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Upcoming board games that will blow you away in 2019

When people say they are into board games nowadays, they are rarely talking about the games of yesteryear like Monopoly and Sorry! Tabletop gaming is huge business; Polygon writes that the largest Kickstarter of last year was a tabletop game (that we'll discuss on this list) that raked in over $6.25 million in crowdfunding. Adweek writes that the tabletop gaming industry made close to $10 billion in 2016. There's some serious money in this industry.

The Guardian has written features on board game cafes and bars that have ridden the wave of the renaissance, meaning mainstream businesses have taken notice that board games are here to stay; the industry shows no real sign of slowing down. Major entertainment properties continue to see board game releases and tie-ins.

Put down your controllers and invite your friends over: today we're talking about some of the biggest upcoming board game releases of 2019.

Wingspan - March 8, 2019

Jamey Stegmaier has become a huge force in the world of tabletop gaming, both as a designer — he has extremely popular games like Viticulture, Scythe, and Charterstone under his belt — and through his production company Stonemaier Games. Although it wasn't designed by the man himself, Wingspan is a Stonemaier release and is already making waves as a hugely anticipated title for 2019.

Wingspan is designed by Elizabeth Hargrave, who designed the well-reviewed Victorian flower card-drafting game Tussie-Mussie, and it sees one to five players take on the roles of competing ornithologists. It is an engine-building game that features some amazing components (check out the egg tokens and the amazing bird-feeder dice tower on the game's official website). ComicBook.com writes that the game has received nothing but positive buzz, and citing gamers who compare "its playstyle to a streamlined version of Terraforming Mars."

Wingspan will hit shelves on March 8, and will retail for $55. With so much buzz surrounding the game, interested gamers may want to preorder this one from the Stonemaier Games website or their friendly local game shop.

Crusader Kings: The Board Game - 2019

The intricate PC game Crusader Kings is essentially a massive tabletop game already. It seems like it would be quite an undertaking to distill a game that complex into something that could do it any justice on a dining room table, but that's exactly what the Kickstarter for Crusader Kings: The Board Game is promising: "To win, you will need to groom your family, build mighty castles, develop your dominion, be shrewd in the realm of diplomacy and intrigue, and use your vassals wisely to grow your wealth and military power."

The BoardGameGeek page for Crusader Kings lists a whole lot of mechanics for this beast: Area Control, Campaign, Card Drafting, Deck Building, Hand Management, Partnerships, Role Playing, Simultaneous Action, and Trading. It could be something incredible if it pulls it off. Rock Paper Shotgun says, "The real hook, though, is the social layer, with everyone looming over a map, making pacts and plotting in whispers. Crusader Kings: The Board Game does what Crusader Kings 2 just simulates."

It was supposed to release at the end of 2018, but got pushed back to 2019.

Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon - August 2019

The game that Polygon reported as the largest Kickstarter campaign of 2018 was Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon, with beautiful miniatures, an expansive story that evolves as you play, and a lot of promises to be one of the biggest games ever made. Tainted Grail features a massive, cooperative campaign for one to four players, and its original story is based on a combination of Arthurian legend and Celtic mythology. According to developer Awaken Realms, the campaign should provide players with at least thirty hours of gameplay.

Awaken Realms has run plenty of massive tabletop Kickstarters in the past, including Nemesis and the board game version of This War of Mine, and they are planning a PC release of Tainted Grail around the same time the physical version hits retail. August 2019 is the estimated timeframe for the Kickstarter backers to receive their copies, so it should hit retail shelves in time for the holidays.

Chiyo's Secret - March 2019

Not every board game is based around creating a massive economic empire or sending soldiers out to conquer the world. Some games focus on much more intimate, personal stories, like the fate of two lovers in the upcoming hidden role game Chiyo's Secret.

Chiyo's Secret takes place in feudal Japan, and will take a group of five to eight players about an hour to play through. Its plot revolves around a secret love between two fugitives, and each player will randomly select one of four different teams. Each player will have a secret agenda where they try to work towards their own goals, specific to their assigned role.

Each role will require its own strategy. One team, the Loyal Allies, will try to capture the two lovers and send them to their death. Another, the Usurpers, will try to use them as leverage to seize power for themselves. A third team will try to betray the Daimyo and take the fugitives directly to the Shogun. And one player will play as their son, attempting to keep his parents hidden until the Shogun arrives.

It sounds like Chiyo's Secret will be an incredibly tense game. It is expected to release in March and will retail for $29.99. It's designed by J.B. Howell, who may not be a huge name right now, but he also helped create the next game on our list.

Reavers of Midgard - June 2019

Another J.B. Howell-designed game, Reavers of Midgard is a sequel to much-loved 2015 release Champions of Midgard. It features similar mechanics as well, but with a few new twists. Dice Tower writes that dice combat and set collection return, and each player will have a single worker to place to grant special abilities. However, Reavers will also feature card-drafting elements to enable some engine building, and each placed worker will trigger an ability for all players, with those sitting closest to the active player benefitting the most.

Another addition to the formula are the Reaver cards, which players can recruit to add new dice to their pools. Each Reaver will also have special abilities that, if drafted correctly, can snowball to create massive combos.

The Kickstarter for Reavers of Midgard showed off a huge amount of components, and it looks like this game of viking strategy and combat will have plenty of ways to counter your opponents and win. Kickstarter backers paid $69 and Reavers of Midgard is expected to ship to those backers in June 2019. Expect it in retail stores not long after.

Tidal Blades: Heroes of the Reef - October 2019

One commonality among many of the biggest tabletop game Kickstarters is a beautiful aesthetic. Tidal Blades: Heroes of the Reef features great art in nearly every element of its design: unique and easily distinguishable characters, eye-popping boards, and a huge variety of dice. It also looks like Tidal Blades will feature a variety of strategies for each of its different heroes.

In Tidal Blades, each player takes control of an aspiring "Tidal Blade," the heroes of the island world the game takes place in. Over a series of rounds, each player will fight monsters and participate in a series of events at a tournament, trying to earn points for their hero in order to be named the next champion of the island. With a variety of mechanics for each event, including worker placement, drafting, and set collection, Tidal Blades: Heroes of the Reef should provide many ways for players to win and offer up plenty of tense endings.

Kickstarter backers paid $59 for the base game, with an expected release in October 2019. Expect it in stores before the holiday season.

Rap Godz - August 2019

When you say you and your friends are having a board game night, most people probably don't think you mean you're battling to sell the most albums in a quest to become the world's greatest rapper. Which brings us to Rap Godz.

Another Kickstarter darling, Rap Godz is dripping with style: it features a hand-drawn graffiti aesthetic, and the board itself looks like a turntable! It also looks to be a light- to medium-weight battle for rap supremacy, as two to four players compete to enhance their skills, street cred, and bank accounts.

It also looks to encourage some light roleplaying, with decks that help chart each character's career and plenty of opportunities to start beef with (and rap battle against) other players. Cook up a huge pot of mom's spaghetti and get ready to throw down with your friends.

You can read the full story of the game's development over on Medium, and the Kickstarter's estimated delivery is August of 2019. Look for it to hit retail shelves around that time.

Edge of Darkness - June 2019

Edge of Darkness is a card-crafting game from publisher AEG and designed by John D. Clair. Those two also teamed together for the classic Mystic Vale tabletop game, which featured the same mechanic. "Card crafting" means that players will pick cards with transparent elements, allowing players to sleeve multiple cards together in order to create powerful effects and combos. It's a fun and flexible mechanic that opens up strategies and allows players to adapt quickly when the board state changes.

Edge of Darkness also features a semi-cooperative element: each player controls a guild, vying for power and control in a massive city. However, an external force called the Blight threatens to destroy them all, which will force them to work together just enough to keep things interesting.

Edge of Darkness will also include worker placement mechanics. The whole thing should take one to two hours to finish. It is playable by two to four players and is expected to ship to Kickstarter backers in June of 2019. Look for it on retail shelves soon afterwards.

Batman: Gotham City Chronicles - April 2019

Another massive licensed property from Monolith and designer Frederic Henry (the two of which also made the Conan tabletop game) is expected to release in early 2019. Batman: Gotham City Chronicles looks to wed similar gameplay elements from Conan to an aesthetic similar to the Arkham video game series. It also has enough cool miniatures that even Batman enthusiasts who aren't into board games may want to take notice.

The game will feature asymmetrical combat, with one player controlling an iconic Batman villain like Joker or Poison Ivy, as well as all their henchmen, while every other player will control a hero like Batman, Nightwing, or Catwoman. Inverse writes that the developers went deep into Batman lore for some of their characters, including villains like Man-Bat, Deathstroke, and Orphan as stretch goals in the Kickstarter campaign.

The Kickstarter campaign estimated an April 2019 release for Batman: Gotham City Chronicles. Expect it to cost a pretty penny: just the base campaign with stretch goals cost backers $140.

Unbroken - 2019

When most people think of board games, they tend to think of a group of people sitting around a table, rolling dice and socializing. Unbroken bucks that trend: while many games do have a solo mode, Unbroken is only playable by one person.

Its plot fits the single-player attitude: the player was a member of an adventuring group, but they were ambushed on their latest dungeon crawl, and the player takes control of the only survivor. Unbroken is a resource-management, press-your-luck card game that will allow the player to seek revenge against the monsters that killed their friends before escaping with as much loot as they can. According the the designer, the game is supposed to be quick to both set up, play, and tear down, making it more manageable for a single person to handle.

The game was originally supposed to ship at the end of 2018 but, like many Kickstarters, it ran into some delays. Expect Unbroken sometime this year.

The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth - Q2 2019

Another heavy hitter in the world of tabletop gaming is Fantasy Flight Games, who have several licenses like Game of Thrones and Star Wars. Included on that list is The Lord of the Rings, and FFG has a new Tolkien-inspired adventure coming to your tabletop in Q2 2019.

Each session of The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth will take place in a sprawling campaign that will see players work together to stand up to the forces of evil. It will feature cooperative play and let players take control of iconic heroes from the Lord of the Rings universe. SlashFilm also writes that the game will also come with a companion app, which will control the enemies in each scenario.

FFG is no stranger to companion apps in their board games, and pairing an official app with a game as massive as Journeys in Middle-Earth should be an impressive undertaking. It will also come with plenty of miniatures to paint and a huge amount of modular tiles, ensuring that the game board is different every time you play.

Brutality - summer 2019

Although not directly based on the video game Darkest Dungeon, it would be hard to look at the art for upcoming tabletop game Brutality and not think of the tough-as-nails RPG. It's a competitive brawler game where each player takes control of a different character. You then have to use your specialized deck to outwit and eliminate each other player in a brutal battle for supremacy.

Each character in the game has a customizable deck of abilities and a highly detailed miniature. Characters include roles like "The Monarch Torturer," "The Plague Baron," and "The God Killer," so you can expect a bit of over-the-top style in the box. Brutality has rules for both one-on-one and two-on-two battles, meaning that there will be plenty of ability combinations to discover as different champions get paired together.

Kickstarter backers are supposed to receive their copies of Brutality this summer, so look for it on retail shelves not long afterwards.