2018 was full of surprises, huge projects and changes on tabletop gaming related Kickstarter sections. Some creators appeared out of nowhere, others lost popularity and some rose to power, by completely obliterating the competition.
Today we’ve got some lists for you. We’ll present our top picks when it comes to minis, visuals, settings and best games, that have appeared on Kickstarter in 2018. Many of these are still waiting for release but, since we write almost exclusively about Kickstarter, that was the only way to do it 🙂
Keep in mind that apart from all the industry giants, we also really love some smaller, almost indie-like projects.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Minis
GOLD for Tainted Grail – The detail on minis made by Awaken Realms is almost unmatched. It’s their fourth campaign of this year, and each one sets the bar even higher. Their beasts and monstrosities send a shiver down our spines each time we look at them.
SILVER for Everrain – Haunted ships with tattered sails, with a bunch of shady characters make for one of the best mini sets of the year. They work well with the unique take on Cthulhu inspired theme, that the game attempts to pull off, especially with monsters like The Abhorrent.
BRONZE for Cthulhu: Death May Die – Every year we’ve had a game with a giant dragon. 2018 for a change brought us a colossal Cthulhu, sculpted by Michael Jenkins. The Ancient One is apparently the size of a human baby.
Street Fighter: the Miniatures Game – Just like with Batman: GCH – tons of fan beloved characters. All of them come already painted, and fans of the series often bought the game just for the minis. The artist responsible for most of them is Hector Moran.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood of Venice – While the regular character minis were pretty standard, the KS exclusives, and the ones that came with the expansions, are a real treat. Leonardo Da Vinci’s Tank looks fantastic and so does the colossal belltower.
Batman: Gotham City Chronicles – We simply couldn’t ignore minis in this project. The amount and variety is incredible, especially for fans of the characters and villains from the comic. And let’s not forget: it was the second most funded campaign of this year.
Zombicide: Invader – One word: the Chihuahua. The KS exclusive mini with an angry, little dog on her shoulder gave us tons of laugh. Things like that make CMON really shine when they try their best. 😉
TENTACCOLADE for Best Physical Components
GOLD for The Faceless – One of the most unique mechanics and gadgets used in a game this year. Miniatures moving according to a hidden magnet, that gets turned around, and changes the course of the game. It was a perfect match for a children nightmare theme of the game.
SILVER for Fireball Island – Plastic boards shooting fireballs from skull-like mountain, and all of that taken straight from a 1986 classic. The authors went as far as adding new elements like a ship shooting cannonballs at players, and other deadly traps.
BRONZE for U-BOOT – A huge cardboard submarine used as a board for your 1-4 player crew. Certainly unique and adding a lot to the immersion factor.
Tiny Epic Mechs – meeples riding giant mechs. While the “Tiny Epic” series has already equipped its meeples with various arms, putting the little guys inside huge robots was a brilliant idea.
Tang Garden – stylish lakes, bridges, gazebos, tokens and even panoramas serving an actual role in gameplay. I know some people (myself included) who backed this just because it looked so good.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Campaign Video
GOLD for Reichbusters: Projekt Vril – There really was no competition this year. Just look at it. A crazy action packed clip, constantly switching between CGI and gameplay. It’s also funny as hell, because of how epic it tries to be (and succeeds in doing it!).
SILVER for Dinosaur Island: Back from Extinction – made like a TV ad straight from the 90s, or some silly scene from Power Rangers. Even though it’s just a bunch of people sitting by the table, it manages to make me laugh each time I watch it.
BRONZE for Caverns Deep by Dwarven Forge – one of the best videos of 2018, even though it’s not really a board game, but a set of terrains for D&D. Practical effects, lots of fog, stop motion animation action scenes and tons of humoristic remarks by cosplaying authors. Watch it if you haven’t already!
Unbroken – Can you make an atmospheric trailer with little budget? Unbroken proved that it’s possible. Intriguing intro, based on 3 or 4 pictures, a voice that makes you shiver and a quick gameplay presentation. It sold us on the game.
Wild Assent – a well made gameplay presentation, telling us exactly what to expect from the game. All of that with top notch voiceover, and tons of enjoyable dynamics.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Campaign
GOLD for Tidal Blades – Heroes of the Reef – perfect in almost every way. Lots of pastel coloured illustrations, animations that loaded instantly and lots of charismatic characters appearing from every corner. Updates, instead of being just short marketing pieces, actually formed a story released episodically, adding a lot to the already theme heavy game.
SILVER for The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls – perfect example of an innovative campaign. The video pardied original video game’s intro and the social stretch goals included things as crazy as dressing like “mom”, cosplaying in public, making photos of backers being grumpy or adopting a cat and calling him Guppy.
BRONZE for Everdell: Pearlbrook – just like the original, it shows how illustration based can a Kickstarter campaign be. Lot’s of fairytale pictures merged together, along with gameplay demonstrations and story bits sprinkled here and there make for one of the best looking campaigns of the year.
Trogdor – Great use of animated gifs to not only show the gameplay, but also add a nice dash of humor. The game was inspired by a popular youtube cartoon with a huge community and made a great use of it, kind of like what Exploding Kittens did 2 years ago.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Visual Design
GOLD for Mr Cuddington – a talented Canadian duo, that stole our hearts with Tidal Blades this year. They’re also known for their work on Brass, Grimm Forest and many more.
SILVER for Rob Lemon – Dark Venture is an indie game, we found by chance. It charmed us with its retro visuals. The graphic side was actually done by the game author himself, which is another thing worth praising.
BRONZE for Mateusz Mizak – Tang Garden and recently launched Valda are both works of this young Polish artist. He usually pursued more comic-like style, but his work on Tang Garden is stunning.
Andrew Bosley – Everdell charmed us with its fairytale-like pictures drawn by Andrew Bosley. And let’s not forget that it manages to stand out with so many edgy, grimdark games flooding Kickstarter (not that we don’t like them, just see below ;)).
The whole Everrain team including Aleksandra Bilic, Henning Ludvigsen, Björn Hurri and Sebastian Kowoll – They all did amazing work on illustrations of the rainy, unwelcoming world with a Cthulhu inspired touch. The prerelease materials already had us hooked. The campaign only solidified our first impression
TENTACCOLADE for Most Promising New Artist
Paulina Opak – a rising star of the board game world and our greatest discovery of the year. She’s currently working on a tabletop game and 2 video games. You will probably hear this name many times in the future. Above, there’s one example teasing her work. More news coming after New Year 😉
TENTACCOLADE for Best Setting
Court of the Dead. Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.
GOLD for Court of the Dead: Mourner’s Call – Underworld, where 3 Mourner factions face against each other. Players try to win the favor of Death himself. Lots of bones, underground rivers and creepy looking buildings create a game straight out of Hades.
SILVER for Tidal Blades – Heroes of the Reef – Instead of picking a generic fantasy or SF setting, creators of Tidal Blades created their own cartoony world filled with blue sea and sandy islands. They also plan to release more games set there.
BRONZE for Solomon Kane – Choosing a pulp magazine hero with almost 100 years of short story career was really unique. Mythic did a great job picking this topic and bringing the world back to life.
Nemesis – Whoever grew up in the 80s or 90s must have watched at least a single Alien movie. Awaken Realms decided to pick this underused setting, and tweak it to their taste. The result is as dark and disturbing as the original, with some innovative twists.
Neta-Tanka – An euro game set in a village of a tribe, that looks like a mix of Inuit culture with some original concepts. Great use of the theme in the mechanics and the whole idea of a political contest between competing tribes was fantastic.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Game
GOLD for Unbroken – a single player only game with indie-like feeling captured the hearts of many backers and made it into one of the best received projects of the year. The lovechild of Artem Safarov did what most Kickstarter projects should do – create something really unique and hit a niche that barely anyone tried to fill before.
SILVER for Chronicles of Crime – Who would have thought, that a game based on a mobile app could work so well? It already ate lots of our free time and we’re eagerly awaiting the new downloadable cases.
BRONZE for Tang Garden – mixing many great mechanics with a Chinese setting was a brilliant idea. The game looks like a small piece of art, and the rules seem innovative enough to make us add it to the top list without hesitation.
Black Rose Wars – a surprise hit with customizable, hex based board and beautiful miniatures. We loved how big scale it felt and how many possibilities there are for the gameplay to unfold.
Machina Arcana – Unique, story driven project from Ukraine, charmed us with its visuals and narration. A co-op based dungeon crawler, with a dash of Cthulhu (this must be a Cthulhu year I swear) made for a popular backer choice among the more hardcore tabletop gamer community in September.