Baxter's Top 10 Dungeon Crawlers

Heya heya folks, Baxter here again! Its Top Ten Tuesday, and today I'll be sharing my top 10 dungeon crawlers with you all.  There are a few things I considered when adding these games to my list, including my own attention span and my ability to manipulate game pieces without opposable thumbs. Mostly they're the dungeon crawlers I've had the most fun playing.

10. Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Board Game Series

The Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Board Games have been going strong for years beginning with Castle Ravenloft and now I can't wait for the next one in the series, Ghosts of Saltmarsh, which will be the first entry in the series released as an expansion rather than its own game.  Each previous entry is a standalone game, but they can be combined and played together, I like that! Wrath of Ashardalon is my personal favourite in the series because its the most dungeonsey and dragonsey looking!  The games use randomly generated dungeons which means you can replay the scenarios over and over again and get a different adventure every time!  The games come with lots of minis as well with each one introducing new heroes and character classes and the last few titles in the series have offered premium editions with pre-painted minis. I have lot of trouble painting, mostly because of the thumbs thing, but I also hate getting paint in my fur.  Anyway, these games are awesome and you should play them!

9. Zombicide: Green Horde

The Zombicide series is another miniatures heavy game that has remained popular over multiple versions for several years.  Out of all of them, the medieval fantasy of Black Plague and Green Horde are my favourites with the latter edging out Black Plague by degrees.  The mechanics come down to simply choosing three actions from standard choices like moving, attacking, searching, trading etc.  Then the zombies have their go and round and round we go until the players are facing a massive horde of relentless zombie orcs, goblins and other fantasy creatures in undead form. I like this one because there's lots of dice rolling, heaps of minis and your characters can progress their levels and their abilities along the way.  The theme is fun, the game plays fast and there aren't too many rules to confuse me, I'm a Vulpenian native speaker, so finding rule books in my own language can be tricky.  The original Zombicide has just released its second edition, so we'll see if it can replace Green Horde as my favourite casual dungeon crawler.

8. Imperial Assault

I'm a pretty big fan of Star Wars, Brian showed me all three movies!  I loved them, I'm not sure what people complain about.  There are even a lot of board games based on Star Wars, one of my favourites is Imperial Assault.  It captures the feeling of a rag tag bunch of rebels trying to overcome a powerful, technologically superior force so well, I feel like I'm Luke Skywalker!

May the fox be with you!

Imperial Assault uses a familiar tile-based system and, like other games on this list, can utilise an app to take over for much of the boring parts, like showing what goes where and when.  The core game has been followed up with dozens of character, villain, and big box expansion packs so there's more than enough content to keep the average gamer going for a very long time! There's added value in that the game can be played as either a story based campaign, or as a squad based player vs. player experience. Both styles provide their own unique take on this galaxy far, far away, and I for one can't wait to get back to the action! 

7. Clank!

Dungeon crawlers can come in many forms, and while most tend to be miniatures and dice-heavy, tile based games, Clank! breaks the mould on all three counts by providing a deck building-based, miniatures free (the heroes are depicted by wooden meeples) and diceless game played on a one piece board and, while expansion packs can be purchased to add hero minis, the strength of Clank! lies in its deck building system.  Beginning with a basic deck of 10 weak cards, your hero will soon purchase new, more powerful cards to upgrade their deck, before long becoming a force to be reckoned with.  Players strive to delve deeper into the dungeon to retrieve artefacts which increase in value the deeper you go, then fight to escape with their loot before the dragon regains its full strength and destroys them and each artefact obtained increased the dragon's strength. The clock is ticking!  

6. Nemesis

AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!! Nemesis is terrifying! You wake up from stasis on a dark ship limping through deep space, one of your crew mates is already dead and there's the sound of... something, crawling through the bowels of the ship. You look around you and see that each of the other survivors appears just as confused and afraid as you are.  But wait, what was that glint in the pilot's eye?  Does she know something?  Why is the scientist being so guarded?  Does the captain know smoking is prohibited in a pressurised cabin? All I know is, I need to check the engines are working and that we are still on course for Earth before the ship automatically re-enters hyperspace or we could end up who know's where?  What was that over there?  That slimy looking shadow that went into the galley? I should probably go and investigate.  Probably.

5. Mansions of Madness Second Edition

Mansions of Madness Second Edition is a spooky game of impending dread set in H.P Lovecraft's world of Cthulhuian horror and mystery. Utilising an app to administer the game, and adding flourishes like voice acted narrative and ambient sounds and music, Mansions of Madness is a slow burning exploration of sinister mansions where the players are constantly made to feel on the back foot, occasionally obtaining evidence or items to help them with their investigation. Similar to Imperial Assault, the game makes use of double sided tiles to create the mansion the investigators will explore, each time you fail, and you will often fail, the scenario will change slightly, meaning each play through maintains that sense of exploration of the unknown.

4. Adventure Tactics: Domianne's Tower

A recent release, Adventure Tactics: Domianne's Tower pits players against creatures and bosses in a fun, colourful dungeon exploration adventure. Battle your way through the campaign and gain strength along the way and level up your character before the next adventure.  The game's system allows players to increase their character's abilities in other classes as well, so there's an option to craft a unique character that reflects your individual play style. Lots of character choices, tons of cards and a multitude of enemies!  Let's go!

3. Gloomhaven

Hah! You expected Gloomhaven to be number one didn't you?  Well it isn't! Don't get me wrong, it's an amazing game.  The euro style mechanics and the card based combat and initiative system are fantastic, so too is the heavy story; and the legacy elements? Don't get me started on the legacy stuff, I love opening new boxes, applying stickers unlocking new cards and quests!  But my most favourite thing about Gloomhaven is the massive campaign and the depth of gameplay.  In fact the only thing that's stopping me from putting this higher on my list is the complexity.  As I said earlier, having a lot of components can be difficult for me to handle and my reading isn't the best, so its sometimes a slog to get through a game, but when the mood does take me, nothing can beat Gloomhaven and its ilk for an afternoon of heavy dungeon exploration, its reputation is well deserved.

2. Conan

Like Conan, I also love crushing my enemies, seeing them driven before me and eating the lamingtons made by their women. Lamingtons are delishimo! What was I talking about?  Oh, right.  Conan, is a pretty great game.  It uses a really cool initiative track and an action pool system to assign actions and set their effectiveness.  Place too many gems on attack for example and maybe you'll exhaust yourself before you can move or leave yourself vulnerable to attack on an enemy's turn. The game is heavily influenced by the original novels more so than the movies or comics, but there are enough familiar characters and creatures in the mix to please fans of both. Gameplay takes place on double-sided one piece boards which are reutilised for different scenarios.  The artwork looks incredible and does a great job of capturing the infamous warrior in all his brutal glory. A more mature dungeon crawler to be sure, but one that respects the character and the fans.

1. Descent: Journeys in the Dark 2nd Edition

Descent Journeys in the Dark Second Edition is one of my all time favourite dungeon crawling adventure board games.  For me it strikes the perfect balance between adventure, complexity, luck, decision making and most of all, fun! Character progression is simple and rewarding and, despite the tile based system, the free app makes Descent quicker to set up and play compared to some of the other options on this list.  While not the flashiest or freshest of the bunch, it ticks all the right boxes for this fox.  The several years' worth of expansions and characters packs greatly extend the gameplay and make each session a real treat in exploration.  I can't wait to discover which creatures I'll face with each new game.  There have been whispers of a third edition of the game, but personally I think the upcoming Descent: Legends of the Dark will be that place holder for the time being.  I just hope its good!

So those are my top 10 dungeon crawlers.  I'm sure there are entires of your own you'd shuffle around or change, if so, I'd love to read your top 10s as well, so please do comment below.  In the meantime, thank you so much for stopping by and I look forward to seeing you again next time!  Take care!

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