Home Top Ten Game Lists Top 10 Board Games of 2023

Top 10 Board Games of 2023

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New Year’s Eve is just around the corner and as we get ready to say goodbye to 2023, its time for our annual top 10 list. As is tradition here at BGQ, I’ll be teaming up with fellow reviewer Brandon to list off our Top 10 Board Games of 2023. We always pair up for these lists to help provide a bit more variety in our standout games of the year. While I tend to be more of a thematic, dice-chucking, minis-loving gamer, Brandon leans more toward the crunchy euros. That and Oath, which I’m pretty sure he plays on repeat all day.

Like every year, there are also some games that I didn’t include in this list because they either just missed the cut. For me, it was Nekojima, Marvel D.A.G.G.E.R., Roll for the Great Old Ones, Starship Captains, Art Society, and Sea Salt and Paper. For Brandon, there were a few games he just haven’t been able to try yet: Earthborne Rangers, White Castle, Stationfall, Oranienburger Kanal, Zoo Vadis, Knarr, Halls of Hegra

Top 10 Board Games of 2023

Wandering Towers10. Wandering Towers

Brandon: Get your wizards to the keep first! This new Kramer & Kielsing game was a Gen Con only experience for me, but it provides a fun experience for such a simple premise. The highlight of this design comes from the necessity to remember when your wizards are at any given time. Players can shift tower levels and cover up other players’ meeples and all it takes is a moment of forgetfulness for chaos to ensue. A great time for families and sure to keep everyone’s attention with its unpredictable actions and spell activations.

2-6 Players • Ages 8+ • 30 minutes • $45Get Your Copy

 

 

Sky Team10. Sky Team

Tony: One of the hits of Gen Con this year was Sky Team from Scorpion Masqué. This cooperative game for two players will task you and your partner with landing a plane at various airports. Each round, you’ll discuss your strategies, roll your dice, and then move on to a silent placement phase where you must take care of the aircraft’s needs. You’ll need to manage your speed, altitude, landing gear, flaps, and air traffic (sorry, no button to page the attendant for a cocktail). If everything goes perfectly, you’ll land the plane and move on to the next mission. If not… well, you might just be saying hi to Oceanic 815.

2 Players • Ages 10+ • 15 minutes • $30Get Your Copy

 

 

Kutna9. Kutna Hora: The City of Silver

Brandon: The dynamics of supply and demand are on display in this Euro-style game about the discovery of silver and the period of growth that follows. Dual action cards are played to mine, secure building rights and plots, erect said buildings, and reap the rewards. There’s a lot of interesting ideas on display here, from the economy to restrictions based on which guilds you have access to. Another highlight is the use of cards to depict economic value which eliminates the need for resources tokens. It’s all about the coin as you buy and sell your way into greatness.

2-4 Players • Ages 13+ • 60-120 minutes • $60Get Your Copy

 

 

Snap Ship Tactics9. Snap Ships Tactics

Tony: If a skirmish game and Legos had a baby, it would be Snap Ships Tactics. I first tried out this gem earlier this year and fell in love right away. Not only do you get to build your own ships with Lego-style blocks, but the gameplay is actually really innovative. Once built, you then equip your ship with a variety of guns and accessories. As the game is modular, you can customize your ships quite a bit (especially with expansions). The game play uses an action cube system that not only helps keep things even, but tasks players with a bit of resource management where you need to decide where and how spend your action cubes each round. Add on to that a really strong AI system for solo/coop play and you have an all-around win in my book.

1-4 Players • Ages 8+ • 30-120 minutes • $64Get Your Copy

 

 

Sunrise Lane8. Sunrise Lane

Brandon: The good doctor Reiner Knizia is everywhere in this hobby. He designs clean systems with interaction and depth. Here, he’s revamped an older design (Rondo) and given it a facelift creating a more inviting table presence and a little less abstraction. Players either draw cards on their turn, or they turn their cards into buildings. If a player has more than one card of a color in their hand, they can build up and score more points. Every space provides a specific value, so building up higher on a value space can set you apart from the competition. After the game is over, the board looks excellent with the colorful buildings at their different heights.

2-4 Players • Ages 8+ • 45 minutes • $29Get Your Copy

 

 

Kinfire Chronicles8. Kinfire Chronicles: Night’s Fall

Tony: The first game from new publisher Incredible Dream was a notable one as Kinfire Chronicles is an excellent dungeon crawler with some really unique gameplay. Using card-based combat, you’ll be taking on a host of terrifying monsters as you attempt to protect the city of Din’Lux. One of the nice things about Kinfire Chronicles is how interactive it is. During combat, you’ll have cards in your hand that can only be used to boost other player’s actions. The helps to keep everyone engaged even when it’s not their turn. While we are still working our way through the campaign, overall, it’s been quite enjoyable.

1-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 45-60 minutes • $129Get Your Copy

 

 

Legacy of Yu7. Legacy of Yu

Brandon: Garphill Games designer Shem Phillips has created an excellent solo-only experience with a campaign element. Legacy of Yu requires players to utilize different colors of workers efficiently as they develop canals (to stop an impending flood) as well as defend against outside threats. The card play and decision space is well considered, and the continued progress of the campaign makes this a compelling system as it balances to hinder when you’re winning or help when you’re losing. It’s fully resettable and would be higher on my list, but I was able to get through a significant amount of the content in a single campaign. A great time nonetheless!

1 Player • Ages 12+ • 60 minutes • $50Get Your Copy

 

 

Imperial Miners7. Imperial Miners

Tony: A surprise hit for me from Portal Games is the latest game in the Imperial Settlers universe. Imperial Miners is a multiplayer solitaire engine building game that is both easy to learn and quick to play. Each round you’ll play a new card to your tableau, and then activate every card connected to it back up the chain. This allows you to create an engine that can make some really strong combos. Imperial Miners also uses the factions from the Imperial Setters world, giving each of them their own spin on what they do. This allows players to customize their strategy by what cards they play.

1-5 Players • Ages 10+ • 30 minutes • $35Get Your Copy

 

 

Hoplomachus6. Hoplomachus Victorum

Brandon: Another solo game hitting the list. This time, the buy-in is much steeper, but the production matches the cost. Chip Theory Games delivers a campaign similar to a rogue-like video game. Here players can choose their own path, build up their character and forces, and take to the unique arenas of multiple ands to battle against increasingly difficult threats. It’s an easy system to both setup and maintain, and with several unique heroes to bring to a new campaign, there’s plenty to dig into. The game is further improved upon by the upcoming expansion rules variant that speeds up the game for those wanting more variety.

1 Players • Ages 14+ • 90 minutes • $150Get Your Copy

 

 

Red Rains6. Ashes Reborn: Red Rains – The Corpse of Viros

Tony: I remember playing Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn back in 2015 when it debuted and really liked it. However, it never really got that much table time, mostly because dueling games tend to not make it off my shelf very often. Eventually I forgot about it and moved on. Fast forward to 2021 and through a complicated series of mergers and splits and swamp gas reflecting off Jupiter, Ashes landed back with Plaid Hat Games (now called Ashes Reborn) after spending time in the forgotten bowels of Asmodee’s catalog. And this year brought us Ashes Reborn: Red Rains – The Corpse of Viros, a new solo/cooperative way to play Ashes Reborn. And let me say, it’s awesome. A lot of times when coop mode is shoehorned into a competitive game is pretty terrible (I’m looking at you Masmora), but you can tell a lot of thought went into the gameplay for this one. The mechanics translate over too this new way to play seamlessly, and it has breathed new life into this game for me.

1-2 Players • Ages 12+ • 30-60 minutes • $30Get Your Copy

 

 

Frosthaven5. Frosthaven

Brandon: I never took the plunge on Gloomhaven, though I did complete (and enjoy) the Jaws of the Lion release. The opportunity to review this behemoth came at a perfect moment for me, as I had the time to keep this setup and devour the contents. Say what you will about its predecessor, but Frosthaven seems to have improved upon it in several ways. This includes the city building, the storyline, and the rules improvements. I enjoyed diving into new locations, retiring my characters, exploring the card action selection system, and having friends jump in and out of plays. Not all of it is refined, but it’s still a highly recommended experience for those seeking an epic adventure.

1-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 30-120 minutes • $200Get Your Copy

 

 

Tamashii5. Tamashii: Chronicle of Ascend

Tony: I feel like every year when I make these lists, there is one game I play in December that would probably shoot up the ranks if I had more time to try it. Last year it was Heat: Pedal to the Metal, and this year it’s Tamashii: Chronicle of Ascend. This cooperative cyberpunk game feels like a thematic mashup of Altered Carbon, The Matrix, and Terminator. Players are hackers who can jump into various bodies to complete missions for different factions around the city. The gameplay actually reminds me a bit of Bullet ❤️, where you are sliding tokens around a grid trying to make patterns. Overall, it’s a clever system with an absolute ton of variety. I expect this one to shoot up on the list with more plays.

1-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 60-180 minutes • $98Get Your Copy

 

 

Darwins Journey4. Darwin’s Journey

Brandon: A crowdfunding project that took a long journey to hit our shores, Darwin’s Journey is a worker placement game themed around Darwin’s adventures in the Galapagos. What makes this design unique is how workers level-up over the course of play. Their studies provide new ways for them to access stronger actions, which is further directed by specific objectives and goals, as players race to fill the museum with specimens, sail to new islands, and research their theories. While the base game is wonderful, the flipside of the board features a new way to play that includes time as an element. It also provides an event system to provide further incentive for exploring the islands. Simone Luciani is one of our greatest living designers and this is certainly an upper-tier game from him.

1-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 60-120 minutes • $60Get Your Copy

 

 

Earthborne Rangers4. Earthborne Rangers

Tony: This card game reminds me a bit of the Arkham Horror LCG. It’s a campaign-style game that will have you and your fellow players exploring the valley, helping out its inhabitants. What’s unique about Earthborne Rangers is that it’s a truly open-world game. While there is an overarching campaign, you are also free to ignore it and just wander the valley to see who (or what) you meet and how you can help them. As long as you are invested in the story and the world, you can spend hours just wandering the valley, improving your ranger, and taking on jobs and missions for the local populace.

1-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 60+ minutes • $100Get Your Copy

 

 

Votes for Women3. Votes for Women

Brandon: I love that this is listed on BGG as a war game. This is an excellent solo and two-player historical design about the fight to pass the nineteenth amendment. Everything here is steeped in wonderful historical documents, which includes flavor text on cards that provides grounded reasoning for each action. Players take on the role of either the suffragette movement, or the opposition (boo!), and through area majority attempt to convince the populace to vote for their side. Every game I’ve played has been tense as players battle for position based on their card options as well push for congressional support. Activist and designer Tory Brown put a lot of love into this creation, and it shows at every angle.

1-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 60-75 minutes • $75Get Your Copy

 

 

Unmatched Adventures3. Unmatched Adventures: Tales to Amaze

Tony: I’ve always been a fan of the Unmatched series, and the new Tales to Amaze takes it up another notch for me. Now, you can play this competitive card game fully cooperatively, including with any of the sets released to date. In Tales to Amaze, you get to unique baddies (Mothman and the Martian Invader), and some other minions to help them with their nefarious schemes (Jersey Devil, Ant Queen, Loveland Frog, The Blob, Tarantula, and Skunk Ape). The AI is definitely not a push over and you’ll need to strategize with your fellow players if you hope to be able to stop these threats.

1-4 Players • Ages 10+ • 30+ minutes • $60Get Your Copy

 

 

Age of Innovation2. Age of Innovation

Brandon: It’s Terra Mystica with more variability. I prefer this to the original as it doesn’t create a faction meta or dependence and provides players with new avenues for powering their engine as they strive to terraform and innovate. I enjoy quite a bit about this production, from the dual layer player boards to the excellent board art, to the new innovations board and tech. The only thing that I wish they’d tried to incorporate into this design is a more exciting tech tree like Gaia Project, but I understand why they would want to keep these two designs unique. I wasn’t on board early-on with yet another Terra Mystica design, but I’m glad I sought this out.

1-5 Players • Ages 14+ • 40-200 minutes • $99Get Your Copy

 

 

Cyberpunk Red: Combat Zone2. Cyberpunk Red: Combat Zone

Tony: As a fan of all things Cyberpunk, I’m always on the hunt for new games in this genre. Surprisingly, there are not all that many great Cyberpunk board games (Android: Netrunner still being at the top of the list). But newcomer Cyberpunk Red: Combat Zone is definitely making a name for itself. In this skirmish game, you will control one of the factions of Night City as you attempt to take out your rivals and complete a variety of objectives. The gameplay mechanics are fantastic with the [RE]act system not only making learning easy by color coding everything, but it also allows you to take actions outside of your turn when someone gets wounded. All in all, this was a surprise hit for me and one that I’ve gotten to the table quite often lately.

2-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 45-90 minutes • $99Get Your Copy

 

 

Bruxxeles1. Bruxelles 1893: Belle Epoque

Brandon: Another redesign at the top of my list. Bruxelles was my game of the convention at Gen Con and it continues to be the game that shines brightest for me at the end of the year out of those I’ve played. This new release features new board design and a large expansion that provides even more depth to the original. Bruxelles is all about bidding and area majority on its modular action board as players take on the role of nineteenth century architects. The expanded contents include a more restrictive action board, new rewards for presence on each row, as well as a new work of art and resource option. It takes a tight economic game and provides a new tight experience with new avenues that truly enhance a classic.

2-5 Players • Ages 14+ • 50-125 minutes • $69Get Your Copy

 

 

Thunder Road Vendetta1. Thunder Road Vendetta

Tony: It was actually a pretty tough call which game would come in at #1 for me this year, as any of the top 5 could have easily dropped into this spot. But for me, I’ve had the most fun with Thunder Road: Vendetta. We brought a copy with us to Gen Con this year and this one was almost always on the table being played. It’s not only got an easy-to-learn ruleset, but the gameplay is incredibly entertaining. It’s a Mad Max style race that will have you trying to get to the finish line first… or even just survive the hail of bullets, hazards, and crashing cars. Sure, it’s a beer and pretzels dice chucker, but one that draws you in with its theme and takes you on a wild ride!

2-4 Players • Ages 8+ • 45-60 minutes • $60Get Your Copy

 

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Good choice. But my absolute fave of 2023 is Mr. President from GMT. A monster of a game. A labor of love of the designer. You ( and others if you want to play coop ) step in the shoes of a american President and his team. Try to handle the domestic and international situations and crises. Moanin about opponents in the congress as well as the press. See troubles arise in the middle east, try to to communicate with Russia and China. And so much more. A beast of a game. Is it a board game ? Yes, but for me with a lot of RPG in it. A game that really tells a story with you within.

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