Arrived about 7pm on the night before. After dropping my luggage by my room, I headed off to check out the setup. Ran into Aldie and pitched in on creating the goodie bags everyone received when registering. What could be more fun than listening to Derk’s sharp tongue while filling bags with Employee of the Month and Fraud Squad? 😉
Afterwards, I helped Rodney & Hank Loyd with the large Heroscape map Rodney designed. The map used terrain elements from every expansion excluding the most recent (swamps from the newest base game). It was very involved and was spectacular looking when finished. However, I don’t believe it received much play during the con.
Chris Brooks arrived about 11pm and after grabbing a beer, we went off to the gaming area so he could see the setup. I was able to pick out my prize table game at that time and picked up a copy of Conquest of the Empire that I’m jazzed about. Turned in soon after that to get a decent night’s sleep before the first full day of gaming.
I met Chris in the morning for a nice, medium length run and we were able to catch up a bit since Essen 06. After a hasty meal of pop tarts from the convenience store across the street (I realized there was a Starbucks in the hotel lobby later in the day!), I headed off to the gaming area.
Later in the day, Tim Isakson & Randy Shipp carted us over to Razzoo’s, a local cajun eatery. The beer and the red beans and rice really hit the spot after a long, hard day of gaming. Thanks for the assist…it was great to get away for an hour or so and relax a little.
On with the games…
First up was Brass, the new Wallace design released at Essen this year. Chris taught and played. We also had Greg Schloesser and Mark Salamon at the table. The game took about 2 hours to play but felt shorter than that. The mechanics work well together and I liked the build the canal era, score, wipe the canal era industries (level 1 buildings) and connections (canal markers) from the board and start building in the rail era process. I think it’s a solid game as did everyone at the table. Provisional Rating: 8
Chris and I had lunch at Denny’s (yeah, the only restaurant within walking distance of the hotel) and played a quick game of this. This is a HipPocket game. Each player takes turns placing a card (that represent shops and streets) and buying shops. Your score is the money you’ve collected (increases at the beginning of your turn by adding the number of unobstructed entrances for your shops to your score). It’s ok as a filler. Provisional Rating: 5
Another Essen release played after lunch with Chris, Aaron Fuegi and Yehuda. This is a collect and ship resources game that has some aspects of Jambo and Medici. We messed up the auction rule a little and as a result, we weren’t completely satisfied with how the game played. After some discussion and clarification with Greg Schloesser, I think it would be a more enjoyable, faster game when played correctly. 🙂 As it was, it took us nearly as long to play this as it did Brass and it really should be more like 75 minutes. Provisional Rating: 6 (probably a 7 when played correctly and if played in 45 – 75 minutes)
This is a design that Yehuda has been trying to get published for some time. It is a set collection/auction game. The published incarnation is themed as a build your monster (ie Frankenstein) by collecting the necessary body parts through auctions. As soon as someone finishes their monster, everyone reveals and scores the points on the tiles that make up their monster plus any money they still have. I played this with Oliver (designer of soon to be published Supernova) and Ted Harrison and Aaron Fuegi. Light, quick, horror themed game. Provisional Rating: 6
This year’s release by Alea is another game by Stefan Feld (Rum & Pirates). It’s a Chinese-themed game. Played over 12 turns, an event occurs each turn and players try to minimize the ill effects of the event by acquiring different personages (healers, monks, warriors, etc). Played this with Tim Isakson, Keith Rapley, Randy Shipp and Chris. Everyone agreed that it felt like there was an impending sense of doom throughout the game and like most euros, there is more that you want to do than resources or actions available. Solid game and if anything, the theme feels like it is pasted on (smells of Knizia, eh?). Provisional Rating: 7
The last game of the evening is the latest rondel-o-matic from Mac Gerdts. Like Antike and Imperial, players take actions by moving their token around the action rondel and stopping on the action they wish to take. This time, however, the theme is contributing to the construction of various churches around the cities of London and Hamburg (a double-sided map with London on one side and Hamburg on the other). The game is spent collecting resources and turning them into materials that can be used to build parts of each church. As would be expected, each successive level of the church requires more materials. Chris and I played this with Kevin Wilson (game designer at Fantasy Flight Games) and Eric Burgess (Boardgame Babylon podcast). Everyone enjoyed the game and felt like it was another solid entry from Gerdts. Since I already have Antike and Imperial, I don’t think I need another game in this style. Provisional Rating: 7
Best of show…
Shouldn’t that be the name of a board game? Brass was tops for day 1 with In the Year of the Dragon and Hamburgem also being very solid games. Of everything played on day 1, Brass would be my most likely purchase in the coming months.