Topic of the Week: 2023 Retrospective

Around this time, we tend to do updates of top 10 (which are usually 80% the same as last year) and goals for the next year, which roughly three of us complete. Here are some different questions:

  1. What games brought you the most pleasure in 2023?
  2. Who was your favorite opponent in 2023?

(not games) (always optional)

  1. What was your highlight from 2023?
  2. What is a goal or something you are looking forward to in 2024?
  3. What are you learning about life right now?

Here are the games that brought me the most joy in 2023:

  • Mountain Goats (2010)
  • Jump Drive (2017) (solo campaigns)
  • Nusfjord (2017)
  • Ginkgopolis (2012) (haven’t been able to recreate the magic asynch, sadly)
  • Libertalia (2012, 2022)
  • New Frontiers (2018)
  • Barenpark (2017)
  • Bohnanza (1997)
  • Thurn & Taxis (2006)
  • Kanban EV (2014, 2020)
  • 1846 (2005) (a January addition to the list)

Some of those were first exposure and the magic happened. Others got a new look; the right mood or player count or the mechanics came together for me for the first time.

I went through to add the years because I’m struck by how nothing new stood out for the list. I do suspect we’ve peaked at this point? But there will still be good new games coming out. More that reaching back to some games you might have missed helps you filter through the chaff and you get a better hit rate. I’m experimenting with a new rule that I can only buy games that are at least three years old…

Favorite opponent would have to be my 3yo. We migrated from Glitterluck all the way to Monza over the year and its exciting to see the pieces come together and share that space with her. The goal is Carcassonne by Thanksgiving…

Honorable mention to my parents, as watching them squabble over Soy Beans brought me deep joy.

Games Played in 2023
Name Plays
1862: Railway Mania in the Eastern Counties 6
Ticket to Ride: First Journey (Europe) 1
Race for the Galaxy 1
Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar 1
Yukon Airways 1
Root 2
18Mag: Hungarian Railway History 1
1800: Colorado 1
Legendary: A James Bond Deck Building Game 1
Maracaibo 1
Dream Home 1
Rhino Hero 2
Magic School 1
Mesozooic 1
Unicorn Glitterluck: Cloud Crystals 2
Banish the Snakes: A Game of St. Patrick in Ireland 3
Ashes Reborn: Rise of the Phoenixborn 1
Awkward Guests: The Walton Case 1
Dream Home: 156 Sunny Street 1
Mini Express 1
Nusfjord 1
Ginkgopolis 1
Carnegie 2
Grand Austria Hotel 1
Turing Machine 2
Coffee Roaster 1
New York Slice 1
Celestia 1
Simon’s Cat: Lunch Time 1
Early American Chrononauts 1
Ticket to Ride Map Collection 6½: Poland 1
Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries 1
Enchanted Cupcake Party Game 1
Sprawlopolis 1
Kingdomino 1
Canvas 2
Hedgehog Haberdash 1
Splendor Duel 1
Set a Watch: Swords of the Coin 1
Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest 2

It might be 1862: Railway Mania in the Eastern Counties. My favorite solo gaming experience and, for a number of reasons, I got it to the table more this year than all previous years combined!

Okay, I’ll cheat and give two answers.

  1. My oldest daughter; she’s definitely shaping up to be a board gamer. She’s not good, yet, at strategic thinking, but she does love the interaction of playing games with me.

  2. Myself! This year, due to children getting older and becoming more self-sufficient, I was able to better take advantage of my fairly-recent (in the last 2 years) dedicated gaming table; having the physical space and the table is one thing… having the energy and brain space is another entirely.

Welcoming Daughter #4 is my primary goal for the year; and then surviving the newborn phase (when parents don’t get to indulge in trivial things like “sleep” and “self care” and “meals”)


Great questions!

  1. What games brought you the most pleasure in 2023?
    Star Wars: Outer Rim,
    Railroad Ink,
    Sunset Over Water pocket edition (because I play it on holiday, and it was a good holiday)

But the most pleasure was from finally buying games after wanting them for ages - SW:ORim again, Inis (cannot BELIEVE I own 1st ed Inis) - and newer ones I was certain I wanted even without playing yet - Earth, and Unmatched Adventures: Tales to Amaze.

  1. Who was your favorite opponent in 2023?
    I finally played people on BGA, and yes, it’s good and worth it.

  2. What was your highlight from 2023?
    Moving house. I’d been living with my parents since before lockdown because they were both hospital-grade ill, and they’re better now, but they’re also people whose views on… everything… are the opposite to mine. So being stuck in a small space with them for many years was horrible for my brain. I moved house at the end of 2023 and feel like I have an entirely new head.

  3. What is a goal or something you are looking forward to in 2024?
    Partly due to the living situation, my shields are on full right now, and it’s making me cynical about everything. I’d like to relax a bit and love the world again. Only a small goal then.

  4. What are you learning about life right now?
    Who I am, having been basically on-hold for 5+ years. And dealing with the fact that I have aged, which is unacceptable. Also how to cook more than the basics, which I’d never tried.


Tricky, as I may mix something from previous years if I am not careful.
Highlights have been definitely Revive, Wayfarers of the South Tigris, Dune Imperium and Witcher: The Old World. The game I have played the most has been Flamecraft, specially the second half of the year. With the variety of shops still does not get old.

I have played a lot with my mate Ben, and it has always been a pleasure.

Probably starting my new job with the Council. The job itself is not amazing, but the conditions and the team are very, very goo, best I have had in many years.

I am terrible at setting myself goals, and even worse at achieving them. I think Wellycon in June could be a good one.

A lot. In my late forties and still l am still learning so much, about myself, about other people, about raising a family, about spirituality and good life and diet balance. Plenty of work to be done still. And I thought back in the day that after finishing Uni I would be done. Hah!


Hmm, let’s see.

The game that has probably bought me the most pleasure was Great Western Trail (Second Edition). I had thought about buying it for a few months when realising it had a solitaire mode but only took the plunge in late summer or autumn. I may have only played it four times since then (all solo) but it gets more satisfying every time while I am learning the strategies and looking forward to trying new things with each new playthrough.

Sadly we have rather lost touch with my occasional albeit casual gaming friends who were my favourite “human” opponents (still not really sure why) but our one game of Monikers was fantastic so I hope to return to such sessions again this year - and get to try some of the “secret” fourth round options.

The highlight, if you can call it that, for me of 2023 was turning 50 early into the year, and my parents flying out to surprise me that weekend; it was lovely to see them again after the pandemic. My gaming highlight was also “Pandemic” related: beating the base game on the hardest difficult at my first attempt.

I have a few aims rather than goals for 2024. Gaming-wise, I must finally get round to culling some games from my shelves that have not sparked joy so need to start making that list; it might only be 6-8 titles at most but they won’t get any table time here. I also aim to get all of my unplayed games and expansions played before 2025; again this is only 8 or so games but motivation to get anything out is tough some evenings. My darts goals remain as for most seasons: at least I got a competitve 180 in during my first match of this year, but still looking for that elusive three-figure checkout and at getting my three-dart average above 50 for the season - which I’ll be lucky if it exceeds 45 the way things are going and the changes to my game this season.

I’m really not sure what I’ve learnt from life specifically or generally in 2023 or recently; then again, 2022 had far more stress and upheaval personally and professionally to deal with all-round, so the relative tranquility of 2023 was welcome. There are some things to look forward to this coming year but already our plans for 2025 seem more exciting, so just to focus on what is coming in the near future than spending too much time thinking too far ahead.


There wasn’t really a game of the year for me, though I’ve had an unreasonable amount of fun from Tinderblox, which I only discovered at Expo.

Life is too short to play games with people who spoil the experience. (Nobody here!)


Game is probably Innovation

Opponent is probably Ryan, who is just a really nice guy (who also ends up buying most of the games I introduce him to).

Board game highlight was probably my heady excitement over the first two plays of Horseless Carriage, which were followed up by… never being able to play it again.

I have learned that financial security can do more for a relationship than I had expected.


The usual: trick takers, Splotters, trains, negotiation games. I am getting into thematic games though.

You hear me yapping about Zoo Vadis on the “last games you played” thread. ZV is such a fantastic negotiation game, probably in the same top tier ranking as Intrigue

Stationfall caught me by surprise on how amazing it is at story-telling. Pax titles, Oath, and John Company are also up there.

  1. Who was your favorite opponent in 2023?

Wyvern and co. are always great to play against. There was this guy on LoBsterCon who defeated me badly on Brass B which reignited my feelings for Brass. Also, I’ve played with two amazing FCM players who beaten me badly on the game - although, I should give myself a break as we played with the Ketchup expansion, which I am not good at.

  1. What was your highlight from 2023?

1.) Seeing Tekelili members in real life.
2.) Culling my collection successfully! I cut my “big games” collection into half in 2022 and then half in 2023. I hope forumites who took my faves like Tigers and Pots and Inis would have fun playing them.
3.) Some stuff happening in my personal life that I am grateful for.

  1. What is a goal or something you are looking forward to in 2024?

I would like to be like the guy from 2017. I know that the person from 2017 isn’t the same as I am, but I like him more than the “grumpy widower” of the latter years. And I feel like I am nearly there.

Cardboard-wise: I will need to cull my card games. And make some tough choices to finish the Home Stretch with the big games collection.


Oooooooh, a fun little exercise!

  1. What games brought you the most pleasure in 2023?
  • Definitely Ark Nova. Our most played game of 2023 by a mile. Though we had some banger (and quite comforting) games of Pandemic as well. It’s those two.
  1. Who was your favorite opponent in 2023?
  • Maryse, of course, is always a worthy opponent (she kicks my ass 9/10 times). She’s also pretty much my only one, LOL. Though we’ve turned her sister’s kids into quite the little gamers, so we had some very good games of Carcassonne and My Li’l Everdell with them! I have a feeling we’ll get a lot more of those in 2024.
  1. What was your highlight from 2023?
  • Maryse’s continuing, and baffling, progress in her fight against cancer. I truly feel she’s gonna beat this stupid thing.
  • Starting training Brazilian jiu-jitsu again. I’d missed this so much.
  • Saw some genuinely fantastic shows in 2023, with Queen being at the absolute top.
  1. What is a goal or something you are looking forward to in 2024?
  • More shows, more healing, going camping for a while if Maryse’s back is up to it, more games, I wouldn’t mind getting my blue belt this year…
  1. What are you learning about life right now?
  • That it’s short and fragile and full of twists and turns, and also that it’s beautiful.

Cthulhu Wars I think. Having finally bought my own copy and been more ruthless about not inviting the one friend who doesn’t like the game I’ve got to play it loads. I love it. So aggressive, so quick out the traps and each game is different with the blend of factions and player personalities. Great big plastic toys too.

Joint top was 18Mex. As a group we played it a bunch of times and was the only 18xx I played for a chunk of time. We got faster at this title and the strategies employed advanced and grew between us as a group. There were cool experimental moves and novel tactics. Makes it harder to get rid of some titles as I’ve seen that development just bring out more depth. Maybe 1889 might be better but this one is certainly good enough and I still prefer the map to other 1830 derivatives.

All of them mostly. @lalunaverde is always valued for bringing high level skills as well as a relaxed and fun attitude. But as I invite people to my house for games it’s a group that works together.

Painting classes with Cult of Paint were amazing. Really have upped my painting and we’re fun days out. Which goes first as it’s most related to things on however the best bit was finding out about my wife’s pregnancy. No contest as to which was the number one.

Much like @pillbox I think my goal is survive newborn stage and then worry about how to raise a kid well enough. Pillbox will do this better I assume due to practice. Another goal is to not lose my connection to this internet place. I presume I’ll play a lot less games but wouldn’t like that to no longer coming here for this community.

Patience. I’ve long been diligent but lacked a calm relaxedness so I tend to rush to counter stress and hard work from my disabilities. With many things that I do I’m being more patient so I think that’s benefiting me. Weirdly I was long patient with other people so trying to extend to myself that same kindness. Maybe I’ll extend it to games and then I’ll get better at them too, but consistent long turns are the preserve of people I don’t want to game with so I best not become one of them.


So I only did the first half. The rest:

  1. Highlight

I know you’re kind of obligated to, but it’s my third and last daughter. I’ve never said “when they were born” as I personally don’t feel a surge of “magic” in that first moment. It’s more like the starting line, and the car starts rolling when they are born. Then it keeps going, and going, and going. Maybe the brakes hit when these girls become teenagers :stuck_out_tongue:

So I’d say, collectively, the way she smiles when one of us walks in the room, or the way she burrows when she’s falling asleep in the rocking chair. That’s the highlight.

  1. Looking forward or goal

For the past I don’t know how many years it’s been “finish the book.” I finished in December, now it’s formatting and copy editing and marketing materials. New goal - sell the book to at least one stranger. We’ll see.

That, and get a (new) real job. That’ll be nice.

  1. What is life teaching you

Hard to say. I’m in the middle of some stuff. I can’t articulate it now and I don’t know what the lesson is. To a greater or lesser extent, I’m not ok.


My highlight play of 2023 was Bring Your Own Book with erotic fiction. I think my stomach muscles have just about recovered.

I think Tindahan is my favourite game of the 2023 (not that it’s new). I’ve played loads, but can only remember the light ones at the moment. That’s Not a Hat is amazing, I think that would be my best game released last year.

Kate is obviously my favourite opponent, but the boys have played again with us a lot more recently which has been awesome. I’ve made some dear friends through games and I love all of my plays, in person and on BGA.

Highlight of 2023 was absolutely my eldest’s exam results. My heart bursts with pride about all of their achievements and the men they’re becoming.

2024, I want to be happy, I want to be patient and I want to push my work and company to new highs (whilst being happy and patient!).

Can’t wait for Evans Con, Aire Con and Winter Con. Plus our return to Florida this summer.

Learning about life; tell people that you love that you love them, even if it doesn’t come naturally. Good food is amazing, good company even better. Drinking less alcohol but drinking better alcohol is bringing me joy. I don’t always remember how lucky I am, so reminding myself of that is important. And naps are great!


Most joy?

  • Naturopolis & Cascadia because I love my nature solos
  • Hardback & 7 Wonders Duel for playing with my friend on BGA because we get to meet so rarely
  • Trailblazers because those paths seem to meander like my thoughts often do (also nature solos)
  • Terraforming Mars & Ark Nova: yummy stacks of cards are the best
  • Oranienburger Kanal for being so much better than its theme and art
  • 51st State Ultimate Edition for finally relieving all that FOMO when listening to Zee gush about it (also good game)

Favorite opponent:

  • My BGA friend because I probably played more with him than anyone else :slight_smile:
  • My local friend who comes by for games of Revive or Spirit Island–I wish we’d find more time for games. Hopefully this year :slight_smile:
  • Our semi-local friends whom we visit for boardgame nights only to end up talking…
  • Same friends’ son for going to SPIEL with me :slight_smile:
  • @Lalunaverde for checking out games with me on BGA :slight_smile:
  • My partner for trying again and again to win … and sometimes not even getting mad about losing. :sweat_smile:

Highlight of 2023?

  • Finally moving.
  • Getting back into reading with Malazan

Goal for 2024

  • Being less busy.
  • Going on a vacation with friends that we tentatively titled “Boardgame Camp”
  • Finishing my Malazan re-read

Learning about life?

  • Something I learned long ago that needs revisiting: (success at) work does not define who we are
  • That doing some yoga every day is really good for me
  • Being nice to people is its own reward. All people need being niced to.