It’s June! And while many are celebrating the end of another school year and the beginning of summer vacation, at our house we’re celebrating another season – game convention season! We’ve already spent four exhausting days at Geekway to the West, and in two weeks we’ll be headed out for our fourth year attending the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, OH.
Origins is the 2nd-largest board game convention in the U.S. and easily in the top ten worldwide. It’s the first major convention of the season stateside and one where many new games will make their retail debut! And by “many”, we mean well over a hundred brand new titles! It’s no wonder people have such a tough time deciding which to try, which to buy and which to pass on.
It’s gotten to the point that listing every single game that is making its debut at the Origins Game Fair is overwhelming, both for us and for you. At last count there were 115+ new games and 60+ expansions coming to market in Columbus. And that doesn’t even count the hundreds of yet-to-be-released games that will be demoed in publishers’ booths! So…we’ve scoured the lists, talked directly with the publishers and read the rules for as many as humanly possible. This list is what we consider the best-of-the-best and must-sees if you’re attending the convention!
If you’re headed to Origins Game Fair, you’ll want to look through this list and start making plans on which booth(s) to visit early to get your copy before they run out. If you’re not one of the fortunate ones to be attending in person, don’t fret! This list simply means these games are as close to being on the shelves of your local game store (or Amazon) as possible!
Spy, swap, and peek to find Cabo the unicorn in this simple card game.
This second edition of CABO features modified rules, a scorepad, four player reference cards, and all new artwork.
Brook City is a co-operative miniatures board game of blockbuster action for 1–4 cops. Taking on the roles of heroic cops inspired by classic action movie stars, players take their cop decks up against sinister criminal decks and cryptic case decks. We will be running a promotional bundle at Origins.
Dust in the Wings
Dust in the Wings is a family game of perception, planning, and picturing the beauty of nature. Built on the wisdom of Mancala — a beloved game known for thousands of years — Dust in the Wings creates an experience that is light on rules, engaging in its gameplay, and wondrous to the eye!
Inuit – The Snow Folk
Inuit: The Snow Folk is a creative reimplementation of Natives, a 2017 release, updated with new lavish art and adding 2 new modular expansions: The Spirit of the Great White and Rising Sun.
World Shapers is a card drafting game in which 1–4 players compete for elemental source materials in order to create and shape new worlds! Over the course of just a few rounds, you must carefully draft the necessary cards, outwit your opponents, and take advantage of powerful synergies. Utilize power crystals to enhance previously collected cards.
We’re doomed! The world is coing to an end! We must act now to survive!!! Players are the most powerful leaders in the world working alongside up to nine others to build a starship. Time is short! The goal? Build and be on a starship that escapes a dying world — or betray everyone to ensure your own survival. No seats on the starship are guaranteed. We’re Doomed! is a quick, timed, panic-inducing game of international collaboration, retaliation, diplomacy, conspiracy, and blowing each other up for fun!
Everyone Loves a Parade
It’s a beautiful day, and everyone in your hometown is excited to watch all the fun, pageantry, and spectacle of the upcoming parade! But first, the floats that will thrill the crowd must be built… and the one who crafts the most exciting floats will become the Grand Marshal!
In Everyone Loves A Parade, 2-6 players act as float designers, selecting colorful decoration cards (flowers, balloons, and flags) to add to their floats and wow the crowd, which is represented by dice showing colors and items they wish to see.
Ahoy, captain! set sail for fun, adventure, and riches! Your savvy crew does your bidding, stacking your hold with the most profitable crates. Will you choose glittering treasure, colossal cannons, or perhaps some risky but lucrative contraband? Outwit and outbid all others to earn the biggest bounty . . . but above all, keep everything ShipShape™!
As the head of a shadowy intelligence agency, you must manipulate agents around the world, using valuable intelligence to complete missions. Crucial choices, daring actions, and perfect timing will allow your agency to manipulate the world…and win the game!
The refinement of oil has long been part of the government-controlled energy sector. Amassed with an incredibly complex and inefficient system of refineries, the government has felt the severe pressures of worldwide demand and the ever-increasing global standards for refinement. Unable to keep up with demand, the government has only one option: privatizing the oil industry.
This is where you come in. Seeking to capitalize on this new opportunity, in Pipeline you start a company in the oil business. You will focus on building a much more efficient pipeline network in your refinery, hiring experts that provide valuable benefits over your competitors, and managing the logistics of purchasing and selling your refined oil in the various markets. You will need more than strong economic skills – carefully crafting an interweaving network of pipelines just might ensure your victory!
Wacky Races: The Board Game puts players in the “driver’s seat” with control of their favorite drivers from the cartoon series, including The Slag Brothers, The Gruesome Twosome, Penelope Pitstop, Peter Perfect, and more, each with their own car equipped with special abilities. They compete against each other as well as the game-controlled, mustachioed Dick Dastardly and his wheezy pup Muttley.
Codenames Duet XXL
Codenames: Duet XXL keeps the basic elements of Codenames — give one-word clues to try to get someone to identify your agents among those on the table — but now you’re working together as a team to find all of your agents. This XXL version features larger components and an insert designed just for the XXL line of games!
A family-friendly camping themed game where players pass cards, match cards, and use cards in the middle of play, while trying to avoid mother nature cards.
The game is played over a series of rounds. Players with the most matching cards of one color or of one illustration will win the round. Each Mother Nature card in their hand will subtract out one match. 1 Point is awarded for winning the round, 2 points if the player with the most matching cards did it with only Mother Nature cards. 2-8 players Ages 6+
After a successful bank heist, you and your fellow thieves are laying low and enjoying the good life. Most of the cash has been hidden away, and the rest has been invested in businesses throughout the city. Everything is going according to plan until the police get a breakthrough in their investigation. Accusations are made, fingers are pointed, and after a heated argument, you decide to go your separate ways.
Chaos ensues as the SWAT team is called in and start to close off the city’s exits. Your only choice now is to escape the city before it is completely locked down. But you need a plan — a good route that allows you to leave the city while recovering as much of the money as possible.
You will need to call in some favors and hire the local gangs to create diversions. Bribing the Police would be a good idea too, but it isn’t cheap. Disguises may help, but they don’t fool everyone. Setting the Police on the trail of your former colleagues will give you a better chance of escape, but the other thieves are thinking the same thing…
Will you escape the city with the most money, or will the Police lockdown the city before you can escape?
The Scarlet Pimpernel
The year is 1793. France cowers under the Reign of Terror, and not even the innocent are safe from the Committee of Public Safety and their precious guillotine. In the midst of this turmoil, one man uses courage and cunning to fight the brutality: The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Along with his League of followers, The Scarlet Pimpernel rescues the innocent from under the very noses of the Committee, leaving behind only a card showing a small pimpernel flower. The man behind the rescues, Englishman Sir Percy Blakeney, must keep his identity a secret from all but his closest associates.
In The Scarlet Pimpernel, you play as members of the league helping the Scarlet Pimpernel accomplish seven missions, rescuing the innocent from the guillotine. No mission will be as important as the last, for you save the young Dauphin, heir to the French throne, by whisking him away to Vienna.
My First Castle Panic
My First Castle Panic, like its predecessor Castle Panic, is a co-operative game in which players work together to defend their castle, but this game removes the reading requirement of the earlier one and fosters the development of educational skills, such as identifying colors and shapes, problem solving, and turn taking.
Excitement in a prehistoric period! The saber-toothed tiger clan is looking for a new leader, but which one of you can best take care of the clan in Honga and prove to be the most worthy leader?
There are multiple ways to prove your worth: gather supplies, comb through the dark forest, pay homage to the old nature gods, attract mammoths, and successfully trade with other clans. But! No matter how busy you are with these tasks, you can never forget Honga! Whenever you ignore the local saber-toothed tiger, he will come and eat your food — and getting rid of him can turn out to be tough.
In the press-your-luck game High Risk, you want to move your climbers up the mountain at the right pace without getting greedy and risking a fall…
Legendary Forests is a multiplayer solitaire game akin to Take it Easy! or Karuba as each player has an identical set of tiles and plays the same tile at the same time to their own tableau — but where each player places each tile may differ…
Among Thieves is a game of deception and greed. You will work together to extort information from higher level employees of the largest corporations in the world. However, no one can be trusted. Win by having the most money, but be careful – the player with the least honor is eliminated.
Conflicting Legends is an epic war of Rock-Paper-Scissors in which the fate of the world lies in your hands. You will develop civilizations and conquer lands with all of the great people in history at your disposal. Will your name go down in history as a famous emperor or as a subjugated loser? It’s all determined by Rock-Paper-Scissors!
Finger Guns at High Noon
Finger Guns at High Noon is a fast-paced game of strategy, negotiation, and pure hilarity—battle royale style.
Craft your plan, convince the crowd to join in, then count down and draw your finger guns. Hand gestures show everyone’s actions and targets. Eliminate players with pistols, dynamite, and power shots, or stand to the side and lasso up an ally. Last player standing is the winner—unless the ghosts eliminate everyone.
Do you have the fastest draw in the west?
Bugs on Rugs
Players take turns drafting bugs from the Floor into their hand to make different sets; each bug type scores differently at the end of the game. At the end of each round there will be one leftover bug… it crawls onto the Wall, where its unique power activates to change things up! At the end of the game players reveal their bug collections and we see who has made the most valuable hand of creepy crawlers!
Simple rules, short play time, and lots of different ways to create cool scoring combos make this a perfect casual filler for players of all types.
Wreck Raiders is an innovative dice-drafting worker placement system. Display your treasures to build museum exhibits, or send them to your vault for huge scoring opportunities. After you visit the beach to collect baubles, use them to build stunning aquariums do display in your museum. When the game ends, you’ll earn coins for your exhibits, your vault, and your aquariums. The player with the most coins wins!
EXIT – The Catacombs of Horror
Gloomy vaults lie under the city of lights. The catacombs of Paris swallow the light, secrets, and — apparently — also people. After the mysterious disappearance of a friend in the catacombs, players in Exit: The Game – The Catacombs of Horror embark on a mysterious search through the underground labyrinth. Will players be able to find their friend in time and escape this cavernous world full of dark mysteries?
Like other titles in the series, Exit: The Game – The Catacombs of Horror includes components meant to be folded, written upon, or torn, so it’s marketed as a single-use game. What’s different in this game is that it consists of two parts, with each part being its own challenge.
In the Inuit language, “tukilik” is used to define an object that carries a message, and the northern landscapes are densely populated with such objects. The most well known of these are the inukshuk, that is, structures of rough stones traditionally used by Inuit people as a landmark or commemorative sign, with the stones often being stacked in the form of a human figure.
During each turn in Tuki, you attempt to construct an inukshuk based on the die face rolled using your stones and blocks of snow. Players have only a limited number of pieces with which to construct the inukshuk, so you’ll need to be creative and use the three-dimensional pieces in multiple ways, such as to counterbalance other pieces or even build on top of existing pieces. A solution always exists — you just need to discover it!
You can choose from two levels of difficulty when playing Tuki to level the playing ground between newcomers and experts. Be swift, yet precise, and transform your stones into messengers of the north…
Okay, now it’s time for us to admit that these aren’t ALL the games on the must-see list. This is simply the first half. Because there are so many (hey, we warned you at the beginning!), we needed to split the article into two. So swing by to check out the second half of the list tomorrow morning!