2022 looks to be an especially exciting year for board game releases. After a number of delays last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing shipping crisis, a number of upcoming board games found their release dates sliding into 2022 - meaning this year should finally see them hit tabletops.
That’s even before you dive into the number of major Kickstarter projects and other crowdfunded campaigns due to deliver this year, including the highest-funded board game Kickstarter to date in Gloomhaven’s much-anticipated sequel Frosthaven.
Upcoming board games 2022
- Arcs: Collapse and Conflict in the Void
- Skull Canyon: Ski Fest
- Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar
- Horseless Carriage
- Untitled King of… Game
- Familiar Tales
- Wayfarers of the South Tigris
- Risk: Shadow Forces
- The Dark Quarter
- War of the Ring: The Card Game
Of course, we’ll also see some exciting board games hit Kickstarter in 2022 that could even find their way into backers’ hands by the end of the year - we’ve included some of the campaigns you won’t want to miss in our round-up of unmissable upcoming board games.
From sequels to beloved board games such as King of Tokyo and Risk Legacy, through to tabletop adaptations of beloved series such as Jurassic Park and Lord of the Rings, as well as completely original board game releases set to make their debut in 2022, the next 12 months are shaping up to be some of the best yet for the world of board games.
Let’s get stuck in with 11 of the hottest upcoming board games in 2022, including their expected release dates and why you should consider picking them up.
Gloomhaven’s long-awaited sequel finally crawls out of the dungeon
Release date: Expected Summer 2022
Isaac Childres’ board game opus Gloomhaven was as big as it was brilliant, packing dozens of hours of tactical dungeon-crawling and evocative storytelling into a cardboard-crammed box the size of a footstool.
Somehow, its upcoming sequel Frosthaven is already shaping up to be even bigger and better, blowing past its predecessor’s crowdfunding success to become the highest-funded board game of all time on Kickstarter - with almost $13 million raised - in the spring of 2020.
Two years on and Frosthaven is almost ready to send players on another adventure spanning dozens of unique scenarios, tied together into an epic ongoing campaign similar to a roleplaying game and brought to life by the permanently evolving world created by Frosthaven’s legacy board game elements.
New to Gloomhaven’s returning card-powered combat is the need to gather resources and gradually rebuild the titular settlement of Frosthaven, as well as the effect that changing seasons will have on the world, with colder months bringing tougher enemies to encounter.
Gloomhaven has quickly become a modern classic for fans of fantasy adventure, crunchy combat and players looking for a hefty RPG-in-a-box. By building on top of that sturdy foundation, Frosthaven promises to be not only the biggest board game release of 2022, but potentially one of the very best, too.
2. Arcs: Collapse and Conflict in the Void
Space strategy from the mind behind Root and Oath
Kickstarter date: H1 2022
Cole Wehrle has become one of board gaming’s most talked-about designers in recent years, with an impressive catalogue of games under his belt, from the historical depth of Pax Pamir and John Company to the woodland warfare of Root and the groundbreaking storytelling of last year’s not-quite-a-legacy-game Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile.
Wehrle’s next project looks to continue his trend of ambitious, complex tabletop experiences. Currently known as Arcs: Collapse and Conflict in the Void - though that name could well change before launch - the upcoming board game was described by the designer as emerging from “all sorts of odd ideas that didn't fit into [Oath]”.
Set in a sci-fi universe brought to life by the artwork of Root and Oath illustrator Kyle Ferrin, Arcs draws from the likes of roguelike video games in offering players short campaigns that are designed to be heavily replayable. Each three to five-hour campaign - broken into hour-long sessions called episodes - aims to provide a self-contained story created by the players as they play.
Because each campaign has its own beginning, middle and end - compared to Oath’s constantly evolving world - Arcs promises to let players get much more wild in the universe, wreaking havoc and ending up in significantly different positions from where they begin.
It might sound highly ambitious, but Wehrle also insists that Arc will be easier to learn and play than both Root and Oath, allowing even more players into what sounds like another fascinating sandbox for memorable stories. With Oath one of the best board games of last year, and Root ranking as one of the tabletop’s top titles to date, this is definitely one to keep an eye on.
3. Skull Canyon: Ski Fest
SSX: The Board Game?
Release date: April 13th 2022
Take the satisfying A-to-Z route-claiming competition of train board game Ticket to Ride, combine it with the downhill tricks of beloved snowboarding video game series SSX and top with a name that sounds like a superhero villain’s lair. The result? Skull Canyon: Ski Fest, the upcoming board game about racking up points as you cruise down snowy slopes.
The latest release from veteran Dinosaur Island and Machi Koro publisher Pandasaurus and major debut from newcomer designers Jason Klinke and Kip Noschese sees players completing runs down the titular mountain to score big.
Gameplay follows in the mould of Ticket to Ride’s familiar card-based set-collection, with players looking to search for cards that will help them to claim routes down the mountain ahead of their competitors, with tougher runs requiring more cards but rewarding greater point hauls.
As well as rival skiers and boarders, players will need to watch out for avalanches triggered by using too many yeti cards, which will force them down the slopes. The yeti doesn’t appear in name only, either - the Abominable Snowman itself will roam the mountain, cutting off areas and causing extra complications for players as they travel via lift in search of the biggest runs.
There’s also the option to gear up in the local village with resources and equipment, before heading back out onto the slopes. With a seriously cool theme and competition hot enough to melt the ice, Skull Canyon: Ski Fest looks to offer a thrilling downhill race from the comfort of your gaming table.
4. Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar
Build your own park and pray the dinosaurs don’t eat your visitors
Kickstarter date: March 22nd
Many of us have dreamt of creating our very own prehistoric amusement parks. Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar, a board game based on the series that began with the 1993 classic Jurassic Park, looks to fulfil that particular dream. Set to be developed by Prospero Hall, the studio behind fantastic licensed board games such as Disney Villainous and Horrified, Legacy of Isla Nublar is a legacy game that will loosely follow the events of the Jurassic World franchise, but with the players in the driving seat.
Players will be able to begin the game as one of several iconic characters - from Ellie Sattler to Dr John Hammond - who will have to survive the events of each of the five films in the franchise, before they can get to the building-a-dinosaur-park bit. Featuring a total of 12 adventures, which will each take about two hours to complete, the entire campaign will see players encountering a roster of dinos, from the gentle Brachiosaurus to the ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex, and even breeding their own.
Fans of the franchise are sure to get their kicks with Legacy of Isla Nublar and board gamers can rest assured that the creators at Prospero Hall have the pedigree to pull this off. Welcome to your next big legacy game.
5. Horseless Carriage
Take the roads by storm with an automobile empire in the newest game from Food Chain Magnate studio
Release date: Summer 2022
Splotter Spellen, the publisher behind the upcoming Horseless Carriage, has acquired a reputation for releasing board games designed for aspiring business moguls. The company’s most recognisable release is Food Chain Magnate, which sees players competing to dominate the food fast industry - with eye-catching 1950s-inspired imagery included - and it looks like the studio isn’t swerving away from its comfort zone anytime soon.
Horseless Carriage, which was revealed late last year, has players becoming business tycoons of the 19th century. The invention of the horseless carriage - or, as most of us know it, the car - may have been a revolutionary step for engineering progress, but most of the general public was extremely wary of this new vehicle. As the owners of an automotive company, the players will need to do everything in their power to overcome people’s uncertainties in order to sell as many cars as they can. The more cars players manage to sell, the more money they’ll earn and the more potential rival businesses they’ll be able to scoop up into their growing empire.
Players who enjoy Food Chain Magnate, similar business-building board games or even have a passion for automotive history may want to pay attention to Horseless Carriage.
6. Untitled King of… Game
After tearing up Tokyo and New York, the monster board game series heads… somewhere
Release date: October 2022
Revealed at last year’s Essen Spiel board game convention, the next entry in the ‘King of’ series after King of Tokyo and King of New York is due to make a monster impression when it releases at this year’s Essen Spiel event this autumn.
While we don’t know loads about the upcoming board game just yet (even its full name remains a mystery for now!), we have seen hints that it will involve a new coastal setting - teased by a new sea creature monster shown in a sandy setting next to a volcano and palm trees. The monster itself looks to be a new addition to King of Tokyo and New York’s roster of Godzilla-like kaiju, featuring fins, a sea snail shell and crab-like claws, as well as appearing next to smaller monster tokens.
Created by Richard Garfield - the mind behind Magic: The Gathering and Android: Netrunner - the ‘King of’ games see players throwing down in famous cities as enormous creatures. Players roll dice to score points, deal damage to their opponents, heal up and perform powerful special abilities. They also have the option to claim a space on the city board for bonus points, but with the risk of attracting their rivals’ attacks.
Last year marked a decade since King of Tokyo’s debut, with eight years having passed since King of New York’s release - making a full sequel one of the biggest board game releases of 2022.
7. Familiar Tales
If you thought saving the world from an evil sorcerer was tough, try raising a child
Release date: January 2022
After Plaid Hat Games went independent, we were worried it wouldn’t be making any more of the larger, narrative-driven co-op games the studio was best known for - such as Dead of Winter and Mice and Mystics . Of course, these fears were quickly assuaged by the release of the pirate-themed Forgotten Waters and the announcement of Familiar Tales, the next board game from Jerry Hawthorne, the creator of the beloved Mice and Mystics and Stuffed Fables.
Releasing alongside an app featuring voice acting from the likes of Justin McElroy and ProZD, Familiar Tales sees players working together as a quartet of unusual allies as they protect a child princess from the sorcerer who usurped her throne. Besides deckbuilding elements that will enable players to improve their individual decks and level-up their characters, the upcoming board game will have players making narrative decisions that could affect how their young charge develops and eventually acts when she takes back her crown.
Hawthorne has certainly proven that they can design a great fantasy-inspired co-op game, but the parental aspects are really what make Familiar Tales stand-out from the crowd. Players will have to wait and see whether the upcoming board game manages to pull off its grand ideas.
8. Wayfarers of the South Tigris
The next trilogy of board games from the Raiders of the North Sea studio kicks off this year
Kickstarter date: Spring 2022
Beginning with Shipwrights of the North Sea in 2014, Garphill Games has released two trilogies of board games, each based on a significantly different period and place of history. Whilst the North Sea trilogy focused on the Viking empire of Norway, the West Kingdom series took inspiration from central Europe during the Middle Ages. It looks like the publisher is time-travelling once again with its newest set of historical board games, which will transport players to Baghdad during the Abbasid Caliphate and Golden Age of Islam.
Called Wayfarers of South Tigris, the upcoming board game will feature mechanics centred around a traditional d6, with players taking the role of explorers, cartographers and astronomers who must chart their way throughout the seas and land surrounding Baghdad. During their journeys, the players must carefully manage and upgrade their respective caravans to ensure that they can keep going and send their findings back to the guilds of Baghdad. Whoever successfully impresses the nobles and Caliph the most is the winner of Wayfarers of South Tigris.
Whilst there are several reasons why Garphill Games has acquired such a pedigree in the board game industry and community, the North Sea and West Kingdom trilogies are a big part of it. Here’s hoping that Wayfarers of South Tigris continues this particular trend.
9. Risk: Shadow Forces
After 10 years of waiting, Risk Legacy - the game that birthed an entire genre - is getting a sequel
Release date: Autumn 2022
Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 might be the more recognisable legacy board game, but it’s not the original. The 2011 release of Risk Legacy marked the birth of an entirely new genre of board game, one that had players deliberately doing the unthinkable - tearing their components apart. A decade and several other legacy games later, and it looks like the original Risk Legacy is finally getting a follow-up in the form of Risk: Shadow Forces, an upcoming board game taking place in the not-so-distant future of 2050.
Rather than the classic national factions found in the original Risk Legacy, Shadow Forces features several rival factions that are more closely inspired by modern corporations and organisations. Players take control of a specific warlord, each of whom have their own abilities and agendas, and can combine them with one of the various factions. With their chosen faction and leader, players can decide whether to embark on global battles - which operate in a similar fashion to the original Risk Legacy - or covert missions, which are smaller-scale skirmish encounters whose outcome will have a direct impact on the game’s map.
As players progress through the game, they’ll open sealed envelopes which will give them access to new elements and mechanics. You can also expect lots of ripping up of components as well. With Risk Legacy playing a major part in board game history, you’d be remiss to not try out its follow-up.
10. The Dark Quarter
Experience New Orleans during the 1980s in this 18+ horror board game
Crowdfunding date: Q1 2022
Lucky Duck Games is a studio that’s perhaps best known for the Chronicles of Crime series, board games in which the players become detectives searching for the answers to several unsolved cases. With its hybrid tabletop and augmented reality design, Chronicles of Crime proved that apps could do more in a board game than just record player scores, but could offer an entirely fresh experience that allowed players to get stuck into a deeper narrative than you’d usually expect.
The publisher looks to be doubling-down on this style of board game with this year’s spate of releases, including an intriguing looking horror game called The Dark Quarter. Taking place in New Orleans during the 1980s - a setting that we’ve yet to see featured in a board game - The Dark Quarter will reportedly include an open world that players will be able to explore, much like one of Lucky Duck’s previous games, Destinies. Also like Destinies, The Dark Quarter will have a heavy focus on narrative and character progression, with players able to become engrossed in a story inspired by the Creole heritage and communities that New Orleans is known for.
Though its exact use has not yet been confirmed, The Dark Quarter will be released alongside a companion app that will have players interacting with digital elements as well as the game’s physical components. With its 18+ age rating, The Dark Quarter is looking to be a horror board game that fright-fans won’t want to skip.
11. War of the Ring: The Card Game
The Lord of the Rings board game gets a faster, smaller - but no less epic - spin-off
Release date: Expected H2 2022
Middle-earth is one of the most popular fantasy worlds on the tabletop, with Lord of the Rings board games ranging from RPG-like adventures to tactical co-op card games and even its own Warhammer spin-off. Even so, amongst the many board games based on JRR Tolkien’s world of elves, dwarves and hobbits, War of the Ring stands out as the very best.
Recreating the whole of the book trilogy, from Fellowship of the Ring through to Return of the King, War of the Ring puts players in control of the assembled Free Peoples - as well as the Fellowship making their way to Mordor - and the forces of Sauron and Saruman opposing them. It’s a fittingly epic experience, offering a truly faithful adaptation of the intense battle for Middle-earth that plays out over a number of hours - all of them well spent.
Like the original board game, the upcoming War of the Ring: The Card Game will squeeze the entire saga of Frodo and the Fellowship into a single session. What’s new is that the board game’s dice have been swapped for cards, and the rules have been simplified to allow for an easier, faster experience without sacrificing the immersion and depth that made War of the Ring so beloved.
Once again, players will face off as the assembled factions of Middle-earth - Rohan, Gondor, elves, dwarves and more on one side, against the orcs, Uruk-Hai and other denizens of Mordor and Isengard on the other. Players will take turns to play a single card from their hand and discard another, either helping the Ring-bearer in his journey to Mount Doom or attempting to seek him out and take back the One Ring.
After a delay from its planned release last year, War of the Ring: The Card Game will now see a direct retail release, currently expected in the second half of 2022. It will be followed by an expansion that increases the original four player count up to six people, with a release date for that yet to be confirmed.