New games in 2023 – a preview

Written by Peter Neugebauer

This sneak preview shows that a visit to this product group at Spielwarenmesse 2023 is well worth your while. All the established games publishers are represented and offer an interesting range. The variety of new products is large. Besides the proven game lines, the publishers have some surprising new ideas up their sleeve.

From the Cherry Blossom Festival to lush green houseplants

Maja, Emma & Michael Kallauch: Sakura Heroes and Kasper Lapp: That's Not A Hat by Ravensburger

Ravensburger’s blue triangle has stood for family-friendly play for decades. Now the German games publisher has launched some interesting innovations, such as "Sakura Heroes", an anime-style dice adventure where the players head up the mountain for the Cherry Blossom Festival. The further you advance, the greater the challenge. "That's not a Hat" is sheer confusion. The players hand out gifts. Everyone has one card face down in front of them. By rapidly giving each other gifts, the players get all confused and try to give each other gifts they don’t really want. This guarantees fun in a large group.

Christoph Cantzler & Torsten Marold: Bing Boing and Claude Weber & Jaques Zeimet: Koole Klötze by Schmidt Spiele

Schmidt Spiele has focused on small but refined, sometimes even quite mean games in recent years. "Bing Boing" seamlessly picks up this trend. The dice decide what square to mark off. "Noch Mal!" (also known as "Encore! "), the game with the irresistible title, goes into the second round. "Noch Mal! Deluxe" is a neat upgrade of this roll and write game. The basic idea of cleverly filling in coloured areas has been retained. What promises to be a real novelty, though, are the "Koole Klötze" ("Cool Blocks"). In this construction game, wooden bits have to be laid on top of each other and the other players have to guess which sculpture has been created.

Tick... Tack... Boom Color Flash and Wolfgang Kramer & Manfred Reindl: Happy Fox from Piatnik

Austrian company Piatnik is celebrating an anniversary: 30 years of "Tick Tack Bumm". The latest version of this game is called "Color Flash". The bomb now changes colour. This then determines the category of the word you have to guess. "Happy Fox" plays around with the infernal triangle that’s found on each farm. Fox, goose and watchdog all play their merry game. With tactics and bluffing, everyone succeeds. And with "Crime Scene Game", Piatnik is now also launching a series of crime games, all of which are quite gory and only recommended for players aged 18 and up.

Matthias Prinz & Martin Kallenborn: Pacifica and Molly Johnson, et al: Sattgrün by Kosmos

Kosmos consistently continues to develop established lines such as "Exit", "Suspects" or even "Cartaventura". All these series thrive on the joint exploration of tasks that can easily be solved in a group. In addition, "Verdant" seems to fit in with the publisher’s range of nature field guides. After all, it’s a matter of proving you have green fingers when playfully planting and taking good care of potted plants. And in the new two-player game "Pacifica", the aim is to compete to build an underwater world. The ultimate goal is to win more idols than the competitor in various areas such as knowledge or technology.

Of weird absurdities and skill exercises

Georg Schumacher: Everything is in butter, boss! and Wigald Boning: Großes Quiz der Absurditäten by Moses

The games publisher moses-Verlag stands for innovative quiz games. With Wigald Boning, a German TV comedian of the first guard was won over. He has taken his professional penchant for the slightly crazy and come up with a quirky quiz: "Wigald Bonings großes Quiz der Absurditäten" ("Wigald Boning’s Big Quiz of Absurdities"). An elegantly equipped series with four classic quiz titles challenges players to answer questions from the fields of literature, world travel, etc. The publisher’s best-selling Denglish quizzes are also continued with a focus on business and the office: "Everything is in butter, boss!", in keeping with the slogan "First the work, then the pleasure".

Christos Giannakoulas & Emmanouil Zachariadis-Sourvos: Käpt'n PepeSchatz Ahoi! and Logic! Case Starter Set by Haba

Haba specialises in children’s toys and games. The proof is currently provided by the still quite new idea of legacy games, which is now also available for small players: "Käpt’n Pepe, Schatz ahoi!" ("Capt’n Pepe. Treasure Ahoy!"). The result of the first game determines the progress of the second and all subsequent games. For this to happen, stickers, for example, have to be pasted onto the material and new treasure chests opened. Twenty-five chapters tell a complete pirate story that players can play. Somewhat technical, but in the spirit of promoting STEM subjects…that’s the game called "Logic! Case Starter Set 7+". Clever puzzles that offer potential for growth challenge children playing alone.

Haim & Uri Shafir: Halli Galli Twist und Reinhard Staupe: Privacy Duo von Amigo

Amigo is the top dog when it comes to card games, consistently occupying this niche. For spring 2023, the publisher is focusing on two of its classics and offers some interesting further developments. The million-seller "Halli Galli" is now joined by "Halli Galli Twist". Besides five identical symbols, five identical colours also prompt you to hit the bell fast. This makes the action even trickier. "Privacy" is a game that asks some very personal questions. The new mechanism works even with a small group of players. No-one has to fear being exposed even if they make embarrassing decisions on the spur of the moment. Nevertheless, tension runs high in the Q&A session called "Privacy Duo".

J. & R. Escalante: Rutsch & Flutsch and Phil Walker-Harding: Wanderlust by Game Factory

Game Factory from Switzerland serves the classic target group of family games with innovative ideas. "Rutsch & Flutsch" appeals more to children. It’s a memory game that is combined with a skill task. A turtle has to be flicked into the middle of a lake. Depending on the success of the players, animal tiles may be revealed at the end. "Wanderlust", a game for older players, combines a race through nature with the idea of deckbuilding. Everyone tries to build up a good hand. Each game focuses on a different theme. This guarantees variability.

About the author:

Peter Neugebauer is still a "big kid" through and through. In early childhood, his parents introduced him to board games. And games were obligatory and always welcome at Christmas and on his birthday.

Peter Neugebauer didn’t stop playing, not even during his years of study or working life. Early on, he reviewed new products, initially in trade journals, then also in daily newspapers and, for almost 40 years, in industry magazines. He can’t live without playing.