The year is ending, and now is the time to hang out with our families, stay warm, and think about board games. This year, Allplay released a whole lot of small box board games but didn’t necessarily trade quantity for quality. In this case, less is more. Let’s look at Allplay’s best board games from 2023.
Different mechanisms ebb and flow in popularity, and it seems that the most popular feature to include in a game right now is trick-taking. Ever since The Crew, we have seen semi-cooperative, team-based, and even science-fiction strategy games (seriously, check out Arcs) that utilize trick-taking. Sail is a cooperative trick-taking game for two players that involves sailing a boat across treacherous waters, with the result of each trick determined by suits and winners. It’s a challenging little game that takes time to get accustomed to but is highly rewarding. The clever mechanics, gorgeous art, and replayability make this a two-player game that deserves to be in the conversation among the best trick-taking games available. This is easily Allplay’s best game of the year, and it is perfect for couples who want to solve puzzles together in innovative ways.
Bidding is an exhilarating mechanism, and Couture elevates this exciting aspect of board games by transforming it into a drafting game centered around fashion. In this game, players take on the roles of models on a runway, vying to collect new poses and signature walks. They achieve this by skillfully using the cards in their hands to outbid their rivals. Additionally, the game incorporates an ingenious set-collection mechanism that rewards players for effectively managing their sets while keeping an eye on their opponents’ goals. The quick turns and brisk overall pace ensure there’s no downtime, maintaining constant engagement. Couture serves as an ideal appetizer game for a gaming session, thanks to its brief rounds and rapid gameplay.
Plus, the game is visually stunning and fully embraces its fashion theme.
Roll-and-write mechanisms paired with polyominos create a spirited combination in Mind Space. You’d think this would be an abstract one, but this game emerges as one of the most thematic experiences offered by Allplay this year. In Mind Space, players roll dice and assign them to shapes, strategizing to place them in the most advantageous positions on their grids. The shapes are distinctively colored and correspond to various emotions, each with its unique scoring method. Additionally, players aim to fulfill certain objectives throughout the game. The gameplay revolves around organizing thoughts, culminating in a beautifully immersive experience.
While players who prefer roll-and-write games with higher levels of interaction might not find this to their taste, those who appreciate the tranquil process of crafting the best possible outcome on paper (or a whiteboard) will find Mind Space a delightful and compact game.
For those seeking the puzzle-solving bits of Mind Space without the roll-and-write elements, Chomp offers an alternative. In this game, players are engaged in drafting dinosaurs and strategically placing them to simulate feeding behaviors. The core of Chomp revolves around effective pattern building, where players create a balanced ecosystem by thoughtfully positioning herbivores and carnivores. This mechanic bears a resemblance to Kingdomino, where placing the correct tiles adjacent to each other leads to a multiplied scoring effect, and unique objectives ensure varied scoring across different games.
Chomp stands out in a crowded genre of pattern-building games. Its dinosaur theme, compact size, and well-structured rules make it a game worth considering for those who enjoy a blend of strategy and thematic gameplay.
This one is for fans of Codenames. This unique word game features cards with excerpts from classic novels. In each round, one player selects a word from the passage, and the rest of the players deduce the chosen word, akin to the popular puzzle game Wordle. However, Fiction adds a twist: as the player provides hints to the others, they are required to include one lie in their clues. This element of deceit injects a layer of creativity and challenge into the game.
While the classic literature theme may not resonate with everyone, Fiction stands out as a clever and innovative word game. It’s sure to strike a chord with the right audience, especially those who appreciate a blend of literary knowledge and cunning wordplay.
What are your favorite games from Allplay this year? What are you wanting to pick up? Let us know in the comments below!