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Our Most Anticipated Tabletop Games of 2018

by Matt Miller on Jan 12, 2018 at 03:00 PM

2017 was a stellar year for the tabletop hobby. Dozens of excellent new games arrived on our tables, from intriguing abstract strategy games to sprawling legacy adventures that could last hundreds of hours. Our Top Tabletop Games of 2017 is a good place to start if you’re looking for something to try out with your friends and family. Now, we turn our attention to what’s coming next, as 2018 promises to be another banner year for the hobby. 

Here are 10 of the most anticipated games targeting release in 2018. Entries span a variety of genres and game styles, and are listed alphabetically.

Batman: Gotham City Chronicles
Publisher: Monolith Edition

The Dark Knight is returning to tabletops once again, this time in a design strongly inspired by Monolith’s previous Conan board game, which won accolades back in 2016, including a slot on our 2016 Best Tabletop Games list. The new Batman game casts one player as a supervillain in a distinct story-based scenario, while the other players take on the role of Batman and his allies, working to subvert the dastardly plan. Monolith has already shown off some of the intricate miniatures that players can expect to find in the game, but the real excitement comes from the return of this amazing combat system, which puts tremendous flexibility into the hands of players to attack, defend, and maneuver in interesting ways. 

Betrayal Legacy
Publisher: Avalon Hill

The original Betrayal at House on the Hill is a perennial favorite for many gaming groups, in which the players explore a haunted mansion of their own creation, all the while knowing that someone in the group is a traitor who is pursuing the downfall of everyone else. That core concept is being translated into the legacy format for this new game, in which a narrative unfolds over many decades and multiple generations of the same families as time and again they make the mistake of visiting the foreboding estate. Like all legacy games, the story carries over from one session to the next, with aspects of the rules and included items changing over time, keeping each session fresh and unexpected. 

Detective: City of Angels
Publisher: Van Ryder Games

This fascinating game of deduction and bluffing transports players to 1940s Los Angeles, where most of the players control detectives doing what they must to solve a series of crimes, while one player takes on the task of subverting and stalling the other players, leading them on wild goose chases, and generally throwing obstacles in the march toward justice. It all works together since each case is a unique narrative, with guidance on moving the story forward provided to both the investigators and their criminal competitor. The game also features an intriguing interrogation system in which the bluffing player can mislead the detectives; call him/her on their lies, and you can get the real answer, but accidentally call them on the truth, and the criminal gains leverage over you. Detective: City of Angels is certainly one of the more unusual projects on the way in 2018, and it’s that very innovation that may attract players hungry for something new. 

Next Page: A return to the amazing universe of Gloomhaven, and a whole new approach to role-playing games

Founders of Gloomhaven
Publisher: Cephalofair Games

One of 2017’s most celebrated games is the dungeon-delving Gloomhaven, which was praised for its deep ongoing campaign and intriguing card-based combat system. The same team is bringing us a new standalone game set in the same universe several hundred years prior, during the founding and building of the titular town. Players adopt the roles of competing fantasy races working to build out the city through the placing of new tiles and deploying resources to build out control of the burgeoning community. In addition to some phenomenal fantasy art, expectations are high that Founders might offer a wealth of innovative design elements and challenging strategy, along with a return to this thoughtfully constructed and gritty fantasy world. 

Invisible Sun
Publisher: Monte Cook Games

The only carry-over from last year’s anticipated list, Invisible Sun is a premium role-playing release that didn’t make its way to players before the end of 2017, but early signs suggest that the wait will be worth it. Invisible Sun transports players to a surreal universe of mysticism where they control magic wielders of tremendous power, shaping their own destinies as they explore a richly imagined fantasy universe. While the setting is intriguing, it’s the structure of play that promises to be revolutionary in the RPG world. Gameplay is guided by the players and their characters’ unique arcs, and the rules encourage the group to allow play to unfold both at the table and after everyone has gone home. GMs and players are tasked to flesh out the narrative through one-on-one meet-ups, solo scenario building, and more, allowing the game to expand in unexpected and emergent ways. Invisible Sun is likely to involve a significant investment of time and money for your gaming group, but there’s every reason to believe that this might be a surprisingly novel approach to role-playing. 

John Carter of Mars: Adventures on the Dying World of Barsoom
Publisher: Modiphius

Modiphius has been on a roll with some excellent role-playing game releases; the publisher’s Star Trek and Conan RPGs were both included in our recent Top Tabletop Games of 2017. In the new year, Modiphius is promising their version of another classic fiction – Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars. Billed as a “planetary romance” RPG, the game is built around pulp action, combat, and storytelling spread across a sprawling history of events as they are depicted in the original written stories. The game allows players to take on the role of classic characters like John Carter, Princess Dejah Thoris, or Tars Tarkas, or alternately create their own heroes in that same style. Modiphius has enlisted the aid of a Burroughs scholar to maintain authenticity to the original tales, and there’s every reason to believe that this variation of the excellent 2d20 “Momentum” game system should lead to some great campaigns.

Rising Sun
Publisher: CMON

Many of the same creative voices are involved in the creation of Rising Sun as those that brought us 2015’s Blood Rage, which garnered a spot in our Best Tabletop Games list from that year. Unlike the Viking wars of that excellent project, Rising Sun transports players to Japan, where honor, diplomacy, and conquest intermingle in a rich tapestry of strategic decisions. Unmoored from true history, the game includes supernatural elements like kami (gods) and oni (demons) who tilt the scales of conflict. Dozens of gorgeous sculpted miniatures and breathtaking board and card art are likely to make this release one of the standout aesthetic presentations in 2018, and there’s good reason to hope that the game design will be equally sophisticated. 

Next Page: Tactical combat in a galaxy far, far away, and the adventures of courageous stuffed animals

Shadows of Brimstone: Forbidden Fortress
Publisher: Flying Frog Productions

Flying Frog has a long history of evocative settings and fantastic design, both of which were on display in the original Shadows of Brimstone games, which released back in 2014 to high praise. Playable either standalone or in conjunction with those original releases, the new Forbidden Fortress game demands that players delve into dungeons inspired by feudal-era Japan, filled with the most dangerous creatures of Japanese legend. Players of the original don’t need to be sold on how great this dungeon crawl franchise is, but new players should find this an ideal jumping on point; there’s a high likelihood that Forbidden Fortress will offer the same great fun we’ve come to expect from the publisher. 

Star Wars Legion
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Fantasy Flight has done a remarkable job of tapping into the Star Wars license, with recent years seeing a robust role-playing system, a great collectible dice game, and a deep galaxy-spanning strategy game, among several others. But 2018 is promising something special – a fully featured miniature game, letting players command Stormtroopers, Rebel troopers, speeder bikes, and even iconic characters like Darth Vader, all in intricate ground-based tactical combat scenarios. Legion’s core set includes thirty-three unpainted minis to assemble and paint to your personal specifications, before sending your forces into battle with a fast-moving and intuitive battle system. Likely to appeal to dedicated hobbyists, there’s good reason to believe that Star Wars Legion will take the mini world by storm this year. 

Stuffed Fables
Publisher: Plaid Hat Games

Almost certain to be a hit for families in 2018, Stuffed Fables casts players in the role of stuffed animals working to save the child they cherish from a terrible evil. The cooperative play experience unfolds in a literal storybook, where the rules, story, and board are all presented in the pages of a book that is laid out on the table. Players draw dice from a bag that offer options for what to do on their turn, from attacking the bad guys to “restuffing” fellow heroes to heal them. The game also includes an important component of sharing resources with other players, which is wonderful to see expressed in a game about childhood concepts. While early glimpses of Stuffed Fables suggest that it will be ideal for family game groups that include young players, it’s likely that the game’s sequential story and gorgeous components may draw in more than a few veteran gaming groups. 

 

What tabletop games are you excited about in 2018? Did I miss something you’re especially stoked to play? Share your picks in the comments below, and I’ll make sure to keep your suggestions in mind as we select games for coverage in the coming months. 

In the meantime, if you need some personal recommendations for games to play with your friends and family, I hope you’ll drop me a line via email or Twitter. I’ve been happy to field a number of such requests in recent months; the biggest goal for Top of the Table is to guide gamers to new and fun experiences in their tabletop gaming hobby.