Most Anticipated Games of 2020

It’s time for another list. It has been quite some time posting anything. With a new baby in the home it has been challenging to find the time. Gaming has slowed down a bit, but it definitely hasn’t stopped. Looking back at last years anticipated list is a little sad as I only managed to play 2 of the games on the list. Although, I did enjoy those 2, Imperial Settlers: Roll and Write and Wingspan, quite a bit. I now own them both and they are good games. Others like Journeys in Middle Earth and Neta Tanka fell off the list as I discovered more about gameplay and lost interest. The list this year seems pretty strong and makes me want to try these games out even more.  Without further ado lets get down to it. Enjoy!!!

Endangered

This is a co-op game where players take on different roles trying to protect various species. You are trying to protect their habitat while influencing UN ambassadors to vote yes on an animal protection resolution. If players can do this in time they win. I love this theme quite a lot and hope this game does well as it spreads a good message of conservation and stewardship. It would fit nicely into my classroom and board game club at school. The base game comes with two scenarios, sea otters and tigers, and there is already a panda expansion in the works. the publisher has already said they have multiple ideas for other species to be plugged into the system to change gameplay up a little, which increases replayability. Check it out if you love co-ops and the theme speaks to you.

Altar Quest

This game comes from the same minds that created Street Masters and Brook City. Those two games were wildly successful on kickstarter and featured modular decks that allowed players to customize games and play as different heroes fighting against different villains. Sentinels of the Multiverse was another modular deck game that I wrote about last time. That one eventually became just too fiddly for me, but this one promises to be better, at least for me. I wasn’t as interested in the themes of Brook City and Street Masters, but this fantasy setting is right up my alley. Players pick a custom hero deck, a quest deck to accomplish and an enemy and villain deck and they’re on their way. Mixing and matching decks promises to give this game legs for quite some time and I’m very interested to see how it turns out.

Dawnshade

I’m still trying to find a board game that gives me a role playing feel with good gameplay attached. Mice and Mystics had a great story, but the gameplay left a lot to be desired. Descent was okay, but didn’t quite do it for me. This looks good and promises a massive 34, 220 quest combinations so no two games feel quite the same. With a “choose your own adventure” style of narrative I’m extremely interested. I find dice in these games to be a little annoying, but this one claims to have a unique system. If the gameplay is as good as the narrative sounds this could be a real winner. Here’s to hoping.

Dwellings of Eldervale

This one contains lots of mechanisms I enjoy. It gives you worker placement, area control, engine building and asymmetric factions. The thing that first drew me in though was the artwork. I really like the look of the game and hope that the gameplay is at the same level. Engine builders are something I enjoy quite a bit as you may have seen from past posts. This is primarily a multiplayer game, but comes with a solo option that I hope is just as good.

Final Girl

This one has me excited on theme alone. It comes from Van Ryder Games and at least one of the designers did Hostage Negotiator. I’ve played that one, and didn’t really love it, but they claim this has some key differences in gameplay. I hope so because I love the theme of you playing as the final survivor in a horror film fighting back against the killer. Players can choose from multiple characters and pick from multiple killers who all have different threat decks. This was supposed to come to kickstarter this summer, but has been pushed to an undetermined time next year. Hopefully it sees the light of day before next year is over because I’d love to give it a shot. This is also the only game on this list that is strictly solo playable.

Return to the Dark Tower

This is the next one from Restoration Games and it has a lot of designers involved such as Rob Daviau and Isaac Childres. Rob Daviau is known for several legacy games which I haven’t tried and Isaac Childres’ big hit Gloomhaven holds no real interest for me. Despite that I am interested in this one. It is supposed to be a sequel to the 80’s board game The Dark Tower. Players take on the role of heroes gathering resources, erecting buildings, fighting monsters and going on quests all awaiting a final confrontation with an unknown foe. The game boasts a technical component unlike anything seen before, including the tower itself.  This one sounds very interesting and I can’t wait to give it a try.

Rome and Roll

From the minds that brought us games like Anachrony and Cerebria comes another roll and write game. Roll and Writes have become quite popular in the last year or two and I have managed to play a handful of them. While some are better than others I have been pretty impressed with the ones I’ve managed to play. In this one players are unique characters competing to craft and empire. Most roll and writes are rather simple, but this one seems to be much heavier in comparison and gives players a large list of actions they can perform. The designers are also well know for creating great solo modes and I’m sure Rome and Roll will be no different.

The Isle of Cats

This is a tile laying game with a bit of a bizarre theme. Players are traveling around an island rescuing cats and placing them on their boats. Cats come in different families and players must try and keep them together. The cats are all different shaped tiles, think Tetris, and the artwork on them is gorgeous. You can also collect different stories which gives players unique ways to score. The player with the most points wins. The game can also be played in a family mode for newer players and a solo option is available as well.

Adventure Tactics: Domianne’s Tower

This is another one that I’m hoping gives me a bit of a role playing feel. It’s a cooperative campaign where players will level up and unlock different classes. These classes give them access to new actions, equipment and abilities. The different classes sound like they can make this game at least decently customizable and give players different ways to progress and uncover the story. This is another one with great artwork as well. It’s more cartoony, but I enjoy it quite a bit.

Trudvang Legends

I love mythological themes in games like Cyclades and Kemet. This one has roots in Celtic and Nordic mythology. I’m not a huge fan of CMON as it seems like most of their games are all flash and no substance. I’ve tried a few and wasn’t particularly impressed, but this one intrigues me. The game seems very narrative and as you play through you actually alter the board by placing cards in slots and changing up gameplay in future games. Since the changes aren’t permanent you can play through the story multiple times to get a slightly different experience. Of course, it wouldn’t be CMON without the beautiful minis and this one seems to have those just like all their other titles.

Dice Throne Adventures

This is really more of a cooperative expansion for Dice Thrones, but it makes it different enough that I’m counting as a game in itself. What it does is change Dice Throne from a player v. player combat game to more of a dungeon crawl adventure game. The characters from Dice Throne Season 1 and 2 can be used to travel through these dungeons taking on minions, collecting loot, upgrading decks and finally taking on a big bad. The bosses all play differently I believe and it seems like an interesting way to play the game that allows you to play when you don’t have anyone around who is interested.

Oathsworn: Into the Deepwood

Another narrative focused adventure game that may have some interesting combat mechanisms. Encounters can be multi-staged boss fights that sound really interesting. It has a legacy style campaign, which I’ve never tried, but  would be up for as long as it isn’t destructive. The combat system adds a push your luck dice component that might make it a little more interesting. Also, the artwork looks incredible and while I don’t necessarily go for minis these look fantastic.

Wonderland’s War

This is the only multiplayer only game on my list, but I couldn’t help myself because it looks and sounds amazing. Just look at the picture above. I’ve only seen a few pieces of the art released so far, but they all look incredible. The premise is that the inhabitants of Wonderland are going to war and that the winner will be crowned the new ruler of Wonderland. Players meet at a tea party to draft cards to gather forces, build towers, recruit characters and upgrade their chosen leader. This all culminates in a battle and then players return to the tea party to muster more strength. After 3 rounds the ruler is the one who has scored the most points. The game also involves bag building and area control. All in all it sounds like a fun time.

Honey Buzz

This one is a worker placement game where players are drafting honeycomb tiles that they will place in their hive. Each of the tiles represents a different action. When a certain pattern is completed a string of actions is triggered in the order the player chooses. Sounds like engine building to me and that gets me all jazzed up. It looks like it is a competitive game that comes with a solo mode and its one that I’d love to give a try some time.

Hour of Need

Yet another modular deck system game from the Sadler brothers. You can pretty much just insert my feelings for Altar Quest that came previously. This one also has a theme that I find more interesting than Brook City or Street Masters. I like the customizable nature that these games provide. Being able to mix and match decks to quickly change up gameplay is great and you don’t even have to build the decks yourself as they’re ready to go. Excited to see how this one turns out.

Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles

This one comes from Mindclash games who created one of my favourites, Anachrony. This one uses dice drafting and placement on worker areas constructed by the players. The game is five episodes that tells a story about survivors creating a civilization on a dangerous island. This one is a euro game that seems to bring along a decent narrative with it. You can play the episodes as standalones or as a continuous story. When played as a story the outcome has an influence on the next game played. This is a non-legacy format though and is replayable afterwards. This one doesn’t currently have a solo mode, but Mindclash has always said they will do them when feasible, and they’ve had one for every game so far. So, here’s to hoping.

Top Anticipated Games of 2019

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.

                          Wingspan

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

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

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.

                        Sorcerer City

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

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.

                        Neta Tanka

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.