Dungeon crawler board games are games that often give you big areas (sometimes dungeons) to explore and plenty of character customization. There’s a lot of crossover with adventure board games, but these games are inspired by the dungeon crawls in role-playing games, so there’s often more of a focus on fighting monsters and solving puzzles.
I like dungeon crawlers a lot, but they seem to be the toughest ones for me to get my main group to play more than a few times. At least, that’s true of the bigger ones that have more rules and take longer to set up and break down. For example, I know that Folklore: The Affliction is a very good dungeon crawler, but I’ve only had a chance to play it a couple of times, so I’m not sure yet if it deserves a spot on this list.
There are quite a few dungeon crawlers that I still need to play, so this page will be updated a bit more frequently than the other board game rankings on this site.
Okay, let’s get to it! Below are some of the best cooperative dungeon crawler board games to play!
Escape the Dark Castle isn’t the type of dungeon crawler with a bunch of map tiles and miniatures that take hours to play. Instead, it’s a quick dice game with some retro-style black-and-white cards. You play as prisoners who are attempting to break out of a castle, using any items you can find to help you fight anything that stands in your way.
Escape the Dark Castle is a great game to get if you think your group will enjoy a light dungeon crawler with an old-school RPG feel.
Read our Escape the Dark Castle review
Mansions of Madness is a cooperative dungeon crawler that has you enter mansions to collect the weapons and tools you need to solve puzzles and defeat monsters. The second edition removed a lot of the fiddliness by introducing an app that does most of the bookkeeping for you. Most people found that change to be a massive improvement.
Mansions of Madness is still one of the best horror games out there because the app, the writing, and the components do such a great job of creating a spooky atmosphere. It feels like a classic dungeon crawler, but it’s a very clean design for such a big game.
Dungeon Fighter is a challenging cooperative dexterity game in which you roll dice at a target in the middle of the table to try to defeat enemies. The twist here is that the monsters force you to roll in different ways, like behind your back or with your eyes closed.
If you think you’d like a dungeon crawler in the form of a wacky party game, definitely give Dungeon Fighter a try. I think it’s an awesome game to have on the shelf for when you want to bring something a bit different to the table for your group to enjoy.
Read our Dungeon Fighter review
In Cthulhu: Death May Die, you take on big-bad Elder Ones with your investigators, hoping to stay sane long enough to find a way to defeat them. There’s a lot to like about this game, including its scenario/puzzle variety, its unique investigator upgrade system, and the massive Elder Ones miniatures.
If you’re interested at all in the Cthulhu Mythos theme, Cthulhu: Death May Die is a game I highly recommend. I’m not even a huge fan of the theme, but I am a big fan of this game.
Read our Cthulhu: Death May Die review
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures is a series of games that allow you to play as and against the popular characters from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles world. These games have a very cool action-sharing mechanism and each mission gives you a different type of puzzle to solve. You can play them as one-vs-many games, but the co-op mode works perfectly for me.
Every gamer who also happens to be a TMNT fan should give at least one of these games a try. I’d recommend starting with Change is Constant.
Read our TMNT Adventures review
Check out our Top 10 Co-op Deck Building Games!
The designers of The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth took a lot of the mechanisms that worked in Mansions of Madness and made a fantastic The Lord of the Rings game with them. It has an original story, it has a great card-based test system to explore and interact with the world, and the app helps to make the game play very smoothly.
Journeys in Middle-earth is one of the best adventure board games around, so if you’re a fan of the theme, you’ll probably enjoy playing this game.
One Deck Dungeon is a fantastic little two-player co-op game in which you play as heroes attempting to make it through three levels of a dungeon. You roll dice and use your heroes’ special abilities to take on everything that comes your way, and then you try to defeat the boss.
If you like light dice games and you’re looking for a great two-player game, One Deck Dungeon is a must-try. This has been one of my top cooperative games for a long time now and it’s one of the best affordable games out there.
Read our One Deck Dungeon review
Based on the video game of the same name, Resident Evil 2 is a horror board game in which you’re trying to complete scenarios’ objectives by stealthily moving around, picking up key items, and killing some undead.
There’s a nice amount of cooperation in this one since you start on different parts of the map, forcing you to communicate more than you would in other similar games. I also like that you can play one-off scenarios or combine the scenarios into a campaign.
Resident Evil 2 is a great game to get if you’re a fan of the video games, if you like the horror theme, or if you’re looking for a bigger dungeon crawler that’s easy to get into.
What’s great about Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft and the other games that use this system is that they’re easy to learn, but they feel like much bigger games. The designers did a great job of making the D&D role-playing game work as a board game by keeping the rules simple, but still including the unique heroes and the dungeon crawl system everyone loves.
There are a bunch of great D&D dungeon crawlers now. Castle Ravenloft has been my favorite for many years, but Dungeon of The Mad Mage is now a close second. If you’re a fan of D&D or you want a more streamlined dungeon crawler board game experience, chances are you’ll be a fan of these games.
Read our Castle Ravenloft review
Gloomhaven and Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion are two of the highest-rated board games ever, and for good reason. They’re both very modern game designs, but they also have familiar dungeon-crawling features (exploring, character leveling, looting, etc.). I have both games in this top spot because they use the same excellent (and unique) card action system, which is the highlight of both games for me.
Both Gloomhaven games are mechanically nearly identical, but the original Gloomhaven has more content and is played on map tiles, while Jaws of the Lion is streamlined and played on map pages in a scenario book. Other than that, you’re getting the same awesome Gloomhaven experience from both games. I recommend Jaws of the Lion to most people since it’s easier to get to the table.
You’ll have a hard time finding Gloomhaven until the second edition comes out sometime in 2024, but Jaws of the Lion is still pretty widely available. There’s also a follow-up to Gloomhaven called Frosthaven, but I haven’t had a chance to play that one yet.
What are your favorite dungeon crawler board games? Any that didn’t make this list?
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