We’re back with another edition of Games I Haven’t Played! With 2021 in the rearview mirror, I thought I’d take a look at some of the top-ranked games on BGG that came out last year. I have not played a substantial number of them – in fact, the highest rated game from 2021 that I have played is Bullet♥︎ (#1383), though that was only online. Cartographers Heroes (#1446) is the highest rated one I’ve played in person. BGG ratings are accurate as of January 10, but they’re still rising, so they may be different when you’re reading this.
The Crew: Mission Deep Sea (Thomas Sing, KOSMOS, #169) is the sequel to the Kennerspiel des Jahres winning The Crew: The Quest For Planet Nine (2019). If you don’t know, The Crew is a cooperative trick-taking game with a series of 50 missions for players to complete together. Mission Deep Sea takes the game out of space and into the watery depths to find the lost continent of Mu, but as I understand, the theme doesn’t really play into the game much. I still have not played the original The Crew, but it’s high on my want-to-play list. I like trick-taking games, and the cooperative twist makes the system seem pretty fun. Plus, people just rave about it.
Cascadia (Randy Flynn, Flatout Games, #182) is a tile-laying game where you are building out the terrain of the Pacific Northwest. Basically, you’re drafting tile and wildlife groupings and putting them into your area. Wildlife scores based on cards that are selected based on the level of complexity you want. Terrain also scores based on your biggest grouping. It’s a very pretty game, and one I’ve heard lots of good things about. It’s on my list of things I want to play.
Sleeping Gods (Ryan Laukat, Red Raven Games, #187) is the latest storybook/atlas game from Laukat and Red Raven Games. It’s a campaign game where you spend your time exploring a world in search of various totems, and having all kinds of adventures along the way. It’s meant to be played a little at a time, and the time given on BGG is 60-1200 minutes. I’m still woefully behind on my playing of any Laukat games – the only one that I think I have played is Eight-Minute Empire. But his games are quite beautiful, and I hear the writing in these storybook games is getting better each time. So I’m interested.
Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition (Sydney Engelstein/Jacob Fryxelius/Nick Little, Stronghold Games, #379) is essentially a card game version of the very popular Terraforming Mars. Players choose the type of action they and everyone else will get to do. Then you go about the work of terraforming Mars – starting new projects, taking actions, building forests, raising oxygen, raising the temperature, creating oceans, producing resources, and researching new technologies. I don’t know how similar this is to the original as I still have not played it. I know, I know, what’s wrong with me, yadda yadda yadda. Just haven’t had an opportunity. I do want to try it. This version seems like a pretty good standalone game with shades of Race for the Galaxy, and one I’d like to try as well.
Ankh: Gods of Egypt (Eric M. Lang, CMON, #388) is the third in a mythic trilogy by Lang and CMON that includes Blood Rage and Rising Sun. Basically, you’re playing as one of the ancient Egyptian deities, trying to gain the most devoted followers. You’re moving people around on the map, gaining followers and performing special powers. Apparently, there’s less randomness than the other games in the series. This is the first one on this list that I’m fairly uninterested in. I haven’t played the others in the series, and maybe I’d feel different if I had. But, something about Egyptian games doesn’t do anything for me.
Ark Nova (Matthias Wigge, Feuerland Spiele/Capstone Games, #409) is a game about building a zoo. You’re selecting actions from a series of five that rotate to the start of the line when you choose them, and their strength is based on their location in the line. You can build enclosures and buildings, you can add animals, you can get sponsors, you can form associations, and you can get new cards. This game is probably the one I am most interested from this particular list. It’s a big, complex game that has gotten some great buzz. It’s certainly heavier than some of the zoo games that have come before it (such as Zooloretto or New York Zoo). Plus, it looks gorgeous.
Destinies (Michał Gołębiowski/Filip Miłuński, Lucky Duck Games, #442) is a 1-3 player game where players are trying to fulfill their destiny in a medieval fantasy world. It’s a kind of app-driven story-based adventure game – you move around to tiles, have encounters, and basically try to fulfill your own personal objectives. This is a game I don’t know a whole lot about. It looks nice, but not something I’m likely to pick up. The big reason for this is that I have another app-driven story-based game on my shelf (Mansions of Madness) that I haven’t explored enough, so I don’t really need another right now.
Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile (Cole Wehrle, Leder Games, #467) is a new kind of take on campaign games. In Oath, you are basically creating the story of a kingdom, and can play in several different ways – trying to build the authorities up, trying to tear the man down, going to war, dealing with internal problems, and so on. Each game has repercussions for future games, determining what will be available in future plays. This is from the same team that brought us Root (which I also haven’t played), and seems much more thematically complex than that. It looks like a cool game that I would try, but I doubt it would get much play if in my house.
Meadow (Klemens Kalicki, Rebel Studio, #551) is a set collection game where you’re drafting cards from a grid to put in your own area. Cards you play often have symbol requirements that you need to already have before they can be played. Each player has a set of action tokens they play to either draft these cards or take other actions. It’s a pretty game, and looks to be a cool nature themed game (of which there seem to be a lot these days). Plus, it has some great art by Karolina Kijak.
Cubitos (John D. Clair, AEG, #568) is a game I’ve had my eye on for a while. It’s a racing game where you’re rolling your dice to try and move around the board, as well as purchase new dice with different powers to help you move more. I’m a little leery about this game because I didn’t really care for Quarriors, which I know was a completely different game from a different designer and a different company. But it still had this similar pool building mechanism of acquiring new dice. Even the best dice, however, have the problem that you still have to roll them and hope to get the correct side. This game looks like it does things better than Quarriors did, but it’s one I still would want to play before getting it for mysef.
Canvas (Jeff Chin/Andrew Nerger, Road to Infamy Games, #592) is an art themed game. Specifically, you’re a painter, and are layering art cards together to create unique paintings. There’s a set of rules drawn at the beginning of the game, and these award ribbons for meeting certain conditions in your paintings. The game makes use of the card crafting method pioneered by Mystic Vale, where you insert clear cards into a sleeve to create a new card. It’s another very pretty game (which it would have to be if it’s about art), and looks like it’s a fairly quick one to play. I’m interested.
And that’s it for the best of 2021 that I haven’t played. There are plenty of other games to talk about from next year, and I may do a part 2 on this list sometime in the future. For now, however, thanks for reading!