Board gaming is going from strength to strength, as you might have seen from our best of 2017 list.
But therein lies a problem: with so much quality to choose from, how do you start whittling down your wants list? Luckily, we’re here to help you plan your purchases in 2018 with this list of some of the most hotly anticipated titles in board-land.
Watch these like a tabletop-obsessed hawk, as they’re shaping up to be the cream of the upcoming crop.
Batman: Gotham City Chronicles (due late 2018)
Best for … anyone! It’s Batman!
You might imagine that Batman and Conan the Barbarian would be the world’s least likely crossover comic, but it’s happened in gaming. This uses the same mechanics as 2016’s Conan to detail the escapades of the caped crusader.
In each game, one player will control a supervillain and their team of heroes while the others team up as heroes to take them down. No word so far on how to referee the inevitable melee over who gets to play Bruce.
Details are scant as yet, aside from some stunning miniature sculpts, but watch for a Kickstarter campaign in February 2018.
Brass: An Industrial Revolution (due March 2018)
Best for: brain burning
Another small cheat, because this is two games in one. Brass: Lancashire is a reprint of an ingenious 2007 game of the industrial revolution. Brass: Birmingham is a fresh spin-off title with extra mechanics and a new board. Both are notable for the smart mechanics that push players through the transition between canal and rail transport.
Victory means managing the balance between setting up the supply chains you need and using those of other players to your advantage. It may sound dry, but these are heavy, compelling games crammed with replay value and clever ideas. Economic and social history has never been so much fun, or so challenging.
Sine Tempore (due May 2018)
Best for: novelty seekers
Loosely connected to the 2016 battle game Noca Aetas, this is a co-operative sci-fi shootout. There are various characters, missions and enemies with different powers and abilities and you can play scenarios as one-offs or link them together into a campaign. So far, so ordinary.
What makes Sine Tempore stand out is its clever momentum mechanic, which tracks character and enemy actions on a dial. It lets you take powerful turns, but you’ll pay for them by waiting longer for your next turn, with more enemies acting in between. This creates a delicious dichotomy between planning and temptation.
Throw in some lovely miniatures, and you’re looking at serious temptation yourself.
Lords of Hellas
Best for: mythology mavericks
There’s a thriving sub-genre that take traditional themes like mythology and warfare, then slap modern mechanics on top. Lords of Hellas is the latest, and possibly greatest, entry.
You’ll control a hero and their army in a bizarre setting which marries sci-fi with Greek myth. Your forces aren’t just going toe-to-toe with other players. You’ll also need them to build monuments which get Gods on your side and help defend from rampaging mythical monsters. Surprisingly for a conflict heavy game, it also comes with solo rules. The result is a fast-paced blitz of planning and player interaction, laden with pretty plastic miniature goodness.
Time of Legends: Joan of Arc
Best for…indecisive gamers
Historical simulation games tend to look drab and dry to a lot of players. This game fixes that by giving you history if you want it, or a ton of angels and dragons if you don’t.
The flexibility on offer doesn’t end there, though. You can use what’s in the box to play sieges, boss fights, strategic battles and even an RPG-like narrative. It supports all this via a novel activation system which rewards timing and patience as well as strategy.
As a result, this smorgasbord of brilliance ends up being far simpler and more accessible than it has any right to be.
Who goes there? (due May 2018)
Best for…people who want to lose friends
Based on the novel that inspired famous horror flick The Thing, Who Goes There? does what it says on the box. It’s a co-operative title where your character has to share things with other players.
It might be supplies, equipment even bunk space, but it all involves getting close and personal with your peers. Trouble is, every time you do, you risk infection in the form of vulnerability cards. Once someone turns traitor the game gets even more interesting.
To win, they have to escape detection and win by escaping with at least one other human character. It’s paranoia all the way down.
Big Trouble in Little China: The Game (due early 2018)
Best for…cult film fanatics
Franchise based games face an issue with re-creating their beloved theme while staying fresh and flexible. This keenly-awaited co-operative adaptation tries to avoid this with a system of "acts" and quests.
Players can mix and match these to create a game of the length and detail of their choosing. Throwing everything into the mix leads to a final "showdown" with a big bad. Mechanics prod players to push their luck in taking audacious risks, resulting in a cinematic narrative and "big trouble" if they fail.
The publisher is even trying to get John Carpenter and Kurt Russel to playtest the title before release. You can’t fault the commitment
Star Wars: Legion (due April 2018)
Star Wars themed games with sweet figures have been a big money spinner for Fantasy Flight, and now there’s another. Legion uses small-scale figures to let you re-create huge ground force battles on the tabletop.
In addition to a being a great looking miniatures game, this promises to let you field all your favourite Star Wars heroes too. So Luke and Darth can fight their iconic duels in the midst of a sea of Rebel Scouts and Stormtroopers.
No AT-AT announcements so far, but it’s only a matter of time surely.
Gearworks (due July 2018)
Once in a while, some bright designer comes up with a completely new take on a well-loved idea. Gearworks could be 2018’s best example, an area control game with a wholly new twist.
Players compete to control gears in a 4×4 grid by playing cards. However, stringent placement rules make it tricky to get the right cards in the right place. Cue a baffling interactive puzzle of strategy and timing where you’re working to get down the right cards at right time while screwing up everyone else’s efforts to do the same.
Almost every play demands a rethink of the situation, cranking up the tension. A sweet steampunk theme makes this a sure-fire winner.
Sid Meier’s Civilization: A New Dawn
Best for…world builders
Let’s start with a small cheat: anticipated in early 2018 this actually squeaked onto shelves at the very end of 2017. It’s a super-speedy and stripped down version of the Civilization 6 video game, with which it shares some artwork.
Civ games deserve to be epic and making fast-playing ones has long been a design gremlin, but the signs are this ticks most of the boxes. A few slick design choices have kept the strategy, story and exploration while reducing the time to a manageable couple of hours.
Founders of Gloomhaven (due late January 2018)
As if it wasn’t enough for designer Isaac Childres to have made Gloomhaven, one of 2017’s best games, he’s pushing into 2018 too.
This is a standalone title in the same universe, but it’s a very different beast. Instead of fantasy adventure, this has players building a city together. To gain access to all the required buildings and resources, everyone will need to work together.
Only one player can win, though, by earning most prestige. So it’s all about how much you’re willing to co-operate to get what you need. Well, that plus variable player powers, auctions, economics and a slew of other mechanics to create a compelling challenge.