Board Games to Keep Your Eye on in 2019 [Updated]
Board games are on the rise. Driven by rampant crowdfunding, increased innovation and tech implementation, as well as the revival of analog, the board game market is forecast to see at least a 9% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) over the next few years. By 2023 the board game industry is expected to become a $12 billion industry. All that growth is means good money publishers and designers. But for us, it means bigger and better produced games.
With an industry growing as quickly as this, it means there’s going to be a lot of games to spend your money on, and not all of them worthwhile. We’ve dug up some of the games expected this year that have us excited for a years worth of dice, cards, and fresh box smell.
Despite the failure of Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom, Dinosaur Island, and DinoGenics proved this year, there’s still life in the theme of building dinosaur theme parks. But in 2019, Mondo is going to bring back the chaos of the original attraction. Pending further licensing approval, Mondo will be releasing this asymmetrical game for two to four players where each player attempts to achieve their own unique goals. Choosing either the T. Rex, raptors, InGen staff, or park visitor faction, players will need to survive Jurassic Park’s notorious downfall. Little else is known about Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene at this time, but we’re holding out hope for a sexy Ian Malcom miniature.
UPDATE: 7/24/19: Unfortunately the status of Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene is unknown. Board Game Geek has removed the game’s page and merge the title under Unfinished Prototypes. We’ve reached out to our contact at Mondo for an update but have received no additional information at this time.
Steampunk and Lovecraftian horror combine in the excellent Machina Arcana. The original edition released back in 2014, but the second edition set to deliver in June this year has improved on all that is wonderfully awful about the game. Up to four players work together as they explore their way through a labyrinth filled with elder horrors determined to eviscerate your explorers.
The new edition revamps the artwork, item, and most interestingly, the death system. When dying in the first edition, players would discard their character, half of their gear and simply choose a new explorer. The second edition makes death permanent; once your explorer dies, it’s over. But instead of sitting out of the game, eliminated players can take control of monsters on the board, only drastically increasing the game’s challenge.
Machina Arcana was funded on Kickstarter on September 28th and is due to deliver early summer 2019. Anyone ready to brave the depths can late pledge to get either the core or premium editions until May. The core game is $55 and for only $25 more, the premium edition comes with both the Geometry of the Void and Recurrence expansions.
2019 is the year of Hellboy! While the trailer for David Harbour’s Hellboy has been divisive, few could argue that more Hellboy is better than none. Thanks to Mantic Games and Dark Horse Comics, we’re getting a Hellboy: The Board Game, due to hit shelves in Q1.
Players choose to control either Hellboy, Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman, or Johann Kraus each with their own unique abilities and play style to investigate BRPD case files. Each case file has been kept a closely guarded secret so players won’t know what minions Rasputin summoned or what doom awaits the misfit agents. Players will have to depend on one another to find clues and defeat the mad Rasputin or brave the end of the world as we know it.
But the best aspect we’ve seen so far is the artwork. The modular game tiles look like illustrations straight out of Mike Mignola’s comics. For players like myself, Hellboy: The Board Game is a great dive into Mignola’s original vision. It’s expected to retail at $99 early this year with the Darkness Calls expansion due out later in the year.
UPDATE 7/24/19: The verdict is in and we were right to be excited for Mantic’s game. There’s even been an additional expansion announced for retail since we first published.
The most funded project on Kickstarter this year was none other than Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon, shattering their goal more than ten times over to reach a total of $4.9 million pledged.
Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon is a new campaign adventure from Awaken Realms for one to four players. Each player will control an outcast with deeply flawed characteristics as you explore a dark fantasy world based on Celtic mythology and Arthurian legends. Torn apart by war and the creeping Wyrdness, you and your party will need to learn to adapt in order to survive. As you explore the campaign and discover new trials, your party will have to make difficult ethical choices, changing the environment and shifting the balance of powers, altering the future of your campaign.
The Kickstarter campaign has come to a close and Awaken Realms will be solidifying their final designs and beginning their production early in 2019, but it’s still possible to late pledge. If Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon is of any interest to you, we highly recommend pledging. All backers will be receiving two additional campaigns, The Last Knight and Age of Legends, as part of their stretch goals for free. The core game is scheduled to become available in August 2019 and the campaign stretch goals and add-ons in May 2020. Shortly before the campaign’s completion, Awaken Realms also announced a digital version of the game that all backers will be gaining access to when it enters early access in August.
UPDATE 12/29/19: Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon turned out to be just as much of a success as we had hoped, but surprised us with its difficulty. Thankfully, the second wave of shipping will expand the game with two additional campaigns that we’ll cover upon their release.
The Waylanders is an upcoming strategy from Eclipse Editorial inspired by warring Celtic tribes and folklore that’s due to be delivered in September 2019. WayTooManyGames previewed The Waylanders and it’s unique formation buff system earlier this year.
Characters each have special abilities that activate if allied characters are effectively positioned. Badarn, a Celtic Healer can restore knocked down allies in a triangular formation, but only if he’s at the tip of the speak. Similarly, some abilities can only be activated when on specific terrain like a dense forest or rocky mountains, boosting inherent character traits and abilities. The board is game itself is simple, but the strategies required to conquer are not.
The concept behind Runaway Parade’s Fire Tower was to design an aggressively competitive game with a simple concept that could be taught quickly to players otherwise unfamiliar with board games. Jordan and I met up with the creators and can say from first hand that they succeeded with flying colors. Our hands-on preview, Ales & Arson, goes further into detail about how Sam and Gwen designed the action cards to be quickly interpreter by any user, making Fire Tower an excellent game for any age and skill level.
Runaway Parade successfully funded their campaign on Kickstarter back in May of last year and is expected to deliver within the next month. But there are a few copies left that include the unlocked stretch goals if you can move fast enough.
UPDATE 7/24/2019: This quickplay game has become a house favorite and hasn’t left our coffee table since it first landed there. Our review is here for those who want an equally rewarding experience.
Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game made a big splash last year with its innovative mechanics that seamlessly tied physical components and a dedicated online platform into a thrilling investigative adventure. In the game, players assume the role of members of the Antares National Investigation Agency and tackle five intertwining chapters where each decision permanently changes the events to come. What makes the series so enthralling is the easy-to-learn instructions and branching story arcs where earlier mistakes and decisions can have a major impact later on. Fans can look forward to the series newest chapter Detective: L.A. Crimes, that features three new cases and mechanics later this year.
Druid City Games have garnered an impressive following in the last few years thanks to their stellar production values and fun simple games. However, Tidal Blades: Heroes of the Reef is heading in a new direction by employing the same attention to detail we’ve come to love and cranking gameplay to one hundred. Reminiscent of popular dice-placement games like Champions of Midgard and Monster Lands, players will be challenged to efficiently plan their turns and roll highly to win.
In Tidal Blades each player assumes the role of a bright-eyed novice competing in an island wide competition. Players will have five days and nights to prove once and for all who is worthy of becoming the next Tidal Blade by participating in challenges, defeating monsters and wooing the crowds. Plan on riding the waves of this compelling Caribbeanesque world early this year.
After a failed Kickstarter campaign in 2017 Monumental came back swinging this fall, garnering an impressive $693,066 in funding. The game is marketed as the next-generation civilization game and with good reason. The brilliant combination of deck building, card management and 4x elements have coalesced into a marvelous production.
Throughout the game players will control their civilization through a three by three grid of cards, that can be activated either by selecting a column or a row, which produce various resources and actions. On each turn players can use these effects to customize their city and bring in new cards to create powerful combos and highly-efficient engines that will power each players faction. A modular board holds each civilizations army, and although there is no direct player conflict, strategic placement and control of important landmarks will be key to victory. Expect this conflict through generations to begin this Fall.
Clank! Legacy is the next installment in the long running Clank! series by Renegade games and in partnership with Penny Arcade. Players are tasked with creating their own unique company of mercenaries and would-be treasure hunters to become the most powerful faction in the land.
The original game features deck building, drafting and point to point movement that create a fresh and fun take on the Dominion formula. In Clank! Legacy players decks, game boards and world will evolve throughout multiple adventures based within the hilarious Acquisitions Incorporated universe. The game will be releasing everywhere in the fall of 2019.
Did we miss your favorite? Let us know below and we’ll update our list!