12 December 2020
Are you ready? Here's a top ten of campaign games as picked by Tabletop Gaming
A campaign game can be the biggest, meatiest experience we can have on our tabletops (short of an actual roast dinner). These games are here to immerse you into their worlds and give you a story you can dive deep into. Here our choices for the best ones to take over your gaming table for months.
A huge story set in a dark and fallen world that is slowly slumping into the abyss. A smart dice-less encounter system makes the game feel less full of chance, and more intentional than other ‘RPG in a box’ experiences. Suitable for solo play, this is a game to dive deep into. It has a non-linear narrative that gives players real choices as to how they interact with the world around them. The choices you make will set the story further in motion, changing the world around you for better or worse.
One of the best ways to trick your friends into playing an RPG is to get them started in a Massive Darkness campaign. With a classic fantasy styling, and based on the notoriously fast and fun Zombicide system, the game gives you cool minis to move around dank dungeons while, hopefully, surviving long enough to level up your character. With interesting game modes and features like some monsters actually using the loot they drop, it’s a big fantasy adventure that hits all the right notes.
With the recent addition of Balrog and Gandalf to the game (finally), many will be returning to Middle-earth in what is one of the best campaign games out there. Using a smartphone app AI system, the enemies are controlled and set up very simply, with little of the ‘management’ required in some other games. You can also play The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth in bite-sized chunks, a godsend for those who are a little strapped for tablespace, and don’t want to have their dinner surrounded by Uruk-hai.
Fantasy Flight’s Lovecraftian Living Card Game invites you to go entirely mad. Each new expansion is a new adventure, so you and your friends have a new campaign to go on each time you get together. Play as a flawed investigator with a custom deck of cards and decide how best to approach the deep and threatening chaos that lurks just below the surface of these strange goings on. Will your sanity hold out through the main campaign to make an impact, or have you already seen too much?
Explore a new land and the horrors that it holds in this Fighting Fantasy inspired game. You are on the search in this expansive new world to find the cure to a curse you have been struck with. The game even has an easy ‘saving’ system, taking some of the stress out of the game’s hours and hours of play by spreading the search for resolution over a couple of evenings. With interesting crafting and building mechanics you’ll be trying to give yourself a fighting chance of survival in this strange world.
The king of hogging the dining room table. Gloomhaven, remains a huge and defining part of what we consider campaign gaming. The legacy elements of a changing map, and not knowing what is coming up when you open a box are now key element of so many campaign games. Take your adventurers out into the world of Gloomhaven and attempt to change it for the better. With lovely miniatures and a deep story, Gloomhaven offers nearly endless exploration. And with Frosthaven backed to a record amount on Kickstarter, now is probably a good time to get familiar with the systems.
A personal favourite of this particular editor. A weird and psychedelic adventure with crunchy rules, amazing art, and a world that is in constant flux around you. Simple choose-your-own-adventure style choices between missions make for clever paths through this strange world. With careful choices to be made, and combat being a fraught and dangerous thing as your adventures push up the danger level across the map, a Dungeon Degenerates campaign can leave you reeling from its depth.
One of the few non-solo games on this list, but one that has everything you want from a dungeon crawling campaign. Each player takes control of a handful of cute chibi-ish adventurer minis – referred to as guilds – and works their way through a dungeon fighting one another as well as the game-controlled monsters. There’s a choose-your-own-adventure element between the scenarios and certain unlockable items and features as you go. One for those looking for a co-competitive style campaign.
Taking legacy elements and slapping them into a game has rarely worked so well. Ratcheting up the tension in what was already a tense game, Betrayal Legacy give us a way to make our hauntings even more meaningful. Each player (of which you will need a trinity) takes the role of a family in a story that spans decades. If members of your family survive their particular experience they may crop up later to help you out. A great use of generational themes with legacy mechanics over
You’re in a race against time to defeat the villain in this expandable card game. With a huge core set that allows from solo to up to four players, you use your character deck to try and defeat an evil in the land of Varisia. Great to play cooperatively, extremely fast to set up once you know how, and one where the campaign can be played on a coffee table. Once you’ve worked your way through the core game, there’s a whole world of expansions out there for you to dive into.
This article originally appeared in issue 43 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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