The 7 Best Campaign Board Games For Immersive Play
We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.
Ready to immerse yourself in a board game filled with adventure, decision-making, and in-depth storylines? The best campaign board games can definitely deliver! The best picks will feature a theme and narrative that your gaming group finds intriguing — choose from a variety of settings ranging from whimsical lands to real-world maps, and from different story lines. Campaign-style board games all tend to be somewhat complex (that’s just the nature of the genre), but the complexity level certainly varies, so consider whether your gaming group prefers a simpler pick or is up for the challenge of more difficult gameplay; Amazon reviews can provide a good indication of this. Also, since campaign board games are played over multiple gaming sessions (similarly to games like Dungeons & Dragons), you’ll want to take note of how many sessions are required to complete the campaign, as well as the duration of each session, to ensure your group of players can commit.
Beyond that, make sure that your game of choice aligns with the number of players in your gaming group — campaign board games typically require anywhere from two to five participants for relatively cooperative play, though some can be played independently should that be of interest. And while most picks are best for older players, there is one pick on this list that is suitable for ages seven and up.
There are also campaign board games with a little added twist, like games that work with a coordinating app that provides additional guidance or a legacy game. A subset of campaign board games, legacy games can be enjoyed just once since you’ll have to alter the actual components and pieces as you progress through the story — think destroying cards, adding stickers, and more!
1. A Fan-Favorite Campaign Board Game
- Players: 1 to 4, ages 12+
- Time commitment: 65 to 75 sessions, 60 to 120 minutes each
Gloomhaven is basically the epitome of campaign board games — and it’s clear I’m not the only that thinks it deserves the top spot on this list, since Amazon reviewers have given it a near-perfect 4.8-star rating overall, after 5,000-plus reviews, with reviewers describing the game as “impressive” and a “masterpiece.”
In the game, players must team up as wandering adventurers to clear out horrifying dungeons and forgotten ruins. As the story unfolds, players will grow their abilities, discover new locations, and fight a variety of menacing monsters. While this basic overview is meant to give you a glimpse of the awesomeness that you’ll encounter in the game, just know that there’s so much more to look forward to.
Gloomhaven is one of the most complex picks on this list, with lots of moving pieces and tons of content to play through, and it will definitely require commitment from you and your fellow players — the campaign book contains 95 game sessions (each of which takes about 60 to 120 minutes), though most groups end up playing around 65 to 75 of them.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “This game is huge, in every sense of the word. Huge hype, huge box, huge amount of content, huge amount of fun. The game combines RPG, dungeon crawling, campaign, and legacy game styles all very well. The combat, which is most of the game, is simple to learn, but challenging to master. The campaign has some choose-your-adventure aspects to it that make it feel like your story and not just going through a planned script. Each character has a distinct feel to how they play. The game also scales well to having different amounts of characters and levels.”
2. A Simpler Campaign Board Game For Fans Of Harry Potter
- Players: 2 to 4, ages 11+
- Time commitment: 7 sessions, 30 to 60 minutes each
Regardless of your Hogwarts house, all Harry Potter fans will have a blast playing Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle. The board game is simple enough for even beginners or players as young as 11 to pick up quickly, and it asks players to take on the role of their favorite characters — including Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and Neville Longbottom — to protect Hogwarts Castle from evil forces. The game requires players to team up to defeat villains, while gaining influence to master powerful spells and uncover magical items. If you’re on the fence about this pick, just know that it’s overwhelmingly approved of on Amazon; it boasts an incredible 4.8-star rating overall, after 4,000-plus reviews.
The game is played in seven game sessions that progressively increase in difficulty. Each one takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes to play, making it a lower-commitment campaign board game overall.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “Highly recommended board game for Harry Potter fans. It takes you through a campaign like of the story of Harry Potter. Introducing new mechanics along the a way in a legacy format. This will make you want to play more and more. So have your butterbeer and sit down on the table to play.”
3. A Highly Rated Legacy Board Game
- Players: 2 to 4, ages 13+
- Time commitment: 12 to 24 sessions, about 60 minutes each
If you want to give a legacy board game a try, Pandemic Legacy Season 1 is a favorite in this category, and it boasts an incredible 4.9-star rating overall on Amazon (after more than 1,000 reviews) to back it up. The game features a storyline in which mutating diseases are spreading around the world — and you and your fellow players have a year (in game time) to work together to stop them. With each in-game month that passes, there are new objectives, challenges, and rules you’ll face, so it’s impossible to predict what will happen next. Oh, and when it comes to the legacy aspect, the game will have you ripping up cards, placing stickers on components, and even writing on cards as you play. It’s a total blast, and even though you can only play it once, you’ll get around 12 to 24 hour-long sessions out of it. Be sure you and your fellow players enjoy more complex games before you settle on this one, though, as it’s a little bit more complicated than some others on the list.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “Pandemic Legacy is a blast! The way the game develops and changes over time, based on my team's actions, is fantastic. Literally no two games are ever alike. We're 4 months into our 12 month campaign and having a great time. I highly recommend!”
4. A Competitive Campaign Board Game With Beautiful Artwork
- Players: 2 to 4, ages 13+
- Time commitment: 10 sessions, about 90 minutes each
Between its gorgeous artwork and deep, engaging narrative (it literally comes with a book of stories), Near and Far stands out among the bunch. The goal of this campaign board game is for players to discover a lost city. Along the journey, players will explore a variety of different maps and make some tough decisions that’ll directly impact the narrative, as well as hunt for treasure, collect food and equipment, and gather weapons. Players will even have to put up a fight against an array of enemies, including bandits, living statues, and robots. Unlike most campaign games, this one isn’t cooperative, so it’s best for those who want to create individual strategies and end the game with a win or a loss.
Gameplay isn’t overly complex, but it might take a little while to get the hang of things. After that, however, reviewers advise that it’s smooth sailing. “The game is super easy to play after you[’ve] played it once,” wrote one such reviewer, adding that “the rules sounded more complicated than they really were.” The game is played more than 10 different 90-minute sessions, making it somewhere in the middle when it comes to time commitment.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “Such a great game with a TON of replay value. Is easy to learn once you get it but does take some time to learn. You have a base town where you can build up supplies & add people to your traveling party, then you have a separate map where you can explore and camp. Depending on the events of the game there is a sort of ‘choose your own adventure’ aspect to it, where you are presented with a scenario that you can choose how you can react. There are many different maps, a character-building mode, and a few different ways to play. Highly recommended.”
5. An App-Supported Campaign Board Game For Tolkien Fans
- Players: 1 to 5, ages 14+
- Time commitment: up to 14 sessions, about 60 minutes each
Lord Of The Rings enthusiasts (and those that just appreciate the fantasy genre in general!) will fall in love with The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth, which takes place in J.R.R. Tolkien’s world of Middle-Earth. Players take on the roles of iconic characters from the series, each with their own special abilities. As the dark forces gather, players must stand together as a single fellowship in order to unravel deep mysteries and fight against enemies, including marauding orcs and towering trolls that are brought to life by the game’s 25 miniatures. The game is enhanced by the free companion app that guides players through 14 individual adventures and the campaign overall. While the game is suggested for players age 14 and up, it has a more moderate complexity level than some of the other games on this list, though it isn’t strictly simple and easy either. In fact, one reviewer described it as “a lighter but also FAR easier to manage version of gloom haven.” Another player wrote, “Not throughly difficult but complex enough to provide a level of strategic playing.”
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “I’ve played quite a few LoTR games (LOtR LCG, War of the Ring, LOtR deck builder) and this is by far the best one yet! I love that it builds the lore of your custom game through the interactive app. Such a brilliant idea and really [lets] the game get deep with a storyline without taking forever to get there. The best part about it is that it really makes you feel like you’re in Middle-Earth on an adventure of your own. Perils and danger at every turn. But the heroes (almost) always prevail! Replay ability is HUGE!! Endless number of campaign and map possibilities/ combos. Every decision you make effects the outcome of your campaign. Easy to set up/year down. It’s relatively easy to learn if you enjoy board games and LOtR this is a huge must have. Would absolutely recommend this to everyone.”
6. A Lovecraftian Campaign Board Game For Group Or Solo Adventures
- Players: 1 to 4, ages 14+
- Time commitment: 3 sessions, around 15 hours each (with a built-in option to pause the game mid-session)
A game of both exploration and survival, The 7th Continent is a choose-your-own-adventure style pick that has players totally hooked! The goal of the game is to uncover how to lift the curses on a mysterious, newly discovered continent. Players act as adventurers, exploring different terrains (like forests, deserts, and the sea), while also crafting tools, weapons, and a shelter in order to stay alive. The strange land is inspired by Jules Verne and H.P. Lovecraft, so it’s both creepy and atmospheric as heck. Every choice you make along the way has a long-lasting impact on the game… sometimes even resulting in serious consequences!
The game is divided into three sessions, each with its own curse: “The Voracious Goddess,” “An Offering To The Guardians,” and “The Bloody Hunt.” The game sessions take around 15 hours to complete, though there is a rapid save system that allows you to stop playing whenever you want. And luckily, it takes just 30 seconds to set the game back up! As far as difficulty, this one is a bit more complex, making it a great choice for more serious or experienced gamers. According to one reviewer, “The basic mechanics are fairly easy to learn,” while “the strategy is where the difficulty ramps up.”
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “This game is just what I was hoping it would be: soloable, exploration, survival, puzzles, light strategy, replayable, attractive, and rules that suit the theme and make sense. So much bang for the buck, I ordered a couple of expansions! [...] The learning curve is steep but nearly everything eventually makes sense and answers to most questions can be found online. The game takes up a lot of space as your map grows, although there’s a save mechanic and rules for reducing your map size. If you loved Choose Your Own Adventures as a kid, and video games like The Long Dark, you’ll love The 7th Continent!”
7. A Campaign Board Game For Ages 7+
- Players: 2 to 4, ages 7+
- Time commitment: 7 sessions, 60 to 90 minutes each
Designed for families with players as young as seven, or even just adults with a joyful sense of wonder, Stuffed Fables is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Gameplay is divided into seven 60- to 90-minute sessions, in which players must team up as brave stuffed toys in order to protect their beloved little girl from the evil Master of Nightmares. Each game takes place across the pages of an adventure-filled storybook, and players must roll color-coded dice in order to perform a range of different actions, from attacking to uncovering secrets. The detailed components and miniatures just add to the overall intrigue of this pick.
The game is simple enough for children to pick it up fairly quickly, but as one reviewer pointed out, “This game is so good, so unique, so engaging, so different that even adults want to play it, without children,” adding that if you do choose to play with your kids, it’s “a great way to create opportunities to discuss things that your children think about and issues they may have growing up.”
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “You can play this game with your young kids, or even with your 30-year-old friends. Seriously. The story line is adorable, the art is amazing, and the mechanics of gameplay are very fun. It's basically combining elements of a "choose your own adventure" story with a bit of dice-rolling and some D&D style adventuring, and I've recommended it to literally everyone that will listen. We're only halfway through it and I'm already in love with it!”