Everyone loves getting a new game! Below are a culmination of this year’s top games, the BGSmack Board Game Deals Group most popular new titles, and some of our personal favorites! Whether you’re new to the world of board gaming or a seasoned gamer, there is something here that will fit into your collection.
Cartographers – Flip and Write
1-100 Players – 30-45 Mins – Ages 14+
Each player is given a map sheet and pencil. Through four phases, players reveal Explore cards that dictate what shape and terrain types they can draw on their map. They do this while attempting to maximize the most reputation points as possible. This is a great light game that plays quick, is easy to teach, and easy to travel with. A dedicated gaming group might use Cartographers as a warm up for the night, or to introduce teens and adults to the hobby of gaming.
Draftosaurus – Set Collection / Dino Drafting
2-5 Players – 15 Mins – Ages 8+
In this family weight drafting game, players work to attract visitors to their dino park. Instead of using cards for drafting, players use dino meeples. Once you select a dino, players strategically place them onto their player boards to score points. Draftosaurus is a relatively quick game, and anyone who has played Sushi Go! will catch on quickly. This could be used as a fun game to open up or your game night, but would also work as something to play the kids.
Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated – Legacy / Deckbuilding
2-4 Players – 90-120 Mins – Ages 13+
In its first legacy version (assuming there will be more to come!), Clank! A.I. is a semi-coop that has you exploring dungeons and fighting monsters, much like the original game. However, now your actions and choices will permanently affect your campaign! Players will be running adventure franchises, customizing characters, and working to save the world as they play through the 44 page campaign book. While this adds some new stuff, Clank! is a game that is pretty easy to get into, even with casual players. You will however want a group that is going to be able to consistently play through the whole campaign. What’s wonderful about this legacy games, is you can still finish it when the campaign ends!
Dragonrealm – Card / Dice Game
2-4 Players – 30 Mins – Ages 10+
A sequel to the incredibly popular Dragonwood, Dragonrealm has players collecting sets of cards, which ultimately let you roll dice. The results of your rolls are used to explore with the hope of finding treasure. There will be some obstacles that get in your way, of course! The player with the most gold at game end wins. This is a step up in complexity from Dragonwood and offers more interesting decisions.
Trash Pandas – Card / Dice Game
2-4 Players – 15-20 Mins – Ages 8+
I will admit that I overlooked this game for a long while. I assumed that because it was from Gamewright and with a silly theme, it was another card game targeted towards children. And it can be….but Trash Pandas is also a wonderfully fun game that adults can also enjoy. It’s cheap, fun, and a great game to bust out at holiday get together. I would not hesitate to start my regular game nights out with this, or teach it to my younger nephews. On you turn you roll a die that lets you take certain actions. If you keep rolling, you can gain the possibility of more actions, but also increase the chance of “busting” and losing your turn. You will be drawing, stealing, and stashing cards.
Pipeline – Economic / Euro
2-4 Players – 30 Mins – Ages 12+
Love crunchy euros and haven’t tried Pipeline yet? Well, what are you waiting for? Players run private oil companies and try to deliver refined oils of varying values. While it is important to manage the purchasing and selling of your product in the markets, you’ll also have to worry about how to get it there. Crafting your own network can be a bit of a brain burner, but once you get the hang of it, the gameplay is pretty straight forward. The player with the most money at the end of the game wins.
Jaws – Co-op / One vs. All
2-4 Players – 45-60 Mins – Ages 12+
This is a one-vs-all game that is perfect for families with older children, or regular game groups. One person plays as the shark, while the other players work together to save tourists on Amity Island and stop the shark. You do need to know anything about the movies to play. It is played over two phases. In the first phase, employees of the island work to save swimmers and find the shark. In the second phase, players try to kill the shark and avoid being eaten! While Jaws is not too complex, each player must be familiar with the rules and abilities of their character. I would suggest playing this those who have some experience with games.
Aeon’s End: Legacy – Legacy / Deckbuilding
1-4 Players – 60 Mins – Ages 14+
The Aeon’s End series is considered to be one of the best deckbuilding games on the market. The legacy takes everything that made the original games great, and adds an immersive narrative. It is still a fully cooperative game. If you have played any other versions of the game, or are a fan of coop deckbuilders, you will be doing yourself a favor by picking this up. Be warned, it is a challenging game and I would not recommend it to casual players. As with Clank! Legacy, in Aeon’s End Legacy you will also want a group who will be able to finish out the campaign. This does have a few methods to make the game replayable, but for the most part, any plays after the initial campaign probably won’t offer the same kind of excitement as the first did. Don’t let that sway you from the fact that it is an amazing experience that will offer you many hours of game time. You will not only build your characters as you work through the game, but also a unique story that you will never forget. Expect to get 10-12 hours of gameplay out of this box.
Just One – Party / Word Game
3-7 Players – 20 Mins – Ages 8+
Just One is another cooperative game where you will work as a team to get the active player to guess a mystery word from a drawn card. The clue givers cannot talk to one another and if you choose the same clue word as another team member, both of your clues get canceled out. After the active player guesses, play then rotates to a new player who guesses. As a team, you work through a stack of cards and score points based on how successful you were. This is great when you have a large amount of people and not much time. Just One can be taught and picked up quickly. It helps when the team members can be creative with their clues so they don’t give the same word as another team member. While you can technically play the game as long as you can spell, some of the clue words will be lost on children.
Paladins of the West Kingdom – Hand Management / Worker Placement
1-4 Players – 90-120 Mins – Ages 12+
Paladins of the West Kingdom is a worker placement euro game that is played over seven rounds. Players will be building outposts and fortifications, commissioning monks, and confronting outsiders. Players do this by recruiting Paladins and workers each round, which will ultimately increase their faith, strength, and influence stats. It plays best with 2 or 3 players, but can handle up to 4 and also be played solo.
Horrified – Co-op
1-5 Players – 45-60 Mins – Ages 10+
Horrified is a fully cooperative game where all players work together to stop the famous Universal Studios monsters! Each player has unique abilities and must do their best to stop the monsters from destroying the town. Each monster also has a unique way of being defeated. One neat thing about Horrified, is that the difficulty can be scaled depending on which monsters you use, or how many of them you decide to go up against. While each character has unique abilities, they are relatively simple and easy to remember. Horrified would be something I would use in place of a game like Pandemic. It’s perfect to introduce new players to the hobby, but you can always increase the games complexity for more experienced players.
LOTR: Journeys in Middle Earth – Co-op / Adventure
1-5 Players – 60 Mins – Ages 14+
Adventure through Middle Earth to defeat the evil that has come to plague the land! Lord of the Rings – Journeys in Middle Earth is campaign driven game that lets players fight enemies, increase their stats, and make strategic choices through the game. It uses a companion app that makes set up a breeze. If you have ever played Mansions of Madness: 2nd Edition, you will know what I am talking about. In some ways, this has a similar feel. This game is immense, and already has one expansion available (Villains of Eriador). I highly suggest reading more on it here.
Marvel Champions Card Game – Co-op / Living Card Game
1-4 Players – 45-90 Mins – Ages 14+
While initial impressions of this may scream ‘Legendary: Marvel’, Marvel Champions turns out to lead to a much more immersive experience, as it is a living card game where you actually play as the heroes (and their alter-egos). If you have played Arkham Horror LCG, you will know what I am talking about. Decks are pre-built by players, with a few constraints and the consensus is that it is different enough from Legendary Marvel to justify owning both.
Tiny Towns – Family / Abstract / City Building
1-6 Players – 45-60 Mins – Ages 14+
Players take turns placing resource cubes into a grid on their player board. Specific layouts of these cubes will allow them to construct different types of buildings. The placement of constructed buildings will ultimately score them points at the end of the game based on randomly selected goal cards. The goals and building both change each game, which adds a good amount a variability. Choosing what resources to place and where to place them is a struggle, and really the fun of the game. It’s way more challenging than it sounds. This would be a great family friendly option to play with those newer to the hobby, or with gamers who want something light and fun with a larger footprint. The components are vibrant and interesting, which makes Tiny Towns look great on the table. I think the recommended age is a bit high, and experienced gamers as young as ten would have no problem with Tiny Towns.
Undaunted: Normandy – Deckbuilding / Wargame
2 Players – 45-60 Mins – Ages 14+
A strictly two player game, Undaunted: Normandy is a deckbuilding game where each player takes control of the American or German forces. They fight through a series of missions during WWII by playing cards that to bolster their forces and attack the opponent. When casualties occur, cards are removed from that players deck. What makes Undaunted: Normandy shine, is it’s great art and components, simple rule set, and fast and strategic gameplay. While the theme may not be for everyone, this would be a fantastic choice for anyone looking for a strictly two player card game.