Noble Knight Games’ Top Games of 2022
As tabletop gaming continued its meteoric renaissance last year, some games impacted gamers more than others. These games have flown off of our shelves consistently over the last 365 days. We’ll look at the board games, RPGs, war games, and minis that our customers couldn’t get enough of. Behold! Noble Knight Games‘ Top Games of 2022!
NKG’s Top 5 Board Games of 2022
First up are the top games of 2022 in the category of board games. These are the games that our customers bought the most over the last year.
It shouldn’t surprise many of you to see that Azul is in our top games list. The 2017 tabletop hit from Next Move Games is one of the most acclaimed titles of the last five years. The success of the initial Azul game led to a number of expansions and add-ons since then including:
- Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra
- Azul: Summer Pavilion
- Azul: Crystal Mosaic
- Azul: Queen’s Garden
- Azul: Master Chocolatier
Azul is a tile-placement game in which players compete for the highest score by claiming tiles and arranging them on their board to score points. Extra points are on offer for collecting sets of the same color of tile, or for creating particular patterns, while there are penalties for taking tiles that you’re unable to use. But every tile that you claim affects what your rivals can take next. You’ll have to make choices that help you without helping them too much!
#4 Forbidden Island
Publisher Gamewright‘s 2010 Forbidden Island is still a heavy contender. It’s cooperative, family-friendly, easy to learn, challenging, and very satisfying when you and your team survive! Much like Azul, Forbidden Island sparked excellent expansions in the following years:
Forbidden Island Overview
Dare to discover Forbidden Island! Join a team of fearless adventurers on a do-or-die mission to capture four sacred treasures from the ruins of this perilous paradise. Your team will have to work together and make some pulse-pounding maneuvers, as the island will sink beneath every step! Race to collect the treasures and make a triumphant escape before you are swallowed into the watery abyss!
#3 Lost Ruins of Arnak
Publisher Czech Games Edition and their 2020 title Lost Ruins of Arnak enjoyed a warm reception then and the hype has continued to grow. We weren’t surprised to see it amongst our top games for 2022! After the game’s initial success, Czech Games Edition released an expansion the following year: Lost Ruins of Arnak: Expedition Leaders. The expansion contains new leaders, each with different abilities, skills, and starting decks; as well as alternative research tracks, new item and artifact cards, more guardians, assisstants, and sites to explore!
Lost Ruins of Arnak Overview
Lost Ruins of Arnak combines deck-building and worker placement in a game of exploration, resource management, and discovery. In addition to traditional deck-builder effects, cards can also be used to place workers, and new worker actions become available as players explore the island. Some of these actions require resources instead of workers, so building a solid resource base will be essential. You are limited to only one action per turn, so make your choice carefully… what action will benefit you most now? And what can you afford to do later? (Assuming someone else doesn’t take the action first!)
#2 Final Girl
It’s not often that a purely solitaire game makes it to a top games list. Final Girl, however, is simply too clever and fun to be denied! The Final Girl Core Box is required for play, but isn’t playable on its own. You’ll need at least one of the Feature Film Boxes as well:
- Slaughter in the Groves
- The Haunting of Creech Manor
- Carnage at the Carnival
- Frightmare on Maple Lane
- The Happy Trails Horror
[ Read our Game Spotlight on Final Girl here! ]
Final Girl Overview
Playing on a famous horror movie trope, Final Girl is a solitaire-only game that puts the player in the shoes of a female protagonist who must kill the slasher if she wants to survive.
The Core Box, when combined with one of the Feature Film Boxes, has everything you need to play the game. Each Feature Film Box features a unique Killer and and iconic Location, and the more Feature Films you have, the more killer/location combinations you can experience!
In game terms, Final Girl shares similarities with Hostage Negotiator—also from Van Ryder Games—but with some key differences that change it up, including a game board to track locations and character movement. You can choose from multiple characters when picking someone to play and multiple killers when picking someone to play against. Killers and locations each have their own specific terror cards that will be shuffled together to create a unique experience with various combinations of scenarios for you to play!
A game about bird enthusiasts is very unassuming at first glance. But Wingspan, published in 2019 by Stonemaier Games, has been one of the hottest games around since its release. The game has beautiful art, high-quality components, and a just-right amount of complexity. It’s already three expansions deep with:
Wingspan is a competitive, medium-weight, card-driven, engine-building board game. It’s designed by Elizabeth Hargrave and features over 170 birds illustrated by Beth Sobel, Natalia Rojas, and Ana Maria Martinez.
You are bird enthusiasts—researchers, bird watchers, ornithologists, and collectors—seeking to discover and attract the best birds to your network of wildlife preserves. Each bird extends a chain of powerful combinations in one of your habitats (actions). These habitats focus on several key aspects of growth:
- Gain food tokens via custom dice in a birdfeeder dice tower
- Lay eggs using egg miniatures in a variety of colors
- Draw from hundreds of unique bird cards and play them
The winner is the player with the most points after 4 rounds!
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NKG’s Top 5 Roleplaying Games of 2022
Next we have the top games of 2022 in the category of roleplaying games. These are the games that our customers bought the most over the last year.
#5 Dungeon Crawl Classics
We saw a huge amount of interest in Dungeon Crawl Classics this year. Our DCC Day—and subsequent DCC Day Online—events we’re loads of fun. They had DCC RPG Core Rulebooks and adventure modules flying off the shelves. The DCC system—an Open Game License system that cross-breeds Appendix N with a streamlined version of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition—continues growing in popularity since its official release in 2012.
Some of the most popular DCC items over the last year have been:
- Dweller Between the Worlds
- The Croaking Fane
- Mercy on the Day of the Eel
- DCC Lankhmar Boxed Set
- The One Who Watches From Below
Dungeon Crawl Classic Overview
Glory & gold won by sorcery & sword!
You’re no hero.
You’re a reaver, a cutpurse, a heathen-slayer, a tight-lipped warlock guarding long-dead secrets. You seek gold and glory, winning it with sword and spell, caked in the blood and filth of the weak, the dark, the demons, and the vanquished. There are treasures to be won deep underneath, and you shall have them.
Return to the glory days of fantasy with the Dungeon Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game. Adventure as 1974 intended you to, with modern rules grounded in the origins of sword & sorcery. Fast play, cryptic secrets, and a mysterious past await you—turn the page…
The Traveller RPG has been around nearly as long as Dungeons & Dragons! It’s gone through many iterations with various publishers over the decades, but the distant-future, sci-fi roleplaying system flexed its staying power with the Traveller Core Rulebook Update 2022 this year.
Over forty years of development have given this universe a rich and layered trove of content!
Traveller is a science-fiction role-playing game set in the distant future, when humanity has made the leap to the stars and interstellar travel is as common as international travel is today. This means that Traveller is set against a background drawn from adventure-oriented science fiction literature, and the scope and breadth of the game are limited only by the imagination and skill of the players and their referee.
Players are no longer limited to wandering inside a single underground labyrinth, to exploring a single continent, or even a single world. In Traveller there is an entire universe to be explored. Almost any situation which occurs in any sci-fi novel, movie, or short story can be recreated in Traveller with a little work on the part of the referee.
In Traveller, mankind has conquered the stars, and travels from one stellar system to another as easily as present day Terrans can travel from one continent to another. The tremendous distances involved, however, dictate that interstellar voyages can take weeks, months, and sometimes even years. A situation similar to earth in the eighteenth century is created, where communication is limited to the speed of travel, and the stage is set for adventure in a grand fashion, with all the trappings of the classic space opera: giant, star-spanning empires—good, evil, or both—huge starfleets, wily interstellar merchants (or pirates, depending upon your point of view), complex diplomatic maneuvers, and larger than life heroes, heroines, and villains!
Paizo Inc. and their award-winning Pathfinder system always deliver, and it’s no surprise to see them on a top games list! Lots of gamers picked up the Pathfinder Core Rulebooks (both 1st Edition & 2nd Edition) this year, showing a strong interest from new players, and some of the most popular items have been:
Pathfinder is also derived from the Open Gaming License, evolving from the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rules set. Well over 50,000 people have downloaded the rules and posted feedback on the system making this arguably the most robust playtesting of any tabletop roleplaying game in history.
The Pathfinder RPG puts you in the role of a brave adventurer fighting to survive in a world beset by magic and evil!
Take on the role of a canny fighter hacking through enemies with an enchanted sword, a powerful sorceress blessed with magic by the hint of demon blood in her veins, a wise cleric of gods benevolent or malign, a witty rogue ready to defuse even the deadliest of traps, or any of countless other heroes. The only limit is your imagination!
#2 Cyberpunk Red
Cyberpunk RED from R. Talsorian Games might seem like it comes out of left field. But it’s the 4th Edition of the Cyberpunk series, first released in 1988. We saw a lot of purchases of the Cyberpunk RED Core Rulebook, and even more of the Cyberpunk RED Data Packs, so the evidence suggests that Cyberpunk is still going strong!
Cyberpunk RED Overview
The 4th Corporate War’s over and the big dogs have retreated to their corners to lick their wounds. That leaves everyone else to fend for themselves in a shattered world. And that’s just fine. ‘cause you’ve got interface plugs in your wrists, metal in your limbs, and chips in your skull. You’re wired in, loaded with chrome, and ready to take it to the Edge. There’s a world full of opportunities out there. Maybe this time you can do more than save yourself. Maybe…
[ Read our Game Spotlight for the Cyberpunk RPG ]
Welcome to the Time of the Red, Choomba! The Megacorporations spent decades wrecking everything and in the aftermath of their last War, everyone has to fend for themselves.
But that’s just fine. You can handle it. After all, in a world of vicious boostergangs, rampaging cyborgs, corporate assassins, and nihilistic doomsday cults, there’s only one rule: Always take it to the Edge.
Take the big risks, get the big rewards. Be the action, start the rebellion, light the fire. Never drive slow when you can blaze a trail.
#1 Dungeons & Dragons
Still the world’s #1 best-selling roleplaying game, Dungeons & Dragons continued its rise in popularity throughout 2022. The 5th Edition Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual led the pack, alongside other D&D items:
- Dragonlance – Shadow of the Dragon Queen
- Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel
- Into the Borderlands (5e)
- 5th Edition Starter Set
- Ghosts of Saltmarsh
Overview of Dungeons & Dragons
The first Dungeons & Dragons game was played back when Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson chose to personalize the massive battles of their fantasy wargames with the exploits of individual heroes. This inspiration became the first fantasy roleplaying game, in which players are characters in an ongoing fantasy story. This new kind of game has become immensely popular over the years, and D&D has grown to include many new ways to vividly experience worlds of heroic fantasy.
The core of D&D is storytelling. You and your friends may tell a story together, guiding your heroes through quests for treasure, battles with deadly foes, daring rescues, courtly intrigue, and much more. You can also explore the many worlds of D&D through any of the hundreds of novels written by today’s hottest fantasy authors, as well as engaging board games and immersive video games. All of these stories are part of D&D.
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NKG’s Top 5 War Games of 2022
Moving on, we have the top games of 2022 in the category of war games. These are the games that our customers bought the most over the last year.
#5 Donnerschlag: Escape from Stalingrad
Donnerschlag: Escape from Stalingrad, from publisher Vuca Simulations, is a two player game which is playable in one sitting. It is more of a game than a simulation and intended to bring high player interactivity and replayability to the tabletop.
From December 12 to December 23 in 1942, Unternehmen Wintergewitter—Operation Winter Storm—was in progress. This was the code name for a relief attack by Heeresgruppe Don to free the trapped Nazi 6th Army in Stalingrad.
The Axis formations entered with 50,000 men and 250 tanks, while the strength of the Soviet formations was reported to be about three times that. For the enterprise to have any chance of success, the troops in the encirclement had to break out and meet the advancing Axis troops. Therefore, the breakout had to be precisely coordinated with the advance of the relief troops and was to commence on the cue “Donnerschlag.” However, the breakout was never ordered, so the troops in Stalingrad were never able to be relieved. This sealed their fate.
Players will be recreating this episode, with the Axis side attempting to secretly establish and reach a meeting point, thus effectively freeing the 6th Army. Meanwhile, the Soviet forces will try to impede such outcome.
#4 Into the Woods – The Battle of Shiloh
Into the Woods: the Battle of Shiloh is the eighth installment of the Great Battles of the American Civil War series, published by GMT Games.
Into the Woods: the Battle of Shiloh includes ten scenarios. They range from division level contests on half sized maps to two-map battles depicting both the first and second day of the struggle. Experienced players will be able to play many of the scenarios in one sitting.
The game reflects the Confederate surprise, the “greenness” of many units on both sides, as well as the unique role Albert Sidney Johnston played in the Confederate attack.
#3 Salerno ’43
Salerno ‘43 from GMT Games is a regiment/brigade-level game on the Allied invasion of mainland Italy in September 1943. Two British and two American divisions land in the Bay of Salerno defended by the full strength 16th Panzer Division. The 16th is soon reinforced by five other German mechanized divisions.
For 8 days, the survival of the beachhead is in doubt. Emergency measures are taken to reinforce the beachhead with the 82nd Airborne Division. With their counter-attack stopped and the British Eighth Army approaching from the south, the Germans withdraw their left flank to avoid being trapped. However, their right flank stubbornly holds back the British from pushing north to Naples.
Salerno ’43 includes two scenarios: an 8-turn Invasion Scenario and a 24-turn Campaign Game. In the Campaign Game, the Allies must exit the north map edge by the end of September 1943. The Germans must delay the Allies to give time for the construction of the Gustav Line further north. The 8-turn scenario can be finished in an afternoon.
#2 RAF: The Battle of Britain, 1940
France has fallen. England stands alone against the might of a triumphant Germany, defended only by the Spitfire and Hurricane squadrons of the Royal Air Force. Hitler orders his mighty Luftwaffe to destroy the RAF in preparation for Operation Sealion—the invasion of England. German fighters and bombers fill the English skies and the RAF responds.
In RAF: The Battle of Britain, 1940 from Decision Games, you command the RAF or the Luftwaffe in history’s greatest air campaign—the Battle of Britain. Improving on his award winning solitaire classic, designer John Butterfield ramps up the historical accuracy, tension and play options with three complete games:
- RAF: Lion puts you in control of British Fighter Command, responding to German raids
- RAF: Eagle puts you in control of the Luftwaffe forces raiding England
- RAF: 2-Player pits you against a live opponent—one controlling Fighter Command and one controlling the Luftwaffe
#1 Midway Solitaire
Decision Games‘ Midway Solitaire follows the campaign in the Pacific Theater of Operations from April to June 1942. This period saw the Japanese take the offensive in two major campaigns including the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway—both decided by aircraft carrier actions.
You command the United States Navy and Allied forces while the game system controls the Imperial Japanese Navy. Take on the role of Adm. Nimitz in terms of the options available and decisions you can make to repel the Japanese Navy’s drive across the Pacific. You must defeat multiple naval offensives, each possessing superior numbers.
The key to winning is to balance your limited assets to meet the threats presenting themselves over the course of the game. The course of the war in the Pacific is at stake!
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NKG’s Top 5 Miniatures of 2022
Finally, these are the top miniatures of 2022. These are the minis that our customers bought the most over the last year.
#5 Gaslands (Implements of Carnage)
Osprey Games embraces kit-bashing in Gaslands Refuelled. The game is designed to be played with Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, for which they sell all manner of attachments and add-ons. We could barely keep their Implements of Carnage One and Two in stock last year! The rules and kit-bashing really let you lean into your maniacal creativity!
Shoot, ram, skid and loot your way through the ruins of civilization with Gaslands, a tabletop wargame of car-on-car destruction in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Players control small fleets of armed vehicles in battles for resources, dominance and survival.
With rules for multiple vehicle types (from motorbikes to big rigs), varied special weapons and accessories (including oil slicks, caltrops and nitro boosters), and a host of options for scenarios, environmental conditions, crew and campaigns, players can tailor games to match their own visions for an anarchic future.
#4 A Song of Ice & Fire (Starter Set – Stark vs. Lannister)
A Song of Ice & Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game is a competitive miniatures game from CoolMiniOrNot for two or more players. Each player controls one of the Great Houses of Westeros, commanding battlefield units, recruiting legendary Heroes, and manipulating the political stage, in the attempt to claim the greatest prize of all: The Iron Throne.
Featuring the two most recognizable Houses, the Stark vs. Lannister Starter Set was very popular, but we also saw lots of these go out the door:
- Baratheon Starter Set
- Neutral Heroes #2
- Frozen Shore Bear Riders
- Mormont She-Bears
- Stark Bowmen Unit
With accessible and streamlined gameplay designed by Eric M. Lang and Michael Shinall, A Song of Ice and Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game features five different Game Modes, Army Building and Customization options, and choices of Commanders and Attachments!
#3 Masters of the Universe (Battleground – Starter Set)
A blast from our past was a big seller last year. Archon Studio‘s tabletop miniatures game Masters of the Universe: Battleground mixed one of our favorite hobbies with one of our favorite IPs, dripping with nostalgia!
Experience fast, action-packed battles with the Masters of the Universe: Battleground miniature game, based on the beloved ‘Classics’ toy series.
Pick He-Man’s or Skeletor’s faction and compete with a second player to control the power of Eternia. Gear yourself up with various weapons and magical items, use the terrain in your favor. An innovative activation system and numerous character build combinations will make each game unique and exciting!
#2 D&D (Adult Dragons Premium Figures)
Wizkids is one of the most prolific miniature producers around and their dragons were some of the most popular in 2022. They come in all sizes and flavors, but these three were our most popular:
Honorable mentions here include:
#1 Kobzar Soloveiko, Nightingale Bard (Ukraine Relief)
Far and away, our most popular miniature in 2022 was the Kobzar Soloveiko, Nightingale Bard miniature.
Reaper Minis manufactured and sold this miniature—made from a sculpture donated by Jason Wiebe of Wibitiki Kaiju Company—to raise money for Ukraine relief in early 2022.
The Nightingale is the national bird of Ukraine, evoking the concept of sweet music heralding the arrival of Spring. The Ukrainian word for nightingale is ‘Soloveiko,’ sometimes used as a term of endearment.
Kobzar is the word for bard, and is often associated with the historical figure Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko, dubbed Kobzar Taras, who was convicted in 1847 for supporting the independence of Ukraine with his poetry.
And so, Kobzar Soloveiko, the Nightingale Bard, was born as a tribute the people of Ukraine.
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We’re grateful for another year of serving the incredible tabletop gaming community here in Madison, and across the world. We’re looking forward to gaming with you for many years to come!
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