Most anticipated games of 2021.

Everybody likes lists! In the spirit of list making at the turn of the year, I’ve captured a few thoughts on the games that I am looking forward to in 2021. I’m not optimistic about playing much in 2021, given we are still… well, you know where we are. So while I’m certain I won’t add all of these to my shelf, I’m keeping each of them target locked for now. You know, in case stuff changes. Of course, there are probably plenty of cool games that haven’t been announced or I haven’t discovered yet. It’s only January, after all. With that said, here’s my best look forward… into the future!

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Measuring The Ways To Win

Whenever I teach a game, there comes that inevitable moment where I’m explaining how to win, and 9 times out of 10, it ends with “and the player with the most points is the winner!”. The redundancy of that statement led me to start thinking about all the possible manners in which victory is or could be measured in a competitive boardgame. Points can’t be the only method, right?

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Thoughts on Spiel.digital and virtual boardgame conventions

Boardgame conventions and fairs are a celebratory event in the hobby and industry. Designers, publishers, printers, distributors, and fans wait all year for big gatherings like Gencon, Origins, UK Games Expo, BGGcon, GAMA trade show, Dice Tower Con, or Spiel… but in 2020, thanks to COVID-19, none of these, or the myriad of smaller local conventions, are happening.

Publishers have had to deal with production and shipping delays and adjustments, and figure out new ways to spread the word about their games that doesn’t involve gathering. For a hobby whose very existence relies heavily on across-the-table interaction, COVID-19 seemed mildly disastrous.

But the show must go on!

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High Society

Thurston Howell III: “Gentlemen. I am Thurston Howell III and this of course is my wife, Mrs. Thurston Howell III.”

Mrs. Lovey Howell: “Charmed.”

Igor: “Capitalist! Exploiter!”

Thurston Howell III: “Capitalist? Exploiter? I was wrong Lovey. They’re very friendly!”

– Gilligan’s Island

These days there are a few thousand new boardgames released every year. Most of us are not rich. I can’t afford the time or money to play anything more than the tiniest fraction of these titles. It’s easy for a game to get lost in the shuffle, even if you’re a well regarded card game from a well respected designer. Such is the case for me and Reiner Knizia’s High Society. First released in 1995 in German, it was the 2003 Uberplay edition that introduced the game to the English speaking world, and quite possibly the 2008 Gryphon Games edition that popularized the game in English. I had heard about the game many times, but it wasn’t until Osprey’s gorgeous 2018 edition that I acquired a copy. It was a full year later before I had a chance to finally play it, and fall in love with this game that let’s me pretend to be rich!

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Concordia

If you’ve spent any time reading about boardgames on Reddit, Twitter, or Boardgamegeek, you’re likely familiar with a game called Concordia, from designer Mac Gerdts. If you haven’t already played it, you’ve likely looked at pictures of the game and the box and questioned the sanity of fans. Unless you’re crazy like us, and get turned on by old maps and the colour beige, you’ve thought to yourself “Not in this lifetime!”.

Mac Gerdts has been around the block. He may be most famously known for his series of games that explore the rondel mechanic. A rondel is a wheel shaped mechanism, usually printed on the game board, with a variety of options and rules for movement. Gerdts played with this in Antike, Hamburgum, Imperial, and Navegador.

In 2013, he took a new approach with Concordia and used cards in place of the rondel, a twist he continued toying with in his 2017 follow-up game, Transatlantic. Concordia is still thematically a “trading in the Mediterranean” game at heart, but the cards and a minor twist in how they play and accomodate scoring was all Mac needed to create something fresh and exciting.

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