Gen Con is one of the biggest annual board game conventions and, this year, there are hundreds of new games releasing at this event. Going through the whole list can be overwhelming, so we’ve done the leg work for you. Here’s our list of the most anticipated upcoming games that will be available to play and purchase at Gen Con 2023.
We tried to include a variety in our list, from small box games to family and big, serious, eurogames. Without further ado, let’s just jump right in, and see what are the big hitters this summer.
- Kutná Hora: The City of Silver
- Cascadia: Landmarks
- Age of Innovation
- Lost Ruins of Arnak: The Missing Expedition
- Dead Cells: The Rogue-Lite Board Game
- Point City
- After Us
- Águeda: City of Umbrellas
- Weirdwood Manor
- Sagrada Artisans
- Forbidden Jungle
- My Island
- In the Footsteps of Darwin
- Ierusalem: Anno Domini
1. Kutná Hora: The City of Silver (Czech Games Edition)
Kutná Hora is this year’s biggest release from CGE and a game that will be, without a shred of doubt, sold out within the first day of Essen Spiel 2023. For now, we’ll have to settle for a demo preview on Gen Con and wait for the official release.
Set in the titular city during the 14th century, the game follows the rapid growth of this city from its humble beginnings to becoming the economic capital of central Europe. The biggest reason for this game’s massive popularity even before release is the innovative dynamic economy system that mimics the real-life supply and demand based on the players’ actions. This is accentuated by the asymmetric nature of the game, making every decision matter and your path to victory laid out with possibilities.
Kutná Hora also has a shared board, so you can expect to see layers on top of layers of strategy. The publisher announced it as an ultimate brain burner and a delight for all fans of economic eurogames. Although it all sounds like the most complicated game ever made by CGE, the playtime of 60-120 minutes promises it won’t be a total game night hog.
2. Cascadia: Landmarks (AEG)
Winner of Spiel des Jahres 2022 and many other rewards, the brilliant beginner-friendly puzzler, Cascadia, is getting an expansion this summer. So, how do you make such a highly-rated (almost perfect) game better?
Simple – you make it bigger. Cascadia: Landmarks adds the landmark module with dynamic end-game bonuses. Landmarks are represented with 3D wooden pieces which you add to your habitat, increasing the points you’ll score off various terrain. It also adds components that allow two more players to join in, which is always a welcome addition to any breezy game.
Of course, there’s more stuff in the box to expand upon the core experience. You’ll find more habitat tiles and wildlife scoring cards to create even more possible combinations in your games.
3. Age of Innovation (Capstone Games)
Age of Innovation is the next entry in the Terra Mystica series. And, if you played that legendary board game, you know those are some heavy boots to fill.
Capstone Games plans to fill a gap of sorts with this release. Age of Innovation is slightly less complicated than the original game it’s based on, but more advanced than Terra Nova, the last year’s release that streamlined the whole concept a bit too far for some people. The core mechanics and flow are pretty much the same as Terra Mystica – you terraform the world to erect buildings and join them into cities while trying to gain bonuses from your neighbors and manage your resources.
Age of Innovation introduces a few new mechanics, specifically the titular innovations that add new strategies and an incredible variety to an already expansive formula. With 12 playable factions, a dedicated 2-player side of the board, and automa rules for single-player, the game definitely sounds like an absolute must-buy at Gen Con.
4. Distilled (Paverson Games)
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Distilled from Paverson Games is heading to retail as well as Gen Con 2023.
This is a strategy game for one to five players where you’ll be running a distillery and trying to make the best spirits. Inspired by processes used in actual distilleries, this game has you managing your resources and fulfilling recipes while building a tableau of cards. There is an element of luck in this, as distilling is a tricky process, but you’ll get some tools to mitigate your (bad) luck.
Distilled has already garnered some praise from backers who especially pointed out how true to the craft of making alcohol it really is, and applauded the variety of strategies and combos you can make. Just need to take a whiskey drink, take a vodka drink…
5. Lost Ruins of Arnak: The Missing Expedition (Czech Games Edition)
A big staple of the worker placement genre of games, Lost Ruins of Arnak captured the hearts and imaginations of thousands of gamers across the world. This year, it’s getting its second expansion which expands on both the content and the mechanics.
Lost Ruins of Arnak: The Missing Expedition will introduce cooperative play into the mix. Two players will join forces and go together through a narrative-driven campaign with a branching storyline. This variant introduces trading as a new mechanic and, according to the publisher CGE, has a lot of surprises in store and big replayability to boot.
There’s also some extra stuff for the original game too, adding new layers of strategy on top of what the previous expansion introduced. You’ll get two more explorers with their personalized decks and boards, lots of new items and artifacts to shuffle into your decks, and two new research tracks with their own unique challenges.
6. Dead Cells: The Rogue-Like Board Game (Le Scorpion Masqué)
Dead Cells is probably the best rogue-like video game out there and, when we heard it’s getting a board game adaptation, we couldn’t contain our excitement. Although you won’t be able to buy it until 2024, this Kickstarter hit will be available to demo at Gen Con.
Playing as one of four Beheaded, each player is trying to amass the best loot, smash monsters, and explore the everchanging biomes. Just like the video game, the Dead Cells board game lets you retry your run if your character dies. You’ll keep some of your stuff, and select permanent mutations to help on the next run, but the halls will slightly change to present you with a greater challenge.
Dead Cells is made by a superstar team of game designers: Antoine Bauza (7 Wonders), Corentin Lebrat (Draftosaurus), Ludovic Maublanc (Cyclades), and Théo Rivière (The LOOP).
7. Point City (Flatout Games)
Point City is a sequel to Point Salad and it was recently crowdfunded via Kickstarter. It’s another small box game from Flatout Games and AEG, one that packs lots of strategy into a 150-card deck.
Just like its predecessor, Point City has double-sided cards you’re trying to collect and set up massive scoring combos. Pick two adjacent cars from the central market to add to your city and use them either as resources or buildings that will score you points. The game comes with a set of scoring tokens that act as your goals, so it’s more tactical than Point Salad.
Point City also includes a solo variant, but it does limit the number of players to just four, unlike Salad which let you play with up to six players. Still, it’ll be a great stocking stuffer and a game that’s easy to teach, but tough to truly master.
8. After Us (Pandasaurus Games)
Designed by Florian Sirieix (Imaginarium) and beautifully illustrated by Vincent Dutrait, After Us is one gorgeous-looking deck-building board game we’re eager to see this year at Gen Con.
Set in the year 2083, this game gives us a glimpse of a potential future of our world if humanity perished and apes took over. Each player takes the role of a leader of an ape tribe tasked with raising the biggest community on Earth. The game uses an innovative card-comboing mechanism that requires connecting cards to properly score their bonuses and gain resources that let you get bigger, higher-scoring apes to join your tribe.
Another interesting fact is that the game has no direct conflict or a set number of rounds. Instead, the first player to hit 80 points wins the game and the race to dominance in the new world.
9. Águeda: City of Umbrellas (25th Century Games)
Potentially a huge abstract hit in the likes of all-time favorite board game Azul, Águeda: City of Umbrellas is a neat little puzzle that has you creating the colorful Luís de Camões Street of the titular Portuguese city.
With the new tourist season approaching, you’ll be trying to manage the requests of visitors, shop owners, and city officials to create the most colorful vista. Similarly to Azul, you’ll draft tiles from the central board and then arrange them on your player board, unlocking more scoring areas and adding more tourists that will visit your street.
Águeda: City of Umbrellas is truly a great-looking game for one to five players with seemingly simple rules, but lots of depth. We can’t wait to see it in action.
10. Weirdwood Manor (Greyridge Games)
Weirdwood Manor is a game that combines the intricacies and depth of euro-style games with the camaraderie of cooperative titles into a spooky table-sized adventure.
Your goal is to protect the manor from the invading monsters by playing your cards right, using special powers, and navigating the tricky hallways. What makes this game unique is the circular board with a rotating mechanism that shifts the layout after certain events. The characters can affect how slowly (or quickly) this happens, but this spends their precious time, so the whole game is a giant balancing act.
Since the game “plays against you” through its deck, there’s a level of unpredictability that, as the publisher claims, removes the possibility of experienced players quarterbacking. This whole house shifting mechanic sounds exciting, especially considering the designer, Mike Cassie, is an architect by trade.
11. Sagrada Artisans (Floodgate Games)
Sagrada is easily one of the most beautiful board games we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. Over the years, we’ve seen several great expansions for it and now it’s time for the inevitable legacy release.
Sagrada Artisans introduces permanence into the wonderful game of rolling dice and painting the stained glass by… quite literally painting your player boards. Unlike the original game where you filled your player board with dice, in this one you’ll use colored pencils to color in your choices. So, yes, this is a roll-and-write game, but one that evolves over time as a proper campaign title.
The legacy format introduces new rules throughout your campaign and new powers each player may choose for their “family.” Almost every component of the game will evolve with each game of Sagrada Artisans and there’s a ton of unlockable content to explore. After you complete the campaign, you can continue playing thanks to an extra sheet of paper, or you can buy a campaign reset kit and go through the story again.
12. Forbidden Jungle (Gamewright)
When Matt Leacock, the designer of Pandemic, announces a new game, you can bet we’re all over it. This year, his series of cooperative games gets a new addition in the form of Forbidden Jungle.
Loosely connected to Leacock’s previous game, Forbidden Sky, this one pits two to five players against the dangers of an unexplored jungle after their team crash-lands on a new planet. Your goal is to find a portal in the ruins of a research outpost. This sounds easy until you realize you’re constantly being hunted by venomous creatures and trying to stay afloat in the inhospitable terrain.
Forbidden Jungle comes in a metal tin, just like all the previous games in the Forbidden series. This time, it’s published by Gamewright, who’ll premiere it at Gen Con.
13. My Island (Kosmos)
My Island is the latest game from the legendary designer Reiner Knizia. It’s another collaboration between him and the publisher Kosmos, but also a sequel to the 2020 hit My City.
This is a legacy game, just like My City was. Unlike the previous game, My Island has a hexagonal board you’ll be laying tiles over, trying to build the most compelling land. Furthermore, the game changes every time you play it, evolving over the 24-game campaign. After every three games you’ll open up an envelope, explore a new narrative, and add new rules and components to your game.
What’s also great is this game’s price. It’s only $39.95, way lower than what most legacy board games cost. Additionally, Kosmos has My City Roll & Build, a roll’n’write version of My City among its upcoming Gen Con 2023 releases.
14. In the Footsteps of Darwin (Sorry We Are French)
In the Footsteps of Darwin puts you into the role of Charles Darwin’s students on board his ship, the HMS Beagle. It has been twenty years since his journey across the world and, now, Darwin is writing his famous book, “On the Origin of Species”.
Your goal, as a young apprentice, is to contribute the most to that book. This is a tile drafting game, first and foremost. Each turn, you’ll pick a tile (an animal or a character) to add to your notebook and gain its inspiration bonuses, all the while moving the ship to set up new tiles and open up new choices for other players.
In the Footsteps of Darwin is on the lighter side, with not many rules to worry about, making it a perfect educational tool and a great family game. At around half an hour per session, it’s perfect as a filler between the larger games in your collection.
15. Ierusalem: Anno Domini (Devir)
Every year, Devir surprises us with another great, heavy eurogame. Last year it was Lacrimosa, while in 2023 the hottest Devir release is, without a doubt, Ierusalem: Anno Domini.
The game is set in the year 33 AD, specifically the time just before the Last Supper. Inspired by this biblical event, Ierusalem tasks players with earning their seat next to Jesus of Nazareth by completing actions around the board and becoming the most renowned apostle. To do so, the players will need to collect resources, move their meeples around the board, and play cards.
Ierusalem: Anno Domini brings a lot of stuff to the table and there’s no doubt it will be a smashing success for the publisher. It’s not often that we see a religious theme for a eurogame, so, if that piques your interest, check it out this August at Gen Con.
These are, of course, just a handful of the many exciting Gen Con releases we can’t wait for. With so many great announcements and potential surprises, there’s no doubt that board gamers will be playing some truly great new games this year and having a blast at one of the biggest gaming conventions this summer.