The Best Campaign Board Games
Released May. 10th, 2024

Sometimes, you want to just escape from reality and lose yourself in a new, fantastical world. And sometimes, you want to do so for hours on end. When you want to set up a long-term board game night or ongoing campaign with a group of likeminded and passionate board gamers, we’ve got you covered with our list of some of the best legacy board games around. Some of these games are also light on difficulty, creating a low barrier to entry for newer players.

TL;DR Campaign Board Games

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1

Predating the actual pandemic, Pandemic Legacy is a campaign-oriented version of Pandemic, which launched the still-cresting wave of cooperative board games. You’ll work together to research and hopefully eliminate global diseases that are threatening humanity. Unlike the simple win-or-lose binary of the original, this game spans a series of months with your level of success in each game carrying onto the next, supported by a narrative framework and lots of mechanical surprises along the way. Will you be able to deal with the curveballs and save the world from the threat of infectious disease, or will you watch millions suffer before succumbing to the same sicknesses you failed to treat? Our fate is in your hands. If you want the full story of how this fictional pandemic unfolded you can start during the Cold War with the excellent Season 0, or go into the future with the less successful Season 2.

Frosthaven / Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

The original Gloomhaven may be out of print, but its stand-alone sequel Frosthaven is in stock and ready for adventure. This is a fantasy-themed cooperative game where players take on the roles of adventurers and skirmish their way through various tactical combat scenarios. Consisting of tons of these scenarios, Frosthaven is a long-term campaign best enjoyed if you’re sticking with the same group throughout. Setting up and learning the game takes a while, but it's worth it for dedicated gamers, and it's great for repeat playthroughs. For a more less daunting and more streamlined take on the same game world, be sure to check out the more Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion as well. Your gaming group can even use the same characters in both games.

Star Wars: Imperial Assault

Thrust yourself into the Galactic Civil War, where you can play as either the Rebel Alliance or the Galactic Empire. Choose between two game modes: campaign and skirmish. In campaign mode, you fight against the Empire in a series of continuous scenarios and experience the detailed narrative taking place after the destruction of the Death Star. The gameplay consists of tactical combat where players will utilize over 250 playable cards to outfit their heroes, modify weapons, and develop your character’s skills.

Roll Player Adventures

Roll Player Adventures is a tightly-designed choose your own adventure-style fantasy cooperative roleplaying game. Not exceptionally challenging, Roll Player Adventures is a good pick for entry-level campaigners with hundreds of different cards, tokens, and dice to help supplement your session. You can also create your own character or import a preexisting one. Gameplay is done through dice manipulation with your fast-growing deck of cards, essentially modifying rolls to complete combat encounters or other challenges.

One Deck Dungeon

What do you get when you mix Roguelike video game mechanics with a quick and easy fantasy card game? You get something like One Deck Dungeon. With the game’s Campaign Mode, players can take control of one of five heroes and choose from four difficulty levels to adventure through the dungeon, defeating bosses and learning talents while filling out their character’s campaign sheets. Like other legacy-type games, talents earned will be carried over into future playthroughs, incentivizing you to play on higher difficulties and experience more of what the campaign has to offer!

Mortum: Medieval Detective

More narrative-focused and mechanics-lite, Mortum: Medieval Detective is a cooperative game of mystery and deduction. Consisting of three decks that make up just as many scenarios, the goal of the game is to work your way through the story and solve the surrounding mysteries through classic detective work and keeping track of time via the game pieces. Settle in, as one scenario takes upwards of two hours, and each story leads into the next, creating a fully immersive campaign.

Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated

The original Clank! and its successor, Clank! Catacombs, which made our cut of the best deck-building games, were single-shot affairs where you constructed a deck of cards in-game to guide an adventurer into and out of a dangerous dungeon, hopefully carrying armfuls of loot. From that concept, it’s only a very short step to keeping that deck from game to game, continually updating and refining your strategy as the campaign pushes new challenges at you to handle. Add in some branding from a famous D&D live play channel, and you’ve got the excellent Clank! Legacy, where you and your fellow adventurers will have to survive a harrowing series of dungeon delves, with the original game’s focus on stealth, as you try to avoid waking sleeping horrors in the deep, very much intact. If you can manage it, then you’ll watch your heroes rise from desperate rogues to iconic heroes.

Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth

Tolkein, with his love of traditional things, might not have approved, but campaign board games are increasingly turning to app support in order to track the game state and provide players with fresh takes on the concept. Such is the case with Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth, set in the days just prior to the events depicted in the famous novels with the players cast as heroes investigating the initial stirrings of Sauron’s shadow. On top of a fun, robust exploration and combat system that develops alongside your adventures, allowing you to build your characters to face new challenges, the game also uses its electronic support to pose new problems and riddles, worthy of Bilbo himself, that no game based purely on plastic and cardboard could manage.

Ticket to Ride Legacy: Legends of the West

Campaign games bring to mind an image of long, intense play sessions that pile rules upon rules in order to keep players on their toes. But this latest entry in the all-conquering Ticket to Ride series proves that families can have just as much fun over a series of linked games. It keeps the original’s Rummy-based play, in which players collect sets of coloured cards and cash them in to take ownership of routes on the board, with all the excitement and one-upmanship that entails. However, as you play you’ll also uncover a fictional secret history of dangerous criminals and heroic frontiersmen, pushing your railroads ever westward into uncharted territory. And with each new revelation there’s also a delightful new mechanical spoke to add to your game, each fizzing with playful ideas to keep your experience fresh without overloading you with rules.

Looking for board games on a budget? Check out our list of the best cheap board games. If you're more in the mood for something spooky, check out our picks for the best horror board games. And if you don't have a whole lot of spare time, take a glance at our favorite quick-playing board games.

-- Source: https://www.ign.com/articles/best-campaign-board-games