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Top 10 Fantasy Themed Board Games

June 23rd, 2009 Posted in articles
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Following is a list of some of the best fantasy themed board games out there that have received rave reviews.  To note, I have excluded pop-culture based fantasy board games, alternate history board games and science-fiction based board games from this list.  Also, all board games suggested here have their themes quite integral to the actual game-play.

Descent : Journeys into the Dark1. Descent: Journeys into the Dark

Descent is a true dungeon crawling, fantasy board game.  Players take on the role of adventurers or the Overlord, making their way through numerous dungeons in an attempt to finish the quests laid out for them.  With multiple adventurers, a modular game board and a Dungeon Master (the Overlord), it’s one of the best dungeon crawl games out there. Multiple expansions are available including the Road to Legend that provides a true campaign environment.

2. Kingsburg

Kingsburg sets players up as the provincial governor’s of a fantasy Kingdom under siege by dragons, zombies and orcs.  In Kingsburg, you will need to influence the King’s advisors, build your army and plan your province’s development. Unfortunately, there are only limited resources the advisors can give, so you’ll need to plan who to influence each turn in competition with the other provincial governor’s.

3. Blue Moon

Blue Moon is a two-player fantasy non-collectible card game that pits the races of Blue Moon against one another to gain the favour of the ruling dragons.  The base Blue Moon Legends game set provides two, pre-built race decks while multiple expansions allows you to expand to other races and even custom build your deck.  Each card is a work of art by itself, with beautifully rendered characters and events in high fantasy style.

4. Prophecy

Prophecy is a fantasy adventure role-playing board game where players take on the roles of elves, dwarves, fighters and other adventurers to journey across the land, defeat monsters and collect 4 artifacts to become the next King of the land.  Where Descent in its base game places you in the dungeon fighting individual battles, Prophecy focuses on the overall campaign and the land that you move across.

5. Once Upon A Time

More fairy tale than fantasy, Once Upon A Time allows players to jointly create their own fairy tale using plot elements dictated by their cards.  One of the most innovative games, Once Upon A Time provides each player with plot elements they must weave into their story and a happy ending they must bring the story towards.  However, other players can jump into the story every time one of their elements is brought up, creating a truly hilarious kaleidoscope of characters, events and descriptions.

6. Tomb

Tomb pits players against one another to race to the end where players recruit a variety of adventurers, running through crypts and defeating monsters, traps, spells in search of treasures.  Tomb captures the dungeon crawl experience without hours of preparation. Just grab your party and go!

7. Elfenland

As a group of fledgling elves, ou’ll need to visit as many of the twenty Elfencities as possible in a short time period to prove your mettle.  To do so, you’ll have to decide between a series of fantastic transporation methods including Pigs, Elfbikes, Magic Clouds, Trollwagons and Dragons.

Every turn, players receive a number of cards and tokens that match the form of transportation available to them.  Each turn, they will be able to define the transportation methods available at each road and finally, play their cards to move through each city. A fun, immersive racing game that takes a new twist to fantasy board games.

8. Red Dragon Inn

Ever wondered why those adventurers were always risking life and limb? Red Dragon Inn answers that question in a hilarious manner as your four adventurers rest, drink and gamble their way to the next dungeon.  Just watch out for Pooky!

9. Citadels

In Citadels, you’ll need to build up your city in the by employing the use of various roles.  From the Assassin to the Warlord, you will need to carefully choose your role and build your city to get ahead of your opponents.  With the ability to play up to 7 players, Citadels is a multi-player, card driven, fantasy game.

10. Wizards’ Gambit

In Wizard’s Gambit, players take on the role of dueling Wizard’s, creating new spells to add to their spellbooks to destroy their opponents.  By placing components in a common Spell Pool, Wizard’s undertake the necessary research to create a spell.  The last player to finish the research gets to keep the spell, adding to their power for the duel.  Once a player builds up enough power in their Spell Book, they will win the duel and become Grand Siege Magus.

Honourable Mentions
1. Battlelore
Battlelore is a medieval fantasy miniature wargame that allows players to use goblins, dwarves, archers and knights to recreate famous medieval battles.  With a War Council that includes priests, rogues and mages, the fog of war gets a whole new meaning.  As Battlelore can be played without any fantasy elements, it was not included in the top 10.

2. Iron Dragon

Iron Dragon is Empire Builder in a fantasy world. With only a slight change to the basic rules of the ever popular crayon rail games, the theme seemed a touch too light to be included in this list.  On the other hand – it’s the crayon rail series, so how can we not mention it?

Lord of the Rings3. World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings

Lastly, neither title requires much introduction.  Both are popular franchises that have, in their own way, reshaped how fantasy is viewed.  Both have been translated into solidly playable board games and both have stayed true to the original material.

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  1. 7 Responses to “Top 10 Fantasy Themed Board Games”

  2. By Graham Greek on Jun 30, 2009

    Wow. No Runebound? Not even as on honourable mention? sheesh! The way I hear it is that you’re either a Descent fan or a Runebound fan. Could be wrong. Out of everything on the list I only want Iron Dragon, and to play Kingsburg.

  3. By Tao on Jun 30, 2009

    You are right – Runebound is something I missed entirely. My bad!

  4. By James on Mar 8, 2011

    Hey speaking of Fantasy Themed Board Games maybe you guys could help me out. When I was younger I used to have a board game that was similar to Heroquest. The major differences are that the Dungeon Master/evil player set up these cardboard walls on the game board giving the board a 3d feel and instead of killing the monsters the heroes captured them. To win the hero players had to travel through 9 of these rooms to get to the boss which was at the end of the board and had giant plastic throne platform. I know this is kind of vague but if anyone recalls the name of this game it would prove to my friends I’m not crazy.

  5. By Ian on May 2, 2011

    How about Talisman?
    Not many boardgames went up to 4th edition with as much kick ass replayability.

  6. By Tao on May 2, 2011

    I actually dislike Talisman greatly. Too much randomness & lack of control for my taste. It’s also rather broken with some characters significantly more powerful than others.

  7. By Tao on May 2, 2011

    Oh and James – sorry for not replying. Not a clue about that game, I missed out on a lot of the older games myself.

  8. By Mike on Jul 3, 2011

    This is for “James (March 8th, 2011)”

    That game you speak of is “Heroquest”. I played it back in 1989 and only recently got myself a copy of the game off Ebay last year. Also had a few expansions in the years after its release.

    And “Tao”,

    As for Talisman, it has always been a favorite of mine for a few reasons. It’s simple, unbalanced and you can house rule the game to death. The characters that seem weak usually have a skill or quality about them that can be very helpful, as long as you live through you’re first handful of fights. It’s like diet Runebound in a way.

    An oppinion.

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