2021 is shaping up to be a really exciting year for people who play and love board games. The preceding 366 days gave us Kickstarter campaigns that belonged to dozens of genres and often managed to break many records.
Frosthaven had 12,969,162 USD pledged to the project and became the highest funded Kickstarter board game of all time.
Nemesis: Lockdown has managed to do amazing too, with 5,173,813 GBP pledged by backers.
Other major hits included Return to Dark Tower (4,054,744 USD), The 7th Citadel (3,289,835 EUR) and Massive Darkness 2: Hellscape (3,812,899 USD).
Will 2021 break the records again? Will it have groundbreaking board games that will amuse us for years to come? We don’t know yet, but first announcements are already popping up and there will be even more coming within weeks. We’ll keep you updated all the time, but meanwhile: check out what 2021 already has in store for us.
Masters of the Universe
If your childhood took place during the 80-90s, you must have heard about He-Man and the entire Masters of the Universe franchise. Despite decades passing, it’s still loved by many and will get a new movie adaptation soon.
Recently we’ve also learned about the tabletop game adaptation that was announced by CMON not that long ago. The publisher promises many beloved characters appearing. The game will be designed by people responsible for Bloodborne and The Song of Ice and Fire: The Miniatures Game.
Monster Hunter: World Board Game
Steamforged Games got their hands on a hugely popular Japanese video game franchise that was never adapted into tabletop medium before. In Monster Hunter each player controls a single character who fights wild and often colossal beasts using highly varied weapons from Dual Blades to insane killing tools like the Switch Axe (that can turn into a sword).
By defeating monsters players collect their parts and use them to create new armor and weapons. As for the board game, we still need to wait for more details but huge, detailed monster minis are a given.
Batman: Gotham City Chronicles – Season 3
The original Batman: Gotham City Chronicles was one of the most successful Kickstarter board game campaigns ever. The game has collected over $4,400,000 pledged by over 19,000 backers.
Despite the “Second Season” campaign, fanbase of the one and only Bruce Wayne is still hungry for more and in 2021 they will get another portion of their favourite franchise turned into a board game.
The 3rd season will introduce many gameplay and quality of life changes to make everything more accessible and enjoyable. The creators are also promising new solo and co-op modes compatible with every single scenario released so far. We can also expect new storage solutions and obviously tons of scenarios and minis portraying new events and characters from Gotham City.
Exile is a brand new project both designed and illustrated by Ryan Laukat (Near & Far, Above & Below, Sleeping Gods). This city building game tells a story of people forced away from their homes by a colossal crystal meteorite and dangerous creatures that arrived along it. After a long time, they seem to be dying out and it’s time to rebuild the civilization.
Each player picks a character with their own unique attributes and cards and starts working on rebuilding a single city with others. The game allows everyone to use structures and specialists belonging to other players. Despite that, gameplay is highly competitive, strategic and uses little to no randomness.
Fans of Tzolk’In and other highly complex euros are in for a treat here. The author of the popular board game about Mayans, Simone Luciani, is preparing a brand new title with Nestore Mangone.
Darwin’s Journey will launch on Kickstarter in 2021. It tells a story of Charles Darwin reminiscing his adventures through the Galapagos Islands back in 1835. Worker placement mechanics are used for exploration, gathering and sending your findings to museums. To be able to do that, you first need to study certain action unlocking disciplines.
Quantum Shock belongs to the horror science fiction genre and allows 2-4 players to cooperate and experience its story that, according to the early materials, is going to be quite important here.
The game adds many creative actions to a pool that we usually expect from co-op adventure games. Sure, you can move, attack, hide but also jump over the map, use teleports or even go as far as manipulate time and space to achieve your goals.
The campaign is 10 episodes long and each takes about 2 hours to complete. Apart from innovative gameplay, high quality minis certainly make us wait for this project.
Remaking games designed by Martin Wallace has become a popular trend on Kickstarter recently. At least since Brass got its two editions crowdfunded and they ended up being highly praised by critics and board game players. Soon another game designed by this popular creator will be available in a new shape and with highly updated visuals.
Tinners’ Trail makes players become miners and traders looking for precious ore and like in most games by Wallace, the economical aspect plays a huge part here. The 2021 edition will have a more varied player count, two expansions, and an upgraded ruleset that makes the game much less random.
Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles – Episodes 3 & 4
Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles is a 4 episode long project consisting of euro style games, where a group of castaways is trying to live in a world inhabited by dinosaurs. They’re all stand alone but it’s encouraged to play them in order for even more unique and overall better experience.
The first two installments were crowdfunded in 2020 and the episodes 3 and 4 will come to Kickstarter in 2021. This time, the action takes place a bit later, when humans finally manage to tame the giant reptiles and use their help to carry out various tasks and discover the final mystery of the island.
Dice Theme Park
After the success of Dice Hospital, Alley Cat Games has decided to try their best at another game using dice but moved to a completely new setting. This time the designers responsible for the game are Adrian Adamescu and Daryl Andrews known to many board gamers as the creators of Sagrada.
Dice Theme Park will have you create your own park using and manipulating a pool of special dice that represent customers visiting your venue. Unique mechanics like “dice cascade” and others will likely lead to a really interesting and fast paced gameplay.
Vital Lacerda (Lisboa, On Mars) is easily one of the most recognized Kickstarter board game authors when it comes to more complex euro style titles. His latest game called Weather Machine is now being heavily playtested and will launch on KS in 2021.
The game is set in a steampunk-style world where players become leaders of various companies trying to sell services of a unique machine able to control the weather. There are numerous paths to take here and a lot of different goals leading to victory, including less moral ones.
Masters of The Universe: Fields of Eternia
Turns out CMON is not the only publisher with an upcoming board game set in the world of He-Man. Archon Studios, responsible for Wolfenstein: The Board Game, Dungeons & Lasers terrain set and other products will also have a 2021 Kickstarter campaign. According to their website, the game will be exclusive to Europe, likely due to some licensing agreements.
Masters of The Universe: Fields of Eternia will be a competitive board game for 2 to 6 players. Main mechanics we know about so far are area influence, dice rolling and team play. Taming monsters will also be pretty vital here. You control various characters from the cult 80s franchise and each of them is represented by a detailed 32mm plastic miniature. The first mini: “He-Man On Battle Cat” is already available for preorder on the Archon Games official website.
An interesting collaboration between the publisher Alley Cat Games (Dice Hospital, Chocolate Factory) and the designer Steven Aramini (Sprawlopolis, Circle the Wagons) is coming to Kickstarter in 2021. Eternal Palace takes place in a (so far) unspecified East Asian empire. Your goal will be to rebuild the imperial palace and make it as glorious as it used to be before a huge earthquake tore it to pieces.
Each player becomes a leader of their own family of nobles. Through rolling and placing dice, you will slowly gain resources, progress on various tracks and restore the once fabulous building making the ruler happy and willing to reward your clan. Each monument you restore gives you additional victory points as long as you were the player who contributed the most to completing it.
Myth & Goal
Myth & Goal is going to be a sports themed tabletop game designed by a team made of two different publishers: Blacklist Games (Street Masters, Brook City, Altar Quest) and Needycat Games (Hellboy: The Board Game). Designers include a well known duo of Adam & Brady Sadler and James M. Hewitt (Blood Bowl, Blitz Bowl).
In Myth & Goal players play a fictional sports game with a wide variety of teams. While the amount of these is yet to be revealed we already know that there will be more than two. To make the game more affordable, team members will be represented by standees, but people who prefer minis will still be able to order them separately from the Blacklist Games website. The game will feature a story mode, a proper league mode and a solo variant to satisfy as many gamers as possible.
Fjords is a new release of a 2005 game of the same title. The new version is based on the original rules created by a fantastic designer Franz-Benno Delonge, who passed away in 2007.
This new release leaves the original rules intact, while adding a new 4 player mode and a bunch of additional variants to increase replayability of the game. The new content was designed by Phil Walker-Harding, whom many of you will recognize from Sushi Go, Gizmos and Bärenpark.
Fjords is a tile placement game set in scandinavia. After placing hex shaped tiles, each round players move through the areas and try to claim them. Whoever controls the most territories by the end of the game ends up victorious.
Verrago: The Fantasy Globe Game
Even though the designer here is pretty new, we couldn’t shake the feeling that this is going to be something one of a kind. Verrago: The Fantasy Globe Game is a tabletop game making use of an actual globe you usually see at geography lessons etc. It presents a map of a certain fantasy world and crazily enough is playable by 1 to 10 players. Game’s components are attached to the globe by magnets.
Verrago: The Fantasy Globe Game is quite a complex civilization style game filled with strategy. The world mixes a proper fantasy setting, highly dependable of magic, with a dash of science fiction as the action seems to take place on a semi-sentient planet. You lead a powerful family and like in many civilization games, there are various ways to win: from having the strongest lineage to becoming a “strategy survivor” likely meaning the last one standing or at least a winner of plentiful battles.
The majority of gameplay is 4X style, and you can either create your own set-up before starting or pick one of 25 ones suggested by the author. When you’re expanding or fighting for survival the planet itself might punish you for disturbing its balance and make the game more challenging. In some games this may even lead to an apocalypse and apparently there are 125 ways in which it can unfold.
Dice Hospital: Emergency Roll
We already talked about Dice Theme Park, but there’s another new game coming from the very same publisher – Alley Cat Games. Well… it’s not necessarily new as it belongs to the Dice Hospital franchise, but still is a proper stand alone game.
Dice Hospital: Emergency Roll turns the popular dice management game into a roll & write genre title. The designers responsible for this new version are Matthew Dunstan (Elysium, Pioneer Days, Monumental) and Brett J. Gilbert (Elysium, Mandala, Divinare). The details about gameplay are yet to be revealed, but we know that the game is playable by 1 to 6 people and each session should last from 20 to 30 minutes. We will keep you updated on this one.
Mob: Big Apple
A game by Steve Finn, an american board game designer with a PhD in philosophy and games like Herbaceous Sprouts and Biblios in his portfolio. This time he must have decided to leave peaceful topics like plants and books and designed a game about… 1926 mafia in New York city.
Mob: Big Apple is based on an older game called Capo dei Capi (2013) but introduces so many tweaks and changes that it becomes a whole new experience. It’s a 2 player game about 2 families fighting each other for territory in the titular city which is divided into 6 districts. Dice rolls at the beginning of each round determine actions available to you. Each player controls henchmen able to perform various actions from loading contraband into cars to revealing moles. Controlling more territories gets you much more contraband and whoever has the most after 3 rounds wins.
Black Rose Wars Rebirth
Now this is something we’re really hyped about. Black Rose Wars was a huge hit on Kickstarter back when it launched in 2018. Ludus Magnus Studio has decided to revisit the game in 2021 and the new Kickstarter campaign is getting closer to launch.
The action takes place 24 years after the original story. Black Rose Wars Rebirth continues that plotline and works as a new core box. It can also be mixed with the components from the first installment. There are 4 new mage characters you can play as. We’re also getting access to new schools of magic that weren’t available before. Everything is still set in the world of Nova Aetas, but with a much darker atmosphere than before.
Room tiles are now two sided to show both destroyed and normal versions of each room. Considering how the story deals with destroying and restoring the Black Rose lodge, it’s quite fitting. Fans and anyone interested in this new version of the game should note down the August 24th date as this is when the game is planned to launch on Kickstarter.
And here’s another game about mages that we’re writing about today. Ambal Tournament focuses on the more competitive side of wizard’s life and allows you to wage duels to prove who is the biggest master of the arcane arts. During the game you utilize various spells and other abilities to dominate your opponent. You pick these from a large catalog that’s supposed to be expanded after the game releases. Abilities that can be featured in your personal deck include Fire, Water, Sword and Assasination. You can pick up two of these to craft your own arsenal of magic.
Simultaneous player turns are one of the most unique features here. They make the game much faster paced and introduce gameplay innovations usually not seen in this very genre.
Mythic Games seems to be putting more and more focus on adapting video games into tabletop games. After Darkest Dungeon they’ve decided to pick another popular franchise, although a much less indie one. Like many of you have guessed, 6: Siege is the adaptation of the popular Rainbow Six series of games. Particularly their online installment called Rainbow Six: Siege.
The game is designed for 2 to 4 players and is played in 2 opposing teams. Each player controls 5 different Operators with their own abilities and equipment. One team plays as the attackers and the other as defenders. Maps feature destructible environments and smashing these strategically can be incredibly helpful. To win a team must either complete their goal or wipe out the opposing party. Missions are divided into 3 types: Bomb, Control and Hostage. Using Special Ops Modules when setting up the game allows altering the gameplay and tailoring the game to your taste. It’s also possible to pick between 4 speed settings that make 6: Siege easier or harder.
Tang Garden: Seasons
Another 2018 favourite of ours is making a comeback in 2021. To those of you who have missed out on Tang Garden, the game is a tile laying strategy where players design an imperial garden in historical China. In addition to classic tile based games, Tang Garden also has players place various visitors on the map and work to create terrains that will satisfy their tastes and award you with more rewards. Apart from tiles, panoramas are also placed around the garden area as most guests have their own preferences and will be happy when seeing their favourite sceneries.
The new expansion is still shrouded in mystery but we already know it’s title: “Seasons”. Judging from this name we’re expecting either a season change mechanism or more variants of garden decorations from various parts of the year.
Tidal Blades: The Rise of the Unfolders
Tidal Blades was designed as a series of games connected by a storyline told in chapters. The first chapter called “Heroes of the Reef” was crowdfunded in 2018 and now the creators are ready to present the fans with a part 2 of the story. The new game will be called “The Rise of the Unfolders” and utilize deck building mechanics to progress through the storyline and crawl through the dungeons.
Each player controls a single hero, fights enemies, completes challenges and develops their character to make them even more powerful. The goal will be to uncover secrets surrounding the city and the mysterious powers of the titular Tidal Blades.
Thera is an euro style game with civilization style mechanics. The action takes place 3,5 millennia ago in a volcanic greek island, that most people know as Santorini. A colossal volcano eruption has ravaged the land, but the survivors refused to give up. The king has decided to rebuild everything back to its former glory and you, as local governors, are tasked with making his wish a reality.
Thera is played in a group of up to 4 players competitively. Instead of a shared board, each player gets their own one, and does everything in their power to clear the damage done by the volcano, get more resources, trade and rebuild the previously destroyed constructions. The game utilizes rondel mechanics to let players take on various roles from a “priest” who can pray to make the rain fall to a “planner” or a “trader”. Victory points gained from creating new buildings are vital when determining a winner at the end of the game.
Valor & Villainy: Lludwik’s Labyrinth
The second game to take place in the Valor & Villainy universe is planned to launch on Kickstarter in June 2021. The game is both stand-alone and a sequel to the previous title in the franchise. It’s a fully cooperative experience for a team of up to 6 players. All heroes get brand new spell decks that can work on their own or be mixed with the ones from V&V: Minions of Mordak.
During the course of the game you’ll venture through a tile based dungeon. Valor & Villainy: Lludwik’s Labyrinth has legacy elements and is divided into 8 storyline chapters that can unfold in a variety of ways. Unlike many legacy games, everything can be easily reset here or played in any order in the Free Play Mode.
Platformer is the newest game being released under the Awaken Realms Lite brand, established by Awaken Realms to publish lighter and smaller games. Still, while they might not be as huge as the company’s major releases, there are some amazing gems among them, like Flick of Faith. Platformer, like the name suggests, is an attempt to adapt platforming video games into a tabletop game.
Platformer can be played in a group of up to 4 players cooperatively. Players venture through tiles that represent platforms, ladders and other elements you’d expect from a platformer video game. Additionally you collect items, fight enemies and gain resources spendable on upgrading your character. The game uses height as a mechanic and certain situations can make your character fall on traps and take damage. It’s also possible to use height creatively and drop your enemies on carnivorous plants to damage them.
Like most new games by Awaken Realms, Platformer will be funded on Gamefound instead of Kickstarter. We still don’t know the specific date of the campaign’s launch but it’s planned for sometime in 2021.
Chronicles Of Drunagor: Age Of Darkness Apocalypse
Another Gamefound game, this time designed by Creative Games Studio LLC. Chronicles Of Drunagor: Age Of Darkness Apocalypse is a big scale expansion to the original game. It’s designed for solo play or cooperating in a group of up to 5 players. People who have missed out on the original game will also be able to back the reprint.
The expansion offers 16 long scenarios for you and your group to challenge. They offer tons of new mechanics and plenty of lore to satisfy all types of fans. Like the original, the game uses 3D platforms and openable doors that keep the enemies in each room a secret. Lots of great looking components, heated strategic combat and one of the most immersive exploration mechanics in the genre surely make this game something to wait for.
Slay the Spire
Does the name of this game sound familiar? If you’re into video games, especially the indie ones, you’ve likely heard about it. The original game mixes dungeon crawling with card based mechanics heavy on deck building. Slay the Spire has a colossal fandom and has influenced the card based video game genre a lot. Now, it’s time for the game to go back to its roots and become a more classic, tabletop card game.
The adaptation is being prepared by Contention Games with the campaign planned for summer 2021.1 to 4 players will be able to play the game cooperatively. Like in the original, deck building will be a vital mechanic here. Same with fighting various dangerous creatures and looking for powerful treasures. We’re waiting for more info from the creators and will keep you updated as soon as any new information transpires.