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Upcoming board games 2023: 12 exciting tabletop releases you shouldn’t miss this year

Get ready for the hottest tabletop titles of the year.

With 2023 upon us, it’s time to anticipate the upcoming board games due to arrive or launch in the next 12 months. As the industry continues to grow, we’ll likely see more and more board games worth getting excited about. Whether they’re the next iteration of a beloved series, connected to a notable IP, created by an accomplished designer or packed full of exciting gameplay mechanics, every entry on this list has something about it that makes it worth celebrating.

Not every one of the upcoming board games on this list is due to actually be released this year, as some of the entries will see the launch of a crowdfunding campaign. Nevertheless, they’re close enough that it’s time to start getting hyped about them. Fans of movie and video game licences - such as Star Wars and The Last of Us - can expect some interesting adaptations, while there will be plenty of fresh-faced series arriving on the scene in 2023 as well.

Upcoming board games 2023

The most exciting upcoming board games of 2023Watch on YouTube

Whether you’re looking for your next chunky campaign board game to embark on or after something a little more temporary, our list should cater to all your board gaming needs. The titles on this list range from grim-dark horror and the deep unknown of space to blissfully pastoral, with moods to suit almost any atmosphere or occasion.

Keep ahead of what’s releasing this year and start planning your next game night using our list of the best upcoming board games in 2023.

1. Septima

Become the next leader of a witch’s coven through competition and cooperation

Cards from Septima board game.
The artstyle for Septima is beautifully distinct and matches its witchcraft theme perfectly.

Septima is a board game that immediately catches your attention thanks to its beautiful art style, which imitates pencil drawing and has a very rustic feel. Based around the concept of a coven of witches living in secret within a small village, Septima sees players attempting to take the place of their leader after she announces her retirement. With the intention of gaining the respect of their retired leader and fellow witches, players in Septima will perform all sorts of witchy tasks such as collecting ingredients, brewing potions and healing the sick.

Despite their efforts to protect the townsfolk, witches in Septima still face persecution from those ignorant enough to fear them. Innocent witches will be placed on trial throughout the upcoming board game, with players able to send loyal people to give witness and vote on the outcome in favour of the witches. Whenever a witch is judged innocent, they will join a player’s group - thereby giving them benefits and new abilities. However, witches in players’ groups aren’t entirely safe from trial, as drawing too much attention by performing the same actions as other players on their turn will attract the dreaded witch-hunters to their location.

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Meehan and Chase discuss their thoughts on Septima after playing it at PAX Unplugged 2022.

Septima is a fascinating board game because its gameplay mechanics require players to find a balance between playing competitively and cooperatively. Whilst they’ll want to gain the most respect from the coven in order to win, they’ll also benefit from working with the other players. Throwing your fellow players under the bus might help you get ahead, but it goes against the community feel of Septima and can hurt you in the long run.

Pledge copies for Septima are due to be delivered in May, with late pledge copies available on Gamefound.

2. The Last of Us: Escape the Dark

Play as Ellie, Joel and other iconic characters in a board game directly inspired by the beloved video game

A layout image of the board for The Last of Us: Escape the Dark.
Joel and Ellie will be playable characters in The Last of Us: Escape the Dark.

The Last of Us is a hot property at the moment. With a remake recently released on the PS5 and a HBO Max series having just aired, The Last of Us train continues to roll full steam ahead with the series’ first tabletop adaption arriving this year. Based on the Escape the Dark gameplay system - which has powered horror board games such as Escape the Dark Castle and Escape the Dark Sector - The Last of Us: Escape the Dark is an upcoming board game that looks to recreate the first entry in the video game series on the tabletop.

Featuring a story about a cynical and hardened man called Joel and a young girl called Ellie, who’s curiously immune to the fungal parasites that have turned most of the world into mindless zombies, The Last of Us is primarily about having to survive against seemingly impossible odds. The video game board game plans to translate this concept to the tabletop by having players explore an open-world map in order to prepare for a final journey to their ultimate destination, Jackson. Whilst each new location offers the chance to gain essential supplies - including materials needed for crafting - they also have the potential to contain terrible dangers, from hordes of deadly clickers to a human ambush.

The risk/reward element of The Last of Us: Escape the Dark is where much of the game’s tension and scares come from. The players need to venture to certain locations to prepare for the journey to Jackson, as well as open up new routes to explore, but every moment of travel leaves them vulnerable. Players will experience a variety of encounters in the board game, including combat encounters with enemies of varying difficulty. They’ll also have a chance to recuperate and manage their inventory during nights around the campfire.

Due for release in December, The Last of Us: Escape the Dark is available through late Kickstarter pledges.

3. The Queen’s Dilemma

A sequel that looks to expand on the epic campaign game

An image of the board for The Queen's Dilemma board game.
Players will be presented with a new moral quandry in each session of The Queen's Dilemma.

The King’s Dilemma made a splash when it was released in 2019, providing board game groups with a rich legacy board game that actively encouraged arguing between players. Studio Horrible Guild is following up on The King’s Dilemma with a sequel that looks to improve and expand on it in every way. The Queen’s Dilemma takes place 100 years after the first game, focusing on Serene of Lybra, the last remaining heir to the Ankist throne. Somewhat young and inexperienced for the position, Serene relies upon her questionably loyal council of advisors to rule - which is where the players come in.

Each player in The Queen’s Dilemma takes the role of one of these council members and must collectively decide on how they should advise the monarch. Unlike in the first game, rather than representing a house tied to a certain ideology, players in the sequel can pick between a cast of diverse characters - each with their own goals to achieve. The characters in The Queen’s Dilemma aren’t attached to any particular beliefs, meaning that players are free to interpret their goals in whatever way will lead them to success. Players will even be able to pursue side-quests unique to their chosen character.

Dicebreaker plays a spoiler-free promo scenario for The King's Dilemma.

As the game progresses, the consequences to the council’s given advice will start to take effect, whether for good or ill. Players will have to be prepared to face the music should they choose to favour themselves over the wellbeing of the people of Ankist. The concept of the Dilemma series is easily strong enough to support a plethora of entries, as there isn’t really anything else out there like it.

The Queen’s Dilemma Kickstarter pledges are due to be fulfilled in December, with the opportunity for late pledges set to open soon.

4. Fit to Print

Publish your very own newspaper in this adorable animal journalist board game

A layout image of the board and cards for Fit to Print.
The artwork for Fit to Print is a huge part of the board game's appeal.

Flatout Games has already scored some real blinders with board games like Calico and Cascadia - and it doesn’t look like it’s stopping anytime soon. Fit to Print is a board game that came onto our radar late last year during its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. An upcoming board game about running your own local newspaper, Fit to Print has an art style that is irresistibly charming, featuring adorable tableaus of squirrels, badgers and other woodland creatures wielding pens and notepads.

The gameplay mechanics of Fit to Print sound delightfully simple, with players using various tiles to construct the front page of their newspapers in order to score the most points possible. Part of the tableau-building genre, Fit to Print sees players competing over the course of three rounds to collect points by obtaining and placing various tiles on their board.

The start of every round sees players choosing between a selection of text and image tiles available within a shared pool. Which tiles they take and how many really depends on whether players think they can arrange them all in a way that adheres to the game’s rules, whilst scoring them plenty of points. Tiles of the same type cannot touch on a player’s board, meaning that players will need to think carefully about placement. Meanwhile, they’ll want to gather points by fitting in larger articles, achieving their personal goals and finishing the fastest.

The simplicity of Fit to Print’s gameplay only serves to add to its overwhelming sense of charm and accessibility. Flatout Games seems to know what it’s doing when it comes to delivering visually appealing board games with the gameplay mechanics to back them up.

Copies of Fit to Print are expected to arrive with backers in October, with the opportunity to sign up for late pledges via the game’s Kickstarter page.

5. Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game

Pit the heroes of the Rebel Alliance against the Empire’s greatest villains

An image of some cards for Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game.
Players can attack cards of the opposing faction displayed in the galaxy row.

A potential replacement to the cancelled Star Wars: Destiny card game, Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game is set to be launched this year. Announced last summer, the premise of the deckbuilding game may sound very by-the-numbers - members of the Rebel Alliance battle against those of the Empire - but with veteran living card game designer Caleb Grace behind the wheel, its gameplay is sure to be anything but. Each player will take control of either side of the classic conflict, using their respective decks to take control of iconic locales from the sci-fi movie series.

As with many deckbuilding games, Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game will have players begin with a basic version of an Rebel Alliance or Empire deck, before eventually gaining new cards with which they can expand it. From their measly 10 cards, players will need to gather enough currency to purchase more powerful cards to add to their deck. The beauty of deckbuilding games is that players will craft entirely different decks each time in response to whatever strategy looks to be their best bet, alongside the random elements of card draw. Players will want to build a deck that reacts to and counters against their opponent’s strategy, giving them the edge they need to take control of the various locations in play.

Players will purchase cards from a shared galaxy row, with each player being able to buy cards from their respective faction. Besides buying their own cards, players can remove cards from the opposing side from the row to make their opponent's life that much more difficult. Fans of Star Wars and/or deckbuilding games should keep their eyes out for this upcoming board game.

Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game is set to be released in March. You can pre-order a copy from Zatu and the Fantasy Flight Games store.

6. Daybreak

Pandemic designer’s next co-op game looks to tackle climate change

The gameboard for Daybreak.
Daybreak presents players with a race against time to respond to the effects of Climate Change.

Matt Leacock has certainly made a name for himself when it comes to creating co-op board games, with Pandemic becoming one of the most recognisable modern tabletop titles. So it’s entirely understandable to be excited about the prospect of Leacock co-creating an entirely new co-op game with fellow designer Matteo Menapace. Daybreak is an upcoming board game that aims to tackle another major issue affecting the modern world besides viral infections: climate change. Tasking players with cooling the Earth’s atmosphere and managing the devastating effects caused by climate change, Daybreak is an ambitious board game that intends to challenge and educate in equal measure.

Built upon a similar system to Pandemic, Daybreak has players taking control of one of several world powers, all of whom must band together to solve a planet-ending crisis. As each of their respective world powers, the players must make serious changes to their nation’s policies in order to lessen their impact on the Earth’s environment and find new ways to support their populations. Every world power will have its own unique challenges to tackle, as each nation has a different impact on the environment. At the same time, the players must react to the various effects of climate change and ensure that their people remain safe and supported.

Wheels highlights the best co-op board games out there.

Daybreak looks to utilise the tried-and-tested co-op game formula found in Pandemic - presenting the players with increasingly difficult threats for them to manage, whilst working towards a shared goal - and apply it to an incredibly important subject. Climate change is very much a real issue that real-life world leaders are trying, and often failing, or deal with - so Daybreak arrives at a crucial time.

Daybreak is expected to arrive with backers in May, with late pledges still open on the game’s Backerkit page.

7. Slay the Spire: The Board Game

Fans of the indie video game can now experience it on the tabletop

An image of some cards for Slay the Spire: The Board Game.
Every level of the spire will feature increasingly difficult enemies for players to fight.

Released in 2017, Slay the Spire is an indie video game that has players ascending a tower filled to the brim with enemies and strange encounters. It makes a lot of sense that this particular video game is getting adapted into a board game when you consider that it already features a tabletop gaming mechanic: deckbuilding. Whilst the video game exists purely as a solo experience, the upcoming board game version will enable fans of the original to climb the tower alongside their friends.

Slay the Spire: The Board Game looks to be a one-for-one adaptation of the video game, including its cast of playable characters. As in the video game, the Slay the Spire board game will see players choosing between a selection of four different characters, with each one offering a unique playstyle. For example, the Silent is great at dealing out massive damage - but not so much at taking it - whereas the Defect is a much slower but more defensive character. Each character begins the game with their own starter deck, with various opportunities to acquire more cards found along the way up the tower.

As with the original, Slay the Spire: The Board Game is a roguelike experience: meaning that whenever players fail, they’ll need to start the game from the very beginning. Whilst there are save points scattered throughout the spire - enabling them to start from that point next time they play - players will need to be careful to avoid dying before they’re able to reach the next save point. Whilst Slay the Spire: The Board Game won’t offer anything particularly new on top of the video game, besides its multiplayer functionality, it will definitely be a draw for people who want more of the series.

Copies of Slay the Spire: The Board Game are set to be delivered in December, with late pledges still open on the title’s Kickstarter page.

8. Mother Tree

Wingspan’s designer continues to create fascinating board games about nature

Wingspan layout image cards
Wingspan, Hargrave's first board game, was a massive hit when it was published.

Elizabeth Hargrave, the creator of popular bird board game Wingspan, makes the kinds of board games you don’t see anywhere else. Whilst there are dozens of board games themed around wildlife and the natural world, few of them display the level of expertise and passion as Hargrave’s releases. This is largely because Hagrave is a scientist and environmental campaigner first and foremost, with her desire to educate others on the world of ornithology being a major reason she made Wingspan in the first place.

Hargrave aims to continue informing the tabletop gaming world on all things nature with her upcoming board game Mother Tree. Focused around the concept of mycorrhiza - of the symbiotic relationship between mushrooms and trees - Mother Tree, which is a working title, looks to dive deep into this particular area of natural science. The name Mother Tree refers to a type of enormous tree whose roots form a network in which surrounding plants and fungi can connect to, communicating information and sharing nutrients. The details regarding the gameplay of Mother Tree are still vague, with Hargrave explaining that players will be playing as mother trees using a pool of shared cards in order to spread their seedlings throughout the underground network of roots.

Lolies, Johnny, Matt and Meehan play the digital version of Wingspan.

Mother Tree doesn’t sound like any other board game we’ve heard of and is sure to offer a unique experience. Hargave is definitely a designer to watch, with Wingspan just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to her board game brilliance.

A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for Mother Tree is due to launch later in 2023.

9. Arcs: Collapse and Conflict in the Void

The next game from the creator of Root sees players creating epic space stories

A digital recreation of the table during a session of Arcs, the newest title from Leder Games. The competitive science fiction board game is now crowdfunding on Kickstarter.
Conquering planets is one way to obtain victory points in Arcs. | Image credit: Leder Games

Arcs: Collapse and Conflict in the Void has gone through a lot of iteration over the years as Cole Wehrle - best known for designing woodland warfare board game Root - has taken his upcoming game in several different directions.

An early demo released via Tabletop Simulator last year left the bitter taste of disappointment in our mouths. Nevertheless, Arcs is on this list because the space board game is far from complete and looks to be changing in some pretty dramatic ways in the lead-up to its impending release.

Taking place in a science-fiction universe, Arcs sees players becoming the leaders of a series of factions. Unlike in Root, these factions don’t have their own unique play styles and victory conditions. Instead, players shape their own experiences of their game by pursuing the various public and private goals featured in each playthrough, dealing the consequences of their actions as they do. In the iteration of Arcs we played, the element we most enjoyed was the game’s trick-taking system, which determines turn order and the actions available to players. Every round is led by a player whose card dictates what the others can do, with the requirement of following or copying if the other players don’t have the right cards. This system made for a really compelling gameplay system, forcing players to carefully plan their strategies around what they have in their hand and what card they think the current leader will play.

Having spoken to Wehrle and played an updated demo at last year’s PAX Unplugged, we’ve since regained some of the excitement we lost when playing the underwhelming earlier version, thanks to the designer’s assurances that the final release of Arcs would put a greater focus on its trick-taking system. Besides that, it looks like Wehrle will be cutting out some of the more unnecessary elements of the game - such as the construction aspects - in favour of further developing the more interesting aspects of Arcs.

Arcs: Collapse and Conflict in the Void is expected to arrive with backers in December, with late pledges still open on the Kickstarter page.

10. Cyclades 2

A remake of the battle board game about Greek gods, monsters and heroes

The remake of Cyclades will include some revamped miniatures. | Image credit: Open Sesame Games

Originally released in 2009, Cyclades is an epic board game that seeks to capture the wow factor of Grecian myths and legends through its monster-summoning gameplay. Though it doesn’t seem like it, 2009 was quite a while ago. As such, Cyclades may have faded in the memories of certain board gamers - and completely passed others by - which is why it's the perfect time for a remake.

Confusingly titled Cyclades 2, the upcoming board game is actually a remake of the original. Whilst the core gameplay of the first Cyclades will be kept intact, other elements of the game - such as its board, victory condition and pool of summons - will be altered for the new version. Fans of the original can still expect to travel around the Greek Islands searching for gold to summon the hulking mythical creatures they need to conquer their opponents. Cyclades 2 also looks to add a fresh coat of paint to the formula with a modular board, a separate track for summoning Greek heroes and revamped miniatures.

Wheels, Liv and Meehan play Kemet: Blood and Sand, the most recent edition of another entry in the same series as Cyclades.

Cyclades 2 looks like the perfect way for fans to revitalise their love for the series and for new players to experience it for the first time. It’s always great to see beloved board games get a new lease of life, especially when they have gameplay systems as solid as the one found in Cyclades. There’s really no excuse not to give this one a go now.

A crowdfunding campaign for Cyclades is expected to launch later in 2023.

11. Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies

Travel across a strange world populated by even stranger creatures in this adventure game

Players will be able to fly to different locations to search for resources.

When it was released in 2021, the original Sleeping Gods caught the eyes of more than a few tabletop gamers with its gorgeous artwork, imaginative worldbuilding and accessible storytelling gameplay. Its sequel, Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies, looks to build on what made the first game so well-received with a new world to explore and a more refined combat system to experience.

Taking place during the late 1930s, Distant Skies sees players stepping into a strange world populated by incredible creatures after their plane passes through a sudden storm. With more than a little Narnia about it, Distant Skies is an adventure board game that seeks to inspire delight, awe and maybe a little fear in its players. Unlike most board games, Distant Skies isn’t played on a game board. Instead, players flick through a book containing various maps representing the different locations players will explore in their journeys across the mysterious land they find themselves in. Throughout the game, the players will venture out into the fantastical world to search for resources, allies and answers. Along the way, they may encounter dangerous creatures or people who they’ll need to fight to continue their adventures.

Distant Skies is very much selling itself as Sleeping Gods Plus, which is certainly not a bad thing considering how well the original went down with players. A storytelling game for adults, Distant Skies is perfect for groups looking for something lighter on gameplay but heavier on atmosphere.

Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies is due to arrive with backers in March, with late pledges still open via the game’s Gamefound page.

12. The Elder Scrolls: Betrayal of the Second Order

Explore the entire continent of Tamriel in this adaptation of the RPG video game series

An image of some tokens from The Elder Scrolls: Betrayal of the Second Order.
As players progress through the game, they'll be able to advance their characters' skills.

Though there has already been a board game based on the Elder Scrolls series, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - The Adventure Board Game, there has yet to be a board game adaptation that extends beyond a single region in the video game universe. The Elder Scrolls: Betrayal of the Second Era looks to change that by opening up the entire continent of Tamriel for players to explore. Taking place during the Planemeld - in which the Daedric Lord Molag Bal attempted to merge Tamriel with his demonic realm - Betrayal of the Second Order has players investigating the necromantic Order of the Black Worm.

The plot of Betrayal of the Second Order certainly looks to be epic, taking players from their investigations into the Order of the Black Worm to the reveal of a scheme to fuse Tamiel with the Daedric Plane of Oblivion - which fans of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion should be more than familiar with. As adventurers, players will be able create their own characters - similarly to the video game series - by choosing from a selection of different classes, as well as character species native to Tamriel. Besides their class and species, players can also pick between a selection of skills that they will be able to improve as they progress through the game.

Wheels and Meehan play a spoiler-free demo of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - The Adventure Board Game, the other board game based on the video game series.

Players familiar with Too Many Bones - another board game published by studio Chip Theory Games - will be at home with the combat and character advancement system in Betrayal of the Second Order, which combines dice-rolling with roleplaying elements. Betrayal of the Second Order looks to be a predictably enormous board game, with sessions potentially taking hours to complete. All-in-all, fans of the Elder Scrolls series will have a lot to look forward to with the release of Betrayal of the Second Order.

A Gamefound crowdfunding campaign for The Elder Scrolls: Betrayal of the Second Order will be launched in March.

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About the Author
Alex Meehan avatar

Alex Meehan

Senior Staff Writer

After writing for Kotaku UK, Waypoint and Official Xbox Magazine, Alex became a member of the Dicebreaker editorial family. Having been producing news, features, previews and opinion pieces for Dicebreaker for the past three years, Alex has had plenty of opportunity to indulge in her love of meaty strategy board games and gothic RPGS. Besides writing, Alex appears in Dicebreaker’s D&D actual play series Storybreakers and haunts the occasional stream on the Dicebreaker YouTube channel.

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