The Best Board Games of 2021: Top 5!
Our Best Board Games of 2021 list comes from a combination of metrics. Sales numbers, game reviews, and our own experiences brought us to our five winners.
Without further ado, let’s have a look at the top five!
#5 — Dinosaur World
Pandasaurus Games‘ strategic tile/worker placement game kicks off our list of 2021’s best board games. Plus, it’s got “jeeple!”
The triumph of science that led to dinosaurs returning to the world once more has become public knowledge. New parks spring up regularly, often beginning operations even before everything has been finalized. There is no shortage of patrons eager to be entertained by these returned species in new and exciting ways. However, as with any form of entertainment, elements of triumph are often accompanied by elements of tragedy. This means it is of the utmost importance that you take every precaution by ensuring each visitor signs the safety waiver before enjoying the wonders of Dinosaur World!
Each round in Dinosaur World, you draft a new résumé card to acquire new workers; spend workers to take public actions building your park and acquiring DNA; spend further workers to take private actions improving that park; then drive your jeep around experiencing the wonder and excitement of what you have built! Throughout the game you acquire victory points through a variety of means — and possibly a few visitor deaths as a natural consequence of overly enthusiastic dinosaur encounters. At the end of the game, you lose points if you accumulated too many deaths, then the player with the most points wins!
#4 — Unfathomable
A clever deduction and hidden role game from Fantasy Flight Games. Unfathomable will have you and your friends turning on each other and hurling wild accusations while you try to figure out who amongst you are the traitors!
The year is 1913. The steamship SS Atlantica is two days out from port on its voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Its unsuspecting passengers fully anticipated a calm journey to Boston, Massachusetts, with nothing out of the ordinary to look forward to.
However, strange nightmares plague the minds of the people aboard the ship every night; rumors circulate of dark shapes following closely behind the ship just beneath the waves. Tensions rise when a body is discovered in the ship’s chapel, signs of a strange ritual littered around the corpse.
Lurking within the depths of the Atlantic Ocean are a swarm of vicious, unspeakable horrors… the Deep Ones, led by Mother Hydra and Father Dagon. For reasons unknown, they have set their sights on the Atlantica; and their minions—taking the form of human-Deep One hybrids—have infiltrated the steamship to help sink it from within.
Each game of Unfathomable has one or more players assuming the role of one of these hybrids. How well they can secretly sabotage the efforts of the other players might mean the difference between a successful voyage and a sunken ship.
#3 — Descent: Legends of the Dark
An app-driven, cooperative dungeon crawler with gorgeous miniatures! Descent: Legends of the Dark is a more approachable fantasy adventure game than most others in the genre—thanks Fantasy Flight Games!
Forge your own legend together with friends as you adventure across the vibrant fantasy realm of Terrinoth. Powered by an integrated free companion app, Descent puts you in the role of a budding hero with your own playstyle and abilities.
Together with your unlikely companions, you’ll begin an unexpected adventure — an adventure told across the sixteen quests of the “Blood and Flame” campaign.
Throughout your campaign, you’ll face undead lurking in the mists, demonic barbarians stalking the wilds, and even more terrifying threats. With 46 pieces of 3D terrain and 40 hero and monster miniatures to draw you into the game, your greatest adventure is yet before you! Your objectives will change from quest to quest as you follow the overarching story of the campaign.
#2 — Hadrian’s Wall
Back in April, Renegade Game Studios and Garphill Games published this strategic hand-management flip-and-write—Hadrian’s Wall.
When visiting the North of Britannia in 122 AD, the Roman Emperor Hadrian Augustus witnessed the aftermath of war between his armies and the Picts. In a show of Roman might, he ordered a wall to be built that would separate the Pict tribes from the rest of England. Grand in its design, the wall stretched 80 Roman miles, from coast to coast.
Hadrian’s Wall stood in service to the Roman Empire for nearly 300 years before its eventual decline. Today, the wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the remains of the forts, towers, and turrets can still be explored.
In Hadrian’s Wall, players take on the role of a Roman General. You are placed in charge of the construction of a milecastle and bordering wall. Over six years (rounds), you construct forts and walls, man the defenses, and attract civilians. This is accomplished by building services and providing entertainment—all while defending the honor of the Roman Empire from the warring Picts. The player who can accumulate the most renown, piety, valor and discipline—whilst avoiding disdain—will prove to the Emperor they are the model Roman citizen and be crowned Legatus Legionis!
#1 — Roll Player Adventures
Our 2021 winner is this charming cooperative, fantasy-adventure game from Thunderworks Games! Roll Player Adventures is a stand-alone game in the Roll Player series—although you can use the characters you previously created in the original Roll Player if you want! Dice rolling, narrative choice, and paper-and-pencil storytelling create a well-balanced experience as you explore the world and develop your character!
In Roll Player Adventures, your battle-hardened heroes must defend the kingdom of Nalos and uncover a mystery that lies at the heart of the Abandoned Lands.
Navigate your missions with care. It’s up to you who to befriend and who to battle. Will you slay the giant troll or attempt to make peace; do the vampire’s bidding or defend the mysterious cultists he wants to destroy; or you remain loyal to king and country — or side with the enemies of Nalos? Whatever choices you make, someone will remember and respond!
[ Check out our Publisher Spotlight on Thunderworks Games ]
Roll Player Adventures is a co-operative storybook board game for 1-4 players set in the world of Roll Player. Players inhabit characters, face challenges, and make decisions that will change the story as they progress through eleven core adventures; and a replayable side quest.
Adventures does not require the Roll Player base game or any of its expansions to play. Pick from one of six pre-generated characters, or import a favorite Roll Player character. If you do import a character you’ve built in Roll Player, any expansions and promo cards/boards that were used previously may still be used!