Mensa, the IQ-measuring organisation for those seeking validation about their own apparently quantifiable intelligence, has offered up its latest selection of the year’s best board games.
The Mensa Select awards pick out five board games each year - the exception being a COVID-caused gap in 2020, with the following year selecting 10 games - that fulfil their judging criteria of being “original in concept, challenging, and well-designed”, typically trending towards accessible rules and “high value for [their] price”.
Since the annual awards began in 1990, winners have included Magic: The Gathering, Hive, Dominion, Azul and shoo-in-by-nominative-determinism Ingenious. The board games awarded a Mensa Select seal in 2022 were Atheneum: Mystic Library, Genotype, Life of a Chameleon, Miyabi and Shifting Stones.
This year’s recipients were decided by a panel of 400 judges during a four-day marathon held at the Mind Games event in Columbus, Ohio between April 20th and 23rd.
The Mensa Select winners for 2023 are:
- Trekking Through History, a card-drafting game in which players travel through time to collect famous historical events, scoring points for forming chronological sets of moments such as ‘hitting the books with Alexander the Great’ (in 342 BCE) and ‘sharing a dream with Martin Luther King Jr.’ (in 1963).
- Mille Fiori, a card-driven game about glass production and trading (the name ‘Thousand Flowers’ referring to a decorative glasswork technique) by prolific designer Reiner Knizia
- Gartenbau, a tile-arrangement game set during the Victorian age - and featuring artwork by artists of the period - in which players grow their garden by adding tiles to their personal tableau
- Akropolis, the colourful city-building game that was previously named Game of the Year at France’s prestigious As d’Or awards
- Boop, the delightfully simple and visually adorable abstract strategy game in which players bounce kittens and cats around a bed in an attempt to form three-in-a-row