Hey, you like board games? Me too. Let’s take a little stroll through my most anticipated games (and crowdfunding campaigns) of 2023 (part 2), shall we? Of course, if you missed out on part 1, then I recommend you check out that first. It is still very relevant, as some of those games haven’t even released yet, and I won’t be repeating them here. 

And if you know anything about me, then you know that I’m hotly anticipating our own upcoming Bitewing Games releases and projects. Those are only a small fraction of my list — they will be marked accordingly. But who cares? I don’t care. If you don’t like my list, then I cordially invite you to make your own. There’s no time to argue about such things, anyway. The hype train is leaving the station, and it’s all aboardin time!


MLEM: Space Agency

MLEM: Space Agency final cover (English)

Expected Release Date: Q4 2023

Speaking of all aboardin (and all aborting), there’s no better way to start this list than with a crazy catstronaut dice chucking push your luck joint journey into outer space. Players take turns being the catmander of rocket ship expeditions and rolling the dice to launch the group further and further into the cosmos. Between every roll, each player can decide to abandon ship or stay in for the next throw of dice. Stay in too long, and your rocket might end up exploding!

Why it’s Exciting:

Reiner Knizia and Push-Your-Luck are two beautiful peas in a pod. Don’t believe me? Go check out Ra, Beowulf: The Legend, Gang of Dice, Excape, Pickomino, No Mercy, Hot Lead, My City: Roll & Build, Medici, LAMA Dice, Tajuto, Circus Flohcati, Tatari, Lost Cit— *proceeds to pass out due to lack of oxygen*.

****

You get the point. But the thing that gets me really excited about MLEM is the fact that you are collectively invested in the dice chucking thrills… until you aren’t (after you abandon ship and hope your former shipmates erupt in flames). Plus this is a freaking BIG-box Knizia dice game. He appears to have gone all out with the special powers, planet majority competitions, and push-your-luck drama, and I’m all here for it.


General Orders: World War II

Box cover

Expected Release Date: October 2023

Two commanders and their units have at each other in a tug of war for control over a World War II battlefield. Before that summary (and visions of a complex, multi-hour, drab looking experience) scares you off, you should know that this game takes 30 minutes to play, comes in a rather small box, and is created by two of the most reliable designers in the industry.

Why it’s Exciting:

David Thompson and Trevor Benjamin have been on a multi-year rampage through my wallet. And you know what? I’m perfectly fine with that. They haven’t missed yet. The team behind the critically acclaimed and ever-reliable Undaunted Series is back with another 2-player battle of wits with a refreshing combination of worker placement and war gaming.


Patterns

Patterns, Lookout Spiele, 2023 — front cover (image provided by the publisher)

Expected Release Date: Q4 2023

Might as well continue the subject of 2-player bangers and Trevor Benjamin with his other design, Patterns (also designed by Brett J. Gilbert). This abstract dueling game features area control with colorful tiles on a tea mat.

Why It’s Exciting:

Honestly, I have no idea what’s going on with this game, even after looking at the pictures and reading the description. But none of that matters. All that matters is that this is follow-up design to the legendary Mandala. Mandala is one of my favorite 2-player games, ever. It’s clean, tense, clever, and surprisingly rewarding. If you loved Mandala, like me, then Patterns should be right up your alley.


Pick-a-Pepper

ICv2: GAMA Expo News: AMIGO Reveals English Edition of 'Pick-a-Pepper'

Expected Release Date: August 2023

I’ve already enjoyed one play of Pick-a-Pepper, and I’m hungry for more of its spicy goodness. Here’s a quick snippet from my recent post on the game:

While Pick-a-Pepper is the longest and slowest paced game when compared to Linko and Cat Blues, it still manages to charm me with the decisions and theme that it presents. I came away from this introductory game hungry to revisit this spicy little card game when it soon releases in North America.

Check out my full thoughts here.


Couture

Couture Box Artwork

Expected Release Date: September 2023

Show off your best Blue Steel in this competitive modeling game. Each round, players make and reveal their bids for three auctions all at once. Win or lose, you get your bid cards back. What you are bidding for is drafting order in each city. The goal? Complete sets of clothing, compete for magazine covers, and avoid flops to gain the most points.

Why It’s Exciting:

It’s hard not to get excited about a game as small, cheap, quick, and gorgeous as this. I’m always down to try an auction game that is this easy on the eyes, wallet, shelf, and time.


Sail

Sail - Box Artwork

Expected Release Date: September 2023

Small, cheap, quick, and gorgeous is a great segue into this next title, Sail. 2 players cooperate in a wonky trick-taking game of sailing across the ocean while avoiding the dangerous Kraken.

Why It’s Exciting:

Weberson Santiago is a great artist who has outdone himself with the presentation in this game. All of these rich colors and illustrations serve to ice a unique cooperative trick-taking cake which already had me hungry to set Sail. Plus quick 2-player games are some of the easiest games to get to my table.


Challengers 2

Challengers! 2, 1 More Time Games / Z-Man Games, 2023 — front cover (image provided by the publisher)

Expected Release Date: Q4 2023

Challengers 2 is the expandalone sequel to the 2023 Kennerspiel des Jahres winner, Challengers. Both games are basically war on steroids. You’ll face off against one opponent and take turns revealing cards from the top of your custom deck in hopes of triumphing over the competition. While it’s true that no decisions are made during the match, you’ll have plenty to consider in-between matches as you refine and upgrade your deck before facing off with a different opponent.

Why it’s Exciting:

I’ve only played Challengers once so far, so perhaps that isn’t much to go off of, but I can’t deny that I had a blast with the game. It brilliantly preserves the drama and nostalgia of the classic card game War while infusing the game with meaningful and rewarding decisions during the deck refinement phases. No doubt that if I tried to play a classic game of War nowadays, I would be ready to quit 3 seconds in due to the frivolousness of it all. Challengers is the one for me, and Challengers 2 promises to provide more card variety and powers.


Sunrise Lane

Sunrise Lane - Box Cover

Expected Release Date: September 2023

Sunrise Lane is a fast-paced, tactical, family-friendly game releasing from Reiner Knizia and Horrible Guild. If you’re looking for a breezy game of drawing and playing cards to claim spaces and routes — something with more tactical flexibility than Ticket to Ride — then Sunrise Lane is for you. Players can either draw more cards on their turn or play out one or more cards from their hand to build houses on matching colored spaces for points. The catch is that you have to commit your entire turn to a single connected extension on the board, and you can’t add to or upgrade your builds after completing your turn. You’ll try to avoiding setting up your opponents for massive turns while agonizing over when and where to commit your buildings and cards.

Why It’s Exciting:

Between Sunrise Lane, MLEM: Space Agency, Ra, Amun-Re 20th Anniversary Edition, My Island, expansions for Quest for El Dorado and Mille Fiori, and our own Zoo Vadis, fans of Knizia big box games are being absolutely spoiled in 2023. Sunrise Lane has all the ingredients to be yet another winner. It takes the solid core of Knizia’s older design, Rondo, and makes it more beautiful, competitive, and strategic. I played Rondo earlier this year and found it to be pure, smart, and quick, so I’m extremely pumped for an all-around upgraded experience in Sunrise Lane.


Wandering Towers

Wandering Towers - Box Cover - English Edition

Expected Release Date: Q3 2023

I’ve already enjoyed two plays of Wandering Towers, and I’m excited for more of its wacky tactical chaos. Here’s a quick snippet from my recent post on the game:

With its refreshing presence (roaming tower stacks and traveling wizards) and its charmingly tactical gameplay, I imagine Wandering Towers is going to be a major hit at a lot of tables when it releases in the US later this year.

Check out my full thoughts here.


Match of the Century

US box cover

Expected Release Date: Q4 2023

What if instead of playing Chess, we played a game about playing Chess? That sounds a bit weird, I know, but not if you compare it to other games… What if instead of fighting to the death, we played a game about fighting to the death? See? Not so weird after all 😆. Match of the Century features short, intense turns where 2 head-to-head players utilize their asymmetric decks to manipulate the mental endurance of their rival as they seek to become the grand master champion.

Why It’s Exciting:

I have a confession: I don’t much care for Chess. I respect it, but I’ve never been inclined to whip it out and play it since diving into the deep end of this hobby… No doubt I’ll teach my daughters how to play once they are old enough. Gotta make sure they are well rounded and all that… But what I do care for is any game designed by Paolo Mori. I rank Paolo among the best designers in the industry thanks to his bangers like Blitzkrieg, Caesar, Dogs of War, Ethnos (Archeos Society), Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest, and Pandemic: Fall of Rome. And Match of the Century promises to be yet another winner.


Renature: Valley

Renature: Valley, Deep Print Games, 2023 — front cover (image provided by the publisher)

Expected Release Date: Q3 2023

It’s time to highlight the first expansion on my list! Renature: Valley features a double-sided game board and some mushroom tokens. Mushrooms allow areas to be connected and enlarged, allowing another player to take over an area. That’s right, we’ve now got mergers in this deceptively mean nature game.

Why It’s Exciting:

I’m still waiting for a better domino game to supplant Renature as the greatest domino game of all time. It still hasn’t happened… Probably because domino games aren’t too common these days. But also because Renature is a delight.


Pies

Pies - Allplay Box Cover

Expected Release Date: Q4 2023

I’m always down to try a wonky trick taker, which leads us to these next 4 games. Pies is all about playing out a trick first, and then drafting the played cards back into your your score pile (in the order that you won the trick).

Why It’s Exciting:

Who doesn’t love a good pie? Cyborgs and aliens, that’s who. Us humans know better than to turn down a delicious pie. That’s why you’ll often hear me requesting a pie for my birthday rather than a cake. Also, Pies is gorgeous.


Mori

Mori - Allplay Box Cover

Expected Release Date: Q4 2023

We’ve all tried trick taking with cards, but what about trick taking with dice? That’s the hook of Mori. When playing cards, you must follow suit. When playing dice, you don’t have to follow suit (and dice are earned by winning tricks). This pairs nicely with the fact that each suit can be trumped by another specific suit (rock-paper-scissors style).

Why It’s Exciting:

I got the chance to try Mori back in March of this year at Dice Tower West. I didn’t like it. That’s because it wasn’t the Mori that it is today. The game showed promise with the use of dice and circular trumping, but it had other obvious issues at the time. But the good news is that our play testing session back in March (and the feedback that emerged from it) led to some brilliant and needed changes which cut the cruft and enhanced the good stuff. Now I’m very excited to try Mori again. Also, Mori is gorgeous.


Lunar 

Lunar - Allplay Box Cover

Expected Release Date: Q4 2023

Lunar is a team-based trick taker for 2 or 4 players. Here, you’ll be playing a suit to set your teammate up to play a number, or vice versa, cooperatively crafting your complete card for a trick. With your fused cards, you’ll be aiming to win a precise number of tricks to beat the other team.

Why It’s Exciting:

I have fond memories of enjoying Rook with my family growing up. The thrill of bidding for the nest, declaring the trump suit and your secret partner, and working together to reach your point threshold. I’m more than ready for another, more modern team-based trick taker. Also, Lunar is gorgeous (see a pattern here?).


Bacon

Bacon - Allplay Box Cover

Expected Release Date: Q4 2023

Speaking of teammates, in this ladder-climbing game of breakfast foods, you’ll be working with your teammate to play out your hands before the other teams. Only the team that goes out first will score, while the other teams will try to slow them down to hurt their score if the writing is on the wall. Just don’t come to this game hungry.

Why It’s Exciting:

While Bacon is the odd-duck in this 4-game project from Allplay, that doesn’t make me any less excited to try it. It has 45 bacon tokens, for crying out loud. And I’ve enjoyed other simple ladder-climbing games such as Scout. Also, Bacon is gorgeous. The game looks nice too.


Quest for El Dorado: Dragons, Treasures, and Mysteries

Game cover

Expected Release Date: Q4 2023 (at least from publisher Lautapelit)

We’ve got another expansion to highlight, and this one is for an all-time great in the deck building genre. Dragons, Treasures, and Mysteries is a modular expansion that introduces… you guessed it, three modules called Dragons, Treasures, and Mysteries. 

The Treasures module sees players seeding the board with treasure tokens which can be gained if you stop there and discard the required cards. Treasures can be used to boost your movement or for a spicy alternate victory condition (gain four treasures to win immediately). 

Dragons are pawns that are spread out across the map and awaken the moment a player steps foot in their terrain. From there, they will block your way forward, forcing you do take the long way around them. Yet they can also be moved by the players who play a matching card to block their opponents or clear the path forward. Also spicy!

The Mysteries module comes with fog tiles that only get flipped when a player steps next to them. The revealing player then gains a bonus token plus the advantage of rotating the revealed terrain tile to their advantage — opening up a new path forward.

Why It’s Exciting:

Between Quest for El Dorado: Dangers & Muisca and Mille Fiori: The Masterpieces, Dr. Knizia is on a hot streak lately with his expansions. All three of these modules sound like zesty ways to shake up the racing formula in Quest for El Dorado — providing for endless possibilities of maps, traps, obstacles and objectives. 


Sea Salt & Paper

Sea Salt & Paper (cover)

Expected Release Date: Q3 2023

This little card game is finally making its way to North America thanks to publisher Pandasaurus Games. Sea Salt & Paper is all about assembling a hand of point scoring potential. If you believe you have the best hand of the bunch, then you can choose to stop the round. If you think your hand is far superior to your competitors, then you can allow your opponents one more turn to try and close the gap, and if they fail then you get bonus points.

Why It’s Exciting:

You didn’t have to tell me anything about how this game plays. I was already here for the gorgeous origami cards. But now that you mention it’s quick, simple, allows players to take risks, and is codesigned by Bruno Cathala (7 Wonders Duel, Splendor Duel, Five Tribes), I’m even more interested.


Witchcraft!

Witchcraft! Cover

Expected Release Date: Q4 2023

Lead a secret coven of witches and risk it all to protect the ungrateful village against monsters in this tense solo game. By revealing your witches identities, you can unleash their powerful abilities, but doing so will remove their cards from your deck forever. The key is in knowing when to go big and make sacrifices and when to hold back and settle for weaker effects.

Why It’s Exciting:

Resist was one of the best solo games to release last year (even making my Top 15 Games of 2022), and Witchcraft is its spiritual sibling from the same team of creators. Need I say more?


Innovation Ultimate

Innovation Ultimate, Asmadi Games — logo (image provided by the publisher)

Expected Release Date: Now On Backerkit, Q2 2024 Release

This legendary, chaotic card-based civ game makes its triumphant return in an ultimate box that includes the base game, five expansions, and some updates.

Why It’s Exciting:

I don’t know much about Innovation beyond the fact that it’s best at 2-players, aggressively hideous, and a lot of people rank it highly. But I’ve been known to buy a game based on even less info.


Spectral

*Published by us (Bitewing Games)

Expected Release Date: August 2023 Kickstarter Launch, 2024 Release

Designer Ryan Courtney has departed from his pipey ways (*gasp*) to bring us a clean, clever, and quick deduction game in Spectral. Players take turns staking out the hallways of a haunted manor while they deduce the locations of lucrative treasures and deadly curses.

Why It’s Exciting:

Spectral is unlike any other deduction game I’ve ever played. It’s surprisingly interactive thanks to the bidding and bluffing of positioning your treasure hunters between room cards. It’s delightfully dramatic thanks to the big end-game reveal when you discover which cards get treasures and/or curses placed on them, and who was set up to claim the booty or suffer a sinister fate. It’s richly illustrated thanks to the vivid artwork by Kwanchai Moriya and Brigette Indelicato (the art team behind Zoo Vadis).

Follow the Spectral Kickstarter Page here.


Trailblazers: Sasquatch Expansion

*Published by us (Bitewing Games)

Expected Release Date: August 2023 Kickstarter Launch, 2024 Release

The Sasquatch Expansion of Trailblazers is a semi-cooperative mode for 2-4 players featuring a possible hidden traitor — Mr. Bigfoot himself. Players are dealt a hidden identity (human or Sasquatch) and then must cooperate together to construct a shared area of hiking, biking, and kayaking loops. While the humans want to maximize their points by constructing the best loops, Sasquatch is out to subtly sabotage their efforts in a vengeful quest to keep pesky humans out of his woods. The possibility that one player is Sasquatch will force the group to play defensively and cautiously, always keeping an eye out for red flags. The game can end in multiple ways — with a Sasquatch Reveal that leads to a thrilling hunt, or with end-game scoring to determine whether the humans or Sasquatch wins.

Why It’s Exciting:

My very first game I ever designed was inspired by a trouble-making Sasquatch. Of course, that design was hot garbage in a lot of ways, but I still have a soft spot for Sasquatch in board games. It’s a delight to come full circle back to my big-footed friend with an actually good game featuring a trouble-making Sasquatch. This Trailblazers expansion is wildly different from any other mode of Trailblazers thanks to the spicy interaction and cautious cooperation at its core.

Follow the Trailblazers: Sasquatch Expansion Kickstarter page here.


Through the Desert

Allplay TtD Cover

Expected Release Date: October 2023 Kickstarter Launch, 2024 Release

Show me a better duo than Knizia and tile placement. Through the Desert has weathered the sands of time and remains a legend among strategy games. Why do you think it keeps getting reprinted? Those who already own the game may find themselves tempted by the new artwork and expansion modules.

Why it’s Exciting

Allplay has been on a hot streak of great games and gorgeous productions for a good while now, so I’m thrilled to see Through the Desert getting the Allplay treatment. Come to think of it, this may very well be the greatest game that Allplay ever publishes. That’s no slight to their solid catalogue, I’m simply of the opinion that Through the Desert is one of the greatest games ever designed. If you haven’t given this one a try, then you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy.


Secret Knizia Project

Reiner Knizia on Twitter: "Shut Up and Sit Down released their podcast #130  - The Big Reiner Lovecast. Reiner was delighted at being given the Shut Up  and Sit Down Recommends award,

*Published by us (Bitewing Games)

Expected Release Date: October 2023 Kickstarter Launch, 2024 Release

Speaking of killer Knizia tile placement games, we are very close to revealing our next big box project from the Good Doctor. Expect to see a grand reveal by September because this one is launching in October!

Why It’s Exciting:

Reiner has crafted a legacy of great tile layers, from the above mentioned Through the Desert to the masterful Tigris & Euphrates. From the critically acclaimed Samurai to the more recently beloved Babylonia. From the welcoming Blue Lagoon to the tactical Yellow & Yangtze. But it has been a long four years since his last entirely new and pure tile placement strategy game (Babylonia), and we are thrilled to finally end that drought. This upcoming release is arguably one of his most complex, layered games in years. And it features an addictive mechanism never-before-seen in the above mentioned classics.

Subscribe to our newsletter to follow this project and see the grand reveal.


Article written by Nick Murray. Outside of practicing dentistry part-time, Nick has devoted his remaining work-time to collaborating with the world’s best designers, illustrators, and creators in producing classy board games that bite, including the critically acclaimed Trailblazers by Ryan Courtney and upcoming Zoo Vadis by Reiner Knizia. He hopes you’ll join Bitewing Games in their quest to create and share classy board games with a bite.

Disclaimer: When Bitewing Games finds a designer or artist or publisher that we like, we sometimes try to collaborate with these creators on our own publishing projects. We work with these folks because we like their work, and it is natural and predictable that we will continue to praise and enjoy their work. Any opinions shared are subject to biases including business relationships, personal acquaintances, gaming preferences, and more. That said, our intent is to help grow the hobby, share our gaming experiences, and find folks with similar tastes. Please take any and all of our opinions with a hearty grain of salt as you partake in this tabletop hobby feast.

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