Fantasy board games are a varied and vital part of the tabletop hobby. It’s the ultimate nerdy crossover, and it’s hard to imagine a world where fantasy and board games don’t mix. In fact, there are so many great fantasy board games, it can be hard to know which to try first. But fret not – whether you like them grand or small, we can recommend the best fantasy board games to pick up.
Many of the best board games ever made dip their toes into fantasy. To help narrow things down, we’re sticking to board games with a classic, high-fantasy feel.
For example, while Cthulhu board games could be considered fantasy board games, you don’t tend to see Elves and Dwarves hanging out with the eldritch horrors. We’ve also kept licensed board games to a minimum – so if you’re after Game of Thrones board games or Harry Potter board games, check out our dedicated guides instead.
These are the best fantasy board games:
- Gloomhaven – the essential fantasy board game
- Terra Mystica – the best heavyweight fantasy board game
- War of the Ring – the best Lord of the Rings board game
- Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure – the best lightweight fantasy board game
The essential fantasy board game
As much a rich RPG as a crunchy dungeon-crawler, Gloomhaven presents a unique fantasy world that’s begging to be explored. The titular city sits in a grim fantasy land, where mercenaries happily use magic to earn their gold. If you’re looking for a twist on your typical Tolkien-esque adventure, Gloomhaven is perfect.
It’s also fantastic to play. Thanks to a compelling card-based combat system, hundreds of hours of dungeons, and plenty of exciting secrets, Gloomhaven was ranked the best board game ever for five straight years (only losing its crown recently).
If you’d like to learn more before you invest in this behemoth board game, check out our Gloomhaven review. We also have a Frosthaven review for those looking to try Gloomhaven’s bigger, chillier sibling.
The best heavyweight fantasy board game
Lovers of heavy strategy board games should try Terra Mystica, a classic Euro title. In the fantasy world of Terra Mystica, you take control of one of 14 factions across seven landscapes. With your people settled, it’s up to you to develop an economy, religion, and infrastructure.
War of the Ring
The best Lord of the Rings board game
We said we’d steer clear of licensed board games, but an exception needed to be made for War of the Ring, one of the best Lord of the Rings board games there is. Two to four players go head to head, representing either the armies of Sauron or the Fellowship and the free people of Middle-earth.
War of the Ring is a lengthy, highly-thematic wargame that tests your mettle for military strategy. If you want to relive the greatest moments of Tolkien’s masterpiece (or simply reckon you could walk into Mordor no problem), this is one to put an evening aside for.
Plus, if you find you really like it, the same original design team has now made a massive Dune board game with CMON titled Dune: War for Arrakis that’s coming out later in 2023.
Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure
Best light fantasy board game
If you like your dungeon-crawlers to be bite-sized, you can’t do better than deck-building game Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure. It sets up a classic fantasy scenario – adventurers enter a dungeon, adventures loot the dungeon, adventurers avoid being eaten by a dragon.
Each player gets their own deck in Clank!, which they can customize as the game goes on. You’ll need the right balance of skills, attacks, and movement to grab precious artifacts, so you’ll need to strengthen your strategy with every shuffle of your deck. It’s fast-paced and a heck of a lot of fun.
For even more fantasy, here are the best tabletop RPGs that let you become part of your favorite fantasy setting. You could also pick up one of the Warhammer Age of Sigmar armies if you like fantasy to be followed by the word ‘battles’.