Jonathan F.: Other than Arnak (CGE) and CloudAge (Capstone), if Spiel were happening and I were going, these are the eight 2020 games I would be sure to look at. This list excludes popular US domestic releases because they will be easy to get any time as well as those with a 2021 or 2022 release date because those are likely prototypes to be crowd-funded and will evolve between now and their release date. Just so you know, since the pandemic started I have tended towards clever shorter games like Hadara, Res Arcana, Habitats, St. Petersburg, Race for the Galaxy, and Die Crew as well as deduction (not social deduction) and trick-taking games.
Cafe (Pythagoras) – Card patching, slight engine building, and coffee theme – looks light but not dumb. I like shorter engine builders and this has enough going on to make it interesting unless you don’t like the spatial manipulation of overlapping cards to make a larger machine.
Dwergar (Granna) – Worker placement, delayed gratification, and clever way you get new workers that might give you bonuses on subsequent actions. Multiple decks where you use one each game. This might be a fine game in the vein of Raiders of the North Sea, or something special.
Faza (self-published) – Review coming in the next month. As a family, we have been playing quite a bit of Ghost Stories/Lost Bastion and Atlantis Rising (1st & 2nd eds.), so this looks like a natural.
Influentia (Ludonova) – Trick-taker where the card you play may be the one you get, which affects your action in the other part of the game (shades of S-Evolution – which still interests me as an idea). I am curious to try it to see how it feels given that some hands will inherently be better than others. Ludonova’s other 2020 releases, Sumatra and Polynesia, look good too!
Merv (Osprey) – It will have a domestic release, but I am listing it because it feels under the radar. It is by the designer of Calimala and is not area majority, so on my list. I also have a weakness for modular boards.
My Farm Shop (Pegasus) – Goa is a wonderful game and I like several other Rudiger Dorn games. This might be a good game, or a simple one with lots of chrome. I have no idea, but would check it out because of the designer and the dice manipulation plus shorter playtime. If this is more Machi Koro/Space Base, it is not really in my sweet spot.
Neko Harbor: the Card Game (The Wood Games) – I enjoyed its big brother, A Pleasant Journey to Neko, but it was a bit long for me. If this has a streamlined system and retains the hard choices of the original, it could be great.
Paleo (HiG) – A modular co-op from a publisher that always smooths the edges of design until they are silky smooth. Sounds up my alley as the goal is to paint a mammoth on a cave wall so those in the future will remember you once existed. This is coming from Z-Man, so it might come and go in a blink.