There are an insane number of board games released each year. If you click that link, you’ll be shocked at the number. But it’s rarely garbage-games that are released. So many are really good games!
But the volume of releases means that some really good games simply get overlooked. They sadly gather dust on the shelves as gamers rush off to give their attention to the latest release.
So, the below 7 games were released in just the last few years, yet never quite crested when it came to either commercial or critical appeal. But I’m hoping you’ll give them a nice look. They deserve it.
Deadline is a detective game that didn’t land with much of a splash in the trade market initially. But it shouldn’t be overlooked! In fact, it should be allowed to reach a wider audience!
Here’s a full look at the game, but the short story is that Deadline is a detective game that is super solid and connects with a broad variety of demographics. For example, a Boomer crowd that has grown up on Law and Order and CSI shows would be an interesting market for the game.
Alas, another production pass and a re-work of the rulebook would likely be required to give Deadline a little more “curb appeal.” But you now know the truth about the game, so don’t sleep on it!
Wartime is a real-time strategy game that uses sand timers as the primary mechanism of the game. It’s funky and wholly unlike just about anything else you’ll play.
A unit of 5 orcs, for example, would be represented by 5 cardboard disks placed on a plastic dowel. When an orc is defeated, you simply remove a disk from the dowel. Easy.
How units are placed is where the fun comes in though. Players place units simultaneously and in real time. Any unit can be placed, but when it is, a sand timer is flipped over and another can’t be placed until the sand runs through.
A powerful unit might have a 90 second timer, whereas a wimpy unit might only be 30 seconds and can allow you to place another more quickly. You have to balance those decisions as well as decide your next moves in 90 seconds or less obviously.
It’s fun and the uniqueness of it alone earns it a place in a board game collection. My daughter and I play and she gets so into the timers, screaming at the sand to run through, like her verbalization skills will hurry it up.
5. Ex Libris
Ex Libris builds libraries. And it’s relatively popular, so I won’t go on and on about it, I’ll just point you to our full review.
But it’s a game that should be even more popular due to its great gameplay and non-offensively wholesome theme that works with people of all ages. Sure, libraries might not sound like thrilling fare, but they make for a darned good game night with family.
4. Mississippi Queen
Mississippi Queen is a game from about twenty years ago that sadly slipped out of print. But it won the won the 1997 Spiel des Jahres award for board game of the year, so it needs to be better known!
Well, we’re in luck because an updated version is being re-released in 2019. Better, the new version looks gorgeous and includes the expansion. Although we’ll have to wait until this fall, it’s a game that will be worth the wait and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Downforce was a game that was brought back by Restoration Games, a company that finds old gems to polish up for today’s audiences.
As you might have guessed, it’s a racing game. But it’s really two mini-games in one. The first half of Downforce is a bidding game, while the second half is movement and playing cards.
Both halves are light. Neither is a brain-buster by any means, but add them together and you have an enjoyable game. What’s more, it’s a very accessible game that can be enjoyed by an entire family.
Jamaica is another racing game, but this time it’s as pirates and the gameplay is vastly different than Downforce, which is a modern Formula 1 style.
In Jamaica, you pretend you are pirates who are racing around the island of Jamaica, fighting and gathering plunder as you go. Players must play a card each turn that gives them a morning and an evening action.
The actions might make you go forward a few spaces or maybe you slide back. All the while you are gathering plunder or cannonballs that fill up the hold of your ship, forcing you to manage resources.
It’s very possible that an action might stick it to you, so you’re often choosing the worst of three possible outcomes, but the game has such a light-hearted feel that even the “gotcha” moments are a delight to experience.
It’s a well-regarded game, so it’s only overlooked in the sense that it’s a game that really deserves to be a mass market classic. It’s not hyperbole to state that Jamaica should be a centerpiece of any growing board game collection.
1. Super Motherload
Super Motherload is pretty much Dig Dug the board game. And if you remember that old arcade classic at all, you’ll get the basic premise of Super Motherload.
Players are digging underground on Mars. You don’t need to know much more than that other than Super Motherload is an excellent game.
It’s weird how some mediocre games might become hits, while real gems often are overlooked. Don’t sleep on Super Motherload. Give it your attention. And not only is it a fun game, but the production is beautiful and very well done.