2017 Most Wanted Games

Review Corner Writers

Posted by Review Corner Writers on Jan 24, 2017

And another year goes by. Here we are with 2017 in full swing, and here's hoping that this is going to be another year jam-packed with lots of great games. Myself and a couple of the Review Corner writers felt that last year was one of the best in recent memory in terms of constantly pumping out high quality, must-play titles. Will the momentum continue? We'll see!

So let's hear from our writers as to what games they are most looking forward to in the first half of 2017, I'll go first!

Michael Barnes
Review Corner Editor-in-Chief


One of the biggest surprises for me last year was that I really liked and got into Zombicide: Black Plague. I don't really care for zombie games (that rotted ship sailed a long time ago for me) and I've not been terribly fond of most of Cool Mini or Not's Kickstarter exclusive-heavy lineup. But the team that did Black Plague is at it again this year with Massive Darkness, which looks to bring forward some of the same accessible hack n' slash action but in a more traditional dungeon crawl context. This game has its work cut out for it because it's a crowded genre with more promising looking examples on the way (Perdition's Mouth and Swords & Sorcery to name two). But I'm looking forward to how this game uses light and dark areas to hopefully compelling ends. The production looks good and there are plenty of add-ons (of course), so if it's good it should keep us playing throughout the year.


I’ve always been a sucker for the cheap, tawdry, near illiterate escapism of good pulp adventures. Yet when board gaming taps the genre it’s generally of the horror and fantasy fare wrought by Cthulhu, Conan and their imitations. Sure there are some notable and recent examples like Fortune and Glory or The Adventures: Temple of Chac. But as far as this literary simpleton is concerned the hobby could use an infusion of more double-fisted, fast-shooting, death-defying, thrills of far-off and outlandishly romanticized action-adventures. I want Doc Savage, or Kline and Price’s Oriental Tales or the Pellucidar hollow earth yarns. Sure, there’s not a lot of information out right now on Escape from 100 Million B.C. But the cover and press releases promise time travel, preposterous danger, volcanoes, dinosaurs and chronologically trapped American presidents! With the pedigree of IDW and designer Kevin Wilson, both having experience in pulpy titles of outrageous production values, the potential is already ripe. As further allure Escape is also a cooperative game, which suits my kids’ gaming inclinations well. Though while I’m looking forward to thrusting this campy adventure beneath their eyes, I’ll admit perhaps I do aspire that their literary tastes prove more highbrow than their old man’s was when growing up - and even still today...


It's going to be a good year for games. And it looks like 2017 will be bolstered by Key to the City - London. This design promises to take some of the central mechanisms in the amazing Keyflower and bring them out into a streamlined, city-building game. While it apparently keeps most of the auction mechanics, players now have to be more concerned with connections and placement of tiles in their boroughs. I'm really excited for this game. While Keyflower is one of the more amazing titles out there, it usually requires a play or two to get fully in the groove. Key to the City promises a more streamlined experience, but also with new considerations and interesting, difficult choices. With the pedigree this title has, it easily tops my list of anticipated 2017 titles.


Despite being a big fan of Portal, I've never played Robinson Crusoe. Practically a sin, I know. And with the second edition's release, I was really tempted by it many times. However, I held off knowing First Martians - a reimplementation of Robinson Crusoe's system - was on its way. Of course, there are a bunch of Mars games coming out (or just recently released), but what sets First Martians apart is not only its solid foundation, but also its app, which is the real draw for me. I'm all for app-integration in board games and I'm excited how this one that is going to take care of all the card management and remember the decisions you make throughout the game. I look forward to starving, losing oxygen, having medical emergencies, or whatever other awful events Ignacy has thought up.


Eric Lang isn't perfect, but more often than not his designs are compelling and offer a fresh approach to the hobby. He's proven exceptional at melding Euro-style mechanisms with conflict and strong setting. I fully expect The Godfather to boast such zest and smooth play.

The gangster theme has also proven a rare beast and something publishers steer away from. I find the romanticized violence and drama of the period to be mesmerizing. I'm all aboard, looking forward to tearing up the streets with a Tommy gun and exerting influence over the business of my rivals.


Owing to a little bit of timey-wimey extra development, my pick for most anticipated game of 2016 has evolved into my most anticipated game of 2017. Now that Gale Force Nine has started sharing more details about their upcoming Doctor Who board game, my excitement has experienced some explosive regenerative energy. In the grand tradition of teaming up different incarnations of the Doctor, players can take the role of different incarnations of everyone's favorite Time Lord to stop the Daleks from imposing their will on the time vortex. It's a little bit of a letdown that only six iterations of the Doctor are available in this initial set, but almost everyone's favorites are featured here, including Tom Baker, David Tennant, Peter Capaldi, and my personal favorite, Matt Smith. Gale Force Nine has a strong track record for transforming licensed properties into board game form, so I'm more excited than the Fourth Doctor around a bag of jelly babies. Here's hoping this great design team can nail down the sense of free-wheeling time travel, and the all-encompassing sense that anything can happen.


I'm also looking forward to the red planet-themed reimagining of the excellent Robinson Crusoe. Unlike Grace, I'm not big on app integration, so I'm a little tepid on that part of the game. But if it makes setup quicker and easier and smooths out some of the wonky rules in Robinson Crusoe, I'm all for it. Ignacy did an excellent job spicing up typically dry Eurogame mechanisms with exciting events that felt as though they had real consequences. That event card concept should fit perfectly in the brutal Martian landscape, so I'm ready to climb aboard a manned mission to Mars when this one hits.


Gloomhaven is destined to be one of the biggest releases of the year...in weight alone. From Isaac Childres, designer of the genre-smashing Forge War, Gloomhaven is a complete fantasy world in a box. Players pick a hero class and embark on short quests centering on innovative, diceless, card-driven combat, then return to town to buy new equipment and level up. But the choices you make are constantly, permanently changing the shape of the world in Gloomhaven's legacy-style campaign, affecting the town's prosperity, your hero's reputation, and the availability of new quests and hero classes. This is the biggest, most ambitious fantasy board game to date, the tabletop equivalent of Dragon Age, and I can't wait.


John Carpenter's "The Thing" is one of the greatest sci-fi horror movies ever made. The mounting paranoia, the second guessing as to who is even human let alone your friend - it's fantastic. Ares Games is hoping to bring that tension to the tabletop with Stay Away, a social deduction game inspired by The Thing. The arctic lab is replaced with a Cthulhu setting but rest is here. Bluffing, revealing yourself to your friends and testing your enemies and even a flamethrower option for someone who needs to burn. It looks to add some novel mechanics to the genre and I can't wait for the small box to arrive.


Eric M. Lang had me at "Chaos in the Old World", and when you throw in my favorite era on top of his stellar game design, you get my most-anticipated game of 2017: Rising Sun. Teaming up with golden egg layers Cool Mini or Not once again, he's crafting a panoply of samurai, gods and monsters that promise a game full of intrigue, violence and the tight mechanics we've come to expect from this team. He's correctly identified honor as the core of feudal Japan, and it should play as pivotal a role as the Vikings' rage did in 2015's hit Blood Rage, but the previews hinting that Rising Sun will feature elements of the classic Diplomacy have me even more excited; for all their talk of honor, the warrior class of Japan was surprisingly known for their shifting loyalties and self-serving interpretations of the meaning of duty, so any game including those dilemmas is sure to feature lots of chaotic player interaction. With the right group, that cranks the fun to 11, and I'm ready to walk the fine line between standing tall over a battlefield littered with my enemies and kneeling under the cherry blossom tree in a white funeral kimono, staring down at a freshly-cleaned tanto.