The 7 best new board games of 2023

2022 was a superb year for board game releases. It seems that some of the supply chain issues have eased, and a swell of new titles hit the market. The outlook for 2023 is equally promising. Here are some of the best titles we’re looking forward to this year.

Unconscious mind

This evocative design has players occupying the role of psychoanalysts participating in Sigmund Freud’s society of followers. The game has already established its own following, raising over a million euros on Kickstarter in 2022.

It blends popular board game categories of worker placement and engine building to facilitate a rich experience of interconnected mechanisms that produce powerful cascading turns. It should be the type of medium-weight strategy game that rewards repeated exploration and stands up to long-term play.

Unconscious mind is set to be released in December.

frosthaven

gloomhaven is the smash-hit DM-less fantasy campaign in a box that currently sits as the best-rated game of all time in the niche community at Board Game Geek. It’s unsurprising, then, that its follow-up has everyone vibrating with excitement. frosthaven is a huge box packed with content, sent into the world with promises of a more expansive and sophisticated experience than its predecessor. That’s to say, it’s likely not the best jumping-off point if you’re unfamiliar with its predecessor.

The most exciting feature is the game’s base building mechanic, centered around creating an outpost to serve as a headquarters between dungeon delves. Additionally, there are all-new classes, a new retirement system, and many new discoveries to be made on its legacy-style overworld map. It is still focused primarily on cooperative dungeon crawling through a large campaign, but everything is expected to be bigger and more fully formed.

frosthaven will be available to pre-order from major retailers in the near future.

SkyTeam

Image: Scorpion Masqué

This two-player design from Scorpion Masqué hasn’t even been announced yet, but this design studio continually delivers unique and offbeat titles such as Decrypto and Turing Machine. Their latest is a cooperative limited-communication game where a pilot and co-pilot work to fly and successfully land a modern jet. Over the course of a campaign up to two players will use dice placement to control the pitch and yaw, open the flaps, and engage the landing gear.

Pre-orders are not yet available, as it’s expected to be released in fall 2023.

Legacy of Yu

Shem Phillips, creator and lead designer at Garphill Games, is best known for his series of worker placement games, including Paladins of the West Kingdom and Raiders of the North Sea. Legacy of Yu is his next release, and it’s something entirely different — a solitaire design where you take on the role of legendary Chinese hero Yu the Great (circa 2000 BC).

Over the course of a nonlinear campaign, solo players will work to build a channel network in order to thwart the oncoming chaos of a massive flood. Your village will also require protection from neighboring barbarians, splitting your attention. This is the first exclusively solitaire legacy game, which is exciting in its own right.

Legacy of Yu It is currently set to be released in July.

arcs

Cole Wehrle is one of the most fascinating board game designers in the industry. We fell in love with his experimental title Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exileand I’ve personally come to regard his newest release — John Company: Second Edition — as the best game of 2022. arcs is his 2023 effort, another unique and avant-garde work brimming with potential.

In arcs, three to four players compete over galactic dominance in a fast-moving, spacefaring 4X tabletop design. Wehrle has mostly worked in historical and high fantasy settings, so seeing him get into sci-fi is already enticing. But the magic here is in the game’s three-arc campaign. This abbreviated campaign structure allows a group to actually follow through on their commitment, something rare in a world overflowing with 50-hour-plus games. It also leaves plenty of room for playability.

arcs is currently available for late pledge direct from Leder Games.

Thunder Road: Vendetta

Restoration Games worked magic reviving Return to Dark Tower in 2022. I’m hoping it pulls it off again with a reworking of the classic 1980s car combat game Thunder Road. This new iteration looks to have a wealth of content, increased depth, and a much more vivid and stylized presentation.

Up to four players will compete for dominance on a winding post-apocalyptic road full of debris and wreckage. You can engage in combat, maneuver your team of vehicles, and swerve to avoid obstacles. Unlike the original edition, this one will have several expansions to fill it out, including a large big-rig to tear up the highway.

Thunder Road: Vendetta is expected to be available in limited quantities at Gen Con in August, with the full release occurring shortly thereafter.

The Dark Quarter

This is an interesting game as it’s being released through a joint effort between publisher Lucky Duck and Van Ryder Games. The former is known for its app-integrated mystery titles such as Destinies and Chronicles of crime. The latter is responsible for the enormous solitaire hit Final Girlas well as the underrated Detective: City of Angels.

The Dark Quarter takes place in 1980s New Orleans, focusing on a fantastical noir adventure of mystery and violence. Players collaborate as detectives in this app-driven experience over multi-session campaign scenarios. You will walk the magic-filled streets and peer into the dark recesses of this esoteric world.

The Dark Quarter is currently available for late pledge on Gamefound.

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