Was 2021 a good year for board games? This can be a princely argument at the end of the year. There were highlights, but also failures, beautiful moments, but also the pandemic. A review.
A year that could be crossed out of history will end in 2021: Seldom before have twelve months been so insignificant as in this year that is now ending. 2021 was like 2020 - that was mainly due to the corona pandemic, which set the framework for people around the world. Even if it hardly ran anywhere else, it was time to play. Thanks to some easing and the advancing vaccination campaign, board games were possible again.
Just in time for the beginning of 2021, hope flared up: the vaccine was there, the first syringes had already been used, and the immunization enabled players to return to the tables for rounds together. That was definitely a gain after the long period of waiver in the previous year. The coronavirus dominated everyday life, but a little less. Another highlight: Spiel'21 in Essen as a presence fair. After the cancellation due to the pandemic situation in 2020, numerous fans returned to the exhibition halls, albeit under different conditions. Never before had the International Game Days been so longed for as in the year 2021 that is now ending. That the GAME'21 took place, was a little surprise after a long shivering game: one had hoped, wished, maybe prayed - but it seemed at times unrealistic that one could hold a mass with thousands of visitors in the middle of the pandemic autumn. At some point it was clear: It will work and it will happen.
What was played at the Essen trade fair was then a summary of the hottest titles of the season. It started slowly, but brought about a real innovation: MicroMacro. With his vision of a black and white “Crime City”, game designer Johannes Sich had created a worldwide phenomenon - and by the way created a new genre. A hidden object with a cooperative detective gameplay has never existed in this form and playful intensity. MicroMacro: Crime City became a worldwide hit with hundreds of thousands of copies sold. Successor was announced at an early stage, meanwhile there is with MicroMacro: Crime City 2 - Full House a continuation. But it won't stay that way, that's for sure. Commercially, the project paid off for Pegasus Spiele and the creative team, and the whole thing was garnished with the Game of the Year 2021 award
Paleo has proven to be no less successful, winning the Kennerspiel des Jahres 2021 award, which was a surprise, if only a small one, in view of the competition in this area.
Two board games do not make up a year, especially good or bad. But there was more in 2021: Beyond the Sun, for example, the Lost Ruins of Arnak, Dune: Imperium, Clash of Cultures, The Crew: Mission Tiefsee, the new edition of Descent including app support, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Die Red Cathedral - the year had top-class titles in store for pretty much every type of player. With Arche Nova, Tierra del Fuego games even ended 2021 with one of the best board games of the season.
Other titles were more than just insider tips: The Loop, Abyssal, Insel der Katzen, So Kleever, Witchstone, Praga Caput Regni, Hadrian's Wall - you could continue the list for the end of the year and probably still have numerous good or even excellent board games forget. Play everything? This is no longer possible with the mass of new releases. Even in the past Corona years, the market was flooded with new board and card games that everyone wants to play but cannot. So selection has to be made, sometimes rigorously, in order to create time, for titles that scream for more than just two or three games: one of them is the one already mentioned Nova Ark. The zoo board game will not only accompany fans throughout 2022, but also beyond.
And what about the publishers? Who stood out in 2021? Board games from the giants of the industry spring to mind - our favorite though is Flatout Games. With board games such as Calico, Cascadia, Verdant or Dollars to Donuts, numerous noteworthy titles had been published, all of which were convincing in terms of play, looked wonderful on the table and were also reasonably priced.
With the Board game prices was that a thing in 2021: subjectively, quite a few titles were overpriced and objectively, price increases can now be determined. The reason is the pandemic and the scarcity of resources it causes: board games are sometimes becoming significantly more expensive, on average in the area between five and ten percentt. Fans will be happy to pay the money, and board games have long since become a luxury hobby for frequent gamers. Some money can perhaps be saved in the future or withdrawn from other sources. At Kickstarter, for example. The platform and its projects are still booming, but the explosion in taxes and shipping costs have ensured that fans are much more selective.
Or fans concentrate on domestic crowdfunding offers, of which there are now many. For the game forge The past year was a mammoth year: The King is Dead, Destilled, The Defense of Procyon III, Brass Lancashire, Scarface 1920 or Wild Serengeti were just some of the projects successfully funded with the support of the Swarm. The fact that board games that were originally launched on Kickstarter are now often published in German is not only thanks to the Spieleschmiede, but also to the ambitious publishers, who prove that they are very close to the wishes of the players: small publishers such as Skellig Games or Taverna Ludica Games have established themselves in the niches, but the giants of the industry have long been causing one or two surprises in this area: Calico was published as a localized version by Ravensburger - this is probably not where the implementation would have been located.
Licenses were also a big topic in 2021: Star Wars, Marvel, Harry Potter - the popular brands were implemented in large numbers in board and card games. In the meantime it is also video games that make the leap to analog game worlds. Assassin's Creed, Dark Souls, Resident Evil, Cyberpunk 2077 - hardly any popular computer game remains without a suitable board game adaptation. That could intensify in 2022 and beyond: Due to the buying interest of Embracer Group At the toy giant Asmodee, a kind of super-cooperation could develop for board players, in the back of which there are numerous well-known or interesting brands that can also be processed as board games.
Ultimately, 2021 was more eventful than expected and playfully more intense than expected. But whether the year was good or bad? Every gamer can only answer this question for himself. If we were asked, we would describe the ending year as a good one.