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
- Root: Militants Expansion (Working Title)
- John Company (Second Edition)
- Weather Machine
- Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition
- Tinners' Trail
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?
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
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
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
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.
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!
- Root: Militants Expansion Update - Tour of the Warlord Faction
- Summary of Patrick and Cole's Designer Chat Back in November - Includes an overview of the new expansion but with some outdated info
- The Hungry Gamer's Preview of Burncycle
- Frosthaven's New Features: 7 Things We're Excited for in the Sequel