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5 Board Games Like Gloomhaven

Over the past couple of years, Gloomhaven has taken the gaming world by storm. After a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, it has since become one of the largest hyped and most talked about games in history. Currently ranking in the coveted #1 spot on Board Game Geek, Gloomhaven (designed by Isaac Childres) is a game where there is a lot to talk about.

We’ve played a lot of Gloomhaven over the past couple of years – having explored all the base classes and all but around three of the unlockables. It is a truly spectacular game, and one that deserves a lot of credit.

That being said, play enough of any game and you find yourself looking around at what else is on the scene. These may be games that are other dungeon crawling RPGs, or they may be games that use similar mechanics or have a similar feel. Alternatively, these may just be crunchy games, that require the same kind of planning or thought processes. Either way, we live in a world where there are hundreds of games on the market. There are games out there for Gloomhaven fans.

So, I thought today we would look at five games that are similar to Gloomhaven, and why I think they are appropriate for Gloomhaven fans. These aren’t all medieval dungeon crawlers, but they do have a similar feel or require a similar amount of brain power. Here are 5 board games like to Gloomhaven.

5 Board Games Like Gloomhaven

Okay, let’s dive straight in with this list. Here are five board games like Gloomhaven.

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Descent: Journeys in the Dark

#1 – Descent: Journeys in the Dark

When looking at games like GloomhavenDescent: Journeys in the Dark seems like an obvious place to start. Descent is a dungeon crawling game, before which the gaming world had never seen. Somewhere between a RPG and a board game, Descent saw players take control of a character in a fantastical fantasy world. Players would guide their character through a story arch, levelling them up as they did so. The game would allow for players characters to grow with the player as the story progressed.

So, there are immediately a few things to point out about the differences between Gloomhaven and Descent. There is no doubt that Gloomhaven is a grittier game, with more complex mechanics. The characters have richer backstories, and it is generally a more varied game (when comparing base set to base set). That being said, if you ask me, I believe the story telling in Descent is more fluid. The plot makes more sense, and there are stronger motives behind those story driven elements.

If you love Gloomhaven, and you want something similar, then Descent is definitely 100% the place to start. It too is campaign driven and has a lot going for it. If you like Descent as well, there are a lot of expansions to make the game bigger and to add even more to the game.

Games like Gloomhaven - Wasteland Express Delivery Service
Wasteland Express Delivery Service

#2 – Wasteland Express Delivery Service

The first “non-RPG-y” game on this list, Wasteland Express Delivery Service is about as immersive as a non-RPG board game can get.

We actually covered Wasteland Express relatively recently on this blog, or at least our first impressions of it, and have to admit, we were really impressed. One thing that struck us was how easy it was to fall into the story of the game. In Wasteland Express it is incredibly easy to get lost in the story you are writing for your own courier, and spend time going around the wasteland simply running a business.

The character customisation in Wasteland Express is second to none, as you manage to completely customise your rig. It really comes across like a board game version of Car Wars or Gaslands

All-in-all, Wasteland Express is a fantastic game that has a lot to offer. Getting lost in the story it can take 3 hours to play, and feels really satisfying when you do. It has that same feeling Gloomhaven has when you do something super thematic with your character.

Playing the Fallout Board Game solo - trouble brewing with lots of enemies.
Fallout: The Board Game

#3 – Fallout: The Board Game

What can be said about Fallout: The Board Game that hasn’t been said already? Well, Fallout is a highly immersive game for players who are already fans of the Fallout series.

Whenever talking about Fallout: The Board Game there are always a couple of caveats. As a game, Fallout exists as a bridge between board games and video games. It is a story driven experience, which is really cool; however, at the same time, it doesn’t offer a huge amount for people who are not fans of the video game series.

That being said, Fallout is a fantastic solo experience. Where Gloomhaven really thrives with more players, Fallout is a game that has a rich storytelling and RPG element, without the need for more players. Once again, it is possible to get lost in the stories of the Wasteland, making it possible to play through an entire story arch in one sitting.

All-in-all, I am a fan of the Fallout video game series and enjoy the board game from a solo perspective. It is difficult, and unlike with Gloomhaven it does rely on a lot of luck. That being said, it is highly enjoyable all the same.

Games like Gloomhaven - Star Wars: Imperial Assault
Star Wars: Imperial Assault

#4 – Star Wars: Imperial Assault

Built with the same base mechanics as Descent: Journeys in the DarkStar Wars: Imperial Assault runs in much the same way only slightly more fluid.

Imperial Assault came out after Decent, and allows for player to traverse an intense story line based in the Star Wars universe. Once again, it allows for players to control an eclectic group of characters, completing missions and helping either the rebels or the imperials win.

One thing worth noting at this point, about Imperial Assault and Decent is that it isn’t fully cooperative like with a game like Gloomhaven. Instead, one player plays as the Game Master, controlling the enemies and environment.  This create a new dynamic, because Gloomhaven enemies don’t really have much of an AI. Having a human player control the enemies makes it more of a war game. This can make the game challenging and difficult based on who the GM is.

Imperial Assault is a fantastic game, and one with a lot of personality. It can be challenging and it has some fantastic set pieces. If you are a Star Wars or sci-fi fan then it is definitely a game worth checking out.

How well does the Tyrants of the Underdark board game capture the spirit of D&D?
Tyrants of the Underdark

#5 – Tyrants of the Underdark

The final game to recommend on this list is Tyrants of the Underdark.

Now, Tyrants of the Underdark is probably the odd game out on this list. Firstly, it is not a story driven game. Instead it is a deck builder. Secondly, it isn’t really much like Gloomhaven mechanically speaking at all.

Instead, the reason you may like Tyrants of the Underdark, if you like Gloomhaven, is due to the theme. Tyrants of the Underdark is a Dungeons and Dragons themed game; however, it focuses almost entirely on Drow culture. The Drow are a dark and evil race (with a few well known exceptions) in D&D, and Tyrants of the Underdark has a theme were you are playing as a Drow household, struggling for power against all the other players. It is dark and gritty, and it really takes the deeper side of D&D and high fantasy.

What is more, Tyrants of the Underdark is both a crunchy game and a difficult one. It has a lot of different things going for it, whilst being a difficult game to master. As such, this can mean it can divide audiences – it probably isn’t so much for casual gamers – however, it is a game that more serious gamers can seriously sink their teeth into.

The theme to Tyrants is fantastic, and it resonates with some of the Gloomhaven species – most notably the Vermlings. The Mindthief and an army of Mindflayers have a lot in common, and that darkness resonates through the game.

If asked to recommend a card game to people who like Gloomhaven, then Tyrants of the Underdark would be that game.

So – there we have it – five games for people who enjoy Gloomhaven but want to try something a little bit different – whether that is something more story driven, something with a human opponent, or something that uses completely different mechanics.

Now, I pass it over to you – Gloomhaven fans. These are games I would personally recommend to people who enjoy playing Gloomhaven and want something a bit different. What would you recommend? What else do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments below.

8 Comments »

  1. So I’m like, no there cannot be another Gloomhaven. But then I read your article, and I thought just maybe I might like to play some, no ALL of these.
    Except I’m a purist and don’t want to have ANYTHING to do with video games, yuk. I think I’ll stick to Gloomhaven for the time being, but, maybe just maybe…..Wasteland Express Delivery Service looks kind of tempting….

    Like

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