2023 has been a huge year for board games, with more than 4500 games released last year, according to the BoardGameGeek database. And that’s not counting expansions!
Today I’m looking at the highest ranked games that came out last year for your 2024 gaming sessions, based on their “geek rating” on BoardGameGeek. As always, such a ranking is just the result of a vote and some under the hood calculation, so it is what it is and it has it’s own bias, but I think this list does show quite a few great games.
One thing I want to mention, as a solo gamer myself, is that a lot of the games in the list have very good solo modes. One of them is actually exclusively solo. If you are a solo gamer, be sure to check this top 100 board games of all time list.
Honorable mentions for best board games coming into 2024 go to Thunder Road Vendetta, Forest Shuffle, Beast, Hoplomachus Victorum, and Apiary, which didn’t quite make it to the list, but are in the top 20.
Let’s go with the top 15 board games!
15 – Legacy of Yu (2023)
Legacy of Yu is a solo only worker placement and engine building game, where you have to build canals in order to protect your village from floods. Legacy of Yu has been praised for its nonlinear campaign. The game is easy to setup, and some consider it a milestone in solo board gaming.
Nucleum is a heavy euro board game in which players take role of industrialists trying to succeed in 19th-century Saxony. This is a challenging, highly strategic race to build a better infrastructure than your opponents, but keep in mind that the learning curve for this game is pretty steep. The game has a solo mode.
You might also like: If you like Nucleum, you might also want to try other mid-weight to heavy euro games such as Evacuation, Tiletum, or The City of Silver (Kutná Hora: The City of Silver).
13 – Sky Team (2023)
Sky Team is a co-operative game, exclusively for two players, in which you play a pilot and co-pilot at the controls of an airliner. Your goal is to work together as a team to land your airplane in different airports around the world. This is a dice placement game. People like the limited communication aspect, as well as the very thematic gameplay, and how much production value the game packs considering its price.
You might also like: For other mid to low complexity games that play under an hour, check Turing Machine, After Us, and Akropolis.
12 – Expeditions (2023)
Expeditions is an official sequel to popular board game Scythe by Stonemaier games, and as such people had high expectations for this game. Expeditions is a competitive, card-driven, engine-building game of exploration. You Play cards to gain power and unique worker abilities; You explore with your mech to reveal more cards. Gameplay wise, it is very different from Scythe, even though they share the same universe, gorgeous art direction, and are both mid-weight euro games.
You might also like: For more games with Variable player powers and with game sessions of about 90 minutes, people recommend Apiary, Mosaic (Mosaic: A Story of Civilization), and Twilight Inscription.
11 – Great Western Trail: New Zealand (2023)
Great Western Trail: New Zealand is a reimplementation of very popular game Great Western Trail, in which you have to breed sheep and make your wool farm prosper. Some reviewers say it takes Great Western Trail to new heights, offering players a deeper and more engaging gaming experience. New Zealand introduces Deck Building mechanics to the game, which people have generally enjoyed. It does add complexity to an already complex euro game though.
You might also like: For other euro games of economic competition, try Skymines, La Granja (La Granja: Deluxe Master Set), and Woodcraft.
10 – Distilled (2023)
Distilled is a thematic strategy card game about crafting spirits in a distillery, with resource management and push-your-luck elements. You use cards to purchase new ingredients and invest in upgrades to your distillery. You have to age your spirit to enhance its flavor, then bottle and sell it. People like the thematic gameplay, the push your luck aspect, as well as the variety of game sessions thanks to the many characters and spirit recipes included. The game has a great solo mode.
You might also like: For other thematic games with a nice solo mode, try Encyclopedia, Rolling Heights, and Hamlet (Hamlet: The Village Building Game).
9 – The White Castle (2023)
The White Castle is a Euro type game with mechanics of resource management, worker placement and dice placement. You control a clan during the Tokugawa era of Japan. The clan with the most victory points wins the game. People have praised the elegant and streamlined design of this game, stating it brings something fresh to the euro genre.
You might also like: Barcelona, Bitoku, and Sabika.
8 – The Witcher: Old World (2023)
The Witcher: Old World is a competitive adventure board game for 2 to 5 players, set in the world of the popular books and videogame series. The game also includes a solo mode. This is an effective adapatation that you will like in particular if you like the IP. Players enjoy the combat, monsters, and exploration aspects. Others have stated that you should pick a copy only if you’re a big fan of the Witcher’s universe.
Voidfall is a heavy game of space civilization, that combines the player interaction and empire building aspects of 4X games with the resource management mechanics of euro games. People have praised the competitive multiplayer, in particular on high agression maps, if you can get past the heavy, heavy rules and overall complexity of the game.
You might also like: Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles – Episodes 1 & 2, Septima, The Great Wall.
6 – Age of Innovation (2023)
Age of Innovation is a standalone game set in the world of Terra Mystica. The game offers Twelve factions, each with unique characteristics. You will compete to erect buildings and merge them into cities. Each game allows you to create new combinations of factions, homelands, and abilities. This is a heavy euro game with a solid solo mode. People are divided on where it stands compared to Terra Mystica and Gaia project, some being attached to the older games, others saying it improves its predecessors. Either way, all reviewers agree it is a very solid game.
You might also like: For more heavy euro games, check Great Western Trail: Argentina, Weather Machine, Carnegie.
5 – Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game (2023)
Star Wars: The Deckbuilding game is a 2-player competitive card game in which The Rebels and Empire go head-to-head to eliminate one another’s bases. As expected from fantasy flight games, this is a very competent game with great looking art. People have stated this is a good gateway game for people who are not familiar with board games or deckbuilding. Reviewers have enjoyed the very thematic gameplay and mechanics.
Earth is a Tableau building game in which you have to grow your ecosystem card engine with animals, plants, and terrains. People have said it has more replayability and strategy than Wingspan, a game it is often compared to.
Darwin’s Journey is a worker-placement Eurogame in which players recall Charles Darwin’s memories of his adventure through the Galapagos islands. One of the original points of this game is that your workers can be upgraded, which opens more options down the road. People who have played Darwin’s Journey like the crunchy gameplay, the quality of the components, and the solo mode.
Hegemony is an asymmetric politics and economics game that puts you in the role of one of the socio-economic groups in a fictional state: The Working Class, the Middle Class, the Capitalist Class and the State. Hegemony has taken the BGG forums by storm, and sits near the top of their strategy board games ranking already. People have called it a true achievement, that transcends gaming. Although the game states it is for 2 to 4 players, it’s really recommended that you play it with 4 players, when all classes are represented. The game does include automas that can represent some of the classes, if you’re a few players short, or want to play solo.
You might also like: For more economics and industry themed games, be sure to check out Brass: Birmingham and Kanban EV
1 – The Castles of Burgundy: Special Edition (2023)
Number 1 in this list of best 2023 Board games is absolutely not a new game, but a special edition that really elevates the original game, I’m of course talking of The Castles of Burgundy: Special Edition. The concept of the game, at its core, is about laying tiles to build your kingdom. The Castles of Burgundy is one of those easy to learn, hard to master game, that has been a staple of board games since its release in 2011. The Special edition was published by…wait, Awaken Realms? Yes, that’s right, and that means it looks gorgeous with its redesign. The special collection also includes an insane amount of expansions, and a solo mode that works really, really well. If you were considering buying The Castles of Burgundy, this is the edition to get in 2023.
You might also like: Endless Winter: Paleoamericans, Wayfarers of the South Tigris, and Wingspan Asia.
And this is it for the best ranked games coming into 2024 so far. What did you think of the list? What was *your* favorite game that you played this year? Let me know in the comments, and see you next time!