The ten games I'd like to finally play in 2022
Everyone has their eyes fixed on 2022 already, and starts to speculate on the wonders the board gaming world keeps in hold for the upcoming year. Well, I cannot say I do. Truth is, my collection not only feels complete, but saturated. I own so many games that look absolutely great and exciting: if I want something to look forward to, I am fully sated with it. I am sitting on a hoard of promising and delightful discoveries, and yearn for nothing more than to dive into it. Next year should be a bit quieter on the personal/professional side, so there might even be some non-negligible odds that I may find the opportunity to get these games out of their boxes and on the table at least. In my wildest dreams, here are the big baddies I’d like to drag out of the dungeon, and into the arena.
10 – Wrath of Ashardalon
I’m not a fan of dungeon crawlers, or at least nowhere near as much as I should be, given my tastes. In board gaming, I usually favor a higher level of abstraction – grid-based movement, line of sight, minis, are all fiddly embarrassments to me. Yet in my youth I played Dungeons & Dragons: The Fantasy Adventure Board Game quite a lot and something stuck to me. The minis were great, nowhere near the level of details of the Warhammer figures my buddies were crazy about and much more prone to be actually played with, the gameplay smooth, the “classic Fantasy” vibe just neat. But I couldn’t play it solo. So, now that there are D&D crawlers actually soloable, of course I look forward to playing them! I own both this one and Drizzt, but the big dragon on the cover is enough to make me want to try Ashardalon first.
To be fully honest, I don’t know much about this one. It’s a Fantasy adventure game playable solo two-handed, it has a very enticing, atmospheric art, and an expansion I obviously own already. There’s not much more to consider at this point, I already want to play it! It’s actually been high on my mental top list for a while by now, but somehow I never got to even open it and start reading the rules.
8 – Fallout
A very recent and unexpected addition in my collection. One of the second-hand sellers I’m following had this on sale, with both expansions (he had the courtesy to throw away the expansion boxes and keep everything neatly in the core box, which I could never have resolved to do myself; but I appreciate the space saving). When I saw it popping up, rather cheap, I first thought: “No way, you don’t like post-apocalyptic themes.” Then I thought: “it will be gone really quick, so wait a day, you’ll be sure to miss it”. And I waited a day. At this point I told myself “OK now you should have a glimpse at the rules.” I didn’t read it thoroughly, but everything I saw there sounded fun, the fighting especially, a nice twist on the dice chucking trope (for once you don’t have to beat a number). I waited one more day. It was still there. I knew the game was waiting for me, that I was fated to get it. And so it joined my collection.
7 – Sanctum
When Sanctum was released, I remember feeling a mix of relief and disappointment – it wasn’t soloable. Then they cooked up official solo rules, and I started to hunt for it on the second-hand market, which was a short and easy quest. It looks rather cool. You have weapons, enemies, dice, lots of gear, character progression, an appealing and very clear iconography. The game doesn’t offer you plenty of scenarios and a sprawling campaign: only a face-off against a big baddie that can be completed in less than 2 hours. I like it when board games have finite, reasonable ambitions. It makes them all the more appealing to me.
I have played the second edition of Runebound two times. Honestly, it’s a crude game. Roll dice. Praise whichever Fantasy deity may help your character. Die miserably, or level up and become a mighty hero – that is, add +1 to whatever stat of your choice. Take the formula of your generic Fantasy adventure and dumb it down. What’s left? All the fun! It’s one of my fondest “big” board games experiences in recent years. Exactly what I wanted out of it. So now, instead of trying the bunch of expansions I have, I also want to try the shiny new system – Runebound 3rd edition. It looks like a completely different game and I feel lost when looking at the components. Yet they sure look nice. I even purchased a nice wooden insert to store them all in the core box (which doesn’t close properly now). And, if you wonder, yes, I already have all expansions for it. But you already know I’m not really a model of reason, care, and self-control. Anyway, the game is all neat and pretty now, and it may be the first big game I play in 2022.
5 - Adrenaline
That's the second game by Neduk here, and you might think I'm a fan, at least if you don't keep in mind that I have yet to play any of these games. Yet they share some core appeal: both are board game adaptations of a video game genre, the hack’n’slash for Sanctum (and its box cover cries “Diablo” for a reason), the arena shooter for Adrenaline. Both genres I immensely enjoy, of course. Yet more crucially, these two board games keep simple rules and simple components – they translate the feel, the fast-pacedness, rather than being an accurate rendition of the video games they pay homage to. And this is something I love in board game adaptations of video games; they have the theme, they have the punch, but you get through them in a hour or so, which is, in the end, a much better ratio of fun per time invested.
4 – Dragonfire
Wait, what? For all the time I have blathered about it, I have yet to try it? Yes, yes, the sad truth is, yes. Last night I was about to play it. I picked up the box. I opened it. I read the first two pages of the “Learn to play” guide. Then I decided to unpunch the tokens (which was great, it really made my night). And I saw these poor cards that would get all battered and cornered with all the relentless shuffling waiting for them. I just couldn’t do that, so I stopped reading, ordered some sleeves, and put it back on the shelf. Then the sleeves arrived, but I didn't have time to play it anymore before the end of the year. At least now it’s ready. It better be good because I had sworn not to purchase any expansion before trying it, for once (and I had this nagging feeling I might not enjoy it), but since I’ll be leaving France, I wanted to grab whatever was available on the second-hand market. And now that the Pandora box is open, there is no more limit, so I must, must try it before really attempting to get everything.
3 – War for Indagar
This was one of my very first KS. The first one I got really excited about, the first one I got involved in the campaign of. It was struggling to unlock any stretch goals and I desperately wanted to help. I wasn't too effective, but at least my enthusiastic dedication earned me an additional mini, which was a nice touch already. Special care has been given to the French translation (they hired a friend of theirs who wrote a PhD on translation in board gaming), so I got the language pack even though I didn’t need it (and it has been sitting on my desk ever since I received it). The game is a 4X area control with asymmetric factions, roaming monsters, and straightforward rules overall. It’s not unlike the recent Theurgy, but the latter had such convoluted if/then/else rules for solo play that I had to pass unfortunately. So, War for Indagar has been waiting for me, and I owe to my early enthusiasm at least a play.
2- Dark Venture
That I haven’t played this game yet is quite a mystery, even to me. It has everything I might want from a game: a small box, easy rules, a unique atmosphere, an indie quality to it that makes me feel as if I am uncovering a hidden gem each time I play it, an Athena seal of recommendation, a great eerie theme and a lore to match it, a mix of adventure, narrative, and exploration; this game just seems to be the ultimate match. When I contemplate the oddity of the situation, I realize I really get way, way too many games, for such a title to have been left unplayed for so long. Yet I could definitely have played it on more than one occasion, it’s always been easily accessible under my bed, and bigger, longer games already got played in the meantime. Sometimes I just have a messed up sense of my priorities. Maybe I’m afraid I could get disappointed, and so I want to keep this hazy, tantalizing dream just close enough to be grasped, but ever elusive when I try.
1 – Euthia
This is completely cheating. I have just received it, so putting it on top of the list amounts to succumbing to the novelty of it. But of course, it’s more than that. When I started to get Fantasy adventure board games, I fell into a delusional quest. I wanted the one, the one game to rule them all. The one game that would materialize at least the notion that I had nurtured for so long, ever since I was a child. A game with adventures, quests, exploration, character progression, something colorful with plenty of components yet no fiddliness, a gameplay that would be rich but still fast-paced and always engaging. I know this game that I want, and I have searched it for long. And honestly, I think I have finally found it – or if not exactly it, something that looks really, really close. Now Euthia is way bigger than the games I usually enjoy. It’s a huge beast (and I refrain from getting the Legendary Edition which requires two such enormous boxes), possibly one of the biggest in my collection (only challenged by the stupidly empty Mage Knight Ultimate Edition and the impossibly long World of Warcraft). It’s full of stuff while I like minimalism. But I wouldn’t play this game for minimalism. I would play it to get the full and insane experience of a dementedly over-developed board game. So, it’s a real gamble. But right now I’m very excited that I took it, and I hope that 2022 should see my unquenchable thirst for the Fantasy adventure game of my dreams close to being splendidly fulfilled.