I don’t tend to follow games once a Kickstarter project has finished, particularly because I back so many; it can be hard to keep track. Every now and then an update comes through for a game I backed months ago and I go, “Oh yeah! I’d forgotten about that one!”
So going through all the Kickstarters I backed last year and picking out my most anticipated 10 games has been an enjoyable experience. I keep being reminded of great games that will be coming later this year!
Last week we looked at the bottom half, numbers 10 through 6, so today we’re looking at the best of the bunch (in my opinion!). Here are the top 5 games I’m looking forward to this year…
I love a good detective story and over the past year or so there has been a spate of good detective games. Detective: City of Angels promises to fit right in. As well as the usual wandering around town following leads and questioning people, it has a couple of interesting features.
Firstly, the theme. It’s set in Los Angeles during the 1940s, which is a common enough period in films and books, but I don’t think I’ve seen any boardgames set at that time. From a meat wagon (an ambulance) to a wooden kimono (a coffin), they’ve made an effort to include lots of lingo from the time, which really puts you there!
Secondly, the role of the ‘chisel’. One player acts as a game master of sorts, but is working against the other players trying to prevent them from uncovering the truth in the case. When you question a suspect, the chisel selects from a number of responses. If you think they are hiding something, you can press the suspect, which might reveal more information, but if the chisel was completely honest with the first response, they gain collateral over you, which they can use to make your life more difficult later on.
It’s a novel mechanism and I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out in practice.
4. Solomon Kane
I had a chance to play Solomon Kane at one of the Mythic events held by the publisher last year in London. It’s a tactical-skirmish adventure game focussed on the puritan crime-fighter from Robert E. Howard’s novels.
I love the artwork and they’ve done a great job integrating the theme into the game. The scenarios are really varied, both in setting (from foggy moorlands to seedy inns) and actions: some scenarios require lots of fighting, but some require you to question people for information.
It has a very unusual way of taking actions: each player controls a virtue, an angelic spirit helping to guide Solomon Kane by working in the spiritual realm. Some virtues help him more in combat, some help him more when searching for clues and you have to work together very closely with the other players to make the most of your abilities. It’s a challenging game and promises many, many hours of play.
Too Many Bones is one of my top 10 games of all time. So when the publishers announced another big-box skirmish game using some similar ideas, I was immediately sold. Cloudspire integrates another game genre that I really enjoy though: tower defense.
I love computer games where you have a base and you spawn units who follow an automated path towards the enemy base attacking any enemies they meet on the way. Cloudspire promises to do a very similar thing in a board game.
Using their trademark high-quality poker chips as units, there are a number of factions with wildly varying troops that each play very differently. I got to see a prototype at Essen last year and it looks great. If there’s one thing they are renowned for, it’s top-notch components, which always makes a difference to me. As a package, this could easily be one of the best games of the year for me.
Tainted Grail follows in the footsteps of The 7th Continent, which is another of my top 10 games of all time. It’s an adventure game set in a dark fantasy world where players are exploring an expanding map of locations in the middle of the table.
The Kickstarter was incredibly successful, being the fourth most-funded boardgame ever. As a result of this, the game promises to come with tons of stuff. From characters and scenarios to encounter cards and items, having lots of content is very important for an adventure game. Replayability is often an issue with adventure games, so you want the game to come with many, many hours of gameplay to make the most of your money.
The theme looks very interesting as well. The world is falling into darkness and you have to travel around lighting huge braziers. If a brazier goes out and you lose the light to a section of the map, you can’t travel there anymore! It adds a great time-pressure element. You need to explore quickly before the light fails!
My stand out game from Essen last year was Monumental. It helped that I actually got to play this one, and considering it was a prototype copy, it looked amazing! It’s a civ-building, dudes-on-a-map game, but I loved the artwork and there are a ton of miniatures, which look great.
This combines good-old rampaging around on a map with what might be my favourite genre of game: I love civ-building. I’ve never found a game that does it quite right though. The closest for me was Sid Meier’s Civilization, but the combat was very clunky.
Monumental, as far as I can tell, seems to have nailed it. It has a really interesting spatial deck-building mechanism. You activate one row and one column of a grid of action cards, discard them and then refill the grid from your deck. It gives you lots of tricky decisions.
Coupled with everything you’d expect from a civ-builder (technology, culture, wonders, civics, warfare), this is the one game I’m looking forward to more than any other this year.
Do you like looking ahead to see what games are coming or would you rather spend your time focussing on games that have already been released?