Let's Talk 2018 Essen Games (Brandon Kempf)

Let's Talk 2018 Essen Games (Brandon Kempf)

It’s that time of year again, even though it really feels too early! Before we get into the 2018 Essen titles, let’s look back at what I was excited about last year.

Otys - Sadly, this one sits on my shelf unplayed. I picked it up a bit after Essen when I saw it on sale on Amazon and I guess the excitement didn’t carry over. I should probably remedy that. Own/Unplayed

Dragonsgate College - Got an early version from BGG Con last year thanks to Bill, and I played it once thought it a solid enough game, but Kerensa and Gabby did not enjoy it at all. Make matters worse the tiles were so small and the info printed on it was even smaller I never really wanted to play it again either. Sold

Altiplano - Chris brought this back, I played it a handful of times and was fine never playing it again. It’s a solid game and while it seemed more strategic than it’s predecessor Orleans, I just didn’t find it all that fun. There were a couple things that could be leveraged and if you did them throughout the game, you would win. Never Bought

Senators - Another one that Chris brought out and we played a couple times and that was enough for me. I am interested in the follow up to this from La Mame this year, Profiteers, but I’m not rushing to grab it. Never Bought

Majesty For the Realm - Played the heck out of Chris’ German copy when it got here, then played the heck out of my Z-Man copy once the English version showed up. Absolutely wonderful game. Owned 29 plays

So, not too horrible, but also not too good right? I mean 3 out of 5 have either been sold off or never brought into our collection, 1 sits unplayed and the 5th is a family favorite. Plus, I didn’t even talk about my absolute favorite from last year’s Essen, Azul.

So what am I looking forward to this year? First off we’ve already played Carpe Diem and I think it’s probably Feld’s best work since Castles of Burgundy, we’ve also played Small Islands which I am hoping opens up a bit more as we play the more “advanced” version of the game as the basic one was, basic. On the way already we have Brikks, Majolica, The Forgotten City, City Explorer Tainan & Tokyo, Teotihuacan plus Pandoria so we won’t talk about them here. It is kind of weird to me, or at least seems this way, but I think it was easier this year than last to get games before Essen Spiel that were going to be released there. I just really used two websites and a couple publishers who offer pre-orders. Just know that they plan is to play these as soon as they get here and they are on the way to my house since they were available for pre-order that way. So minus those titles, here are 5 Games that I am looking forward to coming this year at Essen Spiel and I promise there will be zero mentions of Belratti (damn it, that was a mention).



Every year I get suckered into a bigger box Euro that has some silly space theme, this seems to be the case for Magnastorm. This is a worker placement/area control game that seemingly doesn’t do a whole lot different (I shouldn’t say that, but it is kind of true, it seems really like a timing game where you have to time things correctly to get the most benefit), but it does have something really unique that I am interested in trying out. You see, Magnastorm has a unique game end mechanism that rewards you based on how you finished. These Reward Cards are carried over into your next game, so this seemingly is trying to incentivize folks to keep playing even if they do poorly in a previous game. It’s trying to level the playing field among players and trying to keep you coming back to Magnastorm even if you feel like you did horribly.



Wolfgang Warsch, the art of Weberson Santiago, dice game about escaping an erupting volcano?!? Yup, this went on the wishlist immediately. A cooperative dice rolling game where you are trying to guide yourself to the safety of your village, but you only win if everyone escapes. This doesn’t try to make you roll dice in real time, which is just too damn stressful for me, but instead, you have to roll dice for your movement, but you have to have more of your chosen movement dice than your partners on either side of you to successfully move. It’s an interesting mechanism, especially given the limited information rules in conversation and the fact that your dice are private until you actually get to the movement phase. Really can’t wait to get this one to the table and try it out.


Azul Stained Glass of Sintra

A sequel of sorts to my absolute favorite game that we’ve played over the last year, and maybe over the last 10 years. This takes the main selection mechanism from Azul and makes it about Stained Glass, you are still trying to not waste any but the way you score points is a bit different here. Absolutely beautiful to look at judging from the photos I’ve seen up till now, I hope this does justice to it’s predecessor.



So, last year it was Otys from Pearl Games, this year it’s Solenia from Pearl Games, but the important note here, for me at least, is that this is a Sebastien Dujardin design, he of Deus fame and also the gentleman who works with Xavier Georges on some of my favorite titles. Solenia looks a bit different to me, even though it is a resource/hand management game. The board is ever changing, progressing like a day would, from light to dark. So different resources are available in the night that wouldn’t be available during the day. To deliver you must play a card to a spot surrounding the airship that moves throughout the day whenever someone plays the appropriate card, so timing will be essential here as well. I may be looking forward to the game that is coming after this a bit more, Black Angel, but they both seem to share similarities in the board presence so I do wonder how different they will be.



Press your luck/set collecting fun from Bruno Faidutti. That’s really all you need to say, right? Ultimately you are dragons who are flying around trying to claim all the best loot, be it armor from unsuspecting Knights, beautiful jewelry and some fat sheep or livestock to of course, well, keep your belly full. It’s a simple playing sounding game where you have a deck of cards and you chose to place a card into a loot pile or claim a loot pile. The last Dragon flying around will claim the final loot pile and anything left in the deck, even the negative items, so you gotta be careful in how far you go. Whomever took the least food is out automatically, then whomever is left with the best pile of loot wins the game!

There are so many more games that deserve mentioning, and maybe even some of the ones above that are already on the way from me should be talked about before these, but since I know those are coming, I went with 5 that I am hoping get brought back for me to play.

What is everyone else looking forward to? Let me know here in the comments or over on Twitter @Vacabck!

Chris Wray at Essen Spiel 2018

Chris Wray at Essen Spiel 2018

Reflections on Essen: Why I Make the Trip (Chris Wray)

Reflections on Essen: Why I Make the Trip (Chris Wray)