11 Upcoming 2021 Board Games On My Radar

Here are the upcoming 2021 board games that I'm most excited for. The first section includes my most anticipated Kickstarter campaigns while the second section will cover upcoming releases.

Plus, let's have some fun with another giveaway! 🎁

Let me know in the comments which games you're looking out for and I'll randomly select one person who'll win a copy of Lost Ruins of Arnak.

Upcoming 2021 Kickstarter Board Games

 

1. Root: Militants Expansion (Working Title)

One of my all time favorite games is getting another expansion!

Leder Games has been unveiling more and more information on the upcoming expansion for Root. It's currently set to launch late February and will feature the following:

  • "Warlord Faction" (Rats) - Focuses on aggressive takeovers via setting enemy clearings on fire and looting for items that will give them more actions
  • Badgers - Details to be announced in an upcoming Twitch stream
  • Minor factions - NPC's (non-player characters) that will increase number of viable faction combinations. Will enhance two player gameplay experience
  • New setup rules - Introduces a variant for drafting for your faction in the beginning of the game and selecting which clearing to designate as your starting "homeland"
  • Modular board - Adds "platters" of circular boards that can be added to the main board

Patrick and Cole mentioned this is likely the second to last expansion for Root. If that's true, I'm still hoping for a campaign mode that will feature epic battles against gigantic boss animals hidden within the Woodland.

What would you want in the final expansion?

Patrick and Cole give a tour of the new "warlord" faction

 

2. John Company 2nd Edition

Cole and Drew Wehrle did something unthinkable with the second edition of Pax Pamir. It made me want to check out other Pax games. What appeared too complex, unapproachable, and completely outside of my interest became a genre that's always on my radar. It also made me read up on "The Great Game" time period, and that's saying a lot for someone who hasn't opened up a history book since college years.

So I'm curious, will the "Pax Pamir treatment" for John Company make even a complex game about the British East India Company an irresistible package for gamers everywhere?

Photo of Pax Pamir 2E by my wife

Cole's Tour of John Company 2E prototype on Tabletop Simulator

If you want to keep up to date on the project details, then follow Cole or Wehrlegig on Twitter or subscribe to their newsletter after visiting their website.

 

3. Weather Machine

Vital Lacerda is among the greats when it comes to creating thematic euro-style games with deep, interconnected systems. There's a reason why his games frequently go out of stock despite having $100+ price tags, and it doesn't help that they're illustrated by Ian O'Toole, who's like the grandmaster among board game artists.

So when I saw pictures of Weather Machine on Vital's Facebook page, it instantly placed into my top anticipated games for 2021. Here's Vital's description of the theme:

"In Weather Machine, players are executives from different companies interested in selling the weather machine services from Lighting Technologies. They are trying to achieve the most contracts to increase their company's value. To do that, they can follow different paths, showing loyalty to the dream of the scientist and working for the benefit of the Earth's climate, by just selling the weather services for profit or even to reveal the machine plan and secretly selling it to the military."

Weather Machine on Tabletop Simulator

As someone who's always dreamed of owning a "Lacerda game" but never quite got there, I do wonder if this will cut into the line before Lisboa or The Gallerist in the future. I'm looking forward to seeing it on Kickstarter late 2021.

 

4. Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition

One of the most popular board games of all time is becoming a card game. You might ask, "Isn't Terraforming Mars already a card game?" And well... I really can't say anything to that since I've yet to play the original.

The Kickstarter preview page has been up for several days (currently at 9300 followers) and the only available information is that it will feature faster gameplay and "over 200 beautifully illustrated cards". We'll have to see how much of a step up we'll get from the stock images in the original Terraforming Mars, but I'd expect nothing less than solid gameplay.

In the announcement on the boargames subreddit, user _The_Inquiry_ commented: "As someone who helped playtest this a while back, I can say that fans of both Race for the Galaxy and Terraforming Mars are likely to love this one. As someone who loves the former and isn't huge on the latter, I'd say this is a step up from TM, but still just can't keep up with Tom Lehman's tighter designs. Still, one well worth playing!"

Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition on Kickstarter page

 

5. Tinners' Trail

Roxley is the golden standard when it comes to resurrecting games of old. They remastered Martin Wallace's classic design and spawned a sequel through Brass: Lancashire and Brass: Birmingham. Repackaged in a new stylish aesthetic and with great cost considerations for customers, it's no wonder that Brass: Birmingham quickly became the #3 board game of all time on BoardGameGeek last year.

And that brings us to Tinners' Trail. Alley Cat Games is attempting to replicate that same kind of success with another Martin Wallace classic, a game in which you're a "mining conglomerate at the height of the tin and copper mining industry." You will mine for resource, sell them when the price is right, develop the efficiency of your mining, and use the money you gain to invest in other industries.

If anything, check out the Kickstarter. It's live at the moment and it sure looks beautiful (especially if you adore wooden components in games).

Tinners' Trail on Kickstarter page

 

6. Radlands

Speaking of Roxley, they recently announced their next title, Radlands. It's coming to Kickstarter on January 26, 2021. You're a leader of a group in a post apocalyptic world and will have to discover powerful card synergies to defeat your enemy. The game is presented in a stylish and attractive package as expected from Roxley, and it's only a plus that it's been developed by a former Magic the Gathering External Developer, Daniel Piechnick.

Radlands from Roxley's website

You know, I've been saying this for a while now but Roxley is one of the leaders in this industry when it comes to their marketing efforts.

 

Upcoming 2021 Board Game Releases

 

1. Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile

It's not a coincidence that both of the lists are beginning with a Cole Wehrle game. I became a fan ever since Root, and I love the emergent narrative in his games. They often feature different factions with diverging interests, and it's those moments when they align for a brief second that further magic happens around the table.

Oath is a game about the rise and fall of empires, and the results of your sessions will impact future plays. I haven't yet fully wrapped my head around the game, but figuring out these systems and seeing what's going on in Cole's head tends to be a part of the fun.

If you're curious, Cole recently streamed the unboxing video on Twitch. He's also planning to stream a solo or 2 player session in the upcoming weeks. Those who backed the project should be receiving their copies around March or April.

Picture of first mass produced copy of Oath from Leder Games' newsletter

Closeup of meeple designs shared by Leder Games back in January 9, 2020

 

2. Burncycle

Chip Theory Games is 100% guilty of stretching my idea of a game that is "too expensive to buy." Often associated with words such as premium, neoprene, waterproof, and many others, their brand image is similar to Lacerda games in that they're perceived as luxury products that are worth the money.

Burncycle appeals to me in two ways so far:

1. Refreshing Theme - Humanity finally drove itself to extinction, and sentient AI's resurrect the humans only for them to be oppressed and controlled after humans rise back to power. As the player, you will lead a team of robot revolutionaries that will infiltrate enemy HQ to defeat the human overlords and take back control of your programming. As much as I love my castles, farms, and trading in the mediterranean in games, it's nice to get away from them from time to time.

2. Thrill of Luck - I love the idea of sneaking around to fulfill your objectives while dealing with security. It's those moments of terrible or exhilarating success that make a perfect game to solo.

Burncycle's Kickstarter successfully funded on November 19, 2020 at $482K, and it's still projected to fulfill by the end of 2021. I'm holding off on this one as Too Many Bones will likely become my first Chip Theory Game game once my budget eases up. If you're interested, late pledge is still available on their Kickstarter campaign.

 

3. Roll Player Adventures

I have a growing interest in Thunderworks Games. Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale was a pleasant surprise that exceeded my expectations of a typical "flip n write" experience, and Roll Player is the type of puzzly fun that I'd thoroughly enjoy. And that's where Roll Player Adventures comes in.

I passed off on the campaign when it launched on June 23, 2020 but this is looking better and better the more I look at it. It seems to have the puzzly fun of Roll Player, One Deck Dungeon (in how encounters are resolved), and immerses the players through an engaging storybook. At $100 for the late pledge, I really should store this thought away until I've finished Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion, but you should definitely take a look. The campaign successfully funded at $672K and 5900 backers. 

Roll Player Adventures from Thunderworks Games' website

 

4. Now or Never

Ryan and Malorie Laukat started Red Raven Games in their basement and soon became the classic success story of an independent publisher. Juggling between parenting and running their company, Ryan handles design and illustrations while Malorie develops, writes, and fills in for all sorts of other tasks.

With hit titles such as Above and Below, Near and Far, and Sleeping Gods (which funded last year at $1.1M on Kickstarter), the Laukats carved out a solid fanbase over the years with their open world story-driven games. And their latest title is Now or Never, set to go direct to retail this year.

The game is set in the same fantastical world of Arzium as Above and Below and Near and Far, where "you and up to three friends compete to best rebuild your ancestral village and guide the rest of the villagers on their journey home. Although the creatures of the meteorite have lost much of their strength, many of them remain, and you must fight them off to protect traveling villagers. Now or Never is the third game in the Arzium storybook series that includes Above and Below and Near and Far."

Here's the official trailer for the upcoming Kickstarter for Crafting Arzium, a documentary featuring the Laukats' journey in creating their world.

 

5. Frosthaven

On May 1, 2020, Frosthaven clocked in at $12.9M and 83.2K backers and surpassed Kingdom Death: Monster's record as the most-funded Kickstarter game of all time.

All I have to say is that I'm perfectly content with my copy of Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion at the moment and won't be needing more Gloomhaven content any time soon. I'm just waiting for the day when all three games in the Gloomhaven franchise will happily sit within BGG's Top 10.

 

What are your most anticipated games of this year and why? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Owner8 months ago

One more thing! Let me know in the comments what are your most anticipated games for 2021. I'll randomly select one person who will win a copy of Lost Ruins of Arnak :)

Moderator Level 18 months ago

I assume the comment I made before you posted this counts?

8 months ago

For me, it's Final Girl and also wait for the 2 new expansions for Auztralia. :) 

Owner8 months ago

I didn't realize that Final Girl had ties with #Hostage Negotiator, which I've been interested in purchasing. Horror isn't a theme I'm drawn to when it comes to board games, but I do like the idea of the gameplay!

8 months ago

Really looking forward to a bunch of games coming out this year. I'm seeing that I share a similar opinion with some of you!

1. #Townsfolk Tussle

2. #Windward (Expansion & Big Box)

3. #Veiled Fate

4. #Burgle Bros 2: The Casino Capers

5. #Antematter

6. #Mantis Falls

Owner8 months ago

Great picks! I love the art styles on so many of these too. First time hearing of Antematter and I like the premise (check it out , it's a mash-up of poker and space strategy)

I've eyed on Burgle Bros a number of times because I know that I'd like that type of co-op gameplay more than games like Pandemic

Owner8 months ago

That name is already showing that the game is great.

8 months ago

I'd have to say that art style is major thing for myself and my gaming group. I'm really excited to see how Antematter plays out, definitely an alternative to poker nights with a board game twist. Hopefully it'll ship without too much of a delay. 

I have the same thoughts on Burgle Bros. I didn't know there was a second game coming out until a couple of months ago haha. The theme is something my group is looking forward to!

8 months ago

Great list. My wallet ran away and hid whilst I was scrolling through.

I'm most looking forward to #Kemet: Blood and Sand which I backed on Kickstarter last year. I have played but don't own the original. 

The fact it's getting delivered alongside #Inis has made me extra excited!

Owner8 months ago

Thanks! Was your wallet okay when you went through Kemet's Kickstarter page? 😆

And... "delivered alongside Inis"?? Was it some sort of a package deal?

8 months ago

No it barely made it through in one piece! 😂

Yeah they had a Matagot multi-thing going on and I've always wanted #Inis! It was either that or #Takenoko but I think I made the right choice.

Moderator Level 18 months ago

Several of these are very much games I'm interested in. 

#John Company (Second Edition) has been on my radar for a long time. I started wanting 1e about the time it was not available any more. I'm still waiting to see their final proposal and the price. But, I am nearly certain to back this when it hits Kickstarter.

Of course I'm excited for #Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile. But I'm scared it's not for me. I really need to see some more playthroughs, especially solo. I really can't get a good idea of this one from the rule book. 

#Tinners' Trail is something I'm quite interested in. I've long been intrigued by Wallace, but have yet to play any. I do believe this remastering will include a solo mode, so that is interesting for me.

#Burncycle the thing that scares me about this one is the cooperative aspect. I find myself leaning further and further away from co-ops.

#Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition I'm sorta interested, but I am waiting to hear more.

Another game I'm super excited for is #Border Reivers. This is designed by Ed Beech, and is a bit of a continuation of the system he used in #Here I Stand and #Virgin Queen. It's a historical period and place I live. It supports solo play. And, it's a wargame with wooden animeeples.... What more could you want? 

Owner8 months ago

I really need to watch some videos to see what GMT games are all about. I've yet to take that step but you sure make me want to look it up at least.

I do think that John Company 2E will be the more compelling solo experience than Oath's. We have an office copy of Oath headed our way so it'll be interesting to try it out. For Burncycle, if I were to get it, it wouldn't be until at least 2022. Seems like a kind of solo game that I'd enjoy though.

Moderator Level 18 months ago

I am really eager to see the Oath solo play. It is zany enough that I think it might be great, or it might be a total bust. Either way, I am interested.

Owner8 months ago

Right? I feel the same way. If anything, it'll be fun reporting in about it to you all

8 months ago

I'm in on the Border Reivers P500 as well. I never would have thought a wargame would have been a good fit for raiding and stealing each others sheep but here we are. :)

Moderator Level 18 months ago

Good deal, I am actually not on the P500. It had already made the cut when I found out about it, so I decided to get it in retail. 

7 months ago

Great post, thanks for the bytesize insights :)

Owner7 months ago

Thank you! :)

Premium User7 months ago

Nice list.

I am looking forward to:

  • Frosthaven
  • Lizard Wizard
  • Darwin's Journey
  • Burn Cycle
  • ISS vangard
  • Vindication
  • Endless Winter
  • Project L
  • Planet Unknown
  • Lions of Lydia
  • The Stuffed Fables Expansion
  • Terraforming Mars Dice Game

I really need the pandemic to end so I can get games to the table. I have so many unplayed games, and my buying hasn't slowed enough to match that...

7 months ago

Sadly my shelf of shame is too large atm, I'll have to cut back on the game shopping for sanity's sake. But I'm hoping for my friends to buy some new games this year so that I can play them anyway. :)

Games that I have on order that should arrive this year, and that I'm looking forward to trying out:
#Lawyer Up
#Aeon Trespass: Odyssey
#Pax Renaissance: 2nd edition
#Pax Viking

A few games that I hope friends will get so that I can try them... :
#Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile
#Nemesis Lockdown
#Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles
#Dominant Species: Marine
#Cartographers Heroes
#Grand Austria Hotel: Let's Waltz!

Games I received/bought in 2020 that I'm hoping to get to the table in 2021:
#Pax Pamir (Second Edition)
#Obsession
#Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion
#Core Space
#Altar Quest

Owner7 months ago

I recently added Lawyer Up into my wishlist. I don't have anything like it and when it comes to tactical gameplay, I like the idea of a battle of wits in a court case more than a typical tactical battle/duel game. The theme interests me but I am curious what my wife would think. Will have to ask her later :)

You have some great games there, looking forward to hearing how #Pax Pamir (Second Edition) goes for you! I'd also like to try out #Cartographers Heroes to see how much it ups the gameplay. The base game was surprisingly good so I'd be down for introducing a bit more complexity in the decision making