Do you need some more Gloomhaven in your life? This board game has been a superstar in the gaming world since its release in 2017 by Cephalofair Games.
Gloomhaven’s cooperative, campaign-driven play offers excitement and surprises as players clear out dangerous dungeons and become heroes in the process.
I like the broad appeal of Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion: It’s great for experienced rpg gamers as well as beginners.
Are you ready to conquer the gaming world and find the best board game like Gloomhaven? Let’s dive in.
- 1 At a Glance
- 2 Board Games Like Gloomhaven: Reviews
- 2.1 Gloomhaven: Jaws of The Lion Board Game: Best Overall
- 2.2 Star Wars Imperial Assault: Best for Star Wars Fans
- 2.3 A Game of Thrones Second Edition: Best PVP (Player-Versus-Player)
- 2.4 Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition: Best Splurge
- 2.5 Mice & Mystics Board Game: Best for Younger Players
- 2.6 Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients: Best for Fans of Westerns
- 2.7 Arkham Horror 3rd Edition: Best Classic Horror
- 2.8 Arcadia Quest Inferno: Best for a Quick Game
- 2.9 Eldritch Horror: Best for Large Groups
- 2.10 Lord of the Rings Journeys in Middle Earth: Best App-Based Board Game
- 3 Board Games Like Gloomhaven: Final Verdict
At a Glance
Some of the best board games like Gloomhaven include several elements. Perhaps it’s the cooperative campaigning, the role-playing, the dungeon crawler gameplay, or the rich storyline set in a fantasy world.
Here are the games I’ve reviews:
- Gloomhaven: Jaws of The Lion Board Game: Best Overall
- Star Wars Imperial Assault: Best for Star Wars Fans
- A Game of Thrones Second Edition: Best PVP (Player-Versus-Player)
- Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition: Best Splurge
- Mice & Mystics Board Game: Best for Younger Players
- Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients: Best for Fans of Westerns
- Arkham Horror 3rd Edition: Best Classic Horror
- Arcadia Quest Inferno: Best for a Quick Game
- Eldritch Horror: Best for Large Groups
- Lord of the Rings Journeys in Middle Earth: Best App-Based Board Game
Whatever draws you to Gloomhaven, there are board games like Gloomhaven that can appeal to you. I found that Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion is the closest to the original Gloomhaven, for obvious reasons. But it works as a stand-alone game and is an excellent entry into the world of dungeon crawling.
But there are many considerations. Certain themes might appeal to you, or perhaps you’d like a competitive role-playing game. You may prefer a game with more horror or more adventure.
Which board game like Gloomhaven is the right one for you? Read on to learn more about each of these games.
Board Games Like Gloomhaven: Reviews
Gloomhaven: Jaws of The Lion Board Game: Best Overall
Playing Time: 30 min per player
From Cephalofair Games comes Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion. This game can either work as an extension to the original Gloomhaven or as a stand-alone game.
Jaws of the Lion features an immersive, story-driven campaign with tactical combat in the Gloomhaven universe. Through role-playing, players work together to clear out dark dungeons and ancient ruins in a prequel campaign.
Four new characters are introduced in this storyline: Valrath Red Guard (tank, crowd control), Inox Hatchet (ranged damage), Human Voidwarden (support, mind-control), and Quatryl Demolitionist (melee damage, obstacle manipulation). These characters can be used in the original Gloomhaven game, as well.
This version is designed for a more casual audience, with play-surface scenario books that allow players to jump into the action more quickly and easily. It has a simplified rule set and a five-scenario tutorial to help players get started.
Customers raved about this game. They enjoyed clearing out the dark dungeons, the intuitive gameplay, and the vivid artwork. And a nice bonus? This is one of the more affordable board games on the list.
But if you’re in the market for single-player games? You might be disappointed with this one. Several people said it didn’t work as well for one player.
Check out this quick breakdown of this entertaining game:
- Good entry point game
- Works as stand-alone or expansion
- Not as good for solo play
Star Wars Imperial Assault: Best for Star Wars Fans
Playing Time: 1-2 hours
Imperial Assault puts you in the middle of the Galactic Civil War between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance after the destruction of the Death Star.
Through a series of tactical combat missions, Rebel heroes embark on covert missions to undermine the Empire’s plans. This is essentially a “dungeon crawl” board game set in the Star Wars universe.
Imperial Assault has two game modes: campaign and skirmish. Each campaign contains over 30 missions, so each game is different. The skirmish mode is designed for head-to-head tactical combat between two players.
One player is an Imperial player, who serves as a game manager. The Imperial player controls the Stormtroopers, the Imperial officers, and the AT-ST walkers.
The other players comprise the Rebel Alliance. There can be up to four players in the Alliance. These courageous heroes…
Players can also unlock a “hero” or “villain” character to use in the game. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader are included in the core game, but several others, like Hans Solo and Chewbacca, are only available through purchasing expansion packs.
All of the included miniatures are unpainted, so you can paint and customize them to your liking. A lot of customers raved about the quality of the minis and the map tiles.
Reviewers said this game has similar mechanics to Descent: Journeys in the Dark. They were happy with the character progression and the replayability.
Several did complain about the complex and somewhat vague rules. Imperial Assault, like most complex games, is not a simple “read the rules, then play” type of board game.
This board game requires players to invest some time. Although the playing time is 1-2 hours, expect to spend quite a bit more learning and understanding the game, setting it up, etc.
It’s also a monetary investment. This Star Wars board game is more expensive than other games on the list.
However, many customers said the time and money were well worth it to experience the excitement and immersive storyline of this board game.
If you like tabletop RPGs, dungeon crawling board games, and Star Wars? Imperial Assault is the perfect game for you.
- Great quality minis and map tiles
- “Dungeon crawl” experience
- Choice between campaign and skirmish modes
- High replayability
- A lot of moving pieces
- Vague instructions
A Game of Thrones Second Edition: Best PVP (Player-Versus-Player)
Playing Time: 2-4 hours
A Game of Thrones: Second Edition is set in the lands of Westeros, where King Robert Baratheon has died. Now, the Iron Throne is anyone’s for the taking.
This board game includes warfare, diplomacy, and intrigue. Each player takes control of one of six Great Houses of Westeros, then sets out on an epic campaign of combat and careful planning to achieve total dominance.
Game play proceeds over the course of ten rounds. The game ends at the conclusion of the tenth round, in which case the player with the highest rank wins. Or, the game ends when a player takes complete control of the 7 areas that contain a castle or stronghold.
Some buyers felt that the outcomes were determined before the game even started. They didn’t like that players could be eliminated so early, making for a boring (and perhaps contentious) gaming session.
Even though the game is competitive, the rules encourage building alliances as much as betraying other players. But learning all those rules can be a big task! It was just too much for some reviewers.
Several customers mentioned that while the game is advertised for three to six players, the experience is much better with 5-6 players. It adds more variation and suspense.
I would recommend Game of Thrones Second Edition for those who enjoy complex games like Gloomhaven, regardless of whether or not they are Game of Thrones fans.
But I wouldn’t recommend this for Game of Thrones fans who are new to tabletop rpgs. It’s too complex and has too many moving pieces as an entry point game.
- Involves strategy
- Immersive story
- Good artwork
- Highly competitive
- A lot of rules
- Some felt outcomes are determined early
Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition: Best Splurge
Playing Time: 2-3 hours
In Descent: Journeys in the Dark, one player takes the role of a treacherous overlord, while up to four players take on the roles of courageous heroes.
These heroes embark on quests and venture into dangerous caves, ancient ruins, dark dungeons, and cursed forests to battle monsters, earn riches and try to prevent the evil overlord from executing his vile plot.
Journeys in the Dark is not designed for solo play, although some customers did play single-player by using the companion app. Some people also used the app if no one in their group wanted to take on the role of the evil overlord.
Don’t have a massive tabletop for games? No problem. Journeys in the Dark doesn’t take up too much space, especially compared with other dungeon crawl games like Gloomhaven.
The biggest drawback to this game is the cost. It will set you back a pretty penny, making Descent: Journeys in the Dark one of the most expensive games like Gloomhaven.
- Campaign & story-driven
- Cooperative & Competitive
- Doesn’t take up too much space
- Not designed for solo play
Mice & Mystics Board Game: Best for Younger Players
Playing Time: 60-90 minutes
If you enjoy cooperative fantasy games like Gloomhaven and are looking for something lighter, Mice and Mystics from Plaid Hat Games is an excellent addition to the game library.
In Mice and Mystics, players advance through the chapters of a storybook to save a kingdom in peril. They must work together to complete the chapter task before the hourglass reaches the final page.
In this role-playing game, players take on the role of heroes who have been turned into mice by an evil queen. These heroes embark on a race through the castle to warn the king, all while dodging spiders, rats, and the castle’s formidable housecat.
This board game has a feel of adventure to it, like Gloomhaven. Its simple dice rolling system, cooperative play, and rich storyline make it great for kids. Don’t worry, though. It has enough variety to make it fun for adults, too.
Buyers had overwhelmingly positive things to say about Mice and Mystics. They liked the cooperative campaigning, the detailed miniatures, and the compelling storyline.
Some felt the dice determined too much of the game, while others felt like the learning curve was too steep and that there were too many rules. This is great for someone that’s already familiar with dungeon crawler games, but it’s not the best entry game.
- Adventure play
- Cooperative elements
- Great for younger players
- Instructional video to learn rules
- Amazing art & miniatures
- Steep learning curve
- A lot of game pieces
- Some felt dice rolling was too important
Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients: Best for Fans of Westerns
Playing Time: 2 hours
Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients is a fast-paced dungeon crawler board game published by Flying Frog. It’s set in the Old West but incorporates elements of the occult Horror.
Fans of adventure games like Gloomhaven will enjoy the cooperative gameplay and developed campaign system as players continue their progress across multiple play sessions. The big difference between this board game and the others on the list is the unique theme.
In Shadows of Brimstone, players must work together to seal portals and defeat ancient demons. Role-playing takes center stage as each player takes on the role of a classic Western character, such as the Law Man, Gunslinger, or Saloon Girl.
Together, these courageous heroes embark on a journey into the dark mines. Each player has a unique set of abilities which they use to fight monsters and ancient demons from the fantasy world. They must explore mines, find new enemies to fight, collect loot, and overcome new dangers.
This tactical board game includes dice rolling and card-driven exploration modes to ensure no two games are ever the same. Players even have the ability to find portals to other fantasy worlds to continue the adventure.
While Shadows of Brimstone doesn’t contain the tactical depth like Gloomhaven, it does include a lot of the elements that make the board game so popular. If you’d enjoy a game like Gloomhaven but with an old Western twist, this is the game for you.
- Cooperative role-playing
- Unique classic Western theme
- Not as much tactical depth
Arkham Horror 3rd Edition: Best Classic Horror
Playing Time: 1-3 hours
Set in the fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts, Arkham Horror is a high fantasy board game full of cooperative, campaign-driven gameplay. Arkham Horror is published by Fantasy Flight Games.
Inspired by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, this game blends the real world with the fantasy realm as investigators fight against alien entities known as the Ancient Ones.
In this horror-filled board game, players work as a team to gather clues, battle monsters and find tools and allies to defeat the ancient creatures that exist in the fantasy world.
Players each choose one of 12 investigators, each with their unique set of abilities, items and backstory. Players start the game by selecting a scenario and building the city. Then the players build the Codex, the story that drives the campaigns and sets out the victory conditions.
Each round consists of four turns: Player actions, monster actions, Encounters, and the Mythos. The game ends when the players reach their ultimate goal to win or when the Elder God rises, in which case they lose.
Several customers drew a comparison between this game and Eldritch Horror, another Fantasy Flight Games board game based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft.
This version is the 3rd edition, which streamlines the game somewhat from the second edition. It also decreases the max number of players from eight to six. Several said that this is still fun as a one-player game, though.
Some buyers felt that the players lacked agency. For example, a player is only allowed two actions during their turn, and they are not allowed to repeat the same action. Another buyer felt like the story was too text-heavy and didn’t allow players to fill in their own details to the story.
Others thought the rules were complicated. There is a learning curve to this board game, so expect the first run-through to last more than 2 hours. But if you like complex games, Arkham Horror is a great choice.
With all of that being said, the overwhelming majority of customers loved Arkham Horror. They consistently said that once you get through the initial learning curve, this board game is loads of fun.
They said it has good replayability, especially for a core set. Of course, there are expansions available for those who get tired of playing the four scenarios.
- High replayability
- Cooperative gameplay
- Good as group or as one player
- Learning curve, complicated
- Can’t repeat actions in a turn
Arcadia Quest Inferno: Best for a Quick Game
Playing Time: 1 hour
Arcadia Quest is a story driven board game where a number of guilds race to restore order to the fantasy world of Arcadia.
Inferno works as both a companion to the original Arcadia Quest, as well as a stand alone game. In this version, Arcadia’s guardian angels have been captured. Each player controls a unique guild of heroes as they embark on a quest to dethrone the evil overlord and save Arcadia from a cruel fate.
Unlike other cooperative board games like Gloomhaven, Arcadia Quest has only one winner. So players not only battle the foes on the game board, but they also compete with other players.
Inferno introduces 12 new hero figures, as well as 19 monstrous foes. Customers found this game to be highly entertaining. A couple of people felt that the quality of the game components was lacking.
If you love dungeon crawlers but don’t have several hours to play? Arcadia Quest Inferno will help you get your fix without taking up your entire day.
This is also a great option for those who like competitive board games but want the high fantasy campaigns of games like Gloomhaven.
- Works as stand alone or expansion
- Good strategy
- Dungeon crawler element
- Quick gameplay
- Not cooperative
- Lower quality pieces
- Heavily relies on dice rolls
Eldritch Horror: Best for Large Groups
Playing Time: 2-4 hours
For both Gloomhaven fans and H.P. Lovecraftian horror game enthusiasts, Eldritch Horror is for you. This board game was actually inspired by the original Arkham Horror board game. It offers excitement and suspense as players work together to stop the encroaching darkness.
In this adventure game, players search the globe for clues in order to solve mysteries that will prevent an Elder God from coming back to Earth to destroy humanity.
This board game is story-driven and includes a lot of dice rolling. Some customers were frustrated at the amount of luck and preferred a board game heavier on strategy.
One popular feature of the game was how when a character dies, the player can select a new character card to play. The original character then becomes an encounter, and 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 buyers wished for better storage and had to purchase a separate storage solution to organize all the pieces.
If you like fighting monsters while traveling the globe in an exciting, story-driven campaign? This board game is tough to beat.
- Compelling art work
- Intuitive gameplay
- Exciting twists
- Great for replaying
- Works as multi-player or one player
- Large number of game components
- Heavy on luck
Lord of the Rings Journeys in Middle Earth: Best App-Based Board Game
Playing Time: 1 hour
Gloomhaven fans will love the epic adventure, dangerous quests, and cooperative play of the Lord of the Rings Journeys in Middle Earth.
In this adventure game by Fantasy Flight Games, players become their favorite character in the fantasy realm of Middle Earth. Together, they form the Fellowship and set out to defeat the darkness. Each character has its own special abilities to contribute to the quest.
This board game does require a free phone app to accompany gameplay. The Journeys in Middle-Earth app generates a portion of each scenario, which adds variation to the gameplay.
Some buyers liked the app-drive gameplay, which helps players understand the rules and streamline things by managing combat on the board. It functions much like a Dungeon Master in D&D.
But like anything with technology, that can be an advantage and a disadvantage. If the power goes out and your phone isn’t charged, there’s no playing this board game to pass the time. Also, some might want a board game specifically for the purpose of having tech-free entertainment.
Each game of LOTR: Journey in Middle Earth is a single game that’s part of a larger campaign. The character decks and detailed figurines will give you a similar feel to Gloomhaven. People liked the high-quality minis.
You cannot change characters or sub-out characters during the game. Whoever starts is whoever finishes. If you’re playing this with a group of friends over multiple sessions, it’s best if the group is the same every time.
There were several comparisons to Mansions of Madness since the two games have similar mechanics. A lot of people liked the app-based play, but others weren’t big fans.
Several buyers liked that there are no dice rolls, just card decks. But some found the cards to be too small. There is a sizable learning curve to this board game, so be prepared to invest some time.
- Good quality minis
- App streamlines game management
- Immersive fantasy world
- Requires an app
- Some said play was tedious
- Cards are quite small
Board Games Like Gloomhaven: Final Verdict
Which of these board games like Gloomhaven emerges victorious? I like Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion for most people. It has that blend of adventure, campaigning, and storylines to make it compelling.
But for those who can handle darker themes, Eldritch Horror is right at the top. It’s a streamlined version of Arkham with enough variation to make it fun each time you play.