Best Board Games of 2021!
This last year has been full of surprises! The biggest surprise was just how much time we would be spending at home and with our families. You have probably been thinking of some fun ways to keep your kids entertained. Besides some fun scavenger hunts, or other indoor or outdoor games, let me suggest a couple of new board games for you and your family to try! There are a ton of board games out there, and knowing which ones will be a hit can be a gamble. Luckily, my friends and I have tried a ton of games released in 2021 and made a list of our favorites!
#5: Juicy Fruits
Number five on my list of top board games from 2021 is the game Juicy Fruits. This game has a lot of moving parts, so you might have to play it a couple of times to get all the rules down. In this game, each player has their own Tropical Island to capitalize on. Each Island has fruits they can harvest to then use as a resource to gain points. There are multiple strategies to winning, but first you have to clear space on your board by filling orders on boats. Each boat order gives you points, so even clearing your board is one way to win!
Opposite of clearing you board is filling your board. Each player has their own Island, but there is a shared “Market” where you can buy vacation attractions, food booths, or other fruit baskets. Any attractions you buy are placed on your board and cannot be moved from their spot. This can make fruit harvesting a challenge, due to the games unique fruit sliding mechanic. Another way to win is to buy the moving food booths. These can be a great way to make lots of points quickly, but be careful of competition! Another island with a food booth could get all the points first!
Overall, this game is pretty fast moving and not too competitive! You spend all of your time and attention on your own island, so there isn’t much island to island competition. Because the turns can be pretty fast, unless you have planned ahead, your turn might come quicker than you expected and slow you down. Juicy Fruits is also only a four player game. Many families do not fit in that box and you might have just a few too many players in your family group. This one gets an 8/10 from me for its pure fun! I think the brightly colored and fun shaped fruit pieces really make the game, and as your family gets more advanced, there is an optional “Juicing Station” with lots of fun features.
#4: Tiny Epic Pirates
Do you like Pirate games? I have an uncle who collects them and we have reviewed some pretty awesome Pirate board games in the past! Since this is a 2021 game, it is brand new and freshly printed!
Tiny Epic Pirates was easily my favorite, but I cant quite give it the number one spot. This game is part of a series of games. Ever heard of Tiny Epic Zombies, Dinosaurs, Galaxies? If not, I highly suggest you look into these gems as well. Tiny Epic Pirates is called Tiny & Epic for good reason. When my copy came in the mail I was shocked at the tiny box size! Even better than the box size were the tiny Pirate Ships! I have a soft spot for small things and this one called my name!
You play as a pirate! (Obvious I know.) You take your ship and pillage, fight, recruit crewmates, hideout in secret coves, and bury treasure! Each player, hereto referred to as “pirate”, starts with a captain card with a special ability and a helm card. The rules can be tricky to explain and trickier to understand, but it basically works like this: Plunder Booty from islands or from sinking merchant ships, then sell that Booty for doubloons. once you reach 12 or 13 doubloons, you have to sail to an island and bury your treasure! The game ends when the first person buries their third treasure chest.
If you love pirates, doubloons, and tiny ships, this game is definitely worth a try! When playing, I found a couple of weird rules I wasn’t crazy about, but the reason Tiny Epic Pirates doesn’t take first place is because of its difficulty. This is not a game for small kids. Even tweens might struggle. The rulebook is quite lengthy, and there are some features of this game that feel overly complicated. All that being said, this was my personal favorite and I give it a 9/10 fun rating! If you have some real board game nerds in your family and feel up to the challenge, pop Tiny Epic Pirates into your Amazon cart next time you’re looking for something interesting!
#3: MicroMacro Crime City
MicrroMacro’s Crime City is one of the most surprising board games I have ever played! Crime City was created in Germany and won the most prestigious board game in the world, the Kinderspiel des Jahres award for 2021. In the board game community, that means this thing is kind of a big deal. Since winning the award, this game has been sold out all over the world. They printed more copies in September, but they were sold out in a week!
So, what makes it so great? Crime City is essentially clue and Where’s Waldo smashed together. The box comes with a 75cm x 110cm map of “Crime City.” Rightfully named, the map is covered in cartooned crimes to be solved. The characters on the map mostly resemble animals or blob shapes with bodies. The black and white cartoon nature means there are no explicit images, but there are some adult themes. Luckily, the creators of Crime City have a clear rating system on each case.
The game comes with 16 cases to be solved. Cases range from 6 to 15 cards, each asking for a new piece of the investigation. On the front card of each case, there is a title, a game length, a star difficulty rating and an icon with its rating. The instruction manual describes these ranks as either, “Accidents” or “Adult themed Crimes”. The handbook expressly recommends parents play through any adult ranked crimes to determine their playability for their children.
As a young adult, I think the couple of cases I have played through have been a ton of fun! Some are really challenging, but everyone has something to do! This game really is addicting, and MicroMacro knew what they were doing buy only having 15 cases to solve. Although there is a lot of variety in the cases, there isn’t much replayability. Which means you kind of have to stretch out the cases unless you rush out and buy the expansions.
My only other complaint is the map. It is so big, and its only glossy paper. Unless you have a large flat game-space, this thing is going on the floor. And, because everyone is leaning over the map to find the clues, wrinkles and creases are inevitable. Because it is black and white stains or spots might become a problem. Despite these shortcomings, I give it a 10/10 fun rating! There are so many surprises and the hunt for the crime is so thrilling! If you are okay with getting an expansion once a year, I highly recommend MicroMacro Crime City! And, if I haven’t convinced you, MicroMacro has a playable demo on their website here!
#2: Bristol 1350
Bristol 1350 is the fourth and newest board game from Facade Games. Each game comes in a nifty Book box, and has delicate stylish pieces. Each game is historically themed, including Salem, Tortuga, and Deadwood. Bristol 1350 is themed after the Black Plague in England. It might seem a little dark, but it is actually a seriously fun party game! Unlike all the other games on this list, Bristol 1350 is a 9 player game. I’ve played this with 3 people, 4 people, and 7 people. Seven was easily the most fun!
Each player chooses a color peg. Then the each peg is placed inside one of three colored carts. Each round, 6 dice are rolled. The color on the dice represents how many spaces that colored cart can move. The symbol, either a rat or an apple, represents whether or not you have to “mingle.” This gets into the main theme of the game: get past the finish-line and don’t catch the plague! You also can’t have any infected people in your cart either. The whole game is a matter of avoiding the sick, and moving your cart.
Well, what happens when you get sick? That might just be the best part! In Bristol 1350, when you get sick, your win scenario changes. Now, you win when you infect everybody or if you cross the finish-line and make an noninfected person.
It’s a game of poker facing and sabotage. Its fight for yourself until you get sick, then its fight to destroy everyone else. I give this about a 5/10 for four or less players, but a 10/10 fun rating with six or more! I don’t have enough friends to play a 9 player game, but I bet anything it would be a ton of fun! It is very stylistic, and the rules are simple. The game is fast paced, and can be extended if you wanted longer play. But the coolest bonus: the awesome Book Box makes it great for storage.
#1: Happy Little Dinosaurs
Just by looking at the picture of Happy Little Dinosaurs, you can probably sense something familiar. This is one of many games made by Unstable Unicorns, most famously known for their games Unstable Unicorns, Here to Slay, and Llamas Unleashed. Their art style is known as the brand Tee Turtle. They make lots of quirky adorable tee shirts.
The cards have the same adorable and quirky descriptions, and the player boards are to die for cute. Although this is only a four player game, it is the shortest game on the list. My family could go three or four rounds of this and still have a great time! Similar to the play style of other board games like Exploding kittens, your goal is to avoid your own destruction, foil your opponents plans, and get the most points.
The winner is either, the first player to reach 50 points, or the last player left alive. When you near the end of the game, the tension ramps up, and you can smell blood in the water. That is when you pull out all the stops, play all your meanest cards, and force someone out of the game. Be sure to play nicely! Or your family might not want to play with you again.
This game is quick, lighthearted, cute, great for all ages, and affordable. You can pick this up at your local Target! No need to search board game stores or look online. You can grab this next time you stock up on toilet paper! This gets a 10/10 fun rating, and a 5 star review.
So, if you are wondering what your next Christmas family board game should be, I hope you will consider one of the five above! They are fresh, unique, and fun in their own ways. Every game on this list has brought smiles to my family and friends faces! These are the best from this year, and they get the official FunAttic stamp of approval!