Last week, I spent a day at the Spielwarenmesse 2023 in Nuremberg and was able to wander through the two halls with board game novelties, among other things. I discovered a few exciting new games, which I present to you below and describe my first impressions.
The International Toy Fair 2023
The Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg is quite different from the SPIEL in Essen. It is a trade visitor fair, so on the one hand, it is much less crowded. The fair is much larger overall than SPIEL, but of course, there are all kinds of toys in the many halls. Only in two halls were board game manufacturers to be found: Hall 10 (where there were two floors) and parts of Hall 12. Furthermore, it is not a sales fair, so you can see a lot of novelties, but unfortunately, you can’t take them with you. But I already knew that from the last time I was in Nuremberg (just before Corona). So, I went by car to the toy fair to see what’s new.
Board Game Novelties at the Spielwarenmesse 2023
Even if the number of board game publishers and novelties at the Spielwarenmesse is significantly lower than in Essen at SPIEL, many German publishers still present more and more novelties in Nuremberg. I had a closer look at the following novelties, among others. (Attention: Some games were still in prototype status or as hand samples on-site. So the visual appearance and the quality may still change a bit).
The game that impressed me the most at the Spielwarenmesse was Ancient Knowledge, which was explained to me in detail. It comes in a relatively small box because the civilization game contains almost only cards and a few player tablets. We build our own civilization here by playing cards that show various buildings and monuments. These bring bonuses and effects. In addition, there are knowledge markers on them, which we must use. Because every round, the cards move further to the left until they fall into historical oblivion, which I find a very nice and thematically appropriate mechanism. With the cards and the markers, we get new cards and get permanent abilities. So it’s a matter of building up your own engine but always making sure it doesn’t break down. All in all, a very exciting little Ziv game that will be coming to Germany from HUCH! (and looks great). I’m looking forward to it.
The rather small two-person game from KOSMOS was also shown at the Spielwarenmesse. We try to rebuild the sunken city. To do this, we collect treasures, build paths, and explore new things. The goal is to be ahead of the enemy in various areas. I find it not only very nice but also exciting since we are both building the same city. It could be a two-person hit of the year.
The Lord of the Rings: Together to Mount Doom
An exciting new cooperative game is released with The Lord of the Rings: Together to Mount Doom. Together we try to destroy the ring. However, many different obstacles are in our way, and we have to figure out together how to proceed. The game board looked very exciting, and the dice movement has its appeal. So, I’m looking forward to this co-op title.
The Lord of the Rings Adventure Book Game
Another Lord of the Rings game is The Lord of the Rings Adventure Book Game.
Here, it is not yet clear if the game will come in German, but it looks exciting. We have an adventure book with eight different scenarios that tell the well-known story. In terms of ambition, it’s more in the family range, but that definitely sounds good. The illustrations and maps also look visually very nice.
The Legends of Andor: The Eternal Cold
In this new spin-off of the Andor series, it’s off to the cold north. There is a double-sided game board, and 2-4 heroes must again pass many scenarios and work well together. For Andor fans, it’s definitely an interesting title that requires good planning. I liked the game material very much, and maybe I’ll try my hand at Andor again with this.
After Us, which is published by Catch Up Games, has been on my radar for quite some time. One reason for this is the illustrations, which are by Vincent Dutrait. But the game also offers a lot in terms of gameplay, because we get the cards of monkeys into our deck via deck-building and use their abilities. Whoever builds his tribe the best and uses combos will gather the most knowledge of various artifacts and gain supremacy in this post-apocalyptic game. I’m looking forward to it and hope it will come soon in German.
Great Western Trail: New Zealand
I am also very excited about the third Great Western Trail part, which will be called Great Western Trail: New Zealand. The basic principle remains the same, but of course, there are changes and new mechanics. At the Spielwarenmesse, the game board and cards were shown. It definitely looks interesting again.
A little insider tip is probably New Eden from Schmidt Spiele because the game is one of the most challenging of the publisher. In the year 2442, we build an underwater city, and new modules allow us new action possibilities. However, our actions can also cause damage to the city. This sounds like an interesting trade-off in actions and a common goal. I’m looking forward to the title and think the design is already great.
The designers of Moesteiro come from Portugal, and so we are also going to the Iberian peninsula. We build the city and have to use our craftsmen and workers wisely. In addition, we have to help build the monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória, while other actions are also important. In addition, there are different player abilities and scores both during the game and at the end of the game. I’m curious whether the game can convince despite the somewhat stale design.
Not so surprisingly, Pegasus Spiele will localize Peter Pan (in the original Pan’s Island). It is the successor of Treasure Island, which was also published by Pegasus. And again, it’s about finding something, namely the lost children. Using special abilities, we explore the island and exclude more and more locations. When we have collected enough clues, we can solve the puzzle and win. Event cards change the island during the game and bring new rules. Sounds good.
Edge of the World
I hadn’t heard of the Finnish publisher Tactic before, but I had a very interesting conversation with them. I was shown some novelties, among others, Edge of the World. Located in the connoisseur game area, it is about exploring new areas as a Viking and making victory points. To do this, we have to hire a crew, trade, and fight. I’m attracted by the very nice design and the accessible gameplay.
At Pegasus, Orichalcum appears, which is supposed to be a mythical metal of the ancient Greeks, but is really hard to remember as a name. Here we gradually discover our own new island to find a refuge for the inhabitants of Atlantis. 4X mechanics are present here in a small way, and so we build buildings, recruit troops, and fight monsters, among other things. All of this in a very compact setting and with a pleasant game length. I’m curious.
The cover looks fancy, but the game board of Terra Pyramides is rather boring. Still, the mechanics of this tile-laying game sound interesting. We buy building sites to be able to build pyramids. To do this, we need money, resources, and workers. When placing a tile, we also activate the tiles already lying in the same row or column. This sounds like an interesting puzzle.
Kids Chronicles: The Search for the Moonstones
I really like Chronicles of Crime, and Lucky Duck Games continues to improve the system behind it. Now comes Kids Chronicles: The Quest for the Moonstones, an accessible cooperative family game that uses QR code technology. We are student magicians who, along with our animal companions, are on a quest to find four moonstones. In the process, we again interact with locations, objects, and characters via the app. Of course, there are 3D scenes again, which only require a smartphone along with simple 3D glasses. Five standalone stories are included here, and I’ll be playing it despite the low difficulty.
Mille Fiori: Die Meisterwerke
Last but not least is an expansion. Of course, there were several expansions at the Spielwarenmesse, but I’m most excited about Mille Fiori: Die Meisterwerke. I like the base game despite its abstract character, and the expansion brings a new game board that is attached to the existing one. Nine different masterpieces can be collected. Additionally, the new cards bring points, movement changes, or even a change in player order. That sounds like more variety and more possibilities, which I like very much.
Is it worth the trip to the International Toy Fair?
So those were my highlights from the Spielwarenmesse 2023 in Nuremberg. After two cancelled fairs, I was very happy to go back to Nuremberg, where I also lived for a while.
The fair is already impressively large, and it takes a while to get to the desired hall. On the other hand, the halls feel a bit smaller, which could also be due to the low ceilings. Nevertheless, it is always an experience to be there because I then also like to roam through the other halls and look at, for example, model trains or other toys.
The novelties, and there were quite a few more, that were on display in Nuremberg this year certainly looked interesting. There were few real novelties that were not known before (but that’s no different at SPIEL these days), but taking a closer look at the game material and having the game explained a bit was fun.
Hey there! I’m Richard Baker, a miniature painter who’s been in the game for a solid decade now. I’ve been painting miniatures for ten years and I’ve got a ton of tips and tricks to share with you all. My website is a treasure trove of knowledge that I’ve gathered from both my own personal experiences and from reading all sorts of books.