10 Best Dungeon Crawler Board Games (2022 Guide)

Roleplaying games are becoming increasingly popular these days, but they can be a lot of dedication. Dungeon crawling board games let you feel the same sense of adventure without needing a dungeon master, with way less preparation, and with way less commitment.

There are a plethora of fantastic dungeon crawler games available, each with its own unique set of features.  Some are lighthearted and enjoyable, while others can be downright frightening.  There are games set in some of your favorite universes, so you could be dungeon crawling through your favorite locations in Star Wars or Lord of the Rings!

But with so many great dungeon crawlers, how do you know which is the best one for you? We’ve put together a list of some of the best, most popular, most immersive, and most fun dungeon crawler board games so you can find the perfect game for your next adventure.

Best Dungeon Crawler Board Games – Quick Comparison

RankName# PlayersTimeComplexityGood For
#1Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion1 – 41 – 2 hoursMediumBest Overall
#2Gloomhaven1-41-2 hoursDifficultMost Content
#3Clank! A Deck Building Adventure2-430-60 minsMediumMost Fun
#4Mansions of Madness1-52-3 hoursMediumBest Horror

1. Best Overall: Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

Jaws of the Lion is the little brother to Gloomhaven (listed below). It’s a cooperative game that plays 1-4 players, takes 1-2 hours, and has a lot of rules, though the game walks you through the rules as you play through the campaigns.

Jaws of the Lion takes place before Gloomhaven, where four characters take on the tide of evil at Gloomhaven. You get to be heroes with items and special abilities and fight monsters while playing through 25 great scenarios.

It’s much simpler than Gloomhaven to play, there are fewer monster types, fewer rules, and a less fiddly setup than Gloomhaven.

Many people would disagree with me putting Jaws of the Lion above Gloomhaven, but I think it’s a better game. It’s more casual, more affordable, much more approachable, and still retains so much of the great content and experience that you get from Gloomhaven.

Pros

  • Has a fascinating campaign with exciting quests
  • Interesting heroes and monsters
  • Strategic – lots of decisions on actions to take, combat, and card management
  • Approachable for new players
  • The perfect entry point to Gloomhaven (if you want to play that afterward)

Cons

  • Much less content than the original game
  • Still a bit complex with a lot going on (but it does tutor you through the rules well)
  • You’ll want a regular gaming group to play with
  • Campaign means limited replayability once you’ve played through the story

2. Most Content: Gloomhaven

I don’t think you can have a list of dungeon crawler board games without mentioning Gloomhaven. This might be the mother of all dungeon-crawling board games.

Gloomhaven is a heavy-hitting game that’s for 1-4 players and takes 1-2 hours per scenario.

It’s a semi-coop game, which means you play together but also have your own goals. The town of Gloomhaven is in danger, and your group of adventurers must fight monsters in order to save it. Despite the generic premise, this game is very deep and has many, many scenarios, so you end up playing through an amazing adventure.

This is the game that gets most compared to Dungeons & Dragons, and while there are similarities, it actually plays quite differently. You have cards that are your player’s special abilities and equipment you can use, which you can use up or lose in some scenarios.

Pros

  • So much content – almost 100 scenarios in the campaign that each feels different
  • Excellent solo mode
  • Strategic – lots of decisions on actions to take, combat, and card management
  • Characters and enemies each feel unique
  • Great miniatures for the players and standees for the enemies

Cons

  • Rules can be ambiguous in places
  • Long setup time (you may want a dedicated gaming space to keep it set up)
  • Quality of the cardboard components
  • Expensive
  • You’ll want a regular gaming group to play with
  • Campaign means limited replay value once you’ve played through the story (but there’s a ton of content)

3. Most Fun: Clank! A Deck Building Adventure

Clank! is a board game for 2-4 players that takes about 30 – 60 minutes and is of medium complexity.

In Clank! you are going through a dungeon trying to steal treasure while not making noise, which will wake the dragon, who will breathe fire and cause you damage. The winner is the player that can steal the most treasure, with the more valuable treasure being riskier as it’s further into the dungeon, so there is a greater chance of waking the dragon.

This is a deck-building game, and you’ll build a deck of cards to help you move around the dungeon to collect treasure and fight monsters. As the game goes on, you’ll buy more powerful cards so you’ll be able to move more or fight better.

This is a fun, family-friendly game that is good for gamers and non-gamers alike. There is quite a bit of luck involved, but if you don’t take what happens too seriously, it really does feel like a dungeon-crawling adventure.

Pros

  • Deckbuilding is a unique take on dungeon crawling
  • Fun game with a push your luck element
  • Easy to learn
  • Feels very thematic

Cons

  • Lots of luck is involved
  • Can feel repetitive after many plays

4. Best Horror: Mansions of Madness: Second Edition

This is a game for 1-5 players that takes 2-3 hours and is of medium complexity.

Mansions of Madness is an app-driven cooperative game. It’s set in the Lovecraft universe, and you are going through Arkham’s cursed mansions, working your way through different scenarios to solve puzzles and survive combat with unspeakable horrors.

In general, you get to move, search for items, fight, or trade on your turn, and then it’s the monster’s turn, and the app controls the monsters to attack the players.

This is a super thematic horror dungeon crawler. It’s flavorful, tells a story, and really gives an immersive playing experience.

Pros

  • An extremely thematic experience
  • Great artwork and components
  • Cooperative but no alpha gaming
  • Quick setup

Cons

  • I prefer to play board games without the use of technology
  • After a few games, it feels the same
  • Can be prone to analysis paralysis and downtime

5. Best Fighting: Zombicide: Black Plague

Zombicide: Black Plague is a 1-6 player board game that takes about 1-2 hours and is of medium complexity.

In Zombicide, you play through different scenarios where you are survivors of different fantasy races (think elves, dwarves, etc.) in a fantasy city where zombies have taken over, and you need to crawl through the city trying to complete missions while surviving the zombie outbreak.

Each survivor has different abilities and actions where they can move and search through the city, get items, and fight zombies.

This is a great mashup of fantasy and zombies, and is a light and very fun experience to play.

The original base game, Zombicide, is very similar and also great if you prefer an apocalyptic setting without the fantasy elements.

Pros

  • Good solo mode
  • Light and enjoyable experience
  • Cooperative
  • You feel more powerful as the game progresses
  • Great components and miniatures

Cons

  • It can be luck-based (drawing from the zombie deck and dice rolls)
  • Long for quite a light game

6. Best Family: Stuffed Fables

Stuffed Fables is a cooperative board game for 2-4 players that takes 60-90 minutes and is of medium complexity.

This is a bit like playing through a role-playing version of Toy Story. Cooperatively, the players take on the characters of stuffed toys who come to life and go on adventures to save their owner from evil.

The adventure is in a book, which on each page has a grid map for playing on, as well as the adventure written down. It works a bit like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, where depending on the actions you take throughout the story different things can happen.

This game is similar to Dungeons and Dragons for beginners, where it has character with stats, special abilities, and health, and there are also cards for items, enemies, and anything else that happens in the adventure.

There are seven adventures in the box, and they each last about 2 hours. 2 hours is a good amount of time for an adventure if you are involving kids, and each adventure is absolutely fantastic. You really feel immersed in the world, and the story really evokes the imagination.

Pros

  • Very immersive
  • It’s ideal for introducing your family to role-playing
  • Lots of dice rolling
  • Beautiful components and detailed miniatures
  • Each mission feels unique and interesting

Cons

  • Only 7 adventures
  • Expensive

7. Best Sci-Fi: Star Wars: Imperial Assault

Star Wars: Imperial Assault is a game for 1-5 players that is of difficult complexity and takes 1-2 hours to play.

The campaign mode is essentially a dungeon crawl game (there is also a skirmish mode which is more like a fighting game) you get to play through a campaign that happens right after the destruction of the Death Star. One player plays as the Galactic Empire, while the other players get to play as heroes in the Rebel Alliance.  

The Rebel players undertake different missions and gain experience and level up, while the Empire player tries to stop them.

As Star Wars is essentially science fantasy, this game works really well because it is essentially a dungeon crawler set in space. The story is a bit light on details, but you really do feel like you are dungeon crawling in the Star Wars universe, it sets the scenes and paints the picture very well.

Pros

  • Very thematic – you really feel like you are on a Star Wars adventure
  • 2 hours is enough to be an activity for an entire evening without requiring too much commitment
  • Also has a skirmish mode, so it’s like having 2 games in one

Cons

  • A lot of rules to remember
  • It’s not the most interesting story campaign
  • Not fully cooperative, someone has to play as the Rebels

8. Most Suspenseful: Betrayal at House on the Hill

Betrayal at House on the Hill is a 2-6 player game that takes about an hour and is of medium complexity (though because all the rules make sense thematically I think it is quite easy to teach).

In this game you are moving through a haunted house, revealing rooms as you go through exploring. When you enter a room you may find items, enemies that attack, or omens (which bring you closer to the betrayal phase of the game). Each player is a hero, and has some physical and mental statistics that tell you how many dice to roll in encounters, and can take damage as they interact with things in the house.

Halfway through the game one player turns and is revealed as a traitor, and there are different scenarios for the game to determine if the heroes or the traitor wins.

This game has a lot of variability in how it’s played, both because you build the game board as you move around so it can be different each time, and also because the 50 included scenarios each play very differently.

This is a thematic experience with a lot of luck and silliness and you need to approach it that way. If you are looking for a serious strategic game then this might not be for you.

Pros

  • Lots of variability in gameplay
  • The haunt (after the traitor is revealed) gives some great horror action
  • A really fun game
  • Creates a memorable, thematic experience

Cons

  • The first half of the game when exploring can be a bit boring
  • Lots of luck – not strategic at all
  • You need to embrace both winning and losing as part of the story/fun

9. Most Thematic: The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth

This is a cooperative game for 1-5 players that takes 1-2 hours and is of medium complexity.

This is an app-run campaign game, where you play through a series of adventures and crawl through middle earth. It’s not strictly a dungeon crawling game as you are going through forests, clearings, and halls, but you are doing this in a very similar fashion to dungeon crawling, where you are characters with traits that are exploring areas and fighting enemies.

This is Lord of the Rings in a box, you play the characters you know and love, in the areas you know and love, set between the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. The app does a great job at storytelling, and if you are a LotR fan that wants to play through an experience in this universe, this is the way to go.

Pros

  • Good solo mode
  • Great components and excellent miniatures
  • Theme runs deep
  • A thrilling adventure through a cinematic experience

Cons

  • You won’t appreciate the game if you’re not a LotR fan
  • Can lack excitement at times

10. Best Epic Fantasy: Sword & Sorcery

Sword & Sorcery is a cooperative game for 1-5 players that takes about 1-1.5 hours and is of difficult complexity.

In this game, you are a group of adventurers that have been brought back to life, and you need to complete moral quests in order to regenerate your soul.

This is a big game, it takes a long time and is really something to sink your teeth into. If you’ve played Gloomhaven and want another deep and long game, then this is the way to go.

Pros

  • Excellent solo mode
  • Lots of variety
  • Heroes feel powerful (they progress well and gain items)
  • Good game plot
  • Great miniatures

Cons

  • Huge rulebook and too many little rules to remember
  • The story can be cheesy at times

Honourable Mentions

  • Nemesis – This is a game for 1-5 players where you need to survive in a spaceship that is infested with aliens, it’s a thematic masterpiece but quite complex to learn, and it’s difficult – you die a lot!
  • Mice & Mystics – Another adventure roleplaying book game similar to Stuffed Fables, but in this game you are people that have been turned into mice and need to save the castle and the king that is now way bigger than you.
  • Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition) – A classic dungeon crawler game where you are four heroes pitched against an overlord who is trying to stop them. The system is what Star Wars: Imperial Assault is based on, but if you aren’t a Star Wars fan this is a great alternative.
  • Arcadia Quest – this is a relatively complex game where each player controls a guild. The guilds want to overthrow the vampire lord and each control Arcadia for themselves.  This feels like a dungeon crawl cross PvP, so if you are an action game lover you should probably check it out.
  • Cthulhu: Death May Die – Another medium complexity Lovecraftian game, where you are investigators who want to stop the coming of the Elder Gods. It has a similar theme to Mansions of Madness, but the mechanics are quite different, with a lot more focus on combat and battle elements and a lot less solving of the story.

Conclusion

There are a lot of different dungeon crawler games out there, so knowing what you’re looking for in a game will help you pick the one that’s right for you and that you’ll enjoy.

If you are looking for something horror-based that is a good experience, Mansions of Madness, Betrayal at House on the Hill and Zombicide are all worth looking at.

For those playing with family or non-gamers, Clank! and Stuffed Fables are much lighter and more fun dungeon crawlers with easy to teach rules.

And for those that want to dive all in, you really can’t go wrong with Gloomhaven or its baby brother, Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion. Or if you want to immerse yourself into a world you already know and love, Star Wars: Imperial Assault and Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth are both fantastic games.

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