This August, board gamers from all over the world will descend on Indianapolis for Gen Con, the largest board game convention in North America. Like every year, hundreds of new board games will make their debut – an overwhelming number. Thankfully Meeple Mountain is here to help you find the gems among the coal. Our writing team have scoured through the upcoming titles to select our most anticipated games of Gen Con 2022! In addition we’ve already reviewed over 30 games which will be releasing at Gen Con.
So without further ado, here’s our picks!
I’m fairly excited about Village Rails, a spiritual sequel to 2020’s superb Village Green. Whilst the two games are from different designers and feature different gameplay and themes (trains and gardens respectively), there’s no denying their similar vibes, right down to Village Rail’s excellent tagline: ‘A game of locomotives and local motives’. Osprey Games produce gorgeous and very clever small box games and I’m hoping that Village Rails follows in its siblings footsteps to hit that same sweet spot.
Rebel Studio’s Meadow was easily one of my top games from 2021 – stunning, educational, smart and full of charm. An expansion in 2022 isn’t surprising given Meadow’s success but Meadow: Downstream’s announcement earlier this year still managed to raise the hairs on my arms with its introduction of rivers, streams and lakes and the flora and fauna that inhabit them. A bunch of new cards? Yes please! A new river board and kayaking mechanic? Colour me excited! A gorgeous otter on the front cover? You had me at otter! Karolina Kijak’s artwork made Meadow for me and I can’t wait to pour over more of it with this expansion.
Fit to Print
A real-time tile-laying game designed by Peter McPherson about breaking news in a charming woodland world created by renowned tabletop artist Ian O’Toole? Frankly, it’s hard not to be excited about this one. Peter McPherson designed the much celebrated Tiny Towns (read our review of Tiny Towns) so already has form with games featuring anthropomorphic animals, and with his game Wormholes also coming out in 2022 this could be the year that he breaks into the designer big leagues.
A game of kittens landing on a bed and ‘booping’ other nearby kittens away (and potentially off the edge). A game that features a quilted fabric board that gets placed over the back of the box to create a miniature bed playing surface. A game with cute wooden kitten and cats meeples. A game called ‘boop.’
boop. might just be the most adorable abstract game released this year. Billed as ‘a worthy follow up to SHŌBU’ (read our review here), boop. has players trying to position their kittens into rows of three to turn them into cats and then positioning those cats in a row of three to win the game. The only problem is that the positions of cats and kittens shift with each new arrival on the bed. I have a feline this could be fun.
Publisher: Smirk & Laughter Games
Designer: Scott Brady
Always up for a good cooperative game with an interesting theme, The Spill sees you and your team as a response team working to contain a massive oil tanker spill. You’ll not only have to work together to contain the oil and clean the waters as best you can, but, more importantly, you’ll need to rescue the marine wildlife and preserve the ecosystem.
A worker placement/area control game featuring the legendary Terracotta Army? With miniatures? The history buff in me perked up at the idea alone, but the abstract strategy player really became interested once I read about the game play.
Designer: Przemysław Fornal, Adam Kwapiński
Tile-laying games always catch my attention. Akropolis sees you building a great city in Ancient Greece. Tiles each feature different building types and can be placed alongside other tiles or atop tiles—provided you have quarried enough stone to do so. Colorful, ever-changing, yet with specific patterns for scoring, this is one I have enjoyed playing. (Review to come!)
Designer: Jules Messaud
The amygdala is that part of the brain that processes memory, makes decisions, and cultivates your emotional responses. In the board game Amygdala, your working to control regions of the board, each one associated with an emotion. Collect emotional resources to unlock emotions that then go on the board.
The Red Cathedral: Contractors
The Red Cathedral was one of my favorite games of 2020. The first expansion, Contractors, is a complete mystery for me and I don’t even care; this one is a must. The base game could use more content, particularly as it relates to the variable “Guild” cards placed around the dice rondel (market board), so hopefully Contractors provides more action there. Solo could also use a boost; I like the solo element but it could always use more variety to how the AI thinks. This one is a must buy so hopefully I can give it a spin at Gen Con!
Great Western Trail: Argentina
My review crew loves Great Western Trail, but we are split on the first expansion, Rails to the North. But a new game in the GWT saga? Very intrigued. Every game in the world now has a solo mode, and it looks like GWT: Argentina adds this element as well; what little I know about the second chapter in this planned trilogy has everyone itching to get their hands on it soon. Gen Con provides the first chance to see the game out in the wild!
It is fair to say that the backstory behind 2015’s Mombasa is, well, problematic. Alexander Pfister and Pegasus Spiele GmBH are teaming up to give us a reskin for Mombasa in the form of Skymines. How will the move to a sci-fi theme work for the gameplay? My guess is that little has changed here in terms of the excellent card mechanics of Mombasa (this is a good thing), so I’m excited to see Skymines in action.
Northgard: Uncharted Lands
I spent time chatting with the team at Studio H about Northgard: Uncharted Lands while at GAMA Expo and I immediately went to work begging to cover the game. I love video games, I love the idea of 4X board games, I love variable game lengths (Imperial Steam, anyone?), and the production I saw at GAMA Expo tells me this is going to have some serious table presence.
Publisher: Studio H
Designer: Adrian Dinu
Bob Pazehoski, Jr.
Dice Hunters of Therion
As of the publication of this article, Dice Hunters of Therion is a bit of a mystery—if English is your primary language. Also known as Würfelhelden, this title is a Richard Garfield mystery, which has me more than intrigued. Würfelhelden sets players in the role of creaturely dice heroes in pursuit of mischievous villains. I see multi-colored, icon-laden dice featuring battle symbols, crowns, and loads of curiosity. The central mechanism is rolling and re-rolling those beautiful dice to lock various icons in place.
My family loves Wizards of the Wild—another game of rolling and re-rolling specialized dice on behalf of some wonderful critters. Though Würfelhelden is clearly a different sort of game, part of my curiosity stems from seeing if another game can scratch that same critterly itch. I’m willing to give this one a ride to find out!
We have some fans of Photosynthesis in our house, so our curiosity here is somewhat biased. Evergreen looks like a heavily fertilized thematic cousin of Hjalmar Hach’s other well-known endeavor into the forest. This time around, though, players are laying out an entire planet with meepled trees, shrubs, and lakes, modifying powers, and vying for control of biomes. The mechanism I’m most excited about here has players drafting biome cards at the beginning of each round to determine where they must work. The unwanted biomes for that round accumulate, making them more valuable at the end of the game. What a delightful balancing idea! Between the broader environmental scope and the crafty mechanisms, I think Horrible Guild might have a winner here.
From an aesthetic standpoint, this game scratches every itch. Plenty of white space to let the box art and the game boards breathe, fun little tactile treats to place all over the multi-layer boards, and simplicity—I love when a game shows appropriate artistic restraint. Evergreen has all the feel of sitting down to a canvas to create a planet.
Catherine: The Cities of the Tsarina
I get the feeling there is a deceptive simplicity to Catherine: The Cities of the Tsarina. This upcoming release from dlp and Capstone Games takes place in the 18th century under the reign of Catherine the Great. Players are attempting to win her favor through some fascinating cardplay and a bit of network-building on the map. What caught my attention here is the use of a layered card tableau in which cards laid below activate the cards above. It sounds simple, but I gather there’s a hint of agony in the decision-making that makes this one come alive. The gameplay is simultaneous and the iconography looks to be fairly intuitive. From the mechanical side, I think it’s the sort of tight play I’d enjoy.
From the thematic side, I do enjoy games that are historically set, and the artwork here is simple but appealing. I can’t really find fault with this one from a distance, and I hope to get it to the table to put it to the test!
My Father’s Work
This might be the newest best halloween themed game that actually has some complexity associated with its game play. This is a worker placement game where players play as mad scientists performing crazy experiments. You are completing to complete your father’s work by fulfilling tasks and upgrading your estate. The game is unique as players balance between study and active experimentation. At the end of each round, all experiments and resources are lost. The game’s components look amazing. There are miniatures and vials of different colors to represent resources. I have been waiting a long time for this game and can’t wait to see what it holds.
This game just got announced a couple weeks ago. I’m excited for this because my kids still love playing Clank! This new Clank will have tiles that form its dungeon Portals will transport you from one place to another, and the dungeon crawling is real as you get to explore as you move. I expect some new surprises that will make this Clank unique and am excited to see how Wire Wolf does this on their own.
Cult of the Deep
The newest best deduction bluffing game that will keep you guessing. Each player receives a role and a card with powers. You will attack other players or attack monsters that are currently out. Defeating monsters will give you even more special powers which can ultimately help you achieve your goal, which is dependent on your role. I think this game is better than similar games because it adds more layers and more options. Anyways I highly recommend this if you’re looking for a game with high player count.
Publisher: B.A. Games
Designer: Sam Stockton
Creature Comforts is such a great game, and for that, it makes me excited to see what Kids Table Board Games does with this hand management and set collection game. I have to admit, I don’t know all too much about the game yet, but its set in the same world as Creature Comforts.
The Isle of Cats: Kittens + Beasts
This is a great game for expansions, and this new one is exactly what I am excited for. I learned this game later than most, but was able to teach my family the game, and it has some great things in it. This expansion will include 3 modules that will keep this game fresh and will keep it coming back to the table.
It’s not too often you get a board game inspired by a book that isn’t an official spin-off. But that’s the case with Wormholes. In my interview with Peter McPherson earlier this year he indicated that Wormholes was indeed inspired by The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet written by Becky Chambers. In both book and game, the protagonists travel across the stars, creating wormholes which link far-reaching planets. All in the name of interstellar travel…and of course commerce. The game also includes a modular board and pick up and deliver gameplay, in the form of travelers.
Green Team Wins
While party games are hit and miss for me, my family loves them. Codenames, Just One, and Blank Slate are particularly popular because they’re easy to explain, easy to play, and you don’t have to take yourself too seriously. Many are the holidays where we have a 10-person table full of adults and kids laughing and groaning over a missed opportunity, or scratching our heads over a particular word usage. Green Team Wins riffs on the space previously trodden by Just One and Blank Slate and buries the lede, telling you exactly which team will win the game – but who ends up on the green team you won’t know until the game is over.
In Green Team Wins you want your answer to be in the majority because in doing so you not only earn a point, but you get to move from the orange team to the green team (if you’re not already there). If your answer is in the minority then you get demoted. Sure it’s similar to other games, but it’s different enough, and that’s enough to bring on the laughs.
Publisher: 25th Century Games
Designer: Nathan Thornton
Aldabas: Doors of Cartagena
I’m a sucker for interesting card games, and bonus points when the theme is something I haven’t seen before. In Aldabas: Doors of Cartagena players are building a 3×4 grid of “door cards” – beautifully illustrated doors in red, blue, and yellow, with door knockers in the shape of lions, seahorses, and other animals. Each door card provides a special ability when placed, as well as allowing players to trigger the ability of previously placed adjacent cards. With clever gameplay, interesting end game scoring, and a quick turnaround, Aldabas: Doors of Cartagena is certain to wind up in my personal collection.
Fit to Print
A tile-laying puzzle game from the designer of Wormholes and Tiny Towns, and the group behind Point Salad, Cascadia, Calico, Public Market, and TEN? I was already interested, but then you tell me the game is about laying out the front page of a small town newspaper and you’ve not only got my attention, but my money as well. Fit to Print is a real-time game in which players compete to lay out the best newspaper front page, mixing headlines, ads, and photos; all in the goal of scooping your competitors. Fit to Print also includes solo play, and a “slo-mode” for people who don’t like real-time games.
Orconomics (second edition)
Orcs are commonly feared for their ferocity and brute strength, but less so for their business acumen. Designers Timofey Bokarev and Fedor Korzhenkov decided that simply wasn’t fair and designed Orconomics (second edition), a game rooted in fantasy, and in business development. Set up the modular board, then start playing. Over the course of the game players will start, and invest in, businesses across a wide number of industries. Orconomics (second edition) mixes area majority, auctioning, and multi-use cards and results in a clever game with some real chops.
Publisher: Ares Games
Designer: Timofey Bokarev, Fedor Korzhenkov
Tabriz designer Randy Flynn has recently done the seemingly impossible; receive the Spiel des Jahres nomination for his first published game, Cascadia. And now he follows it up with a game which has close personal connections, Tabriz. In Tabriz players will be weaving and selling luxurious Persian rugs to wealthy patrons in the Tabriz marketplace . Tabriz features a modular game board, contract fulfillment, worker placement, and several other mechanisms that give Tabriz the feel of a classic board game, with modern sensibilities. There aren’t many details about this game yet, but given how much I love Cascadia, I’m sure Tabriz will be a hit.
Ecosystem: Coral Reef – We were impressed by the original game Ecosystem (check out our review here) and look forward to seeing what new watery challenges designer Matt Simpson and publisher Genius Games have in store with this sequel.
Call to Adventure: Epic Origins – One of the more distinctive storytelling games out there, Call to Adventure wowed Meeple Mountain with its rune-casting take on the fantasy adventure genre. Call to Adventure: Epic Origins is a standalone sequel that introduces new Heritage and Class cards as well as overhauling the Adversaries. Read and watch our reviews of Call to Adventure.
We’ve already covered a number of titles which have already been released, or will soon be released at Gen Con 2022.
Blazon – Warriors often decorate their shield or other weapons, and in this game you do just that. But in Blazon the designs or patterns you choose from cards, and the placement of them, will determine how many points you score. Blazon includes art from Ian O’Toole and you will be proud of the design you place on your shield after playing this game. Watch our video review.
Gartenbau – Using a special tile placement mechanic, you will be laying down seeds to then watch your garden grow. Different tiles will be placed on the bottom and you will grow your tiles upwards, having 3 layers signifying your flowers growing. This is yet another game published by 25th Century Games. If you like abstract strategy games, this will be one to check into. Watch our video review.
Ra – Ra is that very classic game that has been done over and over again. This time with a touch from Ian O’Toole. The player boards are the highlight to the changes done to the game, but you also can’t ignore the large and thick wooden components that will cause your eyes to open wide in disbelief. The game is one that should be played by any board gamer, and this updated version would be the favorite to have. Watch our video review.
Four Humours – This is a great deduction area majority game that has a unique look to it. I liked the medieval medical theme placed with the game and the gameplay goes well with it. I imagine the components for this one will be above par. This game is published by Adam’s Apple Games, and is a good follow up from their hit, Planet Unknown. Watch our video review.
Amygdala – This is the newest game that Game Brewer crowd funded just recently. This is an abstract strategy game of placing your emotion pieces on the board. You have to manage all your resources and money within the 10 provided spots, and you will only be able to place on the main board depending on your player token. The game didn’t rack up as much money as I thought it would, but I think it will do well when everyone else can put their hands on the game and see why it’s different. Watch our video review.
Hippocrates – This is a game of ancient medicine and managing your money. You will choose which patients to heal and choose what medicine to gather. As a doctor you want to have the greatest reputation, and between all i’ve mentioned plus your tile placement decisions you can become a great doctor along with Hippocrates. Watch our video preview.
Oak – You will play as a leader of a group of druids learning from the Arch-Oak’s secrets. This is a worker placement game where you will upgrade your workers, move up the oak to gain additional bonuses, and get cards to score more points. The game will have cool plastic components to add on your druids to upgrade them. This is a game you need to check out by watching our video review.
The Palaces of Carrara (second edition) – Another game that is a re-release. Palaces of carrara is a nice classic euro game that has now been upgraded to fit in better. The game has a cool wheel that will change how much and which resources are available, and choices affect all other players. You will use your resources to build in specific areas on your board, and try to gain points for those positions. This has that older euro feel to it with the upgrades to make it still relevant and worthwhile to play. Check out the video review.
Rulebenders – This is a euro game where you change the rules as you play. Want more or less cards to hold in your hand? Well change the rule to do that. Players will change aspects of the game to give them advantage over all the other players. Check out our video review.
Founders of Teohuatican – This is a great tile placement game where you will take turns placing tiles on certain aspects of your board trying to cover up certain spaces before others do, but also placing different tiles to score points. Resources are placed on your board and take up locations from tiles, and are then used to gain other tiles. This is a less complex game than Teotihuacan: City of Gods but still a great one. Watch our video review
Long Shot: The Dice Game – One of the biggest surprises to me was when I first got my hands on this game. We absolutely loved playing it as a family. The game is a quick game, and the results can always change before the finish line. This is an above par roll and write game and should be looked at if you are reading this. Watch our video review.
Dog Lover – The slightly more beefy cousin of AEG’s Cat Lady, this open drafting game is all about putting together and feeding the right group of dogs, surrounding them with the best toys, and training them to pull off the best tricks. Check out our review of Dog Lover!
Power Failure – This Artana title is a combination of card play and dexterity. Players attempt to power cities with coal, natural gas, nuclear, and/or renewable energy. All along the way, the carbon output is piling up, threatening collapse. Read our review of Power Failure.
Ghosts of Christmas – A fabulous trick-taking affair set in the world of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Players lay cards into the past, present, and future, shifting the balance of joy in an attempt to capture tricks to match their bid. Read our review of Ghosts of Christmas, a holiday treat that lasts all year!
Disney Sorceror’s Arena: Epic Alliances – Build a team of Disney characters for a delightful team skirmish. Players act as summoners, leading animated friends to knock out the competition and control the golden center spaces. Learn more about the battle in our review of Disney Sorcerer’s Arena: Epic Alliances.
The Guild of Merchant Explorers – Guide your intrepid team of explorers across 6 continents in order to reestablish trade with long-forgotten cities. Read our review of The Guild of Merchant Explorers
First in Flight – Take to the skies in this high-flying, deck-building, action selection game about the birth of modern flight. Read our review of First in Flight.
Cellulose – Dive deep into the inner workings of a plant cell in this exciting and informative worker placement game about photosynthesis. Read our review of Cellulose.
Gift of Tulips – This is a game about balance, and of making choices. Come join the tulip festival, but don’t be stingy with the flowers. Read our review of Gift of Tulips.
Cytosis – Your entire body is composed of a network of living, breathing cells. Learn how it all works in this worker placement game about cellular biology. Trust us, it’s a lot more fun than it sounds. Read our review of Cytosis.
Ecosystem – In the circle of life, everything relies on everything else to thrive and survive. Explore the interconnectedness of all things in this card drafting, tableau building game from Genius Games. Read our review of Ecosystem.
Genotype – Take on the role of a research scientist working under the wing of Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics, in this worker placement game about pea plants and genetic inheritance. Read our review of Genotype to find out more.
Periodic – Come explore the Periodic Table of the Elements in a way you never have before. Compete for Goal cards by spending or gaining energy to cleverly manipulate the resources on the periodic table. Read our review of Periodic.
Fire & Stone – From Klaus Jurgen-Wrede, designer of Carcassonne, comes a new game about leading a tribe of early humans out of the Stone Age. Explore the world, spread your influence, and discover fire to become the most powerful tribe by the game’s end. Read our review of Fire & Stone.
Castles by the Sea – Build sand castles with your family in this lightweight game from the publishers behind Boss Monster and Call to Adventure. Read our review of Castles by the Sea.
Ark Nova – We’ll assume you’ve heard of this one; if not, our “first take review” of Ark Nova has you covered!
Gimme That – You will laugh hard when playing this party game. From the makers of Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza. Read our review of Gimme That..
Caper: Europe – An updated take on the 2018 card drafting 2-player game Caper, Caper: Europe adds more locations, more loot, and more variety. Read our review of the prototype of Caper: Europe.
Gutenberg – Portal Games delivers Gutenberg, which features a slick action programming mechanism, cool wooden typeface pieces, and an otherwise mediocre gaming experience. Read our review of Gutenberg.
Tenpenny Parks – Theme parks, polyomino tiles, gorgeous production and a very reasonable playtime? Tenpenny Parks delivers. Read our review of Tenpenny Parks.
Final Girl – The highest-grossing solo-only gaming experience to hit Kickstarter last year delivers the goods. Much, much more content is on the way. Read our review of Final Girl.
This War Without an Enemy – A beautifully presented block wargame themed around the first English Civil War. Be warned, the combat rules are not for the faint of heart, and the strategy is hard to parse for newbies. Read our review of This War Without an Enemy.
Buru – A mix of bidding, resource management, and trying to appease the spirits, Buru sees you trying to become the next governor of Buru. It’s a game made even better by the art, created for Craft Games by an Indonesian artist. Read our review of both the multi-player version of Buru as well as Buru’s solo mode.