Our Ten Most Anticipated Board Games of 2022
2021 was the year of games that would-have-been and have-yet-to-come. Countless games that were intended to hit shelves in 2020 were pushed back into 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, while others were fortunate enough to stay on track. The ripple effect of backups then pushed many games otherwise intended for 2021 back into next year. As a result, some of the games we’re looking forward to have been on our Most Anticipated lists before, but it’s happening for sure this time (we think). In fact, Dinosaur World was the only game on our list last year that was released in 2021, while the rest have been pushed to 2022.
Aeon Trespass: Odyssey
This is may be the biggest one on the list, not only in size, but in hype (at least within my household). Aeon Trespass: Odyssey mixes the engaging combat and scale of Kingdom Death: Monster with the evolving narrative and map of Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon all stuffed into a world of Ancient Greek Kaiju Tech Monsters. Into the Unknown has created a world where the Argonauts actually pilot humanoid looking Titan suits a la Attack on Titan and fend off large beasts like Chimera. Unlike KD:M where players and monsters get weaker as the battle rages on and both parties take injuries, AT:O has a Rage mechanic where the more damage a player takes, the more they can dish out.
The aesthetics and the scale of this game are just remarkable. While it’s hard not to compare it to Kingdom Death: Monster from both in both design and gameplay, Into the Unknown has done an excellent job separating themselves both in appearance and gameplay. Where KD:M is emergent story telling, AT:O will take players through a written narrative and a variety of settings in a creative reinterpretation of Greek mythology.
What I find fascinating is how interactive the miniatures are. In the hydra fight, players can destroy and remove the heads from the miniature. A flattened surface designed to hold a player mini replaces the head as a way for players to now scale up the hydra creature to reach a new vantage point.
Despite the global shipping issues, Aeon Trespass: Odyssey‘s development has remained largely on track. While the full experience will ultimately be delivered in two waves of shipping, the first wave with the core game will include the first three campaigns (Truth of the Labyrinth, Abysswatchers, and Pitiless of the Sun) delivering a substantial amount of content. The second wave, scheduled to deliver about eight months later will include the forth and fifth campaigns, Gardens of Babylon and Black Flame of Atlantis. With so much content en route, it’s hard not to be excited for this monster of a game.
Aeon Trespass: Odyssey is currently expected to deliver in late Q1 or early Q2 2022 and is still available to late pledge here.
Despite calling our board game section of the site “Tabletop”, we’ve yet to discuss any tabletop RPGs. Why you ask? Well, it’s because I’m an idiot who can’t figure out how to learn new TTRPG rulesets or DMs. I’m down to play any time, but DM’ing is not a skillset I have. I’ve tried and failed with The Witcher RPG, Tales from the Loop, and Dishonored. You think I’d have learned by now, but when Avatar Legends appeared on Kickstarter, I jumped in head first.
Avatar Legends is a new pen & paper RPG from MagPie Games that will allow players to adventure through the ages of Nickelodeon’s world of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Players can choose to take on the role of a bender, merchant, craftsman, or martial artist to adventure as. MagPie Games spared no expense in creating an expansive and true-to-series game system that puts the magical setting at the forefront. Players will be able to choose to go play in five different eras:
- Kyoshi’s Era – This setting allows players to explore an age when Avatar Kyoshi is establishing borders between lands and rooting out political corruption while taking out hordes of rogues and brigands that roam the land.
- Roku’s Era – In the age of Avatar Roku, players will focus and maintaining the peace between the Four Nations. This is designed for players who want to manage the rising tensions during a time of emerging nationalism leading up to the Hundred Year War.
- The Hundred Year War – This is the age just before Aang’s Awakening when the Fire Nation under the rule of Fire Lord Ozai wiped out the Air temples and became the dominating empire.
- Aang’s Era – Playing in Aang’s era drops players into a world just a few years after the conclusion of the ATLA series when the Four Nations are piecing themselves together after the destructive reign of Fire Lord Ozai.
- Korra’s Era – Lastly, players can experience the world after Korra where industrialism and progress thrive.
What’s most interesting is the stats system. Rather than a series of traditional character stats like Strength and Dexterity, Avatar Legends instead uses a 2d6 system modified by Creativity, Focus, Harmony, and Passion stats, putting a greater focus on character rather than abilities. In alignment with the themes of balance between body and spirit, Avatar Legends also uses that they are referring to as a Balance track for additional modifiers that is altered over the course of the campaign based on the decisions a character makes.
To be clear, I am equally as weary about this game as I am excited. The big IP games like this have a tendency to underperform. Admittedly, I’ve done very little reading of the progress updates to see how development is progressing so I’m far from an authority on the game, or tabletop RPGs for that matter. Regardless, the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender is one that fans like myself have been eager to explore more since the original series concluded and this is as good a way as any to bring the series to life again.
Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game was recently delayed until Summer of 2022 on account of the sheer number of backers and current supply shortages. It’s still available to late pledge here.
Bitoku is another one of those games whose appearance caught my attention well before I was aware of what it was, but the more I learn, the more eager I am to play. Brought to us by designer Germán P. Millán and publisher Devir, Bitoku is a game where players take on the role of spirits of the forest, competing to ascend and become the newest Great Spirit. Various traditional Japanese spirits such as kodama and yōkai will aid players in their journey.
Mechanically, Bitoku is a worker placement and hand management game where players will be using dice to take actions like building structures for points or new resources. Players will also be able to aid lost souls in the forest and guide them to rest.
First off, I love the theme. Secondly, early reviews have labelled it as a complex but medium weight Euro game, serving as an excellent stepping stone into deeper games. This may not be a selling point for many, but speaking personally, this is exactly what my collection is missing. I have plenty of friendlier gateway games for newcomers and then my collection jumps up to more challenging games like Trickerion: Legends of Illusion or Vinhos. I find that a good middle-weight Euro that introduces more complex concepts are few and far between. We’re very excited for just such a game that also boasts such beautiful artwork as Bitoku.
Bitoku is scheduled to release in the US in January and can be pre-ordered from Game Nerdz here.
Fall of the Mountain King
Fall of the Mountain King is the follow up to 2019’s In the Hall of the Mountain King from Jay Cormier, Graeme Jahns, and Burnt Island Games. In the Hall of the Mountain King is a route and tableau building game where players compete to re-build, you guessed it, the halls of the Mountain King. But to re-build there must have once been something there.
Fall of the Mountain King is actually a prequel game that tells the story of how the Mountain King’s realm fell to desolation in the first place. Designed by Adam Daulton in partnership with Cormier and Jahns, Fall of the Mountain King is designed for up to five players and combines a lot of mechanical ideas. The writing is on the walls and the Kingdom will fall to the invading gnomes. Players will each control a different ancestry of Trolls and compete for honor in battle in the Kingdom’s last days.
Fall of the Mountain King is a massively ambitious project that uses tile placement and tableau building to determine what actions players can take on their turn, expanding their area of influence. The Gnome’s actions are determined by a rondel board. Players will also have the ability to earn the favor of Champion Trolls and gain access to their unique character power to even further improve their ancestry’s influence over the Gnome hoarde.
There are a lot of ideas in Fall of the Mountain King and it will take one hell of a team to pull it altogether. Thankfully, just such a team has been assembled at Burnt Island games and we expect they’ll deliver as strong an experience as they did with In the Hall of the Mountain King.
Fall of the Mountain King is currently expected to deliver to backers around April or May 2022. Late pledges are still available via Backer Kit and can be snagged up here.
You had to know this one was coming. Frosthaven is the standalone sequel to the 2017 hit Gloomhaven. For anyone familiar with Gloomhaven you’d know that the twenty pound box is loaded with content between playable characters, number of scenarios, and hidden unlockables. I’ve easily put a hundred hours into the base game, nevermind the Forgotten Circles expansion, Jaws of the Lion standalone, and community driven campaign content. If I have any complaints about the original, it’s that there wasn’t much to do in-between scenarios and the scenario objectives were all variations of “kill all enemies”.
Since the original game, designer Isaac Childres has been improving upon both of those points with subsequent releases and the development of Frosthaven. For starters, Frosthaven takes place much farther north where harsh climates deter people from settling there. As part of the player’s journey, they are responsible for bringing wealth and security to the settlement of Frosthaven between their dungeon crawling adventures. Instead of just collecting gold, the new loot system awards players with resources they can use to build new structures and shops in the settlement. As Frosthaven grows, more adventurers will come to settle there, unlocking new character classes.
Childres has also created a new faction system where scenario outcomes will positively or negatively impact Frosthaven’s relationship with one of three regional groups: the Algox, Lurkers, and Unfettered. Managing the delicate balance between these will allow players to leverage different event advantages. Similarly, Frosthaven will introduce a seasons mechanic where seasons change over time and alter event decks and what resources are available. The world will be far harsher in the winter season than it will be in the warmer months so careful preparations will be important to mitigate the challenge of the colder months.
Otherwise Frosthaven will be more of the same great experience in a somehow even larger box. Cephalofair has revealed that all their work on Frosthaven has resulted in an even larger game than the original.
Frosthaven‘s original release date was pushed back on account the size of the game and amount of materials that need to be reviewed. However, it is still anticipated to arrive to backers in the first half of 2022. While late pledge is no longer available, Cephalofair has a pre-order locator that will identify where you can pre-order from retailers in your area.
In 2018, 11 Bit Studios released Frostpunk, a climate apocalypse survival sim where players take on the role of the colony leader responsible for directing labor and managing resources. In addition to the harsh climate and limited resources, players will have to manage their citizen’s Discontent and Hope meters by keeping them warm, fed, and entertained. It’s a challenging and worthy successor to their previous survival sim, This War of Mine.
Not unlike This War of Mine which got a board game in 2017 in partnership with Awaken Realms, Frostpunk will also be getting the board game treatment. Frostpunk has far more moving pieces to manage than This War of Mine did but under the great care of designer Adam Kwapiński who is responsible for the hit Nemesis I have absolute faith it will be adapted well.
Published by Glass Cannon Unplugged, Frostpunk is designed to be a scenario based game that can be played solo or cooperatively with other players. As a cooperative game, each player will have a leader card with a unique ability. At the start of a new round, players choose which of the leaders will be active and will be able to benefit from their character power. As the situation evolves, leveraging these abilities at the right time will be the most effective way to find a path to success. I expect that I will enjoy Frostpunk as a solo game over multiplayer, much like I did with This War of Mine.
The main reason we’re so excited for Frostpunk is that the original’s challenging action economy and resource management already felt like it was created with board game design principles in mind. If there was ever a game well-poised for a board game adaptation, it’s Frostpunk and we’re confident we’ll put in as many hours into this version as we did the video game.
Frostpunk is currently on track to be delivered to backers in Spring 2022. While Glass Cannon Unplugged is no longer accepting late pledges for the first wave of deliveries, they are currently taking direct pre-orders.
Here we are again discussing yet another game from Awaken Realms. In recent years, they’ve skyrocketed to the top of heavily produced and immersive board games. Etherfields, Tainted Grail, and Nemesis, blew us out of the water and quickly became team favorites. Nemesis: Lockdown marks the first time Awaken Realms will return to a previous release to do a sequel.
Nemesis: Lockdown is a standalone expansion that can be enjoyed as an add-on to the rest of the series, or on its own. Where the original game saw the crew of the Nemesis struggling to survive the Xenomorph like alien Intruders and escape with their lives, Nemesis: Lockdown takes place on a secret facility on Mars that’s been experimenting on a new alien species. When the alien breaks out of containment, players will need to do all they can to survive the rampant monsters and each other.
This time, the alien creatures are the bat-like Night Stalker aliens that will have a serious biological advantage over players. Nemesis: Lockdown includes a power mechanic where players will be managing the facility’s remaining electricity and allocating it to certain levels of the board to keep the lights on and elevator running. There’s a limited amount of power available so players will want to use it sparingly. But the Night Stalkers thrive in the dark and will be far more powerful and active when the lights go out, adding to the already tense horror atmosphere of Nemesis. Nemesis: Lockdown also has a second map on the reserve side of the board. Players will now have a new map with a multi-structure layout. This alternate map has three buildings that player can travel between using a new Mars rover.
Nemesis: Lockdown is currently on the water and arriving at ports to be sorted and sent to shipping hubs around the world. Backers should be receiving their copies just after the holidays with retail copies to follow shortly after.
SolForge Fusion caught us completely off guard when it came to Kickstarter, but we’re very excited for it. This is yet another head-to-head dueling card game from designer Richard Garfield, the mind behind KeyForge, and more significantly, Magic: The Gathering. This time Garfield will be working alongside Justin Gary, designer of Ascension.
While KeyForge is currently on hiatus due to a broken algorithm (rumored to be deleted by a disgruntled employee), SolForge Fusion will be picking up the torch of algorithmically built decks. For this unfamiliar with what this means, games like MTG require players to construct a cohesive deck of cards before playing. KeyForge eliminated the need for this prep work by introducing pre-packaged decks that are constructed and uniquely named. With this system in place, no two decks are the same and new players can purchase a single deck and be ready to play without needing to do any additional prep work.
SolForge Fusion will be using a similar algorithmic deck construction system, but will instead offer players a bit more freedom in how to play. Rather than pre-packaged full decks, SolForge Fusion will come in preconstructed half-decks. Before playing a game, each player will choose unique half-decks and shuffle them together to form their deck for the game. Each turn, players are allowed to play just two cards from their hand. Over time, their cards will level up and players will gain access to more powerful abilities.
Players will also have access to Forgeborn cards which function similarly to Magic: The Gathering‘s Planeswalker cards. Forgeborn each have special abilities that will add bonuses or special rules to the other cards in the player’s deck. As levels go up so too will the Forgeborn’s special ability become more effective. Maximizing the combination of Forgeborn and buffed card abilities will be key to hitting hard and eliminating your opponent.
SolForge Fusion is currently on track to deliver in Spring 2022 and is available to late pledge here.
Spire’s End: Hildegard
Not too long ago we reviewed Greg Favro’s self-published choose-your-own-adventure game, Spire’s End, and had a good time with it. Favro’s game design was excellent but was too random due how dice rolls influenced player choice. Replaying Spire’s End and discovering new pathways and endings not only depends on player decisions, but also their luck. Without house rules, it’s entirely possible for players looking to go back and discover new paths will inadvertently go down the shame narrative road on account of undesirable die rolls. Ultimately Favro’s otherwise excellent boss, narrative, and card design fell victim to the pitfalls of the choose-your-own-adventure genre.
That said, Greg Favro’s setting, character design, and condensed game design is a masterful demonstration of how much can be done with a deck of cards and a couple dice. It’s for that reason that we’re so excited to the family-friendly follow-up, Spire’s End: Hildegard. The game follows the titular character, Hildegard, as she travels across the land carrying a mysterious package. Rumor has it that whatever she has in her possession is crucial the the survival of the people on the coast and a lot of unwanted attention is on her. The road will be dangerous and Hildegard’s survival will depend greatly on her survival abilities and ability to fend off her stalkers.
Spire’s End: Hildegard will still have many outcomes determined by the roll of the dice. From what we’ve seen of the game so far, the dice will have less influence than they did in the previous game. Dice will be rolled during combat encounters and skill-test events, but there will be a greater focus on players making narrative impacting decisions. Continuing to focus on narrative Hildegard’s sister, Hallveig, will join the adventure in a two-player game.
While the art style is stepping drastically away from the original’s dark tone under the talents of artists Diego Frías and Sy Gardener, it seems that Hildegard is taking some big steps forward to improve upon where its predecessor stumbled. Spire’s End: Hildegard is shaping up to be another creative storytelling adventure that we are quite looking forward to.
Spire’s End: Hildegard is currently on track to be delivered July 2022. Additional copies will appear on the Spire’s End shop around the same time.
Too Many Bones: Unbreakable
And we’re back with another entry on the ever-increasing-in-scale, Too Many Bones. We recently reviewed the base game as well as created a list of all expansion Gearlocs and their abilities. We were years behind on this one but the articles were inspired by the crowdfunding campaign for the final expansion, Too Many Bones: Unbreakable.
Too Many Bones: Unbreakable is the newest and final expansion for the series from Chip Theory Games. Like Too Many Bones: Undertow before it, Unbreakable is a standalone campaign expansion for one to two players that follows the journey of two new Gearlocs, Gale and Figment. Gale will use her turbine weaponry to push Baddies around the Battle Map, better positioning them for her allies to target, or avoid becoming the target herself. Figment is a time traveler will manipulate the Initiative track and number, delaying when Baddies can attack, buying our party of Gearlocs more time.
As part of the same campaign, Chip Theory Games is also including 40 Caves in Daelore free for all backers which adds a wider variety of Baddies that can be used in Unbreakable. As optional add-ons, there’s also the Rage of Tyranny expansion which provides alternate versions of the Tyrant bosses, further increasing the number of options available to players. Similar to the 40 Caves in Daelore expansion, Chip Theory Games is offering 40 Waves in Daelore which addes new Baddies to Undertow. The final part of the Unbreakable campaign is three optional Gearloc expansion characters: Carcass, Static, and Polaris, bringing the total number of new playable characters up to five.
Too Many Bones: Unbreakable is expected to deliver to backers in May 2022. It is currently available to late pledge via Gamefound here.
Kingdom Death: Monster Gambler’s Chest
Here we go again. Third and hopefully final time on the list. As great of a game as Kingdom Death: Monster is, it’s development has been long and arduous, often slowed down further by new concepts introduced partway through the design creating new delays. I certainly won’t argue that the final products have been consistently worth the wait, but the community is really feeling this one. In late 2020, supporters of KD:M were promised by the game designer, Adam Poots, that the big Gambler’s Chest expansion would be delivered in 2021 around August. However, since then, the scope of the project has expanded. Compounded with the global shipping delays, it’s been pushed back significantly.
While the development, of the Gambler’s Chest is just about complete and materials are expected to sent to the printer in February based on Kickstarter Update #88 posted on November 26th. Even though printing is near, with all the components that need to be produced, the Chinese New Year, and the ongoing shipping lane issues, delivery is currently expected to take place in November and December 2022 if the shipping situation doesn’t improve. If shipping gets delayed any further, the Gambler’s Chest will get pushed into 2023 and make a fourth appearance on this list.
New variants of COVID-19 continue to pop up and impact manufacturing and shipping delays are only being compounded by high volume seasons like Christmas will likely only add to existing delays. But regardless of whether or not any of these land in your most anticipated games, with everything that was shifted into 2022, next year is shaping up to be one hell of a year for gamers.