Despite what anyone says 2021 has been as good a year as most for board games. Here are a select few that we think everyone should add to their collection.
Dominant Species Marine
A game of struggling to be the Dominant Species in the new post ice age world. In Dominant Species: Marine, players take control of one of four major aquatic-based animal classes — reptiles, fish, cephalopod or crustacean all vying for control for habitats and gather victory points. Through area majority, you will collect card affects to propagate your individual species through speciation, migration and adaptation actions, among others.
If you were a fan of the original Dominant Species, this iteration seeks to remove some of the math that made the overhead calculations unbearable for some players. If you’re new to the series and don’t mind a game a bit on the heavy side, then this is a must buy. A more streamlined iteration of an already highly rated series makes this a prime addition to any board gamer’s collection. Check it out here.
For those who looked at Dominant Species and thought that wasn’t heavy enough or asked “Where are the coffee beans and farms?” Do not fret, I am here for you. Coffee Traders is an incredibly heavy and complex game of growing and trading fair trade coffee. If that small description didn’t scare you away then you are in for a treat. In Coffee Traders you must work with your competitors to develop the regions you see fit for the best coffee beans while keeping a watchful eye on the market. Construct buildings to help your Fair Trade coffee plantations thrive while enhancing your network for trading coffee.
Coffee Traders is gorgeous, thematic and really makes you feel like you’re organizing your books and keeping a watchful eye on the market. The art in this game is the wonderful kind that has 2 purposes. Firstly, it reels you into the game but more importantly it helps to make the game feel lighter and more accessible than it is despite the hard calculations and deep strategy. Check it out here.
Fast & Furious Highway Heist
Before you scoff at this game, for which I do not blame you, board games or games in general based on movies are notorious for their incredibly poor interpretations. But let me tell you, this is the exception. Fast & Furious Highway Heist comes with 3 scenarios, recommending you play them in order because the complexity really jumps up. The game implements a dice rolling mechanic that isn’t too random but what makes this game great is the stunts.
Just like the movies, you are able to pull off the wildest and wackiest manuevers to beat the bad guys. You can have a partner on the roof of your american muscle car while you use a ramp of previously destroyed cars to fly into a helicopter, and then landing safely in front of an enemy truck to start the next round of mayhem. If that isn’t an all-encompassing description of the Fast and Furious franchise then I don’t know what is. Play with your family and you’ll feel you’re in the movies. Check it out here.
Marvel United X-Men
Designed by Eric M. Lang and Andrea Chiarvesio, Marvel United X-Men is a fast-paced, cooperative game where players take control of Marvel Super Heroes and band together to thwart the master plans of the most dangerous Villains in the Universe. Each Villain unveils their unique master plan, with cards that trigger different effects, and threats that pose challenges across the locations.
Heroes must choose carefully the cards to play from their unique decks, that not only offer different actions and superpowers to use, but also combine with the actions of other Heroes to do the impossible. Build your story line, unite your powers, save the day! Check it out here.
Arkwright the Card Game
In Arkwright the Card Game, players employ workers in their factories to produce and sell goods. The more workers that have a job, the more goods that can be sold - but be prepared for crises and competitors. If you were a fan of the previous Arkwright but thought it was a bit too heavy and complex, then this is a must buy. The game still retains the joys of organizing your factories and improving your shareholdings but in a streamlined (though simplified) process.
If you are not familiar with the original game you are in for a great old time of cut throat dealings and undercutting prices. You build your factories and make your goods but be careful the market fluctuates with the general demand, so the demand may be lower than the value of your current good, lowering your profit. Workers must be paid, and machines need regular maintenance, there are many avenues for loss and this game does not hold your hand. If you’re still interested, I could not recommend a game on this list more. Check it out here.