Hit or Miss? Revisiting our Most Anticipated Board Games of 2023 - cutlassboardgame.com

Hit or Miss? Revisiting our Most Anticipated Board Games of 2023

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IS IT APRIL ALREADY?! We are a third of the way through 2024 and while we await more fresh releases we’ve been playing and reflecting on our most anticipated games of last year. How right were we in our predictions? Did the games play how we expected them to? Are they still in our collection? (Spoiler alert: some haven’t even delivered!)
Join us on this reflective journey back into time…
Thanks for watching as always, and thank you to all of the support from our joeyfam that allow us to continue making videos together 🙂 🙂 🙂

Link to original video below
Top 10 Most Anticipated board games of 2023

00:00 Introduction
01:18 Motor city

Motor City Review:
03:20 Hickory Dickory

05:51 Darwin’s Journey

Darwin’s Journey Review:
08:32 My island

12:56 FLOE

FLOE Preview:
16:52 Fliptown

21:51 Slay the spire: the boardgame

23:29 Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies

Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies Solo Review:
27:51 Through Ice & Snow

28:40 Maple Valley

29:37 Qawale

Qawale review:
31:46 Arborea

Arborea review:
35:14 Earth

Earth review:
37:41 Arydia: The paths we dare tread

39:07 Horseless carriage

42:21 Mythwind

Mythwind review:
47:41 Last Light

Last Light review:
49:25 Earthborne Rangers

Earthborne Rangers solo playthrough:
Earthborne Rangers solo final thoughts:
54:36 Wrap up

Thanks for stopping by! We’re Amy & Maggie aka ThinkerThemer. We’re an Australian couple with two very different perspectives of what makes a great board game – Amy (Thinker) is all about the mechanics and enjoys tight, competitive games, and Maggie (Themer) is all about the storytelling and the theme of the game, and the ‘world’ that the designer is trying to create. Subscribe to our channel to hear us talk about these two elements of a game, and how well integrated we feel these are in delivering a cohesive and wonderful game experience.
#boardgames #tabletopgames #thinkerthemer ❤🏳️‍🌈🇦🇺


  1. I found your opinion and experience on Earthborne Rangers interesting. I don’t enjoy it neither, but for different reasons (I like Arkham Horror). I don’t find ER punishing at all, I wish it were, but you can easily avoid everything. And that’s the issue for me : there’s no reason to do anything. You can go from one place to another in one or two rounds. I never took any damage. Most cards are useless. I’m just going from one place to another, sometimes I meet someone to help but it’s too late and I have to end the day. I don’t find it exciting, there’s no real story, no reason to do anything. I would like it if it were an actual experimental game, but I think it’s just an average attempt to have an open world in a card game.

  2. What is your top engine building comb-tasktic player interaction games?

  3. I found that Pioneer Rails gave me what I wanted from Fliptown. The games feel similar mechanically, but Pioneer Rails adds a tightness where Fliptown flops. I'd highly recommend it!

  4. Great video idea!
    And the challenge of really big box game living on the floor is super relatable haha

  5. Curious if you tried the Fire Island mode of Darwin's Journey. Definitely not for a first (or second!) play, but I do find I much prefer it. You are definitely correct that the game has high overhead though!

  6. Floe should be a real treat to table next year! I can’t wait to see what the final production looks like when it starts shipping 🤩

  7. Twice in one day I hear about Motor City! Wow, I was considering trying it as I hsve the other two. Mabye so, maybe so…

  8. Can't wait for Floe!
    And I love when you mention good ol' Melbourne. It's so cool to know we are from the same city. 😊

  9. my main challenge with Floe was the same with Unconscious Mind, echoing your thoughts Amy – at the the time of the campaign the game was pretty much still very fluid so I'd rather wait for retail.

  10. I loved this video! (as usual 🙂 ) I have to say I went all in with Earth and I have the same opinion as yours Amy. It was just way to fiddly and too much going on for the pay off. I did enjoy the art work on the cards, that rest just fell flat for me. Also agree with Motor City…It is in my cull pile with Earth. My favorite of the three is still Fleet the Dice Game! I think I am also past the roll and write phase and seriously considering narrowing down my collection to my favorite 10. But who am I kidding…I just have cull piles, nothing ever really leaves!
    I really enjoy these videos and your reflection. Loved the play back of the other videos! Most importantly, Congratulations on 23,000 subscribers!! That is so awesome and so deserving!!

  11. Love this type of videos looking back on games!!

  12. Interesting that there is too much content on My Island. There must be a sweet spot where something is worth the $$ but doesn't outstay its welcome.

  13. A game overhyped by content creators? Who would have ever thought that would be possible?😅😅

  14. I just played hours of motor city this weekend 😊

  15. Darwin's Journey was such a big miss for me. Such promise, some great hooks, but just lead to this strange feeling of lots of crunch without payoff. Upgrading workers is such a fun idea, but does it really matter? Also the games player count scaling feels way off, punishing at 2 and wide open at 4.

  16. Earth was WAY overhyped and did not live up to it for me. Sold after 2 plays.

  17. I loved this video as well! It's always interesting to see if the anticipation matches the results. And while it's probably more slight disappointments, every once in a while, there is a gem that paid off.

  18. It’s a good day when an hour-long ThinkerThemer video drops.

  19. I really enjoyed this video style, please keep making them!

  20. I think My City outstayed its welcome, so im not surprised My Island fells the same. I did finish my city, but i felt it was just cause it had to be COMPLETED!!! Hehehe

  21. This is such a fun video to watch and love the blast from the past clips from the original video! Also, 100% I am like Maggie in that I tend to be an "organic" gamer LOL sometimes I plan but it's specific games only. As always, sending love from Oregon!

  22. Great vid guys! So the lesson learned is keep one's expectations low and always be pleasantly surprised. Thx!

  23. Love this introspective / long-term review type of video

  24. Loved this video. I’m fairly new to board gaming and have definitely purchased some “lemons” for my tastes. I’m hoping to give Earth another try. My friend who plays and enjoys Wingspan got the hang of Earth more quickly than I did plus I just wasn’t getting the right kind of cards. Maybe not shuffled thoroughly? Your video makes me feel better about the game falling flat for me. I backed Floe on kickstarter. I hope it lives up to the hype! Thanks for revisiting your most anticipated games. Love hearing your different preferences.

  25. Oh wow, I’ve never heard anyone have to clarify that something is coming out in “US fall, Australia spring” before. Of course I knew the seasons were reversed, but I never thought about the fact that you have to clarify since I feel like the northern hemisphere is the “dominant” one in terms of announcements for video games or board games. But now it makes total sense why businesses use the term “quarter” instead of the season. It’s cool how things like that hit you sometimes… you know factually about something, but when you see the practicalities play out, it can hit differently.

    Love these longer meandering videos. They are why I like your channel so much. Great to just relax and listen to you chat. The visuals are also fantastic as well, but I often listen to your videos while doing something else, so your conversations are the best part to me!

  26. Just started binging your channel, really appreciate your videos and the insights you both bring to the hobby. Keep up the great work!

  27. Great cast ladies, really enjoyed it. In the mould of Earthbourne Rangers is SpiritFire, from Orange Nebula which ships in December, would be great to see what you think of that.

  28. I thought Earth was okay, but sold it mainly for the reasons stated. I would play it if someone brought it to the table, but didn't feel a need to own it.
    And while the components were a nice touch, I felt the quality was a little lacking (warped player boards, uneven wood pieces).

  29. Thanks so much for this video! Just a clarification, Motor City's other game is French Quarter (not Fourth Quarter) and it depicts the New Orleans theme well. Hopefully you will be able to give it a try.

  30. Great video I’m recently a stay at home dad, so I’m always looking for new games to try when I’m at home. I’m definitely more of a Maggie, but it’s nice to see how you two can give different insights on the same game. Thanks a lot, and keep it up!

  31. Great video. These types of videos are so helpful after you have had time to truly digest what a game is and make a more fully formed opinion. It is so difficult to judge a game on only a 1-3 plays. This is very helpful to those of us who might be looking at a potential purchase of these games now. Thank you!

  32. I just got Fliptown and love it. I am a big solo player. A nice surprise was my hubby liked it and he is picky in the types of boardgames he will play. Its a win for us.

  33. I like Earth, but I agree it has to many goals to keep track of.

  34. Seeing Maggie dedicating herself to teach Floe during DTW solidified my All-In backing!! 😅

  35. Slay the Spire is really fun. The game seems to get harder as it scales, but our little crew may be unlucky. 😊

    We’re probably going to give it another go next week with 3. With 1 I’ve heard first hand it’s fantastic.

  36. Pleased that Mythwind spawned a new series and gave you lots to think about. Thanks for the thoughtful commentary. 😊

  37. this was fun. I went all in on Floe too. You both seemed to enjoy it.

  38. my island was one of our biggest letdowns of the year… just the drudgery of setting up the game wore us down, and when i peeked ahead to see what the post campaign game was like, we just lost all enthusiasm! only need to play 4 more times, so might finish it someday, but i just don't know…

    update: fun video, thanks! this is an exercise i do as an exclusive for the backers of my show every year, but since i'm in the mood, let's take a look at my top10 list of embarrassing anticipation from last year:

    10. marvel damage control – deckbuilding is great and thematic, and could have been a contender but broke my heart with needless take-that peppered throughout

    9. point city – one of the best games of the year!

    8. divinus – delayed to 2024

    7. earth – 2nd best game of the year, and FYI amy the expansion adds SOOO MUCH player interaction (all of it positive)

    6. bot factory – nice, but too lightweight

    5. bazaars of ubar – nice, but again too lightweight

    4. my island – as mentioned earlier in the running for one of the year's biggest disappointments (but nothing was worse than ticket to ride legends)

    3. daybreak – the best game of the year, hands down!

    2. mythwind – have yet to play it, just need to get some time with jen (thanks maggie for covering it on the channel already you did fantastic!)

    1. oranienburger kanal – would have been a top10 candidate for the year, maybe uwe rosenberg's greatest design ever, but ruined for jen by obtuse iconography. a word is worth a thousand icons!

  39. Love the retrospective and update on your current stance on highly anticipated / “new hotness” games. We often get excited for new and trending games, especially since influencer reviews drive a lot of new purchases. However, with a bit more plays and reflection, the games may end up falling flat. This is why I always wait for the time and tested reviews.

    But I’m sad about Darwin’s Journey! It’s a recent purchase but I haven’t gotten to playing it yet. I wish I saw this review earlier haha. It’s my first Simone Luciani game.

  40. Really surprised you didn't like Earthborn Rangers as much, I guess I really love Arkham Horror of which it is pretty much a spiritual successor. The depth of the deck construction and the way the board and ecosystem come to life with flora, predators and prey and NPC's all interacting and offering you opportunities (and the thematic/mechanical resonation of some of the actions and cards). I think Amy would really like it for those reasons and might be worth giving it a go despite not connecting with co-ops as much.
    It does feel like you have a bit more interaction with each other in Arkham Horror which surprised me about it but I guess the 'skill cards' are 'personality cards' and so are inherently self-focused.

    It has a lot of the same challenges as Arkham LCG in that a lot of the rules interactions and subtleties of the design aren't obvious at first, with several cards referring to each other across the table. Even people who have played hundreds of hours can miss an interaction (I just watched a vid of the designers of Arkham playing Feast of Hemlock Vale and they screwed up a fair amount of triggers/rules lol). But the game still ticks along perfectly.

    Also, really like this video format. I kind of slipped out of the BG scene, I guess just getting a bit overwhelmed with the cavalcade of newness hitting the shelves. As much fun as it is to see what's coming up I think looking back and seeing what actually resonated is equally important.

  41. We need a re-enactment of Maggie listening to Amy playing Distant Skies from the next room.

  42. "The changeable heads in Arydia need to be bobble heads." – Official quote from Amy and Maggie.

  43. I really enjoy watching your videos! Thank you!

    As a backer of the 2nd ed of Earthborne Rangers, Maggie's making me slightly nervous that I will not enjoy the punishing nature of the game. 😮

  44. Introspection is a fantastic way to learn about people and yourselves. By all means, if you enjoyed sharing your thoughts, we'll be here to enjoy hearing it.

  45. I guess they should have titled "My Island" as "My Plateau" ! HA! Get it? "Plateau"? 9:19

  46. Maggie, have you had a chance to play Arborea solo?

  47. That was really interesting and enjoyable thanks!

  48. I went through exactly the same arc with My City – blazing through the first half and then bogged down. Got through to game 23 of 24 and I i decided to call the campaign there. That first half is great fun though

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