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  • Writer's pictureInstant Game Night

A look back on my most anticipated games for 2021

At the beginning of last year, I published my first-ever “most anticipated games” list for 2021. This list consisted of several new releases as well as many older games which I had not gotten around to playing yet. Today we look back at that list and reveal whether or not I got around to playing all these games, and if so, whether they lived up to the hype!

So without further ado, let’s dive in.


10. Fort

I purchased Fort through the second-hand BGG marketplace early on in 2021. I managed to play it several times with my wife and, unfortunately for me, it absolutely did not click for her. She really did not enjoy how fiddly the game felt along with all the iconography it presented. For me personally, I thought the game was fine. It was a bit disappointing, as I was expecting to really like Fort, but as it turns out, this one was just a bit of a forgettable deck builder that is now no longer in my collection.

9. Dice Forge

I managed to acquire Dice Forge just in the nick of time – Christmas 2021. Despite this, I did mange to get two plays in before the end of the year – one with 3 players and one with 2 players.

The first thing I will say about Dice Forge is that I really enjoy the decisions within the game. The choice between upgrading your dice and collecting various cards to create chain reactions is very satisfying to me. I’m not sure I was expecting this game to revolve so much around engine building, but I really enjoyed it and this is one game that did live up to the hype.

I do have to say though, that the game is fiddly. The customizable die faces are a really great idea but getting them on and off is a bit of a chore. As is tear down after the game, as you have to rebuild the starting dice and get all the faces back in the proper spot on the market board. Other than this though, Dice Forge has been a winner so far!

8. Targi

Cue the biggest disappointment for us in 2021. This was one of my most anticipated games to try with my wife. So often, it is just my wife and I playing board games, so I was determined to buy some great 2 player games this past year. I was sure this would be a winner based on the almost universal praise this game receives. However, after just a couple plays I immediately sold the game from my collection. Why? Quite simply, we found the game way too brutal and cutthroat to be fun. With such a small board and such tight placement restrictions, it was a virtual guarantee that when the other player took their turn that they were going to wreak havoc on your strategy.

I am not one who finds conflict particularly frustrating in games, but it was so front and center in this game that I was just angry the entire time I was playing it. Ultimately, it felt like there was so much you could accomplish but you ended up doing very little of what you set out to achieve. For many I can understand the appeal of this type of tight 2 player game. But for us, it was possibly the biggest flop I’ve ever experienced.

7. Chinatown

Unfortunately this has not been one I have managed to track down and play yet. I’m not sure if I will anytime soon either. With so much of my gaming sessions being two players, I’m not sure I can justify this purchase. Perhaps I will look for it at a game café the next time the family and I venture out.

6. Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

I am embarrassed to say this one hasn’t made it to my collection yet either. It will very likely be high on my 2022 list for purchase though.

5. Honey Buzz

After the disappointment of Targi and Fort, I am happy to report that Honey Buzz certainly lived up to the hype. This game, aside from being beautifully produced, is a wonderful relaxing puzzle that I could sit and play for hours. In fact, I have probably played this one solo more than at any other player count. I enjoy Honey Buzz so much that it might even sneak into my Top 10 games of all-time list. Highly recommend!

4. Red Outpost

I have not managed to acquire this game yet but I am hot on the search and still very much look forward to trying this unique worker placement game out.

3. Furnace

Furnace is a tale of good and bad. The good – I really enjoy this bidding/engine building game. It is one of my top games from last year. The bidding is fascinating as you plan to lose bids just as much (if not more) than winning them. And the engine building is straightforward yet very puzzly and crunchy. Now for the bad - no one I’ve played this game with enjoyed it much. It might have something to do with the fact that I’m quite good at it. But without any willing participants, I am sad to say this one may have to leave my collection at some point. But I do highly recommend the game and truly believe that it did live up to my expectations.

2. Lost Ruins of Arnak

Ok, this game rocks. There has been so much hype surrounding this game, and for good reason. The combination of deck building, exploration, and resource gathering is such an enjoyable puzzle. It really feels like there are multiple different paths to victory and that all of them are equally valid. But I also enjoy that you have to do a little bit of everything – you can’t simply ignore some aspects of the game (at least I haven’t been able to win that way).

What’s more, my wife and brother also love the game. With a really good solo mode and a new expansion to boot, this is for sure one of my top 10 favorite games of all time!

1. Canvas

I am so torn with Canvas. The game is absolutely beautiful and innovative. The gimmick of transparent cards is a good one, and the artwork you have created by the end is so very satisfying. However, the game is now no longer in my collection. It was a really difficult decision, but ultimately, the game just didn’t hit out table when we had other options. I think the chief reason is how light the game is. There just isn’t much to the game, which I’m typically not against. However, this just felt more like a fun activity than a game, and for that reason I have to say that my first ever Kickstarter purchase was a bit of a letdown. However, I would buy it all over again just for the experience that this package provides. I applaud the designers and look forward to seeing more of their work in the future!

Final Thoughts

And so there you have it. A bit of a mixed bag overall and still many games I haven’t gotten around to trying yet. Here’s to another great year of gaming. I hope everyone has a great 2022!

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