The 20 Best Tabletop Roleplaying Games of 2022

The 20 Best Tabletop Roleplaying Games of 2022

TTRPGs had a banner year, taking on every single genre in every single system—here are my favorites published this year.

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It’s been an incredible year for tabletop roleplaying games, from both large publishers and indie outfits. Crowdfunding has firmly established itself in the ecosystem, and both small indie games and massive core rulebooks are making the most of the model.

I didn’t have space for all the incredible games that came out this year, but here, for your entertainment, in no particular order, are some of my favorite games of 2022.

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Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel - Wizards of the Coast

Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel - Wizards of the Coast

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Image: Wizards of the Coast

Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel is a groundbreaking adventure anthology that centers voices that have often been excluded from tabletop RPGs. It’s a fantastic game book and the adventures are deeply considered and rich, with cultural and fantasy layers that make this D&D book well worth picking up.

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Court of Blades - A Couple of Drakes

Court of Blades - A Couple of Drakes

Using the Forged in the Dark system, Court of Blades is an impressive power play that centers mannerpunk gun-weilders, Renaissance-era magic, the romance of political maneuvering at court, and a whole lot of intrigue. The setting for this book is really fantastic, and it helps you get into the game extremely fast.

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Women Are Werewolves - Yeonsoo Julian Kim

Women Are Werewolves - Yeonsoo Julian Kim

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Image: 9th Level

Women are Werewolves deals with queer identity in a way that is not only deeply personal for me, but is also extremely approachable for people who do not identify as queer. As you choose how to maneuver through society you use cards to prompt your actions and spark conversations. With a horror-driven metaphor, you must find out where you belong, both in your family and outside of it.

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Swords of the Serpentine - Pelgrane Press

Swords of the Serpentine - Pelgrane Press

From David Ewalt, Gizmodo’s Editor-in-Chief, comes a recommendation for Swords of the Serpentine. The book is well designed and well-written, with a vivid setting and flexible rule mechanics. The fun sample adventure also makes this book a standout.

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Into the Odd - Chris McDowall

Into the Odd - Chris McDowall

One of the few games that I’ve been able to convince people outside of my RPG circle to play, Into the Odd is a game that is a satire of its own setting even as it forces platers to adapt to the circumstances around them. With excellent art and a massive dungeon delver, this old school roleplaying game is great for newbies and experienced players.

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TORQ - Will Jobst

TORQ - Will Jobst

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Image: Will Jobst

TORQ combined what I love about NASCAR and roleplaying games into one short, condensed game that encourages both tactical play and relationship building through extremely tense circumstances. The physical version also comes with an excellent play-mat.

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Notorious - Jason Price

Notorious - Jason Price

I will fully admit that solo games are a hard sell for me. But Notorious is the exception to the rule, creating an immersive and wonderful game experience that makes it feel as if I’m sitting at a table with friends.

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Slugblaster - Mikey Hamm

Slugblaster - Mikey Hamm

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Image: Mickey Hamm

Gonzo roleplaying done well will always get me. Slugblaster is one of those TTRPGs about being cool and failing but still being cool anyway. It’s wonderfully evocative of teenager-dom and the book itself has a ton of attitude and flair. Highly recommend picking this one up for players who just like to do weird shit for fun during the game.

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CY_BORG - Christian Sahlén and Johan Nohr of Stockholm Kartell

CY_BORG - Christian Sahlén and Johan Nohr of Stockholm Kartell

MÖRG BORG has become a people’s darling, and CY_BORG—the cyberpunk expansion to the OSR game is really excellent. Taking the same fuck ‘em all attitude as MB, CY_BORG effortlessly translates that energy into a corporate hellhole where characters fight the man through souped up wetware hacks and magic. A truly exceptional game.

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The Price of Coal - Jennifer Adcock

The Price of Coal - Jennifer Adcock

The Price of Coal is a historical story game about the Battle of Blair Mountain, which means in addition to being a heart-wrenching game it is also educational. Sort of. A little bit. Using a deck of prompt cards, characters develop the resistance and create change in their community. Tight, no-nonsense, and with a lot of room for emotional payoff.

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First Responders - Bruce R. Cordell and Shanna Germain

First Responders - Bruce R. Cordell and Shanna Germain

Taking an under-represented genre (who hasn’t seen those firefighter shows on TV?) First Responders is a game that allows for altruism without much moral complication. There is a disaster and you need to help. Simple, direct, and incredibly tense.

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Rune - Gila RPGs

Rune - Gila RPGs

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Image: Gila RPGs

Another solo RPG that breaks through, Rune uses narrative clocks to keep the tension up and keep me focused on actually playing the game. It’s clever, well-written, and with a world that is darkly engaging.

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The One Ring - Free League Publishing

The One Ring - Free League Publishing

The One Ring is an update to a previous edition but this game really nails the kind of roleplaying that’s needed to create a game that occurs just before some of the most beloved movies of all time. It’s a great introduction into the world of Middle-earth and while gameplay isn’t totally intuitive, once you get the hang of it, it really supports the travelogue at the heart of Tolkien’s series.

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Apollo 47 - Tim Hutchings

Apollo 47 - Tim Hutchings

I’ve spoken before about how much I love this game, but I’m here to radio its praises down again. This games is incredibly lightweight and delightful to teach other people. You literally sit down and chatter about the most mundane bits of technology that also happen to be exceptionally highly advanced space thingamabobs. It is so compelling precisely because its design is so simple and clever.

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This game takes cyberpunk out of the grimy, rain-drenched future and puts it solidly within the blistering nightlife of your local city. Infused with plenty of witty winks to classic noir and gangster films, Crescendo of Violence allows for a game that is both snappy and dangerous, but also allows glittering excess and danger.

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Tattoo - Sean Patrick Cain

Tattoo - Sean Patrick Cain

Taboo is one of my favorite games, and Sean Patrick Cain’s Tattoo tears up the format—literally—to create a pastiche of the classic buzzer-based guessing game and Pictionary. It’s part roleplaying game, part party favor, and incredibly fun to introduce to people

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The Slow Knife - Jack Harrison

The Slow Knife - Jack Harrison

If you’ve ever seen that gif of Charlie Day with his conspiracy board and thought to yourself, “gosh, I’d love to be that deranged one day,” well now you can. The Slow Knife incorporates pinboard-making and yarn-stringing as a mechanic and it makes the game both wonderful to play and exciting to create.

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Himbos of Myth and Mettle - Maxwell Ander

Himbos of Myth and Mettle - Maxwell Ander

Look, we all love a himbo. Usually they’re limited to one per game, maybe two if you have a big party. Someone has to be the one with the brains! But Himbos of Myth and Mettle lets everyone be a himbo, and it’s wonderfully funny, delightfully campy, and encourages a strange, absurdist mashing of modern mores with old-school roleplaying.

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Monster Care Squad - Sandy Pug Games

Monster Care Squad - Sandy Pug Games

One of the most beautiful RPGs that I have ever held in my hands, Monster Care Squad combines Final Fantasy, Pokémon, and Ryuutama in a wonderfully charming and fun-to-play adventure book that is really unmatched. The illustrations are gorgeous and the gameplay is deeply human while still staying true to the epic fantasy of its premise.

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DIE RPG - Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans

DIE RPG - Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans

Probably the game that I am most hyped to receive in physical form, DIE RPG by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans is a meta-textual love letter to gaming, storytelling, and their own comic creation. It’s a game that is built to destroy you, and in the two sessions I’ve played with my friends it has broken my heart not less than five times. It combines a very clever premise with the ability to do pretty much anything you want, but the consequences, the final decision, always looms large in the minds of you and your companions.


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