The Last Of Us: Escape The Dark and Cyberpunk 2077: The Board Game – 2023 tabletop game preview
GameCentral looks at the 10 most exciting tabletop and board games for the next year, including The Witcher: Old World and Disney Lorcana.
There’s been plenty of controversy in the tabletop community already this year, with a leak from Wizards of the Coast showing they wanted to institute a new, more draconian licensing deal for their games, which would have ruined the homebrew scene. Although thankfully the idea was shot down before it had a chance to be implemented.
Previewing 2023 isn’t difficult when Kickstarter is filled with upcoming projects, most of which should be out before the end of the year. That includes a number of video game adaptations, such as a very timely tabletop version of The Last Of Us and new takes on The Witcher and Cyberpunk 2077.
More new games will also be revealed at Gen Con in August, but we have plenty to keep us busy till then, as the industry continues to grow. The pandemic is still pushing back shipping dates of games coming from China, and the postal strike means we haven’t got our copy of Frosthaven yet, but this is still a boom time for board games, whether you’re into anything from Dungeons & Dragons miniatures to Star Wars card games.
The Last Of Us: Escape The Dark
With the new TV adaption bringing in scores any AAA video game would be proud of, a high bar has been set for anything new in The Last Of Us franchise. The board game will be all about atmosphere, as players work together as a group of survivors, while the game weaves a unique narrative of survival and companionship on the tabletop.
Keep everyone alive as you journey from the totalitarian quarantine zone towards the safe haven of Jackson, as you complete chapter cards to work your way through hostile environments full of not just infected but FEDRA agents and hunters.
Anyone who’s played the games Escape The Dark Castle and Escape The Dark Sector from the same publisher, Themeborne, knows this isn’t going to be an easy ride but Escape The Dark promises to be a punishing but compelling experience, with new characters and challenges to overcome.
The game relies on custom dice to work through around three short form encounters of about an hour each. The Last Of Us: Escape The Dark offers both solo and co-op multiplayer modes, allowing up to five players to experience the haunting, monochromatic setting in a unique way.
Release Date: November 2023
Cyberpunk 2077: Gangs Of Night City – The Board Game
With the Netflix anime, Edgerunners, pushing the popularity of Cyberpunk 2077 to new heights there was sure to be a tabletop version sooner or later. Gangs Of Night City is a competitive game for 1 to 4 players and comes with suitably sculpted miniatures which replicate familiar characters from the game, such as Jackie Welles, Johnny Silverhand, and Judy Alvarez.
Players assume the role of a gang leader controlling the likes of The Tyger Claws or VooDoo Boys and must organise members to take control of the underworld of Night City. You have access to three unique types of units, based on a corresponding role from Cyberpunk 2077: netrunners, solos, and techies.
The game should be highly replayable, as each gang has different attributes and goals and the city has its own narrative that is reactive to the actions of players. It also looks like you’ll need to balance your street cred and resources to be victorious in firefights, so there is some nuance to the action. We can’t wait to break out the board, which looks like the existing map of Night City, and draw some Arasaka opportunity cards of our own.
Release Date: July 2023
Dungeons & Dragons: Onslaught
Haven’t got time to complete a whole Dungeons & Dragons campaign? Don’t worry, as Wizkids has you covered with Dungeons & Dragons: Onslaught, a competitive skirmish game that’s fun, fast, and easy to get into. Set in the fantastical lands of the Forgotten Realms, it’s basically a PvPvE (players vs. player vs. environment) game where two players run their team of characters from either Harper or Zhentarim factions against each other, in order to complete objectives and take down the enemy.
We love the look of the pre-painted minis that allow you to jump straight into the action without the anxiety surrounding having to create your own paint job. There should be enough tactical depth without the need to keep track of skills and abilities and the card-based gameplay adds an extra layer to your typical skirmish game. We’re also looking forward to collecting the additional minis and scenarios as they are released, if the quality of the core set is anything to go by.
Release Date: 20th January 2023
Red Wizards and Many-Arrows faction packs – Release Date: October 2023
Pokémon Trading Card Game: Sword & Shield – Crown Zenith
While Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and we’ve got our eye on the new Love Ball on the Pokémon Centre website, there’s also plenty to keep your attention in the next Pokémon TCG expansion set, Crown Zenith. This set is a goodbye to, and a celebration of, the Pokémon Sword and Shield games and teases several new secret rare cards for collectors.
The Crown Zenith set boasts over 160 cards, with a special emphasis on its special cards, from three brand new radiant (shiny) Pokémon, including Charizard and Eternatus, to new VMAX and VSTAR pokémon and 70 special artwork trading cards for the Galarian Gallery that collectors are bound to go crazy for.
As well as including new Mewtwo VSTAR, Darkrai VSTAR, and Hisuian Zoroark VSTAR cards the Crown Zenith special collection also has a Pikachu VMAX. Just as many are sad to say goodbye to Ash and Pikachu in the animated series, they’ll have mixed feelings about saying goodbye to Gen VIII as well – even if it means Gen IX of the trading card game releasing later this year. We can’t wait to add Sprigatito, Fuecoco, and Quaxly to our collection.
Release Date: 20th January 2023
Animal Adventures: The Faraway Sea
Animals Of The Faraway Sea is the first non-cat/dog set of miniatures for the Animal Adventure range from the team at Steamforged, that brought you Dungeons And Doggies. We can’t wait to get our hands on this new Dungeons & Dragons 5e compatible campaign, that’s suitable for both beginners and seasoned scallywags.
Players are based in the floating shanty town of Flotsam, which is a bustling town of lashed together ship hulls and debris where you can meet up to buy supplies and explore an endless chain of enigmatic, ever-changing islands, each filled with invaluable treasure.
So far, the concept art and sculp previews of the minis are stunning and there’s a sneak peek of the 10 new playable animal species, and two new classes, on the Kickstarter page. There’s also an exclusive Baby Kraken miniature up for grabs if you pledge – think Cuthulu but cute and in a pirate hat.
There’s an animal for everyone here, from an alpaca to an otter and even a barbarian boar, plus the new classes of Watcher and Tinker Mage means there’s huge scope for new character creation. Plus, pledge add-ons Raiders Of The Lost Coast features an army of raccoons and Time In A Bottle has lots of sword-wielding walruses.
Pre-order date: 20th January 2023
Competitive card game collectors were already going crazy at the preview of Disney Lorcana at D23 a few months ago (the Mickey Mouse card exclusive at the convention is going for around £500 on eBay or £4,000 for a six card first edition set) and this week saw the announcement of a release date. The launch will include more than 200 game cards across several products, which include the usual starter decks and booster packs, plus special edition sets.
This family friendly strategy game takes place in The Great Illuminary a library of all Disney songs, stories, and characters, where players can bring glimmers of characters to life, to play with as a hand of cards. Starter packs will include two coloured decks, such as Amer and Amethyst or Emerald and Ruby, and the first chapter will include 200 cards with 12 in each booster. Also, be sure to look out for the First Chapter gift set featuring Mulan: Imperial Soldier and Hades: King of Olympus.
Release Date: August 2023
Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game
We couldn’t get enough of Clone Wars Pandemic over Christmas and we’ve already heard good things about Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game, if you want to give General Grievous and his droids control of the galaxy for a bit while you take on the Empire instead.
This looks like a fast, fun and easy-to-learn game, where players each choose a side, playing as either the Empire or the Rebels, and as the game progresses you both strengthen the power of your starting decks by gathering resources and work toward collecting fighters, ships, and abilities to destroy each other’s HQs.
The first player to destroy three of their opponent’s bases wins the game. Watch out for bounty hunting and sabotage cards though and bin them for additional Force points before your opponent can use them against you.
Release Date: March 2023
Phyrexia: All Will Be One
There are some serious story arcs playing out in Magic: The Gathering at the moment and The Brothers War is still going on as we speak, but Elesh Norn and her legion of biomechanical zealots are finally here to battle for the fate of the multiverse and the power of perfection. It’s promised that heroes will fall in this penultimate chapter to the yearlong Phyrexian arc, as the villains get stronger and stronger.
In Phyrexia: All Will Be One players will revisit the terrifying and beautiful plane of New Phyrexia, where Elesh Norn rules. She’s inching ever closer in her plan to conquer the universe, with the return of poison and poison counters leading to the creation of the powerful Venerated Rotpriest and Sinew Dancer cards.
Release Date: 10th February 2023
This much anticipated new release from the makers of Gloomhaven sees players act as a party of mercenaries fighting against all odds to save the titular outpost from destruction. It’s not just the snow and ice out there, there are yetis in these hills – or Algox as they are known in Frosthaven – as well as Lurkers and killer machines to contend with. You don’t necessarily have to fight them though, as there is a chance your party can bring them on side to fight with you, against the next even more dangerous foe.
Characters and items from Gloomhaven are usable in Frosthaven, but this is still a standalone adventure that boasts new characters, races, enemies, and a new, hefty campaign. There’s also plenty to keep players engaged outside combat, with mysteries to solve and resources to farm that offer new ways to progress and build up the village.
Release Date: January 2023
The Witcher: Old World
It’s broken many hearts to see The Last Of Us get such an on-point TV adaption, making The Witcher: Blood Origin look like a low rent straight-to-video movie by comparison. We can only hope the tabletop version has slightly more to offer, especially as it has a relatively similar premise.
Set years before the saga of Geralt of Rivia, The Witcher: Old World is a competitive adventure board game for 2-5 players which involves traveling across a vast map, completing quests (some involving ambiguous moral choices), and fighting monsters – and sometimes even other witchers.
Construct your own unique card deck by choosing from abilities such as Witcher signs, attacks, and dodges to achieve that perfect combo. Quests, battles, and even dice poker allow each player to earn money, items, and upgrade skills. Depending on how many people are playing you’ll need to acquire 4-6 trophies to win the game, which are obtained by defeating enemies, training attributes to their highest level, and resolving certain quests as you play.
The combat does look good, with a neat combo system, and the plot-driven events seem interesting, but the whole thing still ends up looking like a bit of slog. Some would argue that that’s just being faithful to the grind of the video games but we’re hoping for more when the board game is released later this year.
Release Date: March 2023
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