Board games to look out for in 2021 – Retail Edition

Today, we’re looking at the board games coming to retail that I’m personally interested in. There is a Kickstarter version already so today we’re looking at games that you can pick up, or pre-order from your favourite local game store.

But before I begin, let me stress, these are not games I’m necessarily going to buy, but I’m definitely interested and will be doing a lot more research when they’re available!

Red Rising

Stonemaier Games is at this point a known quantity. They effectively publish above average to brilliant games, with excellent production. Their last board game Pendulum did not do too well critically, but still found fans.

Red Rising was announced a month or two ago, as a pure tactical hand management game. Where you’re trying to build a hand of multi-use cards which all have special abilities and end game objectives on. So you’re trying to arrange a hand that will score you the most points. But each turn you’ll be giving a card – and it’s points – up. This is going to be a soul crushing decision that I can’t wait to cry about!

Sleeping Gods

I’m still undecided on Sleeping Gods.

It’s a cooperative exploration game where you’re on a steam ship sailing through a lost world. Hoping from island to island in the hopes for adventure, and enough supplies to last until the next round. The whole world is captured in a huge binded book, like an aesthetically pleasing Refidex.

The whole game is one contiguous session, but whenever you want to stop you can just save your spot, and come back any time you feel like it.

After watching all the videos, and reviews about Sleeping Gods I still can’t tell if I’d enjoy it. But it does intrigue me, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for anything that will sway me one way or another.

Beyond the Sun

This one has been out for a while, but is currently out of stock everywhere I buy board games.

You and your friends are generating the technology that us (humankind) can use to reach the stars. It’s a worker placement game, but most of the action spots require them to be researched before use. Once researched, the technology is open for use by anyone at the table. It’s that double edge sword of: I want this, but it’s definitely going to benefit you – so how much do I want this again?

What’s drawn me to this game is that there’s a spirit of camaraderie to the design. Everyone at the table is running in the same direction, and helping each other out, but who’s crossing the line first?


I think this is the only small-ish game to make the list. Which isn’t that surprising given that they usually don’t throw the marketing budget at a low cost game.

But damn it looks good.

The theme is uninspiring. You’re a 19th century capitalist trying to make as much money as possible. The mechanics are where it’s at though. It’s an auction worker placement game. Each round you start with a number of chips numbered from 1-4. And then you get to place these chips on action cards – that have both an immediate benefit, or continuous benefit if you add it to your area. Think of it like either getting a foot-long sub today, or six-inches for the rest of your life.

Anyway, to get the foot-long you need to lose the auction. To get the six-inches for life you need to win the auction. Thereby creating auctions you really want to lose, and auctions you desperately need to win. This is an interesting decision space I’m looking forward to exploring.

Sidereal Confluence

Sidereal Confluence is being reprinted this year with updated art from one of my favourite artists: Kwanchai Moriya. It’s a negotiation game where you play the role of one of nine unique alien races, trying to fund your economy by trading resources around the galaxy. Which doesn’t sound too exciting, except that you can negotiate or trade anything and everything.

And it’s all binding.

At the same time, you’re using the resources to build an engine of resource converters. Allowing you to do more with the resources you’re trading for. From what I’ve seen of the previous version of Sidereal, this game looks like an absolute mess. There are cards and cubes everywhere, it’s near impossible to tell what’s going on at a glance. However, there are pigs among us who like nothing more than to revel in such messes. I am such a pig. Oink Oink.

Still, it looks hard to bring to the table often. It’s a negotiation game, which isn’t something my group is used to. In fact the last time we played a negotiation board game was the infamous bean blow-out.

Hansa Teutonica – Big Box Edition

Hansa Teutonica is one of those board games that you occasionally hear about when you take a wrong turn walking home. Like there’s that guy in the dark trench coat going ‘Psst kid, want a game of Hansa Teutonica?’ By this I mean I’ve consistently heard it’s a good game but it was barely covered by main board game media until recently.

Shut Up and Sit Down did a fantastic review about Hansa Teutonica and they loved it. Which while mine and their tastes differ greatly, they showed me enough to get interested. Judging by the name you’d think it would be a dry Euro but is in fact the opposite.

This one is… moist.

It’s a route building game, where you’re constantly interacting with other players. It looks lightning quick to play and has ability development throughout. It ticks a lot of boxes for me personally, so you bet it’s made this list!

Scape Goat

I was wrong, there’s another small box game that’s made the list: Scape Goat. Despite the frankly awful name, it has been doing extremely well on review circuit (Space-Biff, Opinionated Gamers). It has a really unique premise in its mechanics, where the group must identify one person as the scapegoat for their crimes.

At the start of the game, everyone is told in secret who the scapegoat is. But that information isn’t entirely reliable, because if you are scapegoat – you’re told it’s someone else. Ergo, you have no idea if you’re the scapegoat throughout the entire game! Also if the scapegoat finds out that they’re the scapegoat, then they will spoil the party and go straight to the cops.

So you’re both trying to frame the scapegoat, and trying to figure out if you’re the scapegoat. It sounds like a riot of a time, and a far cry from social deduction games that often fall on who’s the loudest, or whiniest at the table.

Honourable Mentions

  • Anno 1800
  • Excavation Earth
  • For Science!
  • Iberian Gauge
  • Maglev Metro
  • The Initiative


  • Arkham Horror 3rd Edition: Secrets of the Order
  • It’s a Wonderful World Corruption & Ascession
  • Oriflamme: Ablaze
  • Bullet Orange
  • The to be named expansions for Tapestry, and Viticulture

That’s all of it so far. If you’re looking for what’s on my Kickstarter list you can check that out in the previous post, otherwise there’s a heck of a lot to look forward to this year. With my only concern being how far my wallet will stretch.

  1. Referdex is a Brisbane colloquialism for street directory.
David Norris

Lover of dogs, books, comics, movies, anime, television, video games and most importantly board games. My site is all about the latter, and my journey through the glorious hobby.

3 thoughts on “Board games to look out for in 2021 – Retail Edition

  1. Dave, interesting list. I have Excavation: Earth, BTW, and I find it immensely enjoyable. The art is incredible, and the game mechanics are fascinating. I think you really need to play it at least 3 times before you start to realize how deep it goes and how much EACH of those actions can be really vital to different strategies and winning. There no puffery in the game — each decision is critical and each action is valuable. I will admit that I have been playing it mostly solo, but I’ve done it enough now, that I think I could actually teach it well, so I hope you get a chance to give it a try. BTW, I also give at least five thumbs up to the new Anachrony expansions — wow. Whether you are playing solo or multiplayer, the new expansions (and I just love, love, love the big box) really take the time travel element and twist it around in more ways than I thought possible.


    1. I’ve heard that Excavation Earth is a lot more complex than it first looks. And it sounds it from what you’re saying. What really attracted me to it is the super volatile market place, where you just have to get in and get out as fast as you can!

      I’m kind of sad I missed the big box on Anachrony, but there’s just too many good games out there something has to be missed. I really love the implementation of time travel in that game, and glad it’s a hit at your table. 😀

      Again, thanks for posting!


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