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Retrospective: 2018's Most Anticipated Games header

In January 2018, Meeple Mountain pulled together some of our most anticipated releases of 2018 in three categories: brand new, shipping Kickstarters, and reprints. How did they fare?  Did they live up to our excitement or are they destined for our next BGG auction? Let’s find out.

New Games in 2018

Rise of Queensdale

Photo from the publisher

A dice management legacy euro game, to put it lightly MM was intrigued by this title. How did it fare with the team?

David McMillan- if you’ve read my review of the Rise of Queensdale, it will come as no great shock to you that I absolutely adore this game. While I imagine the game would be much more cutthroat at higher player counts, I have found that it’s still very compelling at two. My wife and I are a little over halfway through our campaign and it’s neck and neck!

Yellow & Yangtze

Yellow & Yangtze – photo from the publisher

A sequel to a Knizia classic, Tigris & Euphrates, did Y&Y improve the system or fail to live up to its 20+-year-old sibling?

Ashley Gariepy– Reiner Knizia’s follow-up didn’t disappoint (even though it hasn’t received a lot of attention). Y&Y takes the core gameplay of T&E and streamlines a few rules to make gameplay smoother and faster. My favorite new part of Yellow & Yangtze are the yellow cubes which act as a wild color in the final scoring. Knizia has done it yet again and my hope is that Y&Y eventually gets the love it deserves.

Chronicles of Crime

Chronicles of Crime – photo from publisher

We thought, VR bringing together a detective theme with an escape-game puzzle feel, sign us up! Are we glad we put our name on the list?

Phil Chen- This game lived up to my expectations. It is incredibly immersive and the cases are interesting. I love that the bar to entry is so low, the game teaches you as you play. Yet the game offers a challenge. I look forward to solving more cases and can’t wait to dive into the two expansion when they are available in the app in 2019!

Justin Gibbons– Although I was surprised by how much you need to use the app and your phone to scan things as you play, Chronicles of Crime is a fantastic game experience. The 3D crime scene immersion is ground-breaking and makes me wonder how similar concepts might be implemented into board games in the future.  It’s a very fun game, and I’m super happy I backed it.

Ashley Gariepy– I knew Chronicles of Crime would be an amazing game the second I got my hands on a Print-and-Play prototype for the first scenarios. Now, as I play through the final version of the game nine months later, I’m still so impressed with its design. For me, what best differentiates Chronicles of Crime from other investigative board games is how it tracks time in the app. It’s a feature I’ve always wanted in Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective so I’m pleased that a game has finally decided to experiment with the concept (and do it so well). Check out our Preview and Initial Thoughts on the Game here.

City of the Big Shoulders

City of the Big Shoulders

Image from the publisher

Launched on Kickstarter in 2018, forthcoming in 2019, a few more of us had an opportunity to play City of the Big Shoulders. Did it leave us feeling rich or did it fail to pay off?

Phil Chen- Wow! I hate to admit to the fact that this was my first 18xx experience, but I’m glad it was. I found the game to an incredibly interesting play. I love the bit of Chicago history I learned along the way. I got to play the prototype and this was an easy Kickstarter back for me. Can’t wait to see the final version in 2019!

David McMillan- Like Phil, City of the Big Shoulders was also my first foray into the realm of 18XX style games. Having played it several times now, I’m still amazed by just how much I really enjoy playing this game. It masterfully blends everything that I love about worker placement eurogames with the tenets that have made 18XX games so popular. Read my review of City of the Big Shoulders if you’d like to know more!

Key Flow

Image from publisher

Many of us at MM really enjoy Richard Breese and our ears always perk up when we hear there is a new Key game arriving. We haven’t played yet, but expect it on our doorsteps any day. Who backed it?

Phil Chen- I backed it! Based on videos it looked to me like a Key game that might be more digestible for my less-gamer friends.

David McMillan- I think I was something like backer #7. While it hasn’t reached my doorstep yet, all of the news an hype coming out of Essen have led me to believe that Richard Breese has another hit on his hands. I cannot wait for Key Flow to finally get here!

Tokyo Metro

Tokyo Metro overview

Image from the publisher

A heavy economic game in a small package. There are a few of us who drool over the idea of a rail investment game. Were our speculations correct, was this a good investment?

Andrew Plassard – Tokyo Metro is amazing, though I was able to play this one before the Kickstarter. The gameplay incorporates route building and economics like many of the heavy train games of old but with a new and fresh take. Read more in my review here.

 

2018 Kickstarter Deliveries

Rising Sun

Image from the publisher

Pulling in 31,000 backers and just over $4 million, this huge CMON hit delivered just after our we published our anticipation list. Did it live up to the hype?

Phil Chen- I am an admitted Eric Lang fan-boy and was one of those 31,000 backers. This may be one of the more stunning boardgames I own. The board is lovely, the components are stellar, and the minis; CMON delivered on their name. The best part is, the gameplay is also fantastic. For me, it doesn’t surpass Blood Rage, but I am very proud to own it and will never turn down a play.

Justin Gibbons- This is easily one of my favorite games of 2018. I actually enjoyed this way more than Blood Rage. Instead of drafting actions via cards, all players utilize the same pool of 5 actions and then fine-tune their strategy by careful deployment and purchasing cards from an open tableau. I raved about this one for good reason in my full-length review.

Tyler Williams- Lots of minis and set in Japan to boot? Sign me up!  I was very excited about this game from the start and it did not disappoint.  I love the theme and design but the real meat is the mechanics of the game. I love the bidding system in war, it adds a lot of spice and tactics to the game.  My only critique is that I have noticed there are a few elements of the game that seems less balanced than the rest (eg. fox clan + righteousness.) Overall, this is a great game with a variable player count and it will not be leaving my collection anytime soon!

Detective: City of Angels

Image from the publisher

Seems like 2018 was the year for detectives. Did Detective: City of Angels make its mark or stay hidden in the shadows?

Jesse Fletcher- Unfortunately, due to delays in production and artwork, this one still hasn’t delivered. I’m still eager to see how this one plays out, but it looks like we’ll have to wait until 2019.

Mars Open: Tabletop Golf

Mars Open: Tabletop Golf – gif from the publisher

Its look was charming and we always appreciate dexterity games. Was Mars Open a hole-in-one or just a flick across our gaming memory?

Andrew Plassard – Dexterity games are a great introduction to the hobby, and Mars Open: Tabletop Golf was one I was eagerly awaiting. In the first weekend I got this game, it remained set up for a few days straight while I tried to master every hole under par. This is a great experience for gamers of all types and ages.

Founders of Gloomhaven

Founders of Gloomhaven

Image from the publisher

With a name containing Gloomhaven it has to be good. Right? Did the latest Childress game wow or was the heavy euro set in the Gloomhaven universe a disappointment?

Phil Chen- I think this title left many wanting. I love RTS games and highly anticipated the arrival of Founders, having read it was inspired by games like Factorio. I’ve only played it a handful of times thus far. I don’t feel any buyers remorse, but I will say that it seems this game is likely to only be played solo by me. People don’t seem to dig it. You’ll have to check-in to see if it remains in my collection.

Rise to Nobility

Rise to Nobility – photo from publisher

We are suckers for dice worker placement here at MM. Rise to Nobility brought a mechanism we love to the Cavern Tavern table. Was the service deserving of a favorable Yelp review or is it thumbs down?

Phil Chen- I love dice worker placement games! Also, Cavern Tavern is a classic among my family. I felt like Rise to Nobility made some improvements over Cavern Tavern. That said, it just didn’t differentiate itself enough for me to have it on my shelf.

David McMillan- I’ve enjoyed Rise to Nobility the few times that it’s come off of my shelf. In a world full of other games, though, I don’t feel compelled to pull it off the shelf very often. When they launched a Kickstarter for the expansion earlier this year, I was not on board. When I asked myself if I’d play the game enough to warrant spending money on an expansion, I decided that I probably wouldn’t. It’s a fine game, don’t get me wrong, but there are so many other games that speak to me more.

Feudum

Feudum – photo from publisher

The game arrived in 2018, we thought it might have contended for the game-of-the-year in the heavy economic euro category. How does it fare against other 2018 titles?

Justin Gibbons– Feudum is now one of the heaviest games I own. It’s very well designed with a unique economy where resources are pushed or pulled through six different “Guilds” lining the edges of the board. You can feel how much energy was put into creating the gorgeous world that your wooden cubes inhabit. The downside of this game is that it has a very steep learning curve and your first play will require a long teach and play time. Sadly, that’s prohibited it from hitting the table more, but it’s a wonderful game once you’re actually playing.

Kurt Refling– This one wasn’t on my radar until a friend picked up a copy. It’s a rare day when I call a game “too complicated”… but the mental gymnastics Feudum asks you to do are a little much. Somewhere between tracking the player presence in guilds, resources, held cards, and map control, Feudum lost my interest. Those who enjoy bookkeeping and card-counting strategies may find a lot to like in the elaborate decision space that Feudum offers.

Lords of Hellas

Image from the publisher

The second game that pushed Awaken Realms into the Kickstarter spotlight.  Was this area control game a hit or should you stick with risk?

Tyler Williams – With beautifully crafted components and a theme and lore that sucks you in, Lords of Hellas has it all. This slightly asymmetric area control game brings with it a host of options that keep it fresh and enjoyable play after play. There are multiple paths to victory, allowing you to keep your strategies fresh and often forces you to switch gears mid-game.  The combat system is wonderful since it does not rely on a lucky roll to grant you victory. Now admittedly, I am a huge fan of Awaken Realms but that love has been earned as repeatedly I have seen what they touch turn to gold. Lords of Hellas does not have any weak points for a game of its genre and I truly love it.

2018 Reprints

Neue Heimat/The Estates

Image from the publisher

A much-anticipated reprint in our group. It promised lots of interaction and a weight beyond its appearance. How does it stack up?

Phil Chen- I’ve been known to love a multiplayer solitaire game, maybe it comes from playing solo a decent amount. That said, I do really enjoy player interaction. I backed The Estates and it may be the best gaming decision I made in 2018. I have found this game to be much more versatile than I anticipated and it is quickly climbing my top-games list.

Andrew Plassard – Though I have a copy of the original edition of this game, Neue Heimat, the new version stands out as a gorgeous game in my collection. The Estates doesn’t change anything from the gameplay of the original edition but this new edition is a lot more appealing to a variety of gamers.

7th Continent

7th Continent – photo from publisher

A game the demanded a reprint after only one year. 7th continent promises to simulate a choose-your-own-adventure feel in a tabletop experience. Are we still excited about its 2019 expansion delivery?

Phil Chen- I play a decent amount of solo games, I particularly love heavier solo games. I bought 7th Continent specifically for the solo experience and it has not disappointed me at all.  I’ve barely scratched the surface and I have already gotten countless hours of quality play time with this game. Unfortunately, my schedule has restricted my solo play time in the last few months, but I eagerly await getting this to the table again soon!

Brass/Brass: Lancashire

Brass – photo from publisher

A long-lived classic with the Roxley make-over. Was it an upgrade or do we pine for the triumphant man with a top hat?

Phil Chen-  Brass was one of my top-rated games, and it still is. I feel Roxley has done an outstanding job of updating the look and feel. I am incredibly excited to play the new Brass: Birmingham!

David McMillan- I still have yet to get this to the table, but I am blown away by how beautiful this new version is. I have played the original before, though, so I am excited for when I do finally get to play my new copy.

Andrew Plassard – The new game looks a lot better than the original, but I’d argue the earlier editions were easier to play. Whatever gets this heavy masterpiece to the table is good for gaming. Though it isn’t the easiest game to learn or play well, Brass is an amazing experience.

Key Market

Key Market – photo from publisher

We mentioned we like Breese. A reprint was confirmed but is scheduled for 2019. You can probably guess a game that will appear on our 2019 anticipated reprint list. Who in the MM crew is excited?

David McMillan- This hasn’t happened yet, but Richard Breese has confirmed that it definitely will. Key Market’s probably not going to see a reprint until early January. Right now, R&D Games is busy with post-Essen and Key Flow fulfillment.

Fireball Island

New Fireball Island

Nostalgia drew us in on this modernized version of the 80’s classic Fireball Island. Backers are receiving the game as we speak. Who has played it? Who backed it? Who wished they had?

Than Gibson – Fireball Island absolutely delivered on what it promised: an update to a classic kids game from the 80’s. I grew up with the original and am very happy to see it brought back to life and retain that feel in a revised form. There have been complaints about the materials, but I feel they may be somewhat exaggerated. It is so much fun to pull out of the box and set up. My two young boys couldn’t keep their hands off of it. They screamed with delight sending marbles down the chutes to knock their dad’s piece to the bottom of the island! That’s a success to me.

Container

Container – photo from publisher

Deluxe! The 10 year anniversary of Container was printed in 2018. This allowed us to utter the phrase “The containers of Container have been loaded on the Container ship.” Was that the best part of Container, or did it offer us more in 2018?

Andrew Plassard – I love Container, the dynamics amongst the players, the dwindling economy, the struggles to profit. All of those challenges make it a mainstay in my collection and one I will play any chance I get. The new edition is a little bit ridiculous, with the “jumbo” boats and containers but it is more durable. Also, the new expansion module helps to fix the game from the economy breaking down. Overall, I’d call the reprint a success!

Your 2018 Anticipated Games

In January, we also reached out to our social media followers to see what they were most excited about in 2018. The four games that made the top of that list were:

  • Rising Sun
  • Zombicide: Green Horde
  • Lords of Hellas
  • 7th Continent

If you were anticipating those games, let us know if they lived up to your expectations. If not, what games did you most anticipate? What were the highlights of your 2018 gaming year and what games came in just to go back out at the next board game flea market? Let us know in the comments.

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Philip Chen

I am one of the odd few who enjoys both deep, involved Euro and immersive, thematic Amerithrash. I rarely turn down a play of any game. When not gaming I can often be found nerding-out about plants or in my day job where I work as a Vegetation Consultant for the Utility Industry. I can be found on most forms of social media @philcplaysgames or by email at philcplaysgames@gmail.com.

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