Hello Gaming Library Fam!
Hey there, it's Duane, joined by Chief Meeple Hans and Head Coach Fred. First of all, we just want to say a big thank you for making 2023 an amazing year for gaming! We have been seeing more players and communities coming together playing board games. We have shared the joy of board gaming to more schools and libraries like Ateneo, Lourdes School of Mandaluyong and CIIT. We have a lot of new games coming in and we are excited for the upcoming 2024 and for the surprises it will bring 😀
Before we share with you our top games for 2023, let us give you a short recap of the events we had this year:
February - Gaming Library’s 12th Anniversary Party
March - Arrival of Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza with new exclusive Tarsier Card
April - Opening of Gaming Library in SM City North EDSA
May - Start of Tara, Laro Thursdays + Star Wars Day
June - TOYCON 2023
October - All Aboard EXPO in Shangri-La Plaza Mall + Cascadia National Tournament
November - CMON EXPO in Bangkok + All Aboard XP Uptown 1st Anniversary
We also had tons of mini tournaments and events! We are looking forward to a bright and game-filled 2024!
So here are our personal picks for our top games for 2023. They are a combination of the best selling, most impactful, the games that excites us and the games that we had most fun.
Chief Meeple’s Top Games of 2023
A showcase of diverse range of tabletop experiences, each with its unique appeal
🐱 Cat In The Box - Love how a classic mechanic as trick taking evolved in this game. Dive into the intriguing world of quantum mechanics with this Japanese trick-taking card game. The twist? The color of the card is a mystery until it's played, adding a delightful evolution to the classic trick-taking mechanic. Unleash the cat from the box and witness the magic!
▶️ Tapple - I think this is the surprise hit party game of the year that brought a lot of newcomers to board gaming. Race against the clock, tap letters on the portable wheel, and unleash your creativity as you come up with words for various categories. The perfect game to introduce newcomers to the joy of board gaming!
⚔️ Unmatched - Immerse yourself in the world of myth and legend with Unmatched, a highly asymmetrical card-driven miniature fighting game. Unleash heroes with unique abilities onto the battlefield and experience the thrill of a competitive game system that promises endless excitement. I'm looking forward to having a competitive game system that I can dive into.
🔊 That Sound Game - Get ready for a noisy and interactive party game that breaks the mold. Love this party game made by non-gamers. Simple, fun and best of all allows big group to play together
🇵🇭 Coup: PH Edition - Dream come true! Makes me proud to spread Filipino culture. Embark on a thrilling journey through the Spanish Colonial Era with Coup: Filipino Edition! Inspired by the intricate personas of Jose Rizal's magnum opus, Noli Me Tangere, this board game promises an immersive experience like never before.
🐚 Sea Salt & Paper - I saw this game in Spiel 2022 and really believed in the art and concept. Glad to see I was not the only one to appreciate the game. Sea Salt & Paper is a fast-paced game where you assemble your hand of cards, play their effects, and take control to shape the destiny of the round.
3️⃣ Trio - My #1 game that came out of Essen. This easy yet clever game will keep you guessing and entertained. Elevate your gaming nights with this engaging number-crunching experience!
🏒 Klask - After 8 years, I finally get to experience what other countries are raving about. Its a sport! Klask, a fast-paced tabletop version of Air Hockey with a magnetic twist. Compete with friends in this magnetic challenge and discover why it's a pub game sensation.
🐻 Cascadia - Love this game! It's the perfect weight for strategy with tons of replayability and ability to bring newcomers into the board game hobby. I’ve stopped playing more complex games because of it. Immerse yourself in the puzzly tile-laying world of Cascadia, a game that strikes the perfect balance between strategy and accessibility. Build your terrain, populate it with wildlife, and experience the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Head Coach Fred’s Top Games of 2023
A rich selection catering to various preferences and ages
🧩 Katamino Family - The title gives away itself. It's a suitable game for all ages. It also has a solo game where I am heavily challenged. Katamino is a puzzle game with both 2D and 3D challenges of progressive difficulty, and also offers a strategic game challenge for two players. With over 500 puzzles and strategic gameplay for two, the possibilities are limitless. Challenge yourself and find joy in every progressively difficult puzzle.
🔨 Poetry for Neanderthals - This game breaks your norm of word use. I laugh when we play. See the one sound of word rule? I bet you smiled as well! Challenge your wordplay skills with a one-syllable rule, and beware of the inflatable club if you slip up! It's a word-guessing game that adds a hilarious twist to your game nights.
🌶️ Century: Spice Road - It's a test of your resource management skills. The best thing? It's part of a trilogy and you can mix any part of it to feel a different experience. Century: Spice Road is first of a series of mixable games about the exciting adventures of trade merchants. In Spice Road, players build their hands over a series of rounds to optimize their strategy. Players will love this fast playing game!
🐨 Hand-to-Hand Wombat - A simple game of building towers. You'll never trust anyone with your eyes closed again. 😀 In this game, everyone has a secret identity, either good or bad. Can you trust your fellow players, or are they secretly sabotaging your efforts? Hand-to-Hand Wombat adds a playful twist to trust and deception, making it a must-play for game nights.
🧱 Quoridor - Move or place a wall. I've never been torn between two options! Really competitive! Quoridor is a must among strategy games. Its rules are amazingly simple: just make it through the labyrinths your opponent creates to get to the other side.
🐒 Team3 - If you wanna test your non-verbal skills as a team, this is my highest reco! The game of TEAM3 is played in teams of three players, with each player taking on the role of one of the three monkeys: the monkey who can't speak, the monkey who can't see, or the monkey in the middle.
🟦 Azul - This is a very aesthetic drafting game. You might get pissed if you get any penalties but it's very rewarding if you pull off the trick you're trying! Draft colored tiles, decorate the palace, and strategize to score points. Watch out for penalties, but relish the rewarding feeling when you pull off the perfect move. It's a game of elegance and skill that captivates players.
🇯🇵 The White Castle - This has a seamless implementation of the dice placement mechanic. I love how they made the theme work for the gameplay! In The White Castle. Take control of clans, amass influence, manage resources, and strategically place workers in the imposing Himeji Castle. The theme blends seamlessly with gameplay, creating an immersive experience for players.
🐟 Happy Salmon - My go-to-game if I've been playing for a long time. It's chaotic but it will give you a lot of laughs! A quick party game for 3-8 players, it involves frantically shouting actions, finding matching players, and completing hilarious tasks. It's the perfect go-to game for lighthearted fun after a long gaming session.
Glive Duane’s Top Games of 2023
A mix of family-friendly and strategic experiences
😊 Anomia - We played this game during our family Christmas Eve party and it was a blast. I love how my aunts and uncles really got into the game, and it was very competitive. Love this party game, especially with the new art and new categories that are perfect for FIlipinos 😀 Experience the fast-paced fun of Anomia! Draw and reveal cards, face off with opponents, and blur out correct answers to claim victory. Keep the drawing going as you compete for the most cards. Anomia promises excitement and quick thinking in every round.
🐑 Catan - My interest for this game was renewed after being the head judge for the Catan Tournament during All Aboard EXPO (I think it was the biggest Catan Tournament in the Philippines). Join the expedition in Catan, where men and women build settlements in a rich, uninhabited land. Construct roads, expand settlements to cities, and aim for supremacy on Catan. Dive into the strategic world of resource management and conquest.
🐶 Artisans of Splendent Vale - I have a soft spot for legacy / campaign games, and this game is amazing! I love that every character has their own story (so much so we have individual books). The pastel art is also amazing. Immerse yourself in the magical world of Splendent Vale with Artisans of Splendent Vale. This cooperative adventure game lets you explore the beauty of the Vale, hone your crafts, and overcome challenges through tactical action scenes. Teamwork and careful strategy are key in this enchanting quest.
🐠 Ark Nova with Marine Worlds Expansion - I am a big fan of Ark Nova, and when they released the Marine Worlds Expansion, I was enamored! (I guess meeting Mathias Wigge also helped my decision). Plan and design a modern zoo in Ark Nova! Build enclosures, support conservation projects, and now, with the Marine Worlds Expansion, introduce sea animals into your zoo. Build aquariums and special enclosures to create the most successful zoological establishment.
🏎️ Heat: Pedal to the Metal - If you have a need for speed, this is the perfect game for you. Days of Wonder released this game late last year, but it is always out of stock (up until their new print run). Good thing I have my friends Ivan and Mark who scored copies of this game. Take control of intense car races in Heat: Pedal to the Metal. Based on intuitive hand management, jockey for position, manage your car's speed, and aim to cross the finish line first. Experience the thrill of the race and strategic decision-making.
🐉 Flamecraft - This game is gorgeous (with cool mechanics to boot). I love the chill dragon vibes of this game and the chill game mechanics (you will be rewarded by being generous to other players). Become a Flamekeeper in Flamecraft! Gather items, place dragons, and cast enchantments to enhance the town's shops. With specialized dragons and strategic decisions, Flamecraft is a game of resource management and magical craftsmanship for 1-5 players.
🤖 Expeditions - If you ask people what is my favorite game, they would answer Scythe. So I am ex-SCYTHE-ted when they released a game in the same world of Scythe: Expeditions. A worthy successor to Scythe, Expeditions is a complex and strategic game of exploration. With competitive, card-driven gameplay, build your engine and conquer the challenges that await. Immerse yourself in the world of expeditions with disturbingly beautiful art and well-designed components.
🐭Dixit: Disney - I have grown up watching Disney films, and to see it beautifully transformed into one of the most magical board games is a match made in heaven. Dixit Disney is a simple and lighthearted game of storytelling, interpretation, and guesswork. Players will be challenged and delighted as they reveal a series of cards featuring gorgeous Disney-themed images. Their connection: an enigmatic statement centered on one of the revealed cards.
🇩🇪 Hansa Teutonica - The main reason why this game is on this list is because of a group of board gamers who love this game. They would play this game almost every week, and would introduce this game to everyone that would join the game day (and loving board gaming is contagious). Shout out to the Podium Board Game Group! :D Rise as a merchant in the Hanseatic League in Hansa Teutonica. Increase your standing and prestige points through various strategies, including establishing counting offices and creating trade routes. Navigate the competitive world of commerce, where player displacement adds an extra layer of complexity.
Okay, choosing only 9 games is hard, but we definitely have more games that really made a mark this year. What are your top 9 games of 2023?