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All aboard: the 9 most anticipated board games of 2017

Yes, board game club is about to have a vintage year...

If you saw our list of the best board games of 2016, you’ll know what a hot year it was for table play. And the great news is that, in the diametric opposite to real life, 2017 is shaping up to be even better.

Games on the horizon include novel improvements of several tried and tested genres. And there’s even a couple of titles looking to break new ground in a hobby oversaturated with brilliance.

So grab your diaries and start pencilling in some dates – those pre-orders aren’t going to make themselves. To help, we’ve even put them in expected order of release…

UnfaIr – Best for…management sim addicts

Due: early 2017

From the title, you might expect this game to have a mile-wide mean streak. In fact, Unfair about building theme parks, though it still has a hefty dose of added brutality.

You spend your limited resources each turn trying to grab the best rides and park upgrades. But you can also spare some precious actions on events to screw over the opposition instead.

Unfair has a fair amount of that one-more-turn feel that makes theme park management video games so addictive. The added competitive elements are just gravy.

Pre-order Unfair ($59)

This War of Mine: The Board Game – Best for…philosophical gamers

Due: early 2017

Misery simulator This War of Mine was a brave foray into moral realism in videogames. Now Awaken Realms wants to replicate those ethical dilemmas on the tabletop.

It’s co-operative and, given the open-ended nature of the questions posed by the game, exploring them as a group should prove fascinating. Not that it’s shy mechanically. It’s got a glorious gamut of push-your-luck mechanics.

And there’s clever re-use of a fate dice to minimise the rules overhead. Ultimately, the game may live or die based on the quality of writing in the included choose your own adventure-like Book of Scripts. We can’t wait.

Pre-order This War of Mine: The Board Game (£50)

Dark Souls: The Board Game – Best for…dying repeatedly

Due: Summer 2017

Fresh off the back of an eye-watering £3.7m Kickstarter campaign, this has a lot to live up to. Players use node-based movement, card-based AI and stunning models to re-create boss battles from the infamous RPG.

Dark Souls: The Board Game promises to punish failures of strategy as brutally as the original punished failures of the fingers. The finished product will feature a modular board and exploration mechanics, so no two games will ever be quite the same. Except for the players dying and cursing a lot, obviously.

Read more about Dark Souls: The Board Game

Near and Far – Best for…aspiring storytellers

Due: Summer 2017

Above and Below was a peculiar 2015 game that mixed economic efficiency with storytelling. It worked like a charm, oiling a potentially dry strategic engine with narrative grease.

Now the concept is back in Near and Far, with added exploration. Rather than building a village you’ll be wandering over maps in search of lost ruins. Which, we presume, someone will find at the conclusion of the ten-game campaign.

And when you’re done, the huge book of story paragraphs means you can lose the ruins and look for them again with a completely different narrative.

Read more about Near and Far

Pandemic Legacy: Season Two – Best for…Co-op fans

Due: Autumn 2017

Legacy games are an extraordinary new concept where you physically alter your copy of the game as you play. In time, your copy won’t just look unique, it’ll play uniquely too.

Co-operative classic Pandemic got the Legacy treatment in 2015 and, as a bonus, its campaign game told a story as you played. It’s now one of the most acclaimed and best-selling board games around. And a continuation of that story is in the works with a season 2 copy scheduled for 2017.

Details have otherwise been closely guarded, so keep your eyes peeled. Expect it to spread like a virus on release.

Read more about the Pandemic Universe at Z-Man Games

Tiny Epic Quest – Best for: Zelda nostalgists

Due: Autumn 2017

Fantasy board games tend toward the western archetype, but Tiny Epic Quest instead apes the feel of the classic 80s JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game).

Players explore and complete quests to earn points in a bright, colourful fantasy kingdom. It even comes with modular wooden pieces so you can see what equipment your hero is carrying.

Besides the setting, Tiny Epic Quest also has a novel push-your-luck mechanic that impacts everyone at once. It’s a clever idea that helps the game create the illusion of a living world that all the heroes share. Promising strategy, narrative and excitement, this looks a sure-fire hit.

Pre-order Tiny Epic Quest (from $20)

Anachrony – Best for…astrophysicists

Due: Autumn 2017

Being a smart Stuff reader you’ve likely wondered about time travel paradoxes. For example, what if you borrowed money from your future self, then refused to pay yourself back?

Well, Anachrony lets you do just that. And it has the answer – you’ll lose three victory points and a spot on the board. This, and other cool time related mechanics makes the game stand out in the otherwise tired worker placement genre.

And that’s good because at its best, worker placement build deep, engaging and replayable games. Whether it succeeds or not is a question Anachrony can ask its future self.

Pre-order Anachrony ($59)

Charterstone – Best for…deep strategy fans

Charterstone - Best for...deep strategy fans

Due: Winter 2017

Charterstone is another ‘legacy’ game in which your copy of the game becomes unique as you play. What’s got everyone particularly excited, though, is that it’s porting the concept into a new sub-genre.

Existing Legacy games have tended toward exploration and narrative, but this brings the mechanic to the strategic heavyweight world of worker placement.

Although mathematically dense games might seem a poor fit here, there are precedents. Agricola and Robinson Crusoe are both deep worker placement games with tons of narrative. If Charterstone can pull off its lofty ambitions, it’s likely to be awesome.

Sign up for updates about Charterstone

Rising sun – Best for…ending friendships

Rising sun - Best for...ending friendships

Due: end of 2017

In 2015, famed designer Eric M. Lang and publisher CMON teamed up to bring us the brilliant Blood Rage. They claimed its design heritage was very distantly rooted in family classic Risk.

Rising Sun is their next game and this time they’ve taken inspiration from friendship-ending classic Diplomacy. You’d expect a Japanese theme with that title and you’d be right. Except the alliances, negotiation and inevitable treachery play out in an alternate universe full of Japanese myth.

Expect a Kickstarter campaign soon this year and a possible squeezed release toward the end of 2017.

Get updates on Rising Sun