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5 Awesome Games Like Gloomhaven

5 Awesome Games Like Gloomhaven

Gloomhaven is a stellar game that has been the source of hours of entertainment for board gamers of all sorts. Why is the game so popular? What makes it appeal to such a wide audience? The answer to these questions will help get us closer to the best board games like Gloomhaven.

Gloomhaven is the only game (outside of games like Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion and Frosthaven in the Gloomhaven family) to include a unique combination of mechanics/ approaches.

Here are a few of our favorite things about Gloomhaven:

Euro-Inspired – Gloomhaven uses multi-use cards rather than dice, and relies on player strategy and tactics for a cerebral experience.

Cooperative – Players work cooperatively to defeat monsters and clear dungeons. However, the game can play out semi-cooperatively since players are free to loot treasure, meet their secret objective and work towards completing their character’s quest.

Dungeon Crawler – Hex-based dungeons feature fun tactical challenges like navigating hallways via sightlines, clearing traps and much more.

Campaign-Driven – Gloomhaven is a massive campaign game that features 95+ scenarios. You’ll only play through a fraction of these scenarios through a single campaign as the story unfolds.

Simultaneous Action – Players select their cards for battle at the same time, making quick snappy turns more likely to occur with less downtime.

Asymmetrical Player Powers – Each character has different strengths and abilities, and takes on a different role during battle. One character could function as a tank, taking on most of the damage while the others parlay. Another could focus on healing team members throughout the dungeon.

Story ArcGloomhaven features a branching storyline with flavor text. Your choices have permanent impacts and can close off certain scenarios.

Character Progression – Players will level up and retire characters over various durations throughout the game, and usually will get to play at least two characters in a single campaign.

Our picks for board games like Gloomhaven feature a unique combination of a few of the above elements. Although there are very few games that will scratch the specific itch that Gloomhaven satisfies, all of our recommendations are great for folks looking for a similar experience to Gloomhaven but are willing to try something different. We even have a chart comparing our recommended games to Gloomhaven’s key elements!

Our Top Picks – Quick Snapshot

Best Overall Game Like Gloomhaven: Frosthaven

Frosthaven was created by the same game designer as Gloomhaven, Issac Childres. It also includes the same innovative battle deck, just like you remember from Gloomhaven. With an epic 100 scenario campaign interspersed with incredible battles and adventures reminiscent of Gloomhaven. There are a ton of new characters to level up and retire, making this one an easy pick if you’re looking for games like Gloomhaven. Although it features lots of new elements, Frosthaven is, hands-down, the closest game you can get to Gloomhaven– and it’s just as much fun as you would imagine.

Best Euro Game Like Gloomhaven: Spirit Island

Yep, this one is different. Spirit Island is the only game on this list that is not a dungeon crawling campaign-based game. It’s also the only game on this list that is distinctly Euro-style, meaning that you won’t roll even a single die (like Gloomhaven, actually), and it’s full of cerebral puzzles that will get your mind juices flowing.

Most Classic Dungeon Crawler Game Like Gloomhaven: Descent: Journeys in the Dark (2nd Edition)

Descent: Journeys in the Dark (2nd Edition) is the epitome of the classic dungeon crawler that is, at its core, a tactical miniatures game. You’ll love it because of the heavy dungeon-crawler theme, but you’ll come back for a streamlined playing experience that is as immersive as it is thrilling.

Game Like Gloomhaven With the Most Immersive Story: Mice and Mystics

Mice and Mystics is one of the most thematic and story-rich dungeon crawlers out there, with an immersive narrative that makes it easy for folks to role play as they go through the journey as desperate mice.

Best Miniatures Game Like Gloomhaven: Star Wars: Imperial Assault

Get back to the heart of the Rebellion in the middle of its epic struggle against the galactic Empire. Awesome minis really enhance this epic battle. While you won’t play as the classic Star Wars characters, you’ll get a set of brand-new characters that make this game a customizable miniatures paradise.

5 Board Games Like Gloomhaven

Mice and Mystics

Board Games like Gloomhaven: Mice and Mystics

Defeat baddies while swishing your tail

Players: 1-4 (best 4) // Game time: 60-90 minutes // Age: 7+ (8+) // Difficulty: Easy, Medium

Publisher: Z-Man Games

You and your fellow players have been transfigured into mice by the kingdom’s enemy. You bravely work together, stopping at nothing to save your kingdom. Even if everything in the castle is 20 times bigger! Mice and Mystics features a rich theme, where you are fully aware of being a tiny mouse in a terrifying world. Danger lurks in every corner!

In Mice and Mystics, movement and fighting occurs through dice rolls. The gameplay is simple and easy enough for beginners and kids to pick up. The theme and capacity for stellar role playing is where Mice and Mystics really shines. The more engaged you are in your mice and the story, the more fun your experience will be.   

Why This is Like Gloomhaven

Like Gloomhaven, Mice and Mystics is a cooperative, campaign driven dungeon crawler. Characters steadily acquire ability cards throughout the campaign, resulting in character progression that unfolds over a slow burn. Characters also have variable powers, resulting in interesting synergy as you move through the campaign and gain new powers. 

While Gloomhaven features a massive branching storyline, the story consists of adequate but not immersive flavor text. Mice and Mystics is one of the most thematic and story-rich dungeon crawlers out there, taking it a notch beyond what you get in Gloomhaven

Who This Game is For

Mice and Mystics is for folks who have played RPGs and dungeon crawlers and want to scratch the itch for a game with an excellent theme, capacity for role playing and great story with their spouse, casual gaming friends or their kids. 

Buy Mice and Mystics on Amazon

Mice and Mystics: Downwood Tales includes new story elements, gameplay mechanics, playable characters, villains and minions and more!

Mice and Mystics: Heart of Glorm starts right after the events in the base game and includes a series of immersive chapters, a new companion, new figures, cards and counters.

Tail Feathers is a standalone game that is set in the world of Mice and Mystics. It adds something that was missing from the base game – miniatures! New mice miniatures and five bird miniatures with heads that tilt enhance your role playing experience as you soar beyond the castle. 

Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition)

Board Games like Gloomhaven: Descent Journeys in the Dark

Tread softly through endless dungeons

Players: 1-5 // Game time: 120 minutes // Age: 14+ // Difficulty: Advanced

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

A group of valiant heroes are racing against the clock to survive different challenges and quests during their journey to defeat the Overlord. In Descent: Journeys in the Dark (2nd Edition), players have the choice of: 

  • Playing heroes working together to navigate dungeons and defeat the Overlord via a growing dice pool; or
  • Playing as the Overlord, laying down dungeon traps and siccing monsters onto the path of the heroes via card-based combat

Unlike Gloomhaven, which uses cardboard standees for the minions, Descent: Journeys in the Dark (2nd Edition) includes amazing miniatures that enhance the gameplay. Descent also places more emphasis on the storyline than Gloomhaven (which has adequate flavor text) and features a grand, well-written story that unfolds throughout the campaign.

Why This is a Game Like Gloomhaven

Like Gloomhaven, Descent: Journeys in the Dark (2nd Edition) is a campaign-driven dungeon crawler that features a dark, gritty fantasy theme where characters develop over multiple sessions. Although not a full cooperative game (unless you use the app), players play cooperatively against the Overlord (i.e. dungeon master) in games with 3 or more characters.

Who This Game is For

Descent: Journeys in the Dark (2nd Edition) is a board game that has appeal for traditional pen-and-paper RPG fans. Players explore fantasy worlds, shape their hero and navigate a well-written storyline in this RPG board game. Descent is the ultimate classic dungeon crawler and is a great option for fans of the dungeon crawling board game genre.

Buy Descent: Journeys in the Dark (2nd Edition) on Amazon

Descent: Journeys in the Dark (2nd Edition) has been around for a long time and has a very loyal fan base. As a result, there are great (free) fan-generated expansions and various variants available. Check out our Best Dungeon Crawl Board Games article to learn more about Descent.

There are also a number of official expansions for Descent: Journeys in the Dark (2nd Edition), such as Lair of the Wyrm, Well of Darkness, The Trollfens, Forgotten Souls, Manor of Ravens, Mists of Bilehall and Nature’s Ire.

You can also buy miniature packs such as the Verminous Lieutenant, Kyndrithul Lieutenant, Rylan Olliven Lieutenant and Eliza Farrow that allow you to replace lieutenant tokens with miniatures that represent real, more powerful enemies or allies.

A much-awaited new game in the Descent family came out in Fall 2021 – Descent: Legends of the Dark. The game developers have made the game fully cooperative via a companion app, revamped core gameplay and much more in this new adventure.

Star Wars: Imperial Assault

Board Games like Gloomhaven: Star Wars Imperial Assault

Will the Alliance or Empire win in the end?

Players: // Game time: // Age: // Difficulty: Advanced

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

In Star Wars: Imperial Assault, you are right in the middle of a full-out Galactic Civil War, where the Rebel Alliance is desperately fighting to hold off the full might of the empire. In campaign mode, players play many vs one. You are either the ruthless Empire, commanding the seemingly endless army of replaceable Stormtroopers or part of the tenacious Alliance. Members of the Alliance take their pick of six new characters developed for the game (e.g. Gaarkhan the Wookie and Jyn Odan, the female Han Solo). 

Unlike Gloomhaven, which provides cardboard standees for the enemies, Star Wars: Imperial Assault comes with incredibly detailed miniatures of new characters and some recurring baddies that are fun to play with. That AT-ST miniature is not mini! While Gloomhaven provides an adequate but somewhat generic fantasy theme, Star Wars: Imperial Assault is dripping with theme, thanks to the miniatures, character customization and role playing elements.

Why This is a Game Like Gloomhaven

Like Gloomhaven, Star Wars: Imperial Assault is a campaign-driven dungeon crawler where characters develop over multiple sessions. Although not a full cooperative game (unless you use the app), players play cooperatively against the overlord (i.e. dungeon master) in games with 3 or more characters.

Who This Game is For

Star Wars fans hailing from all galaxies! Star Wars: Imperial Assault is an incredibly thematic and immersive board game that translates into the perfect adventure for kids, families and friends alike.

Buy Star Wars: Imperial Assault on Amazon

There are a ton of expansions for Star Wars: Imperial Assault, including new figures and other components and new full campaign where Han Solo disappears in Mos Eisley in Twin Shadows, the Empire discovers the Rebels’ base on Hoth in Return to Hoth and even one where you’re shot down on Tatooine in Jabba’s Realm.

There are also PLENTY of figure packs for the game, including the R2-D2 and C3PO Ally Pack, the Han Solo (Scoundrel) Ally Pack and the Leia Organa Ally Pack. Are they required? No. Are they fun? You betcha.

Spirit Island

Board Games like Gloomhaven: Spirit Island

Expand your territory while appeasing a host of spirits

Players: 1-5 // Game time: 120 minutes // Age: 12+ // Difficulty: Advanced

Publisher: Greater Than Games

You are a spirit of the island, working together with other spirits (i.e. players) to defend your island from invaders attempting to colonize your home. In Spirit Island, you work together with the islanders as they fight back when invaders attack. Some of your powers even work through the islanders. Every spirit has a unique set of skills and contributions. You win cooperatively when you destroy every last settlement and city on the board. But watch out! You lose the game if: 1) any of your fellow spirits die, 2) blight overruns the island, or 3) the invader deck runs out before you are able to defeat the colonists.

Spirit Island takes an interesting anti-colonialism theme that is a refreshing reversal from games like Puerto Rico or Catan, where you are encouraged to colonize territory without any context or acknowledgement of setting (not to mention problematic representation in Puerto Rico). The approach in Spirit Island is quite unique for a Euro game. Euro games typically have low emphasis on theme and setting, so this game is a fresh breath of air.

Why This is a Game Like Gloomhaven

This is absolutely a game like Gloomhaven. Spirit Island is a cooperative, thinky Euro-inspired board game full of fun puzzles, where battles occur through cardplay. As in Gloomhaven, gameplay moves quickly due to simultaneous player actions. 

Who This Game is For

Folks looking for a rare beast – a high-complexity cooperative Euro game – will love Spirit Island. If you love games with quick turns (via simultaneous action), Spirit Island is a great candidate!

Buy Spirit Island on Amazon

The Spirit Island: Branch and Claw expansion features a whole lot of depth! You get two new spirits, France as a new adversary, new events, new tokens, new powers and more.

The Spirit Island: Jagged Earth expansion is massive. You get the ability to play with up to 6 players, three new scenarios, 10 new spirits, power cards, two new island boards, tons of new tokens and much more!

Although not an expansion, the Spirit Island Premium Token Pack includes 218 gorgeous wooden silkscreened tokens that will elevate your game.


Board Games like Gloomhaven: Frosthaven

Herd your battle crew through the frozen lands of the North

Players: 1-4 // Game time: 30-120 minutes // Age: 14+ // Difficulty: Advanced

Publisher: Cephalofair Games

You are part of a group of struggling mercenaries located in Frosthaven, a small outpost far north of White Oak, the capital city. This settlement is bombarded with extreme weather and invasions (e.g. the Algox, bigger cousins of the Inox). You’re dedicated to bringing this settlement back from the brink of desolation. The starting characters you can choose from include the Human Banner Spear, the Quatryl Blink Blade, the Valrath Deathwalker, Inox Drifter, Harrower Geminate, and the Aesther Necromancer. O-ooookay! Here we go! If the starting characters don’t excite you enough, rest assured the rest of the characters in Frosthaven are going to blow your socks right off.

The campaign in Frosthaven features a variety of adventures that occur outside of combat, from choosing how to build out your village to solving mysteries. Frosthaven also features challenges related to the remote location of your village. Supplies are not readily available, so getting items isn’t as simple as buying them from the shop. You’ll build your items through a crafting system that denotes a videogame-like feel.

Why This is a Game Like Gloomhaven

Frosthaven is a dungeon crawler that features the same trademark combat mechanics that fans love so much. This game basically has all of the elements that have made Gloomhaven successful, and will certainly scratch that itch that Gloomhaven satisfies. Beyond that, characters are interchangeable between games, which greatly ups the number of possible character combinations for both games.

Who This Game is For

Gloomhaven features a unique mix of game mechanics that Frosthaven also has. Fans of Gloomhaven will likely love Frosthaven, both for the new world and fresh campaign as well as for the infinite character combinations with Gloomhaven.

Buy Frosthaven: Kickstarter Special Pre-Order on The Game Steward

Frosthaven is so new, there haven’t been many fan-designed expansions, let alone official expansions, yet. Expect something like Gloomhaven’s Forgotten Circles expansion to come out in 2022.

If you want to up your Frosthaven game, try this admittedly awesome player character dashboard with slots available for your Gloomhaven or Frosthaven character mats! 

That’s A Wrap!

Gloomhaven is one of the best board games out there, and remains popular due to its Euro-inspired approach, massive campaign, gritty dungeon crawling, innovative card-based combat and much more! 

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion. This board game is a standalone prequel to Gloomhaven that features a new 25 scenario campaign with new bosses and monsters. This game is a beginner-friendly intro to Gloomhaven’s complexity, and we consider this the best way to ease yourself into the Gloomhaven world. 

If you enjoy the dungeon-crawling, monster bashing campaign aspect of Gloomhaven, chances are you may enjoy dungeon crawlers. However, most dungeon crawling board games use dice and a less puzzle-like approach (read: non-Euro approach), so keep that in mind. Check out our picks for the 10 Best Dungeon Crawl Board games if you’re interested in exploring more options.

However, since you are here and interested in games like Gloomhaven, you’re likely already a fan and looking for recommendations that will scratch that specific itch. Outside of the Gloomhaven family, there are no games that completely scratch the itch that Gloomhaven does, but our recommendations do an admirable job of giving you an experience you’ll remember for years to come. 

Our recommendations above are cooperative, and four (out of five) are campaign-driven dungeon crawlers. Each recommended game is a highly regarded game in its own respect and has a different combination of Gloomhaven’s key approaches/mechanics that we identified in our introduction: simultaneous action, asymmetrical player powers, story arc and character progression!

To make it easier for you to see how each of our recommended board games like Gloomhaven compare, here’s a comparison chart! We encourage you to think carefully about the things you like best about Gloomhaven, and don’t be afraid to expand your horizons. There are some pretty great games on this list, so you can’t go wrong!

Games like Gloomhaven Comparison Chart

Board GameFrosthavenSpirit IslandStar Wars: Imperial AssaultDescent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition)Mice and Mystics
Dungeon Crawler
Campaign Driven
Simultaneous Action
Variable Player Powers
Story Arc
Character Progression

**Note: Star Wars: Imperial Assault and Descent: Journeys in the Dark are one vs. many games. At the two player count, there will be no cooperative play. With three or more characters, two plus characters will play cooperatively against one player (the Empire). Fully cooperative play is possible with the app for each board game.

Photo credit: Thanks, Cephalofair Games! cc

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