Board Game Purchase Decisions: The most anticipated games of 2021

by Guf

Board Game Purchase Decisions: The most anticipated games of 2021

The unofficial ‘BoardGameGeek 20 Most Anticipated Board Games of 2021’ poll is closed. Despite encouraging bribes that can skew the data, this poll provides board game retailers some fascinating insights into what players will be buying in 2021.

I do love some data, especially data that helps me make better buying decisions. There is a lot of information to process with over 20 different categories and over 11,000 voters. 

Overall Category

Darwin’s Journey features highly in the Overall category, Euro, and is a lock for most anticipated Science game of 2021. I must confess that this game was not really on my radar but these results are not surprising. There has been plenty of interest in my local community.

Endless Winter has benefited from opening their pledge manager during voting and is uppermost in players mind at the moment. A score of 1700+ votes is not just timing though and Fantasia Games have created a lot of fans with their slick Kickstarter campaign. Full disclosure; I am co-publishing Endless Winter in SE Asia.

Winning the prize ofmost anticipated game of 2021is not easy and Frosthaven got the gong in a very tight race. Pretty sure you all know that Frosthaven exists and it is going to sell well.

ISS Vanguard seriously challenged Frosthaven for the crown; there appears to be an appetite in the community for a Sci-Fi campaign game. I must confess that I have not paid enough attention to ISS Vanguard and this poll result will prompt me to undertake further research on this title.

Nemesis Lockdown rounds out a big 2021 for Awakened Realms. With stock shortages and strong prices online, Nemesis was a high-margin star in 2020. I'll be ordering and hoping for a repeat success; over 1600 votes was just the sort of result I was looking for to make this important purchase decision.

1400 votes for Oath is worth noting. I have always found Leder Games one of the most retailer-friendly publishers and I always stock their games. The success of Oath’s kickstarter campaign shows Leder has plenty of player fans as well and I am hoping this game can bring new fans to the pax genre.

Reprint Category

I can always find space for a collectors edition and the new Castles of Mad King Ludwig CE has been creating quite a stir in my local community. I do hope this will make it onto retailersshelves!

Kemet has always been a personal favourite of mine and Kemer Blood and the Sand looks to have reinvigorated this ex-evergreen. Kemet is usually my go-to recommendation for area control games and I am pretty sure Kemet Blood and the Sand will make the list when I revise my evergreen list after Christmas.

Expansion Category

Expansions are bread and butter for established stores. I firmly believe that if you sold the base game you will always be the first place a player will look when they are ready to buy the expansion; you just need to have it in stock at a reasonable price! Expansion sales were a real slow burn in my stores, for the first few years we constantly struggled with how few felt justified being kept in stock. Over a decade later, if we stock the base game we almost always stock the expansions as well.

This brings me to the easiest expansions to sell in 2021; Architects of the West Kingdom: Works of Wonder and Paladins of the West Kingdom: City of Crowns. Shem has created something special with this epic game series and this is going to be another easy sell whilst simultaneously rebooting sales of the base games.

Thematic Category

Amongst a giant amount of nominations Dinosaur World has edged into the lead in the thematic category. Dinosaur World looks beautiful and is going to display very well in store. I have a slight concern that Dinosaur Island was put on clearance with local distributors only months after its release and I wonder how Pandaurus will be managing this release.

Solitaire Category

The two standouts in this category are Cartographers Heroes and Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition. Previous success is no guarantee of future sales, but the sales data for Cartographers suggests that I will have to stock Heroes and I will have to stock it deep. The first time I had heard of TM Ares Expedition was in the poll, which I find slightly weird. I am not sure how I missed an announcement about a new TM branded title. Will Ares strike gold? The Terraforming Mars name will help, but the game must still be good to sell.

Family Category

Creature Comforts from Kids Tables Games dominates the nominations for most anticipated family game. The newest Kids Table title is usually our recommendation for younger gamers looking to get into board games. Creature Comforts look like yet another winner; perfect for the 8-12yo crowd but adult enough to be enjoyed by the entire family.

Party Category

Feed the Kraken has this one category covered with more than 35% of the votes. A highly anticipated Kickstarter funded game, I look forward to trying this one out for myself.

Short Game Category

I love a 30-minute game and I find them an easy sell to newer gamers. Agropolis leads this category and I was not familiar with this title before this poll. This is why I read these lists; time to do some research!

Abstract Category

Canvas easily tops this poll. If you have been lucky enough to get a hold of Canvas then you know the hype is real. I still have trouble prioritizing points over the ascetics of my art but I do appreciate a game that creates unique decisions.

Cascadia looks gorgeous and has had particularly strong preorders. It looks like Flatout has backed up the success of Calico with another strong title.

One of my minor concerns with the most anticipated 2021 games is the number of huge box games on the list. Retailers only have so much shelf space and big boxes can take up 3 times more space than a copy of Carcassonne. If there is one take-away from the BGG 2021 Most Anticipated Games list it is that shelf space is going to be tighter than ever this year. Good luck with your purchase decisions!

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