First of Firsts: An Essen 2013 Geeklist
Kareem Koh
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This is my first year to Essen and my first ever Geeklist! I can't believe it's less than 2 weeks away!

Ever since picking up my early boardgames and finding BGG, visiting Essen has always been on my to-do list. Over the past couple of years, it's become a major obsession, not helped by the live broadcasts by the BGG crew! I poured over Eric's awesome preview, scanned the Geeklist pages for other geeks' experiences, trying to get a glimpse of what it's like to be there.

I narrowly missed out on last years Essen due to close friend's wedding but with great flight discounts, a clear schedule and a couple of people also wanting to make the trip, Essen 2013 is a GO!

This is also my first Geeklist, 1 of 2 that I plan to update as the days grow nearer. First up is what's on my radar - I hope to give a good overview / explanation of why I'm looking forward to these games and what are some of my concerns (if any).

The second Geeklist will chronicle my trip as I fly, train and play my way to the gaming mecca.
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1. Board Game: Legacy: The Testament of Duke de Crecy [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:601]
Kareem Koh
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Top of my list is Portal's latest release, Legacy. I stumbled upon an early iteration of the game after it was mentioned in someone's geeklist / post, but never really looked at it until Ignacy started his mini-series of blogs on the game. Those blogs tell a wonderful story of a designer wanting to get his game published and the inner working of the publisher not just wanting to do a game justice but to make the game great.

Portal has been win for me the last couple of years. I thoroughly enjoyed Prêt-à-Porter (despite it's rulebook being a total hot mess) and just recently got Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island. After 1 play, I can safely say it's one co-op game that I would ask to play (I generally stay away from 'em).

What's interesting about Legacy? Well for one a game that you can marry and have children! The theme really intrigues me and I think it really shines through in way the game is set up. I can see many great story moments, talking about how your family is growing and the choices that you make: acquiring titles, buying mansions, turning down suitors, etc.

Other wins:
Great quirky art
Limited edition wooden box edition!
Designer will be there to autograph my copy!

Why you won't like it?
Words on cards
Table space issues

Rulebook: Available & Read.
Status: Pre-ordered.
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2. Board Game: Mascarade [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:971]
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My first ever "proper" boardgame was Citadels by Mr. Faidutti. I can say I played the heck out of that game - to the point where my cards were bent, torn and worn out. I really love the bluffing aspect in games, how we need to play not just the game but the person sitting across from you.

Although I've "graduated" to more meatier euro stuff, I still like pulling out something that's fun and with the right group it can really be a riot! Mascarade continues in the vein of Coup and Love Letter, small games that pack a punch. I'm keen to try Coup, and will be picking up Resistance: Coup and Complots, and have played and own Love Letter but I think Mascarade will come out more often with it's player count. I think it's also crazier with all that card shifting.

Other wins:
Awesome awesome art!
Exclusive promo

Why you won't like it?
You don't like randomness or bluffing

Rulebook: Available and Read
Status: Pre-ordered

 
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3. Board Game: Lewis & Clark [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:159]
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First of all, this game looks awesome. I'm a sucker for good art and design in games and I'm really excited to see that publisher these days value the same things. It's great to see so many games putting emphasis on hiring great illustrators, using iconography, creating good layouts, etc. This trend can only be good for the hobby, as it draws people in.

That's not just what L&C has going for it, however. A worker placement / deck building hybrid, the game is also a racing game! But it's far from a light / party style game, with game time estimated at 2 hours. It also has a fair push-your-luck element in it, as you have to decided whether to stock up your party (slowing you down in the process) or rush the river (and suffer consequences of not having enough resources). This makes it a tension filled, hard choices kind of game that is totally up my alley.

Other wins:
Solitaire play!
Red indian meeples!
Bundle pre-orders with SOS Titanic / Little Prince

Why you might not like it?
Don't like long games

Rulebook: Available & Read.
Status: About to pre-order
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4. Board Game: Coal Baron [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:504]
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There's not much more to say about this legendary duo. They've been cranking out so many winners it's not funny... or maybe it is.

Coal Baron is a twist on the worker placement genre. Each player gets a fixed amount of workers to place on the board. No spot is locked in, you can take the action by placing +1 worker on the space. This make it sort of an efficiency game, how you manage you workers to get the most out of your action. And I really really really like efficiency games. I really do.

Other wins:
Collector's Edition Wooden Box

Why you might not like it?
Burnt out on worker placement

Rulebook: Available & Read
Status: Day 1 rush to booth to get the CE!

 
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5. Board Game: Russian Railroads [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:71]
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The first to make this list without almost no info, except for snippets from other designers and reviewers. It's so highly spoken of, I just can't ignore it. The designer's pedigree too (18XX, although I never cared for those games). Worker placement in a railroad game - is it the first? Need to know more!!

Other win:
Looks like another one that will look good

Why you might not like it?
Burnt out on worker placement

Rulebook: RULES ARE UP! 16/10
Status: Tell me moar! Buy!
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6. Board Game: Prosperity [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:1629]
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Prosperity has to be the Super 8 of boardgames. Nothing but a box art and a blurb, even though we're about 2 weeks to release. surprise Just like the movie though, the team of designers are big names - Reiner Knizia, love him or hate him, he's still making 'em & Sebastian Bleasdale, hot off last year's Essen hit Keyflower. And this is most likely to be a hit, so I'm definitely keeping my feelers out.

Other Wins:
Ystari!

Why you might not like it?
-

Rulebook: Now Available! 11/10
Status: Will it make it?

 
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7. Board Game: Archon: Glory & Machination [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:1841]
 
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I'm an Artipia fanboi. There I said it. I have every single one of their games and really love how much they put into making a game look really really good. They have a great customer service too! With that said, their games can be hit and miss, I would rank them in the following from strongest to weakest: Among The Stars, Drum Roll, Briefcase.

Looking at Archon though, it might take the Top Spot on that list (or the next game on this geeklist). A heavier euro, combines card powers with worker placement. It has minor elements of deck building and resource management. It looks like a solid game and I'm keen to give it a run out.

Other wins:
Kickstarter goodies galore!

Why you might not like it?
Burnt out on worker placement yet again!

Rulebook: Available & Skimmed
Status: Kickstarted, picking up at Essen


 
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8. Board Game: Shadows over the Empire [Average Rating:6.00 Overall Rank:5121]
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Will this be the hit of Essen for Artipia? It seems to tick all the right boxes: quick playing, highly interactive and plenty of decisions. Another home run in terms of art (drop dead gorgeous). Might also be their best game so far (although it came in second to Archon in a competition).

Other wins:
Kickstarter goodies!

Why you might not like it?
Words on cards - a lot of them!
Highly tactical

Rulebook: Available & Skimmed
Status: Kickstarted, picking up.
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9. Board Game: Glass Road [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:227]
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Man, that Terra Mystica game. Just can't get enough of it. Easily the best game I've played in years. Hot on its heels is 1 of 2 Uwe games. Why does this generate more love than Caverna: The Cave Farmers? Well, I kinda hate Agricola (dodges bullets). Just not a fan of the play everything - end up the same as every other player's farms thing.

Glass Road seems to be an Uwe experiment - not sure how it'll work out. Card powers, buildings and that resource dial. It could be magic or disaster! But based on Feuerland's and Uwe's pedigree, I'll definitely check this one out.

Other wins:
Solo play!
Not about farming!

Why you might not like it?
Randomness

Rulebook: Available & Read
Status: Buy
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10. Board Game: Madeira [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:321]
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Dice games are the rage this year! I believe this trend will continue at Essen. Flying its flag is the meaty Euro, Madeira. Designed by Portugese (will this be their breakout year?), Madeira uses dice placement as a central mechanic. But there's much more to that - character powers, resource gathering and management, area control, and more! This game reminds me a lot of Vinhos, not just the art, but the way that it has so many interlocking mechanisms. My hope that it won't be bogged down and sluggish (how Vinhos turned out to be), and I have high hopes that it will be a sleeper hit this year!

Other wins:
Pirates. Yar!

Why you might not like it?
It's heavy.

Rulebook: Available & Read
Status: Pre-ordered.
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11. Board Game: Bremerhaven [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:3375]
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Economic? Management? Lookout? Need to say more? Le Havre is still my #1 Lookout game and although this one looks like it, I bet it will play very differently. Likely to be an efficiency game, and you know how I feel about efficiency games! Only minor concern is the bidding for action phase. Not against the mechanism but sometimes I just don't get it (Strasbourg, Rialto, etc.) The Lookout booth will definitely be the place to be this year.

Other wins:
Solo play
Short and Long versions!

Why you might not like it?
Not into economic games

Rulebook: Now Available! 11/10
Status: Buy
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12. Board Game: Rococo [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:201]
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Bursting into the scene with my "Sleeper hit" of 2011 (technically released in 2010), Glen More, Matthias Cramer has continued to show his pedigree in games such as Lancaster and Helvetia. I own both games, and I guess that makes me a fan?

Rokoko is a team up with the designers of Edo and is a new take on deckbuilding. I like that there's a built in "Chapel" to the game, and that you don't have to depend on a particular card to do it. There's also multiple paths to pursue and score. And the theme is pretty unique too!

Other wins:
Michael Menzel!

Why you won't like it?
Tired of deck building

Rulenook: Available & Read
Status: Highly likely buy
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13. Board Game: Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:492]
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Ah Vlaada. The man with the undisputed #1 in my collection. What's more to say about this great designer who has done such an array of stuff from Mage Knight to Bunny Bunny Moose Moose. A confession: I haven't played a majority of games he's designed. I don't know, maybe I'm afraid that nothing else will ever live up to Through the Ages and it would leave a bad taste in my mouth. It's like reading a great novel and then watching the crappy movie remake... and so I never do both. It's either one or the other.

But I guess it's time to try something new from him. My strongest reservation about Tash-Kalar is that it's basically and abstract game with a really cool "skin". Also, it's predominantly a 2 player game (the team and free for all kinda seems tacked on?) From the bits of info available, it also seems like a very skill based game, that knowing what all the units do is highly advantageous. This is great for competitive play but having to hold back coz you're teaching / getting new people into the game does kinda suck. I will definitely be checking this one out though.

Other wins:
Amazing art by David Cochard
Variable play modes (1 on 1, 2 on 2, deathmatch, etc.)

Why you might not like it?
High learning curve
Abstract

Rulebook: None
Status: Try before buy

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14. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.10 Overall Rank:19]
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Mac Gerdts game with NO RONDEL? WHAT THE? Call me intrigued! I've thoroughly enjoyed Mac's recent games and feel that his games have really matured over the years. Navegador remains my favorite of the bunch and I'm excited to see how he takes on something that's out of his comfort zone.

Ok, I'm gonna rant a little here: What is with all the secrecy with games this year? Do publisher really think that holding back on rulebooks and cover images creates a demand? I just think it's downright silly. It's 2 weeks now to the fair and all info about a game should be up. How can anyone know if they are interested if you don't let people know about your game?! /rant

Anyway, from what I know, the mechanics remind me of a little forgotten game from last year: Oddville. Everyone has similar cards. You play them and activate an ability. You want to pull them back? Well, it cost more the more cards you still have in hand. All about efficiency and timing. Count me in for a demo!

Other wins:
No rondel?

Why you won't like it?
You love rondels.

Rulebook: None (Geez)- Finally rules! 11/10
Status: Try before buy.
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15. Board Game: Terror in Meeple City [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:698]
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Everything about Rampage screams ROFLCOPTER. From the meeples holding up building tiles, monster teeth to blowing stuff around, it all seems like a riot! Just watching the video from Gen Con makes me laugh. Antoine Bauza seems like he's on a roll. Will this be a 3rd SdJ?

At the very least, Rampage will be a great centerpiece for any gaming night / convention or retreat (hint hint). Also great fun for the kids.

Other wins:
Chuckin' trucks and eatin' meeps.
Rampage T-shirt and goodies

Why you might not like it?
You might have to leave your brain outside of the city limits.

Rulebook: Available (to read soon, but I really need to?)
Status: Contemplating pre-order

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16. Board Game: Bruxelles 1893 [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:263]
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Troyes: Awesome
Tournay: Ok
Ginkgopolis: Really good (could be really really good with more plays)

Pearl Games' track record have been pretty stellar for the past couple of years. I enjoy what they put out and especially love the consistent artwork for the Troyes "Universe" (Ginkgopolis being the exception).

It's hard to put a finger on Bruxelles. There seems to be so many mechanisms in the game I'm a bit worried that it might be a bit too much. There's worker placement, auctions, character powers, that strange looking market cursor and a gazillion ways to score points to name a few. Normally this doesn't bother me (it's just like something Feld would put out), but I guess we'll have to see how it all comes together.

Other Wins
Pre-order discounts & bundles (and more t-shirts!)
Art Nouveau!

Why you won't like it?
Point Salad
Complex mechanism

Rulebook: Available & Read
Status: Considering pre-order (along with Ginkgo expansion)
 
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17. Board Game: Machi Koro [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:842]
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I'm gonna lump a bunch of Japon Brand games under this item as I've already pre-ordered them.

I'm most excited about Machi Koro. It's a simple dice game where you can build establishments to increase your income to ultimately build landmarks to win you the game. Quick playing, really interesting art.

Second is Sail to India by the designer of last year's hit, Trains. It's another small box game that promises strong gameplay and it has already been remade by AEG. Have yet to read into this but looks like a good one.

Lost Legacy is the follow up to Love Letter. Quick playing micro game with a little more twists. What's not to like?

Finally, Say Bye to the Villains a fast playing co-op similar to Sentinels of the Multiverse. Plays up to 8 which is great for casual gamers.
 
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18. Board Game: Patchistory [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:923]
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Patchistory brings an interesting twist to the civ building genre. It is essentially a tile laying game, where you try to find the best way to place buildings, wonders and personality to generate resource and score victory points.

This game promises to be 2013's Trains, with only a special edition print run of only 50 copies being brought to the fair! It will probably be sold out in minutes. Let's hope I can get a copy.

Other wins:
Patch Disneyland and Karl Marx for laughs.

Why you might not like it?
Paying ridiculous amounts for a copy.

Rulebook: Available & Skimmed
Status: Buy! First stop!

+Koryŏ seems to be spoken highly off. Might take a look at it since I'm headed to the Korean Pavilion booth.
 
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19. Board Game: Byzantio [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:5799]
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Interesting area control game with hidden goals and a set number of actions you can take. Every round, you "program" your move on your personal sheet and reveal them and take the action. Because every one essentially has the same number of moves, when you choose to use them plays an important role in ensuring victory! And there's also a bluffing element, misdirecting other players so that they will not capture your main goal and deny you points.

Other wins:
2 sided board with a completely different game, Nekken on the other side
Kickstarter goodies

Why you might not like it?
Area control not your thing
Can't bluff for peanuts

Rulebook: Avaiable & Skimmed
Status: Kickstarter, picking up at fair.

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20. Board Game: Trains and Stations [Average Rating:5.86 Overall Rank:5378]
Kareem Koh
Malaysia
Puchong
Selangor
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Didn't I say dice is all the rage this year? Wizkid's Train and Station promises to be the strongest Yahtzee style game at the show. You use dice to lay track, get coins and erect buildings. Complete missions and generate goods for victory points. There's a fair bit of interaction as you use dice to "block" others from completing their route mission. Seems fun!

Other wins:
Good looking components
A break from King of Tokyo!

Why you might not like it?
Dice hate you. Or you hate dice.

Rulebook: Available & Skimmed
Status: Highly likely buy
 
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21. Board Game: Nations [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:110]
Kareem Koh
Malaysia
Puchong
Selangor
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This game would have been high up my want list... until I saw the artwork for the cards. I'm sorry, but they seem very amateurish. And don't even get me started on the graphic design. I posted a question on why the artwork for the cover (which is really nice) was different from the cards and all I got in response was that there were many cards... Come on, really? How many cards does Legendary have? Seasons? Any deckbuilding game? In this day and age where publishers are putting out great looking games, this just says to me that you aren't willing pull all the stops to make your game great. Sigh.

Anyway, Nations borrows heavily from Through the Ages but uses worker placement as a core mechanism. Gameplay looks solid, and I really like the handicap system that lets experience and new players play together.

Other wins:
Scratches that Civ itch in a short time

Why you won't like it?
Yet Another Worker Placement Game

Rulebook: Available & Read
Status: Try
 
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22. Board Game: Theseus: The Dark Orbit [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:1138]
Kareem Koh
Malaysia
Puchong
Selangor
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Theseus is the latest design from Michal Oracz, known for his Portal hit Neuroshima Hex. I've never really played NH, as it's mostly an abstract and the theme is kind of a hard sell in my game groups.

After reading the rulebook, I can say that it will be a strong game, but I'm not sure if this will get much play time due to its tactical nature and theme. Basically, Theseus plays on the Mancala (or Congkak in Malaysia) mechanic to create high tension game of player vs player. I will definitely want to give it a go before deciding.

Other wins:
Pre-order bundles with Legacy & Robinson Crusoe expansion
More great art
Aliens!

Why you might not like it?
Abstract
Tactical
Confrontational

Rulebook: Available & Read
Status: Try
 
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23. Board Game: Artifact [Average Rating:5.71 Overall Rank:11502]
Kareem Koh
Malaysia
Puchong
Selangor
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The coming together of 2 prolific new designers definitely has got my attention on this one. Bernd Eisenstein is the creator of Peloponnes, which has been in my wishlist for quite a while now. He's also designed a couple of well received games like PAX & Alea Iacta Est. Jeffrey Allers' game Neuw Amsterdam also had great reviews, but sadly is not available here (will most probably pick a copy up).

Artifact definitely has unique mechanism, which the designer calls "reverse worker placement". It's kind of hard to figure out from a rulebook so I'll get I'll have to squeeze in a demo somehow!

Other wins:
Archaeology!

Why you might not like it?
Theme not your thing
Yet Another Worker Placement Game?

Rulebook: Available & Read
Status: Try
 
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24. Board Game: CV [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1011]
Kareem Koh
Malaysia
Puchong
Selangor
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DICE DICE DICE. See a recurring theme here? CV is another take on the Yahtzee variant but what sets it apart is the humor and the ability to "create your own story". If there's any game that deserves a narrative as you play, this is it! Check out the video posted to see what I'm talking about.

If this plays quick, it might have a slim chance of dethroning the KAIJU! Ok, maybe just 1 or 2 weeks.

Other wins:
The chance to live out a perfect life!
Essen promos!

Why you might not like it?
DICE
You love your life now

Rulebook: Available & Read
Status: Try
 
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25. Board Game: Plunder [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:10061]
Kareem Koh
Malaysia
Puchong
Selangor
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One thing that's missing from my game collection is a deduction game. Plunder seems like a simple and quick to play one about finding other player's (pirates?) hidden treasures while protecting yours. Would like to give it a twirl to see if it will fit.

Other wins:
YARRRRRR

Why you might not like it?
Don't like deduction games

Rulebook: None
Status: Try
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