Another year is coming to a close. 2019, just like the year before it, was filled with amazing Kickstarter board game campaigns: some hyped to no end and some that caught us by complete surprise.
This year, we again award our favourite board games, campaigns, art and creators with Tentaccolade. All choices are made by our editors. Sometimes we pick one winner, but more popular categories have bronze, silver and gold awards.
Keep in mind that we always write about Kickstarter projects, so some of the games still need to be released worldwide.
Now onto the awards!
TENTACCOLADE for Best Minis
BRONZE for Dawn of Madness – Sequel to Deep Madness had one of the best looking minis of the year – especially when it comes to enemies encountered by player characters during their nightmarish adventure.
SILVER for Chronicles of Drunagor – This game surprised us in many aspects including its minis. Characters and enemies have tons of detail and incredibly dynamic poses that make them look almost too good.
GOLD for Etherfields – Easily the number one continuing the winning streak by Awaken Realms in this category. Their minis are again unmatched, especially in case of Etherfields. The game is overflowing with mysterious creatures – some mythological and some simply disturbing. The realistic quality of minis makes the atmosphere even more eerie.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Physical Component
BRONZE for Chronicles of Drunagor – They way in which locations are constructed has really wowed us. First you place specified rooms on plastic pedestals and next add special door made of folded cardboard. Each door hides the information about contents of the newly discovered room which makes the game unpredictable and more exciting.
SILVER for Merchant’s Cove – This game has really charmed us with all of its components. As every player has a pretty different role and mechanics – most boards and gadgets are unique for their class. Everything feels colorful and consistent – tiny cardboard ships, tables, sword standees and other stuff.
GOLD for AVGhost – A horror game that needs to be played in the dark. We picked it because of tiny flashlights used in miniature bases. Thanks to them each mini emits light and lets players see a bit of the board. The idea might be based around basic electronics but the fact how creatively they were used is what makes AVGhost such a brilliant concept.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Campaign Video
GOLD for SHASN – most board game campaign movies feel similar, but this one took us by surprise. It starts with a pretty dramatic live action scene and then turns into silly comedy. Everything is well acted and unusual for what it promotes. The video fits well with real world politics theme of SHASN.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Campaign
GOLD for Trial by Trolley – Cyanide and Happiness have been delivering great comic strips for over 15 years, so we never doubted their ability to deliver a hilarious KS campaign. And they did it marvelously. The page kept involving backers in choosing tracks traversed by the deadly trolley and gave people ridiculous challenges to complete for even more rewards.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Visual Design
BRONZE for Dawn of Madness – This year we awarded 2 games about dreams and nightmares. Both have their own, unique style and different approaches to the topic. Dawn of Madness is plain creepy and as scary as a board game can be. Illustrations are incredibly detailed and contain so many intriguing objects – from deformed monster bodies to complicated machinery.
SILVER for Etherfields – Dreamscapes that we can visit in Etherfields are out of this world. Unbelievable places mixing various settings – both realistic and fantasy-like make you want to explore the entire world of the game.
GOLD for Valor & Villainy: Minions of Mordak – The winner of Visual Design category is easily one of the most colorful games of the year. The cartoony art style oozes charm from every illustration, card and player board.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Crowdfunding Publisher
GOLD to Awaken Realms – Our pick this year, mostly thanks to their insane successes and the ability to invent innovative games. While most big name publishers copy their older titles, AR tends to always look for something new. This year they gave us Etherfields (co-op adventure with endless riddles) and their take on a classic euro game – The Great Wall.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Setting
BRONZE for Middara – The world of Middara was inspired by Japanese RPG video games and is described in detail in the game’s storybooks. A cast of colorful characters, flying ships, alternate worlds, unique races and a deadly parasite looming over the realm. Fantasy styles from all over the globe got mixed with modern Earth to provide something fresh and fun to explore.
SILVER for Sleeping Gods – The Wandering Sea from Sleeping Gods is easily among our favourite worlds from 2019. Pastel like pictures we see on the maps and illustrations contrast with the feeling of being lost in an unknown world.
GOLD for Icaion – The world of Icaion has already been featured in two games (Mysthea, Volfyrion), and the newest title in the series fleshes it out to perfection. There’s barely any inspiration taken from classic settings. Instead we have floating islands, strange automatons and a wandering colossus that spreads plague. Authors have also created their own graphic novel to flesh out the world by another degree.
TENTACCOLADE for Biggest Surprise
GOLD for Middara – The campaign ended up as the biggest surprise of the year. Coming after a 2015 campaign that had plenty of difficulties with being delivered, the authors not only managed to overcome all challenges, but also started a new campaign and collected over $2,500,000 in pledges. All while remaining honest about everything that was going on.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Party Board Game
GOLD for Wavelength – The amount of creativity seen here is outstanding, even though the game might sound simple. Players are tasked with finding hidden “bullseyes” on different spectrums, and only one person knows the right answer. The gameplay comes down to giving a hint and players communicating with each other effectively to guess the hidden place in the spectrum.
TENTACCOLADE Best Non-Crowdfunding Board Game
GOLD for Wingspan – Can a game about a bird reserve be any fun? Wingspan has proven that it can not only work, but also become one of the hottest board game topics of the year. The creation of Elizabeth Hargrave is a wonderful engine builder that doesn’t get boring no matter how many times we play.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Crowdfunding Board Game
BRONZE for Sleeping Gods – Ryan Laukat has already made some story heavy games (Near & Far, Above & Below) but Sleeping Gods brings new stuff to the table. His “atlas game” idea has really clicked with us. Laukat’s new creation is mainly a game about a wild adventure in uncharted lands. A colorful atlas, used as vital component allows reaching a whole new level of immersion and makes your adventure so much more exciting.
SILVER for Dice Throne Adventures – We were already fans of Dice Throne through both of its seasons. It’s been known for a while that something big was coming to the series and in the end it turned out to be a whole new game called DT: Adventures. Older components (S1 or S2) are required, but the core gameplay is based around cooperation and crawling through randomly generated dungeons instead. The whole idea turns Dice Throne on its head and makes it into one of the most enjoyable dice rollers on the market, with a feeling similar to the Diablo video game series.
GOLD for Oathsworn – Huge campaign games, heavy on dungeon crawling mechanics, keep popping up now more than ever, but Oathsworn is one of the titles that really feels like “the next big thing”. Everything screams quality here: from amazing minis to in-app narration by GoT’s John Cosmo. All of that, with scalable difficulties, solo mode, multiple paths and varied boss encounters makes for a title that has a chance to become a staple of the genre. And interestingly: it doesn’t cost nowhere near as much as most big scale campaign games.
Congratulations to all winners. See you next year!