Here are some of the Kickstarter games from 2016 that we’re most excited about, so keep an eye out for these when they hit shelves!
Jonathan Liu’s Picks
We ran our “Best Games of 2016” post a couple weeks ago, but there were many games that I reviewed in 2016 that weren’t eligible—because they aren’t actually available yet. About half of the games I review each year are pre-production prototypes I’ve been sent in advance of a Kickstarter campaign, and in most cases, these are still in production, so they aren’t something you can buy yet. (My picks are all games that I reviewed in 2016.)
This game of grabbing (and squashing) donuts was one of my most-played games of 2016, and is a real crowd-pleaser. So I was particularly thrilled to find out this past week that Gamewright has picked it up, because that means that it’ll reach an even bigger audience. I’ll be excited to get the finished version, but for now, I’m thrilled that I have a prototype so I can keep breaking it out for game nights.
Amusement parks (or “funfairs” in British English) are all about fun and games, but the business of funfairs is cutthroat and vicious—at least in this game from Good Games Publishing. I have to admit: the look of this game and all the wonderful thematic elements are a big part of why I like it so much. The Kickstarter did well enough to add several new themes, so I’m looking forward to trying those out when this game is finished.
I called Herbaceous a “refreshing breath of fresh air” because it’s thematically so different from the majority of games I play. I mean, I love fighting monsters and exploring space as much as the next guy, but it’s nice to take a break and plant some lavender and dill in my planter box every once in a while. Herbaceous will be a welcome addition to my casual games collection.
I’ve been a fan of the Tiny Epic series from Gamelyn Games and Scott Almes, and Tiny Epic Quest once again packs a bunch into a tiny package. This one is of particular interest to those who like fancy meeples, because Gamelyn Games’ ITEMeeples can hold equipment and items, and they’re adorable.
Sagrada is about making stained-glass windows. The prototype was pretty cool, but I think the finished version is going to look really gorgeous. I wish I could afford that custom dice tower, but even without it, this game is going to sparkle when it hits the table.
In a few instances, I’ve gotten the finished copy but haven’t had a chance to break it out for a “Reaping the Rewards” post yet.
Evolution is one of my favorite Kickstarter-funded games, and the Climate expansion adds some really cool effects and traits to the mix. I’ve actually gotten a finished copy of this one but had held off on the “Reaping the Rewards” post because fulfillment was delayed a bit, and then we hit the holidays. Expect to see a final write-up of this one this year.
And here’s one that I was anticipating, and I’ve just recently posted my “Reaping the Rewards” follow-up because it arrived. I really like what Daily Magic Games has been doing with their Valeria line of games, and Villages of Valeria is a pretty cool tableau-building game in a small package. I’m also looking forward to Quests of Valeria, their third game in the line—and not just because I finally get to be a character in a game!
Rob Huddleston’s Pick
Campaign Trail was one of my favorite games of 2016, and it’s the game I am most looking forward to playing again next year. While a lot of people may be a bit burned out on politics, this game allows you to see how you’d do in a battle for the White House. Being a political junkie, I’ve played a lot of campaign-themed games over the years, and this is the one that comes the closest to the feel of what it’s really like. It’s got some great strategy, with only a small amount of luck mixed in. The components, particularly the Electoral College tracker, are very cool. And it supports from 2–6 players well (I’ve played with 2, 3, 4, and 6 and enjoyed all of them), and when the game is finally released it’ll even include rules for solitaire play.
Dave Banks’s Picks
In the past six months, I’ve played more of Valeria: Card Kingdoms than any other game in the past two years. It’s fast-moving, has great art, and we often don’t know who the winner will be until we are tallying the points. I’ve just received Villages of Valeria and we are enjoying it too, but the one we are looking forward to most is Quests of Valeria, which should be showing up around the start of March, I’m guessing. Quests of Valeria seems to have some similarities to the way Quests are picked and completed in Lords of Waterdeep, but if it’s anything like the previous games from Daily Magic, it will be great.
We know that everything is derivative. It’s very true of boardgames (which sometimes makes me wonder why I’ve got a dozen worker placement games when I really only need one). So, when someone does something new or really tweaks a genre, it’s something that people take notice of. In 2015, when Ryan Laukat put out Above and Below, it was one of those games. Yes, it used well-known mechanics and felt familiar in some ways, but how they were used was different. Add in a choose-your-path element and Above and Below forced people to pay attention. In 2017, we’ll be seeing its sequel, Near and Far. With a more complex story, a full-blown campaign, and a couple of quick ways to play, I can’t wait to try out Laukat’s next game.
Will James’s Pick
Do you ever feel like you are just playing at being an adult? Everyone, especially parents, has imposter syndrome now and again. Pretending to Grownup not only lets you pretend to be an adult in a fun way, but it also allows imagination to rescue you from the mundane. Play against your friends to see who can be the most grown-up or use the unipegasaurus to ditch your adult duties. Jason Anarchy has successfully made several really fun games, and this will be no different. I even got a sneak peek at the card text recently and cannot wait to get my hands on the final game.