Throughout 2023 the overseas shipping crisis more or less resolved itself, allowing the busy board game release schedule to resume full-throttle. Consuming all of these titles, however, is like drinking from a fire hose, and 2024 looks to be just as splashy and bombastic as the year that came before. Here are eight promising new board games that have caught our eye.
Our list of the most anticipated board games of 2024 ranges all over the hobby. It includes novel experiences based on hugely popular video game franchises like Metal Gear Solid as well as historical titles that will focus on unique moments in human history. 2024 will also see the debut of the the first major board game based on the popular roguelite genre of video games. Of course, there’a also a decades-old classic board game returning with renewed vigor in a new format.
Here’s all the board games to keep an eye on in 2024.
Publisher: Mindclash Games
Two factions locked in eternal war over a chunk of land: a tale as old as humankind. In Ironwood, each player controls a highly asymmetric fantasy warband in a rules-light card-driven battle. It comes across as Unmatched, but with small armies instead of singular warriors and a trusty sidekick.
The Ironclad seek to lay down forges in the outer mountains, while the Woodwalkers attempt to locate their people’s lost totems. The factions are colorful and evocative, enhancing the rich sense of setting.
What’s interesting about Ironwood is that it’s coming from Mindclash Games, a design studio known for big experiences such as the time-traveling epic Anachrony and the complex tabletop 4X game Voidfall. Ironwood is much more restrained, promising an hourlong conflict with accessible rules, while still maintaining drama and depth.
Dead Cells: The Rogue-Lite Board Game
Publisher: Le Scorpion Masqué
Video-game-to-tabletop adaptations have been a noteworthy trend in recent years. 2024 will see several such big-name releases, including Call of Duty: The Board Game, Apex Legends: The Board Game, and yes, Dead Cells: The Rogue-Lite Board Game. After raising nearly $1.1 million on Kickstarter, this game is poised to emerge with much fanfare in 2024.
This cooperative dungeon crawler has been developed by Le Scorpion Masqué, the design group behind 2023 hit Sky Team. Players will explore an ever-changing castle while upgrading character powers, slaughtering enemies, and eventually dying. Death does not end the adventure; instead, it yields cells, which are spent to buy permanent mutations and attain greater power. Then the process repeats. It looks phenomenal and promises the first major roguelite board game experience.
Bretwalda throws players into Britain in the Early Middle Ages, when the continent was under constant siege by Vikings and inner political turmoil was tearing the kingdom apart. This is a storied era of Britain’s history and was depicted in the underrated Netflix series The Last Kingdom. That show received its own similarly underrated board game in 2023, but this new asymmetric title from publisher Phalanx looks to be a more complex and riveting area-control game for up to four players.
Each participant takes command of one of the four kingdoms — Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria, and East Anglia — and spends their limited actions to develop their territory, invade that of others, and accomplish secret objectives. It contains political as well as military strife, with a simple yet interesting economic system.
Publisher: Bitewing Games
It’s said that once per century, at the stroke of midnight on a Crimson Moon, the Spectral Manor materializes. Within this ghostly homestead lies unimaginable treasure waiting to be claimed. Unfortunately, it also houses deadly curses and horrific specters.
Spectral, from Bitewing Games, has players controlling competing bands of treasure hunters that enter the manor and race to uncover the spoils. Deduction, bidding, and bluffing will all be used to uncover and exploit the secrets within. This is a very attractive design with a sharp veneer and novel premise. Expected to clock in at a brief 30 minutes, this is the type of game that may find constant play.
Metal Gear Solid: The Board Game
While a large part of the appeal of Metal Gear Solid: The Board Game is the intellectual property, this design is particularly interesting due to the involvement of designer Emerson Matsuuchi. He has shown skill in nailing stealth-based gameplay with the exceptional Specter Ops, and it’s easy to imagine him accomplishing something special with this video game adaptation.
This fully cooperative miniatures board game follows the Metal Gear Solid storyline, ripped straight from the 1998 PlayStation game. Players take on the roles of Solid Snake, Meryl Silverburgh, Dr. Hal “Otacon” Emmerich, and the cyborg Gray Fox. You must sneak to avoid detection as you complete objectives and achieve progress in the multi-scenario campaign. Each mission allows for multiple approaches and creative problem solving, a quality that is greatly enhanced by the highly dynamic enemy AI. If this is half as good as it sounds, this game could be one of the best of the year.
Hunt for Blackbeard
Publisher: Fort Circle Games
Fort Circle Games released one of the best games of 2023 in Votes for Women. The publisher’s attention to detail and approach to capturing rich historical topics has me intensely interested in the upcoming Hunt for Blackbeard.
This two-player game captures the confrontation in 1718 between the legendary pirate Blackbeard and Royal Navy Lieutenant Robert Maynard. Players commit to actions behind their screen, selecting between options such as preparing defenses, sailing, scouting, and planning piracy. The hunter will try to discover Blackbeard’s trail and pursue their quarry, while the pirate seeks to evade their foes and pursue plunder. If the two collide, boarding ensues and the victor wins the game. Hunt for Blackbeard looks to be dramatic and memorable and a very playable historical simulation.
Crossbows & Catapults: Castle Battle
Publisher: Restoration Games
While not quite as historical as Hunt for Blackbeard, Crossbows & Catapults does have a strong history. I still have a partially complete copy from the ’80s sitting in my parents’ basement, so I am excited for this reimagining of the classic game where you shoot physical projectiles at your opponent’s pieces.
This fresh reimagining is in the hands of Restoration Games, a group of developers that are responsible for the skilled reworks of Return to Dark Tower and Thunder Road: Vendetta. The one area of concern is that this idea has already been done. Catapult Kingdom released in 2021 and took inspiration from the classic Crossbows & Catapults. But it lacks the overall scope and vision of the newly launched Crossbows & Catapults: Castle Battle. The new Restoration Games entry features refined siege weapons, ditching rubber bands for pinch- and spring-fired components. It also boasts more brick options, allowing for more creative construction. Lastly, there is a bit more game here with a two-action system and dynamic card play. It will be interesting to see how this one shakes out and whether it lives up to the legendary name of the original.
Fateforge: Chronicles of Kaan
Publisher: Mighty Boards
Fateforge: Chronicles of Kaan is a cooperative action-adventure fantasy game that looks rad as can be. It’s structured as a campaign storyline that is app-driven and feature-rich, but it’s also powered by an evolution of a fantastic dice-based combat system found in Mighty Boards’ previous title, Vengeance. Players roll dice and then spend combinations of rolled symbols to enact powerful actions.
This combination of a smooth and well-iterated combat engine with a sophisticated overarching story is the appeal of Fateforge. Designer Gordon Calleja has been refining this game and its concepts for years, and the hope is that it results in something truly magnificent.