Games played by EGC in absentia at Essen 2012
Andrew Bond
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Banstead
Surrey
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Gordon, James, Dev, Paul, Nick, Jeff, Russ, Derek, and Andrew-007 went to the fair and played...

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1. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:37]
Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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This could well be a top 50 game. The 'Euro' part turns out to be quite hard to play. In our game, no one managed to get to the top of any of the temples, any of the tech tracks, or build (m)any monuments. What were we doing?

Trying to feed our people. If you don't, you anger the gods, which costs many VPs if you do it too often.

Dev and I got into food trouble in the mid game and never really recovered from that. I had chosen to start with many resources and failed to build much more than a single farm. I managed to get blocked out of several cog spaces, by competing with James and Dev. Gordon had free reign over the bottom two wheels and scored well with his crystal skulls. By the time I joined home in that strategy I was too far behind.

James followed his standard hoard resources and cash them all in later strategy. And, although he did a reasonable job of it, I guess he expected it to bring more reward.

The gears certainly add another dimension to the gamer's gather resource and convert to VP mechanism. Time!

Definitely a keeper. I enjoyed a lot.
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2. Board Game: Hanabi [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:277]
Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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3. Board Game: Innovation [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:279]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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I know, this has been out for quite a while, but James picked up a copy at the show. James had played it a few times previously and I had played it once - was new to Andrew.

Really fun game - 3 players may well be the best number to play with - it allows the coop dogmas to come more into play but isn't the complete anarchy that a 4-player game would be.

I got off to a good start in terms of influence and domination of the early ages, but therefore became a target for both James and Andrew and my civilization remained somewhat backward. I was within one play of winning for about 4 rounds before my barbarian bully state was finally tamed. Into the endgame of ages 9 and 10 where things become a little bit lottery(ish) with a number of cards delivering potentially instant win conditions - Andrew whose civilization had been big on ideas but lacking in influence for the whole game pulled a tech' that allowed him to snatch an unlikely win.

A really fun game - still not sure how much you play the game or that the game plays you - strategic play is certainly not possible but tactical opportunism is. Produces wild swings in fortune and lots of laughs - can't complain really.

I would rate it an 8
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4. Board Game: Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:329] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
Dev Sodagar
United Kingdom
Sutton
Surrey
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5. Board Game: Libertalia [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:304]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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Demo play of part game at the show - this was good. Andrew, James and myself shared a table with 3 friendly Germans for a demo'd play. We played through one full round, representing a week, with a full game being 3(?) rounds.

Each player has 30 or so characters and you all start with the same 9(?). In future rounds the characters in hand would start to diverge as you carry forward different characters from the other players. It has a Citadels/Havana type feel in trying to second guess the roles other players will pick on a given turn.

I liked it - probably wouldn't have bought it at full price but would have been happy to play James's copy had he bought it.
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6. Board Game: Ginkgopolis [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:320]
Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
Banstead
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Demo play of maybe quarter of a game.

This was the surprise hit of the show for me. I had read a little about it, a game by one of my favourite authors, Xavier George. The game looked very un-thematic and appeared to use lots of colourful tiles in a carcassone like tile-laying mechanism.

However, when watching others play, I noticed how engaged in the game they were. And when I played, I felt much the same. A challenging game with competition for area majority, competition for building spaces, cards passed left in 7 Wonders fashion (but with cards being replenished).

Fun.
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7. Board Game: Snowdonia [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:349]
Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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If you are an engineer like me, then building games present a spe iCal allure. This one is especially good, since you has to excavate rubble before you can lay track or build stations. Lots of opportunity in this game for snatching VPs from under other player's noses. All down to timing your moves to coincide with the current weather. Paul and Dev had a particularly interesting battle for one station, that the a sudden change in weather decided in no-one's favour!
 
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8. Board Game: Among the Stars [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:430] [Average Rating:7.18 Unranked]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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I enjoyed playing this but it definitely needs a little more than the basic game to have legs. It's another game (like Innovation and Snowdonia) where knowledge of the cards will help give the game more meaningful decisions for the players.

You're building a space station from cards acquired by a '7 Wonders' drafting style mechanic. There is a positional element however in that the different cards have to be built up to form the station and where they are positioned can make a big difference.

The artwork is great, but the game is overpriced for what was in the overly large box (presumably that size to take future expansions, which could include a full sized space station and still allow room for expansion cards) - and I know the value will really depend on how much you end up playing it, but there should be some correlation between price and contents.

Rating a 6.5 based on basic game but am hoping that the more aggressive/interactive advanced rules will udge that up a bit.

I think our game finished

James 1st
Gordon 2nd
Dev 3rd
Andrew 4th
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9. Board Game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:422]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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Due to it's accessibility and family friendly nature this was getting a lot of plays at the show. Dev, James and myself decided to give it a go - Andrew decided it looked like a bit too much fun so wandered off to try and get a game of........

This is a co-op in which you have to explore an ancient temple, find some gems, and then manage to escape within a time limit - which is imposed by a CD soundtrack of tribal drums and gongs. To move and satisfy jewel finding you have to roll certain combos on five dice, which you can roll as often as you like, although certain rolls will lock dice thereby reducing your options - your team mates have to rescue you by unlocking your dice by being in your location and rolling the right dice.

We had fun playing it, but it is easy to accidently cheat and it is by no means a deep game. It was also a little overpriced for what it was - 40 euros for 20 dice, some tiles, 4 meeples and the CD.

My rating 6.
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10. Board Game: Yedo [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:463]
Paul Bruce
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Croydon
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Nick, Dave, Derek and I got in early on Friday and headed straight over for a demo of this. Another excellent explanation this time from Peter I think.

The game looked very nice. Quite a typical worker placement with missions, events, auction etc all piled on. We played three turns but knew from the beginning it wasn't a game for any of us.

On the first auction Nick won an extra 'worker', Derek went for a new room, Dave took a Geisha and I got a weapon. Then we turned over the first event card. Earthquake I think. Players must lose a room or extra worker. Nick and Derek were not very happy.

We were a bit unlucky with the way the deck was stacked as the first two events were probably the worst two. Some people enjoy such randomness. None of us particularly do.
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11. Board Game: Coloretto [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:487]
Dev Sodagar
United Kingdom
Sutton
Surrey
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12. Board Game: Fleet [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:709]
Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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A rather expensive card game that has been getting good reviews.

Like PAX and other such games, each card has three purposes:

1as cash (1-3 coins shown on the card, sento to discard pile)
2as a boat (Cod, Tuna, etc, played in front of you)
2as a captain on a boat (played face down)

An early grab of boats and then fish is not necesarily a good tactic to win this game ... the boats just collect VPs - and you have time to fill them over the course of the game. Key thing to do is to purchase licences (via auction) and build your fleet up slowly.

Although the Processing Vessel licence appears strong (as I ably demonstrated ), the others also allow a good engine to be developed (as Gordon ably demonstrated ). Not buying any licences is a recipe for disaster (as James ably demonstrated cry).

Final scores:
Andrew thumbsupthumbsup
Gordon thumbsup
James thumbsdownthumbsdown
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13. Board Game: Ground Floor [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:1018]
Russ Hewson
United Kingdom
Surbiton
Surrey
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Played this with 5, moved along at a decent pace, once we all worked out what the various actions really did. Three of us had very different strategies and all ended up within a point of each other (50, 50 and 51) so obviously there are different routes to victory, though I'm not sure whether the game state indicates which is the strategy to take (in other words I'm not sure if it's the kind of game where you just have to be as efficient as possible and hope that you win, rather than doing something specifically to win).

Did enjoy it though.
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14. Board Game: PitchCar Mini [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:1036]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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I like flicking games - growing up playing Subuteo is to blame.

I haven't played the mini version of this before but it was pretty good, and obviously much more portable than it's bigger brother. The full sized game I think plays better as the cars/disks have more heft.

The stunt jump that we included in the track is a bit of a leveller as it's something of a lottery whether you stay on the track on the far side of it.

Our game generated a lot of noise and some interest in the bar - I pulled out a substantial lead on the second lap but then suffered from the jump and a very dodgy back straight, which saw James close to within a couple of flicks at the finish, but I held on to win. Dev finished third and Andrew would probably still be there if he had insisted on trying to finish.
 
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15. Board Game: Il Vecchio [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1243]
Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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Played at Least two thirds of a game, with James and a German couple whose young kids were amazingle well behaved and patient. More so than many members of EGC, myself included.

The interesting mechanic in this game is the movement of 'middlemen' who you need to meet with your worker in order to trigger the action/benefit in their common location. Remainder of the game is a standard convert resources into VP affair. We both liked it enough to consider buying, but I was out of the traps quicker than James and handed over my readies there and then. Designed by Rüdiger Dorn, who has a very good pedigree in designing clever games.
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16. Board Game: VivaJava: The Coffee Game [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:1586]
Paul Bruce
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Croydon
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Different colour coffee beans used to blend coffees poker style. Best coffee being five of one colour etc. Colours are graded for superiority. Blending is done by blindly drawing beans from a bag. You decide what beans are going in your bag to an extent but blending often requires more than one person so is always pretty much going to include luck.

Difficult to see where this fits. I kind of enjoyed it but can't see ever playing it if you know what I mean.
 
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17. Board Game: Africana [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1655]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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The game was very well explained by one of the Queen staff, although th game is not hugely complex.

Typical Queen fare really - well produced, accessible game-play and targeted at the lighter end of the gaming market and the family audience.

The book idea was clever and the pictures nice - we played the game long enough to get the mechanics sussed but not long enough to see the game move into a different gear in the second half as you acquired permanent helpers, which would have significantly increased movement around the board and the grabbing of expeditions and adventures.

Again typical to the Queen games it was overpriced for what it was - if I see it at Spiel in two years time for 15 euro I will pick up a copy, in the meanwhile will be happy to play if suggested.
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18. Board Game: The Cave [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1744]
Russ Hewson
United Kingdom
Surbiton
Surrey
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This was fun and nicely thematic, essentially a lightish filler, slightly ruined by the relative complexity of the camp rules. K2 is the better game no doubt, but I'll be keeping this.
 
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19. Board Game: Dominare [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1950]
Paul Bruce
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Croydon
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Nick, Dave and I joined a very nice German guy called Mark for the demo excellently explained by Brian. We stayed the two hours to finish the game.

Area majority through card combinations. You add a new card each round over seven rounds. As the game progesses it becomes more and more chaotic. A lot of direct 'conflict' which might put some sensitive souls off but we all seemed to enjoy the game although nobody bought it or would be that desperate to play again.
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20. Board Game: Western Town [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:2618]
Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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Demo play of one or two rounds only.

I had preordered this only yo discover by doing so I got no discount below the show price. Since this was selling at 45 euro (if you bought the promos as well), I decid to play before parting with cash.

I enjoyed the game. It has an interesting me had ism whereby you play you cards one at a time and simultaneously with your neighbours (I have not seen this done before). Then you can reuse your neighbours played cards by showing a matching cad form your hand. So the best play is to withhold anything your neighbour plays r your think wil play. Clever.

I had read the rules for this and so knew what to do. my three German opponents had not, so I was winning by a massive margin after just two rounds of a four or five rounds game. The iconography on the cards was difficult to comprehend, but once explained easy to follow.

My sort of game, but I didn't buy because of its high price, lack of confidence that my family would play it, and some sort of guilt about how much money I had already spent. In effect, Ginkgopolis replaced this on my list of purchases owing to the demo games alone.
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21. Board Game: Mercurius [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:4855]
James Faulkner
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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Familiar faces called me over to take the third seat in a game of 17th century trading on the Dutch stock market.

Players buy and sell goods and stocks (up to 3 transactions per turn) and then play cards to manipulate the prices. Each card impacts 1 stock and 1 good, and repeats its effect over 3 turns.

We played 3 or 4 turns and then decided to call it a day. Not much new here and I enjoyed discussing the recent football international with the Polish games explainer more than I did the game.

Would play again, but definitely a 'NOT BUY' - would rate a 6 on this initial try.
 
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22. Board Game: La Loire [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:7384]
Andrew Bond
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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Played one round only.

Difficult to tell how good this is without getting far enough in to play the character cards. I expect they provide the real strategic challenge. Would like to play a full length game to find out.

I thoroughly enjoyed James' opening move. Even I (with my appalling play over the whole Essen period) could see his was the move not to make. I couldn't bring myself to tell him at the time, though. devil
 
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23. Board Game: Metro 2033 [Average Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:9969]
Dev Sodagar
United Kingdom
Sutton
Surrey
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The Ragados
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Ragados
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A game so good that Nick tried to free the hostages with a foam Uzi.
 
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24. Board Game: Blackrock City [Average Rating:5.47 Overall Rank:12918]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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ASL - other tactical wargames call it Sir.
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Beneath this mask there is an idea.....and ideas are bulletproof.
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James, Andrew and I sat down to a game of this with the designer - he went on to win easily, which is a good thing for his game.

Hadn't even been aware of this game until we sat down to give it a go - the show is so busy that sometimes if you see an empty demo table a sensible move is to sit down at it and see what turns up to play.

This turned out to be pretty good and at 16 euros I nearly picked up a copy - you each play an outlaw trying to accumulate as much gold as possible by robbing banks. To do this you move around a circular arrangement of towns/cards, which can obviously vary from game to game based on the deal. You have a limited number of outlaws in your gang and you can spend these in bidding for the right to rob the bank on that turn - which bank, and indeed whether there is a bank or not, depends on where the outlaw piece ends up based on a differential bidding mechanic. The same bids also move the sheriff around the towns/cards and his arrival can scupper your heist.

There is actually quite a lot of AP potential here trying to calculate where the sheriff might end up based on your bid and those of others, along with where the outlaw will end up, however the game includes a clever mechanic whereby each player has two opportunities per game to 'rush' an opponent by playing a 15 second sand-timer on him, forcing him to make a quick move or lose an outlaw.

A good 'thinky' and fun filler. Worth looking out for. I would rate it a 7.
 
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25. Board Game: Expedition: Congo River 1884 [Average Rating:5.56 Overall Rank:12892]
Russ Hewson
United Kingdom
Surbiton
Surrey
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I bought this...
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...as I had no idea what to spend my GG on!
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John had got a free copy of this (and one of the English doctor cards uses his name, due to the same competition), bit of a silly game this and by taking it a bit too seriously we initially managed to suck all the fun out of it (as the lads often do with simple games!). I had a moment about half way through and after that it moved along at a fair old clip and was a lot more fun!
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