Seeing the new crop of board games that is about to come out each year always gets me jazzed up. That feeling is quickly followed by a feeling of slight disappointment knowing I won’t be able to play most of these games any time soon (cue sad music with an image of me looking gloomily out a window). Although, a guy can dream. I love searching for my next favourite game just as much as love actually playing games. On that note here is a list of games I’m really excited for this year in no discernable order. Bonus, at least for me, all of these games should come with a dedicated solo mode. So, any friends or family who read this list could use this for some ideas on my upcoming birthday, nudge, nudge, wink, wink. (just kidding. No I’m not. Yes I am. Or maybe not)
Tidal Blades:Heroes of the Reef
In Tidal Blades players are heroes who are competing for the name of Tidal Blade. Through a series of rounds players gather resources and send their character to different locations to take on different challenges and battle monsters. Gameplay centers around dice that you can upgrade to customize your character and then use on these various challenges. I do believe their are some mitigation mechanics placed into the game to help against bad rolls. Published by Druid City Games, a publisher I have been keeping a closer eye on, Tidal Blades features great art by the husband and wife team that go by the moniker Mr. Cuddington. Seriously, you should check out this art, mouth watering.
Edge of Darkness
Edge of Darkness is the third card crafting game from the pairing of AEG and John D. Clair. The first, Mystic Vale, I haven’t played, but the second, Custom Heroes, I have enjoyed quite a bit. These card crafting games have players start with basic cards in transparent plastic sleeves. Throughout the game players place overlays inside of these sleeves altering the cards abilities in different ways. The previous two games in the series are more card games, while this one involves worker placement and has you using these cards in different ways. The solo mode may not be in the base retail edition, but I know it will be available in some fashion down the line.
Anyone who read my top 20 list knows that I have a bit of a thing for engine builders and Stonemaier Games. I would definitely say this game gives you the opportunity to build up an engine. This is a medium weight game where you are attracting birds to your play area that give you various benefits such as laying eggs on cards, tucking cards underneath themselves to grow flocks and gather food. The game boasts 170 different cards and I’ve already tested out the solo game on Tabletopia and it played quickly and easily. Very excited to get a physical copy of this one.
Welcome to Dino World
I don’t currently have any roll and writes in my collection, but there are a few I have my eye on including this one. Roll and writes, Yahtzee being one of the most widely know, have really evolved and seen a surge of new entries in the last year or two. Being a fan of Jurassic Park and Dinosaurs in general this one really caught my eye. Players are competing to build pathways, dinosaur pens and special buildings to score the most points at game end. The game boasts multiple play modes such as danger mode, light mode, and a solo opponent to play against designed by David Turczi.
Proving Grounds is a real-time dice game from the same designer as Fuse and Flatline. Usually I’m not a big fan of real-time games. For those of you who don’t know this means the whole game, or at least portions of it, has players under a time limit to accomplish tasks. Although, this one intrigues me. The big reason is that it contains a short novel that sets the stage for the events in the game. This sounds fascinating and I love games that introduce a bit of narrative to the gameplay. It also appears to be a part of a series being published by Renegade Games that will fall into this line of solo narrative games. This is also the only game that will appear on my list that is strictly solo. That’s right, this can only be played by one player, and that’s just fine with me.
Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea
This is a new game in the Snowdonia family. I’ve heard great things about that one, and I’ve read that this has similar gameplay mechanics with some slightly crunchier elements. Snowdonia has been out long enough to have a plethora of extra content and a soon to be released deluxe version with a higher price tag. In Alubari players compete to cultivate and harvest their own Tea Estates and assist in the building of the Darjeeling and Himalayan Railway. When everything is said and done the player who has contributed the most is the winner. It might not seem like the most exciting theme compared to others on this list, but I think the gameplay will really shine in this one.
Mezo was designed by John Clowdus who has given us games like Neolithic and Omen, which I enjoyed. Kolossal Games is the company bringing this out and they have really jumped in head first to some amazing designs lately. In this one players are all different Mayan Gods with a bevy of followers vying for control of the map. The miniatures for this one look amazing and it features asymmetric powers for each of the Gods and their tribes, which is something I love in games. I know it will feature a solo mode that was unlocked during the kickstarter, but not sure if it will be in the base game, an expansion or sold separately.
Imperial Settlers: Roll & Write
Now, I don’t know much about this one as I just saw it recently, but Imperial Settlers is one of my all time favourites so this one is a no-brainer for me. It is stand-alone and not expanding upon Imperial Settlers at all. As I said earlier this is an instance of roll and writes becoming extremely popular. I know the game focuses heavily on engine-building, which is great. I also remember reading about an adventure mode and 48 unique game sheets. All this sounds bonkers to me and I can’t wait.
I know earlier I said I’m not usually a fan of real-time games, but here’s another one. In this one players start with a set of tiles and have two minutes to build their city as best as they can. In between rounds you buy different tiles to add to your pool of tiles. Players must be careful though as monster tiles will pop up from time-to-time to mess up your plans. After a set number of rounds players add up victory points to see who is the winner. The artwork on the tiles isn’t as flashy as the cover, but it’s not bad and the gameplay sounds pretty solid.
Sleeping Gods comes from Ryan Lauket who is a one man wrecking machine. Red Raven Games is his publishing company, so he publishes, designs and does all the artwork for all of his games. Sleeping Gods is his latest creation that plays one to two players. This is a cooperative game where you and another player take on the role of captain and crew exploring the world created through this storytelling based campaign game. Campaign games can be difficult to play as you need the same group to keep playing, but this one boasts ease for players to jump in and out and being able to stop when you want and continue on later.
In this one players are competing to become the next Neta Tanka, which is the tribal leader. Players will have to take actions such as building tents and crafting objects to score points. The game boasts something they call generosity actions that bring resources into the game. I’m not 100% on how this works, but it seems to involve helping the other players at least to a small extent. So, helping the other players, but not too much sounds interesting. There is also a linking mechanic where you can get boosts an actions if you have workers, called nomads, on adjacent spaces. The art and component quality on this one look great as well.
Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon
Published by Awaken Realms, who is another company I really like to keep my eye on, Tainted Grail is another narrative based exploration campaign game. Boasting 100,000 words of branching story script Tainted Grail offers players lots of lots of paths and story to discover. Sometimes with these narrative games replayablity can suffer, but Awaken Realms has done a good job building lots of alternate endings and story elements to make this a game you can come back to again and again. Also, as seems obvious by now, I’m a sucker for art and components and this game looks to have some of the best. Plus, its blend of Arthurian Legend with Celtic Mythology is drawing from great themes and source material.
Lord of the Rings:
Journeys in Middle Earth
What can I say other than Tolkien’s Middle Earth lore is one I’ve enjoyed and cherished for a long time. I’ve read many of his stories from The Silmarillion to the more widely known The Lord of the Rings. I’ve been searching for a game based in this lore for a long time. I thought I had found it in the living card game published by Fantasy Flight, but I felt the theme in that one was too weak and the deck building was too demanding. When I saw the announcement on this one and read up on it I could barely contain my excitement. This game requires an app to play, just like Mansions of Madness 2nd Ed., and it seems to be taking some inspiration from that game as well. I don’t mind the app requirement like some players and this will be one I definitely will try and get my hands on as soon as I can.