This year’s Tabletop Awards have been announced, crowning the best board game, roleplaying game, designers and publishers of 2022!
Our inaugural awards event received dozens of nominations across seven categories, looking to recognise the most outstanding games, creators and talent of the last 12 months. Nominations spanning blockbuster releases and hidden indie gems, established names and those rising stars already making their mark on the industry.
From those nominations, our panel of expert judges - including journalists, influencers, designers, artists and other prominent members of the tabletop gaming industry - voted to determine a shortlist of finalists, before casting their final vote to decide the overall winner in each category. Let’s get on with revealing the winners, shall we?
Receiving the Tabletop Award for Best Board Game was Flamecraft! In designer Manny Vega’s adorable game of dragon traders, players look to place the fire-breathing artisans in suitable shops so they can earn the most reputation with their talented flamecraft.
Sandara Tang’s delightful artwork brings the heartwarming theme alive, while Vega’s gameplay balances the engine-building, combo-making and worker-placement strategy of collecting items, casting enhancements and placing dragons with a light, beginner-friendly touch. Playing in just an hour, Flamecraft is a delight through and through, from its vibrant visuals and charming shop names to its engrossing yet accessible gameplay - easily making it one of 2022’s standout board games.
Coyote & Crow was named as the Best Roleplaying Game at the Tabletop Awards 2022. Released this April after a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign in the spring of last year, the tabletop RPG takes place in an alternate-history world where colonisation of the Americas never took place, allowing its Indigeous inhabitants to blossom into a technologically and spiritually advanced society.
The game sprung from the mind of creator Connor Alexander of the Cherokee Nation, joined by a team of Indigeous writers, artists and other creators. The groundbreaking setting is paired with an original gameplay system that de-emphasises combat in favour of narrative resolution, balancing a deep d12 dice system with a rules-light approach to world-building inspired by Native American storytelling.
In Dicebreaker’s own review, Chez called Coyote & Crow “a joyous, respectful celebration of Native American storytelling”, writing: “By imagining a world where colonisation never occurred, Coyote & Crow doesn’t treat indigenous Americans as victims or fodder for cultural analogues, but rather the heroes of their own stories.”
Our Tabletop Awards category recognising the best release in 2022 for a trading, collectible, living or otherwise expandable card game, Best Ongoing Card Game, was won by Flesh and Blood: Everfest.
Released in February as a carnival-themed set for the MTG-rivalling competitive trading card game, Everfest introduced new cards for every one of Flesh and Blood’s heroes in its almost 200-strong card list. Even more importantly, Everfest first edition’s booster packs are claimed to use the world’s first fully recyclable paper booster pack wrappers in place of conventional plastic - something that maker Legend Story Studios has vowed to use when possible in future releases for the TCG.
2022’s Designer of the Year, celebrating an established tabletop creator with at least three releases under their belt, is Banana Chan. Known for creating narrative-driven roleplaying games that tell meaningful, diverse stories, such as Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall and An Exquisite Crime, Chan also has credits on games from Dungeons & Dragons 5E book Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft and the Dune RPG to rules-light gem Kids on Bikes and board game Sea of Legends.
Among Chan’s latest projects are Deimos Academy - a GM-less horror RPG played inside a colouring book - the latest third edition of Betrayal at House on the Hill and an upcoming board game based on horror movie series Child's Play. Acclaimed for the invention, ambition and rich atmosphere of their work, Chan continues to push the boundaries of storytelling and gameplay on the tabletop as one of the medium’s finest designers.
The first Tabletop Award for Publisher of the Year went to Free League Publishing, the prolific Swedish outlet known for roleplaying games from Alien: The RPG and Symbaroum to Mörk Borg and Tales from the Loop.
This year alone saw Free League release its second edition of Lord of the Rings RPG The One Ring - having smashed Kickstarter records with its crowdfunding campaign last year - run a successful Kickstarter for the Blade Runner RPG - which is now arriving with backers - and announce a brand new miniatures game based on long-running RPG Mutant.
Continuing its reputation for releasing atmospheric, inventive indie darlings drawn from Nordic folklore while also branching further into licensed titles and adaptations for Dungeons & Dragons 5E during 2022, Fria Ligan looks set to ascend even further into the echelons of roleplaying royalty.
Rising Star: Designer - the first of two Rising Star awards celebrating up-and-coming creators with two or fewer releases to date - was taken home by Lottie and Jack Hazell, the husband-and-wife, designer-publisher pair behind this year’s dog-walking board game Dog Park.
With Lottie providing the creative heart of their board games as lead designer and Jack driving the analytics and attention to detail behind publishing label Birdwood Games, the couple saw their debut title successfully funded to the tune of over £290,000 on Kickstarter last year.
Dog Park’s full release this year has since propelled more than 40,000 copies off shelves, and seen the game translated into a dozen different languages - as well as helping directly support British charity Guide Dogs with a lifetime share of revenue from the game’s sales.
Coyote & Crow Games, the fledgling studio behind the groundbreaking roleplaying game of the same name, scooped its second award of the show in Rising Star: Publisher.
Led by owner Connor Alexander, Coyote & Crow represents a tidal change for Native American representation on the tabletop, with the studio bringing together dozens of writers, artists and other creators - the majority being American Indian - to quickly follow up on the tabletop RPG’s acclaimed success.
Those plans include a new set of adventures for Coyote & Crow in Stories of the Free Lands, this year’s release of standalone dice game Naasii, and two more tabletop games planned to arrive in 2023 - all of which put Native creators and themes front and centre. Already boasting a seriously impressive list of achievements for such a young studio, the publisher looks set to become an even louder voice in the industry in the years to come.
Joining our jury-voted awards was the People’s Choice award - as voted for by you, the public. Thousands of votes were cast for dozens of games, representing the sheer breadth of tabletop gaming. Ultimately, though, one game came out the victor: Beam Saber!
Austin Ramsay’s roleplaying game of giant, powerful mechs and their fragile human pilots received hundreds of votes, winning players over with its combination of high-action, tactical gameplay - a clever evolution of the Forged in the Dark system used in Blades in the Dark that sees players divide time between intense battles and character-driven downtime between fights - and exploration of the physical and psychological costs of war.
Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination, our panel of industry judges and all who voted for the People’s Choice award! The Tabletop Awards will return next year - keep an eye on the Tabletop Awards website to find out more. For now, please join us in celebrating our Tabletop Awards 2022 winners!
Tabletop Awards 2022 winners
(Runners-up arranged in alphabetical order.)
Best Board Game
- Designer: Manny Vega
- Artist: Sandara Tang
- Publisher: Cardboard Alchemy, Lucky Duck Games
Runners-up: Crescent Moon, Three Sisters, Undaunted: Stalingrad
Best Roleplaying Game
Coyote & Crow
- Designer: Connor Alexander (Cherokee Nation), William McKay (Manitoba Métis Federation), Weyodi Oldbear (Numunu), Derek Pounds (Samish), Nico Albert (Cherokee Nation), Riana Elliot (Cherokee), Diogo Nogueira, William Thompson (Cherokee Nation)
- Artist: Tate Allen (Choctaw), Kyle Charles (Whitefish Lake First Nation), Phil Cohen, Dale Deforest (Diné), Jillian Dolan (Métis/Cree), Sadekaronhes Esquivel (Kanyen’kehá:ka/Mexican Indigenous), Emma Flowers (Crow), Elijah Forbes (Waganakising Oadawak), Al Harris (Lumbee), Amélie Hutt, Mackenzie Neal (Quapaw Nation), Brian Roanhorse (Navajo), Heather Snell (Lakota/Dakota), Jesse Thompson, Wolf Tomoyaketu (Comanche/Apache), Charles Utting, Jeffrey Veregge (S’Klallam), Kameron White (Chahta/Tsalagi), Matthew Willetto (Navajo), Lawrence Willie (Paiute), Nala J. Wu
- Publisher: Coyote & Crow Games
Runners-up: Avatar Legends, Ironsworn: Starforged, The One Ring: Second Edition
Best Ongoing Card Game
Flesh & Blood: Everfest
- Designer: James White
- Artist: Robbie Wen, MJ Fetesio, Sam Yang
- Publisher: Legend Story Studios
Runners-up: The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – Revised Core Set, Magic: The Gathering - Dominaria United, Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield - Astral Radiance
Designer of the Year
Runners-up: Cezar Capacle, Colin Le Sueur, James Kniffen, Jeeyon Shim, Jonny Pac, Lynne Hardy, Paul Dennen, Will Jobst
Publisher of the Year
Free League Publishing
Runners-up: Games Omnivorous, Lucky Duck Games, Plus One Exp
Rising Star: Designer
Lottie and Jack Hazell
Runners-up: Connor Alexander, Duke Harrist, Gwendolyn Clark, Kavita Poduri, Mabel Harper, Mario Ortegon, N.L. Morrison, Seb Pines, Viditya Voleti
Rising Star: Publisher
Coyote & Crow Games
Runners-up: Adder Stone Games, Birdwood Games, Chapbook Co-op, Dinoberry Press, Possible Worlds Games
- Designer: Austin Ramsay
- Artist: Vincent Patrick, Hadrian, Atlas Sellman, Christine Blight, Jess Whitmore, Imani Kelker, No_Tables, Andrew Ferris, Roberto Zoreda Ichaso, Mal Peters
- Publisher: Austin Ramsay