Games to look out for from Essen Spiel 2023

09 October 2023
Five upcoming games from the world's biggest board game convention

Last weekend saw the 40th Anniversary of the world's largest board game convention, Spiel, held in Essen, Germany.

Attendance was the largest it had been Post-Covid, with a whopping 193,000 people visiting this popular event to buy, preview and play some of the over 1200 board games from designers around the world.

Whilst it would be impossible to play all of those games in one weekend, we've been scouting online to find five games that have a very positive buzz from this weekend, many of which are either releasing or crowdfunding soon.

Check out these five upcoming games that were at Essen Spiel 2023!

General Orders

Components and boxart for upcoming strategy game General Orders

The first game on our list is the latest release from the creators of Undaunted, David Thompson and Trevor Benjamin. Whilst the two designers were also at Essen announcing their Sci-Fi Undaunted game coming next year, many eager players got to their first chance to play this new take on the popular card-based strategy series. 

General Orders pits two players for control over a city in World War II, blending military combat with worker placement, as players have to balance where they advance their troops and where they position their generals to best use them. 

It's an interesting change of pace from most military strategy games that comes in a perfect travel-sized box and rules for two different maps, offering immediately replayability and variety. Our review of this tiny tactician treat will be coming out in a future issue.

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Altered TCG

Feature art from the upcoming exploration-themed TCG, Altered

First previewed at Gen Con 2023, this is a brand new Trading Card Game brought to us by Régis Bonnessée, designer of Dice Forge and the original founder of Libeludd, the publisher behind Dixit. 

Instead of battling across a magical multiverse or gathering your favourite Disney charactersAltered shakes up the standard formula by instead having you play as one of six different factions trying to rebuild society after a world shattering event that broke down the boundaries of reality and fantasy. Players are racing to cross the region first, moving their hero and companion pieces from one space to the other, with the winner being whoever can get their two tokens to meet up first.

In addition to its innovate theme and mechanics, Altered is also altering one of the biggest aspects of TCGs: players will be able to order and print on demand cards for their decks. Each card has a unique QR code, which players will 'scan' into their digital account. Any cards on their account can be reprinted as many time as they want, as well as the digital ownership being traded or sold to others.

The possibility of players being able to sell cards across the world or printing off complete decks to play casually has staggering possibilities, potentially removing the secondary market and making a card game that's immediately accessible and playable for people across all levels of play. Keep an eye out for this game releasing in 2024.


This zany looking dexterity game has been delighting audiences throughout the convention weekend, as players were finally able to get their hands on the game since its Kickstarter last year.

Players are working as the electric companies trying to power the rapidly growing 'Island of Cats' Nekojima, so named for the various felines who populate the place and have become popular tourist attractions. 

On your turn, players roll the dice to find out which two areas of the island need to be connected, as well as drawing from a bag to determine which colour of wire must be placed. This bag also contains black cubes representing kitties who will hang off the wires, making it even harder to try and place the poles in such a way so that no wire touches another one or gets toppled over.

It's a game of tension and nervous laughter, both in the competitive 'last electrician standing' game or the co-operative variant. Backers will be receiving their copies very soon with a retail version being available in the upcoming months.


The editor for Board Game Geek W Eric Martin joked that the only thing that came close to the massive lines for Disney Lorcana was the massive God simulator game by Stefan Feld (designer of Castles of Burgundy), Civolution.

The game's premise is that each of you control a humanoid race looking to make their mark in an unpopulated world. Each player will have a ridiculously massive Civilisation Control board that tracks their designer race, from what technologies they've developed to whether or not they have wings. 

It's a ludicrously detailed game which had playtesters signing up for 4 hour play sessions to experience, but early impressions from the game have been positive, praising its wild scope but scores of gaming potential. This game should be making its way to existence late 2024.

Critter Kitchen

Finally we have one tasty morsel of a game! By designers Alex Cutler (Team3) and Peter C. Hayward (That Time you Killed Me) with artwork lovingly created by Sandara Tang (Flamecraft) comes a fantasy cooking game where players are each controlling rival kitchens, looking to source the best ingredients to become the talk of the town and to impress and upcoming food critic.

Players will send out their kitchen staff to various locations to buy the best foodstuffs, but must secretly determine which place they send each person, as the smaller mouse will snatch up things first but only be able to grab a single ingredient, whilst the big Boar can take three ingredients, but will only select once anyone else at that location has had first dibs.

It's a beautifully visualised and cunningly tactical game, with players also being able to hire new kitchen staff to source more ingredients or even forgo grabbing food to get caught up on the local gossip, finding out what the critic enjoys the most.

The Kickstarter will be going live very soon, with a planned release for late 2024.


That's our list of games we feel are going to be worth the wait from Essen Spiel 2023! See anything you particularly like? Have we missed something off that needs to be known? Let us know on social media!


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