Good Thursday, my fellow TableTop friends! It is late January and there is anticipation in the air! The Super Bowl is very close and my favorite childhood team, the 49ers, are back in the big game. My oldest son and I are very excited to see how things go on Sunday.
There’s also anticipation in the air from the board game front. I have so many Kickstarter projects (from last year…and one even from 2018) that I am eager to see make their way to my front door during 2020.
January has been the quiet before the storm — no arrivals this month — projects getting delayed — but the time is coming…I better enjoy those Christmas acquisitions now, before the Kickstarter waves start crashing in.
And thus, for this week, my top 10 list will be looking at the new 2020 titles that I am most anticipating from Kickstarter fulfillments — these are new board games that, as of right now, should arrive in 2020. Let’s get started!
Honorable Mention – Legacies, Brookspun Games
Legacies would easily be in my top 5 most anticipated, but I’m sticking it in honorable mention because it is estimated to arrive in December. Any delay could easily push the game into 2021. And even if it does arrive on time, Legacies will essentially be a game getting a lot of play time next year…not this one.
#10 – Unsettled, Orange Nebula
I put Unsettled at 10, because it is one that I’m very nervous about. I am finding that I am not a huge fan of exploration / dungeon-crawl cooperative games, so I am very “hopeful” that I will end up enjoying this game play. Things that are going for it –> that have me excited:
- Not a campaign or legacy game…so I can just play with whatever group I have and not worry about having to get them back together for future plays.
- The unique settings of each planet. I’m hopeful that these planet “modules” of the core Unsettled system will create the right amount of variability to make each play of the game familiar, but different at the same time.
- The campaign –> specifically being involved in creating one of the game’s planets as a community during the campaign. That was a fun and exciting process and I am intrigued to see how that planet turns out after production.
- Orange Nebula. I absolutely love their first game, Vindication. Enough that I’m excited to see what they come up with next…and thus, Unsettled gets a “buy-n-try” from me.
#9 – Stygian Society, APE Games
I backed the Stygian Society in October of 2018. It was initially estimated to arrive this past August. There have been various production delays and right now March looks like a best-case scenario for fulfillment. That said, I’m still excited for this game to arrive — it is one that my oldest son has been anticipating as well, so I look forward to playing with him.
The Stygian Society is a cooperative “dungeon crawl” game that utilizes a cube tower. In fighting off the bad guy hordes, your team of heroes will want their own hero cubes to pour out of the tower, while avoiding Enemy cubes that can trigger dangerous attacks. Survive enough waves and then try to put it all together to fight the Boss Wizard at game’s end. Heroes will get the chance to level up during this 60-120 minute process and work together, utilizing each others’ strengths to figure out how to best take down the enemies.
#8 – Namiji, Funforge
I have played Tokaido in the past and I am looking forward to seeing what Antoine Bauza’s new game in this universe provides. Right off the bat, I can tell that the artwork and components look outstanding! There were plenty of goals stretched and met during this campaign — some of which look like they will provide a solid amount of variability to what looks like a fun, strategic, and yet peaceful board game experience.
#7 – Glory: A Game of Knights, Strategos Games
This is one of the game’s on this list that most feels like a “guilty pleasure.” I can’t help but love the theme of this game: valiant knights of old, competing in jousting tournaments, relying on faith, trying to earn fame and prestige, and maybe even catching the eye of a fair maiden. This is a worker placement game (which I love) that allows for a variety of activities for knights to pursue between tournaments –> and then three tournaments, which will include good ol’ dice-chucking fun…but with opportunities for mitigation depending on where you focused your activities beforehand.
Glory looks like a solid game, with fun gameplay, that is wrapped up in a really cool thematic presentation.
#6 – Time of Legends: Destinies, Lucky Duck Games
From Lucky Duck, I have really enjoyed Chronicles of Crime and the app integration of that detective game. Now, this same company is taking what they know about app integration and bringing it to the Time of Legends world. Destinies is a story-driven, adventure and exploration game. What I believe will stand out with this title, compared to other adventure / exploration games…or other app-driven games…is that Destinies is a competitive game –> and that is what sold me. For some reason, it irks me to play a game and have the “bad guy” win…or less thematically, the “game” wins…which is what can drive me nuts about tough cooperative games or certain solo games.
I’m excited, though, to dive into a medieval-fantasy universe — where I need to make deductions, go on adventures, and explore the world and yet be able to do so in a competitive environment.
My King Pledge of this title provides the expansion content, so there will be 11 unique scenarios to try right off the bat, which should provide plenty of great content!
#5 – Calico, Flatout Games
In general, the games on this top 10 list are either big productions or have big themes — they are table hogs or time eaters. Calico, though, is the small (essentially abstract) strategy game that I am most excited about from my Kickstarter forays. I am a big fan of tile-laying games and the variety of scoring options that this game provides hits a sweet spot for me.
The artwork (Beth Sobel) looks great, the theme is fun and different, plus the components will be terrifically tactile as well. On top of that, late in the campaign, the “stitch” goal of scenarios and achievements was unlocked. I’m excited to see what the Flatout Games team comes up with for these scenarios to create increased replayability and strategizing.
#4 – Space Race, Boardcubator
I am honestly a fan of the space exploration theme, yet in board gaming, I tend to be turned off by the visual aesthetics of most games with this theme. The artwork and graphic design of Space Race, though, is brilliant and is exactly what I’m looking for from this genre.
I’m also a big fan of engine-building games and can’t wait to see exactly how that gets executed in Space Race. My initial study of this game and read-through of the rulebook has me expecting a Race for the Galaxy-style card system, when it comes to triggering certain actions from one’s tableau…yet, Space Race looks to be a richer experience with stronger ties to its thematic storyline. And hey, the rocket miniatures will be fun, too!!
#3 – The Great Wall, Awaken Realms
I’ll admit right up front. I’m nervous about finding the right group to be able to get The Great Wall to the table often. My worry is that it will arrive later in the year and sit on the shelf too often. My hope is that won’t be the case, because The Great Wall looks like a very exciting mix of mechanisms: variable player powers, worker placement, silent bidding, semi-cooperative defense strategies, and multiple play modes.
Thematically, I get the vibe that The Great Wall will do a wonderful job of invoking the idea of being a general who, while looking to defend his nation and people, is also heavily concerned with the honor that he and his own soldiers receive — the mix of unity and personal motives. Along with exciting game play, Awaken Realms brings lots of great pieces to the game. I’m a fan of Meeples, so I went with the Meeple version of this game, but this game should still look outstanding on the table, especially as the game progresses and the Great Wall begins to rise in hopes of holding back the barbarian hordes.
#2 – The Few and Cursed, Rock Manor Games
Theme: Western / horror / fantasy, based on a comic book series by Felipe Cagno and Fabiano Neves. While the comic series takes a more “adult” approach then I would personally enjoy, I love Fabiano’s artwork and he has done an excellent job of bringing the book series’ characters to this board game.
At its heart, The Few and Cursed is a deck-builder (woohoo!!) but mixed with an open sandbox world to explore. In the game, water is your main form of currency as your character will look to stay healthy, keep a hold of some bullets, and carefully manage his/her cursed status –> while dealing with encounters, looking for artifacts, and fighting various scary monsters –> all in the name of scoring…well…victory points 🙂 I was very pleased in 2019 with Rock Manor’s cooperative game Set a Watch and thus have high expectations for this 2020 title.
#1 – Dwellings of Eldervale, Breaking Games
One of my favorite campaigns from 2019 was the one Breaking Games put together for Dwellings of Eldervale. Not only was it exciting to see new stretch goals revealed and to watch live playthroughs, but I had a lot of fun participating in the labyrinthine puzzle they concocted for backers as a means of earning a free miniature for the game.
As with my #3 and #7 picks, Dwellings of Eldervale is a worker placement game. It is a worker placement game, though, that ties in heavily to the tableau engine that you may or may not focus on…because retrieved workers get to come back home and trigger more actions. Along with that, players will be revealing hex tiles that expand the Eldervale world during the game. Your workers will be placed there, but some of them will get left as they set up Dwellings. Thus, players will have to manage the tough decision of gaining benefits from retrieved workers, versus the value of creating Dwellings.
On top of that, there is fighting in this game. In fact, you can fight your opponents and potentially send them to the afterlife [Note: you can get those workers back, but they don’t trigger your tableau]. But if fighting opposing factions isn’t enough for you, then get ready for some big bad Monsters (in the form of large, colorful miniatures) that you can fight. These monsters will be difficult to defeat, yet the game makes it possible — which means you can expect some great moments of fist-pumping whenever you take one down.
And if that’s not enough, I hope you like area control as well. Every play session will feature a certain number of the game’s 8 elements that players will battle to control. Do you put together a super-strong, single element focus or try to diversify your scoring options through knowledge of multiple elements?
Dwellings of Eldervale comes with 8 unique elemental factions (with their own variable worker powers)….and in fact, each elemental faction has two factions to choose from. So, 16 total factions — matched up with 16 giant monsters to deal with. Huge replayability in this game, which is great, because Dwellings is the current front-runner for my favorite new game of 2020. My birthday is in May and I’m very excited for this game’s fulfillment that month to make my last year before 40 a great one!
Well, folks…the money is already out the door, so now it is time to just sit patiently and wait for these pieces of cardboard gold to arrive on my doorstep.
What game from this list has you most excited? Any other 2020 title that you are highly anticipating?