Etherfields. The Great Wall. Nemesis. Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.
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Best Board Games by Awaken Realms – Which One To Choose

This War of Mine, The Edge: Dawnfall, Lords of Hellas, Nemesis, Tainted Grail, Etherfields, The Great Wall, ISS Vanguard

Awaken Realms have debuted on Kickstarter in 2015 with their campaign for The Edge and later, they followed it with a set of wargame terrains and a game called This War of Mine. Since then, they’ve continuously  enamored board gamers and KS backers all over the world. People like them for having one the best miniatures in the industry and for their constant hunt for innovation, instead of releasing the same game with different skin each year.

If you’ve never played any games by this Polish team, or want to try something new, here’s a look at all their projects including old, new and upcoming games. Enjoy!

This War of Mine

This War of Mine. Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

AR’s first Kickstarter game is easily among their best, even though it doesn’t include as many miniatures and gadgets as its successors. Based on a popular indie video game, This War of Mine puts players in the shoes of regular people trying to live another day during the time of Yugoslavian war. Instead of collecting bazookas and killing hoardes of soldiers, you try to hide, look for food and avoid your greatest enemy – noise, together with other players. 

Mechanically TWoM works wonderfully, although it’s easy to die, especially when starting your adventure with the game. Most decisions carry lots of weight and lead to their own types of danger. The game works best solo and in small groups. Realistic war theme might be too heavy for some people, but adds a lot to the atmosphere and elevates This War of Mine to something more than just a game.

Get this if you like:

  • serious themes and realistic settings
  • challenges with high risks
  • playing in smaller groups
  • meaningful decisions

The Edge: Dawnfall 

The Edge: Dawnfall. Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

The Edge is quite likely the biggest game by Awaken Realms. The original edition (not counting the 2015 game) has already had 6 different armies to choose from – each with the amount of content equal to a proper board game. 

The Edge is a wargame at heart, but despite belonging to that genre – does a lot of innovative stuff with its mechanics. Wars are waged on a special board divided into hexes and bigger hex-clusters. Units use the bigger ones for movement, but cover a specified amount of small hexes, which also determines their initiative. 

With asymmetric factions and a heavy amount of card based gameplay The Edge is incredibly replayable and has tons of combos for players to discover. There is also a campaign mode for players who prefer something longer over regular skirmishes. Any gripes with the game? Only the amount of shelf space it takes, especially with the new 1.6 edition that could fill a freight container (just kidding, we love it).

Get this if you like:

  • wargames
  • asymmetric player factions
  • high competitiveness
  • games that keep being upgraded with new content

Lords of Hellas

Lords of Hellas. Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

Lords of Hellas is Awaken Realms’ take on civilization / area control games and like most of their attempts at new genres – it delivers. The setting is an insane mixture of ancient Greece with… science fiction.

Each player chooses a hero with an unique set of characteristics and an army that follows him or her – Helena, Achilles, Hercules or Perseus. Lords of Hellas can be played by up to 6 players and there’s a solo option too (like in most games by AR). Victory can be achieved in a variety of ways – Civilization style. You can win by having the most areas under your reign, by defeating 3 monsters or having lots of temples. 

Both euro and adventure fans should be able to find a play style that suits their taste. The variety allows for victory even when some other player is dominating one of the aspects (e.g. when someone controls most of the map you can still go for some monster hunting and triumph).

The game boxes are filled to the brim with amazing quality building and hero minis, including huge monuments consisting of separate parts and put together during gameplay

Get this if you like:

  • civilization games
  • games with bigger player count
  • unique settings
  • having access to different play styles and winning conditions


Nemesis. Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

Alien franchise has fascinated people for few decades and yet, not too many Alien-inspired games were created. That changed back in 2017 when the campaign for Nemesis launched. It proved that there are over 30.000 backers ready to get a dark game about space monstrosities lurking within a spaceship far away from Earth.

Nemesis was designed for up to 5 players (yes, solo mode is there as well) but it’s not a pure co-op experience. Mind you, players do cooperate but every person has a secret goal which may include harming others or leaving them to die. Escaping from the alien infested ship remains a top priority for everyone.

Every character has some unique strengths, cards and arms that help them and others in exploring the ship – which happens to be the meat of the gameplay. You have to be careful though, as alien monsters are lurking and can be easily attracted. Invaders also keep growing in numbers and at some point might be too much to handle, so acting quick and smart is of the essence. 

Get this if you like:

  • the “Alien” franchise and similar settings
  • co-op games with a competitive twist
  • having secret goals
  • high difficulty

Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon

Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon. Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon is an incredibly story heavy game with exploration serving as the core of the gameplay. It’s set in the world of arthurian legends and combines european middle ages with a hefty dose of fantasy. Even the most basic edition of the game includes 220 pages of storyline, so if you’re looking for deep immersion, this might be one of the best things on the market. Despite using a book, the story is by no means linear and takes shape according to the decisions made by players and by randomized event decks.

Tainted Grail doesn’t use a classic board. Instead the terrain that you explore is created from constantly drawn adventure cards, similarly to The 7th Continent. Each player controls a single character who has an unique strength and a weakness. Everyone also has 2 exclusive decks of cards, one for combat and another for settling things in a more humane way (diplomacy). Players can choose which deck they’ll use when they encounter a challenge and will upgrade it to their taste as the game progresses.

Get this if you like:

  • a huge focus on storytelling
  • choices and nonlinearity
  • highly immersive games
  • reading long paragraphs
  • exploration


Etherfields. Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

If Tainted Grail was story heavy and based on text – Etherfields is more about visual imagery and bizarre mysteries. When starting the game we have absolutely no clue what to expect. That’s mostly thanks to its dream themed world, mixing various settings and concepts into one unpredictable universe. 

Etherfields is a 1-4 player co-op adventure game, where players explore a world of dreams and nightmares together. Awaken Realms calls its genre a “dream crawler” which is quite fitting. Typical board got replaced by a special area made out of square tiles. Most of them contain visual puzzles, secrets and challenges for players to complete. These often test your logical skills as well as (according to the lead designer) your emotional intelligence. 

The atmosphere of the world we explore in Etherfields is incredible, strange and illogical – just like our dreams. It’s also constantly evolving as player actions can influence certain elements of the visitable areas.

The game got funded in 2019 and its currently awaiting release.

Get this if you like:

  • co-op adventure games
  • puzzles and mysteries based on illustrations
  • bizarre and unique themes

The Great Wall

The Great Wall. Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

The Great Wall is the newest campaign by Awaken Realms and it’s currently being prepared for late 2019 / early 2020 launch. The story takes us to old China under heavy Mongolian siege led by the legendary and mighty Genghis Khan. Are you expecting a wargame judging from AR’s earlier offerings? The joke’s on you, as The Great Wall is an… euro style worker placement game – the first one in their portfolio.

Players try to fend off the AI controlled invaders. While the core of the game isn’t cooperative, certain situations happening here and there might require players to work together and overcome certain obstacles. Maintaining the defenses is vital, if the title didn’t already give it away. You will build new sections of the wall and keep guarding it. 

Actions are picked through cards. Players choose what they want to do, and place the corresponding cards face down. Later on, a part of the turn is devoted to positioning soldiers. Both workers and soldiers are placed according to varying turn order that can be manipulated by the players.

Get this if you like:

  • euro style games
  • worker placement
  • worlds inspired by the Far East

ISS Vanguard

ISS Vanguard. Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

The last Awaken Realms game we know anything about. It’s likely coming in Q2 2020 and will be their new take on exploration adventure games. We’ll be visiting various planets and cooperate to discover their secrets. The combat aspect is supposed to be minimal and dice based. We will manage our ship and control its course in a sandboxy manner. As of now, the majority of discussion is related to choosing artstyle and we might have to wait a bit for any more solid info.

Wait for this if you like:

  • realistic SF
  • games about exploration
  • little to no combat
  • comic book style visuals

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