Most Anticipated Historical Board Games of 2018

2017 is over. It’s been a good year for board gaming. I have reasons to believe, however, that 2018 will be just as satisfying – the good games we play already stay with us, and then there might be this or that new worthy addition. Here are some games to be released in 2018 on which I’ll keep an eye. Since they all have a historical theme, I’ll order them from most ancient to most recent. Here we go:

Donning the Purple (Tompet Games, Petter Schanke Olsen)

1-4 players, 70-90min

Donning the Purple

Being emperor is a thrill-ride, including assassination attempts aplenty. Image ©Tompet Games

Recently, game designers have turned to ancient Rome past her glory days of the late republic and the early empire. Donning the Purple is set during Rome’s second Year of Four Emperors in 193. With so many emperors in such a short time, your chance to don the purple cloak of the emperor has come! Being emperor does not only give you a lot of power, but is also the most straightforward way to score victory points. However, it also comes with potential headaches (from having to defend the empire against invaders and supplying all provinces with grain) and potential stomachaches (from the daggers your competitors might want to put in there). To win, you must remain calm amidst the chaos. Donning the Purple will have a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter early in 2018.


Imperial Struggle (GMT Games, Ananda Gupta/Jason Matthews)

2 players, 60-150min

Imperial Struggle P500

The struggle is real. This time: France vs. the United Kingdom. Image from the P500 campaign for the game, not final artwork. ©GMT Games

This is pitched as the spiritual successor to Twilight Struggle – a tense two-player game by the same publisher and authors, but instead of the superpowers in the Cold War, you’ll take the helm of Great Britain and France in the 18th century. During peacetime, players invest their national resources into their military, economy, and diplomacy, skillfully pairing these investments with their event cards (which all have two different outcomes now, one pro-British, one pro-French, similar to the cards in the COIN series). Wars offer opportunities for rapid expansion as well as risks of major setbacks, but gains and losses can be evened out at the negotiations table after a war. Imperial Struggle is expected to be released in the second half of 2018.

Brasil (What’s Your Game, Nuno Bizarro Sentieiro/Paulo Soledade)

2-4 players, 120min

Prototype Brasil.jpg

Many churches have been built with the wealth of the gold mines. Prototype box cover, not final artwork. Image ©What’s Your Game

Nuno Sentieiro and Paulo Soledade have a certain track record when it comes to heavy economic games (see Madeira, Panamax, Nippon). Brasil carries this legacy. Players partake as bandeirantes (expeditioners) in the Brazilian gold rush of the 18th century, but gold mining alone is not enough: The interior of Brazil must be filled with people, commerce, and infrastructure, and the wealth from the gold mining can be spent on building the lavishly decorated baroque churches of the era, especially in Vila Rica, the capital of the captaincy (modern name: Ouro Preto). The exact date for the Brasil Kickstarter campaign is not yet specified.

Fort Sumter (GMT Games, Mark Herman)

2 players, 25-40min

Fort Sumter Banner

This crisis will end with a big bang. Image ©GMT Games

There are Civil War games aplenty, but barely anything that deals with the political drama that led to the Secession. Well, until now. Mark Herman (of We the People, Washington’s War, and Churchill fame, to name but a few) has taken on the subject (with some inspiration from the treatment of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 13 Days). A Secessionist and a Unionist player spend their political capital on dominating public opinion, politics, the Southern secessionists, and armament, while the crisis escalates ever further until its dramatic solution. Fort Sumter will kick off a Final Crisis series of board games in which the players re-enact some of the most dramatic crises in history. A game about the Berlin Airlift and one about Caesar’s assassination are planned to be the next installments in that series. Fort Sumter is expected to ship in March 2018.

Gandhi (GMT Games, Bruce Mansfield)

1-4 players, 90-240min

Gandhi P500 Banner

Non-violence can get you incarcerated, too. Image from the P500 campaign for the game, not final art. ©GMT Games

Decolonization was arguably the most important global process of the 20th century, but hardly any games deal with it. Gandhi helps to fill this gap. It is the newest installment in the COIN series of board games and offers all the well-known joys of these games: Many event cards evoke the theme, strong asymmetry between the factions ensures high replayability, and since all factions can be played by bots, any number of players from 1 to 4 is equally suitable. However, Gandhi also breaks from the COIN conventions by introducing a new type of faction: In addition to the classic insurgent and counter-insurgent factions (the Revolutionaries and the British Raj), there are two non-violent insurgent factions (the Muslim League and the Indian National Congress) which play by different rules. Gandhi is expected to be released in the second half of 2018.

Nights of Fire (Mighty Boards, Brian Train/Dávid Turczi)


1-3 players, 60-90min


Small people vs. big tanks. Fair fight. Preliminary box cover, ©Mighty Boards.

November 1956. For a few days, Hungary has shaken off the Soviet Union’s yoke. But Moscow is not ready to let Hungary slip out of its orbit. The mighty Soviet Army descends on Budapest. One or two players take the fate of the revolutionaries in their hand, fighting against the Soviets represented by either another player or a bot. The game mixes eurogame accessability with the feel of a classic block wargame. This is the sequel to Days of Ire which dealt with the initial insurrection in Hungary. I had quite some fun playing Days of Ire and while this new game does a lot of things differently, two of Days of Ire‘s strongest suits – high player asymmetry and gorgeous artwork – are definitely on board again. The Kickstarter for Nights of Fire is planned for the first quarter of 2018. The publisher aims for an Essen release this year (so, October 2018).

6 thoughts on “Most Anticipated Historical Board Games of 2018

  1. Pingback: Most Anticipated Historical Board Games of 2019 | Clio's Board Games

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