Every year at about this time, I like to look towards the future of gaming (and on a more micro scale, the blog). Last year, I named Brass: Lancashire, Brass: Birmingham, Century: Eastern Wonders, Edge of Darkness, Endeavor: Age of Sail, Founders of Gloomhaven, Now Boarding, The Rise of Queensdale, SteamRollers, and Stuffed Fables as my most anticipated of the year. And as is my tradition, I didn’t actually play any of them. Edge of Darkness is the only one that didn’t actually come out this year – it Kickstarted, but isn’t due until this coming summer.
But, despite never actually playing any of these games that I list, I still anticipate! So here are some of the titles I know about for this next year that I’m looking forward to.
Aerion (Shadi Torbey, Z-Man Games) is the latest game in the Oniverse series. The series started in 2010 with the release of Onirim, which was followed in 2012 by Urbion. A second edition of Onirim came out in 2014, and was followed by Sylvion (2015), Castellion (2015), and Nautilion (2016). All of the games are for 1-2 players, though they are really solo games with two-player cooperative variants. They share a thematic connection, which is mostly just the art style and a kind of shared dream-like world. The games typically come with a number of different modules and expansions, and I enjoy them, so I’m looking forward to this latest installment.
Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea (Tony Boydell, Surprised Stare/Matagot) is a new game in the Snowdonia family, and Snowdonia is a game that I enjoyed the one time I played it. Basically, this game is about cultivating and harvesting tea in Darjeeling, and helping to construct a railway. Honestly, I was more interested in this game when it was just called “A Nice Cup of Tea”, but since they added “Alubari”, my interest has dipped somewhat. I still want to see how it does – Tony Boydell does a lot of development for his games, and they’re generally pretty good.
Barrage (Tomaso Battista/Simone Luciani, Cranio Creations) is a game I honestly don’t know a whole lot about, but it jumped out to me on the 20 Most Anticipated Games GeekList over on BGG. It’s set in an alternate 1930s, and is a worker placement/resource management style game. It seems fairly heavy, and is getting some good early buzz, so it’s one I want to keep an eye on.
Black Sonata (John Kean, Side Room Games) started life as a print-and-play game that was one of the top games during the 2017 Solitaire PNP contest over at BGG. You’re basically chasing Shakespeare’s Dark Lady through London, trying to deduce her location and revealing clues. I never played the original PNP (I don’t have the time, patience, or equipment to do a lot of PNPs), but I always thought it looked interesting. Glad to see it getting published, and I hope to check it out when it’s released.
Cleopatra and the Society of Architects (Bruno Cathala/Ludovic Maublanc, Mojito Studios) originally came out from Days of Wonder in 2006. Players are collecting materials to build various aspects of Cleopatra’s palace, with the potential to take powerful cards by claiming corruption. The original version had fabulous pieces, and was really fun – I have always loved the mechanism of the player who collected the most corruption automatically losing, and refer to it even in other games as “being fed to the crocodiles.” This game has needed a reprint for a long time, glad to see it coming back. Also, glad Days of Wonder is licensing out some of their older titles that they’re no longer supporting – not everything can be a Ticket to Ride, Memoir ’44, or Small World, and games like this and Colosseum need a modern audience.
Pipeline (Ryan Courtney, Capstone Games) is the first original game from Capstone, who has made their name importing some heavier titles from Europe. In this one, you’re building a pipeline network, refining oil, and selling it. It’s a big, complex game, and looks like a good heavy gaming experience.
Set A Watch (Mike Gnade/Todd Walsh, Rock Manor Games) is an interesting looking cooperative monster fighting dice game where all players are dealing with the oncoming hordes at once. Each round, one character has to stay behind and tend to the fire while the others go beat down the critters attracted by the light. I’m very much looking forward to seeing it come out.
Tang Garden (Francesco Testini/Pierluca Zizzi, ThunderGryph Games) is a tile placement game where players are collectively building and trying to score a garden. Each player is going for achievements, placing decorations, and generally trying to get in their opponent’s way. The game looks amazingly beautiful and caught my eye from the first moment I saw it on Kickstarter. I hope it does very well when it gets released.
Victorian Masterminds (Eric M. Lang/Antoine Bauza, CMON) is something I’ve been keeping my eye on for the past couple of years, not because I really know anything about it, but because of the collaboration of designers involved. You’re a villain who is loose in London in the absence of Sherlock Holmes, working on building your own doomsday devices. It looks pretty fun, and I’m eager to look deeper into it.
Wingspan (Elizabeth Hargrave, Stonemaier Games) is the game I’ll wager you’ll see on most anticipated lists this year. I don’t know if it’s the game itself or the pedigree of Stonemaier Games (probably a combination of both), but this is a hotly anticipated game, particularly since Stonemaier just opened preorders. Basically, you’re a bird enthusiast, trying to attract birds to your aviary and grow your habitats. It does like pretty cool, and I’m eager to check it out further.
So those are some games I’m looking forward to. Naturally, these are just games that I have information about, and I didn’t have the time (or inclination) to research all 400+ games that have currently been nominated on that Anticipated Games GeekList I linked to earlier.
As for the blog, I’m looking to do some things a bit differently this year. The first thing I’m going to be changing up is The Eleven. It will be there, but in a very different format than the last six years. You’ll see the first edition of that drop next Friday. The Kickstarter Blitz will also probably be changing formats, though I don’t know exactly how that will manifest – stay tuned to find out.
I’d also like to shake up my review format. My first review (Lords of Vegas) was posted in December of 2010, and though my process has evolved somewhat since then, it’s still basically the same outline. I may experiment with some different review styles, and I’d definitely like to do another Meeple’s Court sometime (haven’t done one of those since 2014).
Every year, I say I’d like to integrate some regular videos onto the blog, but I haven’t yet. Part of the problem is that I don’t feel like I have the right equipment, nor do I have the right technical knowhow to get something up that I’d be proud of. This year, though, I’m really going to try. I have a general idea for a new playthrough style that I don’t think anyone else is doing, so my plan is to do a few and learn from the process as I go. I think my main hurdle is trying to let go of the perfectionist in me. So I’m just going to point my iPhone at a game and try it out, and hopefully figure out the best practices as I go.
Let’s see, anything else? I’m going to continue using the blog as a platform to fan the flames of game buzz by talking about stuff I haven’t played and am interested in – just the process of talking about games is cathartic to me, even if I don’t get to play as many as I like (#lifewithathreeyearold). As always, I’m very grateful to those of you who come by and check in regularly – it’s nice to know people are out there that are OK with me blathering about whatever here. Thanks so much for reading, and here’s to a great 2019!