Let me start by wishing you a Happy New Year. I hope you enjoyed the holidays and had a chance to relax and recharge. Now that 2019, it’s time to look ahead at my most anticipated games of the coming year. The list happens to consist purely of Kickstarter projects, because that is how I buy most of my games these days, but as the year goes on I will of course keep an eye other releases as well. The list is sorted in expected delivery order, rather than alphabetically or anything else. So here goes.

Chai by Deep Aqua Games

Expected delivery: January 2019 for the print-and-play, and September 2019 for the full game

The Kickstarter campaign for Chai by Deep Aqua Games is still going for a few more days, so you can check it out here and consider supporting it too: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/strider88/chaian-immersive-tea-board-game

As you will see from the review I wrote (see Chai (Saturday Review)) and the related review video (see https://youtu.be/3R7QEKthQhY), I absolutely love this game. I was lucky enough to playtest a print-and-play version of Chai, and once my wife and I tried it, we kept playing it at least once a day for a couple of weeks.

The game is a type of resource management game where you collect additives and spices to fulfil customer orders for different types of tea, which give you points. The artwork is absolutely beautiful and the theme is fun for everyone. It is great for the all the family, because the game is very quick to learn and will keep you entertained for a very long time.

The reason why I have my eyes on this game particularly is how the market works. It is a 6 by 3 grid pattern, where each square contains a random herb or spice. Whenever you buy an ingredient, you take all of the same type that are connected horizontally or vertically and pay the price of the most valuable in the connected set. The rest of the ingredients then slide along, creating a sort of reverse Tetris effect, or for those people who are a bit younger, a kind of Candy Crush mechanism. You really have to think about you buy in what order to maximize your purchasing power, and ideally leave nothing cheap for the next player. It’s a mechanism that I haven’t come across in this way before.

Jetpack Joyride by Lucky Duck Games

Expected delivery: March 2019

Here is a game that is a conversion of a phone app into a tabletop game. Jetpack Joyride by Lucky Duck Games is a realtime game where everyone plays at the same time, choosing from a central pool of Tetris shapes to create a continuous path through a randomly created laboratory which contains obstacles that you have to avoid and coins and other bonuses that you want to collect.

The mechanism of using Tetris shapes to create a path is new, and added to that the realtime nature of everyone trying to make their own path through their own laboratory using a central pool of pieces was more than enough to pique my interest. It looks like a lot of fun and I think it is a good mix of player interaction and multiplayer solitaire.

Mint Tin Mini Skulduggery by subQuark

Expected delivery: March 2019

OK, this is the only game in the list that I am looking forward to not because of a new mechanism, but because it is a mint tin game. To me, that in itself is worth supporting. The campaign for Mint Tin Mini Skullduggery ended a while ago, but check out the subQuark website to see when it will be available for you to purchase.

Mint Tin Mini Skullduggery is a competitive dice game, apparently based on an ancient Finnish game called Läjähtää (Finnish for slam). You roll dice and use the results to collect skulls of different types to use as points for end game scoring or to affect your opponent’s turn. There is a good mix of luck and planning in this game, and it plays quite quickly, so is a good filler game. Add to that the fact that it all fits into a mint tin, it’ll be a game that I’ll have on me all the time, just in case we need to break up some boredom while out and about.

I absolutely love games that come in a small package with enough interest to keep you busy and entertained for a good while.

Battle Ravens by PSC Games

Expected delivery: April 2019

Battle Ravens by PSC Games is a two player only war game set in Viking England. I already did a review of a preview copy of the game (see Battle Ravens (Saturday Review)) where I wrote about how much I loved the first phase of each round where players place their raven tokens to assign how many actions a group of warriors can take. There is a lot of dice rolling involved in this game, so if you don’t like that, you won’t like Battle Ravens, but I think it’s a great game to introduce people to the huge genre of war games.
It’s very quick to learn and play, so if you don’t have time for a long game and want to quickly thrash out a few rounds of fighting with a friend, then this game is ideal. It takes up quite a bit of space on the table, and a little while to set up, but it is so much fun that it’s easy to want to play just one more game – and then another and another.

Startropolis by Petersen Games

Expected delivery: July 2019

There are many 3D puzzles that you can buy, and there are many space station building games, but Startropolis by Petersen Games is the first 3D game that I have come across and is a new mechanism to me.

During the game players work on building a “real”, 3D space station together, buying modules each turn to add to the existing structure, while observing certain rules that restrict how new modules can be added, and at the same time trying to place their modules in such a way that gives them the most revenue and points, while benefiting their opponents the least. These types of games are difficult enough in 2D, but here you have a physical model in front of you that you need to rotate to make sure you find the best position for the new module you’re trying to add.

The components are still being finalized, but already look amazing. I think the game will have a good amount of player interaction, both from a strategic point of view, but also a social aspect, because everyone will constantly want to inspect the structure as it is being built. I really can’t wait to hold the game in my hands and try it out.

Tiny Epic Mechs by Gamelyn Games

Expected delivery: August 2019

I always wanted to buy a game from the Tiny Epic series, but never felt there was a good time, because our games group always seemed to have enough games on the go. So when Tiny Epic Mechs appeared on Kickstarter, I saw an opportunity, and a justification, to get one of the games by Gamelyn Games. After all, everyone loves mechs, especially tiny, epic ones.

What attracted me to the game is the programming mechanism. On their turn, every player secretly selects four of eight different action cards and programs them in whatever order they want. Once everyone is ready, all players’ programs are revealed and executed, one action per player at a time, going around the table until all actions have been run.

That simple concept leads to an amazing variety of results and effects. You may have planned to move into a space to combat an opponent, just to find that they have moved out of range and placed a mine that you are about to step on. You really have to try and second guess what other players are planning and bluff your way out of sticky situations.

A lot of player interaction is guaranteed in this game, but I reckon there is also going to be a lot of talking and shouting happening as everyone curses each other and tries to make pacts to fight against the player who seems to be in the lead. I am really looking forward to playing this game when it finally arrives later in the year.

Exploriana by Team Exploriana

Expected delivery: August 2019

I backed this game after watching one of Rahdo‘s Run Throughs and thought it would work well as a two player, so my wife and I could play it together, as well as at higher player counts, so we could enjoy it in our games group.

Exploriana is a co-operation of three publishers, Chaos Publishing, Counters Out and Triple Ace Games, which is nice to see, and is a game of exploration set in 19th century where you are an explorer setting off to discover exotic beasts, enchanting flowers and valuable treasures. At the start of every round players bid on a number of cards representing different types of people who give you certain abilities to help you in your expeditions. The next step is to send out your explorers, where you basically claim an action space on a contient to decide who goes first and how many actions everyone gets. Then it’s time to explore the continents where you sent your explorers.

Exploring is a choice between taking a certain number of cards representing different types of animals, plants or other treasures, so that you can complete sets of them to score points, or pushing your luck and drawing more cards in the hope that you gain even more treasures, but with the risk that a disaster strikes and you lose everything.

It is the bidding and the push-you-luck elements that drew me to this game, and I think it will be great fun to play with my wife or during our games nights with friends. There should be plenty of bluffing and other player interaction to keep us all happy and wanting more.

Dreams of Tomorrow by Weird Giraffe Games

Expected delivery: September 2019

I first backed Weird Giraffe Games when they brought out Super Hack Override back in 2016 and liked the quirky nature of the game. So when they announced that they would be releasing another card game, where you are trying to send dreams into the past to affect the present, and that has absolutely stunning artwork, is quick to learn and easy to take with you, as well as allows any player count from one to six, I just had to back it.

So Dreams of Tomorrow is basically a set collection game, where players move around a rondel of action spaces. Depending on the mode you’re playing, the rondel can be changed around either by the players themselves, or randomly by an AI, which means that you can’t really plan too far ahead, but instead have to try and make the best of the arrangement of the actions spaces when it is your turn. Some actions you take will give other players benefits, but that may still be the best option because it means that you get a dream fragment that then gives you additional powers on future turns.

I think Dreams of Tomorrow won’t be for people who love planning several moves ahead, but that isn’t a problem. I enjoy games where you just have to submit yourself fully to the game and be pulled along by whatever happens. You will just have to lose yourself in this game, which I think is very thematic, because it is hard to shape dreams the way you want them to be.

FlickFleet by Eurydice Games

Expected delivery: December 2019

The Kickstarter for FlickFleet by Eurydice Games was an absolute rollercoaster and nailbiting to the very end. I watched the campaign from the start, when it seemed to really take off and was destined to meet its funding goal very quickly indeed. However, the momentum slowed down and it wasn’t until the last couple of days that support started to increase again and the campaign finally finished successfully on 8 December 2018. I have never seen anything so close on Kickstarter before. It was amazing and scary to watch – all at the same time.

However, that in itself isn’t a reason to back the project. What made me decide to back was the dice flicking mechanism. There are many games out there where you flick pieces around to hit others, and there are also many games available where you roll dice to decide what damage was dealt, but in FlickFleet the two are combined. You flick dice at the opponent’s 2D ships, and depending on what number the dice shows, assuming it does hit the opponent, will decide what damage was caused.
That to me sounds like a lot of fun and should keep my daughter and I busy for a few games now and again. So I can’t wait to receive it at the end of the year.

That’s all folks…

Well, and that was it. There are, of course, many other games due to be released in 2019, and I will certainly keep my eyes peeled and my finger on the YouTube pulse to make sure I catch any new game with an interesting mechanism or other new aspect that I want to investigate further.

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