Essen 2003 releases: looking forwards, and then backwards
Andrew Watson
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No, I wasn't among those at Essen. But I have been devouring the reports, and looking forward to the new releases. This list starts with the game at the top of my "must play" list, then goes down in order the games I'm most looking forward to, based on the scouting reports. I'll revisit the list as I actually play the games, to report on how the play compared with the anticipation.
San Juan would be on the list, probably at #2, if it was going to be released this calendar year.
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1. Board Game: Attika [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:563]
Andrew Watson
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Attika easily tops the list. Advance reports are very positive. The mechanisms include tile-laying and several others I like. The designer and publisher each has a wonderful-sounding name and a good or great track record. This is the nearest thing to a sure buy for me.
I played Attika a couple of times today (Sun Nov 9). The second game was won by shrine connection (not by me), never getting out of the tactical "Hey, someone has to stop him connecting!" phase that formed the opening of the first game. I can't wait to play again!
 
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2. Board Game: Sluff Off! [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1028]
Andrew Watson
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It's by Stefan Dorra, my 2nd-favorite designer. It's a card game, and so not too expensive (currently about 7 euros at Adam Spielt). That's important at a time when gaming-buying money is tight. It's not just a card-game, it's a weird trick-taking game, and hence in a genre I like enough to maintain a web page on. BTW, said page is at:
http://mysite.verizon.net/andrew.uu/Games/WTTG.html
 
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3. Board Game: Die Fugger [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:2726]
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Another card game: again the price helps. Talking of price, this sounds like a simple game wrapped around a price-setting mechanism. Hence I'm hoping that it'll be fun in a Palmyra-ish sort of way.
 
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4. Board Game: Industria [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:1782]
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Here's the new board game from Michael Schact, my 3rd-favorite designer. Michael has a knack of designing games that pack a lot of game into a relatively short playing time, and reports suggest that this game is no exception. Its auction mechanism sounds particularly interesting.
 
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5. Board Game: Carcassonne: The Castle [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:494]
Andrew Watson
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As of late October, this is the game that marks the boundary of the (un)likely to buy domain. Reiner is my favorite designer, and this sounds like an interesting take on the Carcassonne theme - but there doesn't seem to be a shortage of Carcassonne games out there already.
 
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6. Board Game: Cronberg [Average Rating:6.00 Overall Rank:4934]
Andrew Watson
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Then there are a bunch of other games I'm eager to try, but don't have enough of a feeling about to place them near the likely to buy frontier. Most are from small publishers. This is an example. It's tile-laying, with funny-shaped tiles. It's city-building (or something to do with the beach, if you go for Cronberg's differently-themed twin). Sounds like much fun.
 
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7. Board Game: Feurio! [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:3824]
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The more I read about this game, the more eager I became to try it. I played it twice yesterday evening, and liked it very much. We played the basic game - there are some optional extra rules.
 
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8. Board Game: Santiago [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:522]
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Another game that seems more interesting, the more I read and thought about it. I've also been told that I should try it, since it seems likely to appeal to me.
 
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9. Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish! [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:672]
Andrew Watson
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This game has a variable board, constructed of hexes, and simple rules. In this, it resemebles Feurio. But Pingvinas' board is an ice cap, which melts and fragments, rather than a forest fire, which grows and spreads. Having said that, I cannot resist the comments that in some ways, Pingvinas is the polar opposite of Fuerio.
Rather than apologizing for the previous sentence, I'll back it up with reference to the bits. Whereas Fuerio's bits are servicable, with cardboard hexes and little wooden pawns, Pingvinas' bits have more character. The ice hexes are white-painted wood; this isn't just cosmetic, it helps when you have to pick up an ice hex surrounded by others. And the little wooden penguins are adorable. One of the lucky people who got in on this limited edition should upload an image or two. I hope that there will be a reprint, or a second edition that maintains the component quality.
I played Pingvinas twice yesterday, once with 3, once with 2. It worked well with each number, and I expect that with 4 it would play well, albeit with less control.
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