What’s Hot in 2023?

I did a quick scan of the web to see what tabletop topics seem popular this year. What should be the next game to grace my empty shelves?

Here are a few games that I ran across, which are getting a good buzz.

Frosthaven (BGG 8.8)

Frosthaven, a follow-up to the highly acclaimed Gloomhaven, is a collaborative fantasy adventure game with legacy aspects and construction of bases.

What strikes me most about this game, after a quick scan of Facebook, is the predominance of people who say they have purchased the game and look forward to playing it. I had to scroll quite a way to find somebody who actually has played it!

My friend Sam loves this game. He says it’s something like a rethemed Gloomhaven, but with some new elements. The core apparently is very much the same, including an unrestrained investment in good art and aesthetics.

Some of the other positive comments (along with links to read more).

Frosthaven is a standalone adventure game that features sixteen new characters, three new races, more than twenty new enemies, more than one hundred new items, and a new, 100-scenario campaign. –BGG

It has been described as a “thorough, complex, and minutely detailed gaming experience” that fills the shoes of its predecessor Gloomhaven with surprising ease. –Fauxhammer

It has also been praised for its card-based approach to combat and its unique class system. – IGN

My takeaway from this is that the main selling point is the game’s richness and depth of content. It’s not the components per se, nor just the mechanics, but rather something like the world-building nature of the game.

I don’t have any of these games, so let’s illustrate using AI art. Here’s NightCafe’s rendition of dogs at a card table playing Frosthaven.

Unconscious Mind (BGG 7.9)

Unconscious Mind, a worker-placement engine-builder, has participants assume the roles of psychoanalysts within the society somehow established by Sigmund Freud.

It has been praised for its novel approach to gameplay and its ability to blend different mechanics into a cohesive experience. – Board Game Nerd

The game has been described as one of the best-looking games with bold and attractive color choices that feel right for the time period. – Board Game Nerd

Also to like: Artwork and components (Vincent Dutrait! Dixit-ish dream cards, transparent cards, figures, Vienna city board) – BGG

It intrigues me that several people commented on the art of this game as a key selling point. I guess it sells well within the theme but personally, I like the Frosthaven art better.

One game designer laying on a psychotherapist’s couch, while a snobby hypocritical game designer tells him what’s wrong with his game.

Sky Team (very few ratings)

Sky Team, a cooperative game with restricted communication where two players collaborate to pilot and safely land a contemporary aircraft. I totally just ran across this random game, which doesn’t appear to have come out yet.

The game has been praised for its unique theme and gameplay that is both thrilling and stressful. –Dice Breaker

I mainly find this game intriguing because a friend of mine, Ben, is a pilot and wants to design a game on the theme. Maybe he’ll like this one.

Playing a card game with the co-pilot in a cockpit while flying an airplane.

Legacy of Yu (BGG 8.3)

Legacy of Yu, a worker-placement card-drafting game set in ancient China, where the solo player vies to construct an influential dynasty.

The game has been praised for its unique and evolving story-driven mechanics that ensure near endless replayability. –Meeples Herald

just such a clever game… in all aspects.. brain burning resource flipping, fire controlling epic. You never feel in control of this one, but it makes you feel so good when you pull out an awesome move to keep you in the hunt. – BGG

After reading comments from players, I feel like this game has many similarities to Spirit Island: non-competitive brain-burner where you’re constantly weighing different competing priorities. Some people had positive things to say about the art, and it seems ok to me. Perhaps it’s most intriguing to me because it’s clearly a mechanically rich game aimed squarely at the solo player.

The Great Wall of China, built out of legos.

Thunder Road: Vendetta (BGG 8.2)

Thunder Road: Vendetta, a reimagining of the renowned 1986 game of vehicular warfare and road rage.

The game has been described as a blast to play, with players enjoying shooting at other players’ cars and slamming into them. It has been praised for its exciting new additions, including random hazard tokens such as wrecks and oil slicks. –Geek Mom

Fun! Yes, it’s like a violent mad max movie. Easy rules. Suitable for lot of players –BGG

This game steers very hard in the direction of massive table presence, with cool little cars like our matchbox vehicles of old. The crashing and smashing sounds extraordinary.

Fast cars crashing on a road.

Notes to self

  • Art primarily showed up in comments about games where art might not be expected to shine. It’s taken for granted in many areas.
  • Keep an eye on the Thunder Road series, for ideas potentially aimed at table presence for younger players.
  • I didn’t run across any breathtakingly new mechanics amid these reviews. Perhaps the closest was Legacy of Yu.