by Nick Murray
Curious about my most anticipated board games of 2020? Read on to find out more.
I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time researching a wishlist of existing and upcoming games. 2020 will be an exciting year for gamers, with so great options hitting the market. Amidst all the hype of many new games, there are a handful of already published gems that I am itching to experience for the first time. After discovering my personal tabletop tastes and preferences, I’ve begun to recognize the familiar scents of a surefire hit from the games listed below. Here you will find my current cream of the hype crop…
All Aboard the Hype Train!
Caylus 1303 Released 2019
If you only told me that Caylus was one of the very first worker placement games ever published, I would likely be scared away from trying it… surely worker placement games have evolved from Caylus! What’s the point in going back to something so aged and basic? But this is no simple reprint of an old game; rather, it is a careful reimagining and modernizing of a beloved classic.
The positive buzz from Tom Vasel and So Very Wrong About Games have put this one on my radar. I’m hungry for a tight worker placement game, and this one appears to fire on all cylinders. It’s an added bonus that this one seems to be streamlined down to a widely accessible level. Present to me a juicy hour-long Euro with tense interaction and I’ll gobble that up.
Lowlands Released 2018
I can’t resist a Shut Up & Sit Down approved Euro for forever. Their taste has been impeccable so far. I dig the look of the sheep farming and the supposed interdependence between the three core strategies (recruiting sheep to establish a delightful farm, building the dike to prevent catastrophe, gaining buildings to improve your engine). I believe Z-man is doing another reprint of this soon, but it seems as though they’ve now removed their information page about upcoming reprints (crosses fingers for reasonably priced copy). Though this game isn’t new this year, it is still one of my most anticipated board games of 2020
Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion 2020 Release Date
As much as I want to try the #1 game of all time (as ranked on BoardGameGeek), I think this more accessible version will suit my group MUCH better. Hopefully this can retain the fun and trim the fat when it releases to retail this year.
Root: The Riverfolk Expansion Released 2018
Root: The Underworld Expansion 2020 Release Date
You can never have too much Root. I still haven’t managed to try two of the base Root factions (the Cats and Vagabond), but that likely won’t stop me from swooping down on these expansions when they become available. A Root expansion feels much different from any other board game expansion, as the core game itself is all about how players are traveling wildly different paths to arrive at the same destination… and the prospect of entirely new paths is beyond exciting.
Fort 2020 Release Date
A deck builder from Leder Games? Please and thank you. I trust that these guys can take the deck building genre and put their own charmingly unique spin on it. If you appreciate the art style or quirkiness of Root, then this is certainly one to keep an eye on. It is supposedly releasing directly to retail later this year. Fort is definitely one of my most anticipated board games of 2020
Container: 10th Anniversary Jumbo Edition! Released 2018
I may never get the chance to play this… But in my wildest dreams this publisher will suddenly realize that good artists exist in this world and they will have the sense to hire one to redo their game before republishing it for me. My interest in this game is entirely thanks to Shut Up & Sit Down’s video review; they always know how to communicate the scrumptious taste of a good game.
Undaunted: North Africa 2020 Release Date
A deck-builder where each card represents an individual soldier in your army, one which must be removed completely upon its death at your opponent’s hand. Shut Up and Sit Down gave Undaunted: Normandy a raving review. You have my attention, Mister Quinns. I’ll wait it out and opt for version 2.0 (North Africa) which will hopefully refine and improve the formula. This publisher also made the excellent Cryptid, so I’m already a fan of their work!
Ra Released 1999
The legendary designer, Reiner Knizia, is 3 for 3 in my collection! Of course, I only stick to his best ranked games out of the millions that have been published… but his cream of the crop is on a whole different level. I’m so hungry to try his famous auction game, Ra, it hurts. We’ll see if I can survive until it is back in stock. At least we are loving Modern Art in the meantime.
The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine Released 2019
If there is any game that I wouldn’t hesitate to tell any human to get hyped for, it would be this one.
The cooperative trick-taking that this game presents sounds like a blast. I’ve preordered it already, as it is supposed to release Q1 of 2020! That’s what you do when your trusted Geekbuddies sing its highest praises. Check out Tom Vasel’s review if you want to know more.
I’m most excited to see how the game uses trick-taking to force unique and tense cooperation between players. If I could successfully integrate cooperative modes into my hot air balloon trick taking design, it would likely be thanks to The Crew paving the way for me.
Kemet: Blood and Sand 2020 Release Date
The majestic Inis (my favorite game) has put Kemet (a similar style of game from the same publisher) on my radar, and a new version of Kemet is all I need to hear to start throwing my money at Matagot. They plan to put this area control game up on Kickstarter later this year, which means I’m in for a long wait.
Treasure Island: Captain Silver – Revenge Island 2020 Release Date
The very existence of this expansion has me all aboard the hype train. Treasure Island is the most delightfully unique game in our collection, and I can’t wait to see how this adds to the fun of treasure hunting and pirate bluffing.
Calico 2020 Release Date
I was skeptical at first, but I’ve since seen enough gameplay to change my mind… I’m optimistically convinced that Calico will sit perfectly next to Azul and Sagrada on our shelf. This casual, puzzly style of game is right up my wife’s alley, so I’m betting it will be a hit at our house. Keep an eye out for this one at retailers when the Kickstarter fulfills later this year.
Sleeping Gods 2020 Release Date
Never tried a Red Raven game, but I’m pumped to see this epic kickstarter reach our doorstep. I did a lot of research into the game before deciding to back, and I think it will make a great cooperative game replacement after our Pandemic Legacy Season 1 quest is over. The theme and artwork are carefully crafted, and the combat system looks especially fun.
Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile 2021 Release Date
Cole Wehrle’s other designs, Pax Pamir 2e and Root, are both in my top 10. This one is a no-brainer for me to join the most anticipated board games of 2020 list. It combines the art style of Root with the Wehrle-style tableau gameplay of Pax Pamir into a game with a built-in meta. Can’t wait!
Spirit Island Released 2017
Early on when I researched potential board games to try, I was incredibly tempted by the mega-hit game, Spirit Island. It’s unique cooperative theme of playing as island spirits to repel relentless colonists was instantly attractive to me. Ultimately, the heavy complexity scared me off a year ago, but now I’m ready to dive into this one.
The Estates Released 2018
As I’m still surfing the wave of fun provided by our stellar auction games including Modern Art and QE, I couldn’t resist putting this game on my wishlist. I read through the rulebook and I’m now salivating to dive into its cutthroat nastiness.