The most exciting thing about Essen is of course, all the new games! I got many of the new hot games and have had time with each of them already! Here’s a rundown of the games I grabbed:
Tournay: This is the next game from the makers of last year’s hit game Troyes. I love Troyes and so I actually pre-ordered Tournay to ensure I’d get a copy. It’s a bit more abstract than Troyes, and the rules are as confusing as Troyes, but once you become familiar with the iconography, it’s a fun game about using your workers (or ‘renting’ someone else’s a la Troyes) to make an efficient engine. It’s almost multiplayer solitaire though there are some ways to be a nuisance to your opponents, though it is limited. I’ve played 3-4 times and would still play it again.
A Few Acres of Snow: Not sure why I got this one. I’m 50/50 on Martin Wallace games, plus this is a war themed deck building game that’s only for 2 players. I guess I was motivated to buy it because I had the chance to get one of the 102 limited edition copies that were at the Fair. It’s a very lengthy game and has some interesting ideas added to the deck building genre (like putting some cards in your hand into a reserve pile to use later), but I’m not a history or war buff, so I’m not dying to play this one again.
Kingdom Builder: I was looking forward to this game from the designer of Dominion as it looked right up my alley. This is a simplified version of Through the Desert – and I mean that in a good way. It’s not as much of a brain burner as TtD is and the playtime is very short. The multiple boards that it comes with, along with the multiple victory conditions means you can play many times with each game having a slightly different feel. It is a bit chaotic – but it’s a great gateway game for non-gamers and families and one I’ll be playing many more times.
Eaten by Zombies: This new deck-building game was all the crazy on Kickstarter and now it’s out. It seems interesting in that players might turn into zombies themselves and turn against the other players. I’ve played it twice, but the terrible rule book made me not understand how to play some aspects of the game and it just wasn’t flowing for me. I’d play it again if I took the time to download the new and improved rules on BGG.
Tok Tok Woodman: This game is a lot of fun for the kids…and adults alike! You use a plastic axe to tap wooden bark off of a precariously balanced tree trunk. It’s fun and Jenga-esque.
Power Grid: First Sparks: This has a lot of similar mechanics to Power Grid but is its own stand-alone game. I’ve played it three times and due to very poorly written rules have just now figured out how to set the game up correctly. The third time was the most interesting, but I somehow couldn’t catch up after screwing up in an early round. Will continue to play it until I get it, though I’m not feeling a lot of love for it yet.
Last Will: I really don’t know much about this game but kept seeing it pop up in the top 25 list and I loved the art! After 3 plays I have to say that this is one kooky fun game. It has some worker placement and then some multiplayer solitaire as you’re building up your own engine. In this game you’re trying to get rid of your money the fastest – which adds some interesting aspects to the game.
Welcome to Walnut Grove: Was pitched as an Agricola kind of game when you don’t have time for a full Agricola game. Worker placement with some tile placement – sounds good to me! After 3 plays I do like it even though there are a few randomy things to it (initial turn order screwed me out of any possible move in the first round, plus the coins are valued 0 to 2 and are always drawn randomly). I will definitely play this again as it’s quick and is an interesting puzzle.
Puerto Rico: Special Edition: I’ve never been a huge fan of this game, but only because I played with people who were really good at it, but they weren’t really good at helping noobs – so I didn’t have a good time with it. But it’s always seemed like a game I should like so I’m going to give it another shot – now with a super amazing looking edition. I’ve played it once and am finally getting to understand the game! I will be playing this quite a few more times.
King’s Vineyard: For buying Tok Tok and Eaten by Zombies, I was able to buy this game for 10 Euros and ever since Bordeaux I’ve been keeping my eyes out for wine themed games and decided to grab this one too. One of the few Essen games that I haven’t played yet.
Carcasonne/Dominion expansion: 1 new set of Dominion cards called Carcasonne (the English variant is called Walled Village), which is a nice tribute to the hit game. Plus I got another Dominion expansion called the Governor, which looks fun. Also got a new two tiled, 1 meeple expansion to Carcasonne, but it was in German so I’ll have to wait for English rules before playing.
7 Wonders Catan expansion: A new Wonder/starting board with an homage to Settlers of Catan. Neat. Haven’t tried yet. I did get it signed by Klaus Tueber though!!
Friday: A 1 player game from Freisse. It was getting some pretty good buzz and was pretty cheap. Haven’t tried this one yet.
Dungeon Fighter and Cryptids TV: Got these for Sen as it’s his birthday coming up! Not too sure about either, but Dungeon Fighter was constantly in the top 25 throughout the Fair. We’ll see what he thinks of each one!
Well, that wraps up all the stories I have from my Essen Adventures. It was full of fun and excitement and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Here’s hoping everything works out so I can go again next year!