Best board game of 2021

Whether it’s gathering with old friends or settling in to participate in the weekly family game night, great table games can bring people together and create lasting memories. Even in a year when many game nights had to be postponed or cancelled, game makers continued to release some eye-catching new projects.

Here are the 10 best games of 2021, from co-op party experiences to challenging asymmetric strategy competitions and everything in between.

For more information on some of the best table games in recent years, head to our Top of the Table Center and explore its recommendations.

Seven Wonders Architect
Publisher: Repurchase production

The original 7 Wonders is extraordinary, but its diverse strategies may scare novices. Architects simplify and streamline without losing the core fun. Players use simple card selection as the central mechanism to build the wonders of the ancient world. Attractive cardboard pieces represent the formation of landmarks. Coupled with playful art and cleverly designed components, the architect claims to be one of the best new gateway games in years.

This portal experience will be the perfect way for enthusiasts to invite new players into the themed board game scene. And because the game is played so fast, you don’t have to worry about inexperienced players losing their attention. Architects is an elegant and fascinating version; it will not replace the larger and more complex 7 Wonders-it is better than it, because Architects perfectly complements its older brother.

Ankh: Egyptian Gods
Publisher: CMON

Following the myth-centric predecessors Blood Rage and Rising Sun, this luxurious strategy game casts players into Egyptian gods, and as the old ways of worship fade away, they strive to stay relevant. Asymmetrical power, non-random battles, and tight, tightly controlled area maps have led to fierce confrontations. Fantastic artworks and immaculate miniature sculptures capture imagination in ways that other games cannot.

Although Ankh is not a great entrance to board games, its subtle, compact strategy and excellent production value can easily win the favor of veterans. A special feature-the way the players behind finally merge and start cooperating-is a perfect package driven by the theme of the game. We see the old gods die, combine and change with the passing of the times. The thoughtfulness and beauty of watching and playing, this one is not to be missed.

Lineage: Dark Legend
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Don’t be fooled by the name; a large number of new entries in the Descent franchise are independent dungeon crawling experiences, separate from earlier games. With 3D tile settings and a double-featured digital app to run games and tell stories, this is an impressive cooperative fantasy adventure full of battles and upgrades, perfect for groups looking for months-long game nights .

Fantasy Flight has been playing around with app-assisted design for many years, but “Dark Legend” is the company’s most comprehensive and valuable implementation of the concept. The reliance on digital elements may affect some players in the wrong way, but if you embrace its potential, art and storytelling will intertwine back and forth between the physical and digital aspects, creating something magical.

Machi Koro 2
Publisher: Pandasaurus Games

Small but important changes update this popular family-friendly city building game. Players compete to build a city consisting of a bakery, a stadium, and a garden, establish landmarks and distinguish the center of each city. The fast game time and easy-to-learn rules make it an easy hands-on game experience, but it has an important luck factor. The pre-game strategy and higher replayability than the original version make it an easy choice for the final version and a relaxing game night.

The random cards in each game make a huge difference in giving Machi Koro a new chapter in his new life. If you are a veteran player of the original version (and its extended version), then you will face a difficult decision. Machi Koro 2 represents the logical revision required for the game and makes it a more powerful overall gaming experience. However, whether you are ready to give up your familiarity with the original and its quirks is a decision you have to make yourself.

Businessman on the dark road
Publisher: Elf Creek Games

The latest version of Elf Creek Games is one of the most innovative versions in recent months. It is a fantasy adventure game in which brave caravans must defy the dark night, deliver goods, and recruit among isolated cities hero. Players need to strike a balance between prestige and money acquisition to win the game, and success requires you to always think three steps in advance. Rich imagination and gorgeous illustrations, if you are looking for a novel desktop strategy, full of fantasy style, this is a very suitable choice.

One of the most interesting aspects of the game is its use of action dice and its interaction with how you move the carriage on the board. In any particular Merchants game, there are many unique game mechanics at work, but seeing how they fit together will bring unique fun, especially to power your travel to new locations. For many people, innovative connections between different game systems will be the main attraction here, but for players who prefer a more direct game experience, the merchants of the Dark Road may be overwhelming.

The Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile
Publisher: Leder Games

Leder Games is known for its asymmetrical game design, where each player can use different abilities to win. The oath depicts the progress of a huge empire, and each player plays a role in this complex combination, from the ruling prime minister to the exiled revolutionaries seeking to overthrow the regime. What’s fascinating is that the result of one game sets the starting conditions for the next game, and sometimes even new cards and situations are introduced.

It is the ultimate motivation that makes Oath unique. Judging by most measures of this descriptor, this is not a traditional game, but it is a literary chronicle of history and events that develops as you invest more time and conversation. This is an attractive possibility for game groups that are willing to return to the same game multiple times instead of turning to other things. If your game cadre is willing to invest time to witness the development of the empire, then a fascinating continuity will begin to bubble.

Publisher: Red Raven Games

This stunning battle game follows the crew of the 1929 ship sailing through mysterious lands and waters while conquering monsters, tracking hidden totems, and trying to find their way home. A spiral bound atlas book is the board of directors, each meeting opens up new horizons, and the accompanying story book is filled with rich narratives. Even after the entire campaign has been played in multiple sessions, subsequent campaigns may play completely differently—there are more than ten possible endings.

It’s hard to overstate the fun of storytellers. The sleeping gods are characterized by some wonderful writing and clever twists and narrative development. Echoing the theme of endless sea voyages, your exploration in a particular battle will always make people feel that there are other things on the horizon to discover and learn.

So four-leaf clover!
Publisher: Repurchase production

Sometimes, the simplest concept is the most valuable. So four-leaf clover! It is a relaxing and pleasant text association cooperative party game. The player arranges a series of cards with random words on a four-square grid, and then writes clue keywords to connect the specific terms seen on the cards. Other players work hard together to try to arrange the grid in the right direction. Simple but surprisingly nuanced, this is one of the simple staples that you can bring to the table anytime and anywhere and please everyone.

Although comparison is not always the best way to clarify the identity of a game, it is worth mentioning that So Clover! is very similar to other Repos games such as Concept, Just One, and the popular game Codenames. All of these games rely heavily on word association, deductive reasoning, and emerging ways of thinking, but in simple ways that any player, young and old, can master. So four-leaf clover! It’s another success story of this style of play, and frankly, you should add it to your library without hesitation.

Publisher: Orange Nebula

Sci-fi fans should pay attention to this incredible new game of exploration and survival, in which all players face the dangers of deep space, discover new worlds, map mysterious anomalies, and advance science. Unsettled has a core game system and a connected “planet box” inserted into the frame, each providing an independent and unique experience. For experienced players looking for fascinating themes and complex games, this is a cooperative adventure.

Just like your favorite sci-fi TV show, Unsettled succeeds by establishing some baseline parameters and expectations. These expectations will then be challenged, because each planetary box will surprise you, and explorers will encounter new threats and discoveries. How the game allows your team to effectively produce their own rich science fiction stories, which makes us very happy. If you are willing to put all the figurative parts together with the complexity required, then you will be satisfied with the result.

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
Publisher: Z-Man Games

Pandemic games have a blueprint for success that will stand the test of time. In a new twist in this formula, the board game dominates franchise alliance with its first licensed partner to transport players to Northrend and play the role of heroes of Azeroth against the Lich King. An interesting mission system requires teamwork. Each hero brings awesome and unique power to the table, leading to the climax of the battle on the Icecrown Citadel to end Alsace’s reign.

Especially for players familiar with the pandemic and this classic World of Warcraft expansion, you will be surprised at how smoothly the concepts and mechanics combine to capture the epic conflict described. Another thing that may surprise you is the cute components and card art in the game. Z-Man created an atmosphere here and turned one of the most memorable periods in MMO games into an incredible focus.

2021 is full of other great table games waiting for you to discover, and you will find at least some of the highlighted games in our Top of the Table center. If you particularly want to delve into the backlog of the best of the year, you can skip directly to the best board games of 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017.