The Best and Worst Board Games of 2023 (Half Year Review) - cutlassboardgame.com

The Best and Worst Board Games of 2023 (Half Year Review)

The Broken Meeple
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The Best and Worst Board Games of 2023 (Half Year Review)

We’ve gotten through half the year already, man where does the time go? Not a ton in board gaming happens in the first half, so let’s look at how things are going in 2023 so far. Are we on track for a solid, should we be concerned, are there potential “top games of 2023” material already released?

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Who Am I?

One single batchelor from the UK talking about his passion for board games and the people who play them! I support small content creators, board game cafes and go against the status quo when it comes to the board game industry. I give my honest opinions without bias towards any publishers or designers and will not hold back if I don’t like a game.

The Broken Meeple is a variety channel that hosts all kinds of board game content from reviews to Top 10 lists to playthroughs to live stream collaborations with special guests (predominantly small channels who deserve more exposure).

I look forward to engaging with you, the community on my live streams or in the comments on my videos!

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Timestamps:

00:00 – Introduction and Kienda Promo
01:05 – How is 2023 So Far?
03:20 – Surprises
09:35 – Disappointments
17:39 – Worst Games (which aren’t even bad!)
24:05 – Best Games
27:18 – Closing Thoughts

#brokenmeeple #worstgamesof2023 #bestgamesof2023 #bestgamesofthemonth #boardgames #boardgame #supportsmallcreators #tabletop #tabletopgames #bgg #boardgamer #boardgamereview

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63 Comments

  1. I am so on board with you for this video. Two days ago, I was going to press the "purchase" button for Distilled and then thought "but this is ugly", and thankfully retracted. After Us, Beast and Darwin's Journey didn't even create a spark of interest in me. And yes, Carnegie too. I backed Hegemony and played it enthusiastically twice – finally a game which is not just a pile of mechanics. I will not get Isle of Trains because I am really burned out on the theme. Our only dissonance would be earth because of the Martian virus that I caught some years ago 🙂Cheers!

  2. Played three games from 2023 so far. One is a magazine war game about Romans vs Spartans which is a great game (8/10). The second is Hickory Dickory. Fun light set collection game but nothing too innovative but with cute art (7/10). The third one is my current darling. Banish the Snakes from GMT. What an excellent coop game with great artwork and a very clever game mechanism to make sure every game is very different. Easily a 9/10.

  3. I totally agree on Distilled part. This game was so hyped but the more I was readingwatching about it the more I couldn't understand why. It's absolutely meh

  4. I really love your videos and how you express your experiences with them but I am shocked to see Darwin's Journey mentioned as one of the worst games of this year. For me it is the best game until now followed really closely by Hegemony which I absolutely adore too. I have played Hegemony 3 days in a row teaching it to different people every time and I had a blast doing it and playing it then and also now.

    But as unique and as good I find Hegemony to be, I still find Darwin's Journey an amazing design and cannot believe you did not like it. I kinda wish you would have played it with my group. We all had an amazing experience with Darwin's Journey and Hegemony as well 😊

  5. My Girlfriend and I really enjoyed Distilled, we have only played it at two so far, but we were able to knock out our second game in about 90 minutes, if anything we both felt like we could have done with more turns, you have to be able to store a spirit by round two or three to really benefit from the flavour bonus. If you haven't played it at two yet, id definitely recommend 🙂

  6. Hegemony is best game of this years. since brilliant Dune from 2020 Hegemony maybe us even better or at least equal for me!

  7. Inventions theme did not interest me at all ☹️ need to give it a play and see if that changes.

  8. Darwin's Journey felt frustrating and restrictive in play. Tried to built out my characters, but from a VP perspective it is not worth it and so many things are locked behind the movement of your ship. So it seemed best to just sail and move and ignore the rest of the mechanics. Played only once though, but really did not have a good time with it.

  9. Well if Darwin’s Journey gives you similar feelings as Carnegie, then it’s a great game! 😂
    Let’s put it this way: would you rather play Darwin or Mage Knight? 🤣🤣🤣

  10. Your honesty is appreciated, but as others have stated, we have very different values in terms of what we look for in games. Seemingly, whatever you seem to dislike, I end up liking. But different strokes for different folks!

    Piggybacking on others’ comments, I don’t think innovation (or lack thereof) necessarily makes for a good (or bad) games. Progressive iteration is just as good in my book as a game that tries to introduce something too novel for its own good. Just cause something is novel or experimental doesn’t automatically make it good, see the Oceangate sub! Nor does something re-iterating the same mechanisms automatically make it dull.

    I appreciate critical reviews, but I’d like more depth outside of just because things are the same, boring mechanisms. Lately I’ve been less inclined to watch your reviews because it’s almost predictable which ones you’d like/dislike.

  11. Earth is the only one of the games you mentioned that I have played, and I agree it is amazing. I own the game and have played it a few times in person and many times on board game arena. I've tried several new word games this year, and the best by far is the team game Phantom Ink, which has the decrypto mechanic of cluing your own team more than you clue the other team, but without the frustration. The word cards and question cards included are well curated.

  12. Excellent as always Luke, nice to see some different opinions on some of the more popular games this year.

  13. YES, Earth is so good! I think it might actually be turning into my #1 game of all time.
    Thanks for your thoughts on Books of Time, that helped a lot in deciding if I should add it to my collection or not.

  14. i dont get the Earth hype at all. its ok. i dont really have any complaints other than the huge deck of cards and the randomness of it but i dont see anything fantastic about it. its ok. Hegemony is really good, no arguments there.

    my top 3 of the year are:
    City of the Great Machine
    Scarface 1920
    Hegemony

    i like Expeditions as well. not a big fan of SM games but i like this one. ive heard great things about Darwins Journey though havent played it myself. Books of Time might be my jam and i may look into grabbing a copy

  15. I had a similar feeling about After Us. Was drawn in by the art and let down by the game play. If I get a chance to play Earth, I will. Really curious about the train game too!

  16. Thanks for sharing.
    Earth is one of my top games of the year too.

  17. Anyone that thinks Ark Nova and Earth are that similar is playing Ark wrong.

  18. The solo in After US is really hard to play.

  19. I love both Ark Nova and Earth and Ares expedition, these are my actual three favourite games. I don't have the regular Terraforming Mars, is it worth it? Also don't see connection between Ark Nova and Earth.

  20. Top 10 recommendation: Top 10 Publishers If You Can Only Play Games From That Publisher.

  21. Me: oh but at least it looks great!
    Subtitle: look how ugly it is too!!

  22. Darwin's journey is the best game of the year. Play it more times and you will understand. It is a game for people that like the designer previous game like Lorentzo, Grand Austria Hotel, Newton, Golem, Egizia, Terramara. The theme and graphic Desing is well done.

  23. Hegemony is incredible. didn't enjoy beast that much… but after a few plays, house rules make it more fun (like removing certain cards)

  24. Would like to hear what you have to say about Unconscious mind, even if it isn't the final version.

  25. We have very different tastes in games, but I always appreciate your takes! The variety of games and opinions is what makes this hobby fun and interesting.

  26. Played only once Darwins Journey, but I agree, dissapointment for me as well.. not a bad game, but not interesting to me, and essentially as You mentioned multiple times, it is boring.

  27. I have not tried Earth yet, but it is on BGA and also preordered so…

  28. just got books of time, it’s awesome, thanks for the recommendation

  29. Really enjoyed the video. Great to have summaries of periods of times and the games that came out then.

    It has shown me that there is very little exciting me in gaming this year. I think in general once you have played 250+ different games it's quite hard to find new games that seem amazing. Darwins journey is a great example of a game I could see some people loving but I just see it as another euro in a sea of euros. There is nothing making me want in more than anything else that was released akin to it in the last 5-10 years.

    Earth is my only purchase thus far this year and even that I think is forgettable. So many tableau builders out there and earth it's perfectly good. But I don't think it does anything particularly new. Wingspan, Ares Expedition, race for the galaxy do similar things and it's just another edition of this type of game.

    I hope the second half of the year provides more unique games that have a wow factor. Fingers crossed for Voidfall

  30. From wich movie is the clip at 12:32 where the blond guy says "Monkey"?

  31. Appreciate your focus on thematic integration with euros – definitely aligns with my tastes and helps me filter which ones I may enjoy! Also love that you talk about multiplayer solitaire and how you could just play something solo. I think this far too often with many games that come out. I’ll be happy to play solo, but give me interaction in multiplayer games!

  32. I am a bit surprised that you rate "Carnegie" or "Darwins Journey" rather badly seemingly purely based on the fact that they are "just another Euro". It feels that the key criteria for you to rate those games is lack of innovative ideas or novel mechanisms – completely ignoring that they use "old" mechanisms in an ingenious way and are trying to perfect the Euro genre. Novelty might be relevant for someone like you who has played more than a thousand games (my guess) and gets disappointed if a game does not contain new mechanisms but for the average gamer or people new to the hobby, this is not really helpful or relevant. If those games have no major innovative mechanisms but are still better than good Euros from 5-10 years ago because they continue to improve the genre (even if so only marginally), they should also rate higher. For someone who is new to the hobby and wants to play his first heavy Euro, should he really play old classics like "Fields of Arle", "Vinhos" or "Tzolk'in" rather than "Carnegie" or "Darwins Journey" ? I don't think so. The historic novelty factor for someone who plays any of those five games the very first time is actually totally irrelevant. But then, if you consider your audience as just being the super heavy gamers then it might be helpful to make this a bit clearer.

    It is also inconsistent with how you rate "Earth". One could easily say similarly that this is actually "just another engine builder" and a worse version of "Ark Nova" or "Wingspan".

  33. I'm eagerly waiting on how Hegemony will fare in a couple of years. Everyone is uniformly praising that game. It's a political simulation. While the mechanics are sound, it is dull and soulless. Compare it with Die Macher. Die Macher is tense, it has some sense of purpose and you perfectly understand why you score points and you do have some sense of urgency although its also procedural. It has balls. Hegemony is castrated version of Die Macher, you don't have any sense of progression, voting is so uninspiring and you always have that feel that either you depend on luck or that it doesn't matter or you just don't care. Also, I cannot recall having the feeling that game is playing me as much as this when playing with the State. Majority of decisions are obvious and they exist only to serve the consistency of the simulation.

    Also, this was the Splotter year, and they pulled it again. Horseless Carriage is an interactive game with tile laying, stock market hidden through car selling, you can do both positive and negative interaction (raising someone else's tech you can build it, price wars). GOTY by far, that's how you make a heavy tense game that people actually care about.

  34. Gosu X is my top game of the year and no one will ever mention it on anyone’s list. I also highly disagree with the majority as well because, hot take incoming, Earth is the definition of mediocrity.

  35. Earth is everything I despise in a multiplayer game (I understand solo)… because t is not merely multiplayer solitaire, it is multiplayer repellent, because first, you dont care other players are doing and 2nd (worst) you cant follow what they are doing even if you cared… i am moving things around over here, you are moving things around over there, who knows of we are even playing the game correctly, who cares, we didnt even need to be on the same table.

  36. I just played distilled and am on the fence. I have to play a few more times and like to try solo before I might get rid of it. It’s beautiful and interesting but I was automatically thinking of ways to open up the beginning of the game because it’s sooooo tight

  37. Let’s be honest, the best game will most likely be wandering towers …empires end and nova Roma a close second

  38. Without doing a full list and splitting out new to me vs actually 2023…

    Top 2023 Witcher Old World
    Top Nod Hegemony (not right for my group, but may live on for two or solo)
    Biggest Disappointment Earth – it's not a bad game, but it just doesn't hit above others I own. For multi-player I'd pick Wingspan for a lower weight Tableau builder. For solo, I'd pick Ares Expedition with Crisis.

  39. You knock Darwin's Journey and Carnegie for being just another euro, and then fawn over Hegemony, the euro-est euro of euros, with a unique theme and nothing else.

    Agree on Beast though, very average.

  40. I enjoy Earth a lot. Great solo game experience for me.

  41. Wow. Darwin's Journey is one of my favs and everyone I've played it with has enjoyed it. Not played with the Firebrand expansion yet but heard it's even better with it. Do agree with you about Hegemony and Earth though.

  42. Very excellent review of the first half of the year. Generally agree on Distilled. I was wondering about Solutions and this seems to confirm what I saw on Heavy Cardboard…the Solutions borders on being a convoluted Euro-mess. I'd still like to try it, but it looks complicated for the sake of complication and too theme-lite. Now Darwin's Journey I'm looking to solo in the next few days and it intrigued me a bit. Perhaps not enough to purchase my own copy, but better than Solutions and interesting. The wax seals are neat (again, probably not enough to invest in)

  43. "Ian O'Toole doesnt do beautiful Artwork" 😵‍💫🤯

  44. I definitely disagree with your game tastes most the time, but that’s why I like your videos because I like seeing another perspective. You have good reasoning for your thoughts which is good, I just think k you consider some things boring that I don’t consider boring, etc.

  45. Funny thing I disagree with you on Darwin's Journey… but I cant say why. Because I was absolutely sure I was going to dislike it a lot – 3 out of every 4 "Italian school" games I find just a jungle of tracks without theme or reason where I have to climb here to get x to climb on there to get y to…

    And, well… Darwin's Journey is basically that. And I still like it. For sure I've not mastered it, I dont know how to really do well in it, but compared with, say, Newton, that one I played once and say never more, thanks, this one I've played several times and would like to play again. But again, I cant for the life of me say it is because it has this or that thing that the others like it dont.

    In any case, the important bit of a review is honesty 🙂

    I'd like to say something about Hegemony but I'm still waiting for it :/

  46. Hi there !

    I really like After us, but only in solo ! Wich get more tactical as you have to try mitigate what the IA will get as ressources while stolen those from him.
    Wich makes the game much better than in multiplayers.
    In fact, The game enter my top "comfort solo game" alongide cascadia, the guild of merchant explorer, sprawpolis, isle of cats explore and draw, Power plants etc..
    But clearly, i would'nt recommand this one multiplayer

    On the opposite side, i really get disapointed by Earth, and even more in solo. Not bad by any mean, but defenalty not liked it as much as all the hype around it
    I Played 15+ solo game of it, to be sure i did'nt missed anything from it, then i just sold it and defenatly not missing it at all.

  47. Favourite game so far? Nightmare Cathedral!
    Not sure about Distilled yet…

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