My group and I enjoy Role-playing games. However we can't always get the same number of people together week after week in order to finish one campaign. What would be great is a boardgame that we could finish in one evening that has one person (The GM) against everyone else (4-6 other people).

Is this a recognized style of game? What would it be called and how could I identify such games?

  • 5
    Why was this closed? Many of the top-voted questions on this site are asking for recommendations for a certain number or type of players. (example example example example)
    – dpatchery
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 19:32
  • 4
    I voted to reopen. This isn't an opinion question. The game either pits one vs many or it doesn't. Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 21:03
  • I believe this meta discussion might apply to this question as well. Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 2:35
  • 1
    voting to reopen as edited.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 13:12
  • 1
    What's going on here? I thought the new question was "how can I identify these games?" And now the shopping-list answers are being accepted again? I love BG.SE but some of the decisions around here are very confusing.
    – gomad
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 16:35

5 Answers 5


One vs. Many is a fairly recent term concerning boardgames. There aren't any dedicated lists on Boardgamegeek that I was able to find. However, there is a tag by that name that you can use to find games.

Also, see the list of One Vs. Many games in a GeekList devoted to Cooperative games.

Cooperative Games

Cooperative games are also a type of game you may wish to consider. It has become very popular in recent years. Instead of contesting with each other, the players work together to beat "the game". In many ways, the game system acts as the GM against the players. The above list is very thorough if you want to see some examples.

Traitor Mechanic

Another related term to look for is boardgames with a Traitor mechanic. A game with a traitor is cooperative except for usually one traitor who works against everyone else. However the identity of the traitor is not usually initially known. These sorts of games can be a lot of fun if your group enjoys playing mental tricks on each other. A geeklist, of games with a hidden traitor mechanic can be helpful in locating those.

  • The list on boardgamegeek is very helpful. I want a clearly established "bad guy" versus the other players, so the co-op and traitor games don't really fit my needs.
    – dpatchery
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 18:20
  • That was really cold, deleting all those answers like that. Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 18:58
  • @Lance - what would you suggest for a course of action?
    – Pat Ludwig
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 19:01
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    The real problem comes from a vague definition of what questions are acceptable. We allow recommendation questions, but then it seems to be randomly decided which ones remain. Like the commenter in Meta who mentioned the travel games question, that one was way more broad than this question was. I'm not sure why the OP needed to change this question from a recommendation question to a information/research question. I would have been fine with everything becoming community wiki, but I thought he was asking for a good specific niche (unlike something like 'all multiplayer games'). Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 19:10

Descent from Fantasy Flight Games (see http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/17226/descent-journeys-in-the-dark)

This is exactly the game you describe - one player takes the role of basically the GM, the other players the party and the game plays as a dungeon crawl. There are a lot of scenarios, expansions and even rules for making it more akin to a campaign. Probably an exact fit for what you are looking for (a group of RPG players looking for a boardgame experience that scratches the same gameplay itch.

Another route to consider, however, might be games that do away with the DM/GM entirely in favor of a fully cooperative experience where the players work together to compete against the game itself (with each game taking slightly different approaches to the "GM" like elements.

A few of this increasingly popular genre that come to mind are:

Wizards of Coast's Ravenloft and Wrath of Asharadalon games are both cooperative games with a D&D flavor but are boardgames. They run without a GM.

There are older games that could also fit this style of play at least in some cases. Heroscape (or for that matter Warhammer) could be played with one person controlling a large army facing off against a team of people each controlling smaller armies.


A classic "German style" game with One vs Many mechanics is Scotland Yard.

I haven't played it in years (decades?), but I remember it as a simple, fun game where "Mister X" - played by one player - is chased on a map of London by the other players who have to work together to catch him.

  • I was just about to provide Scotland Yard as an answer. It was my first Eurogame.
    – ahsteele
    Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 2:55
  • And it doesn't matter which side you are playing, you almost always feel like you are losing (as long as X doesn't make obvious mistakes) Commented Mar 22, 2014 at 7:19

Yes, it's a style of game that is recognized.

Some of the better ones:

  • Descent (Mentioned in detail by Shannon, so I won't)
  • Battlestations!
  • Car Wars (pre-5th ed)
  • HeroQuest/Advanced Heroquest (Milton Bradly - OOP)
  • Space Hulk
  • GW's Inquisitor

Battlestations is tricky, in that it's a board game of tactical shipboard actions, a board game of ship-to-ship or ship-vs-setup, and a role-playing game. It's excellent, and exactly fits the stated need. (If your need isn't well stated...) It's also a silly, Trek-ish but not Trek, setting. It does support campaign play and character development, as well as ship improvements.

Car Wars, like Battlestations, can be run as board game or RPG, and in one-off or campaign mode. At the moment, it's print-n-play, but SJG has the Compendium and some counters and supplements on e23. And there's a lot of fan-stuff out there, too. It's more work than Battlestations, as well.

Milton Bradley's HeroQuest and Advanced HeroQuest, and the spin-off Warhammer Quest, are highly tactical games of dungeon invasion. While out of print, the MB ones had all the rules posted on the HasBro web site for years, and may still. It's pretty doable to do this one up as a Print-n-play, tho' it is a lot of work. Due to it being joint GW and MB, a reprint is highly unlikely for any of them.

Space Hulk may say 2p, but many missions for 1st ed were multi-squad, and suitable for one player per squad. Just add 30% more blips per additional squad, and 20% more space... you will need multiple base boxes, tho'.

Inquisitor is a minis game. Officially in 56mm, the GW 30mm stuff works just fine by halving all ranges. Heck, it works fine just by using 30mm and not halving the ranges. It's most suited for ongoing games, but it's still quite doable for well prepped one-shots of multiple gangs at a storyline encounter.


The game you want is Fury of Dracula. One person plays Dracula who moves around Europe using a really awesome mechanic of hidden cards. One to four players are the vampire hunters who try to find Dracula without getting killed.

  • 2
    I flagged this question for deletion, and wanted to explain why. This is an answer to a different question, perhaps the original question, but not the question as it stands. I understand you're new here, so I wanted to make it clear: This is not a bad answer, but this question was closed because it encouraged a "shopping list" of answers and reopened when it asked, "How can I identify games with this characteristic?"
    – gomad
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 15:28

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