Tentaccolade Awards are one of our favourite moments of the year. The ability to promote campaigns and games we enjoyed the most feels great, and makes us able to tell many great designers and publishers how much we enjoy their work.
Most yearly Tentaccolade articles start with us saying that the year was great. Well… we all know it was more complicated this time for everyone. Also: in 2020 Kickstarter creators often had to do heaps of additional work to launch or deliver their products.
And yet, the games that got funded this year were often incredible. Need a proof? A record for the highest funded board game ever got topped (by Isaac Childres’ Frosthaven). There were dozens if not more other fantastic projects. Let’s talk about them and see who, in our opinion, did the best job in 2020.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Minis
BRONZE for – Nova Aetas: Renaissance. Ludus Magnus Studio always amazes us with the work they do on their minis, and their newest game was another great example of that. Extremely detailed, Renaissance era inspired minis of heroes, horses and huge monsters are one of the best on the market.
SILVER for Tanares Adventures – Even though the project was made by a pretty new publisher (they did Arena: the Contest before), the quality of minis was stunning and we’re sure it got them many new, loyal backers.
GOLD for Nemesis Lockdown – Who would have expected that! Just kidding, Awaken Realms keeps on being our favourite when it comes to minis (and not only them). New pieces for Nemesis, obviously especially the huge alien spawns, are incredible and worth getting to use them in Lockdown campaign and many other PnP and board games.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Physical Component
BRONZE for Foundations of Rome – It’s hard to take a look at this game and not be amazed by the way it handled buildings. A city builder, where each structure is made of plastic sounds great. We might have had components like that before but the roman setting and the way they were designed made us believe they just had to appear on our list.
SILVER for Canvas – Now this is the uniqueness we love! This game is a treat for anyone who paints or loves paintings. And the components used here are perfect to portray this type of art. Special cards used in this euro style title represent various layers of a painting and can be combined to create new pictures.
Gold for Return to Dark Tower – This remake of a 38 years old classic features a technologically advanced and definitely our favourite component of 2020. In the center of the board there’s a huge tower used for a variety of things. It plays sounds, throws out skulls or gives you other components, can glow at certain moments in the game or even reveal glyphs. Oh and it also connects with a mobile app to add even more functionalities.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Board Game Accessories
BRONZE for The Deck of Many Animated Spells, Tarot and More for 5e (D&D) – the second animated D&D card project by Hit Point Press was a great success and gave PnP RPG players a great tool that also looks incredible. The way in which they were designed with lenticular lenses, that allow 8 frame long animations, is unmatched.
SILVER for Dwarven Forge: Wildlands – another year, and another project by Dwarven Forge that appeals to us on so many levels and proves that their quality of game terrain is unmatched. This time we can venture to cursed forests, dangerous swamps and high towering mountains filled with secrets.
GOLD for The Megan Gaming Table – our number one this year is the best table to play board games. Not only are a whole bunch of accessories added for free, all of them are solid and have huge attention to detail. Everything about this table is customizable and made from durable, Wild European Oak. Oh, and let’s not forget about the one and only Cat Holder.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Expansion
GOLD for Chai: High Tea – We already enjoyed the original version of Chai a lot, not only by the way designers handled the theme but especially for its gameplay. The High Seas expansion adds a lot of new concepts like unique asymmetric player boards with a variety of skills and plenty of new teas from all over the world, celebrating the theme of Chai in a perfect way.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Campaign
GOLD for Frosthaven – There is no way any other campaign could win this award this year. The colossal success of 83,193 backers pledging $12,969,608 speaks for itself, but the campaign was also created and led in an amazing way. Players constantly received puzzles that unlocked new content in the game, and these were quite fun and challenging. A great way to engage with your community and make people back your project.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Visual Design
BRONZE for Unsettled – This game, despite having quite a minimalistic design, has a fantastic art style on the cards and many components. Illustrations portray furthest reaches of space and the desperate journey home perfectly.
SILVER for Nemesis Lockdown – Even though we have already awarded this project for its minis, the art visible on cards and boxes is on the equal level. The new setting for the Nemesis game is as scary and disturbing as the first one and illustrations depict it in a way that sends shivers through your spine.
GOLD for Dark Venture – BATTLE of the ANCIENTS – The artstyle in the first Dark Venture game has already wowed us enough but the second one feels even more immersive. A retro 80-90s style of illustrating a board game makes it look like it came in another era. In the best way way.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Crowdfunding Publisher
GOLD for Mythic Games – this was quite a busy year for Mythic as they managed to launch 4 successful Kickstarter campaigns. Darkest Dungeon was especially strong ($5,657,479 by over 28.000 backers) but other titles also did great: from Steamwatchers to HEL: The Last Saga.
TENTACCOLADE for Most Promising New Publisher
Loodo Ninja – a big surprise and a new player on the market started by someone who is by no means new to board games. In fact he’s been playing for ages and writing about them. This gained him experience, knowledge of hundreds of games, and allowed him to meet many great designers. All of this led to his decision on becoming a publisher. Loodo often wrote his game impressions and recommendations on KA blog so we have lots of hope for his future project. What games can we expect from him? He loves dice heavy games, euros and dark humour. We can’t wait for his first projects coming in the near future.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Setting
BRONZE for Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles (Episodes 1 & 2) – We love how the authors portray the world here, especially considering we’re talking about a set of euro games. The story tells of a remote island where dinosaurs still live and humanity attempts to first: defend themselves, then tame the beasts and finally use their help. Everything is story heavy here and we still have to wait for the third and fourth episodes, which should appear on Kickstarter in 2021.
SILVER for HEL: The Last Saga – This viking themed game taking inspirations from a number of other mythologies and the horror genre has a world of its own. Every smallest detail is explained in a top notch storytelling.
GOLD for The 7th Citadel – despite a similar name, the world in 7th Citadel is completely new and has nothing to do with the previous game by Serious Poulp. During your adventures you will venture through a post-apocalyptic medieval fantasy world. Player works as a slave-gardener who manages to escape and face all the evils that lurk in this twisted and gloomy world.
TENTACCOLADE for Best Crowdfunding Board Game 2020
BRONZE for Chronicles of Crime: The Millennium Series – One of our favourite games came back to Kickstarter not as one but as 3 different titles, each taking place in another era. We can explore each of them, question people of all trades and figure out mysteries that plague these places. The first game takes place in 1400 Paris, the second one will take you to 1900 and the final one to the far future of 2400. Each game has a set of new mechanics, which weren’t used in the original Chronicles of Crime.
SILVER for Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile – Made by the designer of the amazing Root, we couldn’t wait for this campaign to launch and from what we’ve seen: he delivered. Oath is a game that changes each time you play it. The conclusion of your previous adventures and battles shapes what will you play next time, even if the players change. This way things like resources or victory conditions get different in each game and not by randomness but by how you played earlier. The core gameplay is fantastic too and allows for a multitude of different strategies.
GOLD for Darkest Dungeon the Board Game – And the winner is… Darkest Dungeon! It’s the first time we’re giving the top award to a video game adaptation, but the way Mythic pulled it off was spectacular. It is not only a love letter to the original but also a fantastic dungeon crawler anyone can play, even if they’ve never heard of it. A wide variety of classes and randomized locations mean that no 2 games will feel the same. Darkest Dungeon is difficult, but trying to beat its bosses and challenges to finally succeed with a team of friends feels great.