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FOREWARD: I know it is very late in the year to be releasing a most anticipated list. I've even received one of the games on the list at time of publishing, but have yet to play it. However, it's never too late to anticipate. Enjoy!
Last year I released a few blog posts dedicated to board games that I was looking forward to in 2021. I only managed to publish four articles before it seemed too far into the year to continue that series. Despite the overwhelming misfortune of Covid delays and shipping dilemmas, all four games that I showcased did manage to deliver last year: Cascadia, Tortuga 2199, Dinosaur World, and Townsfolk Tussle (although it is considered a 2022 release). Other titles that I fully intended to write about were pushed back for one or another- or perhaps even a multitude of them, but will certainly find a place in this list
Before I get to the list, there are a few things to mention that need your consideration. There's no guarantee these games will be released this year. There will be several titles that I am unaware of that deserve to be on this list. Most of these were crowdfunded, one is a second printing, one is currently being delivered and a couple are expansions to existing games. Finally, this list is presented in alphabetical order- not in order of anticipation.
After the Empire
Grey Fox Games
After the Empire was released near the beginning of 2021 to wide acclaim aaaaaand was quickly unavailable as retailers sold out everywhere. The demand was certainly high and Grey Fox Games jumped on it. They released a campaign near the middle of 2021 for a reprint and gave those who backed/ordered a chance to get the same Kickstarter components.
After the Empire combines worker placement and tower defense as players grab as much gold as possible but must always carefully consider that those whose pockets with more money are also more susceptible for brutal attack. Players must decide if they want to hire soldiers or pay for mercenaries who only work for you during the current round. Seems like an easy decision to take the soldiers, but they must be fed at the end of every round. And this is only one of a multitude of choices players must decide.
Plus, what other game allows you to welcome Sweeney Todd into your city?
Atlantis Rising: Monstrosities
Elf Creek Games
Atlantis Rising is not a new game. Even the second edition is a couple of years old at this point. Still, I've never had the privilege of playing this unique cooperative game where players assume the role of various Atlanteans who must accumulate materials to build a device that will transport them off of their sinking island.
I find that I am enjoying worker placement more and more as I get further entrenched in the hobby. However, deep down I am still a dice chucker. Putting both of those together seems like a perfect match for this board gamer.
Monstrosities adds even more to the game with monsters that hinder your progress, but can also be turned to your side against the gods who are intent on plunging your island below the waves. And have you seen the components?!
As excited as I am to play this game, it does have a dark scar currently. This was supposed to be delivered back in October. With the current woes of the shipping industry I can understand late. However, as of my typing, the artwork hasn't even been completed. To their credit, Elf Creek is giving backers more figures, but it is disappointing. Here's hoping that my disappointment will be washed away much like the mystical isle itself.
Deliverance: The Game of Spiritual Warfare
I am a fan of the writings of Frank Peretti. His ability to incorporate Christian beliefs inside psychological thriller is incomparable. When I read about Deliverance, it was like a synopsis of This Present Darkness, Peretti's most well-known work. I was instantly intrigued.
Deliverance has its players working together as angelic warriors to bring an end to demonic control over a town and its citizens. It appears to have elements of a dungeon crawler with a dash of boss-battler. Those ingredients create some of my favorite gaming recipes, but it was the theme that looks to separate it from other titles within the genre.
Endless Winter: Paleo-Americans
Endless Winter is a game that is attempting to weave the deck-building and worker placement genres much like Dune: Imperium and Lost Ruins of Arnak. Instead of amassing influence as in Dune, or researching and exploring as in Lost Ruins, players will be creating the most successful village of early-American tribes.
While I have not been a big fan of The Mico's artwork (although I've also not been exposed to much of it), I feel his talent is really on display here. Newcomer to the publishing world- Fantasia Games, is also looking to be a fierce competitor in the who-has-the-best-components battle. Everything looks extremely polished from the chief miniatures to the game inserts.
Endless Winter has had its share of delays, but is hoping to begin mass-production after the Chinese New Year.
Fall of the Mountain King
Burnt Island Games
One of my favorite titles is Burnt Island Games' In the Hall of the Mountain King where trolls are reclaiming their mountain home years after the great war with the gnomes that banished them. Fall of the Mountain King tells the story of the trolls' defeat. Players are cast as different tribes of trolls and are tasked with withstanding the gnome onslaught as best they can. Inevitably, players will fail, but you're wanting to win honor and acclaim for your feats in the battle.
This area-control game also uses what looks to be an interesting puzzle system where players put them together in a grid and are able to connect symbols to make their actions stronger. Players must also win favor with champions to side with their clans and to send as many gnomes as possible to their grave.
Merchants of the Dark Road
Elf Creek Games
Kickstarter backers of Merchants of the Dark Road are receiving their copies as I type this. To say the initial reaction has been mixed is an understatement. So far, this game has either been adored by critics or been given middling reviews at best. I prefer to make my own judgments and refuse to allow my anticipation to fade due to these less-than-favorable opinions.
Each player takes a merchant and uses a plethora of mechanisms including a rondel, dice selection, pick-up-and-deliver, and even polyomino-esque tile placement to earn both prestige and money by fulfilling orders and taking travelers where they want to go. The prestige a player has is open information, but the amount of coins is hidden behind a screen. At the end of the game, the lower of the two is a player's score.
As I mentioned with another Elf Creek Games title above- Atlantis Rising, the component quality here is top-notch! There might be others who are making games as deluxe as Elf Creek, but there aren't many.
Oathsworn: Into the Deepwood
Oathsworn was my number one most anticipated game last year, and due to the immense size of the game, fine-tuning elements, and the general delays in manufacturing the industry has been mired in, it remains the title I am looking forward to the most as it has yet to deliver. Current estimates have Oathsworn delivering this summer, and I truly hope to be exploring Bastone and the Deepwood by the end of July.
This is a massive RPG-like game where players level up in preparation to take on gargantuan denizens of the Deepwood with an impressive scale of "miniatures" to match. Each chapter of this (hopefully) rich story ends in a strategic salvo where players hopefully catch the beast by surprise and not be at the disadvantage of being first discovered themselves.
What types of baddies will these companies be up against? I don't know, save for a giant mother rat who rains down a torrent of her vile offspring to aid her in battle. The other bosses are secretly hidden, waiting to be discovered both in story and in reality.
Combine all this with an intriguing battle system, and there seems to be only one word that fits- epic.
Paint the Roses
Growing up, I always loved it when my teacher would break out a good logic puzzle for the students to accomplish. That's not to say I was the best at them, but I enjoyed the thought-triggering cleverness of them. Other things that I enjoyed as a child were the story of Alice and Wonderland and working together with people I care about. Paint the Roses combines all of these in a beautiful package.
Players are tasked with "whim" cards that display roses in a certain combination. These whims might be the shapes of card suits next to one another, or they might include the color of the roses, or, for the most difficult whim cards, both. On a turn, a player will take a tile from the four available, place it in the best possible position, and lay a certain number of cubes on it which declares the amount of correct connections this tile makes with the whim card in hand. Any other player may place cubes as well if the new tile also satisfies the whim held in his/her hand as well.
After each turn, the players must guess at least one person's whim card rule. If the group is correct, their avatar will move up the appropriate number of spaces. If they are wrong, the Queen of Hearts will advance toward you a certain number of spaces depending on where the players are on the board. If she ever catches you, game over.
Several new elements to change the way the game is played will also be available. I can't wait to puzzle my way through the royal rose gardens of Wonderland with my closest friends and family.
Wingspan Expansion and Nesting Box
Wingspan is a family favorite. I have recently acquired both the European and Oceania expansions to add to the gameplay. While I do have a tendency to want everything for a game, when it's as loved as Wingspan it makes sense.
While there isn't really any information about the new expansion, Stonemaier quality is superior, and anything they publish deserves to be anticipated.
The nesting box will provide a way to put everything Wingspan, base game and all "wingspansions," including space for a few unreleased ones, in one box.
I know it's already the end of March, but what games yet to be released this year are you most looking forward to?