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My Fall Buy List

Jesse Dean
United States
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Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!
So with Essen rapidly approaching, I’ve gone ahead and put together my Fall Buy List; this is an overall selection of games that I intend to own that are coming out between now and the end of the year, sorted by rank with an explanation of where/who I am getting them from. I expect that there are some games that I am only vaguely aware of now that I will end up getting, and that there are a few on this list that I will end up not liking after I get them. I am okay with that though, as such is the curse of an early adopter.

1. Colonial: Europe's Empires Overseas
From a new publisher in Switzerland, this one combines some elegant euro mechanics with a lot of potential for direct interaction and conflict. A few people have gotten early release copies (or made their own) and early indications are pretty positive. There is some concern about the overall usefulness of certain technology trees in the game, but I remain unconvinced that these won’t be figured out with more skilled play. I am so excited about this one, that I’ve already written two speculative strategy articles. I expect I will be playing this one a lot, though I suspect it will probably work best with higher player counts. People who dislike dice or direct conflict need not apply. (Pre-ordered directly from Stratagem Ltd.)

2. Urban Sprawl
I really liked Chad Jensen’s Dominant Species last year, and the rules for this one also look to be pretty good. I suspect that ultimately, Dominant Species will turn out to be a superior game, but I see a lot of potential in this one too, much of which I detailed in my rules review. I am expecting it will receive a lot of my attention before the Essen games start hitting since it will be released in early October here in the USA. (Pre-ordered directly from GMT Games.)

3. Eclipse
I like Space Empires 4X, but I haven’t played it since its initial spurt of plays. The reason for this is twofold: 1) For the amount of time it takes most of my fellow players would rather get in a play of an 18XX 2) We just haven’t gotten around to it (that will change this week, I think my initial fatigue has worn off and I am looking forward to exploring it in more detail). Eclipse looks like it will be another effective 4X game, but with a slightly different focus and what looks like a shorter play time it might also be one that is easier to get on to the table due to it not directly competing for the 18XX time slot. Another advantage of this one is that there is plenty of pre-release information available between the designer previews and the rulebook, so it is pretty easy to get a perspective of how the game plays. I admit I am mildly concerned that the fixed number of turns will not let the game develop a proper arc, but I am willing to give it the benefit of a doubt there. (Copy from Asmodee USA)

4. German Railways
Though my interest in Winsome-style train games has been fading, this one is of great interest to me, both because of what I have heard about how it plays, and the generally positive reactions it’s gotten from my Geekbuddies. The need to plan for a variable (seeded but random) number of turns is something in particular that appeals to me, and I am looking forward to exploring this one. (Pre-ordered LAST YEAR from Queen at Coolstuff, Inc. I am optimistic it will show by the end of the year.)

5. Vanuatu
This is a high-contact euro, with tons of different ways you can make your opponent’s day suddenly a lot worse, ranging from the action system where you can make your opponent’s lose their action, to the tight financial system that allows you to force your opponents to trade their valuable money away for much less useful victory points. The build-as-you-play board and high degree of instructiveness will help ensure this one has a lot of replay value. (Pre-ordered directly from Krok Nik Douil Editions)

6. Singapore
I have not played any of Peer Sylvester’s designs, though King of Siam comes highly recommended, but this one looks fairly intriguing. I think what I like the most is the player created board, as each time you play you will end up with a slightly different configuration of both the initial modular board and the tiles that players place as the game progresses, resulting in a different optimization puzzle and a different way to properly take advantage of the resource conversions on the board. Though I admit to being a little tired of the whole resource conversion-style game, this one appears to be distinct enough to be worth getting a copy. (Pre-ordered directly from White Goblin Games)

7. Quebec
My initial impressions were that this reminded me spiritually of Hansa Teutonica. While it still does to some extent, in that the game is about the manipulation and movement of cubes with a lot of interesting little twists thrown in, further thought and discussion has confirmed that a better comparison is probably El Grande. Essentially the game is about competing for victory point majorities in a number of different areas, each of which corresponds to a different portion of the board. The most efficient way to get these majorities is to take advantage of available special actions. However, in order to get these special actions you need to help other players get victory points by completing their (victory point giving) buildings. If you have a majority in an area, when scoring occurs you are able to cascade half of your placed cubes into the next area, allowing you to potentially set up killer victory point combinations (if the other players let you get away with it). Fun hilarity ensues. Unfortunately, the board looks a bit busy and I am a little bit worried my red-green colorblindness won’t be able to properly distinguish between the regions. We will see what happens with that though. (Buying from Coolstuff, Inc. when it is released by Asmodee USA)

8. Ora et Labora
This one may move up or down once I actually see some rules. As it stands, I did not find Merkator or Loyang to be great, but initial reports indicate that this one will be a return to form for Rosenberg, with a description that implies that it is similar to Le Havre but with even more going on and a deeper level of decision making. Hopefully these reports are correct. (Buying from Coolstuff, Inc. when it is released by Z-Man Games)

9. Drum Roll
My track record with lighter worker placement games hasn’t been the greatest, and most have not made much of an impression on my collection. Looking at Drum Roll’s rules indicates that it might be a lovely exception. It seems that there will be a lot of potentially tense competition for resources, particularly performers and employees, that many of the other lighter worker placement games lack, and I really appreciate the potential combo-building between different performer types and the decisions involving keeping a performer around or choosing to retire them. (Pre-ordered from giochix.it along with Upon A Salty Ocean)

10. Tournay
I really enjoyed Troyes last year, it was my #3 game behind Dominant Species and Innovation, and the rules for this one make it look spiritually similar but mechanically rather different. I have not pre-ordered this one yet, but will acquire it when it is available. A card reference sheet would help a lot. (Will pre-order once this option becomes available.)

11. The Manhattan Project
This looks like another fun heavier worker placement, with an interesting race aspect in that whoever reaches the victory point threshold first wins. The exact mechanics of the worker placement, particularly the decision whether to use up your extra workers for your own buildings or to save them for shared actions, and the momentum hit that comes whenever you recover your workers both seem like they would be fun to explore as is the conflict system that they include in the game. The art is also pretty fantastic, and I really dig the retro style. (Kickstartered!)

12. 1830: The Game of Railroads and Robber Barons
I owned a copy of the original game that I sold once the reprint was announced. Since then I have acquired a number of other 18XX games that I enjoy greatly, so I admit I am not that excited about this one. I will get it however, and almost certainly play it once it arrives. (Buying from Coolstuff, Inc. when it is released by Mayfair Games)

13. Upon A Salty Ocean
I am mostly getting this one because it is a package deal for shipping Drum Roll. It looks like it is a pretty solid economic game, but I admit I am fairly concerned about interplay variability. It may be one of those games that different player strategies will be sufficient to differentiate the games, but I admit I am a little skeptical. Shall be interesting to see what happens. (Pre-ordered from giochix.it along with Drum Roll)
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