As the New Year is upon as, and I have already looked back at 2018, why not look forward, to 2019? There are so many games each year, it’s hard to keep up. In fact, while I am anticipating new games in 2019, I am mostly focusing on what I already have. This makes for a bizarre “Most Anticipated Games” list, so let me explain.
Unlike narrative things that are often the subjects of these lists, games are a bit more perennial. A great game continues to be great, and some games that I have played over a hundred times are still intriguing when they hit the table. A movie, Netflix show, book and in some cases even a video game is more often a one and done experience. So there is more anticipation for the new. There is also the factor that other media does not have a learning curve. As I am in the hobby longer and longer, my patience for teaching and for learning becomes less. When everything was new to me, each new game might present a whole new style of play I had never seen before. But as the years and the games pass by, that aha moment is much more rare. More and more often these days games feel like remixes or new takes on something I already know. I realize that to some extent this sounds incredibly jaded, and that’s not my intent. I am still open to new games, and still find myself catching the hype wave that comes with these new releases. But as I look at my shelves, my resolution this year is simply to play more games that I already know I love.
This is evidenced by my recent purchases as well. More than half of the games I bought or backed on Kickstarter in 2018 were games my friends had that I wanted to have in my collection, or new editions of games I already know I love. While the thrill of discovering a brand new games that could be a favorite is great, playing a game you know you love is a bit less of a gamble. I am sure I will write about plenty of new games in 2019, and I want to stay on top of where the hobby is heading in general. But before I talk about what I am excited about, a toast to the games that will make up the vast majority of what I play this year, the familiar favorites.
Wingspan: Sometimes a game is just too pretty to ignore. That is definitely the case with Wingspan. From the creators of Scythe StoneMeir games, Wingspan catches the eye immediately with beautiful art and design including over 100 unique bird cards. The gameplay looks to be an interesting sort of tableau builder with cards triggering actions that get better the more focused you are in that particular action. This in addition a birdhouse dice tower is enough to gain my attention. The question is, does it do anything new? I am keeping any eye on this one, and it’s coming soon having just started pre-orders this week.
Bios Origins Second Edition: Anyone who follows the blog knows that I am a Phil Eklund fanatic. After tackling the origin of life in the primordial soup, evolution, and colonizing the solar system Eklund is revisiting an earlier game about the beginning of culture. Bios Origins is not your average civilization style game and while it goes from the beginning of human history to modern times it focuses on the development of human brain and ideas. And in a delightful twist you can play a series of three games playing Bios Genesis, Bios Megafauna and Bios Origins to track one species all the way from primordial ooze to a space-faring civilization. That sounds like one heck of a Saturday afternoon! I am sure this game will be brimming with science and can’t wait to dig in.
Crusader Kings: The more I play board games, the more I am attracted back to games with a sort of narrative to how they play. If I can’t recall much from a game other than who won or what strategy was used, that’s not necessarily a success for me, especially for any game lasting longer than an hour. There are 100s of games about Medieval Europe and the crusades, but Crusader Kings borrows from the popular PC game to make it more about the traits and personalities of the royal family than about the battles and economy that most similar games focus on. Crusader Kings is all about politics and the stories that emerge from traits and event cards, and I can’t wait to explore it later this year.
Black Angel: This one came out of nowhere for me. Science fiction space games are a dime a dozen in the hobby, but this one grabbed my attention because coming from the trio of designers who created Troyes back in 2010, and uses a similar dice selection method that made that game one of my favorites. Granted, theme wise this couldn’t be more different. While Troyes was about the politics of a medieval French city, Black Angel is about the AI on a generation ship trying to discover a new earth for humanity. This one is definitely on my watch list and it doesn’t hurt that it looks fantastic from the early renders.
Glen More II: Chronicles: Another sequel/reprint of a favorite of mine. Glen More is a delightful tile playing game that is all about whisky and turn order, two of my favorite things. Players build their own villages and have to line up the river and road tiles. Each player selects tiles from a central tile board, and can pick any tile. The furthest player back is the next to take a turn, so players can select multiple tiles in a row if they hang back behind the crowd, but jumpign ahead for a key tile is often worth it. The new version, due on kickstarter later this year adds modular expansions that can spice up the base game, and also includes a much needed bump in component quality and art. I still wish they had called the sequel Glen Most, missed opportunity for the perfect pun.
Here’s to a great year of new games as well as exploring the classics. Happy New Year!