Board game Kickstarters: upcoming Kickstarter games

Kickstarter is a crowded forest, but a magical place for tabletop gamers: behold the very best upcoming Kickstarter board games

Board game Kickstarters Quest 2

A cursory glance at Kickstarter’s tabletop section shows a vast ocean of daring board game proposals. Mixing mechanics and exploring niche themes, many of these hopefuls bring creative novelty to well-trodden formats, refined twists on popular trends, or completely innovative takes on the board game hobby itself. Free from the constraints of traditional publishing, designers can create the game they’ve always wanted to play, rich with ideas and bustling with passion. Of course such an ocean of board game Kickstarters must contain far more entries than one could consider alone. That’ll be why we’re here, then – to highlight only the very finest upcoming tabletop games.

Backing a game during its Kickstarter campaign is a neat way to support your favourite designers. It pushes the project towards its stretch goals, often provides a variety of Kickstarter-only treats, and can be a funding lifeline for games that otherwise wouldn’t see the light of day. But if you missed a campaign, don’t fret. You can always pick it up at retail price when it’s published. With that in mind, this list of board game Kickstarters features not only games currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, but also some stand-out titles that have been successfully funded, and will release soon.

You’ll find a variety of different-flavoured entries on this list, to mirror the eye-watering diversity of games to be found in the nigh-infinite rabbit warren of creativity that is Kickstarter. Dungeon-crawlers for tabletop troopers eager to tear their way through narrow corridors of ghouls, deck-builders for those keen to collect their power, euro-games for those who are happiest amid a tabletop sprawl of colourful pieces, and many more. You’re sure to find something that takes your fancy.

So, let’s be about it, then! First on our list is:

Board game Kickstarters Slay the Spire

Slay the Spire: The Board Game

Publisher: Contention Games
Funding page:
TBC

Given its central deck-building mechanic, random encounters, and open-path gameplay that apes classic choose-your-own-adventure games, it’s surprising that Slay the Spire hasn’t received the board game treatment already. The acclaimed indie video game has players fight their way up a giant tower, playing cards from their deck to vanquish monstrous creatures. After a successful battle, players are rewarded with a new card or may find additional equipment to prepare them for the challenges of the spire.

One of the most hotly anticipated board game Kickstarters

As yet light on details, all we can say for sure is that Slay the Spire: The Board Game looks to translate this deck-based creature fighting to the tabletop. There’s also sure to be some lovely card art for the bizarre enemies – from ‘Snake Plants’ to ‘Writhing Mass’ – you meet along the way. But we do know that, in a shake-up from the video game, the tabletop experience will be cooperative, suitable for one to four players. How this cooperative change will play out remains to be seen, but with Contention Games (designer of deck-builder tabletop game Imperium: The Contention) and the videogame’s developer, Megacrit, both working on the board game translation, it’s sure to be one worth keeping your eye on.

Slay the Spire: The Board Game is certainly one of the most hotly anticipated board game Kickstarters, and will be coming to the crowdfunding platform Spring this year.

Board game Kickstarters Massive Darkness 2

Massive Darkness 2: Hellscape

Publisher: CMON
Funding page: 
Kickstarter

The first Massive Darkness delivered a streamlined, action-focused dungeon bash. All the classic fantasy RPG elements got a look in – bountiful loot, numerous monsters, modular dungeon-tiles, a panoply of miniatures, an adventuring party of familiar fantasy classes – all bound up in a neat package. Movement was swift, combat intuitive, and every action felt designed to convey a sense of progress in the game that dispensed with a series of complex dice rolls. Massive Darkness 2: Hellscape builds on that, and promises an even bigger, better dungeon-crawl.

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As a group of heroic Lightbringers facing off against the evil forces of Darkness, one to six players venture into the depths of hell, slaying monsters as the fate of the world hangs in the balance. An overarching narrative will see the party through their journey, and players will pick from a selection of heroes and classes, earning experience points to upgrade their skills as they complete quests and crush enemies. Miniature demons and gribbly horrors,as plentiful as they are grotesque, are included to bring the game’s macabre underworld setting to life.

Massive Darkness 2: Hellscape was one of the most successful board game Kickstarters of 2020, raising a colossal $3,813,274 by its campaign’s end. Keep your eyes peeled for a release date, and grab it at retail price if you didn’t pledge its Kickstarter.

Best board game Kickstarters Darwin's Journey

DARWIN’S JOURNEY

Publisher: Thundergryph
Funding page: 
Kickstarter

One of the more inventive themes among board game Kickstarters, Darwin’s Journey follows the famed naturalist’s voyage through the Galapagos Islands, tracing his discoveries and progress developing his theory of evolution. Exploring the islands, navigating their shores, gathering repertoires of tropical samples, and corresponding with museums at the forefront of science, players will inch closer to reliving Darwin’s revolutionary biological discovery.

Follow Darwin’s voyage through the Galapagos Islands

At its core, Darwin’s Journey is a worker-placement game. Players distribute their workforce across tasks and assign them to various placements to maximise their pace of scientific discovery. But, with a novel worker-progression system, you’ll need to train your workers in various disciplines and think ahead about how to expand their knowledge to best facilitate your research. Chase short-term objectives to grab early victory points, or bank on long-term goals for bigger rewards.

Scientific discovery is familiar ground to the game’s co-designers, Simone Luciani and Nestore Mangone, who also designed Newton, a board game tracing the studies of the titular natural philosopher. Darwin’s Journey was fully funded on Kickstarter in January, but if you can’t wait to snatch up a retail copy, check out its digital edition on Tabletop Simulator.

Board game Kickstarters Eternal Palace

Eternal Palace

Publisher: Alley Cat Games
Funding page: 
TBC

When you’re tired of dungeon-crawling and can’t muster the energy for grandiose conquest, some board games can still offer a tranquil means of respite. Eternal Palace might be one such game. A devastating earthquake has destroyed the Emperor’s palace, and as a skilled artist and devoted servant, you’ve been tasked with rebuilding his home to its former glory.

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Players will collect resources and redistribute them across the board to rebuild the various monuments of the Eternal Palace, jostling with other players to contribute their resources most effectively and earn the Emperor’s favour. As you do so, you’ll also be creating a vivid painting to record your achievements – and possibly shame the comparative ineptitude of your opponents. Eternal Palace is coming to Kickstarter in the first quarter of this year and we can’t wait to see it in action.

Board game Kickstarters 7th Citadel

THE 7TH CITADEL

Publisher: Serious Poulp
Funding page: 
Kickstarter

A choose-your-own-adventure game, 7th Citadel hands players a bleak, post-apocalyptic, medieval fantasy world to explore and conquer. Gargantuan worms controlled by mystical Necrodruids have wrought havoc on civilisation, burrowing great tunnels beneath cities and sinking human settlements into the earthy abyss. Players explore these ‘Collapsing Lands’, meeting the inhabitants and preparing themselves for a climactic battle to renew the desolate wasteland.

The 7th Citadel will provide a versatile storytelling experience

Event cards and terrain tiles are progressively revealed as players venture into the world, and players customise a personal action deck to be deployed at enemy encounters. With multiple adventures composed of several scenarios, a ‘Threat Booklet’ that acts a companion recording your multipathed adventure, and a ‘Book of Dialogues’ to provide detailed conversation options with dozens of NPCs, the 7th Citadel looks to provide a thoroughly versatile storytelling experience.

There’s still time to submit a late pledge to The 7th Citadel Kickstarter campaign. For one to four players, it looks like one of the most ambitious board game Kickstarters around.

Board game Kickstarters MOB Big Apple

MOB – Big Apple

Publisher: Serious Poulp
Funding page: 
Kickstarter

It’s a little-known fact that too few board games feature the mob. Not the gritty, traumatic kind of organised crime, but the romanticised version of gangsters that mythologically glamourises hardened criminals like Al Capone or Bugsy Siegel. Family allegiances, territorial disputes, and dirty tricks make the mob ripe for mechanically inventive and thematically engaging play. MOB – Big Apple looks to be making good on that potential.

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Set in prohibition-era New York City, two players take command of rival crime families battling for bootlegging domination. Send your henchmen to collect shipments of liquor, attack your rivals and encroach on their territory, dig for enemy moles in your gang, or even tip off the District Attorney about your rivals’ illicit operations and let the law clear your path. No dirty trick is off the table. Players will be anticipating their opponents’ next moves as they shuffle for territory control and assign henchmen to undercut their rivals’ weak points. MOB – Big Apple will be launching on Kickstarter this January.

Board game Kickstarters Return to Dark Tower

Return to Dark Tower

Publisher: Restoration Games
Funding page: 
Kickstarter

There’s one stand-out feature of the Return to Dark Tower game board – the massive, angular monolith at its centre. Motorised, rotating, and with synchronised sound and lighting effects, this is no ordinary totem of evil, it’s an ingenious game-driving gadget that spits out skulls and connects to a smartphone app. The tower responds to player decisions and reveals glyphs that dictate action on the board.

Designed by Gloomhaven creator Isaac Childres

Underneath this endearing gimmick, though, likes a challenging strategy game. As heroes questing to defeat the Dark Tower, players cooperatively adventure across the board, fighting foes, filling their inventory, and meeting trusty companions along the way. Locate the tower’s entrance and defeat the mysterious adversary inside to quell the corruption spreading across the land. Do so quickly, though, or the corruption might take hold of you, too!

Most exciting, however, is the team of board game veterans working on Return to Dark Tower, including Gloomhaven creator Isaac Childres, and Pandemic: Legacy designer Rob Daviau. The game is a reimagining of an 80s cult classic, and promises the same challenging adversity, with more streamlined mechanics. Kickstarter backers can expect to receive the game in July but be on the lookout for a retail release.

Board game Kickstarters Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon: The Board Game

Publisher: Mythic Games
Funding page: 
Kickstarter

Another adaptation of an acclaimed indie videogame, Darkest Dungeon: The Board Game sees a team of adventurers don their armour and polish their swords to journey ever deeper into a labyrinth of dark, decrepit corridors. Skeletal warriors and mutant demons await, but you won’t just be battling the physical horrors in front of you. Characters must grapple with the madness, fear, and paranoia experienced in the dungeon’s twisted corridors, monitored through the game’s ‘Stressful Affliction System’. Disregard your character’s fragile mental state and they may never see daylight again.

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Campaigns are played across 11 missions and conclude with a climactic boss battle, but between dungeons, players return to their hamlet, recuperating from the trauma endured below and restoring the town’s economy with any loot picked up along the way. Randomly assigned dungeon rooms across multiple boards ensure high replayability, and the synergies between classes will get your co-op muscles moving. Darkest Dungeon: The Board game’s crowdfunding campaign completed in January and was one of the most successful board game Kickstarters of last year.

Board game Kickstarters Oath

Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile

Publisher: Leder Games
Funding page: 
Kickstarter

Root is rightfully one of the most acclaimed strategy board games of the moment. Its delicately balanced asymmetric warfare makes for exciting play for veteran tacticians and green generals alike, and even as a digital adaptation – infamously tricky things to get right – the game shines. Now, Root’s designer, Cole Wehrle, is back with another offering sure to set your strategy craving alight. In Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile, one to six players jostle for domination of an ancient land, looking to overthrow the Chancellor and instil themselves as ruler.

A collective adventure that sees players populate the world and guide its history

One player begins the game in office, struggling to maintain hegemony. The others are cast as exiles that must accrue resources, rally support, and build momentum to fuel their insurrection. But Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile is not an out-and-out strategy game, but rather more of a collective adventure that sees players jointly populate the world with playful characters and guide its history. Work together to fulfil your ends and lend support to others if it helps in the short run – but do not dally in your pursuits for the Chancellor’s throne.

Additionally, legacy elements are built into the game. The history of the kingdom and its political state by one game’s end will dictate the starting play and victory conditions of the next. Few board game Kickstarters have as much politicking potential as Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile, which releases the first quarter of 2021.

Board game Kickstarters Quest

Quest

Publisher: Indie Boards & Cards
Funding page: 
Kickstarter

Social deduction games are all the rage. From jettisoning cartoon imposters in Among Us to nailing your traitorous companion in Betrayal at House on the Hill, we love the challenge of shrewdly uncovering hidden enemies within our ranks. But few games have become such staples of the social deduction genre as The Resistance or Avalon. The designer of both classics, Don Eskeridge, is back again with Quest, another Arthurian offering of discovery and deceit.

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The land of Avalon faces ruin, and King Arthur must launch a series of quests to defeat the dastardly armies of Mordred before the kingdom falls. As knights of the round table, four to ten players will decide who is sent on these quests. But there is a problem: Mordred’s wicked ways have infiltrated Arthur’s entourage and many of his knights can’t be trusted to follow their duties. Players loyal to Arthur must avoid selecting unreliable traitors for quests, while the followers of Mordred will keep their new allegiances quiet, sabotaging the quests when they can.

The central premise is similar to Avalon, but removes all voting mechanics to bolster seamless play. Quest is one of the most exciting social deduction board game Kickstarters we’ve yet seen and we’re hungry for more. It received high funding and we can’t wait to hear a retail release date – don’t worry, we’ll keep you updated.

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