2016 was a great year for board, card, miniature, and role-playing games. Look no further than my recent column on the best releases of  last year, all of which were in tight contention with dozens of other worthy projects that deserve acknowledgment. There’s every reason to believe that tabletop gaming will continue its trend of innovation and overall excellence in the new year; there are already dozens of games vying for attention. 

Here are some of the most compelling projects to keep your eyes on over the course of the next 12 months, listed alphabetically, including deep strategy games, cooperative adventures, and even some intriguing possibilities in the RPG sphere. 

Charterstone
Publisher: Stonemaier Games

One of the breakout hits of 2016 was Scythe, an intricate strategy game set in an alternate history of 1920’s Europe. The same designer, Jamey Stegmaier, is exploring a decidedly different game style with Charterstone, a worker placement game for 1-6 players that changes every time you play it. Players compete to improve their charters and build structures, which become action spaces in a shared village. Each session, players acquire permanent rewards and add new stickers to the board, evolving the fate of the village over the course of a 12-game campaign. After the “legacy” elements are complete, the game remains playable, but your board and gameplay will be different from the village of a different gaming group.

First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet
Publisher: Portal Games

Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island is a well-deserved favorite for many board gamers, offering an intriguing mix of survival, cooperation, and discovery for a team of island castaways. Designer Ignacy Trzewiczek returns to the same core play concepts of his earlier game in this sequel, but players instead get to take on the role of astronauts on Mars, trying to survive the harsh and otherworldly landscape. This time, much of the heavy-lifting of the rules and game management is accomplished through an accompanying digital app, which should resolve one of the few complaints leveled at the original – Robinson Crusoe had a lot to keep track of. If all comes together, this could be a triumph of storytelling and challenging decision-making, and a benchmark for how digital components can enrich the tabletop experience. Want to learn more about the original Robinson Crusoe? Here's our write-up.

Flick ‘Em Up: Dead Of Winter
Publisher: Plan B Games

Take two of the most entertaining games of recent years from completely different genres, and mash them together. That seems to have been the philosophy guiding this promising release from the recently established Plan B Games. Flick ‘Em Up is a dexterity-based game of Old West combat, in which lawmen and outlaws duke it out by physically flicking bullets and dynamite across the table in an attempt to knock over opponent figures. Meanwhile, Dead of Winter is a deep and rewarding narrative-focused game about a community of survivors eking out an existence after the zombie apocalypse. It remains to be seen exactly how the two will be interwoven in this new standalone release, but it’s a good bet that players are going to get to flick shotgun shells into roaming zombie hordes at some point. 

Next Page: The reveal of the final name for the upcoming Godfather board game, and Monte Cook's potentially groundbreaking new role-playing game