My friends and I play Advanced Dungeons and Dragons from time to time. Since it's cumbersome to make so many preparations to play so little, I'd like a faster alternative reason to get together and play some board games.

It could be a war game or preferably a dungeon/questing game. Ideally, something to play in two or three hours, maybe more.

If it's legally available to print & play, all the better.


8 Answers 8


For Dungeon Questing, your best bet is, sadly, long OOP¹: the GW game HeroQuest² or it's sequels Advanced HQ and Warhammer Quest. Note that the rules are available for free from Hasbro, but the bits aren't, so if you find it on ebay, you can replace the rules.

Another excellent, light, but not actually short, ans sadly in between printings, game: Wiz-War. (The more expansions, the longer it plays...)

If your players like medium length (30min to 2 hours) PVP, Dungeoneer (Example: Tomb of the Lich Lord is also excellent. It's a series of standalone games (which can be combined) of dungeon-crawling hack-n-slash. It is PVP, tho', and brutally so. It can be a blast with the right players, tho'.

Order of the Stick is popular; if I could stand OOTS at all, I'd probably enjoy the game, but the art is utter drekh, and interfered with my ability to enjoy the game. It's also longer than I care for.

Another fun one, very different, is Aye, Dark Overlord. It's not of need a dungeon crawl, but the descriptions needed are usually dungeon crawl-ish.

¹ Out of Print
² Not to be confused with the Issaries RPG of same name.


Being D&D related I suggest games from the D&D® Adventure System:


A Game of Thrones

You indicated that you were open to wargames and other types of boardgames, so for a fantasy (but not dungeon-crawl) experience, I really like the Game of Thrones boardgame, especially if you are a fan of the books (or, now the series, I suppose). But fandom is not required for enjoying the game. In fact, I have seen things go the other way, where someone becomes a fan of the source after playing the game. I'm not sure of the current in-print status of the game, but I imagine with the series being very popular, the folks at FFG won't let it languish out of print. And you can play up to 5 without any expansions.


How many friends do you have? If you don't have very many, this great 2-player game offers the best dungeon-crawl experience I've ever had in a boardgame. It's tense, tight, and atmospheric. Most games are complete nailbiters, with the outcome riding on a razor's edge until the very end. And it's quick, too. If you have 3 friends, you could play 2 games in an "after dinner" timeframe, and everyone would get a turn.

Mansions of Madness

Ok, it's not a dungeon crawl. But it is an RPG-derived trip through a confined location filled with monsters! This one-against-all Call of Cthulhu is my favorite "RPG-Lite" boardgame experience. I've been though a lot of games in search of one that would offer some of the goodness of an RPG without all the prep and time commitment, and this one is the winner to-date. Customizable characters, customizable scenarios, great miniatures, beautiful maps...just turn the lights down, put on a somber soundtrack and prepare to go insane and be devoured! This game has left Arkham Horror gathering dust on a shelf for my group.


Another 2-player wargame, BattleLore brings the outstanding system behind Command and Colors: Ancients and Memoir '44 to a fantasy realm. Battles are fast-paced, rules are simple enough to learn and teach in an evening, and once again, I've played it twice in a row in a reasonable time. Frequently, we'll switch sides after the first battle and try again. I haven't played the Westeros-themed version yet, but it's on my wishlist.


If what you're looking for after dinner is some simple silliness, try Munchkin. This RPG-parody card game is packed with RPG tropes, inside jokes, and backstabbing. Fair warning: Munchkin seems to be a matter of taste - even more than most games. Some people hate it. I played (and bought) tons of it early in my boardgaming career. But it doesn't see much play these days.

Sorry, I see that I totally failed to address the print-and-play aspect of your question. I'm not much in that world, as with both glue and hobby knife I represent a danger to myself, my furniture, and any unfortunate bystanders. So I will take the easy way out and refer you to the BGG catalog of PnP games and the wisdom of many others.

If you set the category to Fantasy and the sorting to rank, the top entry is Song of Blades and Heroes. If you sort by average rating instead, the item Dungeon Crawl popped out at me.

I hope you find something in here that suits you!

  • Battlelore isn't short, and isn't light. Figure 20-30 min setup, 60-120 min to play, and 10-30 min to put away. AGOT is several hours - 4-6 is common from what I've seen.
    – aramis
    Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 0:09
  • 1
    @aramis - the asker said less prep, not 30 minutes. I tried to give games that would scratch a fantasy itch without hours of prep on the GM's part.
    – gomad
    Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 17:18

Kobold's Ate My Baby is a very quick and humorous game. It is very enjoyable and provides that dungeon/questing experience you are looking for.

  • It's also an RPG. The current version has done away with most of the boardgame elements.
    – aramis
    Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 0:08
  • Thanks, I was unaware. I only have played the old version in the little orange book.
    – Apreche
    Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 12:08
  • Which was, still, an RPG, albeit of the hack-n-slash variety, and bordering on boardgame.
    – aramis
    Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 19:44

People seem to have omitted Talisman. Talisman really has the feel of d&d, and I love it.

However, if you're looking for co-op, also consider games like Lord of the Rings (coop version). This has the hopeless quest feel to it.


I'd recommend Descent, although it can take longer than a few hours. It's easy to set up, the Overlord (DM) doesn't need any preparation time, and it feels like D&D.

Cutthroat Caverns is another nice game that works well.

  • 1
    Descent feels like D&D but does seem to have a high standard deviation in play time. Do you know of a source of short (but still-enjoyable) scenarios? Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 13:13
  • A lot of times, we'll give everyone a silver or gold treasure, find the boss and give him some extra minions, and just finish the boss battle. Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 14:57

At the upper end of "fits in the time after dinner" is Runebound, which involves fantasy combats and quests, character growth in different stats, and fighting dragons in the end. It's rated at 4 hours, though with fewer players (it supports up to 6) it goes faster.

Descent (mentioned by bryanjonker) is a dungeon-crawling game with individual player characters, a variety of obstacles, and miniatures. I've seen games take anywhere from 2 to 8 hours.

For something a little different, Tales of the Arabian Nights is a story/adventure game that plays in about two hours and uses a "choose your own adventure" style book to lay out the story. (With something like 2500 nodes in the book, though, you won't memorize it very soon.)


A board game that is much easier than D&D and still has somewhat of a dungeon questing feel is Thunderstone. I enjoy playing it with friends quite a bit as many of them do not want to play a full blown rpg.

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