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…
Euros don’t often grab my attention. They’re often focussed more on mechanics than theme and it’s hard to appreciate great mechanics until you’ve actually played the game. However, Ragusa (based in the city of Dubrovnik) really stood out.
It’s an interesting take on worker placement: you build houses that activate actions. However, each house you build activates the three spaces around it, which allows for lots of tricky decision making. There are also opportunities for combo-ing actions by triggering previous houses you’ve built.
Add to that a nifty mechanism whereby your houses will get reactivated when other people build near them, and I’m sold. Lots of engine-building and attractive artwork – this is one Euro I’m really keen on.
9. Tidal Blades
I was a big fan of The Grimm Forest from Druid City Games last year. It had fantastic artwork and production quality coupled with an engaging family-weight game. Well they’re back this year with Tidal Blades, which promises to deliver just as well as The Grimm Forest.
I love the artwork and it looks very family friendly again. It has worker placement with some dice-rolling combat. Each player takes on one of the “heroes of the reef” and there are ways to mitigate bad dice rolls and level up your dice to improve your fighting skills.
I love dice levelling systems. Put that into a family weight game with great components and you just can’t go wrong.
8. Escape Plan
This is one game that I haven’t backed, but it’s designed by Vital Lacerda who has designed some excellent games and is known for very heavy Euros. Rather surprisingly, the theme doesn’t make you think of a Euro though and it was the theme that really grabbed me on this one.
Essentially, it’s the aftermath of a heist. You have collectively robbed a bank, stashed the money in various safe places around town and you were enjoying a life of luxury until the police caught a break in the case and now they’re hot on your heels.
You have to run around town trying to grab as much cash as you can and escape before you get caught. Whoever escapes with the most money wins. En route you will need to create diversions, use local gangs, bribe police and even lead them to your former partners (and thus away from you). It sounds like a blast! And a very different theme from Vital Lacerda’s other games.
This is an unassuming little mage vs. mage card game from Awaken Realms (who had several mega-hits on Kickstarter last year). This one got much less buzz comparably, but I was really interested. The artwork was great for starters, but it had a few unusual mechanisms to it as well.
Every card in your deck is a creature, but it also has an ability and you have to decide when playing the card whether to play the creature, use the ability or sacrifice it for mana. If it is played as a creature, it begins advancing on a track in the middle of the play area and only when it reaches the top of the track can it actually activate and attack, after which it is discarded.
It feels very thematic. You can see your units advancing toward the enemy and their units advancing toward you. It clearly requires you to plan ahead based on the creatures you can see coming. It also provides lots of tricky decisions: of course you’d love to get all your creatures out, but the ability on that creature would be really useful right now!
Pronounced “U Boat” (with a German accent!), this is an app-driven game about sailing (or is it driving?) a German submarine around during world war II. It is a bit like Captain Sonar, except you’re playing co-operatively against the app and it feels much more serious.
Players take actions on a 3D model of a submarine in front of them in an attempt to complete their mission and deal with incoming threats. It is played in real time with the app relaying information you would receive from your instruments. For example you can raise your periscope and the app will actually show you what you can see.
It sounds really immersive and I know they’ve put a lot of work into the app. It’s an unusual theme and reports from people who have tried it have been very positive. If they can pull it off, I know I’ll love this one.
So that’s the bottom half of the list. Join me next week for the Top 5! Which games are you most looking forward to in 2019?