Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Essen 2011: working my way down the list

Okay, so my minor boardgame project was to get as many of the games I bought at Essen last year played at least once before we move off eastwards again. Luckily, Matt Thrower threw a spanner in the works by focussing on why we do this to ourselves. Because it made me look at the stuff I've bought since Essen and this Essen 2011 list is in fact only the beginning. I need to cut down on buying games and make a better assessment of the likelihood a game gets played. Expect a post on this in the near future.

But first, back to Essen 2011. This should start of with the games that I bought at Essen and have already played. The first lot we managed to play at Essen in our three day gaming adventure, either at the convention, in the bar, in the roadhouse or in the hotel.

Lupin III by Pierluigi Frumusa (Ghenos)
We didn't get the rules on the first attempt, and they are not fleshed out. There's quite a learning curve due to all the equipment and special cards. But lovely concept of one player (the Commissary) planning defense, others planning the heist and the potential conflicts between Fujiko and the others. Would love to play again.

51st State New Era by Ignacy Trzewiczek (Portal)
The promise of more interaction than in the original got me tempted to buy it, because the setting and artwork are great, but the game doesn't seem to reward it. This is still a euro hidden beneath a veneer of trash.

Die Exorzisten by Henning Poehl (Sphinx)
I bought four games by German designer Henning Poehl just based on the fact that they look awesome and have really great theme. Got this one to play. Fun card game with a priest, an ex-nun, a voodoo priest and a horror movie expert taking on the possessed. Now some of the characters have the object to excorsize as many demons as possible, but others profit from helping or sabotaging these attempts. Great game to stitch each other up therefor. Beautiful cartoon art work.

Since then I've also managed to play the following:

A Few Acres of Snow by Martin Wallace (Treefrog)
I like this game a lot, despite the fact that some people argue the game is broken by the Halifax Hammer. There's a good tension arc through the game and the game is one of the first to really integrate a deckbuilder into a game, rather than being an end in itself. Played in January.

Blood Bowl: Team Manager by Jason Little (FFG)
I think I've played three or four games now and it's a real blast! It's mean, tactical direct conflict with a good question how you will pace your build up. Focus to much on fans early in the game and you won't be able to compete later, but ignore fans too long and you won't be able to catch up. Also they solved the puzzle of trying to cram a whole season into five rounds. Excellent design!

Guards!Guards! by Leonard Boyd and David Brashaw (Z-Man)
This one I played before the summer. My first impressions are here.

Tikal II by Michael Kiesling and Wolfgang Kramer (Gameworks)
Played at the club this summer and was a good deal of fun (I knew that already, because I playtested, but it's a bit different now). It's pure euro and it's a combination of paddling down the river at the edge of the board picking up actions, which then help you explore the temple in the centre.

Strategy is based around a good mix of victory point scoring. The first is based on exploring of rooms. Access to rooms in the temple is based on their colour and whether you have keys in that colour. It's pretty easy to get hold of keys, but you can also use them for victory points. The third way to score is through sets rooms of the same colour you have explored.

Rare artifacts that you have picked up on your riverine tour can be sold as a fourth source of VP. And there's some additional points in the event deck. As you can see, there's a lot to keep track of, and the last turns can while a bit when everybody plots their optimal move.

By the way, the rulebook is great. I love how they introduce the game by a four page comic book intro, with all the designers involved as main characters.

So that leaves:

Apocalypse by Henning Poehl (Sphinx)

Bann der Mummie by Henning Poehl (Sphinx)

After Pablo by Nate Haydn (Blast City)

Earth Reborn by Christophe Boelinger (Z-Man)

Resistance: expansion by Don Eskridge (Indie Boards)

Dos de Mayo: Assault on Grimaldi Palace expansion by Daniel Val (Gryphon)

Revised board for Friedrich by Richard Sivel

This will be a pretty tough challenge. I might get Apocalypse, Bann der Mummie and the Resistance and Dos de Mayo expansions played in an evening, but it will be harder to get a game of After Pablo in, let alone Earth Reborn. And there's only going to be three or four occassions to do it in the coming weeks.


  1. So in effect you only need to play 7 games before next Essen ? Piece of Cake it seems?

    1. Yes, it doesn't sound that hard, does it? But i don't have multiplayer opportunities everyday. Or even every week. And solo play doesn't count


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