Essen 2013 Watch List
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The list of games i am following for Essen 2013.
Both for me and for the club!
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1. Board Game: Koryŏ [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1704]
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Monster Games
Booth 3-0119

Number of players: 2-4
Playing time: 15 minutes
Categories: Card Game
Mechanics: Simultaneous Action Selection

Each turn, players simultaneously choose a family of politician from their hand, and play as many cards of this family as they have and wish to. Each family has a value ranging from 1 to 9, which indicates both the number of cards in the family and the number of victory points the player controlling this family will score at the end of the game.

A game lasts exactly eight turns, and on each turn a family grants its specific power to the player controlling it. Thus, efficient handling of these powers is the key to success! While their influence increases turn by turn due to the number of authorized cards in their council, the number of cards drawn each turn dwindles, making choices all the more difficult.

Rules read.
TTTV watched.
Must buy!
 
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2. Board Game: Longhorn [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:2013]
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Blue Orange
Booth 1-C143

Number of players: 2
Playing time: 15 minutes

1870 – Somewhere deep in Texas, the rearing of Longhorn cattle from northern Mexico is booming. It has now become a major source of income for the Texan farmers, while at the same time attracting cattle thieves of all kinds.

In Longhorn, the players assume the roles of two particularly feared outlaws: Eagle Perkins and Jessie Artist Byrd. The aim of the game is simple: to steal cattle (and a few gold nuggets, if possible) to see who can amass the most money by the end of the game — or who can get his opponent arrested by the sheriff!

Price €20
Only fifty Longhorn — copies of the game, mind you, not actual Longhorn cattle — will be available at Spiel 2013.

Looks good
Rules read
No TT TV
 
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3. Board Game: Terror in Meeple City [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:698]
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Repos Production
Booth 3-C104

Number of players: 2-4
Playing time: 45 minutes
Categories: Action / Dexterity, Horror, Movies / TV / Radio theme, Video Game Theme
Mechanics: Variable Player Powers

In Rampage, you arrive in Meeple City as a gigantic, famished, scaly-skinned monster! Your goal: Dig your claws and dirty paws into the asphalt, destroy buildings, and devour innocent meeples – in short: sow terror while having fun. The monster who has caused the most damage after the carnage finally ends wins the game.

The buildings in Meeple City are comprised of floor tiles and meeples, with the meeples serving as pillars that support the floors. Four wooden vehicles are on the ground in the eight neighborhoods in the city. Each monster, which consists of a wooden paws disc and a wooden body, starts in one corner of the game board. On a turn you take two actions from four possibilities, repeating an action if desired:

Move: Pick up your monster body, flick the paws disc, then place the body back on the disc.
Demolish: If your paws are on the sidewalk surrounding a building, you can pick up your monster body, drop it onto a building, then collect any floors that have no meeples on them.
Toss a vehicle: If you're in a neighborhood with a vehicle, you can pick up the vehicle, place it on your body, then flick the vehicle at a building or another monster.
Breathe: Even while away from sidewalks with no vehicles, you can cause destruction by placing your chin on your monster's body and blowing across the board.
Monsters tend to be messy when obtaining meals, but if you knock meeples off the city board, you might be punished for letting food go to waste, costing you a tooth or letting other players take an additional action. After your two actions, you can eat unprotected meeples on the ground in your neighborhood, but you can eat only as many as the number of teeth you have. If you knock another monster to the ground, you break off one of its teeth, thereby keeping it from stealing your food! Meeples come in six colors, with the colors representing different types of inhabitants: blue (journalists), green (military), yellow (blondes), grey (old people), red (heroes), and black (businessmen). For each set of six you collect in your stomach, you score 10 points at game's end. You score points for collecting floors and teeth, too, and you can also score for achieving the goal on your character card.

In addition to the character card, each player has a power card and a superpower card unique to his monster, with the former lasting the entire game and the latter being a one-shot effect that's revealed only upon use.

Rampage' includes rules for monsters that evolve over the course of the game, that lose points for meeples not in sets, and that want to combine two game boards to allow for play with up to eight players.

Price €50 at Spiel 2013
 
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4. Board Game: Pick-a-Polar Bear [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:3925]
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Jolly Thinkers
Booth 3-Q107

Number of players: 1-5
Playing time: 15 minutes
Categories: Action / Dexterity, Animals, Card Game, Party Game
Mechanics: Pattern Recognition

Pick-a-Polar Bear, first published as Formissimo, features the same gameplay as Pick-a-Dog but with two new variants! To set up the basic game, lay out 30 cards in a grid (49 cards with 6-8 players) and give one card face down to each player. Each card has five attributes, with each attribute having two states: large/small, with/without a raised arm, orange autumn/blue winter background, with/without goggles, and with/without canned fish. Someone shouts "Go!", then everyone looks at their card in hand. Players then start grabbing cards from the grid and stacking them in hand. The card grabbed must be identical to the top card in hand or differ from that top card in only one way. Thus, as you grab cards, the attributes of that top card will keep changing, forcing you to look for matches in new ways.

Once a player thinks he can't grab any more cards, he yells "Stop!" The round ends, and all players check their card stacks. If someone made a mistake when grabbing cards, that player keeps none of the cards gathered that round. If the player who stopped the round made no mistakes, he earns an extra card (two cards when playing with 6-8). If, however, he stopped the round when he could have collected more cards, then he loses all the cards he's collected during this round.

To set up for the next round, give each player a new face-down card and fill in the holes in the grid. When the deck runs out, complete that round, after which the game ends. Whoever has collected the most cards wins!

Pick-a-Polar Bear includes two game variants. In the first, the player who has obtained the most cards in the preceding round cannot grab a card that's identical to his top card in the current round. For the second variant, shuffle eight "bonus round" cards into the deck. If when laying out the cards in the grid, the dealer reveals the back of a bonus round card when at least ten cards are on the table, everyone prepares for the bonus round. The dealer reveals this card, which shows two card elements such as upraised arm and goggles, and everyone races to yell out how many cards in the grid feature these two elements. Whoever yells out the correct answer first receives the bonus round card, which is worth 2 points; whoever yells out the wrong answer takes a -2 point penalty card. The dealer then continues filling the grid. (If the grid contains fewer than ten cards when a bonus round card comes up in the deck, discard this card and continue to fill the grid.)

MSRP €9.50, discounted to €8 for sales at Spiel 2013
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5. Board Game: Coup [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:434]
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Indie Boards and Cards
Booth 3-N102

Game preordered.
 
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6. Board Game: Nada! [Average Rating:5.63 Overall Rank:11734]
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Blue Orange
Booth 1-C143

Number of players: 2-6
Playing time: 10 minutes
Categories: Dice
Mechanics: Dice Rolling, Pattern Recognition

In Nada!, you want to claim as many matching dice as possible – until no matching dice remain, that is, at which point you can yell "Nada!" to claim what's left.

In each round, you start by taking six white dice and six orange dice, with each die having six different symbols on it. Someone rolls all the dice in the center of the table, then players race to be the first to yell out a symbol that is on at least one white and one orange die. If correct, the player collects all the dice showing this symbol; if not, the player collects nothing and sits out the next turn. Once a player has claimed dice, this player rerolls all the remaining dice. If no match can be found, the first player to yell "Nada!" and cover the dice with her hand claims all the remaining dice. Players tally their scores – one point for each die collected – then play another round. Whoever has the highest score after three rounds wins!

Nada! includes variant rules for two other games. In one, the players use all 36 dice at once, playing as above but most likely scoring more points each time since more dice will be in play. The round ends after all dice of one color have been claimed, and the player who collects the most dice wins.

In the other variant, players start the game by secretly drawing 8, 12 or 16 dice from the bag (with the number based on the number of players). On a turn, each player chooses 2-4 dice from his stock, then all players roll their dice simultaneously, claiming dice as explained above. The players take back any unclaimed dice, then choose 2-4 dice again for the next turn. Once a player has no more dice in hand, the game ends, and the player who has collected the most dice wins.

Price €15

Rules Read.
No TTTV.
 
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7. Board Game: CV [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1011]
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Granna
Booth 3-H101

Number of players: 2-4
Playing time: 60 minutes
Categories: Card Game, Dice, Humor
Mechanics: Dice Rolling, Press Your Luck, Set Collection

Gameplay is built around the Yahtzee-style dice rolling and re-rolling system. On their dice, players are trying to roll sets of symbols that allow them to acquire cards; each round these cards give benefits of some kind, such as new symbols and special abilities. At the end of the game, each kind of card scores points for the player.

What would have happened if...
Have you ever wondered who you would have been, if your life had gone differently? How would you direct your life, if everything was up to you? Maybe you would be a magician, or travel around the world? Or maybe big business tempts you, and your goal would be to earn a million dollars?

In the game CV everything is possible: a dream job, new relationships and skills... You can be whoever you want! Build your history step by step - at the end of the game you'll have a unique collection of cards: your curriculum vitae. The player who best accomplishes their life goals will be the winner.

Price : 25 euros
 
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8. Board Game: Palmyra [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:5761]
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Iron Games
Booth 1-F156

Number of players: 1-5
Playing time: 45 minutes
Categories: Ancient, Territory Building
Mechanics: Area Control / Area Influence, Tile Placement

From the oasis city of Palmyra, a first-century Roman province, Caesar wants to expand his sphere of influence. Under his orders, you are to send out your army to annex new lands and your censors to collect taxes. The player who fulfills these orders the best will become the new governor of the province of Palmyra. From time to time, when Caesar is especially impressed by your development, he may provide you with extra support.

Palmyra is a tactical tile-laying game with few rules and high tactical choices. By placing new land tiles and moving your army and censor, you earn new tiles and coins for the Roman Empire. The most important thing is to not be too greedy when collecting taxes; otherwise future income may become sparse. Additionally, don't let tiles placed by your opponents cut you off, or else you'll be forced to lose valuable time. When all of the 120 coins are collected, the game ends, and whoever has collected the most coins wins.

Price €24

Rules Read!
 
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9. Board Game: Yunnan [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:1346]
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Argentum Verlag
Booth 3-E103

Number of players: 2-5
Playing time: 90 minutes
Categories:Ancient, Transportation
Mechanics:Area Movement, Auction/Bidding, Route/Network Building, Worker Placement

In Yunnan, players control the fate of their tea dynasties. Their main goal is to establish a broad and secure trading network to deliver the tea to the farthest provinces, doing it better than their opponents. The main work behind the scenes is done in Pu'er, their home location: New traders need to be trained, better horses need to be acquired, and a good number of border passes need to be requested to be able to reach the farthest provinces.

Mere trading is not enough to beat the competition, however. Great social influence and a prestigious tea house may come in handy to propitiate the province inspector. Bridges provide shortcuts, and trading posts in faraway places secure one's own path along the Tea-Horse Road.

Yunnan is well-suited for players who like tactical development games. Due to the interleaving game mechanisms, the players are involved at all times. The great variety of available actions allows for different strategies. Only the player who calculates well, goes against the proper opponents, and reacts to the actions of others swiftly and adequately will win this game, which includes no elements of chance.

MSRP €35, but discounted to €30 for sales at Spiel 2013.
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10. Board Game: Glass Road [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:226]
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Filosofia
Booth 3-F110

Z-Man Games
Booth 3-K103

Number of players: 1-4
Playing time: 75 minutes
Categories: Card Game, City Building, Economic, Medieval
Mechanics: Hand Management, Simultaneous Action Selection, Tile Placement

Glass Road is a game that commemorates the 700-year-old tradition of glass-making in the Bavarian Forest. (Today the Glass Road is a route through the Bavarian Forest that takes visitors to many of the old glass houses and museums of that region.) You must skillfully manage your glass and brick production in order to build the right structures that help you to keep your business flowing. Cut the forest to keep the fires burning in the ovens, and spread and remove ponds, pits and groves to supply yourself with the items you need. Fifteen specialists are there at your side to carry out your orders...

The game consists of four building periods. Each player has an identical set of fifteen specialist cards, and each specialist comes with two abilities. At the beginning of each building period, each player needs to choose a hand of five specialists. If he then plays a specialist that no other player has remaining in his hand, he may use both abilities of that card; if two or more players play the same specialist, each of them may use only one of the two abilities. Exploiting the abilities of the specialists lets you collect resources, lay out new landscape tiles (e.g., ponds and pits), and build a variety of buildings. There are three types of buildings:

Processing buildings
Immediate buildings with a one-time effect
Buildings that provide bonus points at the end of the game for various accomplishments
Mastering the balance of knowing the best specialist card to play and being flexible about when you play it – together with assembling a clever combination of buildings – is the key to this game.
 
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11. Board Game: Cornish Smuggler [Average Rating:5.95 Overall Rank:6901]
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Grublin Games Publishing
Booth 2-C105

Number of players: 2-5
Playing time: 120 minutes
Categories: Economic, Nautical, Transportation, Travel
Mechanics: Action Point Allowance System, Area-Impulse, Deck / Pool Building, Pick-up and Deliver

Cornish Smuggler allows players to assume the roles of Smugglers in 18th Century Cornwall. Buying and selling goods for gold while employing a network of local characters, secret knowledge, hidden locations, bribes, dirty tricks and a healthy dose of cunning to evade the attentions of the customs officers and the other players.

When selling goods, players can choose how much to sell them for; making a choice to either increase their reputation and influence in the community by selling cheaply, or maximising their profit by getting the best price possible. An increased reputation allows a player to transport their contraband more easily and evade customs, but to win the game they must have the most gold out of all the other players. However, the higher the price goods are sold for, the stronger the customs forces become…

Smuggling in Cornwall was rarely performed by just one person; rather large swathes of the community were often involved. In Cornish Smuggler, players must build a smuggling network by employing characters; each with a unique ability, cost and affect on a smugglers reputation within the local community.

When smuggling goods, the choice of which goods to buy is key. Players can choose to buy big bulky goods, which are hard to fit on board ship (goods and ships are all different shapes and sizes) or smaller more easily transported goods which are worth far less.

Also, different sized towns will offer different prices for goods. Smaller towns offer a lower price, but with a lower risk. Larger towns offer better prices and allow smugglers to sell more goods, but the risk of do so is (generally) much greater.

The customs forces in Cornish Smuggler will move around the board dependant on what the players do. Landing, moving and selling goods merits their attention although players can also move customs by spending influence or utilising secrets. Luckily all Customs can be bribed meaning that once you've bought them they will remain 'your man' until the end of the game...or until another player pays them more.

Although starting off fairly underfunded and under supported, as the game progresses the Customs Officers will get steadily stronger, harder to bribe and more numerous. As such, it gets harder and harder to smuggle goods effectively, secretly and profitably so each game has a clearly defined end point that is visible to all players

Discovering secret tricks can help a players cause, and there are secret storehouses that can be hired out where you can stash your goods, hiding them from Customs and protecting them from being seized.

There are many possible paths to victory in Cornish Smuggler. Players will have to adapt their strategy to accommodate the actions of the other players, employ the right characters, buy the right goods, discover the right secrets and make the right deals.

This game is about real things that happened to real people in a real place, thus creating a directly relatable experience between 21st Century Cornwall and Cornwall at a time when the community was experiencing significant poverty and exorbitant taxation. As a result, smuggling wasn’t necessarily seen as something that was illegal, but rather as something that was ‘fair game’ and as such was taken with an often light hearted view.

What this game is:

Dodging the Law, employing the local vicar, building an network, discovering and using secrets, renting out the mayor's wine cellar, getting rich, a surprisingly accurate historical representation.

What this game isn't:

Ship racing, firing cannons, being a pirate

Price of €48, with a special preorder price of €36 and the "act now!" promise that "[w]e're getting a limited number of copies of Cornish Smuggler flown straight over from our manufacturer just for Essen and we expect to sell out".
 
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12. Board Game: Coconuts [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:811] [Average Rating:7.07 Unranked]
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Korea Boardgames
Booth 3-O119

Number of players: 2-4
Categories: Action / Dexterity

In the game, players launch coconuts toward a field of cups in the middle of the playing area. Land in a cup, and you get to stack it on your player board; land in a cup on someone else's board, and you get to move it to yours. By playing special "Monkey King Magic" cards, you can force opponents to shoot blind, take long shots, or otherwise bollix their efforts to cup a coconut. Whoever first completes a pyramid of six cups on his payer board wins!

Price €30

Must try
 
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13. Board Game: Francis Drake [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:373]
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Eagle Games
Booth 3-Q113

Number of players: 3-5
Playing time:120 minutes
Suggested ages: 14 and up
Categories: Bluffing, Exploration, Nautical
Mechanics:Set Collection, Worker Placement,

Return to a bustling Plymouth Harbor in 1572 as an aspiring Elizabethan captain making preparations for three exciting voyages to the Spanish Main in search of fame and fortune! As captains, players will have to plan their missions and provision their ships accordingly.
Francis Drake is a race to see who can set sail and reach the Spanish Main first. The riches of the Aztec and Inca Empires await these swashbuckling captains. Many tough decisions must be made before each voyage.

Price €60/$80
 
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14. Board Game: Amerigo [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:302]
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Queen Games
Booth 1-D121, 3-H115 and 3-H116

Number of players: 2-4
Playing time: 75 minutes
Categories: Nautical, Renaissance
Mechanics: Action Point Allowance System, Grid Movement, Modular Board, Tile Placement

In Amerigo, the players help Amerigo Vespucci on his journey to discover new land. The players explore the islands of South America, secure trading routes, and build settlements.

The actions available to players are determined through the use of a specialized cube tower, which has appeared in the Queen titles Im Zeichen des Kreuzes and Wallenstein. At the start of the game, this tower is seeded with action cubes, which come in seven colors, with each color matching a particular type of action. During the game players will drop additional action cubes into the tower – but some of these cubes might get stuck in the floors of the tower while other cubes already in the tower are knocked free. Thus, players need to play both tactically – taking advantage of the actions currently available in the best way possible – and strategically – using their knowledge of which actions do what to play well over the course of the game.

The game board is composed of nine, twelve or sixteen tiles, depending on the number of players. Players sail their ships through the landscape created for this game, landing on islands to plan and build settlements, which then supply resources and allow the player to earn victory points. Players might want to invest in cannons to protect themselves from pirates roaming the waters or acquire progress tokens to gain special advantages.
 
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15. Board Game: Coal Baron [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:504]
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R&R Games
Booth 1-G149

Number of players: 2-4
Playing time: 70 minutes
Categories: Industry / Manufacturing, Transportation
Mechanics: Action Point Allowance System, Pick-up and Deliver, Set Collection, Tile Placement

Coal Baron – or Glück Auf in German, after a greeting German miners use when wishing one another luck – has players sending meeple miners underground to dig tunnels and acquire coal, which comes in four levels of quality and which is used to fulfill contracts.

The game lasts three rounds, and in each round players take turns placing their workers on action spaces; you can go on a space occupied by another player, but you need to place additional workers in order to do so. Each player has an individual elevator shaft, and he'll need to use workers to extract coal and bring it to the surface, while also competing for contracts and scrounging for cash in order to do everything else that needs to be done!
 
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16. Board Game: Prosperity [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:1635]
Reno BigRoll
France
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Ystary
Booth 3-B108

Number of players: 2-4
Playing time: 60 minutes
Categories: Economic, Environmental
Mechanics: Action Point Allowance System

You're the leader of a great nation which is currently expanding. Over the course of the seven decades covered by the game, you will have to invest in infrastructures and industries, provide your country with energy and finance the mercurial forces of research in order to remain competitive.

But prosperity has a price. You owe it to future generations to leave them a healthy world. Pollution lurks, but will you be able to limit it?

Prosperity has players building up their countries on a grand but abstract scale, with them needing to balance concerns over energy and ecology with the constant need for capital and the long-term goal of prosperity points.

The game starts with 24 tiles available, half on the energy side of the shared game board and half on the ecology side. Two tiles on each side are placed on levels 1-6, with the players each having two research markers – energy and ecology – that start at level 1. Each player has an individual game board with color-coded spaces for tiles, a pollution track, and tracks for energy and ecology. A stack of 36 tiles – with tiles arranged by decades: the six from 2030 on the bottom, then the five from 2020, and so on to the five from 1970 – is set up during the playing area.

On a turn, a player draws the top tile from the stack, then everyone resolves the symbol highlighted on the tile:

Energy – for a positive value, earn money; for a negative value, lose money or increase your pollution
Ecology – remove or add discs to your pollution track
Capital – earn money for each capital symbol on the tiles you own
Research – advance one research marker one space for each research symbol on tiles you own
Prosperity – score points for each prosperity symbol on tiles you own, but only if your pollution isn't maxed out
Once everyone has done this, the active player takes two actions, repeating an action if desired. The possible actions are:

Take money.
Remove one pollution marker.
Move forward one space on one research track.
Buy a tile, with the amount owed being based on whether the tile is energy or ecology and the level of your corresponding research marker. If you buy a tile of the same level, the cost is €100; if the tile is of a higher level, you pay €100, plus €100 for each level; and if the tile is lower, you pay a flat €50.
Players have limited space for tiles on their individual boards, especially since the tiles and spaces are color-coded, but players can cover existing tiles, if desired, losing any benefits (or penalties) in the process. Some parts of the individual board are off-limits to new infrastructure until you first provide transport; toll roads, highways and even train systems have drawbacks of their own, but ideally you'll be able to build your way past those trouble spots without causing too much pollution.

When the final tile is drawn, that player finishes his turn, then everyone scores: twice for their energy and ecology levels, one for capital (with money being converted into prosperity points), once for research on both tracks (with points for those researching the most), and once for prosperity. Whoever tallies the most prosperity points wins!

MSRP €33
 
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17. Board Game: Steam Park [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:741]
Reno BigRoll
France
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Cranio Creations

Number of players: 2-4
Playing time: 60 minutes
Categories: Dice
Mechanics: Worker Placement

As owners of a fantastic steam park, you're to build gigantic, coal-powered rides to attract as many visitors as you can – but building attractions won't be enough. You'll also need to manage your employees, invest in advertising in order to attract and please the different kinds of guests visiting your park, and, above all, keep the dirt that your park produces under strict control!

Steam Park is an easy-to-learn game with two difficulty levels: one for the less experienced gamers and a more strategic one for those who want a more exciting challenge. In this management game, you'll have to build your own amusement park and make it the largest and most profitable in the region. By constructing the three-dimensional, wonderful rides designed by Marie Cardouat, you will see your park grow right before your eyes. Choose your strategy! Build Stands to attract more Visitors, or Toilets to keep the Dirt under control. Whatever decision you take, take it quickly: The less time you spend planning, the more time you'll have to maintain your park. Thanks to a clever, original action-choosing mechanism, winning in Steam Park is as much a matter of being the best as of being the fastest!
 
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18. Board Game: Eight-Minute Empire [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1056]
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France
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19. Board Game: Nauticus [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:1525]
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France
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Kosmos
Booth 3-B118

Number of players: 2-4
Playing time: 90 minutes
Categories: Nautical, Transportation

Harbor life, merchant ships, and boxes full of valuable goods in the heyday of the Hanseatic League – this is the setting for Nauticus from designers Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling. Each player runs a shipyard and tries to assemble ships of various sizes in order to ship goods with those same vessels. Time is short as each action can be executed only once per round, assembly of the masts and sails must be precisely coordinated, and the goods can be shipped only when the ship is complete. Thanks to the customized action wheels, everyone is always involved in the game's rapid sequence of actions.

Whoever builds the biggest ships and ships the most valuable goods will be the winner in the end.

Price €40
In German
 
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20. Board Game: Lewis & Clark [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:159]
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France
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Ludonaute
Booth 3-P118

Number of players: 1-5
Playing time: 120 minutes
Categories: American West, Racing
Mechanics: Action / Movement Programming, Hand Management, Stock Holding, Worker Placement

On November 30, 1803, the United States purchased Louisiana from Napoleon. U.S. President Thomas Jefferson decided to send two explorers – Meriwether Lewis and William Clark – to discover this huge terra incognita.

Lewis & Clark is a board game in which the players manage an expedition intended to cross the North American continent. Their goal is to be the first to reach the Pacific. Each one has his own Corps of Discovery that will be completed by the Native Americans and the trappers met during the journey. He has to cleverly manage his characters and also the resources he finds along the way. Beware, sometimes frugality is better than abundance.

Lewis & Clark features dual use cards. To be activated, one card must be combined with another one, which becomes unavailable for a while. Thus, players are faced with a constant dilemma: play a card or sacrifice it. During the game, each player acquires character cards that enlarge his hand, building a crew that gives him more options but it needs to be optimized as he will recycle his cards more slowly. This new "handbuilding" mechanism fits strongly the historical background.

Since the aim of the game is to be the first on the Pacific coast, the timing and the opportunistic use of the other players' positions are crucial.

Price €40, with a bonus sheet of stickers for the markers if you preorder through the Ludonaute website. Discount packages are available should you preorder more than one title.
 
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21. Board Game: The Haunted Clock Tower [Average Rating:5.52 Overall Rank:13823]
Reno BigRoll
France
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New edition by Gigamic
 
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22. Board Game: The Sheep Race [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:5244]
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France
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Ghenos games
Booth 1-D113

Number of players: 2-6
Playing time: 45 minutes
Categories: Animals, Dice, Miniatures, Racing
Mechanics: Betting/Wagering, Dice Rolling, Grid Movement

Here is the tale of "The Sheep Race", of that glorious day when her Majesty the Queen of England's sheep were challenged by those of the former colonies in order to decide which of them were the best in the world. New Zealand and Australia were the first to issue the challenge, but soon after Scotland, South Africa, and the United States joined in. Then Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, and even Brazil intervened. England proudly refused to be forced into this dispute and proposed a worldwide racing championship be held in the Suffolk countryside in order to establish who were the world's supreme sheep farmers. Thus, the sheep race became an incredible and fascinating reality...

In The Sheep Race, players must place bets on three races, with six sheep participating in each race. Each sheep starts with a number of "breath" cubes (in three colors) on it, along with numbers for three speeds of movement: trot, walk, and gallop.

On a player's turn, he rolls the two dice – one a normal d6 and the other having values 0-0-0-1-2-3 – then moves the sheep in the appropriate lane, with a 7 or 8 moving the sheep in the outer two lanes and a 9 moving the lazy sheep at the back of the pack. When you move a sheep, you choose one of the three types of movement, advance the sheep the indicated number of spaces, and remove the appropriate breath cubes required – or you make the sheep rest so that it recovers two blue breath cubes.

If a sheep hits the "end zone" – the final five spaces of a lane – with no cubes on it, then the sheep is exhausted and can't move or rest again. The race ends when three sheep reach the finish line or when all the sheep are exhausted. The first three positions pay off for those who bet on them, even if one or more of those positions contains an exhausted sheep.

Players place three bets in the first two races (two secret and one visible) and two bets in the final race (both secret). Whoever collects the most in bets wins!

With the advanced rules, players choose which sheep to move each time and the game lasts only one race, with players betting on the final order of all the sheep. Sheep sometimes get blocked and can move again only when passed by the flock leader.

Price €35
 
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23. Board Game: Origin [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:2129]
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France
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Matagot
Booth 3-D102

Number of players: 2-4
Playing time: 45 minutes
Categories: Exploration
Mechanics: Area Control / Area Influence, Area Movement, Hand Management, Set Collection

Starting from the heart of Africa, players in Origin will determine the course of mankind's expansion on our planet, with the tribes gradually growing more diversified over time while still maintaining links to their ancestors and to all inhabitants of Earth.

The game tokens in Origin come in three colors, three heights, and three thicknesses, and at the start of the game one of the smallest, skinniest pieces is placed in the center of Africa. In addition, you place three technology tiles at random on the tan, orange and violet sections of the tech chart and six random tiles on the brown section; the tech tiles show 1-5 arrows. You also shuffle tan, orange and violet decks of cards and place them in the appropriate places. Tan cards provide an one-shot effect, orange cards give you a permanent power, and violet cards present you with an objective you must meet; if you do so, you can play the objective card on your turn, and immediately draw another. You can play at most one card of each color each turn.

On a turn, a player takes one of three actions:

Place a new piece on a region of the game board, with this piece sharing two of the three characteristics of a piece in a neighboring region; the new piece cannot be shorter than the original piece. Mark this piece with a token of your player color.
Move one of your pieces on the board to an empty region, with short pieces moving only one space, medium height pieces moving up to two spaces, and tall pieces up to three.
Take over a region controlled by an opponent by moving one of your pieces into this region and relocating the opponent's piece to the region your piece left. You can do this only if the attacking piece is thicker than the opponent's piece.
When you place a new piece on the board or move an existing piece, you're rewarded based on the color of the space you occupy. If you place in or move into a tan, orange or violet region, either you take a tile and the top card of this color or you draw three cards of this color and keep one of them. For a brown region, you either draw two tiles from the brown section of the tech board or draw one tile from anywhere. The technology tiles must be acquired from low to high – so you can't acquire a 4 unless you have a 3 – but you can have multiple tech stacks. You must meet a certain technology threshold in order to play the orange cards and acquire their special power.

In addition, you can score points during the game by occupying a grassland on a continent or the two regions on opposite sides of a waterway strait.

Players take turns until either all of the pieces are on the game board or all the tiles have been acquired or all the cards of one color have been drawn. Once this happens, players tally their points for objectives, grasslands, straits, tech tiles, and cards still in hand to see who wins!

MSRP €37
 
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24. Board Game: Le Fantôme de l'Opéra [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1645]
Reno BigRoll
France
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Hurrican
Booth 3-C118

Number of players: 2
Playing time: 30 minutes
Categories: Deduction
Mechanics: Grid Movement, Variable Player Powers

Le Fantôme de l’Opéra is a two-player game based on the Mr. Jack game system – that is, the game is an asymmetric affair in which one player wants to reveal which suspect token on the game board represents the opponent, with both players taking turns moving all of the suspects to alternately reveal and hide information. That said, the game differs in a number of ways from Mr. Jack. In more detail...

In Le Fantôme de l’Opéra, eight suspect tokens stand in the ten rooms of the Opéra Garnier. Each suspect has a reason to drive the opera singer La Carlotta away from the production, and at the start of the game one of the suspects is randomly determined to be the true identity of the Phantom player. The other player is the Investigator, and he wants to discover the Phantom's identity; if he does so before La Carlotta flees the Opéra Garnier, then he wins. Otherwise, he loses. (To balance play between newcomers and experience players La Carlotta's starting position can changed.)

At the start of each odd round, eight suspect cards are shuffled and four of them revealed. The Investigator moves one suspect and (likely) uses this suspect's unique ability, then the Phantom moves two of the remaining three suspects, then the Investigator moves the final suspect. The Phantom player then reveals whether he can or cannot cause a disturbance in the Opéra Garnier, thus scaring La Carlotta; he can cause a disturbance only if he's alone or if he's in the room with the blackout token. If he can cause a disturbance, the Investigator clears all suspects sharing a lit room; if not, the Investigator clears all suspects in the dark or on their own. After this, La Carlotta moves one step closer to fleeing for each suspect that hasn't been declared innocent (and an additional step if the Phantom did create a disturbance).

For each even round, the remaining four suspect cards are revealed, and the players again move characters and use their special abilities, with the Phantom going first. The game continues until only a single suspect is not innocent or La Carlotta flees France for the safety of Milan.

When a character moves, it can move up to as many spaces as the number of characters in the room from which it moves. Most characters can move only through open corridors, but Meg Giry can use secret passageways that connect many of the rooms. The players must use Meg's ability and the other characters' special abilities to hide or reveal information. One character, for example, moves a padlock that blocks one corridor, while another is responsible for the roaming blackout that allows the Phantom to operate in darkness (or at least provide cover for his activity elsewhere). One sweet character can draw everyone from adjacent rooms to her side, while an unpleasant fellow can drive everyone away. Still another reveals (or hides) an alibi card, clearing one suspect (or keeping his true nature unknown). Every character is useful in the right situation. You just have to learn what those situations are...

Price €30
 
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25. Board Game: Railways Express [Average Rating:4.85 Overall Rank:16449]
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France
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Eagle Games
Booth 3-Q113

Number of players: 2-4
Playing time:45 minutes
Categories : Dice, Racing, Trains
Mechanics : Dice Rolling, Route/Network Building

In the dice-rolling race game Railways Express, 2-4 players travel around the USA and through parts of southern Canada and northern Mexico, building track as in the related Railways of the World game series from their individual starting city across plains, waterways and mountains based upon what they roll on the two terrain dice and two track dice.

By linking cities with track, you are awarded re-roll cubes (and possibly cards), which gives strategic options for the routes available to you as you try to connect more cities. If you're the first player to link all four cities of your color, you win!

Price €30/$40
 
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