Crusaders Games

Dungeon Crawlers

My favourite board games for group play are big box expandable co-operative dungeon crawlers, often played over numerous sessions with progressive character development. They usually feature revealing board tile exploration or set objective scenarios, random events and miniatures as an important game element, requiring painting or modelling to look its best. Over the years i have bought and sold a number of these games, aiming to paint and keep the best sets :​​

 

1. Silver Tower / Hammerhal / Blackstone Fortress / Cursed City – Games Workshop (2016 / 2017 / 2018 / 2021) 

Warhammer Quest has been remade in a series of box sets each based on a new theme. It begun with Silver Tower, where heroes are summoned to recover parts of a lost talisman, exploring rooms, encountering events and defeating monsters, where actions are triggered by allocating rolled dice into hero action slots to use, and players deliberate over who uses extra destiny action dice each round. The series is light on rules and simple to teach and play. Shadows over Hammerhal has a more traditional underground dungeon theme, with Blackstone Fortress was more skirmish orientated, set in the futuristic world on a huge spaceship. The best version yet for me is the undead theme of Cursed City. These sets offer me the best modelling & miniatures dungeon crawl needing assembling and painting. My more detailed overview > Cursed City and comparison of these sets > Tower v Hammerhal v Blackstone

 

2. Sword & Sorcery – Ares (2017)

A co-operative fantasy adventure with a story driven campaign and automated monster intelligence. It features great miniatures, with enemy monsters groups having different poses and colours to change their response intelligence, and game tiles are excellent, split into larger areas than usual, with an easy to use line of sight system. There are many great ideas in this game, heroes can be lawful, neutral or chaos in alignment, have alternative choices of powers to select with cooldown timers for the better skills, and soulpoints gained as experience to level up or recover a hero if defeated. Adventures are pre-written with ongoing secret storyline to read out, and it is interactive and engaging to play, but does feature extra complexity and rules depth and a deeper enemy intelligence. It is my best storyline led dungeon crawl. My more detailed overview > Sword & Sorcery

 

3. Altar Quest – Blacklist (2020)

A miniatures dungeon questing game where heroes will search for an unground altar to undertake a specific objective. It’s overall design pays homage to HeroQuest, particularly with its board and room features to interact with. The game is modular designed, in each adventure you can select different card decks for your heroes, villains, threat and your quest to create a new adventure, which reduces set up time. The production quality is excellent, with good models and neat room objects and nice artwork, and each hero card deck is unique enough to create an individual character. Magical altar rhunes energy will constantly change, bringing extra abilities in and out of play during the game, and the action test dice just feel full of positives. The game also scales really well for player count and i consider it my best solo dungeon crawl. My more detailed overview > Altar Quest

 

4. Descent 2nd Edition – Fantasy Flights (2012)

A miniatures fantasy dungeon crawler initially designed pitting heroes against a dungeon overlord player, with high production quality, great models and for the 2nd edition the most detailed map tiles around. The core box sets are both excellent value with huge replayability, and a later game development added an app called ‘Road to Legend’ which enables new campaign adventures to be undertaken co-operatively, where dungeon monsters are controlled for you. While the 1st edition was a long and sprawling dungeon crawl, the 2nd edition tended to focus on more time pressured scenarios. This brand can be beaten in certain areas, but i consider these my best all round dungeon game covering all different types of play battling through a campaign, an overlord controlling a dungeon, or playing co-op or solo with the app. My more detailed overview > Descent 2nd Edition

 

5. Warhammer Quest – Games Workshop (1995)

A miniatures co-operative dungeon quest with great character development, where monsters, encounters, traps and treasure await. This game has impressive content and great models, and is the early benchmark game for the dungeon crawl experience, with random dungeon lay outs, exploration and monster spawns and the opportunity to level up in the town at the end of the adventure to obtain new skills. It’s large box featured creatures such bats, spiders and rats and does not depend on having a dungeon overlord player to play against the heroes. This old favourite features relatively simple missions and mechanics, lovely floor tiles and a comprehensive bestiary and roleplay book, which remains unbeaten by any similar game since. It remains my best entry level exploratory dungeon crawler. My expansions guide > Warhammer Quest

 

6. Shadows of Brimstone – Flying Frog (2014 – 2020

An alternative western themed dungeon crawler which bears a close relation to the original Warhammer Quest in gameplay style and character development, visiting towns between adventures. It comes as a campaign and mixes up randomized map draw with pre-set scenarios and will scale for the player count. The original release was generally said to have frustrating models of lower quality, but the new revised edition is improved, although it still remains to be built off sprues, and there are general rulebook improvements too. The game brand comes in three core sets each with different heroes and monsters that are interchangeable and overall is the best dungeon crawl for theme variety and a collector’s paradise with many different worlds to explore and mini campaigns with different types of creatures to fight. My more detailed overview > Shadows of Brimstone

Previously Owned Alternative Fantasy Dungeon Crawlers… due to space and funding restrictions i regularly trade out games to fund and try newer ones, producing an ever changing favourites list, but one of these games may be right for you.

Dungeons & Dragons – Wizards of the Coast (2011-2019) – a six game series of entry level co-operative dungeon crawls, where simple mechanics allow you play against a dungeon with random builds and encounters each time. My more detailed overview > Dungeons & Dragons

Massive Darkness – Cmon (2017) – a fantasy co-operative dungeon crawl with a huge miniature count and quirky but nice artwork that lays out a co-operative quest mission before you start. My more detailed overview > Massive Darkness

Mice & Mystics – a nice more family orientated crawler playing as mice heroes with co-operative pre-written story scenarios, it is a really immersive game and especially recommended for younger gamers

Heroquest / Dungeons & Dragons FABG / Dungeon Saga – competitive overlord v heroes play style gameplay, but i felt all these are bettered overall by Descent 1st or 2nd edition

Darklight Memento Mori – randomly generated dungeon crawler with more of a horror theme and a slightly larger scale, but very similar mechanics to the original Warhammer Quest which i ultimately prefer and have so much content for

Even More To Consider…these are great looking games with alternative themes that i have not yet had a chance to try
 
Middara – Succubus (2019) – a huge anime based dungeon crawl box, driven by a giant storybook, you will undertake linked adventures which will result in different story paths. This is a heavily dice led game, designed for four characters to play scenarios but does seem to have a reasonable way of potentially reducing to two heroes. Enemies also have excellent intelligence cards competing with the best around. The overall theme of anime style, which is not really playing to my personal taste, however it is colourful and well drawn and this game has loads of models, including some quite weird monster designs, and the overall quality looks good. Character development in this game is a real strength and so if you like the art style of the game over more standard fantasy, then given its content depth this could be a great choice but is not one i will purchase.