August 29, 2020

Top 5 Adventure and Exploration Board Games

We see it ALL the time in video games, SO many get labeled with the generic “action/adventure” moniker. But what about in board games? Sure there’s always some semblance of action, but adventure? That’s a bit weirder….

Here I discuss my 5 favorite board games about adventuring, exploring, and/or going into the wild unknown. This is a BIG category with LOTS of games as well as different parameters to use to define an adventure game. What do you use? Are there adventure/exploration games you particularly enjoy? Let me know in the comments!

Number 5 –
Number 4 –
Number 3 –
Number 2 –
Number 1 –

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  • Mage Knight? I guess you have to like Fantasy that much. It rules are Horrendous and fiddley to the max. If you want adventure go for: Fortune & Glory rules them all.

  • Wow, this is one of the hardest categories for me you have done. First of all I could have made an top 50 good games just for these 2 words each. Thinking even a top 20 for the combination of these 2 words. Robinson would be nr1 for me though, it's the ultimate adventure/explore for me. Mageknight would have made this list for me too just not sure where it would end. Dead of winter would most likely made my list, simply adventuring out of to remote locations. Though I play dead of winter with a houserule variant. Where the locations are all turned around and only discovered when you go there though even without this rule it makes my exploration list, since your going out of the base. Welcome to the dungeon despite not making my list, is a good game but since welcome back to the dungeon came out I combined the two making for a much better game. We either make the start player pick the hero or randomly draw one from a shuffled deck, do note you do have to use a different set of monsters when going into a dungeon and we randomly select the boss monsters, though I really wish they would have made it easier to combine both games. I am still waiting for some1 at iello to create 4 life/hit promo cards that combine the games. Currently we are playing with 4hits and you need 4 deeds to win the game. But this does lengthen the game a lot and no longer makes it a filler. Now for other games that would make the list of mine. Probably Islebound, though there isn't that much exploring to do it's definitely an adventure eachtime, still hoping a new game comes that makes me explore the seas I haven't found anything yet that does this well. I would probably include some space exploration game just don't know which one out of my head, I would probably lean towards TI3, though I don't consider this much of an explore game. I haven't played first martians yet though I think this game is pretty much underrated and needs to find it's audience.

    There are a couple of games I want to mention though in here aswell. Journey to the center of the Earth, any Indiana jones game, I know both IP's have boardgames all crappy. I think both IP's would make for a great GREAT adventure/exploration game.

    Then there is fireball island. while the basegame was fun for me as a kid, the remake they are doing with restoration games has my hopes up for a good adventure/exploration game. I have no idea what the exact final product will be but my hopes are high.

    Then 2 other games I think would be great games if remade for this particular theme are curse of the idol, which for my childhood was a great game, but it needs to be remade with much better game mechanics of today. And key to the kingdom (though I still play this game today) I do think it would make for an excellent adventure/explore game if it was updated somewhat, more balanced and less randomness.

    As a last mention carnival zombie, this would most likely be my 2nd or 1st on the list. The only reason it's not, simply because I haven't played it myself and I have no idea if the second edition will hold this up for me. But from what I have seen with the first edition, it has it all, exploration, adventuring, story, choices where to go, different end scenarios depending location/boss. I can see this being one of the greatest adventure/explore games ever.

  • I haven't watched through the list yet…so I'm not sure if this is there or not…but I LOVED the lord of the rings living card game. I played it solo and was going through 1 adventure pack at a time. It was a blast, and I wouldn't go through any of the cards in each adventure pack so I never knew what was coming…one of the funnest times I had ever in games…was playing a game where me and my team fell through a floor in a cave while resting, and landed in raging underground river. We were desperately trying to just stay alive without drowning…but there was also TONS of goblins at each side of the river shooting arrows at us…lol flipping hell I didn't expect that and omg was it INTENSE. I made it through, but wow! What a cool experience :D. It was a very fun 'adventure' game. I should really pick it back up again.

  • Ichi Ban!  Ichi Ban!!  (#mikelovesmageknight(tm)) So having stated the obivious plainly enough high fives for a game we had nothing to do with other than buying/*appreciating it.(#butyoustilltotallyneedtogettheexpansion) So after that little celebration I am left with a serious question.  You're wearing a LoTR t-shirt, and a rather clever one at that.  Yet PtAG is your recommendation for exploration, *not the Middle Earth LCG?  That's not a dig I recently declined an "invite" to the world of Lord of the Rings myself opting instead for a 1/100 chance at quelling the unrest (also see:  Big Ruddy Adventure to get the Idiots to STOP ringing the Alarm clock!) in the American mid 20's. (Do try to look surprised!) I've also owned the very set you hold and made it through two adventures before something came up and I was forced to trade it away (Don't look at my post like that you would have done it too, it was for tons of citadel painting stuff…..okay so maybe you wouldn't have done it.)  Anyway my point is that Pathfinder is a game I miss while the Lord of the Rings LCG after having poured a few hours of research into it, looks like a game that I would love as a deckbuilder totally new to the franchise because of it's richness and beauty and the depth of pool….my god.  Yet I would hate it as a player because from all I can gather, beating each scenario is a different deck building challenge and there are only a few correct combinations from even LoTRs vast pool.  Arkham Horror LCG seems to have fixed this.  It doesn't just encourage, but requires you to keep the same deck (ala PtACG) and it even costs you experience points if you thought you'd be a clever monkey and get two cores (I didn't because I was unsure of the necessity.) so you had two of the super special auto include cards for each character.  (Does that also mean you have to incude the super special individual weakness that comes with the same rule that lets you dual wield?  I think it does.  Ouchies.) Anyway I have decided that if I ever get another Adventure deck builder it will be to go back to Pathfinder.  I just wondered what your reasons are for recommending Zelinker's great work over Tolkien's especially since you're a fan and most Tolkien enthusiasts are about as famous for their adherence as I am for my parenthetical, ateriskical abuse.  ^ ^

  • I also love games like Agents of SMERSH or Tales of Arabian Nights with the big book of "choose your own adventure" paragraphs. 🙂 Those games are a lot of fun to me. Granted, Arabian Nights is less of a game than SMERSH, but it is still a fun time. 🙂 When those books are written well, they are really fun and entertaining. You always wonder what is going to happen next, and I just love that in a game. 🙂

    I should mention that Above & Below borrows a bit from this idea, by incorporating a paragraph book too, but I just wish he did a better job with writing the resolutions to the little adventure bits… it is definitely fun, but it is a bit of a letdown when you roll the dice to see what happens and the resolution text simply says something like, "You get a rope and a barrel of cider." Boooooring. heh Very fun game, aside from that shortcoming.

  • Have you ever tried out Fortune & Glory? I love that game! 😀 Definitely worth a try if you haven't played it yet. I always call it, "Indiana Jones in a box." 🙂

  • Descent 2nd Edition and with the Android / iOs map and all the expansions is about as mean as you can get for board game exploring.

  • you are absolute right about Mage Knight! I bought the game one month ago and the only real downside is the initiation's time for anything else it's an unmatched masterpiece

  • Really great list and nice balance between having some light games and heavier games. I agree with most of your choices on your list. One of the best genre of games in board gaming!

  • I really want to play Time Stories, but God knows when I'll get the chance. I have a regular game group that is currently really into Pandemic and we are about to start Pandemic Legacy real soon. We may play Time Stories when that is finished (at least that's what I want to do, but I could easily wind up outvoted). It sounds like a game right up my alley.

    I love certain types of exploration games, when they actually give you the feeling of discovery and mapping out an unexplored location. I've been searching for games that can give me the same kind of feeling that I'd get playing certain computer games that have strong exploration elements, or like the old board game, "Source of the Nile".

    Source of the Nile was this really thematic board game where as you explored, you'd draw in what you found in each hex with crayons (rivers, mountains, native villages, etc.) and you'd get points (I think) for special discoveries, waterfalls and, so on. In theory, you could play it until the entire map of Africa was filled in, but that would likely take forever. The game did have some problems, and felt too much like a solitaire game played in parallel with your opponents, and luck played a huge role in it. But at least it excelled in making you feel like you were an explorer.

  • DungeonQuest the original D&D style board game which is set in the WarHammer universe. The board is static but as you explore the Dungeon the GM puts down doors and traps and enemies. The big feature of the game is the "Explore Room" action every player can explore any room they are in once they draw from a deck of cards that have goodies like potions gold or gems and monster encounters. You have set adventure and in between each you can improve your characters by buying things from the store (which is on the back of the box) really fun old school style game with some very nice pewter miniatures.

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