Essen 2007: PatK's Games Haul
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Well, Essen 2007 has come and gone, so it's time for my now-traditional loot list. This year the list arrives later than usual, as I managed to find an extra two weeks of free time to travel around Europe with my family after the fair ended. In other words, I got home two days ago...

The list is a little...longer than last year, which I blame on having oodles of luggage room. Sigh. Some problems are nice to have. ninja

Onwards!

Update 14 November 2007: As I play the games / expansions on this list, I'll be editing my comments to suit. So as time passes, this will hopefully become a more useful (for me if nobody else) tally of which games were hits and which ones were misses.
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1. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: America / Europe [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.52 Unranked]
Patrick Korner
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Coquitlam
British Columbia
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The first of four Bezier AoS expansions to make it into the suitcase.
 
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2. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Barbados / St. Lucia [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Patrick Korner
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Coquitlam
British Columbia
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The second...
 
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3. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Jamaica / Puerto Rico [Average Rating:6.99 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.99 Unranked]
Patrick Korner
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Coquitlam
British Columbia
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The third...
 
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4. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Mississippi Steamboats / Golden Spike [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked]
Patrick Korner
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And the fourth.
 
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5. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: The Netherlands [Average Rating:6.61 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.61 Unranked]
Patrick Korner
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Coquitlam
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Another AoS expansion, this time with a Spielbox around it.
 
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6. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:6]
Patrick Korner
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Coquitlam
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Yes, there's a lot of German, but yes, the game sounded that good.

Now if only a friendly Ninja would drop by with English rules... ninja

*** 18 December 2007
Played for the first time (Full game with E decks). Wow. How the heck does all this stuff fit together? I've no idea, I had no idea if what I was doing was smart or not, but - here's the thing: I had fun. A great time, actually. I feel some of the same twinges as when I played PR for the first time - that is, that "let's play again" coupled with "how the heck did the kitchen sink fit into this design without blowing it apart?" A tremendously solid game that I look forward to spending many more evenings getting to know better.

*** 9 January 2008
Played twice more with two different groups. I'm starting to get just a teensy bit concerned that there's too much going on for many folks - that is, there are so many variables that sorting out the 'optimal' thing to do each turn will either take too long (dragging the game down) or be beyond them (making the game not as fun). I will try and bust out the Family Game next to see if perhaps my worries are mostly because I foisted too much game on inexperienced players too soon.

-----
Play tally: 3
Current Rating: 8
 
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7. Board Game: Airships [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:1214]
Patrick Korner
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Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Super fun dice game, played it twice.

Although Queen STILL haven't got the message about excessive box size. This would have fit just fine in Kosmos 2-player box with a little adjustment.

Grr. I came THIS close to tossing the insert (which I normally move Heaven and Earth to avoid) because of all the extra room, but then I found out that the well was just the right size to hold Filou. Whew, disaster averted.

***25 Nov 07
Played 4p at home; my opinion of the game hasn't changed. A fun, light dice game that is best when players don't spend too long agonizing over which card to shoot for. It can drag if players calculate too much, but generally the risk of this is minimal. I still hate the box, though.

Play tally: 3 (2x Essen)
Current Rating: 7
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8. Board Game: Amyitis [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:530]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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New from Ystari. I edited the English rules so I was pretty sure I'd like the game.

*** 9 January 2007
Played once with three, and let me get this out of the way first: There are a few glitches with the rules. It seems that a) a few edits got missed (so that the change as well as the original text are both present) and b) some of the cards omitted when playing with fewer than 4 aren't well explained, making some of the setup instructions harder to follow. Sigh. The joys of working in the industry.

Okay, on to the gameplay. Solid. Very much a "Ystari" game, which I define as a relatively deep game that features many different paths to victory, some tried-and-true mechanics put together in new and different ways, and several different sub-systems to keep track of at once. If that kind of thing is your bag (and it is mine), then you'll like what Amyitis has to offer. If you prefer a more straightforward path to victory, then look elsewhere. My one worry about the game is that getting shut out of income seems too easy (especially in a three player game), and once you have an income deficiency you have to work extra hard (and plan farther out) to overcome it. It's not impossible, but it makes one player have to try that much harder than the others. More play required to see if this is just a first-game impression or if there's fire to go with the smoke.

-----
Play Tally: 1
Current Rating 7
 
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9. Board Game: Animalia [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:2573]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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First item bought to bring back for Terminal City Gamers. Two copies, actually. A great filler game.
 
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10. Board Game: Arbos [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:2984]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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I've played this game at the Terminal City Gamers game night once and thought it was very good. So of course, a purchase for me.

Odd box normally means packing doom, but in this case the box can collapse down, so it made the trip home safely nestled in another box. Yay.
 
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11. Board Game: Black Box + [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:2969]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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The hex version is much tougher to play - I played one game at the booth and had a good time. And the price was very fair - I think 20 Euros.

*** Update 22 Jan 2008
Played the square side of the board against a friend the other day, but only one game and it was a bit off since a very simple to deduce pattern was chosen. So it counts as 'played', but more plays required to truly appreciate the game.

-----
Play tally: 1
Current Rating: 7
 
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12. Board Game: Black Vienna [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1625]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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For a whopping 25 Euros. Used.
 
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13. Board Game: Blue Moon [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:616]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Two of what looked like three promo expansion cards available at the fair.

Anyone have a spare 902 to trade for a 903?

Or were 901 and 903 the only two there?
 
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14. Board Game: Blue Moon City: Expansion Tile Sets 1 & 2 [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Expansion Tile Set 2, bought with a Spielbox magazine attached to it.
 
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15. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:280]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Collector's edition in the tin.

I looked hard at the fan edition and decided to pass on it for two reasons:
- I don't need three copies of Bohnanza
- I don't know about the actual playability of the fan edition. While a cool idea, the varying artwork lacks coherent structure and made the card suits hard to recognize IMHO.

That said, the red bean that Eric Martin's wife Linda did up is friggin' awesome and deserves to be published in poster form. I'd buy.
 
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16. Board Game: Borneo [Average Rating:5.65 Overall Rank:7971]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Impulse buy. Early comments were favourable, so I figured why not. Card games are always easy to pack home, too.

***25 Nov 07
Played for the first time as a 3p game. One player indicated that it was a very tactical game, and that the winning move was a purely luck-based event, but I'm not sure I agree 100% with that. I think there's more going on than it looks at first, and while the game is tactical there are enough considerations (which harbour to play against, when to fight for better position in a company) to keep it interesting for its relatively short 30-45 minute playtime. More play required to see if the game has legs or if it's only an occasional diversion.

-----
Play tally: 1
Current Rating: 6.5
 
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17. Board Game: Brass [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:16]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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The annual Martin Wallace 'buy because I like Warfrog's stuff' game. I've been told the rules are a little hard to grok, so hopefully there won't be an issue with getting it on the table.

***14 Nov 07
Played once after having spent considerable quality time with the rules beforehand. I'm in the process of creating a player aid / play summary which will hopefully help with many of the rules questions. Mostly the rulebook is fine, it's just not laid out in what (for me, at least) was a completely logical progression. When teaching this I started very high level and gradually drilled down to the details - the rules themselves tend to swing from 'big picture' to 'little picture' too often, which makes following them more difficult than it should be.

***1 Dec 07
Played a second game 4p and liked the game just as much, if not more, than the first time. I think this is one of Wallace's best efforts and will gradually turn into a classic.

-----
Play tally: 2
Current Rating: 8.5
 
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18. Board Game: Ca$h 'n Gun$: Yakuzas [Average Rating:6.60 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.60 Unranked]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Second buy for a TCG'er. Bulky, but light. And with the hands-down most annoying cardboard insert ever.
 
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19. Board Game: Catan Dice Game [Average Rating:5.69 Overall Rank:4243]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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I like this game. Fast and fun, just don't play with more than three players.

*** Update 9 January 2008
Played twice (once solitaire and once with three). Light and fluffy and possibly just a hair too long to be a good filler game (unless everyone can play quickly - usually there's at least one tricky decision to be made each turn that adds time to the game). But it's fun enough for me to seek out the alternate rules and score sheets to see if there's more to be squeezed out of the box.

-----
Play tally: 2
Current Rating: 5.5
 
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20. Board Game: Catan Geographies: Settlers of Hesse [Average Rating:6.88 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.88 Unranked]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Kosmos Settlers expansion, available free with 2? donation.
 
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21. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:20]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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The deluxe edition, including King Philip of course.
 
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22. Board Game: Cheeky Monkey [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:1576]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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I will never forget teaching this game to Richard Borg at the F2F booth.

And it's a solid, solid game. Try it out, it's good.

***14 Nov 07
Played once more with adults and something like 4 times with my 4-year-old (using several rules mods to make the game simpler). A solid filler that you can't take too seriously since it is possible for bad luck to knock someone out of the race without them being able to do much about it. On the plus side, the run of back luck required to do this is pretty extreme - which means that it shouldn't happen too often.

-----
Play tally: 3 (2x Essen) + 4 (kid variants)
Current Rating: 7
 
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23. Board Game: Chinatown [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:309]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Finally. Is all I will say. Used, natch.
 
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24. Board Game: Container [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:422]
 
Patrick Korner
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Coquitlam
British Columbia
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I helped with the German rules (with a huge assist from Henning Kropke) so got a copy.

Looks like the game was polished a fair bit from the prototype I played about three years ago.

*** 5 Dec 07
Finally played for the first time. Not sure what to think. There's an interesting game there, but I think the word "fragile" is most appropriate in characterizing the design. Simply put: If a player is not careful with his cash, he will end up having loans he cannot cover, leading to a slow death spiral as his in-game holdings gradually dwindle. This might not be such a big deal (after all, Age of Steam is a classic game that can also blow a player out of the water if they're not careful), except that Container relies so heavily on player interaction that one player out of the running will almost certainly grow to two, and then three, and then eventually someone (usually the one player without a loan) wins by default.

I must play this again, preferably with players who've seen the death spiral in action and who can avoid the impatience (loans = quick income that is nearly impossible to replace once spent) and build their engines more slowly. My concern there, though, is that being patient might make the 60-90 minute playtime listed on the box impossible to achieve, but we'll see. In any case, experience plays a huge role in how well one does in this game.

*** 10 Dec 07
Played a second time, this time 3p with us all knowing full well the danger of irresponsible spending.

Wow, what a difference a little knowledge makes. Very good game, bordering on superb but I'll withhold that praise until I know the game's replay value is high as well. Very tense, lots of interesting things going on, and well themed. Difficult decisions abound: How much to bid, what to buy, what to sell, what price to set things at, etc. - a very, very interesting economic game, and I'm glad I gave it another shot.

-----
Play tally: 2
Current Rating: 8
 
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25. Board Game: Cosmic Eidex [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1746]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Stop poking me! Ow! I mean it! That hurts!
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I've heard good things about this game as a three-player trick taking game, so why not? It's certainly cheap.
 
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