Best Campaign Board Games

Best Campaign Board Games (13 of the Best in 2024)

Campaign board games are a unique experience for players. They ask you to come back night after night to enjoy and engage with unique stories, evolving mechanics, and fun gameplay. They are a wonderful subsection of board games that strays away from each session feeling the same.

We’ve played and tested tons of what’s claimed to be some of the best campaign board games and we have them listed here. Our favorite of the bunch is Gloomhaven because of the sheer amount of content within it and the challenging and unique gameplay it offers.

However, it could be heavy on the wallet for most people, which is why we’ve singled out Scythe: Rise of Fenris as the best option overall.

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS 
Stonemaier Games: Scythe (Base Game) | an Engine-Building, Area Control Strategy Board Game Set in Dieselpunk 1920s Europe for Adults and Family | 1-5 Players, 115 Mins, Ages 14+
Best overall
Scythe: Rise of Fenris
  • An engaging campaign addon to a board game tactical classic for head to head mech combat.
Cephalofair Games: Gloomhaven, Award-Winning Strategy Board Game, For 1 to 4 Players, 60 to 120 Minute Play Time, For Ages 14 and up
Best Legacy-Style
Gloomhaven
  • A deep and combat-based roleplaying adventure with hundreds of hours of gameplay.
Budget Option
Dungeons and Dragons
  • An awesome board game where you can flex your own imagination and encourage creativity among players.

Related post: Best Board Games For New Gamers

Best Campaign Board Games

1. Best Overall  Scythe: Rise of Fenris

Best Overall

Stonemaier Games: Scythe (Base Game) | an Engine-Building, Area Control Strategy Board Game Set in Dieselpunk 1920s Europe for Adults and Family | 1-5 Players, 115 Mins, Ages 14+

Scythe: Rise of Fenris

Scythe was already a big name in the board game community for the base games tactical challenge. Rise of Fenris adds an engaging campaign to the board game classic.

If you’re looking for a game you can play with or against other people, Scythe: Rise of Fenris is our pick. The base game of Scythe is a tactical multiplayer competitive experience. The Rise of Fenris is still competitive but has the players working through the campaign to the end goal.

Additionally, it adds an oft-requested element to the base game of Scythe, a co-op mode. If that’s what players want!

One of Scythe’s cool parts is that it’s playable with one to seven players (or five without the Invaders from Afar expansion). This means that the campaign games can be played alone, between siblings, or among friends, a rare treat in a world that demands 4+ players fairly often. 

Scythe: Rise of Fenris also specifically avoids being a legacy game. There are no stickers on the board, cards to ruin, or anything that would prevent you from resetting the Rise of Fenris and starting with a second group.

Overall, Scythe as a game oozes style and is an epic exploration of adults and older children’s imagination. It was designed as a premium tabletop experience that is rules-heavy but an amazingly fun experience. Adding the campaign onto an already great game is what makes Rise of Fenris so unique.

If you already love Scythe and feel like expanding the base game, Stonemaier Games has a few great options you can choose from. The Scythe Encounters and Scythe: Invaders from Afar are two options that we recommend for frequent players.

2. Best Legacy-Style Game — Gloomhaven

Best Legacy-Style

Cephalofair Games: Gloomhaven, Award-Winning Strategy Board Game, For 1 to 4 Players, 60 to 120 Minute Play Time, For Ages 14 and up

Gloomhaven

A deep and combat-based roleplaying adventure with hundreds of hours of gameplay.

When it comes to campaign games, Gloomhaven is still the king of the castle. There is a reason that its followup Frosthaven raised over 12 million dollars on Kickstarter, and it’s because Gloomhaven is the unrivaled champion of campaign-based board games. 

Gloomhaven is a dark story about your band of adventurers diving into the complicated and dangerous town of Gloomhaven; beyond that, the rest is up to you. After each ‘chapter’ of the board game, players will make choices that lead to the next battle within Gloomhaven. This means that the game is part role-playing and makes the game almost infinitely replayable

One element that makes Gloomhaven so infamous is that it’s hard, like sweat-on-game-night hard. It’s easy to lose an encounter if you play fast and loose with your cards, and it’s even easier to accidentally have a character get absolutely demolished from a bad turn. Players need to be careful and calculated if they’re going to survive their sessions in Gloomhaven. 

Did we say sessions?

That’s right. Gloomhaven is a long game that’s well worth the price tag. Each dungeon takes several hours to complete, and that can mean that a full ‘campaign’ of Gloomhaven can take over a hundred and fifty hours. Gloomhaven is a long term commitment, but you’re going to get fantastic time value while playing the game. 

If you’re looking to play a fantastic board game with a long and deep campaign, you can’t do better than Gloomhaven. Those who have already discovered everything there is in Gloomhaven can try Frosthaven, which is another stand-alone epic gaming experience from the same creator.

Granted, the original Gloomhaven is currently out of stock and you’ll have a difficult time finding it anywhere. But the creator hasn’t given up on it just yet — quite the contrary! They are currently working on the Second Edition. It’ll be a revised and improved version that incorporates all the feedback received since the release of Gloomhaven. But we’ll all have to wait till mid-2024 to enjoy the refined experience. In the meantime, you can always hit your nearest comic-con for a chance to enjoy the Gloomhaven magic!

3. Best Budget Option Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set

Best Budget Option

Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set - 6th Edition, Dragons of Stormwreck Isle - Extra 6 Dice Sets, Flannel Bags, Master Screen, New Heroes - D&D Board Game Includes Printable Materials

Dungeons and Dragons

An awesome board game where you can flex your own imagination and encourage creativity among players.

No discussion about board games and campaigns would be complete without discussing the classical campaign’s originator, Dungeons and Dragons. If you’re looking to flex your own imagination or encourage creativity from your children or friends, Dungeons and Dragons is the greatest ‘board game’ of all time. 

The biggest hiccup for Dungeons and Dragons games is that one player needs to act as the ‘dungeon master’ and end up running the game more than playing it. Many players love being the Dungeon Master and will want to take on the role every time you suggest D&D, but this can be a roadblock to some players looking to start playing the game. 

When it comes to campaign games, none match the length of D&D. With only the Players Handbook, you can technically play an infinite amount of games for as much time as you want. Still, there are also additional books that offer extra options for players or fully build campaigns that are ready to play.

Each of the pre-built campaigns will offer almost a year of playtime if you’re meeting for your campaign game once a week for about four hours. That’s a comedic amount of content for the price!

4. Best Value — Raiders of the North Sea

Best Value

Renegade Game Studios Raiders of The North Sea,Renegade Game Studios Raiders of the North Sea, Ages 12+, 2-4 players, 60 - 80 minutes, Worker placement, Spiel Des Jahres Kennerspiel 2017 Nominee

Raiders of the North Sea

A game that offers a classic flavor with impressive gameplay and great design.

Raiders of the North Sea stands out with its rich storytelling that offers the right balance between complexity and fun. One of the best features of the game is it delivers an equally enjoyable experience with 2, as well as 4 players.

Each player is placed in charge of a raiding party and needs to gather the necessary resources to defeat the opposition. What makes it even more fun is the excellent artwork. 

The main objective of the game is to gather the most victory points by plundering or making offerings. Basically, the game is simple and the idea revolves around worker placement. 

Since you need to draw cards, there is also a factor of luck involved. What I especially like is you can explain the game to new players in just a few minutes and get them playing.

Based on your choices, every game will move in a different direction. So, the replayability is also high. While it’s not a brain burner, there are enough challenges to keep things exciting and the pace never drags.

Admittedly, Renegade Game Studios has done excellent development work to provide the best experience to the players. The overall quality of the components is top-notch. The game rolls on at a fast pace and since it can change quickly, making decisions can be challenging.

If you prefer a board game with a high dose and adventure and thematic storytelling, Near and Far is a great option. Considering the price, we have no second thoughts about marking it as the best value choice.

5. Best for GoT Fans — Game of Thrones (2nd Edition)

Best for GoT Fans

A Game of Thrones Boardgame Second Edition

Game of Thrones (2nd Edition)

An intense session of military engagements and political intrigue, with all of the great houses at each other’s throats! Expandable with Mother of Dragons.

Westeros is plunged into chaos and it is time for you to play the role of some of your favorite characters from George R.R. Martin’s classic and make war. This is also a strategy game with plenty of negotiations and deceptions that can make the battles unpredictable. With so much betrayal and deceit at play, this is definitely not an option for the fainthearted.

But if you are a fan of the Game of Thrones novels, you will know that political and literal backstabbing is a part of the fun.

The second edition of the Game of Thrones board game comes with a few new innovations and updated graphics. Additional features include player screens and the use of Tides of Battle cards that can make the battles even more unpredictable. 

The game can be played by three to six players and there are ten rounds, each with three phases. Each player receives cards and tokens for their respective houses. The player with the most castles or strongholds at the end of the rounds is the winner.

Just like the novels, there is a lot going on in different areas of the board. Depending on the players, that can be fun, or a bit too much to handle. The combat system is well designed and there is a strong focus on player interactions. However, this is a long game and full sessions can last for hours. But if you love playing complex games that perfectly balance conflict and strategy, this is a game you will surely enjoy. You’ll have some homework to do even if you’re no stranger to the world of Westeros, but there are tutorials and instructions on the Fantasy Flight Games website.

One more thing. Don’t expect to find any reference of the TV show in this game. There are none.

6. Best Cooperative Game Zombicide 2nd Edition

Best Cooperative Game

Zombicide 2nd Edition Strategy Board Game | Cooperative Game for Teens and Adults | Zombie Board Game | Ages 14+ | 1-6 Players | Avg. Playtime 1 Hour | Made by CMON

Zombicide 2nd Edition

A fun hack-and-slash with multiple well-supported versions depending on your genre preferences.

Zombicide, Zombicide Fantasy and Zombicide Sci-Fi are all equally fun hack and slash adventures through an impossible amount of zombies and their scarier empowered brethren. Depending on the version you buy, you can role play as the Walking Dead, the crew of Alien, or a Hardcore version of the Lord of the Rings characters to stop the zombie horde from spreading. 

The game plays similarly from the beginning to the end of the campaign as players level up, gather loot, and overall gain power to triumph over the next level in the campaign. One fantastic part of the board game is that each of the characters plays extremely differently, meaning that the same playgroup could play the campaign multiple times without feeling ‘same-y’.

The reason that Zombicide is one of the most value-packed campaign games out there is that it comes with an incredible amount of quality content in the box. Lots of games like Zombicide use tokens or cards to represent the bad guys, but Zombicide games come with (at minimum) 71 high-quality miniatures for use in gameplay. These minis are so good that we often use them to supplement other games like Dungeons and Dragons. 

One aspect of Zombicide that some players may not like is the steep learning curve. It will take you almost an hour to understand all the nuances. But in the second edition, the already well-oiled zombie killing machine is even more refined. Besides, there are small changes that have made the game more exciting, including the addition of Kids.

Zombicide may have a fairly steep price tag, but it’s impossible to deny the value you get for each dollar you spent on it.

7. Best for Legacy Players Pandemic Legacy

Best for Legacy Players

Pandemic Legacy Season 1 Blue Edition Board Game for Adults and Family | Cooperative Board Game | Ages 13+ | 2 to 4 players | Average Playtime 60 minutes | Made by Z-Man Games

Pandemic Legacy

One of the classic cooperative games turns into a campaign based legacy experience to save the world from threatening viruses.

For best legacy games, we suggest Pandemic Legacy for a challenging and thrilling experience that has multiple rides to go on, with Season 0 (the third and last expansion) having been released in late 2020. 

Legacy games are a controversial idea in the board game community. Some players enjoy the unrivaled experience of a board game that can only be played through once, but some players prefer to run through a campaign multiple times. Well, if you belong to the fan club but haven’t played Pandemic yet, brace yourself: it’s a game created by the inventor of the legacy genre!

Pandemic Legacy will ask players to destroy certain game pieces based on their choices at points in the campaign. Sometimes this can be viscerally satisfying as a victory celebration, and sometimes it’s a solemn admission to a loss during the campaign.

The game keeps changing and all actions have different impacts on the characters. Moreover, you will find new challenges and rules as you keep playing.

Either way, legacy games offer a unique experience for a core group of players, and if you think that is something your playgroup would enjoy, Pandemic Legacy season 1 is a great place to start.

But keep in mind, this is a standalone game and can’t be combined with the regular Pandemic.

8. Best Miniatures — Star Wars Armada

Best Miniatures

Star Wars Armada CORE SET | Miniatures Strategy Battle Game for Adults and Teens | Ages 14+ | 2 Players | Average Playtime 2 Hours | Made by Fantasy Flight Games

Star Wars Armada

A great choice for Star Wars fans with excellent miniatures and streamlined gameplay.

If there’s any one board game that captures the look and feel of the Star Wars movies, then it is this one. Quite Simply, the designers at Fantasy Flight Games have done a stellar job of creating a great game that is all-out fun.

Fantasy games already have the popular Star Wars X-Wing miniatures game in their kitty. With Armada, they have expanded the world of X-Wings and changed the rules, making it a completely different game. For example, in Armada, you fire before moving. That simple change makes it a more tactical battle game in many ways. That said there are a few similarities with X-Wing, including the dice-based attack mechanics.

This is a two-player game that deals with the war between the Rebels and Imperial fleets resulting in an exciting miniature battle game. And unlike most other miniature games, there is plenty of planning and strategy that will keep you hooked to the board. The better you can anticipate the next moves of your opponent, the higher the chances of effectively using the squadron of fighters. 

Players often mention that in Armada, the slow movement of the large frigates and the fast maneuvers of the smaller ships create a ballet that is fascinating to watch. Moreover, that does not make it a slow game in any way. Quite often the 6 turns of the game may be over in a short while, leaving you wanting more.

On the downside, Armada comes with a high price tag and is an expensive proposition. Also, I wish the miniatures were a bit heavier. The slightest nudge tends to move them from position.

9. Best for 2 Players — Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition

Best for 2 Players

Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition Board Game | WizKids

Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition

A story-driven campaign game that involves gripping combat and excellent exploration mechanics.

If you want an all-out struggle against an opponent, Mage Knight is a good choice. Basically, this is a classic game that offers engaging play that works best between two players.

The players are enigmatic warriors who explore the Mage Knight universe, which is in a deep crisis. The cards you draw will control your actions in various ways. As you level up and gain more powers, you compete with other Knights who are on similar quests.

One of the best aspects is the right balance between fun and complexity. The quality of the components is top-notch too. In fact, the game brings life to the fictional world very effectively.

Keep in mind, the game comes with a steep learning curve. If you are new to the game, it’s best to take it slow, or else you might find the expansion content overwhelming.

Don’t get me wrong though. The design of the game makes it player-friendly and the basic rulebooks are separated from the expansive content to make it easier for new players. 

Completing the full game can take some time, but the game offers an extremely rewarding experience at all levels. Besides, the character progression is also great.

While it comes with a relatively high price tag, the Ultimate Editions expands over the base game in many ways. In short, this is the best version of the game you can get.

10. Best Adventure Game — War of the Ring 2nd Edition

Best Adventure Game

Fantasy Flight Games Ares Games War of The Ring 2nd Edition, Multi-Colored (AGS WOTR001), 2 to 4 Players

War of the Ring 2nd Edition

An awesome adventure game with a great design that Tolkien megafans will enjoy.

If you are an admirer of Tolkien, then this game provides an excellent opportunity to form your own fellowships and set out on a grand adventure. As expected, the theme is similar – the dark forces of Sauron are rising to engulf Middle Earth. What War of the Ring excels at is packing the details of the books into the game, making it an immersive experience for the fans.

The first thing that you will appreciate is the excellent artwork. That includes the cards and the map of Middle-earth spreading across the board. Every decision you take through the steps is interlinked, and the end results might turn out to be exactly as the book revealed.

It is hard to explain the elaborate setup and the rules in a few words. But even though the multilayered conflict makes things complex, it offers a ton of fun. Since you will be taking a full-dive into Middle Earth, one session of the game can easily last for 3 hours or more. However, it is worth the time and brainpower and you can be assured of a heart-pounding finale each time you play.

On the other hand, some players may find it too complex for their tastes. That means you need a dedicated co-player to join you for a session. Then again, the experience is satisfying and the replayability factor is good as well. Overall, this is a game that definitely matches the epic scope of the books.

11. Best Sci-Fi Pick — Star Wars Imperial Assault

Best Sci-Fi Pick

Star Wars Imperial Assault Core Set - Epic Sci-Fi Miniatures Strategy Game of Rebel Resistance vs. Imperial Forces, Ages 14+, 1-5 Players, 1-2 Hour Playtime, Made by Fantasy Flight Games

Star Wars Imperial Assault

An immersive game with a superb design and exciting storyline that captures the essence of Star Wars.

With tense battles and an exciting storyline, Star Wars Imperial Assault is another great product from Fantasy Flight Games. Even though the game comes with a different theme, it can be considered another addition to the Descent series from Fantasy Flight Games

As expected, Imperial Assault is based on a conflict between a group of rebel fighters and the Empire. Up to 4 players can play as the rebels and 1 player will represent the Empire. The game comes with high-quality modular boards and some amazing miniatures.

The rebel players need to complete various tasks and their performance in each mission will have an impact on the next ones. Since the gameplay is extremely fluid, speed and mobility are the keys for the rebels.

The combat is resolved by the use of custom dice and there are different dice colors with different purposes. What most players like about Star Wars Imperial Assault is the highly balanced gameplay. No matter the side you are playing for, you need to fight hard for every inch.

Keep in mind, Imperial Assault is a massive game in terms of storylines and characters. While that can be excessive for some players, the variety ensures that you never feel bored by familiar missions.

For lovers of the Star Wars universe, this game will provide an immersive experience and tons of fun. If you are in the mood to blast away some stormtroopers, this is the perfect campaign game to choose.

12. Best Themed Pick — Gale Force Nine: Dune

Best Themed Pick

Gale Force Nine Dune Board Game

Gale Force Nine: Dune

A brilliant behemoth that offers an old school feel and allows fans to relive the world of Dune.

This game is a revised version of the classic 1979 masterpiece also called Dune. Based on the world created by Frank Herbert in his 1965 novel Dune, this is a game that the fans will dig. Every aspect of the conquest is dipped into deep strategy and the combat mechanism is super exciting.

As expected, there is plenty of treachery and betrayal as the six dynasties clash with each other. Surely, you will love the mechanism and the way Shai-Hulud is attracted to the conflict to escalate the tension.

That said, it is best to play the game with an even number of players. With odd numbers, one player will be left too weak to stand against the opponents.  The first player to win the majority of the strongholds wins the game. A typical game session can easily last for a few hours or more. In short, if you have the patience and can device cunning strategies, you will be rewarded.

Admittedly, this is a demanding game and the learning curve is steep. But the immersive experience is worth the effort. All in all, fans will love the proximity of the game with to the source material. While it needs you to devote a long stretch of time, it offers a blast of an experience with infinite replayability.

Note, Gale Force Nine has also launched another version of this game that is based on 2021’s Dune movie. This one is called Dune, A Game of Conquest and Diplomacy and condenses the gameplay to make the sessions shorter.

13. Best Fantasy Game — Blood Rage

Best Fantasy Game

Blood Rage (Core Box) | Strategy Game | Viking Fantasy Board Game | Tabletop Miniatures Battle Game for Adults and Teens | Ages 14+ | 2-4 Players | Avg. Playtime 60-90 Mins | Made by CMON

Blood Rage

A Norse mythology-themed game that is high on action along with enough strategy to complete the package.

Want to feel how a group of bloodthirsty Viking warriors felt while fighting monsters while the world is about to be destroyed by Ragnarok?

With an awesome production design, solid combat, and nail-biting decision making at every step, Blood Rage is a thrill-ride that offers a ton of fun. The the players are divided into four clans and the setup changes depending on the number of players. While there are nine zones, there is hardly much space in the board to safely build your strength. 

That makes combat inevitable and Blood Rage makes it interesting by going beyond using dice throws to settle combats. The miniatures are gorgeously designed and the detailing is top notch. Overall, this is a game that looks and feels fantastic.

Unlike many ither battle games, Blood Rage is not unforgiving to the losers. Even if you lose a battle, the game rewards you.  However, card drafting is one area where luck rules and no amount of strategy wilk work if your opponent makes a perfect draw.

At the same time, Blood rage is short enough and the fights do not draw out. That makes it a good option for players who do not prefer confrontational games. And the best part is, the rules are simple enough for new players to catch up with the veterans.

One thing that can work against the game is its relatively high price tag. So, make sure you have a group interested in Norse-themed battle games before investing.

What to Consider When Buying a Campaign Game 

Board game with action figures

Style

Most games have elements of both role play and traditional gameplay. Depending on the group you have, you may seriously prefer one style of game over the other. We find that Gloomhaven is a fantastic mix of the two that doesn’t ask much of the player role-play wise, but rewards players who engage with that part of the game. 

For groups who are uncomfortable with role-playing, we’d suggest Scythe and Zombicide off this list. For groups who want to try role-playing, Gloom Haven and Dungeons and Dragons are both fantastic options. 

Gameplay Length 

Some of the games on this list offer a lot of value because of the length of the campaign, but many of them also demand your attention for longer continuous periods to avoid having to ‘pause’ in the middle of a session. If you’re unsure about getting a group together for longer periods, games from this list like Mechs Vs Minions would be a better choice for you. 

People playing board game with dice

Player Count/Roster

When considering different games, it’s essential to keep in mind how many players you want to take part in the campaign, and whether they are going to be consistently able to play together. Organizing game night can be hard and sometimes the flexibility of swapping a player out or adding someone in mid-campaign is a great asset. 

For players who might need a little less rigidity in their roster, we’d suggest Zombicide or Mechs vs Minions; neither of these games needs to have the same number of players or the same players involved at each session. As you move forward through the game, you’re progressing through a story, but it’s not hard to bring new players aboard or let people take a break.

If you can handle having the same people play every week, Gloomhaven rewards that enough to make the commitment worth it.

Legacy Games

Though there is only one Legacy Game on this list, your interest in them needs to be an essential consideration when shopping for campaign board games. Pandemic is our choice of the best legacy campaign game, but there are many other options out there on the market. 

If playing a game one time and then having it on your shelf as a testament to that campaign game sounds like a treat, you might enjoy legacy games. If you’d prefer to play a game more than once and want to experience your campaign games more than once, steer clear legacy games.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to play all the levels of a Campaign board game?

Mechanically, you don’t need to play every level of a game; you can always just skip a level! There aren’t board game police out there making sure that you follow every rule. One main consideration is that most of these games are carefully tested to ensure that players are readied for each level by beating the previous one. If you start skipping levels, you might find the game becomes too hard because of your lack of playing experience.

Are there campaign board games I can play alone?

Absolutely! Some games are made specifically as a solo experience. That said, the best game on this list for a single player is Scythe. Playing the Scythe: Rise of Fenris campaign solo is a perfectly intact experience; the campaign doesn’t suffer from you missing your friends as opponents. 

Campaign board game with action figures

Can I replay a legacy board game?

Yes and no. By design, legacy board games are meant to be played once, with stickers added or certain game pieces getting destroyed during the run. Technically nothing is stopping you from setting aside the pieces that the game tells you to destroy (Like we mentioned above, no board game police), but it does take away some of the uniqueness of playing legacy games. They can be played as standard board games, but that is not the point of them. 

Why are campaign games so expensive?

Whether they are on this list of not, a lot of campaign games can cost over one hundred dollars or close to it. This can seem like a lot, considering it’s almost double what many other board games cost, but there is a reason for it. Campaign games come with sometimes hundreds of hours of unique content for players to play through. This is very different from traditional games that have 1 set way to play them and significantly raise the development cost of these games. 

Additionally, campaign games are a niche within the board games community that tends to have very high production value items, like detailed miniatures and glossy rule books. This raises the games’ price but ensures that game pieces won’t break or decay even if you own them and use them regularly for years.

Last update on 2024-07-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API