometimes not so helpful – events along the way.
The further players progress, the more likely they are to trigger a haunt event which is, more often than not, designed to turn one player against the others. This betrayer characters has their own goals and instructions separate to the others and, depending on the things they collected along the way, may be unstoppable or a complete pushover. The different haunts in Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate can involve all sorts of D&D-like scenarios, such as hordes of the undead descending upon the city or a massive dragon terrorising innocents. Regardless, it’s the other players’ goal to stop them and bring peace to Baldur’s Gate once again. Whichever side you’re on, Betrayal at Baldur’s gate is a unique alternative to playing Dungeons & Dragons.
Buy Betrayal at Baldur's Gate on Amazon UK and Amazon US.