RPGs are a popular genre within the gaming world. But even within that genre, there are a ton of variations. You might want a legacy game, a card game, a traditional tabletop game, a long campaign, or a short cooperative game.
I like Star Wars Imperial Assault because it brings the best elements from different types and combines them into one epic story-driven game. It isn’t just for Star Wars fans.
However, there are several considerations when choosing the right game. You have to consider the age of the players, the thematic interests, and the level of difficulty. I’ve broken down the features of several of the best RPG board games so you can choose the right one.
Which game is the best RPG board game for you? Let’s get started.
- 1 At a Glance
- 2 RPG Board Game Reviews
- 2.1 Star Wars Imperial Assault: Best RPG Board Game
- 2.2 Mage Knight: Best Solo RPG Board Game
- 2.3 Lord of the Rings Journeys in Middle-Earth: Best for LOTR fans
- 2.4 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past: Best Entry Game
- 2.5 Stuffed Fables Board Game: Best for Families
- 2.6 The Quest Kids: Best for Young Children
- 2.7 Eldritch Horror: Best Horror RPG Board Game
- 2.8 Betrayal at House on the Hill: Most Affordable RPG Board Game
- 2.9 Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Best Card-Based RPG Game
- 3 RPG Board Game Buying Guide
- 4 Final Verdict: Best RPG Board Game
At a Glance
If you’re wondering which RPG board game is right for you, there are several things to consider.
You also have to think about the duration of the game. If you want something quick, you might like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Quest Kids, or Betrayal at House on the Hill. If you want a longer game, consider Star Wars Imperial Assault or Eldritch Horror.
Next, there’s the number of players. Some games work as solo games, like Mage Knight, Lord of the Rings, or the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. Others require more than one player, such as Stuffed Fables or Betrayal at House on the Hill.
You might think about the level of cooperation, as well. Some games are fully cooperative, like Mage Knight, Lord of the Rings, and The Quest Kids. Others are semi-cooperative, like Imperial Assault, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Betrayal at House on the Hill.
Finally, you want to consider the complexity of the game. If you prefer easy-to-learn games, you might like Pathfinder Adventure Card Game or Stuffed Fables. Want something heavier? Try Mage Knight or Imperial Assault.
RPG Board Game Reviews
Star Wars Imperial Assault: Best RPG Board Game
Playing time: 1-2 hours
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Star Wars Imperial Assault is an epic game of adventure set in the Star Wars Universe. The Rebel Alliance must face off against the Galactic Empire in a battle of galactic proportions.
Star Wars Imperial Assault has two playing modes, a campaign mode, and a skirmish mode. Players can go head-to-head in a skirmish game, completing stand-alone missions.
If players choose a campaign game, one player acts as the Imperial Army while up to four players take on the role of Rebel heroes. This is perfect for Star Wars fans.
This semi-cooperative game is story-driven and highly variable, so you can play again and again without getting repetitive. Choose from one of over 30 missions to keep the play interesting and fresh.
With over 50 modular map tiles, the board layout is unique for each game. Gameplay happens in rounds. Each round consists of two phases.
The activation phase is when players take actions, alternating between the Rebel heroes and the Imperial army. The status phase is when the Imperial player increases the threat dial and players ready their cards.
The quality of the game pieces is solid. And if you like painting your miniatures, you’re in for a treat. The miniatures in this game are unpainted, so you can customize them to your liking.
This tactical combat game involves plenty of strategic depth. Some of the instructions are vague. Buyers had trouble figuring out special situations, but it’s nothing that some house rules or YouTube videos can’t fix.
If you get tired of the base game, there are expansions available. You do have to purchase them separately, though.
Imperial Assault is the perfect dungeon-crawling board game for the Star Wars fan.
- Campaign or skirmish game
- Strategy game
- High replayability
- Expansions available
- Somewhat vague instructions
Mage Knight: Best Solo RPG Board Game
Playing time: 60+ minutes
Mage Knight is a fantasy board game set in the WizKids’ Mage Knight universe. This is the Ultimate Edition, which includes three expansions and five new cards.
Mage Knight combines elements of RPG board games, deckbuilding, and traditional tabletop games in one epic adventure.
The game is played over a predetermined number of rounds based on the scenario. For each round, players take two actions:
- Prepare for the round – flip the day/night board, roll dice to determine the available mana for the round, refresh all card offers, and prepare the area.
- Choose a tactic card for the round – this card determines player order and grants ability for the round.
Players alternate taking turns until the end of the round is triggered.
The game ends when either the scenario’s end game condition is reached or when the round limit is reached. Each scenario has different victory conditions that determine the winner.
This game has good character development. Beyond a character’s normal skills, players can purchase new spells (i.e., cards) from Mage Towers or learn advanced actions from a monastery.
Exploring the land is also an important part of the combat system. There are four phases of combat, along with varied monster abilities. Players must plan and make decisions that can affect success.
One unique aspect of this game is the wound cards. When a player suffers losses, they are wounded, but they don’t die. This prevents one player from having to wait for the rest of the players to finish the game.
The wounded cards can be discarded by resting or removed by healing. Of course, then you have to decide whether you should delay your progress by visiting a village for healing. There are plenty of tough decisions to make in this game.
Buyers thoroughly enjoyed this fantasy RPG board game. They liked how the characters progressed, the solo play option, and the included expansions. The quality of the game pieces is also solid.
A few complained about the size of the box. It’s quite big with a lot of wasted space. I recommend either reboxing it or finding a space large enough for it.
The Mage Knight board game is heavy, with complex rules. If you like simplicity, you may be disappointed. But if you like RPG board games with plenty of adventure and plenty of decision-making, you’ll enjoy Mage Knight.
- Good for solo play
- Includes three expansions
- Solid character progression
- Challenging gameplay
- Heavy, complex
- Box is too big
Lord of the Rings Journeys in Middle-Earth: Best for LOTR fans
Playing time: 60+ minutes
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
If you’re a fan of Tolkein and RPG board games, Lord of the Rings Journeys in Middle-Earth is a great pick for you. Enter the fantasy world of Middle Earth as you form your fellowship and set out to save the land from the dark forces.
Players work together in this cooperative game as heroes of the Free Peoples of Middle-Earth. Each of the iconic characters has their special abilities to contribute to the Fellowship, giving each one a distinct identity for your campaign.
This is an app-supported game. Download the free app to generate a portion of each scenario from the beginning of each game, the most important of which is building the map.
Buyers liked having the app since it acts as a game manager. You don’t have to track progress or keep up with all the tactical elements. The app does that for you.
As the game progresses, you’ll come face-to-face with Orcs and battle monsters as you seek to complete quests.
Lord of the Rings is highly variable, with multiple scenarios that can provide hours of entertainment. You can also play a game solo.
The game components are of good quality, and the unpainted minis are ideal for those who like to paint their miniatures.
Buyers were pleased with the story-driven campaign and the game mechanics. They did complain that the game duration is super long and that you can’t add characters during the game. Once you start the campaign, you’re in it for the long haul.
- App tracks game progress
- Cooperative gameplay
- Immersive storyline
- Good game components
- Requires an app
- Can’t add characters mid-game
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past: Best Entry Game
Playing time: 60-90 minutes
Publisher: IDW Games
Cowabunga! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past is a miniatures combat, scenario-driven campaign game. It’s a fun RPG board game with a nostalgic theme.
Players take the role of their favorite Turtle or the ultimate villain, Shredder, in this semi-cooperative game. They must battle their way through a series of missions in which they develop their characters’ strengths, fighting styles, and equipment.
Fan-favorite characters like Casey Jones and Alopex make an appearance throughout the missions as the Turtles seek help from their closest allies to defeat their foes. Dice rolls determine which actions players will take in each round.
This game has over 40 sculpted miniatures, 12 unique maps, and over 100 cards. It accommodates up to five players.
The quality of the artwork and miniatures is excellent. There are a lot of pieces, which may be overwhelming for some. But buyers were impressed with the quality.
Many customers bought this, not realizing it’s an RPG board game. However, they loved the story-driven gameplay and the easy-to-learn rules. Those features make TMNT a great entry game for those new to RPG board games.
Some felt the play was lopsided against the turtles. It’s complex but not as much as others in this game type. It is quite expensive, however.
If you are after a more casual gaming experience, like TMNT, and enjoy (or are willing to try) an RPG board game, you should like this one.
- Good entry game
- Complex but attainable
- Semi-cooperative gameplay
- Interesting characters
- Impressive artwork & components
- Decent replay value
- Some felt the play was lopsided
Stuffed Fables Board Game: Best for Families
Playing time: 60-90 minutes
Publisher: Z-Man Games
Stuffed Fables is an excellent pick for your next family game night. In this cute RPG board game, players take on the role of brave stuffed animals sworn to protect a little girl from the evil Master of Nightmares.
The entire game takes place across the pages of a storybook and is driven by player choices. Explore a world of wonder and danger as you make discoveries and interact with the story.
Six stuffies must confront the nightmares by rolling and assigning color-coded dice to take a variety of player actions. Weave your way through an Adventure Book with an exciting storyline.
Stuffed Fables is easy to learn and only takes a few minutes to set up. You might have to consult the manual a couple of times, but it’s not super complex.
Buyers loved the game concept and the interactive story experience. This game plays in about an hour, but it’s paced to keep the attention of most kids.
The artwork is beautiful and imaginative. Some customers wished they could save their progress. I would recommend using a bookmarking system if you don’t wish to play through the entire game the first time.
If you want an entertaining RPG board game for the whole family, this game delivers.
- Good for young children
- Easy to learn
- Quick setup
- Amazing artwork
- High replay value
- Could use a “save” system
The Quest Kids: Best for Young Children
Playing time: 30 minutes
Publisher: The Quest Kids
For a family adventure in a fantasy world, you might try The Quest Kids board game. This game can accommodate a maximum of four players and is best for kids ages 5 and up.
Players take on the role of one of the Quest Kid heroes exploring the magical Tolk’s Cave to find treasures, scare away monsters, complete quests, and find special items while helping friends.
This game has a learning curve that escalates in complexity, perfect for young children who are emerging gamers. The Quest Kids is a cooperative game designed to teach young children generosity and cooperation to win the game.
There is a single winner, but players get rewarded for helping out other players during play. The monsters (“bad guys”) can be defeated with special abilities.
The pieces and artwork are fantasy themed and colorful. The chunky treasure and easy end-game scoring system are designed with kids in mind.
Parents enjoyed introducing the dungeon crawler game type to their children with this creative and imaginative game.
A few wished the map had more variation. The game board is two-sided, but the map on either side is identical. It would add more replay value to have a different map on each side.
Luck does play a more significant role in the outcome, allowing kids to win without help. It won’t provide the challenge or strategic depth for adult gamers, but it’s one of the best RPG board games for young children.
- Good for young children
- Colorful artwork, large game pieces
- Easy to learn
- Teaches cooperation
- Not challenging for adults
- Double-sided board has identical sides
Eldritch Horror: Best Horror RPG Board Game
Playing time: 2-4 hours
Publisher: Fantasy Flight
If you’re looking for an exciting board game, Eldritch Horror fits the bill. Based on the fictional world of H.P. Lovecraft, Eldritch Horror is a thrilling game of terror and adventure.
Set in the fictional city of Arkham in 1926, an ancient evil is stirring across the globe. Players must travel the world and work together to defeat monsters and stop evil from taking over.
Players solve mysteries surrounding the horror. If you fail, the Ancient One will doom the world. This is a cooperative mystery game, so players must work together and use their skills and weapons to defeat the dark forces.
Each player takes on the role of one of 12 investigators to defeat one of four Ancient Ones. Each investigator has their skills and weapons to use in their quest. Together, the players explore the remote areas of the globe and fight the threatening nightmarish creatures that lurk in the shadows.
With so many characters, villains, and scenarios, this game has a lot of built-in variation. Every game provides a unique adventure. And unlike many RPG board games, this one can accommodate a large number of players, at eight.
The gameplay is story-driven and includes dice rolling. Some customers were frustrated at the amount of luck and would have preferred more strategy.
If you enjoy horror-themed tabletop gaming and don’t mind dice rolling, this is one of the best RPG board games for you.
- Cooperative play
- Mystery & horror-themed
- High variability
- Great for large groups
- Long-playing time
- Heavy on luck
Betrayal at House on the Hill: Most Affordable RPG Board Game
Playing time: approximately 1 hour
Publisher: Hasbro Gaming
Another horror-themed game, Betrayal at the House on the Hill, is an exciting game published by Hasbro. This is the third edition, which includes new playable characters, new artwork, rule books, trackers, and cards.
In this semi-cooperative strategy game, players must work together to survive the nightmare while watching out for the haunted house… which turns one player against the others.
Betrayal at House on the Hill features 50 blood-curdling scenarios for high replayability. Each trip to the house brings new horrors and a new, exciting story.
On top of it all, this is one of the most affordable RPG board games, making it great for those who want to enjoy a quality RPG board game without spending an arm and a leg.
There is a learning curve to this game. Some customers felt the instructions were somewhat vague. However, they loved the traitor mechanism.
They also enjoyed the fact that when a character dies, the player can select a new character to play. The original character then becomes an encounter, and the other players may attempt to gain their clues and assets.
Buyers loved the beautiful artwork, and the pulp archaeology feel. But the number of components to this board game can be daunting. Some people wished for better storage and had to purchase a separate storage solution to organize all the pieces.
If you like solving mysteries and horror-themed games, this is one of the best RPG board games for you.
- High replay value
- Cooperative adventure
- Immersive story-driven play
- Has a learning curve
- Cool traitor mechanism
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Best Card-Based RPG Game
Playing time: 90 minutes
Publisher: Paizo Games
In this adventure game, a group of press-ganged travelers seizes a ship and becomes embroiled in the troubles and machinations of the Shackles, a beautiful island chain dominated by pirates.
Players must battle scalawags, enemy navies, legendary sea monsters, and the infamous Hurricane King. They must win or walk the plank.
This is a campaign-driven game that involves pillaging, piracy, and politics. It’s completely cooperative, allowing for up to four players that take on the role of heroes. Together, these heroes explore the treacherous terrain of the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path.
There is plenty of character customization in this card game. You can choose your character’s class as you play through multiple scenarios in a fantasy adventure.
There are more than 500 cards, 7 character classes, a wide array of gear and magical accouterments, and dozens of allies, monsters, and villains. This lends itself to a lot of replayability and variation, ensuring you never get bored.
Buyers found the game easy to learn and easy to play. It’s an ideal pick for those who want to try tabletop role-playing games in a non-threatening card format.
Some buyers thought the game got repetitive after a while. It may not have quite the replay value of other games, but it’s highly entertaining.
If you like the idea of an RPG card game, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is an ideal pick for you.
- Easy to learn
- Cooperative play
- Works well as a solo game
- High variation
- Fun fantasy theme
- No game master required
- Not as much replay value
RPG Board Game Buying Guide
What Is an RPG-Type of Board Game?
RPG stands for role-playing game. In RPGs, players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. There are many sub-genres within the large umbrella of RPGs. There are a few characteristics that must be present for a game to be considered a role-playing game.
- There must be some type of character progression or development. This can include increasing strength, health, experience points, or specific character attributes.
- A character’s skills or attributes must influence their play. Certain characters might have varying levels of strength, healing powers, etc.
- A character should have tools to use as they see fit. These can be weapons, spells, armor, etc.
RPG board games can have many more elements, but those are the basic features. If a game doesn’t include these core characteristics, it isn’t classified as an RPG.
What is a Tabletop RPG Game?
Tabletop RPG board games are also referred to as traditional RPGs or pen-and-paper RPGs. This is a subset of the larger RPG genre.
Tabletop role-playing board games involve heavy player interaction, with players describing their actions and using predictable rules to arrive at unpredictable conclusions.
Most tabletop RPG games have a game master who sets the scenes and interprets the rules, like a manager of sorts. Sometimes the game master is also called the narrator, the facilitator, the dungeon master, or other similar names.
Tabletop RPG games are distinct from computer games and RPG video games in real-time player interaction. There’s a wider range of input and variation in tabletop games.
What is the Most Successful RPG Game?
There have been many successful RPG board games over the years, but the original game of Dungeons & Dragons is the most widely recognized RPG board game in the board game industry.
It was initially published in 1974 and brought role-playing games to the forefront of the gaming world. Dungeons & Dragons has a broad following even to this day.
Final Verdict: Best RPG Board Game
What is the best RPG board game? I like Star Wars Imperial Assault. It has all the classic elements that make RPGs so much fun.
If you aren’t a Star Wars fan or if you want something for families, I also highly recommend Stuffed Fables. It’s a great entry game.