Top 10 New to Me Games Of 2023

It's been a while since I've done a top 10 list. While this isn't a definitive list like others I've done, I thought this could be a new yearly post. Since starting a public game group in spring of this year, I've done A LOT of gaming. Between others bringing games and me doing more buying than I have in years, I played a lot of new to me games. While I did play some new releases, not all of the games on this list were published in 2023.

Honorable Mention - Stone Age: The Expansion

I knew I couldn't add Stone Age to this list because I've played the base game a couple of dozen times over the years. However, I played it with The Expansion and it reignited my love for one of the classic euro-style games. Players get the ability transform their raw materials into jewelry and other adornments.  A new location for the village, new cards, and new huts add a few new wrinkles without drastically changing how the game is played. I would love to add this to my copy of the base game, but it's been out of print for some time. Luckily, a friend from the game group has it.

#10 - Space Base

Space Base is a medium-light dice rolling and engine building game where players are constantly upgrading their fleet of ships. On a turn, the active player rolls dice and then everyone normally gets something from one of their ships depending on the values on the dice. The active player then has the option to buy new ships to add to their fleet. Ships might produce income, points, and/or give players various abilities. There are a bunch of different strategies that can lead to victory, but you also need the dice to be on your side. This is on BGA, so I ended up getting over a dozen plays after playing it for the first time in person at game group over the summer. 

#9 - Point City

From the magical minds that brought us Point Salad, Point City is the sequel that kicks it up a notch. In both games, you're drafting from a shared group of cards to try and score the most points. Instead of drafting scoring values for each resource like in Point Salad, players in Point City are collecting resources to build buildings to add to their ever expanding cities. While I love both games, Point City just adds more layers without significantly more complexity. I played this at game group a couple of times, taught friends when they were down visiting, and played it solo. It's very enjoyable at various player counts and has cemented itself in my collection.

#8 - The Guild of Merchant Explorers

I talked about this game in the October 2023 Wrap-Up, so I'm not going to go into too much detail. I love the look and theme of this game. The individual player powers you gain during the first three rounds keep things fresh from game to game. That coupled with different objectives makes it so you can't always focus on the same strategy. That's something that has killed other games for me, because I won't typically deviate once I figure out a strong path to victory. Being able to play it solo is going to keep it around for a long time. 

#7 - Rolling Realms

I've only been able to play this one time, but I was so smitten by the idea of this roll and write game. It doesn't do anything wildly innovative mechanics-wise, but it's origin and what it has become is fascinating. From BGG: "In the early days of the coronavirus, a time of self-isolation for many people, Jamey (Publisher & Designer) decided to create an infinitely scaling roll-and-write game to teach and play with people around the world via Facebook Live." Each of the Realms cards is based on a game published by Stonemaier Games (they have since expanded to other popular games) and each one is a great distillation of how the title game plays. The game is available for free as a PNP but the published edition continues to grow with booster packs of new Realms.

#6 - Piepmatz

I covered Piepmatz and the next game in the November 2023 Wrap-Up. I was only able to play one additional game on BGA since I wrote about it, but things started to really click in that game. It gives me Biblios and Arboretum vibes, two of my favorite card games that use hand management and majority rules scoring mechanics that I just adore. I'm hoping to get more games of this in before the end of the year.

#5 - Rauha

With 11 plays for the year, Rauha is currently my 7th most played game in 2023. It's a visually beautiful game with unique gameplay. I think this is a game way too many people are sleeping on, in part because the theme is a little out there. There is an expansion with new Divine Entities, the addition of Shaman cards, and Tiny Creatures that affect the biomes and fauna. I'd like to get my hands on that to see how it changes the game.

#4 - Apiary

I've been thinking about the space bees in Apiary since writing a bit about it a couple of months ago. I'm in the middle of a 10 solo game deep dive of Scythe (another Stonemaier game) and I find myself comparing the two. They aren't the same type of game at all, but they give off a similar vibe and it's what makes Stonemaier one of my favorite publishers. Most of their games have been hits and they're all wonderfully produced. Apiary is no different and it makes me want to play it a lot more.

#3 - Cartographers

Despite my terrible artistic abilities, I love adding the different shapes and drawing images on the map. After just a couple of plays, I think it's safe to say that this is my favorite flip and write game. Christine and I played this while staying at the House on the Hill and I played it solo in October. I plan on bringing this to game group in the new year and would like to start adding the map packs.

#2 - Istanbul

From the designer of one of my favorite dice games, Las Vegas, Istanbul is considered a classic and is well loved by many. It's been out since 2014, but I hadn't played it until October at game group. I really wish I had taken the time to look into this one because the mechanics. There's a modular board, worker placement, pick up and deliver, and a really unique network building mechanic where you have to leave your workers on previous tiles as you move. This eventually forces you to recall them all so you can get to the tiles you need in future turns. Balancing that while collecting resources and gems is the hook that made me love this medium weight game.

#1 - Regicide

This game is currently at the top of my wishlist for purchase. I've only been able to play on BGA, but it currently sits as my most played game of the year. With nearly three dozen plays, I just can't get over how fun this seemingly simple game is to play. As I said in my October 2023 Wrap-Up, card draws can make it impossible to win. However, once you understand the strategy, there are a lot of ways to mitigate the randomness of the deck. There is a legacy version of the game that's supposed to go to crowdfunding in 2024, so I'm looking to back that. For now I'm going to keep attempting to defeat the ruling class. 

What were your favorite new to you games of 2023? Please comment below and thanks for reading!

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