Board games of 2023

January 6, 2024 - -

I got to try a bunch of games this year! Most were only played once or twice, but I got to play Wingspan, No Thanks, and Ascension a few times. Anyways, enjoy!

WingspanWingspan

Wingspan is a beautiful, competitive game where players are trying to collect birds for their aviary. The birds provide the player with various bonuses that allow for extra points. It’s a little tricky to learn at first; there are a couple unusual mechanics and there are a lot of strategies to win. But, after a few rounds it’s easier to get the hang of it. Also, this is probably one of the highest quality games I’ve played. The art is excellent, there’s a ton of factoids about birds, and even the manuals use a high grade paper stock.

Echoes: The MicrochipEchoes: The Microchip

I like idea behind Echoes. In this cooperative (or single player) game, players try to piece together a timeline of events by listening to the “echoes” of left behind artifacts depicted on cards. Players use a free phone app, that plays the audio associated with card. There are several stories available, but we only played The Microchip. It’s really only playable once, but I got my $10 work of fun out of it. The Microchip story itself is a little convoluted, but I would be interested in trying a different Echoes game.

No ThanksNo Thanks

No Thanks has a pretty simple concept behind it. Numeric cards are drawn from a deck, and players can choose if they want to take the card. If not, they must put one of their “No Thanks” tokens on the card. Eventually someone will take the card, along with all the tokens. Players are able to hide adjacent cards in their hand, and the player with the lowest total wins. Quick, clever, good for all ages.

3000 Scoundrels 3000 Scoundrels

3000 Scoundrels has neat mechanic where you combine base characters with different overlays that affect how they look and their abilities. There’s also a light bluffing component. I don’t usually like bluffing games, but since this was a relatively small portion of the game, it was tolerable, and even a bit fun. However, overall, I found the game a little frustrating. It felt like the best way to steal treaure, the game’s primary goal, was to ignore the central premise of the game, the scoundrels, which left me unsatisfied. I could’ve just had a rough playthrough, but it didn’t quite scratch my itch.

AscensionAscension

I had first played this many years ago, but I never wrote about it, so it gets a fresh review. This game is very similar to Dominion; you build up a deck of abilities. However, the deck contains heroes which are used to fight monsters, or acquire constructs which can grant abilities. Acension isn’t as customizable as Dominion, but as a reault it’s a bit quicker to set up, and each turn is a quicker since players only have to scan a few options at their disposal. Great deckbuilding game if you want a twist on Dominion, or find it to cumbersome.

ScytheScythe

I heard so many good things about this game, I was excited to try it. It reminds me a little of Risk (territory ownership, and battles), and Terraforming Mars, (several strategies and ways of accumulating points), and even Catan (resource gathering). It took me a few turns to get the hang of it, but it was really fun once I did. Players can take actions that affect their popularity and power, collect or trade resources, possess territory, build structures, and even fight with mechs. Artwork and minifigures are really nice too. Great game!

Tiny TownsTiny Towns

This is a little like Kingdomino, where you have to construct a town layout. However, this has several extra rules in place for how to organize your city and gain points. Some of the rules for different pieces were a little hard to keep track of, but because of the variety of pieces it has nice replayability.

Family BusinessFamily Business

Fun little game where you control a mobster family, and you try to eliminate other families before your own. Not too complicated. It’s a little frustrating if you get eliminated early and you have nothing to do though. Also, the edition we played did not have explanations on the cards so we had to consult the manual a lot. It looks like recent editions have corrected this.

Tokaido: CrossroadsTokaido: Crossroads

It was quite difficult to get my hands on Tokaido Crossroads expansion last year, but now it appears to be easily available on Amazon. Anyways, this requires the base game, and Crossroads maintains the beautiful style of the original. This expansion is just ok. It gives more choices for the various landmarks, so there’s more strategic options, but it slows the game down a bit. I’ll probably give it another chance, but I’m not sure the expansion makes Tokaido more fun.

QwixxQwixx

This is a quick, strategic, casual dice game. It’s kind of like a simplified, improved version of Yahtzee.