Top 10 Anticipated Games of 2019 – Part 1
I thought 2018 was a fantastic year for games. Essen produced some superb offerings. There were also lots of very exciting Kickstarter projects. Most of these will be delivered in 2019 so I’ve got lots to look forward to this year.
Like last year, this list is almost exclusively comprised of Kickstarter projects that I’ve backed. Why is that? Well, although there are other games that I might potentially be excited about, I learn far more about a game by backing and following it on Kickstarter than I would from a publisher’s announcement. It therefore feels like a more concrete offering.
So which games am I anticipating the most? Let’s take a look…
Do Apps Count as Boardgames?
I was recording one of our “Top 30 Games of All Time” videos on the Boardgame Opinions channel the other day and we got into an interesting discussion about app implementations of boardgames and whether or not they count.
You see, one of them (spoiler alert!) had put Through the Ages on their list. However, they added the rather significant caveat that they would only play the game on the app, not in real life. Now as someone who really likes the game (and has played the boardgame and the app plenty of times), I can completely understand his point of view.
Through the Ages is long and there’s a lot of downtime in a four-player game. The app gives you much the same experience of the game, but it’s so much faster and has no downtime! Are you still playing a boardgame at that point though? Well, it turns out we had fairly strong opinions about that! Let me present you with the opposing arguments and you can make up your own mind…
BGG Top 10 Designers
I came across a very interesting article on BoardGameGeek (BGG) the other day: the All-Time Designer Ranking (2018). Tony Chen (who himself is a designer) has come up with a formula that looks at the top 1000 games by rank on BGG and effectively assigns points to the designers according to how high up each of their games is.
So the more games a designer has designed, the more points they get, but if none of their games has been rated very highly, they won’t get many points. The article then ranks all of the designers according to this magic formula. It reads like a “who’s who” of boardgame designers.
So I thought it would be interesting today to take a look at the top 10. Which designers made it to the list? How many could you guess before seeing the list? Which are their highest ranked games? Let’s take a look…
Top 5 Christmas Games 2018
Christmas is fast approaching again. Time for some serious gaming! I have been playing games with my extended family pretty much my entire life at Christmas and it’s always a highlight of the year for me.
What should you play though? You often have an unusual mix of people to play games with during the holidays, from the very young to the very old. You certainly can’t break out your favourite heavy Euro unless you have very intellectual family members!
So in no particular order, here are my recommendations for games to play at Christmas, whether it’s with friends or family…
KS Spotlight: Tainted Grail
One of the biggest Kickstarter projects of last year was The 7th Continent. It garnered a massive $7 million in pledges from over 40,000 backers. It was a sprawling, survival, adventure game where cards formed an expanding continent. I loved it.
So when someone recommended Tainted Grail to me as being a dark fantasy version of The 7th Continent, but better, I was immediately hooked!
It is currently on Kickstarter (finishing on 28th December) and achieved well over $1 million in funding in the first day! It is already one of the top 100 most-funded projects ever on Kickstarter (not just boardgames) and it is less than a week in at the time of writing.
Interested? Let me tell you about it…
Kickstarters are Like Buses…
…you wait around for months and then seven come along at once! Having had nothing but eerie silence for several months, I have received seven different Kickstarters over the past few weeks.
The interesting thing is the range of dates over which I originally backed them. It’s not like I backed seven projects all within the same month last year and now they’re all delivering. I backed the first game from this group in July 2017 and I backed the last one in March 2018. That’s an 8-month period!
I’ve been backing Kickstarters for several years now and I’ve noticed this trend before: like buses, they tend to clump up and all arrive at once. Why is that? I keep trying to space out my backing in an effort to space out the arrivals, but it never works!
Well, I think there are two key reasons for this. Let me tell you…
We started a new series on the Boardgame Opinions channel last week called House Rules. The idea behind it is that contestants are trying to figure out the rules to a game just by looking at the components. Supposedly they’ve “lost” the rulebook and just have to take an educated guess as to how to play.
Afterwards, someone who has played the game properly and knows the rules comes on and lets them know how they did: what they got right and what they got completely wrong! It was a fascinating experiment. How well do you think you would do on House Rules?
Top 5 Games from Essen 2018
With around 1400 games being released at Essen this year, I haven’t quite managed to play all of them yet! So I’m compiling my list from a rather narrow sample, but I’ve certainly played most of the high profile releases now.
Some games have come through traditional retail channels (which I can play through my local boardgame café: The Dice Cup); some have come from Kickstarter (lots of Kickstarters push to have release versions of their game available in time for Essen); but I bought a lot of games myself at Essen, exceeding my luggage allowance for the return flight!
My criteria for being an Essen game is a bit loose: essentially, it’s anything that I either played at Essen (which includes demos of unreleased games) or that was released at Essen and I’ve since played back in the UK.
So without further ado, here are my top 5 favourite games (in no particular order) from Essen this year…
What is Essen?
A couple of weeks ago, I took a flight to Essen, a city in Germany, with my son for a long weekend away. Our sole purpose for going was to visit the Essen Spiel 2018, the largest boardgame fair in the world. A whopping 190,000 people attended the fair this year.
I’ve been mulling over my experiences since coming back and thinking about how it compares to other boardgame conventions (such as the UK Games Expo, which is my main benchmark for comparison).
People warned me before going that it was very cramped and not necessarily a very enjoyable experience. Apparently, some people would go there to buy the latest games and saw the fair itself as a necessary evil.
Much to my surprise, I enjoyed it far more than I expected to, but it is quite different from other boardgame conventions and there are a few things that you ought to be aware of if you’re considering going for the first time. Let me tell you all about it…
Graphic Novel Adventures
As a child, I was always a sucker for Choose Your Own Adventure books. The idea that you didn’t have to follow the hero around, but could actively decide which path to take, was revolutionary at the time.
Obviously we have plenty of games these days that give you a character and you get to decide everything that that character does. One thing that many of these games lack though, is the depth of theme that you get from a well-written story.
Combining an engaging story with enough decision making to make you feel part of that story is a tricky balance to strike, and even today very few games manage this. One new entry into this genre is a series of books from Van Ryder Games known as Graphic Novel Adventures. Let me tell you about them…