I have this “want to play” list that is constantly growing. As new games come out and catch my interest, I put them on the list where they languish until the opportunity to play them comes along. Unfortunately, with my current gaming habits, the list grows faster than I can play them.
Perhaps a game has gotten a lot of media coverage from sources I enjoy, or reading about mechanics just gets me excited. Here I’ve listed the 5 games that currently have my attention, and why! Be sure to let me know what games have caught your attention in the comments!
This is somewhat of a controversial pick for me. In general, I don’t like direct conflict games, I’m not particularly keen on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and I’m not the biggest fan of the Quacks of Quedlinburg. Even with all that stacked against it. Wnderlands War by Tim and Ben Eisner and Ian Moss and published by Druid City Games has topped several “Best of the year” lists and has gotten quite good reviews throughout the year, and I can’t help myself but feel pulled to at least try it for myself!
The cover and art direction of Wonderlands War is absolutely striking. The black and purple box cover of the wild Cheshire Cat’s grin instantly draws my attention. The asymmetric characters piqued my interest, and the production looks unique at the very least.
Cat in the Box: Deluxe Edition
If you had asked me at the start of the year if I liked trick taking games, I probably would have shrugged and said “Yeah, they’re alright”. But as the year wore on, trick taking as a mechanism has become more and more appealing to me. Between The Crew and Brian Boru crashing onto the scene, SCOUT stealing my heart, and the impending Arcs tempting me far more than it should have, trick taking as a mechanism in board games is my new darling.
Cat in the Box: Deluxe Edition by Muneyuki Yokouchi and published in North America by Bezier Games is the trick taking game where all your cards are suitless, until you play them on the table. In a mind-bending concept, all the cards are black and white. When you play a card to the table, you get to declare what suit you’ve observed it to be. Should someone play a card and proclaim the same card that has already been played, then a paradox occurs (and I’ve read enough science fiction to know that’s a bad thing).
Listen, I know that I’m susceptible to marketing, but it’s not often that a board game announcement gets me frothing at the mouth excited with literally no details. My introduction to Floe by Henry Audubon was via a tweet: “Taking inspiration from classic Super Nintendo RPGs like Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger, FLOE has each player guide a character on a unique heroic journey across a snow-covered fantasy world”. Instantly my curiosity and attention was secured.
Reading more about Floe after the fact, gameplay starts by expanding the map by placing tiles, then taking actions with your heroes, or with the shared boats. Actions are to move and interact with locations. Heroes will power up throughout the game by equipping items, eating noodles, learning skills, finding treasure and constructing buildings. When you complete a heroic challenge, you place one FLOE stone to mark your achievement, and the first player to place all their Floe stones is the winner.
I’m very curious to see how Floe turns out. I was raised on SNES RPGs, and they still hold a special place in my heart (specifically and especially Final Fantasy II). I know Floe won’t be exactly like Secret of Mana or Chrono Trigger, but if Henry Audubon manages to capture the feelings of those games, then we might be in for a special treat.
My enthusiasm for Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini’s games has only grown overtime. For a long while, I was sour on Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar, and I wasn’t a fan of Teotihuacan: City of the Gods. I could take or leave The Voyages of Marco Polo, but since playing Marco Polo II: In the Service of the Khan and Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun, I’ve really come around to these games. Tiletum is the latest game by the Simone and Daniele duo, and honestly, at first I wasn’t that excited. Another complex game with a hard to pronounce name, I mean, I have several of those to pick from already. But the more I read about the mechanisim, the more my desire to play Tiletum grew.
Much like Tekhenu, Tiletum is a die management game where the dice serve a dual purpose; they gather resources, and they preform actions. The dice are rolled and arranged on a circle, then on your turn, choose a die to gain the number of corresponding resources equal to the value of the die, then perform the associated action. The power of the action is inversely proportional to the value of the die, so the fewer resources you gain, the more powerful the actions you take and vice versa.
I really enjoyed the dice management in Tekhenu, so seeing the mechanism again excites me. While the theme of being rich merchants, travelling throughout Europe, fulfilling contracts and gaining the favour of nobles does little to draw me in. In fact, I’m excited to play Tiletum despite that bog-standard theme.
When I first saw Turing Machine by Fabien Gridel and Yoann Levet, I wasn’t really interested. It looked like a light party game, and I’m rarely in a position where we have enough of the right kind of people where a party game is the best choice. But seeing it hit the top of a few peoples best games of 2022 list encouraged me to look a bit deeper into this game. It turns out Turing Machine is a logic deduction puzzle, featuring an analog computer!
Side story, my mom used to buy those Penny Press Variety Puzzle books. I’d flip through them from time to time, not knowing how to approach any of the puzzles. The one category of puzzle that I did really enjoy were the logic puzzles. Using the conditional rules and statements to suss out who ate which dessert (or whatever the theme of the narrative was for each puzzle) was always something I enjoyed.
Not many board games employ logic puzzles, and even less include an analog device for providing the answer. I haven’t delved into the nuances of the rules, so I don’t quite know how Turing Machine works as a competitive experience, but I find myself tempted to buy the game, even if just to play it solo!
And those are the 5 games I’m most looking forward to playing in 2023. Some honourable mentions that didn’t quite make it into this list: Flamecraft, Lacramosa, Weather Machine, Endless Winter: Paleoamericans, and Spire’s End: Hildegard. All for various reasons, but at the end of the day, I can say I’m looking forward to all the gaming goodness that 2023 is sure to hold!