Fantasy has been a popular theme in the tabletop gaming hobby for decades. Many games find different ways to incorporate the fantasy theme into game design. This can be anything from a small, simple card game that only takes a few minutes to an in-depth dungeon crawl that takes all day to play.
Many gamers enjoy the fantasy theme, which is the main reason it’s been going strong and has been used so many times. Not all fantasy games are the same, however. Fantasy board games are as varied as the fantasy genre itself, ranging from resource management games with a fantasy twist to dedicated hardcore dungeon crawlers. No matter what any given group is looking for, there is bound to be a fantasy game out there.
Updated by Lauren Turner on January 28, 2023: Board gaming is an expansive hobby with many genres for players to choose from. Among them, fantasy board games reign supreme in popularity. Fans of the genre will always want to know more about the best fantasy board games, so we’ve revamped this list with even more information.
15 Chaos In The Old World Adds A Cruel Flair To Board Conquest
3-4 players, 60-120 minute play time, ages 13+
Warhammer is a classic fantasy setting that has had several board games to its name. One of the best-received is Chaos in the Old World. This game flips the script, letting the players control the gods of Chaos as they strive for influence over the Renaissance Europe-esque Old World.
Chaos in the Old World is strategic from the very start. Each of the Chaos gods has their own abilities and mechanics unique to their faction. Players have to try and head each other off without being able to directly counteract one another. It combines an excellent and unique theme with genuinely thrilling mechanics.
14 Betrayal At Baldur’s Gate Puts A Familiar Skin On An Old Classic
3-6 players, 60 minute play time, ages 12+
Betrayal at House on the Hill is a favorite of board gamers everywhere and is one of the best-known hobbyist board games. Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate transplants the original’s excellent gameplay to a Dungeons & Dragons setting. It’s the same game under the hood, but given an entertaining fantasy reskin.
In Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate, players assemble and explore a city. They grow in power as they do so until they activate the Haunt and one player betrays the rest. From there, Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate shifts from exploration to a fight to the death. Each side has an objective the other side doesn’t know. It’s a tense race as players try and complete their goal while simultaneously sabotaging the other side’s.
13 Zombicide: Black Plague Takes Zombies Back To Medieval Times
1-6 players, 60-180 minute play time, ages 14+
Zombicide isn’t traditionally a fantasy board game. Most iterations of it take place during a modern-day zombie apocalypse, but Zombicide: Black Plague takes a different tack. Instead of survivors and cops going toe-to-toe with zombies, players control knights and wizards in a medieval city.
Black Plague is a medieval zombie apocalypse that just works. The base Zombicide mechanics translate well to a medieval game, and the result is a unique theme that’s heaps of fun to play. The game has plenty of replayability as well, with each of the characters having unique abilities. The harsh difficulty curve keeping players on the back foot helps as well. Players might need to play several games before they win even once.
12 Clank! Brings Fantasy To Deck Building
2-4 players, 30-60 minute play time, ages 12+
Clank! is a unique hybrid deck-building and board game. Players start off with very similar decks of cards, only to diversify them throughout the game. The same sequence of events never happens twice in Clank!. It’s a dungeon crawler as well as a deck-building game, resulting in an experience that’s totally unique.
Fans keep coming back to Clank! as its unique gameplay, coupled with its sheer variety, keep it fresh. Several expansions and alternative versions, like Clank! In! Space! and Clank! Sunken Treasures mean that there’s always a new dungeon to explore.
11 Lords Of Waterdeep Brought Many Players Into The Hobby
2-5 players, 60-120 minute play time, ages 12+
There are plenty of Dungeons & Dragons board games. As one of the best-known names in tabletop gaming, the franchise makes sure to expand outside of roleplaying games. Of these many board gaming efforts, there is little doubt that Lords of Waterdeep is one of the best.
Many Dungeons & Dragons games are played primarily by fans of the franchise. However, Lords of Waterdeep has managed to escape its niche and appeal to a wider audience. It’s known as one of the best worker placement games around, and it benefits from having a unique theming of shadowy power players fighting for influence over a city of adventure. This elevates already stellar mechanics and results in a very satisfying fantasy board game.
10 A Game Of Thrones: The Board Game Is Politics & Betrayal
3-6 players, 120-240 minute play time, ages 14+
The popular Game of Thrones TV series was based on the A Song of Ice and Fire series of books and A Game of Thrones: The Board Game takes its inspiration from both. It pits players against one another as they control different houses in the fantasy realm of Westeros. Players get to put themselves in the shoes of the show’s politicians and generals and see if they can do a better job.
A Game of Thrones isn’t for the faint of heart. Its mixture of diplomacy, backstabbing, and combat results in a game that takes the better part of an entire day to play. However, those willing to commit will find it an excellent use of their time. The game is fraught and often stressful, but always fun.
9 Mage Knight Is A Complex Dungeon Crawl
1-4 players, 60-240 minute play time, ages 14+
Mage Knight is a legendary game in the tabletop gaming hobby and has been popular among hardcore gamers for years. It is infamously complex, bringing some of the layered depth of an RPG to board gaming. It tries to limit the number of book-checking needed to play, though it doesn’t always manage that.
Under the complexity, however, is a compelling fantasy board game sure to keep players coming back for more. Mage Knight has an immensely satisfying gameplay structure that makes players feel heroic as they conquer greater and greater foes. It’s especially popular for solo players, which is a major feather in any board game’s cap.
8 Munchkin Lampoons Fantasy Roleplaying
3-6 players, 60-120 minute play time, ages 10+
Munchkin is a humorous parody game with a surprising amount of depth. Each player controls a different member of a hostile Dungeons & Dragons group, though they are distinctly not working together. They bend the rules in their favor, ignore the story, and seek to gain loot at the expense of others.
The result is a game that’s funny for most and hilarious for those who know Dungeons & Dragons. Under the humor, however, there are serious mechanics. Munchkin is a cutthroat competition that encourages players to lie to each other, backstab, and do whatever it takes to win.
7 BattleLore Lets Players Duel With Fantasy Creatures
2 players, 60 minute play time, ages 10+
BattleLore uses the “Commands & Colors” system, which is most notably used in the hit board game Battlecry. In BattleLore, two players get to assemble their armies by spending points on different types of units. They also secretly determine where the units will start, which immediately adds tension to the game.
BattleLore is immensely strategic. It carries with it the tension and weight of a well-crafted wargame without compromising once on its fantasy theme. It’s bright and colorful and fantastic, but no less of a tactical game of war for it.
6 Mage Wars Is A Wizard Duel
2 players, 90 minute play time, ages 13+
Mage Wars is a card-based combat game. Two players take on the role of opposing wizards and face off with one another. Unlike most card-based games, Mage Wars has no randomness. Players construct their decks before the game and have access to all of their cards for the entirety.
The result is a game that can be immensely variable without ever feeling unfair. Players have plenty of options open to them, but a loss is always down to them. As such, Mage Wars is a fantasy board game with a steep learning curve, but one that many players want to get to grips with.
5 War Of The Ring Is The Lord Of The Rings In A Box
2-4 players, 120 minute play time, ages 12+
War of The Ring is a board game for two players set in the fantasy world of The Lord of The Rings. The game takes place over the course of the entire trilogy of books. One player takes on the role of the Fellowship and Free Peoples of the West, while the other controls Sauron’s forces of the Shadow.
War of the Ring is a complicated game. However, it also has a broad appeal due to its classic Lord of the Rings theme. It’s also very strategic, giving players a chance to decide a continent’s fate. Few games use their theme as well as War of the Ring. It genuinely feels like the books and movies during a game.
4 Small World Is A Tactical Fantasy Classic
2-5 players, 40-80 minute play time, ages 8+
Small World‘s theme is by no means unique for a fantasy board game. The players control one of many possible races in the world and want to grow and expand at great cost to all others. However, Small World stands out for just how well it manages to explore its theme. Its mechanics are intuitive and genuinely interesting from a storytelling perspective.
Small World players can control up to two races at any one time. They want to expand across the world, but they can’t have both of their races flourish at once. Players have to let one go into decline if they want the other to thrive. The game forces players to be ruthless and strategic in their playing. In doing so, it explores the implications of relentless expansion.
3 Kingdom Death: Monster Is Dark, Grotesque, & Enrapturing
1-4 players, 60-180 minute play time, ages 17+
Few recent fantasy board games are as notorious among fans as Kingdom Death: Monster. The game has a highly-unique aesthetic and tone, combined with top-quality gameplay. It takes place in a dark world filled with absolutely horrifying beings. The players have to hunt these creatures and make equipment from their carcasses.
There’s more to Kingdom Death: Monster than just its combat, however. Players also manage a small settlement, upgrading it, keeping its people alive, and warding off threats. Kingdom Death: Monster puts off some with its melodramatic and lurid content. However, its engrossing and accessible gameplay pulls in many more.
2 Descent: Journeys In The Dark Is A Dungeon Crawl Legend
1-5 players, 120 minute play time, ages 14+
Descent: Journeys In The Dark is one of the most influential fantasy board games ever made. Many dungeon crawls, and even other types of games, have their roots in Descent. The game has captured players’ imaginations ever since its release in 2005.
Descent: Journeys in the Dark still stands by itself, even after so many years. One of its greatest achievements is making every role fun. The monster-controlling Overlord doesn’t just exist to make the gameplay happen. They have their own victory condition, unlike similar roles in other dungeon crawlers. Whether playing a hero or a villain, every player is guaranteed to have a good time in Descent.
1 Gloomhaven Is The Highest-Rated Game Of All Time
1-4 players, 60-120 minute play time, ages 14+
Gloomhaven is easily the best fantasy board game available today. It splits the difference between dungeon crawler board game and RPG. Although its gameplay focus is on its impressive combat, it also tells a story. Players go through a branching narrative, making countless choices that shape the game. No two games will be alike, but all of them will be entertaining.
Gloomahven isn’t just the best fantasy board game, but it’s also one of the most popular board games ever made. Gloomhaven has universal acclaim from fans and critics alike. It’s so beloved by gamers that its sequel’s Kickstarter is the most successful board game project ever. It raised over $13 million, based purely on Gloomhaven‘s strength.
NEXT: The 10 Best Solo Board Games, Ranked
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