Dungeons & Dragons is the archetypal roleplaying game. It sometimes uses a board, but mostly takes place in a shared theatre of the mind. Board game aspects do have a place in D&D. The game’s dungeons and battles can use maps, miniatures, and other props. However, some games go further.
Since the very beginning of the franchise, D&D board games have existed alongside the RPG. These have been of varying quality. Some have been low-effort or simply not connected with audiences. However, there are those that are genuinely great games in their own right. Even without the D&D name, they’d be fun to play. As part of the franchise, they add an excellent theme to great mechanics.
Updated January 11th, 223 by Isaac Williams: The classic Dungeons & Dragons experience comes from the RPG itself. However, Dungeons & Dragons can be hard to organize and run and isn’t to everyone’s taste. This list has been updated with even more of the best board games based on D&D, so everyone can get some of the experience.
14/14 Dungeon! Is The Very First D&D Board Game
In 1975, TSR released the board game Dungeon! by David Megarry. It was released alongside the original three-book Dungeons & Dragons set. It took none of its game mechanics from D&D, but it shared similar inspirations and origins.
Dungeon! was based loosely on Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor campaign. It stripped away plot elements to focus on the simple experience of D&D dungeon crawling. Its historical connection to D&D is mostly an artifact of being made by the same company in the same era. Nonetheless, Dungeon! is an amazing piece of history that everyone should play at least once.
13/14 Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Was A Better Board Game Than An RPG
Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition is widely considered to be better as a D&D board game than as an edition of the role-playing game. Fourth Edition expands on the miniatures focus of Third Edition, and it has a strong emphasis on balance and combat. It also does away with a fiction-first presentation. Spells and the like are turned into generic abilities, and measurements refer to squares rather than feet.
This gives Fourth Edition some of the trappings of a board game. It’s part of a forgotten push for Dungeons & Dragons to focus more on miniatures or virtual tabletops. 4e has a large fanbase in its own right. However, even those who prefer other editions admit it makes for an excellent combat board game. Many D&D board games have used 4e‘s rules as a basis.
12/14 Dungeons & Dragons: Rock Paper Wizard Is A Light-Hearted Experience
Most Dungeons & Dragons board games focus on the meat of the game. They present adventures to have and great monsters to fight. Dungeons & Dragons: Rock Paper Wizard showcases a different side to the game. It’s set after a mighty dragon has been slain and party members fight over its treasure.
Rock Paper Wizard‘s inspiration is obvious. Players cast spells at one another simultaneously. Each spell includes a hand gesture that they have to direct at one other player. These move players closer to or further from the horde and affect the game in other ways. It’s less grandiose and epic than many other D&D games, but every bit as fun.
11/14 Assault Of The Giants Is A Different D&D Experience
Assault of the Giants is unlike many other Dungeons & Dragons board games. It seeks to simulate a broader aspect of the D&D world. It takes players out of dungeons or intrigue-filled cities. Players take control of one of six kinds of giants and seek to set themselves up as rulers of all giantkind.
Assault of the Giants is an asymmetrical board game. Each player has different secondary objectives. The Storm Giants wish to reinstall their fallen monarch while the Hill Giants simply search for food for their king. Players have to watch out for giant slayers as well as each other. This faction seeks to rid the world of all giants and is a common enemy to all players.
10/14 Dragonlance: Warriors Of Krynn Ties Into A Campaign
Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn is a wargame played out on a board. It models epic, sweeping battles that are far beyond the skirmishes D&D usually depicts. It can be played standalone. If so, it is a fun, robust wargame with excellent D&D theming.
However, the real charm of Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn is that it ties into a full-blown D&D campaign. Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen includes several mass battles throughout its story. Players can switch over to Warriors of Krynn to play out these battles and try to tip the battle in their favor.
9/14 Lords Of Waterdeep Trade Influence And Intrigue Like Coin
The Masked Lords of Waterdeep are the secret power brokers of the Forgotten Realms world. As their collective name implies, they are a secretive group whose reach and wealth are without equal. The board game Lords of Waterdeep puts players in their shoes.
As the Masked Lords, the players influence adventurers to do the missions they cannot. They focus their time on building and upgrading businesses within the town and guiding adventurers where they want them. Lords of Waterdeep is a competitive and thrilling game of indirect competition. Players have to weigh up the costs and benefits of every action they take.
8/14 Betrayal At Baldur’s Gate Brings D&D To House On The Hill
Betrayal at House on the Hill is a classic of modern build-and-play board games. It’s designed for replayability, and every game is different. Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate is unusual. It’s a direct port of the Betrayal at House on the Hill mechanics in one of D&D‘s iconic cities.
Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate doesn’t do anything particularly creative with the formula. Each player has an ability based on a particular D&D class. Aside from that, it mainly uses the tried-and-tested mechanics of House on the Hill. Nonetheless, it’s a very solid spin on the game that makes full use of its Dungeons & Dragons theme.
7/14 Vault Of Dragons Shows The Other Side Of Waterdeep
Vault of Dragons ties thematically into the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist premade D&D campaign. Each player controls a faction attempting to recover the vast wealth of gold beneath the city. Players have to vie for territory and resources to make themselves more powerful before they compete to gather as much gold as possible.
Players can brawl with other players’ agents to slow them down, and also have to avoid the forces of the City Watch. When they’re tooled up, they can journey to the Yawning Portal tavern and attempt to quest for the gold. Vault of Dragons is a game of two halves, but both are very enjoyable in play.
6/14 Tyrants Of The Underdark Vie For Subterranean Control
Tyrants of the Underdark continues the themes introduced in Lords of Waterdeep. In this case, the game takes a more villainous turn. Players control sinister leaders of the Drow. They battle to outcompete and even assassinate their rivals in the twisted politics of the Underdark.
Tyrants of the Underdark is a deckbuilding card game. Players combine two half-decks representing minions. These are drawn from a variety of D&D monsters. They include dragons, demons, and the drow themselves. They then use these and a thin pool of resources to do battle with other players.
5/14 Wrath of Ashardalon Fulfills 4th Edition’s Potential
D&D 4e‘s mechanics first leant themselves to a board game in 2011’s Wrath of Ashardalon. This a dungeon crawler game that uses a simplified and modified version of the 4e rules. These include a deck of cards in the place of a Dungeon Master. The game keeps 4e‘s most fun and intuitive mechanics. It’s even good for solo play.
Wrath of Ashardalon is the first game in the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure System line of board games. It gives players access to five iconic character archetypes, with more in later games. It also codifies the Adventure System‘s rules. Following after it is a long line of excellent board games. All of these owe Wrath of Ashardalon a debt.
4/14 Dungeons & Dragons: Attack Wing Takes To The Skies
Dungeons & Dragons: Attack Wing isn’t a wholly original game. It uses the same ruleset as popular games like Star Wars: X-Wing. However, it has a distinctly grandiose premise. Players don’t command fleets of spaceships. Instead, they control an army of dragons battling for aerial supremacy.
Dragons aren’t the only units available. Players can also control giants, siege engines, and more mundane ground forces. However, dragons are iconic in fantasy as a whole, and particularly in D&D. Attack Wing combines a very tight and fun ruleset with the chance to control some of the coolest armies around.
3/14 Castle Ravenloft Uses Fourth Edition As A Basis For Gothic Horror
The Ravenloft campaign setting has always been Dungeons & Dragons’ home for gothic horror. The Castle Ravenloft board game continues that tradition using the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure System. In Castle Ravenloft, the players adventure through the titular castle. They eventually face off against the iconic D&D vampire Strahd von Zarovich.
Players battle gothic-themed monsters and undead as one of four D&D character classes. They build the board out of individual parts as they go and populate it with classic undead monsters. Decisions made early in the game can make the late game easier, or much harder. Castle Ravenloft features several scenarios and a robust single-player mode, which gives it a ton of replayability.
2/14 Tomb Of Annihilation Brings The Popular 5th Edition Adventure To The Board
The D&D board game Tomb of Annihilation adapts the best-selling D&D adventure of the same title. It’s another game in the same series as Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashardalon. It uses the same 4th Edition-based Adventure System, tiles, and adventure generation system as its predecessors. Unusually, Tomb of Annihilation offers a deluxe version with pre-painted miniatures.
Creating a satisfying Dungeons & Dragons experience without the moderating influence of a Dungeon Master is always a tall order. Fortunately, this polished iteration of the system is up to the task. Like its role-playing sibling, Tomb of Annihilation is inspired by the classic D&D tournament module Tomb of Horrors.
1/14 The Newest D&D Rule Set Takes To The Board Game Realm As The Adventure Begins
Adventure Begins is the latest use of a board game to teach the D&D rules. Unlike some D&D board games, which use a full version of the game rules, Adventure Begins is a simplified subset of the rules. This set of rules is focused on a rotating, semi-DMless game experience that emphasizes group play.
Adventure Begins has unique modular boards that remove the need to sketch out a map or collect scenery. Its gameplaycombines monster fighting, looting, action, and narration. Adventure Begins is a wonderful microcosm of the D&D experience. Starting play with Adventure Begins will prepare players for a rewarding lifetime hobby.
NEXT: 15 Tabletop RPGs That Are Simpler Than D&D