The 9 Best Dungeon Crawl Board Games of 2021

Best High End

Workshop Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress

Best Mid Range

Descent Journeys in the Dark

Descent: Journeys in the Dark

Best Inexpensive

Stuffed Fables

Last Updated: 8th March, 2023

There are deep, dark places in the earth that remain unexplored. There are lost civilizations with hoards of treasures; goblins that lurk in the shadows; dragons stirring in their sleep on piles of gold; and other creatures too terrible to name.

There will always be a band of brave adventurers on hand to explore these far-flung places, whether they be beneath the ground or the edges of the known galaxy. Welcome to the world of the dungeon crawler game.

Today we are looking at a list of the best dungeon crawler games, ranging from tales of high fantasy to the places from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

1. Descent: Journeys in the Dark (2nd Edition)

  • Players: 1-5
  • Age:14+
  • Playing time: 120 mins
  • Game type: dice, cards, all vs. one, modular board
  • Price: under $60

Last update on 2024-06-19 at 08:55 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why we love this game: Descent has a bit of everything you want in a dungeon crawler, with great character archetypes, hordes of monsters, and plenty of battle against vicious foes, all in a leisurely two-hour (give or take) time frame.

Gameplay: Players band together on a quest as a group against one player who is the Overlord. There are two encounters in a quest, which takes roughly two hours to play, meaning you get to experience the adventure's progression in a sitting.

A modular board setting provides a vast array of dungeon possibilities to explore, with decent fantasy artwork.

Each turn, players move all their characters, followed by the Overlord, who moves all the monsters and plays her evil ploy cards on her enemies.

Characters will find and equip weapons throughout their quest, and they will add unique abilities or strengths, like axes, plate mail, rings of power, and magical crystals.

Combat is dice-based and intuitive. Players roll specific unique dice according to their character and weapons with which they are fighting. An enemy gets to defend by rolling defense dice and takes hits accordingly.

In the Overlord's turn, enemies move and fight back in the same way as characters. This means the Overlord definitely gets to experience the game and is not just being outcast by his friends.

Finally, there is a campaign mode that allows quests to be linked together, making your games progress in difficulty as your adventurers become more experienced.

Verdict: A game in a box that has many, many nights of gaming within, and even if you get through it all, there are numerous expansions to pick up for extended play. Descent: Journeys in the Dark provides hours of questing in a classic world of dungeons, heroes, magic, and adventure. This game is recommended for those who want that traditional dungeon experience, and for intermediate to advanced gamers. For the depth of gameplay, the price for Descent makes it a fantastic purchase.

2. Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress

  • Players: 1-5
  • Age: 12+
  • Playing time: 120-180 mins
  • Game type: dice, cards, co-operative, modular board
  • Price: around $140

Last update on 2024-06-19 at 08:55 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why we love this game: Blackstone Fortress is a sci-fi dungeon crawler set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. So it is a grim, dark, gothic setting. The game is full of aliens, daemons, psychic mutants, and hulking superhuman soldiers. The game itself has many hours of play value from the box set and several expansions to progress the story.

Gameplay: In a game up to four players, each person takes a character to play, but there are always four characters, so two players would pick two characters and so on. At five players, one person plays the overlord who controls all the enemies and traps that occur during play. It is not the most fun for the overlord in this particular game, so it does work best with 1-4 players (each player takes a turn running the bad guys).

The aim of the game is to unlock the secrets of the Blackstone Fortress - a vast, ancient weapon of unimaginable power and treasures. And bad guys. Lots of them. Each quest into the Fortress is to find clues to unlock the next part of the journey. After all four quests are completed, the players will enter the final chamber of the Fortress and discover its mysteries.

Each character has their own traits, like Amallyn Shadowguide, a swift alien ranger with a sniper rifle, or Espern Locarno, a human space navigator with a psychic third-eye.

Characters hunt the modular dungeons for clues by drawing cards after exploring and defeating enemies.

In turn, players move, attack, and search. These all require actions to activate. Combat is dice-based, and weapons all have flavorful rules, such as sniper rifles becoming more potent at more extended range and ignoring cover.

Upon completing the last quest, adventurers will open a sealed envelope within the box that contains a mysterious secret!

Here's an in-depth review with playing instructions:

Verdict: In-depth and immense fun with plenty of character, Blackstone Quest is a vast adventure packed with rich content. If you want a futuristic dungeon crawler on the darker side, choose this game. We recommend this game for intermediate to advanced gaming groups.

3. Stuffed Fables

  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 7+
  • Playing time: 60-90 mins
  • Game type: co-op, dice, cards, adventure book (board with story and rules)
  • Price: under $50

Last update on 2024-06-19 at 08:55 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why we love this game: Stuffed Fables is adorable. Each player is a 'Stuffie,' a young girl's stuffed toy whose mission is to save her and guide her through some significant events of growing up. Life lessons in a fun, beautifully designed dungeon crawler? Yep, and it's good fun too.

Gameplay: Players must achieve their objective in each mission without having all the stuffing knocked out of their characters.

The gameplay is within a spiral-bound Adventure Book, which has the board with beautiful artwork on one page and the adventure's rules on the other, which is a unique and thoughtful design.

In a turn, players draw their actions from a dice bag with random results, like red dice for attacks, and black dice for an enemy encounter.

Stuffies include characters like Lumpy and Stitch, who all possess specific abilities. Characters will need to work together to win and can share their actions and dice with other players. This co-operation is essential to win games and progress the story.

Characters earn item cards as the game advances, making them more durable or potent, like frisbees, a deadly ranged weapon.

The adventures in the game are varied and exciting, which link together to form a delightful story, making the game replayable and captivating.

Verdict: Stuffed Fables is a different and interesting take on the dungeon crawler genre. This game is one for families and kids, but good fun for all. We recommend this for newer gamers and the younger crowd, and those who want a decent crawler for a reasonable price.

4. Gloomhaven

  • Players: 1-4
  • Age: 12+
  • Playing time: 60-120 mins
  • Game type: modular board, cards, co-operative
  • Price: around $140

Last update on 2024-06-19 at 08:55 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why we love this game: Gloomhaven has it all. It is the comprehensive dungeon crawler that perhaps cannot be finished just because of its sheer depth. This is an expensive game, but it will keep you involved for years. And years.

Gameplay: Gloomhaven is an adventurer's dream. The mission book alone is massive: you will never play two missions alike. To record your adventures, the game comes with an obscenely large map - with stickers to mark your achievements, like an obsessively detailed computer game.

Choosing a character is a delight as they come in lovely packages with unique cards, miniatures, and abilities.

Discovery is kind of everything in Gloomhaven. Playing reveals the tactical possibilities of your character and reveals even more about them as you progress.

Missions time players in a unique way - players take turns with actions, and playing an action requires the use of cards in each players' hand. Cards also heal, but actions and healing mean a card is spent. Players' hands reduce throughout each mission, so the stakes become higher the longer you stay in a dungeon.

The use of cards requires co-operation from your team - do you go in all guns blazing or take a more careful approach? Disagreements will arise and create tension in your group, but this is part of the game!

The card system also gives your character experience, meaning they build in strength the more you play.

In fact, the card system is integral to the game and is uncomplicated in a vibrant and in-depth game.

Between games, you'll play encounters on the road and in the city using more randomly drawn cards, adding further depth.

Verdict: The dungeon crawler for the ages. You'll keep coming back to this one for years. Choose this bad boy for everything in depth and extreme without pointless rules and confusion. Gloomhaven is for more experienced gamers - that would be our recommendation.

5. The Lord of the Rings Card Game

  • Players: 1-2
  • Age: 13+
  • Playing time: 30-60 mins
  • Game type: cards, co-operative
  • Price: under $35

Last update on 2024-06-19 at 08:55 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why we love this game: It's The Lord of the Rings, so it's kind of automatically cool, but the game itself works too. The Lord of the Rings Card Game is a dungeon crawler with just you, another player, and a deck of cards, for under $40 - what isn't great about that?

Gameplay: The Lord of the Rings (LotR) card game is a living card game, so there are expansions to add to your adventures in Middle Earth, which allows players to recreate the critical moments in LotR.

Players choose three heroes to lead on their adventure, and you do not have to stick with the protagonists from the books, so you can make numerous 'what if?' scenarios.

Each character, as you would expect, has unique attributes, like Gimli, who becomes more powerful as he gets more damaged. The better a character, the higher their threat level - a number used for deciding victory or defeat.

The aim of the game is to play and beat quests along the path to destroy the One Ring before your threat level reaches 50 - threat accumulates the more powerful you become as your adventure progresses. This means you can have an uber-powerful starting line up of characters, but your beginning threat level will already be high, running the risk of a short adventure.

Quests each have a unique deck that is drawn as the characters encounter monsters like Mirkwood spiders along the way. Characters can fight, journey, and explore their way through these quests by playing card form their hands using resources they generate. These aspects make the game flow nice and clearly.

Verdict: For its price, this is an excellent game in which to dive. The LotR card game is great if you want to dungeon crawl solo, or with one other player co-operatively. We recommend this game for newer players to intermediate - but it is rewarding for all playing levels.

6. Star Wars: Imperial Assault

  • Players: 2-5
  • Age: 14+
  • Playing time: 60-120 mins
  • Game type: modular board, dice, cards, one vs. all
  • Price: under $80

Last update on 2024-06-19 at 08:55 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why we love this game: Recreating battles in the Star Wars universe with the Imperials and the Rebel Alliance is just inherently awesome. Have you ever wanted to be a Wookie and crush the Imperial enemy? Star Wars: Imperial Assault is a dungeon crawler that allows your inner Star Wars nerd to flourish.

Gameplay: Star Wars: Imperial Assault allows you to play several scenarios on a modular gaming board, set up using a scenario booklet. Each scenario has an objective pitting the Imperials (one player) against the Rebels (the rest of the players).

Each turn, a player can move, attack Imperial enemies, recover their health, or explore the board more. Characters are all based on archetypes, like the Han Solo-type rogue, or the fierce and aggressive Wookie. Each of these characters has specific traits with which they can attack the enemy, heal their friends, or snipe baddies form a distance.

Games link together to form a story arc and allow players to build their characters up with equipment cards and upgrades, such as upgrading your laser gun or Wookie Crossbow.

The Imperial player moves all the bad guys and attacks the rebels, attempting to thwart them at every turn, by playing ploy cards and summoning more Imperial troops. Like Descent mentioned above, there is a lot of weight on the Imperial player's shoulders to keep the game moving, so it may not be a role everyone relishes.

Combat is practical and fun, using a dice system based on the Descent rules. It keeps the story and game flowing while keeping the stakes right up there.

Here's an in-depth review of the game:

Verdict: If you like Descent, this is the sci-fi Star Wars version of that. It's just as immersive and fun, but with all the character and depth of the Star Wars universe. Choose this dungeon crawler if you are a Star Wars fan, or want a fun and in-depth sci-fi game. The game is suitable for intermediate and advanced players.

7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past

  • Players: 2-5
  • Age: 14+
  • Playing time: 60-120 mins
  • Game type: modular board, dice, cards, one vs. all
  • Price: under $80

Last update on 2024-06-19 at 08:55 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why we love this game: If you grew up in the '90s, you don't need me to tell you about these pop icons. If you like the comics before the famous cartoon from that era, then you'll also love this game, as it comes with an issue within the box. But this aside, playing as the four turtles against the evil of Shredder makes for a fun dungeon crawling night.

Gameplay: One side plays the turtles, and one player plays as the forces arrayed against them. All four turtles always play, so if playing two players, one player will get all four turtles, and so on.

Co-operation is vital for the turtles - each has three action dice to use (apart from Raphael, see below), and turtles roll these to determine their random actions each turn. They may also share these dice amongst each other (except Raphael, again), so they must work as a team to win, and the game rewards this.

The turtles' rules represent their character - Leonardo is a skilled swordsman and leader, so his cards reflect these traits, whereas Raphael is a brawler and a loner, so he has six action dice he gets to use, but never gets help from his teammates.

Each scenario has its objectives and plays on a modular board. From here, enemies attack, and turtles take their actions.

Special battle dice determines combat, whether you succeed, how much damage, and the range of a thrown weapon like a shuriken.

In a villain's turn, they will draw villain cards that tell the evil player what his actions will be, attacking or moving or something else nefarious. They get to act each time a turtle has finished his turn, so while being less powerful in the fighting stakes, their number of plays makes up for this.

Verdict: TMNT: Shadows of the Past is a beautiful example of a strong-themed dungeon crawler with a clean rules system that flows nicely. We recommend this for any fan of the awesome foursome, or for those that just want a great game!

8. Mansions of Madness

  • Players: 1-5
  • Playing time: 120-180 mins
  • Age: 14+
  • Game type: board, app, cards, co-operative
  • Price: under $90

Last update on 2024-06-19 at 08:55 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why we love this game: Mansions of Madness sets itself in the H.P. Lovecraft world of horror and mystery. It's gritty, dark, and haunting. It's also a captivating and thrilling game, with innovative use of a Mansions of Madness app, that is more than just a gimmick.

Gameplay: Mansions of Madness sets up with direction from the app. The modular board pieces get placed according to the scenario played, as this is a story-driven game.

Each scenario has a difficulty rating, so you can choose how tough you would like the game to be.

Players select one of the unique investigators to go crawling through the mysterious mansion.

Once set up, the app will tell you the story and the circumstances, replete with eery and atmospheric music and a voiceover.

Players begin their turn investigating rooms, moving, and dealing with random encounters, like ghouls. They can take two actions each turn.

The mansion then gets a turn, and the app will tell you how to move and fight with its actions.

Players will keep exploring until they meet the conditions of the scenario, or die from wounds, or suffer mental trauma from the horrors they have beheld.

Verdict: Mansions of Madness offers a rich theme of monsters, the supernatural, and a mystery survival thriller. The game app adds a nice touch and provides a compelling and rich experience for a dungeon crawler.

9. Clank!

  • Players: 2-4
  • Playing time: 30-60 mins
  • Age: 12+
  • Game type: board, cards, tokens, competitive
  • Price: under $60

Last update on 2024-06-19 at 08:55 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why we love this game: Clank! is a card game where players take on the role of thieving adventurers looking to loot a sleeping dragon's treasure trove. It's just a great big load of fun for families, young and old, and everyone else.

Gameplay: The objective is to obtain the most valuable artifact and escape back outside of the castle and dungeons. You'll encounter artifacts early on, but the deeper you go, the more valuable the treasure becomes. Enemies become more dangerous, too, so look out!

Each player has a hand of cards they choose to play in any order they wish. These cards may build their adventurer's skill for spending on quest cards like companions and weapons.

Cards also provide bonuses that let you play actions, like 'boot' cards allow you to move deeper into the dungeon, or sword cards enable you to fight and defeat monsters like Goblins.

Moving around the board might initiate an encounter, hinder your move, reveal secret chambers, or even heal your wounded adventurer - there's a rather snakes and ladder-like feel to this board.

Occasionally, the dragon will awake and dish out damage to players, which uses a bag of secret cubes to allocate damage to players - the longer you stay in the dungeon, the more risk and reward you take with you!

Verdict: Clank! is immensely enjoyable with cutesy artwork and a simple yet addictive hook. We recommend this game for families and those looking for a lighter style of game to play that still provides depth and challenge.

Let's Wrap Things Up:

So, there you have it - our top 9 favorite dungeon crawler board games. We sincerely hope you liked our recommendations, and if we missed any, please feel free to comment below.

And be sure to check out our board game reviews:

Till then, Happy gaming!

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