For the average person that’s only played the most basic of board games, a fantasy themed board game can be a bit intimidating. Even though I believe the best fantasy board games can easily hold their own against some of the best overall board games of all time. I understand that for most people, playing a fantasy game is not always their first choice.
It requires a little bit of suspended disbelief and some letting go of your insecurities of sounding like a total dork every time you explain an action you’ve taken in the game. But, as people seem to warm up more and more to nerd culture, fantasy board games are an outstanding way to connect with your inner-dork.
Tabletop games have been a cornerstone of nerd culture since the days of Dungeons & Dragons, but I can’t expect you to go quite that deep on your first venture into fantasy board games. What I would like to do is make your decision easier when looking to buy one of the many great fantasy board games available to you. There are a few different categories that make up the best fantasy board games list: two player, strategy, dungeon crawl, and cooperative.
Best Fantasy Board Games List
I’ll give you a recommendation from each of these categories so that you can enjoy some incredible fantasy gaming no matter your particular situation or preference.
Two player- Claustrophobia
This not only is one of the best fantasy board games, it is also a fantastic game for people that love intense head-to-head strategy. In Claustrophobia, one player plays as the humans and the other takes on the roll of the demons. What I like most about Claustrophobia is the variety of scenarios in which players can use in their play. Different scenarios have different win conditions, board layouts, and other variables that make replaying the game a joy because you’re not very often making the same decisions.
The decisions are a huge part of what make Claustrophobia so fun; every single one you make feels vital to the success of your overall strategy. This game wholeheartedly commits to its theme of humans vs. demons in an all out battle for survival, and that is a big part of the draw, but it also means that the game will be quite dense for non-gamers. The atmosphere this game creates is tense and thrilling, so I’d recommend to anyone that enjoys a brutal and complicated strategy game.
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Strategy- Small World
Small World is a territory control game that has a brief learning curve with a fast and engaging pace of play that is great for players a bit scared off by the depth of some strategy games. The game works a bit like Risk, in that you are constantly managing the distribution of your armies on a large map, but Small World doesn’t have the huge, epic feel of Risk. That’s a good thing, as Risk is a fun game, but it can be a commitment of several days for some play sessions. Small World works on a much smaller scale, but many of the decisions you make are very similar to that of Risk.
The fantasy theme, in the case of Small World, is most visible in the race/ability cards. The first thing every player does on their first turn is choose a race to use as their first army, this race is assigned a random ability that comes along with whatever makes that particular race unique. But, at some point your army is going to get thin, and you’re going to want to switch to a different race in order to bolster your numbers, which puts your previously used race in a state of “decline,” where all their abilities are null and void. The seemingly simple decision on when to time your switching from one race to the next seems to often decide the winner of the game.
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Dungeon Crawl- Munchkin
Remember when I said I wouldn’t expect you to try and conquer the depth and nerdiness that is D&D? Well, Munchkin might be a perfect gateway game to get you down the path that leads to serious role playing in your gaming. Munchkin, when you really break it down, is D&D without the roleplaying and player-generated storytelling.
The cards take care of all the role playing and they generate all of the storytelling. But if you’re looking for the dungeon crawl experience, that’s what this game is built on. As one of up to six munchkins, you work with your party to plunge the depths of a monster-infested dungeon to loot its many rooms and build up the prowess of your character.
The game has a great humorous touch throughout the game, much of which pokes fun at old school pen-and-paper role playing games. The cartoony artwork fits the games goofy them perfectly, and some of the cards have some hilarious explanations to go along with the comical illustrations. This is a great way introduce non-gamers to the fantasy game style without bogging them down with things like character lore and a complex dice-based combat system.
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I am absolutely in love with the theme of this game. Pandemic simulates a sudden outbreak of a disease that threatens to wipe out the human race, while you and your team take on the role of disease control officers that are in charge of containing and eliminating the illness from the planet. Players will play as one of up to four different characters that have slightly different roles and nuances that make playing each of them a little bit unique. The different characters are one of the many features that make this game so fun to keep playing over and over again.
Each turn, players can take four different actions in the containment effort. The board is a map of the globe, where players will travel about in response to the many and variable crises that arise throughout the game. Pandemic has a brilliant way of rallying players against a faceless opposition, and does a terrific job of making you strategically work as a team. Every decision is stressful and important, with little mistakes often being the difference between a cure and the doom of all human existence. This game is tons of fun, but is not for the feint hearted gamer. This is by far one of the best fantasy board games that appeals to most audiences.
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