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9 Best RPG (Role Playing) Board Games to Play in 2021 - Happier Human

9 Best RPG (Role Playing) Board Games to Play in 2021

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If you are looking for the best RPG board games to play this year, you have landed on the right page!

In this digital era, RPGs (or roleplaying games) are commonly associated with mobile or computer games. But that is a common misconception, as RPGs can be physical games, too, as long as they involve acting out the part of a character in the game.

Indeed, there are tons of board games with a roleplaying theme that you can find online and in stores. They might even be considered the original and truest form of RPGs, because of the intense character and story development they provide.

In this post, we share with you the nine best roleplaying games to check out today. If you are tired of playing modern RPGs via mobile and computer, check our list below and enjoy the benefits of board gaming.

Best RPG (Role Playing) Board Games

1. Gloomhaven

If you want a “choose your own adventure” roleplaying type of game, Gloomhaven is the right pick. Ideal for both solo and cooperative gaming, this game really provides that roleplaying feeling as you wander around Gloomhaven, one of the darkest spots in the imaginary world.

The game is set in a European-inspired atmosphere, but with the added twist of a changing realm. As an adventurer, you are given a set of skills to enhance to defeat gruesome beasts and escape terrifying caves and dungeons. While continuing your journey, you develop new abilities and discover hidden locations that lead you to victory.

You start the game by choosing two cards to play. Each card consists of a “top” and “bottom” power, and it is up to you to determine which power you’d like to use for a specific round. You need to be careful in choosing your move, however, as it may affect your other moves.

The game is highly re-playable, and is more fun when played with friends or members of the family. Nevertheless, it can also be satisfying if played alone. Most consumers report that playing it solo is equally gratifying.

Pros

  • The game provides long hours of gameplay.
  • Rules are simple and easy to understand.
  • Has a very unique card system.

Cons

  • Setting up the board game takes a long time.
  • Long playing hours affect players’ desire for replay.

2. Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game

Dead of Winter is recommended for people who are fond of playing “survival of the fittest” type of games. In this game, you take the role of a survivor trapped inside a world where most of humanity has already died or become flesh-craving monsters.

This game is a “meta-cooperative psychological survival game.” While trying to cooperate with your co-players in achieving a common objective toward victory, you are also expected to complete a personal secret goal. The secret objective could be anything—it may or may not harm the others, so you really have to create your own strategy while also following the team’s plan.

Dead of Winter takes 60-120 minutes to play, and is highly re-playable. In some scenarios, everyone could end up winning or losing—but there are also times when only one or some people win. This game tests not only your strategic abilities, but also your loyalty and ability to cooperate.

Pros

  • The psychological aspect of the game makes it more interesting.
  • Provides a variety of outcomes, making it replayable.
  • Expansion sets are available for those who want more.

Cons

  • Gameplay can last pretty long.
  • Might not be suitable for very young players.

3. Mansions of Madness

Mansions of Madness is an excellent choice for those who find thrill in Lovecraftian horror and mystery. It is a cooperative, app-driven board game designed for one to five players, with two to three hours of gameplay. In a nutshell, the goal of each player is to fight for their lives and survive the game.

From the makers of Eldritch Horror and Arkham Horror, this board game takes you to a different dimension full of dreadful adventures and mishaps. The only way to survive is to devise a strategy that will help you find clues, collect weapons and tools, and gather information. You also need to defeat monsters, solve complex puzzles, and discover ways to avoid insanity and death.

According to the manufacturer, it takes more than just survival skills to conquer this game. You also need to have exceptional strategic and decision-making abilities. Additionally, you have to make good use of its immersive app (available on iOS, Android, Mac, and PC) to achieve your ultimate goal.

Pros

  • Very stimulating, as it requires deep critical thinking.
  • May be played individually or by a group of up to five players.
  • Perfect choice for fans of horror and suspense.

Cons

  • Has a lot of components, which can be misplaced.
  • Game duration is long and not suitable for those who like shorter games.

4. Arkham Horror

If you are a fan of suspense, thrill, and horror, then Arkham Horror is the best RPG board game to check out. It has the same manufacturer as Mansions of Madness and Eldritch Horror. In fact, it inspired both of those games. Arkham Horror is another Lovecraftian horror game that will send chills down your spine.

In this game, there are 16 investigator cards to choose from. Each investigator has its own set of skills, talents, strengths, and weaknesses. You take the role of one of these investigators and start roaming around the city of Arkham to find the dark entities called Ancient Ones.

The gameplay allows you to upgrade your character by finding allies, attaining skills, and performing specific tasks or missions. There are eight Ancient Ones, and you only have to defeat one (which can be chosen before the start of the game). If you want to win the game, you need to create a strategy with your teammates and move in harmony with them.

Pros

  • Game is story-driven and easy to understand.
  • Many investigator characters to choose from.
  • Comes with several possible endings.

Cons

  • Setting up the game can take some time.
  • A strategy is not enough—you also need a lot of luck.

5. Mice and Mystics

Mice and Mystics is the best roleplaying board game for friends who like having adventures together. It is a storytelling adventure game that tests your loyalty, allegiance, and cooperation. You and your friends have to work together to achieve a common goal, and that is to turn back into humans, save the king, and restore the kingdom to its former peace.

In this game, you take the role of loyal subordinates who have been turned into mice by the evil Vanestra. To defeat him and his minions, you must race through the castle and come up with an effective plan to save the king and the kingdom. While facing adversaries, you have to find clues that will lead you to Vanestra’s weakness.

This board game has a number of expansion sets. If you wish to get the most out of it, we suggest also purchasing all of the sets.

Pros

  • Has an excellent and unique theme and storyline.
  • Rules are simple and easy to understand.
  • Has the right amount of gameplay time.

Cons

  • May be too simple for veteran players.
  • The luck-based aspect may be frustrating.

6. Star Wars: Imperial Assault

If you are a die-hard Star Wars fan, then this RPG board game is absolutely the one for you. Star Wars: Imperial Assault is a game of strategic and tactical combat and missions, providing you with two distinct games set in the Star Wars universe: the campaign game and the skirmish game.

In the campaign game, one player acts as the commander of the troops, using all the resources of the Galactic Empire to defeat a team of elite Rebels. The other four play as the elite Rebels who are trying to break the Empire’s rule over the galaxy.

In the skirmish game, you have a head-to-head battle with a co-player. You can play as the hero of the Rebellion, while your friend can be the commander of the Stormtroopers, Imperial officers, and AT-ST walkers (or vice versa).

This board game takes you to the time of the Galactic Civil War between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire, when the Death Star was destroyed. The original game is already intense, but if you want more you can also purchase the expansion sets to make the roleplaying more scenic and exciting.

Pros

  • Provides two distinct game modes: campaign and skirmish.
  • Made out of quality components.
  • Best for those who love Star Wars.

Cons

  • May not be interesting enough for players who are not Star Wars fans.
  • Has long gameplay, and not recommended for short game players.

7. Descent Journeys in the Dark

Descent Journeys in the Dark is a perfect choice for those who like fantasy and ancient adventures. It is a roleplaying game designed for two to five players, where one acts as the treacherous overlord while the others act as the courageous heroes. The goal of the game, of course, is to defeat the overlord.

During the game, you will encounter dangerous caves, dark dungeons, ancient ruins, cursed forests, and hideous monsters. You also earn riches, new skills, and combat abilities that you will combine and use to discover and destroy the evil plot of the overlord. However, the heroes need to keep in mind that solidarity and seamless coordination is the key to winning the game.

This board game features countless skills and hero combinations. It is also story-driven, making its roleplaying element more realistic and exciting. Whether you are a newbie or a veteran, there is a good chance you are going to appreciate this game.

Finally, the game has a companion app called “Road to Legend” (available on iOS and Android). In the app, the system assumes the role of the overlord and controls the monsters and beasts. It invites you to explore the dungeons in new ways, and provides for a great mobile gaming experience.

Pros

  • Has unique and original scenarios and objectives.
  • Cards and miniatures are beautifully made.
  • You have the option to create your own scenarios.

Cons

  • Some consumers find it to be more luck-based than strategy-based.
  • Some scenarios may make the game unbalanced.

8. Stuffed Fables

If you spent your childhood excited by stuffed toys, fairy tales, and dreamlands, then we recommend this roleplaying board game. Stuffed Fables is an exciting board game you can play with your kids or nieces and nephews. You take on the role of a stuffed toy in a quest to save a little girl from the evil Lord of Nightmares.

This game comes with a storybook that also serves as your rules reference, story guide, and game board. Every page takes you to a place where you can discover both wonders and dangers that will lead you to save the little girl. You have to be careful with your choices, however, to avoid being defeated by the Lord of Nightmares.

Stuffed Fables involves 90 minutes gameplay, and can be played by two to four players ages seven years old and up. It is an excellent choice for parents who are looking forward to playing board games with their children.

Pros

  • The story is extremely engaging and well-written.
  • Design and artwork is very impressive.
  • Suitable for very young children.

Cons

  • Has low replayability.
  • Not recommended for those who like complex games.

9. Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition

Mage Knight is for players who like to blend roleplaying, deck-building, and battle combat in one big game. You take the role of a knight on a quest to conquer powerful cities in an attempt to restore the kingdom’s former glory.

In this game, there are four powerful knights in the Mage Knight universe, which is part of the Atlantean Empire. As one of these knights, your task is to re-establish the empire by claiming lands, performing magical spells, and taking certain powerful actions.

Mage Knight can be a solo, cooperative, or competitive game. You can rule the Mage Knight universe on your own through well-thought-out tactics and strategies, or you can rebuild the empire with your game through a cooperative approach. You can also compete with each other, and only allow one Mage Knight to claim land.

To get the full experience out of this RPG, we recommend purchasing the ultimate edition, as it comes with all the game’s expansion sets.

Pros

  • The game has several possible endings, making it highly replayable.
  • May be played individually, cooperatively, or competitively.
  • Really develops strategic and critical thinking skills.

Cons

  • Rules may be quite confusing to some.
  • Not recommended for beginners and children.

Conclusion

If you are the type of person who likes being immersed in a game, we highly recommend trying RPG board games. You are able to get involved not just in the gameplay, but also in the storyline.

Through the list above, we hope we were able to help you find the best RPG board game for you and your friends or family. These products were carefully selected based on the number of satisfied customers who have shared their thoughts about and ratings of the products.

Have you already tried some of these games?

We’d love to hear about your experience. Share your story below and let us know how the game went, or which game you would like to try.

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