The Most Anticipated Board Games Of 2024

By Dan Layton

It’s a brand new year, and I would politely suggest that your Kallax unit isn’t full enough. I appreciate that it might be bursting at the seams, but seams are meant to be burst. And the thing about IKEA is that you can always get more. Pop them on top. Pop them next to it. The possibilities are endless. The wonderful every day, indeed.

But while my Best of IKEA list has yet to be greenlit (though I live in hope), I HAVE been allowed to talk to you about the very best board games that will be roaring to a table top near you in 2024. There are some fantastic ones to choose from, some brand new and some variations on a well known theme.

Before we dive into the list proper, an honourable mention to some of the ones to watch:
-The Dark Quarter
-Dragon Eclipse
-Cascadia Rolling Hills
-Quacks of Quedlinburg: Duel

We’re excited to open their boxes and take a look at what they have in offer! In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at our picks for the year ahead.

Wyrmspan

“You’re an amateur dracologist,” begins the description from publisher Stonemaier games, and honestly that’s all you need to say to lock me in. Being a noble dragonriding knight would be a colossal disaster for me. Studying and learning about the majestic beasts from a safe distance? Fabulous.

Sharing elements of gameplay with its predecessor, Wingspan – chief among which are over 150 beautifully illustrated dragon cards – this is a game all about finding and studying dragons in their natural habitat. You go about your business excavating spaces in your caves to lure dragons into living there for your academic benefit, harnessing their abilities and earning favour along the way with the Dragon Guild.

While it’s not compatible with Wingspan, it builds on the mechanisms that game established while creating a unique experience of its own.

Thunder Road Vendetta Expansion

I spent a particularly exciting afternoon playing Thunder Road Vendetta last Summer. I’ve never felt a more primal thrill than blasting my opponent’s Eliminator clean off the board, only to see my dreams dashed as I span off into an oil slick and fell victim to engines blown up as I was hoisted on my own petard.

The game – itself an update of an 80s classic – has had a few expansions to date, and is due to add another to its ranks with a Kickstarter launching in early 2024 for “Carnival of Chaos”. Promising an “all new way to play,” and the addition of a fifth player, Restoration seem intent on making their game bigger, bolder and littering it with the unpredictability that makes Vendetta a must have for any gamer’s shelves.

Fromage

Utterly twee in the most joyous sense of the world, in this game you are a cheesemaker, running a creamery with the sole purposes of crafting the most exceptional cheeses in all of France. I couldn’t love that concept more.

The board itself is split into wedges that come together to make a wheel of cheese. With each turn of the wheel, your cheeses age. Once they’re ripened, you can sell them to the various regions. Some take longer than others, but may well be worth the wait. It’s a worker-placement game of strategy and patience, and demands to be accompanied with a well stocked cheeseboard to snack on while you play.

(It was a mistake to write this entry before lunch.)

Queen’s Dilemma

A sequel to the award-winning King’s Dilemma, set a hundred years later, The Queen’s Dilemma comes with a brand new story and sees a development of the Dilemma Card system that was the signature of the original.

The game seems bold in its scope and ambition, reworking many of the aspects that made its predecessor so successful in an attempt to make this new edition even more immersive and personal for the players. Your decisions shape the map and spark events that have consequences on the political ideology of the realm, which is balanced between eight opposing values.

Designed for 3-6 players, and with each campaign lasting between 60 and 90 minutes, it could serve as a great entryway to the RPG world

Galactic Cruise

I’m enamoured of the mid-century space race box design of this game.

Themed around a luxury cruise sailing through space, you play as supervisors vying for the recently vacated role of company CEO. You’re tasked with constructing shuttles, bringing in guests, and navigating the resource markets that change as a result of each player’s choices.

Ultimately you’re trying to launch shuttles into space to provide your guests with as much time soaring above the Earth as possible, picking up Victory points along the way. When the game ends, whoever has the most becomes the new CEO. Which, incidentally, is also the main task in this year’s series of The Apprentice.

Civolution

If you’re familiar with legendary designer Stefan Feld, it won’t come as a surprise to learn that this is definitely one of the denser entries on this list.

You play as competing deities, vying to lead your civilisation to victory over those of your opponents, through technological advancements and even evolution. You’ll figure out along the way that there are a plethora of combinations and strategies that keep the game open for multiple plays.

This is every ounce a Feld game, from its euro style to the heavy use of dice mechanics, it might not be for the faint-hearted, but it’s certainly one that will give any group a ton of mileage.

Unconscious Mind

Some games demand to be taken out of their box and looked at, and this is one of them, with its multiple components and cars just begging to be picked up and pored over.

It’s another one on the heavier side, although I’m not sure I could expect anything else from a game designed around the concept of Sigmund Freud’s Psychological Society. You’re aiming to become a celebrated contemporary of Freud by growing a client base, interpreting dreams and generally pushing the world of psychoanalysis to new heights.

The only way you could possibly make this more of a Eurogame is if you have any roquefort leftover from the cheeseboard you put together for Fromage.

Kelp

Changing pace a little, this is an asymmetrical two player game that’s all about pitting you against your opponent in the ultimate underwater battle – octopus versus shark.

The Octopus is trying to evade capture, using its natural sneakiness and adaptability. Meanwhile, the player controlling the Shark is on the hunt, scouring the seabed, determined to capture its prey.

It’s got shades of Battleships in that the Octopus uses tiles the Shark can’t see to move around the board and divert theit opponent, while the Shark uses dice to try and gain control of the board, figuring out which of the tiles hides the elusive cephalopod (incidentally, this was the title of my unreleased folk album.)

Not to mention, the illustration uses the colours of the ocean to beautiful effect, creating a thrilling visual experience to go along with the tense gameplay.

FLOE

This one sounds rather wholesome, honestly. You’re on an adventure, traversing the Iceberg Sea, and in this worker-placement game you can follow whichever heroic path you so choose, building the map and exploring new locations as you go.

While not strictly a story-driven campaign game, it feels like one you’ll find yourself rather attached to, building a story of your own as your character is powered up through learning skills, finding treasure and even eating a little noodle soup for energy.

As you complete your challenges, you place Floe stones, and the first to place all of their stones is the winner! With mechanics for unlocking additional content for your hero as you complete their progress sheet, it sounds like one that won’t take too much to get even hardened cynics invested.

Moonrollers

A dice rolling extravaganza from the makers of Moonrakers, you’re playing here as ship captains competing against your opponents to recruit crewmates.

Strategy and risk assessment is the name of the game, as you try to roll dice that matches a requirement on an available crew member’s card. After committing your matching dice, you can choose to stop rolling and bank your progress – potentially a wise choice as a bad roll can see you lose it all.

The various missions have different difficulty levels, and there are rewards for taking on the more hazardous tasks. But if you overdo it you might find yourself penalised for reckless behaviour as the game comes to a close. So it’s all about striking the right balance.