It’s that time of year again. The holidays are over, convention season is ramping up, and we’ve all already failed at most of our New Year’s resolutions. But that also means we get to take a look forward to the coming year and see what games have piqued our interests. And that’s what we are talking about today. The BGQ staff has peered into their Palantírs, asked the mirror on the wall, and browsed Kickstarter to see what games we are most excited about this year. So let’s get to it.
Most Anticipated Board Games of 2023
Triomphe à Marengo
Chosen by Dylan:
Sometimes, a game has enough prestige behind it that you know it has to be good. Histogame has published some incredible games in their small library, including my favorite wargame Maria, the precursor to The King is Dead (König von Siam), and one of the most prestigious war games of all time, Napoleon’s Triumph. Triomphe à Marengo is designed by Rachel Simmons, whose block war game system has produced three of the most renowned 19th-century war games, including the aforementioned Napoleon’s Triumph. Simmons is revisiting her first design with Triomphe à Marengo, and I am ecstatic to see the system in print once again. Pick this up while you can.
2 Players • Ages 16+ • 120 minutes
The Queen’s Dilemma
Chosen by Brandon:
An easy choice both based on the fact that I’ve backed this through crowdfunding, and also due to the absolute joy of its predecessor. The King’s Dilemma took a narrative interactive legacy, and threw its participants deep into the moral underpinnings of a fantasy society faced with brutal decisions. The newest entry looks to do more of the same council negotiation, but this time from a more personalized perspective. It will also feature a story in the same universe but well into the future. There will be a new ideology system. Yes, please. And the map will now evolve rather than be a static space. Gather your friends, manage the troubles of the land, and increase your political power. All under the Queen’s watch.
3-6 Players • Ages 14+ • 60-90 minutes
Chosen by Andy:
Right now, everything I am looking forward to in the gaming world is from the crowdfunding niche, and of the games I’ve backed, the one I’m most intrigued by is Air Postal. I’m a huge fan of the aesthetics of old airplanes (and in fact, I am also working on an aviation-themed game of a slightly earlier epoch), so seeing how well illustrated the game is, evoking that inter-war spirit of pioneering a new industry, has me very excited. We’ve all been down this path before: jazzed as heck by the tease of a Kickstarted game, lured in by theme and the art, and uncertain as to whether the gameplay will live up to the promise. But this is that delicious moment of anticipation, when a game has just been funded and the possibilities are still fantastic: production hiccups haven’t set in yet, fulfillment partners haven’t gone out of business yet, etc. The game will involve building postal routes (hello Thurn und Taxis!), upgrading your airplane technology, and working on secret objectives. Will I love it when I get it? Who knows, but for now Air Postal is the game I most hope to see on my doorstep in 2023. Besides Envelopes of Cash, of course.
1-5 Players • Ages 14+ • 45-120 minutes
Steam Up: A Feast of Dim Sum
Chosen by Michelle:
Steam Up has lived rent-free in my head since I backed it in November 2021, defying the common Kickstarter thought of “Oh I forgot I backed that”. Its eye-catching stackable steamers and uniquely-molded dim sum pieces were the first thing I noticed, featuring BBQ meat buns, shrimp dumplings, meat dumplings, phoenix claws, and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves. Players will choose to be one of twelve Chinese Zodiac animals looking to eat at this dim sum restaurant, trying to rotate the double-layer turntable in their favor for the ultimate feast. Fortune cards and Fate cards can switch up the pace and shift the game so players are kept on their toes during play. I’m excited to see what else Hot Banana Games has in store for the future as they continue to develop authentic Asian-themed board games to all tables, delivering the representation I’ve been looking for.
2-5 Players • Ages 10+ • 45-60 minutes
6: Siege – The Board Game
Chosen by Tony:
I had a tough call of which game I’m more interested in this year, 6 Siege or Hyperspace. Oddly enough, both games are much delayed and being made by companies pretty much on life support (by all appearances). But I’m going to have to give the nod to 6 Siege. I had a chance to try this during its Kickstarter (via Tabletop Simulator) and really loved the gameplay. It’s an asymmetric game where one player is trying to defend a location, and the other must break in. But this isn’t any old siege game with catapults and swordsmen. It’s based on the Rainbow 6 video game and features fast and frantic action. I’m really hoping this one arrives this year because I can’t wait to play it again. Oh, and to take a page out of Andy’s book, keep an eye out for the release of Startropolis Second Edition releasing soon!
2-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 60 minutes
Chosen by Jacob and Spencer
Zoo Vadis is a reimagining and reskinning of Reiner Knizia’s “classic” negotiation game, Quo Vadis?. I say “classic” in air quotes because I was actually not familiar with it until I read about this release, though some of my friends who’ve been in the hobby a bit longer than me swear by it. The original conceit of the Quo Vadis? is this: A negotiation game portraying the process of Roman elites moving up the cursus honorum (the sequence of public offices held by those with aspirations for higher office in the Roman Republic. A contemporary example might be: you have to become a Yale University Skull & Bones member before you become a Congressman, before you become an oil executive, before you become CIA director, before you become Vice President of the US, before you become President of the US. Et Voila! George H.W. Bush). For a history nerd like me, that is my bag, man. I love to hear about boring-ass inbred Romans convincing one another that they should be allowed to become Prefect first.
But hey, some people like fuzzy animals in a zoo instead, so what’re you gonna do? I will say, there’s been a spate of games reskinned into animal themes recently. The excellent German negotiation game Tiefe Taschen was reskinned into Goodcritters; Air Land & Sea was reskinned into Critters at War; Libertalia was recently reissued as Libertalia: The Winds of Galecrest, featuring a ship full of anthropomorphic buccaneers. On one hand, it’s a little infantilizing, as though those who play board games aren’t intellectual enough to be interested in a game’s historical precedent. On the other hand, it offers gamers a much less stuffy, more colorful – albeit totally un-relatable and fantastical – theme and setting, one that’s unmoored from their historical baggage. Zoo Vadis’s theme is utterly incoherent. Zoo animals must lobby each other to take part in the zoo’s star exhibit and ultimately be elected Zoo mascot. Ok, sure. That said, after early glowing reviews from a few prominent game writers/Youtubers, and obviously being designed by Ultimate Designer Daddy Reiner Knizia (I think that’s his official title, Ultimate Designer Daddy), it was enough to pique my interest. Adding to that the really excellent production quality of the board, pieces, tokens, etc., and again, it being a negotiation game (I’ll take them all, thank you), I am definitely excited to give Zoo Vadis a go. It hit Kickstarter earlier this week and has already surpassed its goal.
3-7, 10, 20-40
3-7 Players • Ages 10+ • 20-40 minutes
Life of the Amazonia
Chosen by Marcus:
This game’s predecessor, Wild: Serengeti (apparently being renamed Life of the Serengeti when reprinted), came out last year, and was incredibly cute with its detailed animal meeples. The main critique I’ve seen of that game is that it overstayed its welcome by about one round with some. Amazonia came to Kickstarter late last year and seems to preserve all of the great things of Serengeti. It has a plethora of adorable animal meeples from jaguars and tamarins to dolphins and manatees. It’s also a very different game. You are trying to build ecologically diverse jungles with animals, flowers, trees, and different environments. The aesthetics all appear to be great, including the “Waterfall of Life” that takes care of tracking different elements of the game state (available in wood for those concerned about wear-and-tear on a punchboard version). There are going to be a wide array of ways to play, including solo and cooperative, and a “light” mode to give the game more brevity for those than want it. Can’t wait to see the finished product.
1-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 60-150 minutes
Arydia: The Paths We Dare Tread
Chosen by James:
This almost made my 2022 list but with most Kickstarters delivering late, that wasn’t a path I dare tread (unlike Brian Biewer who dared). Anyway, when I first saw Cody Miller’s design on Kickstarter it stood out from most dungeon crawlers by more closely resembling a computer-based RPG where you wander around the world interacting with people and locations as you go from zero to hero in a vibrant fantasy world. Having other players role play encounters makes this cooperative game about as close as you can get to the mythical RPG-in-a-board-game-box without actually playing an RPG (D&D was probably the original one versus many games). While the game will have a storyline it’s also an open world as you try and earn Quills to redeem yourself for your past transgressions. I’m excited to move the pre-painted miniatures around a town and use overlays to enter a building and talk to the barkeep to get a quest or a drink. And then place a second overlay for the cellar that leads to a dungeon where I can battle enemies and earn loot. The combat system looks interesting with weapon attacks being more effective with higher dice rolls and enemy hit locations that might trigger secondary effects. Enemy attacks target specific body locations which tie into the equipment system where equipment is represented by tiles that fill out your player board. And each character path (their name for classes/professions) has their own custom gear that will be collected during the adventure. Many adventure games are one-and-done but I think Arydia might be one of the special ones that can be revisited and enjoyed if you take some different paths.
1-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 60-120 minutes
Age of Rome
Chosen by Chris:
I’m typically not great at tracking upcoming game releases. What can I say? Often my backlog from previous years’ “most anticipated games” lists takes up most of my attention and time. So I decided to look at the games I have pre-ordered that are coming out in the next few months and am therefore selecting Age of Rome as my most anticipated game coming out this year. It has players laying tiles onto spaces that will rotate every turn and limit what actions everyone can take depending on what section of the board is in front of them. It seems like a unique concept and I’m curious to see how it all comes together at various player counts.
1-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 60-90 minutes
Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Dark Aelves
Chosen by George:
I want to start that this is totally speculation and may not come to pass at all, but there have been some hints dropped that we may finally be seeing the dark aelves that we have been waiting for in Age of Sigmar later this year. Not only is there a warband symbol leaked on the roadmap for Warhammer Underworlds (which could just be a new chaos warband as well), but we have seen Malekith, their leader, mentioned multiple times in different books. As to where they fit in the pantheon of grand alliances, what the mortal realms have morphed them into, and what their model range will look like we can only guess at. I will definitely be picking up the whole range if this speculation comes to fruition. Even if they don’t show up this year, the third edition of Age of Sigmar is going strong with a large slate of new battletome releases and new models confirmed to be coming this year, there isn’t a lack of anything to look forward to. I’ll be keeping a close eye on previews throughout the year hoping for some more clues to drop.
2 Players • Ages 10+ • 40-180 minutes
Chosen by Matt:
Motor City is an engine-building roll-and-write game that has players supervising an auto plant in Detroit to build a muscle car empire. It is the third in a series of heavier, strategic roll-and-write games from designers Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback, this time also with Adam Hill. The two previous games, Fleet: The Dice Game and Three Sisters, were excellent entries into the genre with the latter being my favorite game from last year. One of the main draws of these games is the ability to pull off satisfying combos, triggering numerous abilities and marking off myriad boxes with a single drafted die. In Motor City, you’ll be researching and engineering prototypes, producing muscle cars, testing them on the track, and selling those hotrods. And as luck would have it, I received my shipping notification for Motor City this morning, so I won’t have to anticipate this release for much longer. Once I’ve gotten a few plays in, you can expect a solo review on this very site. Matt’s favorite muscle car is a 1969 Dodge Charger.
1-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 45-60 minutes
Monster Hunter World: The Board Game
Chosen by Brian B:
I love Steamforged Games board games based on video games (Horizon Zero Dawn, Resident Evil), and Monster Hunter is in my top 5 video game franchises of all time, so this is a no-brainer for me. I went all in during the campaign. The game is supposed to deliver in early 2023 and I cannot wait. Yes, the minis will be fantastic, the card-based gameplay looks interesting and it includes the part carving/equipment crafting that Monster Hunter is known for, but what I really cannot wait for is to be able to play multiplayer with people I know. I have to always join random lobbies when playing the video game version as no one I know plays the game. I cannot wait to introduce my friends to the world of Monster Hunter via the tabletop version!
1-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 60-90 minutes