Monday, 12 October 2015

Spiel Essen 2015: I came, I saw...

This year's visit to Spiel was the most relaxed and pleasant in years. I hadn't prepared much, I didn't tweet and I didn't feel the need nor urge to play reporter. This meant that I chose my own path rather than to check out what might be hot. My list of games that might prove interesting was even slightly shorter than before. It may also have helped that we went home after the second day which saved us a lot of fuss in buying and preparing games for the second night and third day. 

Tomorrow I'll go into the stuff we played, but let's kick off with the stuff I only saw. Very much first impressions!

  • Peeked at Shakespeare, but it looked like any Ystari solo puzzle. Nippon looked good, but also felt more like a puzzle, although I am open to be convinced otherwise.
  • Bloody Inn and Scythe looked promising, but I didn’t get round to trying it or having it explained.
  • I got Euro Crisis explained to me and it really sounds like a good game with the appropriate level of cynicism. As an international bank your goal in the game is to buy up as many national assets (the Akropolis of course!) as possible.
  • I didn’t see Churchill of Triumph & Tragedy played, but they look like a lot of work to get in to.
  • Waterloo: Enemy Mistakes came across like yet another tactical hex & counter game about the battle, with a hefty price tag attached. On the other hand W1815 provides the essentials in a 15 minute game with a refreshing new approach.
  • Lembitu is a cooperative challenge, but the fact that it was advertised on the strength that the wife of the designer was so good at it because she is a mathematician put me off.
  • Celestia is beautiful, but I already had my fix of kids games by the time I saw it
  • Had a quick look at Haspelknecht, which seems fine.
  • Sapiens has some interesting ideas, but the design seems to suggest it’s a kids game. I don’t think that’s the target audience.
  • Bad Medicine is a party game which is more about smooth talking. But the fact that you are a marketer for a major medicine corporation gets you in the right mood.
  • I think I would like Raptor, but too bad it’s two players only
  • Fabulous Beasts was being demoed and looked okay, but I felt the addition of a tablet didn’t fulfil its potential.
  • I was looking forward to the Age of Conan expansion, hoping that it would somehow breathe new life into the game. It was not available for demoing, but it seems to include a number of new miniatures, which were on display
It also dawned on me this time why East Asian designers are unable to conquer the European market on their own. We played a couple of turns of the disappointing Generalship, which remained stuck in abstractions and a generic game board without much added value.

And I would have been happy to buy Tank Hunter on a hunch if vital rules text on some cards hadn’t been in Japanese. To add a sheet of white stickers, which ruin the visual design, is not a solution.

The most promising was the medieval zombie game by the very friendly guys from Hong Kong, which was a whole lot of fuss in the wrong areas. There is no lack of talent and interesting takes on interesting themes, that much is clear, but so far only western editions of East Asian games have been successful.


  1. Missed it this year. It sounded fun.

    1. It was. Half of the fun is being there with friends. Trash talking, eating, drinking and discussing world affairs and games for two days

  2. Sounds like you found the perfect pace and approach to doing Essen, thanks for the unreport report.

    1. You're welcome. This used to be hard work. It's fun again now

  3. Ah, the blatant bigotry of linguistic privilege!

  4. Ah, the blatant bigotry of linguistic privilege!


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