The Best Board Games of 2024… So Far

Every year at both the halfway point and the end of the year there’s a struggle for the team to pick their favorite new game. Sometimes it’s a struggle between two titans of excellence while other times it’s a challenge separating the good from the great. We’re pretty fortunate to have an embarrassment of riches of excellent games to play along with the occasional stinkers. What’s got the BGQ team fired up this year? Will any of these hang on to be on our best of the year at the end of the year? And what have we missed?  Let us know in the comments below or join us on Discord.

Star Wars Unlimited

Chosen by Andrew:
Star Wars UnlimitedIf you checked out our Most Anticipated Games of 2024 list, you read about my (trepidatious) excitement for the upcoming TCG. But I’m all in on Star Wars Unlimited these days. Yanked the Magic cards out of the binders I had in the attic and filled them with rares and legendaries from the Star Wars universe. It really helps that there is a solid organized play program in place allowing me and my son to play at least reasonably frequently. The game is very well designed with a lot of powerful decks but still a balanced metagame despite a very small card pool currently. There are some supply issues and I’m worried about getting through the next few months, especially with the release of the next set, but more inventory should be coming and there was way more available than other recent launches (ehem, Lorcana). But really need enough supply to be able to find more drafts, as it’s my favorite way to play!

2-4 Players • Ages 10+ • 20 minutes • $35Get Your Copy




Chosen by Brandon:
ArcsIn Cole Wehrle we trust. After 25+ plays of Oath, my group has been excited for the release of Arcs, which is hitting US backers now. While we’ve not yet dove into the campaign, the initial plays have shown us the strong foundation of play. Pseudo trick-taking with a crisp action/resource economy and plenty of cards to provide variety. This feels more in-your-face with the base game, as players battle over scoring conditions determined along the way, but the expanded campaign named The Blighted Reach promises much more individual purpose and emergent narrative. Those Oath-y elements are exactly why we will see this hitting the table A LOT this summer. What can I say? We have liftoff. With no end in sight.

2-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 60-90 minutes • $60Get Your Copy



A Message From the Stars

Chosen by Bailey:
A Message from the StarsWord games have never been a love of mine, and yet A Message From the Stars captivates me in ways no other game has ever done, word or otherwise. One team of players are the Aliens, and the other team is the Scientists. Players will be exchanging words with one another, all in hopes of using the words themselves to solve a relational puzzle, and the letters of those words to figure out which of those letters were randomly assigned to the Aliens. Each clue and each exchange of words is fiery, a crucial detail for a game where each team only exchanges four total words. Check out A Message From the Stars if you’re looking for the most engaging word game on the market.

2-8 Players • Ages 11+ • 45 minutes • $40Get Your Copy



Slay the Spire: The Board Game

Chosen by Tony:
Slay the SpireIs it cheating to pick a board game that’s based on a video game that was pretty much already a card game? Well too bad, because despite my skepticism, Slay the Spire did an amazing job in translation its digital play to the tabletop. Publisher Contention Games really dialed in the heart and the soul of the video game into something that had the potentially to be supper fiddly but flows perfectly into a great cooperative game. It’s a combination deck builder/boss battler with tons of variety that just has me coming back for more and more.

1-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 30-150 minutes • $114Get Your Copy



Surfosaurus Max/Combo

Chosen by Jacob:
Surfosaurus RexOk, full disclosure, my favorite game of 2024 so far is Surfosaurus Max, it is NOT Combo. Combo is the absolutely vapid and characterless rebranding of the incredibly silly and ridiculous game about surfing dinosaurs. It is called Combo, for chrissakes. It’s not even about the popular gas station snack, it’s, like, about fruit or something. Bottom line is it is NOT about surfing dinosaurs. In Surfosaurus Max, you are collectively trying to create the best poker hand with a hand of cards. If your cards are used in the best hand, you can collect them and score the points listed on them (lower cards offer more points, since it’s harder to make a winning hand with them). The group is jockeying to convince everyone to play into a particular poker hand, so their cards are used, and other players’ cards are not used. It’s amazing fun, lots of shouting and pleading and non-binding deal-making (“help me by playing into the hand I’m playing into, and I’ll help you next hand,” etc.). What does this have to do with surfing dinosaurs? Absolutely nothing, but it has nothing to do with fruit either. My advice is to grab a copy of Surfosaurus Max while you still can.

2-6 Players • Ages 10+ • 20 minutes • $20Get Your Copy



French Quarter

Chosen by Matt:
French QuarterFrench Quarter is a crunchy roll-and-write from Matt Riddle, Ben Pinchback, and Adam Hill, part of a series that includes Fleet: The Dice Game, Three Sisters, and Motor City. In this one, your goal is to enjoy the food, culture, and nightlife of New Orleans to the fullest, outscoring your opponents as you roam the streets of the French Quarter. You’ll be using the die values to mark locations that you’ve visited on your map of the city. These spots will allow you to advance on various tracks representing activities such as shopping, food, or partying. In order to move from building to building, you’ll also be selecting a travel card each turn that dictates how far you can go; walking only gets you one space, but a taxi can help you move further across town in search of fun experiences. As you’d expect from this series, there are numerous opportunities for extra actions, special abilities, and combos that can be pretty satisfying to pull off. If you’ve liked any of the other Ridback roll-and-writes, I’d recommend checking this one out.

1-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 30-60 minutes • $25Get Your Copy



Leviathan Wilds

Chosen by James and Brian B.
Leviathan WildsMy blood runs cold, my memory has just been sold, that boss is a centerfold. Why the J Geils band reference? Leviathan Wilds published by Moon Crab games is Shadows of the Colossus as a board game but instead of making a garden statue sized miniature (waves at CMON), the boss is magazine-style centerfold. Each player takes a set of climber and class cards to build their starting deck, which represents your grip on these massive creatures, and off you go platforming around the boss trying to cure it of the blight that afflicts it (besides a lack of cowbell). So, in this boss battler, you’re healing the creatures, not slaying them. But the ingrates are definitely trying to kill you with their unique deck of cards that has two sides making the Leviathan’s abilities get more powerful as the game goes on. There are 17 different bosses in the aptly named book of Leviathans to keep you busy along with various difficulty levels and character combinations. This game plays much bigger than its box size and is so easy to set up and get into the action.

1-4 Players • Ages 10+ • 45-90 minutes Get Your Copy




Chosen by Emma:
WyrmspanI thought that the reason I loved Wingspan was that I’m a bird nerd. Turns out I like dragons even more. The updates to gameplay that the designers made breathe new life into a game that many players at my table were starting to grow stale on. While at the core it feels like the same game, Wyrmspan adds new challenges and complications to increase the difficulty level. It feels less like a gateway game, and more like a proper main event now. I like the cave exploring system, and the dragon guild board makes gameplay a bit more narrative. There are more decisions to be made about what to do on a turn, which makes gameplay satisfying. I’m also still in awe of the art. While I do miss the birds, Wyrmspan is a welcome addition to the Stonemaier slate.

1-5 Players • Ages 12+ • 90 minutes



Gloomhaven: Buttons and Bugs

Chosen by April:
Gloomhaven Buttons and BugsGloomhaven: Buttons and Bugs offers the Gloomhaven experience in a tiny package. As much as I love Gloomhaven, it’s a beast of a game, and when Frosthaven came out I couldn’t invest that much time into another huge scenario game. Buttons and Bugs is a compromise for those not wanting—or not able—to keep a huge box on their shelves and a huge game spread on their table for a month at a time. I’m impressed with how it managed to condense and incorporate concepts from the original Gloomhaven while maintaining interesting and satisfying gameplay. I’m especially pleased with the attack modifier system, which simulates the original card system using a die and a chart. This game could have taken a very simple approach to its own detriment, instead, it is a thoughtful and clever design that stays true to the spirit of the original. I definitely recommend it for Gloomhaven fans, as well as those looking for a bite-sized taste of the system without all the overhead.

1 Player • Ages 14+ • 20-30 minutes • $42Get Your Copy



Lands of the Mesozoic

Chosen by Marcus:
Lands of the MesozoicGoing into the year, this was the game that had my attention the most. It’s still the top of my list for the year in part because I feel like I’ve tried very few new games so far in the first half of the year, and also in part because it did deliver on my expectations. The name of the game is balance. You need to get a high score, but you get there by creating a balanced ecosystem. Your apex predators need a minimum number of herbivores to hunt, and your herbivores need a minimum amount of habitat to survive. The victory points aspect is obviously more abstract, but the general ecosystem concept feels very thematic. Throw in some extinction throughout the game and it feels very on point. The highlight as always in these types of games are the dinosaurs (and their relatives). There’s a huge variety of them. Naturally, there are the classics like brachiosaurus, tyrannosaurus, parasaurolophus, and more. But there are so many that most will have never heard of, which makes each game also a learning experience!

1-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 20-120 minutes




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