We’ve reached the end of another great year for boardgames!
We at team This Way! didn’t get to play as many games as we would have liked this year (we were too busy working on ICE and future games to be honest), but between Samson, Hugo and Anton we did come up with our Top 9 new releases of the year.
So in no particular order, here are our favorites of 2022!:
This much-talked-about game absolutely lived up to the hype! Even more impressive is that this is designer Mathias Wigge’s first published game! 🤯
In ARK NOVA, you are planning and designing a modern, scientific zoo of animals — competing with other players to own the most successful establishment. Using specialists and unique buildings, players use their set of 5 action cards to gain new cards, build enclosures, accommodate animals, sponsor or raise money, and carry out different tasks with their association workers.
With a fantastic theme (animal conservation!), high replayability, and truly fluid gameplay and mechanics, ARK NOVA has quickly become one of our favorite games in our collection.
Designer: Mathias Wigge | Artists: Steffen Bieker, Loïc Billiau, Dennis Lohausen, Christof Tisch | Publisher: Feuerland Spiele / Capstone
IV Games (MOONRAKERS, MYTHIC MISCHIEF) is one of our favorite game studios out there, and we were so excited for their sophomore game VEILED FATE that we even included a VF-related Easter Egg in our Collector Edition cover of ICE.
This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful games we’ve seen — featuring the stunning art of Harry Conway, a gorgeous board and detailed miniatures, and super high-quality components all around.
In Veiled Fate, 2-8 players play as divine beings who have sired Demigods in the realm of humankind. There are 9 demigods, and regardless of the player count, all 9 are in play during the game and can be manipulated by all players — but each player is secretly assigned only one of them as their offspring. Through strategic play, secret voting, and special powers, players must aid their own Demigods in gaining Renown by sending ANY Demigods on various Quests — all without giving away which one is part of their own lineage.
Veiled Fate mixes strategy and social deduction in a clever way, all presented in an absolutely exquisite production.
Designers: Austin Harrison, Max Anderson, Zac Dixon | Artist: Harry Conway | Publisher: IV Games
FEED THE KRAKEN
Social deduction games have been around for a while. And while they can be fun for large groups, they can also have their downsides too. Stuff like “player elimination” is never fun. Nor is waiting forever to be picked to be on a “team mission.” And most times playing the “bad” team is the only time you can have fun, with nothing for the non-bad players to do that feels worthwhile or allows for any agency.
Well what if the only player elimination was at the very end of the game, and it was an actual goal of a faction to be the one sacrificed? What if you could control your destiny and take over being “the Captain” of a round by bidding the highest amount of guns? (Each player starts with 3!). What if EACH player had a special one-time ability that could be played at just the right time to turn the game on its head? What if the deception was multi-layered and not so easy to uncover? And what if this was all played out visually on a 3D board/map instead of the usual cards/minimal tokens? Oh, and did we mention the theme is pirates, and a Kraken-loving cult?
FEED THE KRAKEN brings so many new levels of strategy and fun to the social deduction game, making the genre seem fresh, original and vital again. It’s our new favorite party game, with three different factions and potential for up to 11 players!
Designers: Maikel Cheney, Dr. Hans Joachim Höh, Tobias Immich | Artists: Hendrik Noack, James Churchill | Publisher: Funtails
Our single purchase from this year’s Essen Spiel is a really cool game about engine building & lots of combos. And the icing on the cake, the artwork is gorgeous!
A stand-alone game set in the same universe of another game we love, GANYMEDE — GALILEO PROJECT takes place decades later with the same corporations as they try and make habitable homes for mankind in the four main satellites of Jupiter, broadening the presence of humanity within the solar system. By acquiring robots, developing technologies, recruiting experts, and building superstructures, players use their influence to race and become the dominant corporation within the Galileo Project.
With clever mechanics and a gorgeous production, publisher Sorry We Are French has another hit on their hands!
Designer: Adrien Hesling | Artist: David Sitbon | Publisher: Sorry We Are French
DUNE IMPERIUM: RISE OF IX
We are HUGE Dune fans at This Way!, and with so many different Dune games to choose from lately, DUNE IMPERIUM (with its mix of worker placement and deck building) has led the pack — being one of our picks for best games of 2021.
Now this year has brought its first expansion: RISE OF IX. This new expansion brings three new Great Houses with unique leader abilities, increasing replayability. A new mini-board overlay allows you to acquire technological innovations from the planet Ix for a lasting strategic advantage. The addition of dreadnoughts completely changes how combat resolves. Plus more cards that can allow you to dispatch subtle infiltrators to outmaneuver your opponents.
Finally, this expansion introduces a new Epic game mode for an even more intense, high-stakes challenge.
Besides the IX expansion, we must also mention an official Deluxe Upgrade Pack this year that upgrades many of the components, with a big-box solution to fit everything DUNE IMPERIUM — including the latest IMMORTALITY expansion!
Designer: Paul Dennen | Artists: Clay Brooks, Raul Ramos, Nate Storm | Publisher: Dire Wolf
TERRAFORMING MARS: ARES EXPEDITION
This entry is a bit of a cheat: The English version of this game came out in 2021, but we didn’t get our hands on a French version until this year — so we’re counting it as a newer release (to us).
We are big fans of modern classic TERRAFORMING MARS here at This Way! While the original game is always loads of fun, it can be long (2 hour games!), and harder to teach new players, while also being a bit of a table hog.
Enter ARES EXPEDITION — a brand new standalone game that brings the essence of the engine-building original game into a faster, leaner, more streamlined card game. Once again players are controlling interplanetary corporations that are tasked to make the red planet more habitable (as well as profitable). Each round players will choose one of five phases, and that phase will determine what actions players can take — making each round very different.
Players can build new project cards, take general or project-specific actions, produce resources (plants and heat) and generating income, or research to draw more project cards. The game ends when Mars becomes habitable enough for people to live. With players taking actions simultaneously, games can last only 45-60 mins — allowing for multiple chances to win in a single game night!
Designer: Jacob Fryxelius | Artist: Isaac Fryxelius | Publisher: FryxGames
When we first saw that this third expansion to the popular and enduring game WINGSPAN came with even more food and egg tokens, we were about to complain. Do we really need more in yet another expansion? 🙈
But their inclusion makes perfect sense: This is the first expansion that is also a standalone game on its own, and can be played (at 2-player) without needing anything from the base game! So of course, all of those components are needed. In fact they also serve as extras for a new 6-7 player “flock” mode — which has players divided into two groups at the table with 2 simultaneous “active” players every turn.
The Duet mode however, as well as all of the new birds and the colorful 2-sided player boards, are the real stars of ASIA. Two players fill up their boards with yin or yang Duet tokens — and whenever a bird is played into one of their habitats, they take that token and place it on a corresponding spot (that matches a quality of the bird they just played) on a new Duet board. With new round end scoring conditions based on these tokens, and an “area control” scoring bonus, ASIA’s Duet mode brings several more layers of thinkiness and strategy to 2-player WINGSPAN. We just can’t get enough!
Stonemaier Games also released the NESTING BOX this year — a big-box organizer for everything WINGSPAN… past, present and future!
Designer: Elizabeth Hargrave | Artists: Natalia Rojas, Ana Maria Martinez Jaramillo | Publisher: Stonemaier Games
EVERDELL: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION
One of the most popular board game titles celebrated its final two new expansions — MISTWOOD and NEWLEAF — by simultaneously releasing a “Complete Edition” box that includes them both, along with the base game and first 3 expansions, together in a single massive edition (that’s bigger than GLOOMHAVEN!). If you already owned everything previously made in EVERDELL, you could get the new box with the two expansions only. Or, if you were new to the world of Everdell, you could also get everything everywhere all at once.
Not only that, the Complete Collection is truly the ultimate edition, as it also comes with card dividers, a comprehensive rulebook and archive, comprehensive scorepad, wooden occupied tokens, metal point tokens, stickers for every meeple, and more — all with a complete storage solution for all components!
MISTWOOD brings a brand new villain to Everdell (the spider Nightweave), along with an exciting new way to play solo or 2-player co-op. NEWLEAF introduces the train station as well as visitors to the the city. Both new expansions complement the previous BELLFAIRE, PEARLBROOK and SPIRECREST quite well — and while Starling Games recommends playing with only one major expansion at a time, you can bet we’ll be playing mega games with ALL of them at once! 🙈
Designer: James A. Wilson | Artist: Andrew Bosley | Publisher: Starling Games
One of our most anticipated games has finally arrived — the latest game by master designer Vital Lacerda (ON MARS, LISBOA, THE GALLERIST). Featuring art by the extraordinarily talented Ian O’Toole (VOIDFALL, AGE OF STEAM).
Lacerda is one of the most well-known game designers for “hefty” eurogames. Although his games often give players only a few actions — it’s the complexity of those decisions, and the need to plan moves several turns in advance, that give his games such “weight.” O’Toole is one of the most sought-after artists in the industry, and when you see his beautiful work on games like ON MARS or VINHOS, it becomes clear why.
Eagle Gryphon is a company that has our deepest respect, with their high-quality games and commitment to the best creators out there. We’ve been marveling at the stunning meeples and deluxe components!
Designer: Vital Lacerda | Artist: Ian O’Toole | Publisher: Eagle-Gryphon Games
So that’s our Top 9 for 2022!
We know there are a lot of great games that came out this year that we just didn’t get to try, and might have been on this list. Are there any favorites of yours that you think we definitely missed? Let us know on our social media channels.
Thanks to all of the publishers, designers and artists above for their excellent work this year!