Role-Playing Games, better known as RPGs are games that focus on character development while narrating the character’s story. The kind of game where you’re profoundly willing to die in real life but not lose your in-game horse. It takes almost as much effort as it does in the real world to come out on top in a Role-Playing game and that it is why that sweet victory feels more fulfilling than in any other genre.
For their many extra levels of depth and immersion, requiring players to invest considerable amounts of time and effort to feel the rush, RPGs have grown in popularity over the last decades and creative game designers have given the genre many different shapes and forms, which is why we’re here today.
The Best Tabletop RPG Titles
Whether you are a newcomer to the RPG genre or have been a life-long fan, you’d be glad to know that in today’s article we are going to ask and attempt to answer the question of which role-playing board games are the most remarkable ones. We have looked at reviews, user scores, all the deepest and darkest parts of the comment sections and threw in some personal experience to bring this list together, so rest assured, they are all worthy of being here.
7. Descent: Journeys in The Dark
Descent: Journeys in The Dark was published in 2005 by Fantasy Flight Games and it delivers a cave crawling experience like none we’ve seen before. Magical Forests, dark dungeons, cursed pathways, sorcery and witchcraft, you name it, Descent has it all. In this game, one of the 2-5 players takes on the role of the evil overlord and the others will become our mighty heroes, on a quest to stop the evil tyrant’s masterplan from unfolding. In their adventure the heroes can use various skills and abilities which they may combine for maximum efficiency and since this story-driven campaign is filled with fun activities, it offers nearly unlimited replay potential.
Combat, just like in most other RPGs, plays a big role in this game and here, combat is carried out by a unique dice throwing system. Each die and whichever face it lands on indicates a certain type of attack and so, your battles will never feel repetitious.
This highly acclaimed board game has been the winner and/or nominee of numerous awards and it’s been vastly improved in the 2nd edition with less dead time, better cards and a number of new mechanics that have been polished to enhance the RPG experience.
Mansions of Madness brings Lovecraftian horror to tabletop, in a way that all RPG lovers will surely appreciate. The game is set in FFG’s Arkham universe and it’s filled with mystery and creepy vibes. As you struggle to survive in this world, which is naturally lurking with dangerous encounters, you also discover the secrets of the Arkham mansions.
The companion app guides 1-5 players, who play the roles of skilled investigators cooperatively seeking to uncover the horrifying secret that haunts the city, through four different adventures, each with their own unique challenges to overcome and dangers to face. We certainly have a taste for Fantasy Flight’s brilliant portrayals of H.P. Lovecraft’s works and this RPG is one of their best ones yet.
5. Mage Knight
Mage Knight lets you experience all of its glory in either a cooperative, competitive or solo run. Up to four players can engage in this mythical struggle for power and dominance. This game was published by WizKids and the RPG fandom is thankful to them for it.
As either one of the four powerful mage knights, you ought to build your strategy, choose your gear, abilities, spells, etc. carefully, and fight your way towards becoming the land’s new ruler. Sounds like a fitting title if you ask me. The once-great Atlantean Empire is falling and whoever proves to be the worthiest shall be the next owner of the throne. In the solo scenario you get to test out your decision making skills as well as experiencing all that the mage knight universe has to offer at your own paste. In the competitive setting, you should be very careful about who you decide to trust and when, while in the cooperative mode, you rely on teamwork and coordination.
Mage Knight is a unique combination of RPG elements with real-time strategy and story-telling that are perfectly implemented into a glorious tale of conquest. An experience that is very likely to satisfy your tabletop RPG needs.
4. Pathfinder Adventure
To change things up a little, Paizo introduced a cooperative high fantasy card game into the role-playing genre with the publication of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. The game has been subjected to digital adaptations as well as a number of expansions and addons and even had a second edition published in 2018. The popularity growth of this title has not stopped and any group of one to six players who are willing to invest a couple hours into their characters and their story, are highly likely to enjoy playing it.
In Pathfinder Adventure, your character grows stronger with each new ability and piece of gear that they acquire, and these items are represented by cards which are gradually added to your deck, broadening your range of options when facing different difficulties along the way of your adventures. The core set alone contains 440 cards featuring a wide array of powerful weapons, magical spells, protective armors, versatile items, helpful allies, and divine blessings that can be utilized to help you through your dangerous path.
The game offers the players full control of the gameplay, meaning you are free to set up the game’s speed and style of play to your personal preference and with the high flexibility that has been featured in the gameplay design it is safe to say Pathfinder brings infinite replayability to your table. Regardless of the campaign you decide to play, you and your friends will find this a refreshing experience of cards and role-playing.
3. Mice and Mystics
Mice and Mystics, designed by Jerry Hawthorne, was first published by Plaid Hat Games in 2012. It is an adventure which takes place within the world of mice. You and up to 3 other players play as brave mouse adventurers who set out to escape the evil wizard’s lair. It sounds like a childhood fairytale in the form of tabletop gaming and well, that’s pretty much exactly what it is and we find it absolutely brilliant.
The twist however, is that the mice haven’t always been mice. It’s their punishment for remaining loyal to their king to have to live as mice. Yes it’s a questionable sentence on many different levels but it has proven to be a pretty good setting for a board game RPG. As newly-miced you will face many obscene challenges including but not limited to surviving the cats and other wild creatures that wouldn’t mind a mouse for dinner.
This immersive story of reclaiming a lost empire’s dignity in the shape of little furry squeakers is an impressively bold and creative contribution to the RPG genre and it is highly recommended to any group of friends who want to play a game they won’t stop talking about for years.
Gloomhaven was made by Cephalofair Games and released in 2017 and has rightfully gained immense fame and attention. It’s a game that mixes strategy with cards and role-playing and challenges its one to four players to achieve their destined glory and build a memorable legacy by defeating a number of foes and different trials.
As the wandering adventurers unify in order to higher their chances of survival and success, they work together to salvage resources, investigate dungeons and explore ancient ruins. Each decision they make will alter the environment around them and at each turn the story might significantly shift. You get to choose and plan the use of all the skills and gear at your disposal and you will face each unique challenge using your own unique method.
Gloomhaven tells all its thrilling tales in an everchanging world of magic and fairies and unexpected turns of events. You never know what you may encounter and it’s well able to keep all the players on the edge of their seats throughout the session. This game is fantastic and all RPG lovers, board game enthusiasts and fantasy fans should give it a try.
1. Dungeons & Dragons
Perhaps it would be a cliché to say that at this point D&D is far more than just a board game but we all know that it’s the closest thing to the truth. Dungeons and Dragons was the original RPG tabletop title and with it was introduced the biggest universe board games have ever seen.
The D&D community has nothing but grown over the years and it keeps to do so with new adaptations, spin-offs, inspired titles and new campaigns coming out almost rapidly. The opportunities are literally endless in this game and you can be anyone you want, go anywhere you want, and do anything you want as long as your in-game character is capable of it. You create your character, choose your adventure, and set sail as the Dungeon Master narrates this wonderful odyssey.
D&D has changed and evolved over the years and with all the new competition it has in the market these days, it continues to remain one of the most globally played games. Due to the incomparable freedom of choice that it gives to the players, the game practically never gets worse if not better each time. Not much is needed to be said about this game, so just keep in mind that if you have never played D&D, you’ve taken a big loss.
After years of being an RPG enthusiast across multiple platforms myself, I still find new titles interesting to explore. Designers keep presenting new ways of experiencing these adventures and we keep finding ways to make them even more fun than they were meant to be.
These games provide the players with a chance to not only narrate an epic tale but also get to live its every moment just as their in-game character does. It’s a fresh and unique sense regardless of all the different settings it’s been put to test in.
Was your favorite tabletop RPG included on our list? We’d be more than happy to hear your thoughts in the comment section down below!