I’ve recently returned from Essen, the pilgrimage every gamer should make at least once. The game fair at Essen is the largest of its kind in the world. GenCon in Indianapolis is probably the closest thing to it in the US. However, GenCon dedicates only one area of the convention center to the exhibition hall while Spiel (the Essen game fair) is all exhibition space, 9 halls worth. RPGs, miniatures, CCGs and comics are all present but they take a back seat to table top gaming.
Here’s a run down of the games I played at the show….
18 Oct – Setup
Played the new game from Sunriver (I was a booth monkey all week demo’ing the game) with Greg Schloesser. 24/7 is an abstract game using tiles numbered from 1 to 10. Each turn, you play a tile from your hand adjacent to a tile on the board and draw a new tile. You score points if with the tile layed you can sum a column, row or diagonal of all adjacent tiles to 7 or 24. You also score points for runs (straights) of 3, 4, 5 or 6 tiles and sets of 3 or 4. Plays in about 20 to 30 minutes. Nice game for those who like abstracts.
Tara – Seat of Kings
Another abstract played in the evening with some of the folks (Erik Oliver, Lorna Wong) staying at the Hotel Arosa. In this game, you are trying to occupy the king position in two regions. Advancement toward the king position is done by placing tokens adjacent to each other on the same level. This allows promotion to the next level (token placement in the next higher row). Placing tokens on the board to set up adjacent tokens for promotion is done by playing a card that specifies rules for how you can place tokens on the board. Again, interesting game for those who like abstracts. We messed up a couple of rules so the game didn’t feel quite right. After discovering our error the next day, we thought it would be a much more interesting game than our first play indicated.
On the Underground
Erik, KC and I played this in the evening. Lightly themed game about the London subway. On your turn, you can place up to 4 segments of one of your subway lines. Then you have to move the passenger token to a destination. The passenger takes the route where he must walk the fewest segments and then changes the fewest subway lines. Owners of the travelled subway lines score points. Nice game and may pick up a copy sometime in the future. Enough similarity to games like Ticket to Ride that I really didn’t need it.
19 Oct – Day 1
This is the new Martin Wallace design. Played this with 3 other guys from the US. Martin Wallace was teaching the game which was cool. The game is played over three turns. We played a complete turn and talked through how final scoring is done. In the game, you select tiles that allow you to increase your influence in different ancient Greek cities (Sparta, Athens, etc). You also propose leaders for each of the cities. After all the influence has been placed and 2 leaders have been proposed for each city, votes are taken and leaders elected. For each city you lead, you take the military forces and can use them to fight in one or more of the face up battles. Any battle won rewards victory points. At the end of the game, you also gain points for each city you lead and for influence markers in cities. Good game. Would like to play again and may try to pick up a copy before GTF.
This is a card game by Simon Hunt with a stock market theme. I met Simon last year at BGG.con. We each played our first game of Railroad Tycoon together at the Eagle Games booth. Played Take Stock with Simon. Easy game … you draw a card and either raise the price of one of the stocks, invest in a stock or play the market. You play until the market closes (someone plays their last card, the 11 or 12 price is played on a company or the close market card is drawn). Each player multiplies his holdings of each stock against the current price. In the full game, you play through 4 market closings. I picked up a copy and have played it again with Caleb. I think this will be best with 3 or 4. It’s a little dry with 2.
Leonardo da Vinci (Maestro Leonardo)
Later in the day, I played this game that was getting some early buzz. Each player competes to build different inventions. As each one is built, you receive money. The player with the most money at the end of the game is the winner. The game will appeal to those that like games like Puerto Rico, Caylus, etc. It’s a nice game and will keep an eye on it to see how does on the ‘geek. Mayfair is publishing the english version.
Played this with Chris, Lorna, Jeff and Paul. This game was published as a result of a game design contest that was won. Simple card game about drawing ingredients to create potions (objectives). Not bad but not sure I’d play again except to play with kids.
Got an overview of this game from Simon Hunt. This game is divided in 2 halves. In the first half, you are mostly collecting resources and the second, you are trying to sell for the most money. It’s a caravan game where you travel from city to city. At each city, players choose an action to take. The action will allow you to collect more resource, trade resources and do other things. The game seems ok but felt like it was too fiddly or possibly too distracting. The initial board setup has all of this tiny markers on each city to represent the actions available there.