The Spiel 2020 Top 50 board games you should explore this Christmas season

It’s that time of year again, Christmas, but my head is still at Essen Spiel which had come and go so quickly and so different from recent years. 2020 has been such a weird and difficult year for the world and the board game hobby didn’t escape that fact. The covid rampage swiped all our plans, put stress on all our perceived freedoms and kept the Messe closed for Spiel 2020. But, Friedhelm Merz Verlag didn’t let that keep them from organizing a for the first time!

Let’s get the ugly truth out of the way, at least in my own humble opinion. I love the effort, energy and love everybody put into this digital version of the fair, but for me, it was just too much extra time spent behind a screen. The whole intrinsic reason I got back into the hobby back in 2015, was to spend less time online and more in the now. We all know Essen Spiel is a trade fair, but that fact seemed magnified with this digital platform and just felt too much like a marketing or sales funnel I tumbled deeply into. Of course, the Messe normally is also a big market where people sell their wares, but the feeling scrolling those booths is just so different from floating worlds in a virtual platform.

So, that’s out of my system, again, all this new stuff was driven by the fact we need to save our healthcare systems, our elderly people and people who are so horribly affected by the coronavirus. So it’s the logical choice.

And it was a success, look at these stats from the organizer

148,000 individual visitors to

Official live streams alone record more than a million hits

Tabletopia reports a user increase of 100 per cent during the event

400 exhibitors from 41 different nations

1000+ new releases

Friedhelm Merz Verlag

Craziness and absolutely an amazing amount and result!

Games, games and even more games

On to why you and I are here, let’s talk games! What should Santa put into your stockings? Because there is no lack of new releases this Christmas season. There are awesome board games to play, share and talk about. In recent year’s I could show you a lot of stuff from the Messe or afterwards with my Essen haul, but this year most content will be done digitally too, but in the coming weeks I hope to show you some real games and original content, there are some great games on its way to me. And what should you get for your gaming friend or what are some games you may want to find under your own Christmas tree this season?

Top 50 must explore games

For me, the basis of this not so subjective top 50 is the excellent tool BoardGameGeek has going for all kinds of fairs or seasons. Mister W. Eric Martin is a beast for this and hands us, geeks, such a useful tool!

The Geekpreview

Let me warn you up front, this is going to be a huge post. I could have cut it into 5 separate posts, but I want to give you the grandeur of regular Spiel and the Christmas wishlist’s where I always have that overwhelming feeling when I walk the halls at the Messe. So much and so good and so many! Yikes, let’s get this train rolling. Grab a cup of hot cocoa or something stronger and join me down this long Santa list, with obviously nice and naughty games alike.

From 50 to 41

Merchants of Dunhuang

Merchants of Dunhuang

Beautiful art or at least a teasing box cover always has me turning for a second glance. But in this economic simulation set in the times where the Silk Road was the most lucrative road to travel on has me wanting. It has tons of different characters which brings unique ways to use their skills to become the best merchant out there. Increase your influence and become the master of the chaos.

~ Mandoo Games

Switch & Signal

Switch & Signal

A cooperative train game? From a great German publisher as KOSMOS? Yes, that’s on my must check-out list to experience. Relax, build tracks, move some stuff around, but oh boy, that rampage up quickly! Easy rules, but no easy game. So grab your whistle or your conductor hat and start planning out the way to go forward with your fellow gamers.

~ Kosmos

Mysterium Park

Mysterium Park

We all know Mysterium, right? One of the, or maybe the best deduction mystery game out there. But it does have a little learning curve and could use some streamlining. Well, let me introduce this game to you! A new adventure, far more streamlined and bringing a close RPG experience in the tabletop form to your circus at home soon. And well, the artwork may just have you magically teleported to new and mysterious places.

~ Libellud



Yeah admittedly, I ain’t attracted to this cheese-like Austrian looking Sponge-bob on the box cover. But I am at the mechanisms, rolling dice, dice pool building, racing to be the champion and published by AEG who has always delivered on high-quality game components? Call it quirky, but I trust John D. Clair to bring something very fun to the tabletop.

~ AEG or Pegasus Spiele



Is everything coming from Portugal board game-related just fantastic? It’s unbelievable how many great designers and publishers are delivering such great euro games in recent year’s. Rola & Costa, the two guys behind Pythagoras are publishing an Orlando Sá board game on Portuguese stonemasons. Simple rules, but a highly interactive player-driven game where timing is key. It has a very cool sounding card play mechanisms where the cards slide to the left and activate in different ways depending on how they are facing.

~ Pythagoras

2491 Planetship

2491 Planetship

I am a huge MEBO fan and yes, they are again from Portugal! This is re-implementation of an older game, City of Spies, which I played and did like, but not loved. The ideas where cool, but for some reason, the setting was a little lacklustre for me. But this space setting, with a crew and some tweaks on the gameplay may solidify it for me. Let’s wait and see, I trust Gill and Nuno with this. Let the space adventures begin.

~ Mebo Games

My Farm Shop

My Farm Shop

All based merely on designer pedigree, Rudiger Dörn always delivers. The box reminds me of the sims or Dream Home. If you ever wanted to run your farm and think that’s an easy task? Well, think again. Enhance your farm with just three dices and profit of what other players choose on their roll. Milk cow, shear sheep and collect eggs? Come on, who doesn’t want that experience from the easiness of their tabletop? Who makes the most money, wins!

~ Pegasus Spiele



I love those games which play with their name and immediately make clear what you are. Rescue cats and be the best at it? Of course, you get rewards for that from Cleopatra herself, it’s her explicit wish you do so. A simple tile-layer, with some pattern building and light player interaction. It’s a lot of game in a tiny package and those are more than welcome with an always expanding game collection and not enough space. A little oddball on the list.

~ Sunrise Tornado Game Studio

Spy Connection 

Another designer must check-out, but this time a duo. Brett and Matthew are some of the best designers out there in the medium-weight spectrum of the board games. With Elysium, Pioneer Days and Monumental. A racing game where you can set yourself apart as the smartest spy out there and do it most efficiently. Not much else is clear yet for this title, but add the Lohausen art and I am excited nonetheless you? I can see you…….

~ Pegasus Spiele

Alhambra Roll & Write

Alhambra Roll & Write

We love roll and writes and while the original isn’t something I was chasing after, this does look like a nice travel edition to take on a holiday. When such a luxury is possible again in these covid crazy times. For me, it keeps intriguing how much game designers can pull from just a few dice and a paper. So yes, this one has me intrigued and normally I would visit the Queen booth for some solid euro game fun. That’s a bonus for sentiment’s sake.

~ Queen Games

40 and down to 31

Paleo game


Hans im Gluck always delivers at Spiel. I can’t name more German publishers with such a streak of awesome game releases very Spiel. But a coop? Are you kidding me, that has me stampede through the virtual Messe to grab a copy of this stoneage survival game. Do you choose for the short term or are you thinking ahead for what is coming? Make your choice as a group with not all information know upfront and see what nature gives you, wonder or something harsh? Feed the people and try to finish quests and try to survive. Oh, those gold old times.

~ 999 Games

Monster Expedition board game

Monster Expedition

Alexander Pfister.

Dennis Lohausen, Michael Menzel, Oliver Schlemmer.

Seriously, what else do you need to know….?

~ AMIGO or 999 Games

Indus 2500 BCE

Indus 2500 BCE

I just love the simplicity of the art on this cover. And it’s a flip and roll, I already told you I love this style of gaming. With hyperactive kids at home and tons of things to do, we don’t always have the time and space to play elaborate and time-consuming games. So, these streamlined little games just sound like a blast to play. Pick a card, draw a thing, deal with a calamity and protect your resources. They who does that the best, wins. Next!

~ Dice Toy Labs.

Novgorod board game


Some games or better said some people creating games are special. Stefan Risthaus is such a human being. Will this game rock your socks and something brand new? No. Will it bring you fun, something very streamlined and clear and not a bloated experience? Hell yes! In recent year’s Stefan designed some heavy hitters like Arkwright and Gentes and due to those games some of the little games he releases by his label, Ostia, don’t get the attention they deserve. Novgorod is all about the balance of the building, improving and gather necessary victory points.

~ Ostia Spiele

Escape Roll & Write

Escape Roll & Write

Another roll and write, don’t shame me, it’s just an addiction. Rahdo always speaks with so much passion about the original game and I totally can see this being as much fun as the board game in this little paper variant. Again a coop, again a Schlemmer art game and with Queen, you know you get what you see.

~ Queen Games

Seastead board game


I cut, you choose, has never been so appropriate as with Seastead. It’s Waterworld the board game, but there’s nothing wrong with that fact. Everybody has their favourite Kevin Costner movie, right? The selling point for me here is the choices which not only benefit you but also the other players. It’s the balance of not giving them too much and yourself too little. “Seastead contains double-sided flotilla tiles, a variety of specialist cards, and multiple building paths to create endless strategies to explore!” I couldn’t have said it better BoardGameGeek.

~ Wizkids

The Shining: Escape from the Overlook Hotel board game

The Shining: Escape from the Overlook Hotel

Here comes Johnnnnyyy…….well, here comes the fact I am looking forward to this escape room style game. And I am not even that big on those style of games, but I like the movie. But now I am going to say something very controversial. I like the mini-series more than the movie. Runs away in shame. The Op uses a so-called Coded Chronicles to add unpredictability to your experiences and make you feel like being in a huge dizzying maze. I already made a note to myself, sharpen your axe this weekend daddy.

~ The OP

Rapa Nui board game

Rapa Nui

The wonders of the world or the unknown beauties are always intriguing topics. Matagot is a publisher I always hold high in regard, not only because of the fact I love Kemet. At last years Spiel, I’ve got a short demo of Rapa Nui from Magali and it sounded like a very solid euro game with a cool feature where you must balance the fact your opponents can benefit form your transport of the famous Moai. What we sometimes miss these days is respect or offering for nature’s beauty and wonders. Look up and respect those big and beautiful sculptures on Easter Island and be in awe. And in the end, it will give you victory points, the source of our gaming life.

~ Matagot

Pandoria Merchants board game

Pandoria Merchants

Sigh, yes I know, another one? But no, not just “another one”. This is going to be one of the best and one which may even surpass its big sister, Pandoria. It brings interaction between players and skips the fourth X from the original. Sounds awesome, right? And it’s from two stellar designers, Jeffrey D. Allers and Bernd Eisenstein. I just love Carthago from Bernd and Peloponnes is not a stinker either. Play it solo, play it family style and go hardcore gamer. It’s all packed in a small box with a big punch. Work together with your opponents to develop Pandoria, but do it while you are the dominate force. Resources, building and the all-important spells to harness the mysterious places.

~ Iron Games

Boomerang: Europe

Boomerang: Europe (or USA)

We, humans, are travellers, we like to visit other cultures, we like to spend time making new experiences or memories and be around other human beings. Sadly 2020 was the year that travels luxury fell away due to covid and maybe even beyond in the future. But don’t be to down now, Matagot and Grail games bring you these things to your tabletop this season. May it be the Europe version or the USA, draft cards, make sets of activities from around the continent and try delicious foods. A simple, yet very satisfying card game.

~ Matagot or Grail Games.

30 goes to 21

Gods Love Dinosaurs board game

Gods Love Dinosaurs

For some reason, I am lacking a Dino themed game in my collection. Not sure why, because I saw the original Jurassic Park seven times at the cinema back in the days. But now it´s time to change that, welcome Gods Love Dinosaurs from Pandasaurus Games. Balance the food chain of all the species and make sure you hatch enough eggs to be the best God in the end. It sounds like a fairly simple game in rule set and mechanisms, tile laying and drafting, but it holds a fair amount of player interaction. All about the balance scale, eat enough, but not too much and make sure your ecosystem thrives the most. It does not hurt the game looks amazing too, so I am very stoked for this one.

~ Pandasaurus Games

Meeple Land board game

Meeple Land

I am still looking for that one game that gives me the genuine theme park feeling like I have at one of my favourite places in the world, Disneyland! Will Meeple Land do it for me? Maybe, it does look very charming and how hard is to build such a park in the end, right? Well, there’s a lot more than meets the eye. Smart park planning, attract people to your attractions, make those meeples happy with your services and advertise it to all those happy meeples. And keeping meeples happy is important, it will cost you when they ain’t! Seems like an excellent medium-weight board game which will give you a happy feeling, even when you lost. You, in the end, made your own Meeple Land!

~ Blue Orange Games

Cloud City board game

Cloud City

Maybe it’s my thing, but I love the 3d aspect of games. Especially when seeing it grow and evolve is just a magnificent feeling. Building up your city plans into the clouds is breathtaking. It is not even that original in these golden ages of board gaming, but it is always great to see new city building games. It attracts new people, it gives a sense of accomplishment and is just very high on the toy level for us geeks.

~ Blue Orange Games

Paris board game


When this power couple designer duo releases a board game, the hobby pays attention. It’s just a simple fact and something these two designers have earned over their long list of published games. Relive the Belle Époque and set yourself back in these when one of the most beautiful cities of the world was shaped. The straightforward medium-weight point salad type game will have ever euro gamer mouthwatering on gameplay. Obtain the right buildings at the most opportune time and invest in the development of the city of love. The art and cover are amazing from Andreas Resch.

~ Game Brewer

Raiders of Scythia

Raiders of Scythia

Where the North Sea saga did not immediately attract me, this one does. And from what I saw it adds some new twists on the core mechanism Shem introduced there. For some weird reason the box speaks to me, it asks me to play it. I am curious what the solo variant is here because I don’t think this is something my partner is going to like, but for me, some plundering, quests and raiding does sound like a blast! Again, this being a massive Renegade release, it is an oddball choice for me to be honest and I hope I can try this somewhere along the way, by horse or with my crew I don’t care, but try I must.

~ Renegade Game Studio / Garphill Games

Ugly Christmas Sweaters

Speaking of oddballs, how about a trick-taking game being on my must-have list of Digital Spiel 2020? The whole thing just sounds quirky and should not work. But it does, it does! I cannot wait to try this soon at Christmas. While this time the whole jolly holly season will be different, playing games is going to happen, one way or another. And you bet this little trick-taking game from Hunter. R. Hennigar is going to be on the pile to play.

~ Hen House Games

Kitara board game


Last year at Spiel I got the first glimpse at the Iello booth for this strategy game. It holds a lot of very cool things I can enjoy in a game card management, territory control and a lot of awesome animals to control. It gives me some Kemet vibes and that’s a close top 10 game for me. Eric designed the clever card game The Dresden Files, so to see him tackle this genre is interesting too. And as you may already guess, the artwork from Miguel Coimbra (7 Wonders Duel, Cyclades, Small World) does add to the enjoyment factor. The rulebook is also just 8 pages and that does seem like tiny for such a game, but keeping the complexity on the board is just perfect. I am ready to concur some Chwezi Empire!

~ Iello

Escape Tales: Children of Wyrmwoods

Escape Tales: Children of Wyrmwoods

Wow. We were very impressed by the first Escape Tales. It was really powerful and had some very deep narrative experiences and choices which will stay with you for a little while. The puzzles are challenging, but without that horrible time restraint, very enjoyable to break your brain on. It does take you to emerge into the story and take all the time to go through this multi-hour multi-session narrative story experience. And now Board And Dice (dutch version will be published by the fabulous White Goblins) is going to make it even scarier, I dare them. Scare me! Bring it on! Dark and twisty!

~ Board and Dice / White Goblin Games

Whistle Mountain board game

Whistle Mountain

I am here for Luke, yes I admit it willingly. Luke Laurie designed one of our favourites games, The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire. But Scott’s not shabby either, Voluspa and Whistle Stop are some stellar designs too. And now they are double-teaming here with Beziers to release Whistle Mountain? It’s a peculiar setting, which doesn’t make sense but does sound to work very refreshingly. At least, your workers falling in the water does sound cool. The whole way the technologies work, versus building up the scaffolding by weir contraptions and trying to make use of your opponent’s opportunities makes it sounds like a real challenge. With tons of variability in the way the game can play out and being a beast on its own, it has me intrigued since watching Rahdo’s run-through.

~ Bézier Games


I understand, don’t judge a book by its cover, but this box cover just has me mesmerized. Cosmodrome is for me the one publisher who made such a big splash over the last two year’s. Unbelievable what a great games and some even got lost in their releases, Skytopia, because Smartphone Inc. just crushed it at Essen Spiel 2019. I think Aquatica just missed the cut there, but it does sound like another smash hit with an expansion already in the works. Trying to hold on to your underwater kingdom as a mighty ocean king or queen sounds like a blast. Find new locations, recruit new characters from the depth of the oceans and complete your goals. Card combo galore is the key here to maximize this on first glance easier game, but don’t be fooled, there’s more under the surface that may appear. (it may be due to the expansion this is on my 2020 list!)

~ Cosmodrome Games / Arcane Wonder / Cranio Creations

From 20 to 11

Polynesia board game


So when you are Disney fan, this may have a very Moana feeling. But this Ludonova board game has nothing to do with that movie. Escape the dangers of the Volcano, hop from island to island, keep your sails out to finishing quests and gathering resources to all this action successfully. It looks like a very fun streamlined euro game with not too much bloat on its bones, but pure route building fun along with the Polynesian isles. The components look very contemporary and very to the point too. And Peer has some great releases already under his belt, too.

~ Ludonova

Tawantinsuyu board game


Creating a line of games with unpronounceable names is a thing nowadays and who does that better than David Turczi and Board and Dice? The newest of the bunch is Tawantinsuyu which stands for The Four Regions from the Inca Empire. For us boardgamers, this means, tons of awesome mechanisms, which will intertwine with each other like clockwork, which means gatherings tons of resources, please the gods, send out your different workers, which leads you up the hill and has you crunching out the best choices. This game holds a lot of escalation and planning on where you will put your workers out on the hill. A combo-galore I call that teasingly, this is going to be a complex yet satisfying Turczi game.

~ Board and Dice

Glasgow board game


I love two-player games, especially when they come from dutch publisher 999 Games and German label Lookout Games. Why? Because you know there is going to be a fantastic game in such a tiny box. Is it a euro? Very much, but that’s a win in my book. This game has a lot of inspiration from the classic Glenn More and that is another plus in my book. Mandela Fernandez-Grandon is a first-time designer and my guess is he is going to knock this one out of the park. The setting is nice, very generic, but I do like building cities and having a refreshing beer while doing that. I love playing games with my spouse after a busy day at home or work and this looks like a hit for these game nights.

~ 999 Games / Lookout Games

The Castles of Tuscany board game

The Castles of Tuscany

A new release from Stefan Feld will always have eyes turning and I am no exception on this fact. Burgundy is one of my favourite Feld’s and having another fresh implementation in the spirit of that, yes, please! The new box covers from the publisher Alea are getting up there with the best, now also get the components and artwork right and this German publisher will skyrocket on a lot of people their tabletops. The gist of the game is you as an Italian Renaissance princess or prince will try and build your influence out in the Tuscany region. Support towns, build villages or extract resources like marbles to see your lands grow. This all is supported by a clever card play where you try and put tiles out as useful as possible. With Feld you know you will get points in a variety of ways and I guess this will not be an exception.

~ Alea

Troyes Dice board game

Troyes Dice

In recent years we have seen a lot of re-implementations of former board games into draw & writes, in a card game version or as with this title, into a dice version. And in a lot of these the little sister game makes up for a lot of fun. I expect this title is going to do the same. Pearl is a great publisher and the designers Sebastien Dujardin, Alain Orban and Xavier Georges know what they are doing. From the rumours and reviews I have seen this is another experience as the classic board game Troyes, but another one of these games which will fit perfectly in my wish to play more on the busier weeknights when the bigger board games aren’t an option. Discover the Middle Ages as a Champagne family member and seize the best opportunities. Pick your nobles, civilians or religion and go out and fight for what’s yours, victory points!

~ Pearl Games.

The Red Cathedral board game

The Red Cathedral

There’s always that one game, that out of the blue grabs everybody’s attention. This season The Red Cathedral from Devir Games just filled that spot. It does sound very intriguing to build this epic St. Basil’s cathedral in Moscow. Can you handle your construction team better than the opposing teams? Will you use the rondel as smart as possible and make use of the resources in the most optimal way as possible? There are enough interesting choices to make and levers to pull here. Devir states “The Red Cathedral is a very accessible game concerning its rules because it is very easy to understand the various levels of the game, but it remains very interesting concerning the strategy. It is sure to please those who are more interested in the challenge offered by trying to strategically optimize their position in each game rather than the complexity of the rules.” and that sounds very good to my ears.

~ Devir Games

Bonfire board game


Are you surprised this Feld is on the list? This is the big release from Hall Games and Pegasus Spiele of 2020 and when you put Feld on the box, it will explode! Get it? Bonfire, explode? It will be heavy, complex, ton’s of points to grab and you are a Gnome who will need to get the bonfires going again? Sounds like a must check out for me.

~ Hall Games / Pegasus Spiele

Fresco: Card & Dice Game

Fresco: Card & Dice Game

Fresco is a fantastic game and Queen is releasing, FINALLY, a card and dice game for it. It seems to be in the work for many years and I did not expect it ever to happen. And if I am not mistaken, it is two separate games you will get. I don’t need to know much more. Like I said before, I am keen on smaller games which I will get to the table with my spouse and friends to enjoy in these hectic times. This one seems like an easy sell and very much enjoyable with tons of people. Go, Queen, work a little on the Kickstarter techniques and campaigns, but for the most part, this publisher brings some many great games into the world.

~ Queen Games

Winter Kingdom board game

Winter Kingdom

A classic coming back in a winter wonderland setting. Not sure about that wonderland, but for sure it is set somewhere where it snows. Donald X. Vaccarino is a master designer and not many are bigger than him. So when he takes his already stellar design and makes it even better, I will pay attention.

~ Queen Games


It’s Uwe, it’s about farming, it’s very, very euro and the art is from Klemens Franz. There’s nothing really to add, I almost used more words than the BoardGameGeek entry from the publisher to “sell” this. I do think they could have done a little better there, but on the other hand, it’s Uwe.

~ Lookout Spiele

The ultimate Top 10 Games (at least for us!)

Monasterium board game


What got me first was this sentence on the Boardgamegeek game page: ‘Monasterium (which is Latin for “Monastery”) is a strategic game with an innovative dice mechanism that presents the players with ever new challenges. The game includes a double-sided game board: one side for the game for two and one side for 3-4 players.’ Add the fact it’s from publisher DLP, which has some fantastic board game in its portfolio. Arve Fuhler has some nice games already under his belt, but this one may put him up with some other great euro game designers. Building the best Monastery with the greatest novices sounds very generic, but on the other hand also quite fun to participate in.

~ DLP Games

Merv The Heart of the Silk Road board game

Merv: The Heart of the Silk Road

Ian O’Toole, Fabio Lopiano and Osprey Game are publishing this stunning looking piece of art. Ian is my favourite board game artist, Fabio designed some fantastic games and Osprey is a great UK publishing label. I even got an excellent demo and play at Spiel with Fabio and Edward for Heavycardboard for his first release, Calimala. I also played Ragusa and both games are proofs of balanced design with a modern twist. Another tight economic game depicting the legendary Silk Road. But the twist is, there are Mongol Hordes to keep out too, so building up your walls is essential too. The whole package sounds and looks fantastic! I hope to grab a copy soon, I will go a long way to get one, even out onto the Silk Road!

~ Osprey Games

Café card game


We have seen a lot of card patching games in recent year´s, but not many will be as good as Café. In most cases, you will patch cards to build the most profitable lands, but here you will patch an engine to run your coffee business. How awesome does that sound? As a huge coffee addict, I am intrigued by the setting and by the simple yet very intriguing-sounding gameplay of this one. Again I keep repeating myself, but Portugal seems to be the centre of the board game bustle nowadays. Rola and Costa are having some delicious brown gold in their hands with this awesome little card game!

~ Pythagoras

Lost ruins of Arnak board game

Lost ruins of Arnak

Its the new big box release from one of the most influential publishers of the last decade, CGE. What I like about this title is the fact they gave their in-house developer couple Min and Elwen the chance to release their first full-blown release and not just with a small little game. Exploration is one of those things in board games I love, like stepping into the real shoes of Lara or Indy. Deck-building combined with worker-placement is a fun twist on these two well-known mechanisms and the balance between adventuring or making sure you have the resources to go forward sounds like a blast too! Like you may know, add in some excellent art and a real setting to explore and you had me looking for my hat and lasso.


Rajas of the Ganges The Dice Charmers board game

Rajas of the Ganges: The Dice Charmers

We adore the big sister game RAJAS and we cannot wait to try out this smaller variant of the game. It is that simple sometimes. Not sure what to say more, but if you love the original as much as we do, this is a must explore one for sure. The same seller point here is again the crossing tracks, money and fame, which need to cross each other to score. Just an awesome feature,


Faiyum board game


Oh when the big green man releases a game, I will pay attention. No, not The Hulk, how dare you think that! Mister Friese, mister Friedemann Friese. He will always bring you something refreshing. He will do things differently. Is it always a success? No. But is it always daring and true to his philosophy? YES! In this game set in the Middle Kingdom of Egyptian history, you will need to make use of the Nile as efficient as possible. Planning is the main key here. And the twist is, the sequence you will play your cards, is in reverse order the sequence you will need to play them in your next round. So playing them in the best way possible and think ahead in time to make use of them in your next round, is critical. Like I said, Friedemann. It looks very euro, but then again, I do appreciate Harald Lieske his art and it makes it clear.

~ 2F-Spiele

Anno 1800 board game

Anno 1800

A new Martin Wallace release and one based on a popular video game series, Anno 1800 from Ubisoft. Martin has earned his stripes as one of the most famous and renowned board game designers out there. With for me these two as best of that bunch, Brass Birmingham and Railways of the World. His approach and art on how to make use of production chains or business simulations are second to none in tabletop form. In his latest release, you will get all of that and some more. Make very sure the people with get what they want. Their demands are small at the beginning, but as with all civilisations, people´s needs grow vast! So keep up the pace and make sure your engine is as smooth as possible and make use of what is given from the other players. This all sounds like a classic Martin Wallace design and I cannot wait to tinker with it.


Our podium

Praga Caput Regni board game

Praga Caput Regni

Vladimir Suchy, as a very established designer, took a risky leap last year with his publishing label and he cannot regret that decision. With Underwater Cities as it’s initial hit release and now following it up with Praga Caput Regni, us euro gamers have another smash hit to gloat over. I already have a copy and I can confirm, this one will not disappoint! An excellent production, lovely artwork and a setting which appeals to its targeted audience. With the spinning wheel and it’s actions tokens, it reminds us a little of Tzolkin, but also not that much really. Praga is all about impressing the king and making his city great again. It’s a solid set of intertwining mechanisms which are easily grasped but give a lot of challenge in which strategy to follow.

~ Delicious Games

Pandemic Legacy: Season 0 board game

Pandemic Legacy: Season 0

It’s Pandemic, it is the story which may or may not lead you to more answers for season 1. It is all about the cold war and spies. It’s about working together and having unique experiences around your tabletop with friends and family. No video game or no other activity known to me can have this effect. So yeah, it’s an obvious choice, but not one taken lightheartedly. Matt Leacock and Rob Daviau created a branch of games which took so many board gamers on adventures they may never thought would become reality, which is in a sense sadly what did happen, but they mastered the art of what a cooperative board game should do. The sense and wonder of opening boxes, putting stickers out or finding a new way of interacting with the game is just pure delight, time to investigate!

~ Asmodee / Z-MAN Games

CloudAge board game


With Maracaibo as my favourite game from 2019. With Mombasa being in my top 10 of all-time favourite games and not even mentioning all his other stellar designs like Great Western Trail, Isle of Skye and Tybor. Alexander Pfister is next to Vital Lacerda my favourite board gamer designer. Can it be a big surprise it is on the podium for the 2020 Christmas belated Spiel top 50 board game list? Nope, it cannot be unexpected. There isn’t a huge amount of information yet on this game, but I don´t need that and from what I have seen, it looks great, it sounds great and it will be great. Plus, it has an innovative sleeving mechanism and Alexander drips on it his campaign sauce again, that sounds awesome. Add the smooth artwork from Christian Opperer and this just looks like that extra dessert after a too large of a Christmas meal, you cannot resist. It just looks too tasty not to have a bite.

~ DLP Games / Capstone Games

C´est la vie

If you made it to the end, I applaud you and if you haven´t, well you won´t read this now, will you? I want to thank every one of you fellow board game geeks for being as fantastic as you are and I wish you all the best for 2021. Let’s stick together as a species and include each soul into our beloved hobby. No matter the gender, race, preferences or any other unique feature which makes us human beings. We survive only together, through pandemics, through bad leadership or even through deeply in bedded cultural differences.

So what did I miss on this list? With thousands and thousands of releases, it must mean I haven’t seen them all. Let me know down below or on the social media which board games you will be playing this holiday season.

All the best and stay safe and healthy!

~ El Crosso

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