Tina's Essen Experience so far...!
Christina Crouch
United Kingdom
Tadley
Hampshire
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This is my second year at Essen. I planned a lot more what I wanted to buy and read a lot of reviews and previews. I found the Essen previews by Eric Martin (via the news), Joel Eddy and Richard Ham the most useful in preparing.

My original geek list for purchases is here: Tina's Spiel 2013 Interests so far

I probably shopped more and played less than I wanted to, but my wish list definitely helped me focus a bit. My sister was a star and helped me carry my pre orders on the first day.
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1. Board Game: Go For Broke [Average Rating:4.30 Unranked]
Christina Crouch
United Kingdom
Tadley
Hampshire
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I have bought the following games so far:


Amerigo including all three Queenie Expansions
Lewis and Clark
Legacy: Testament of Duke de Crecy
Caverna
Glass Road
Power Grid: Australia and Taxman card.
Airlines Europe: Bonus Routes (free)
Suburbia Inc
Dungeon Petz: Dark Alleys
Tzolkin: Tribes and Prophesies
Nations
King of Toyko: Halloween
Among the Stars: Ambassadors
Keyflower: Farmers
Bang! Dice

And finally: Russian Railroads (Hans im Gluck edition, not pictured)

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2. Board Game: Test Drive [Average Rating:4.75 Unranked]
Christina Crouch
United Kingdom
Tadley
Hampshire
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Games that we tested and comments:

Day 1: Thursday

I mostly spent the day collecting my pre orders, but managed to test a couple of games.

Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice: This is a fun filler dice game with a lot to recommend it. The aim is to KO your opponent through either reducing their hit points to zero or pinning them successfully. We played in tag teams of two each (boys vs girls!). Needless to say the boys lost! I like the game because it encourages general rowdiness goading your opponents when the roll badly and tagging in and out handslaps. My only complaints are that Infelt each wrestler should have had individual super powers rather than all having the same ones with different flavour text. I was therefore concerned about replay value, and did not buy, especially as I felt EUR 25 was too much. However I had a lot of fun playing it. One of my friends came back and bought it on the Sunday.

Firefly: The Game: We played a four player game of Firefly. The game was heavily cut down to give us about an hour for a demo. I was a bit disappointed with the game - to me it feels like a poor mans Merchant of Venus. There are also some anti thematic aspects like the fact that the crew of Serenity are shared amongst all the ships, and no-one is really interested in playing the other ships. I didn't like the lack of free will in the job system (if I wanted a job I'd go to work!). I'd echo all Tom Vasel and Eric Summerers comments on the Dice Tower on this game.

Day 2: Friday

Terror in Meeple City: Day 2 and we made a beeline for Repos to play Rampage, a game that I was eager to play. Props to the blonde demo lady from Repos who was really friendly and knew the game well, and let us book the next table so we could wander round while we waited. I already had a pretty good idea what I was getting into from reading the rules. You are monsters smashing up town, eating meeples and buildings and scoring points. The component quality in the game was very good, and the illustrations look great. It really draws a crowd. I enjoyed my game (I won!). Really it's an experience game with a few gamerly features like scoring and special powers. If you want a family game that gamers can also enjoy I can recommend this game. It is a it expensive at 45 EUR but it's good quality. I didn't get a copy as a friend had, and I already have Survive and King of Tokyo which fits a similar brief.

We wandered round Hall 2 looking at the fantasy stands until about 2 pm, and then my feet wore out so we walked back to the hotel.

Evening play: Amerigo: We played a four player game of Amerigo. In this game you explore islands in the new world with ships, collect and exploit commodities, plan and build towns, and have technological development. The centrepiece is the cube tower which determines the available actions and the strength. This game is typical of the games that Stefan Feld designs. I love Feld games. I already own CoB, Bora Bora, Bruges, and Trajan, and Strasbourg. Out of his four releases this year I have played the three mentioned above. I think this game might be my favourite of the three, with BB a little behind. My reasons are that the board is infinitely reconfigurable, the dice tower is a good action selection mechanic. There are also lots of approaches: Do I want to sail (and how many camps do I want on my island), plan expensive buildings, grab commodities, develop etc. You can't ignore any of the categories as they are carefully mechanically interlocked, but doing one helps with the others. The game probably took 3 hours though including teaching, so make time for the game. Also when I pushed the drawbridge into the tower I damaged the edge of the paper as well, which was a shame. The quality of the rule set was the usual good standard for a Feld game (I have other queen games where the rules are terrible). So I was happy.

Day 3: Saturday

Coal Baron: Morning gaming: I had initially overlooked this Kiesling and Kramer game because I had misunderstood the rules. One of my friends bought it and explained it and I'm glad they did. This is a nice medium weight game about coal mining. For those that have played Magnum Sal, Coal Baron is different enough to be worth owning both, and I think it's better than Magnum Sal. The game is based around digging tunnels, extracting coal by moving it up in the lift cage, fulfilling orders and using various modes of transport to deliver the orders. It's seems very nicely balanced, and I think well integrated around the theme. Recommended.

Saturday afternoon: ice cream sundaes at Morchen Eis, t-shirt shopping in the Messe, and dinner in Pfeffkorn. Very full!

Rococo : One (male!) friend described it as 'fun filled dressmaking for men in the Rokoko era!'. The game involves hiring people (Apprentices are sent to the market to get cloth. Masters make dresses.) Dress patterns are bought from the markets, dresses made, and dresses are put on people in rooms in the house to dominate different rooms. Dresses are also displayed on the roof for multipliers at end game. Decorations are purchased. My sister who is a light gamer found the game relatively easy to pick up. The board is pretty enough to appeal to the ladies but not so sugary as to put the boys off playing. I didn't play this personally but watched it played and it seemed to go down well.

Games seen being played in the games room Saturday evening: A much greater variety of games than on Thursday and Friday night...
Rokoko x2, Nations x2, mice and mystics, CV, Carpe Astra, st Malo, a few acres of snow, florenza, fortuna, x wing, lost legends, tash kalar, Spyrium, landlord, a study in emerald x2, Robinson Crusoe, expedition northwest passage, Quantum, Concept.

Day 4 - Sunday
Only managed to see one game due to time constraints:

Madeira: Madeira is a game about exploiting the island of Madeira for victory points by farming including chopping down trees, hiring special people, trading, exploiting foreign lands etc. It has quite an explanation overhead and I think it took the guy about 45 mins to set the board up and explain it. The guy explaining was very thorough. We only had time to play one round due to needing to get our taxi. It's a big medium to heavy game. The pieces are nice and it's well illustrated. However it is incredibly unforgiving for new players and seems to completely batter you. There's pirates to deal with, bread needed for people. It just seemed that whenever I got resources the game took them away for making poor decisions. Failed to deliver your mission? Mission gets taken away. I respect the game design, I am sure some people will enjoy it, but it was not for me.

Final purchase of the day: Russian Railroads (Hans im Gluck edition). Didn't get the chance to play it, but since ZMan have been so rubbish about getting their games into distribution I didn't want to wait for the English version to get back in print.
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3. Board Game: Guess Who? [Average Rating:4.78 Overall Rank:16994]
Christina Crouch
United Kingdom
Tadley
Hampshire
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Famous Game Designers Spotted:
Reiner Knizia
Friedman Friese
Ignacy Trze....k (sorry I cannot spell it!)
Vlaada Chvatil
Uwe Rosenberg
Ted Alspach
Antoine Bauza and Ludovic Maublanc
Richard Breese

Podcasters:
Richard Ham (Rahdo)
The German guys in the yellow tees, one with the huge sideburns

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4. Board Game: Buzz It! [Average Rating:5.69 Overall Rank:10326]
Christina Crouch
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Tadley
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I wanted to write my own Buzz list because firstly they had problems with the router so the BGG buzz is a day behind, and secondly because I felt that the buzz was highly dependent on the location of the BGG stall relative to the other stalls. My buzz list consists of games my friends are talking about and games I saw getting lots of play in the evening sessions in the hotel. This list is completely subjective and my opinion.

Games I saw sell out:
Lost Legacy- Sold out before the gates opened. Not expected to be available this side of Xmas for a reprint according to a guy on the stall.
Machi Koro - Ditto
Nations - Sold out on Thursday, but more stock arrived Friday. I saw at least three copies being played simultaneously in the evening.
Russian Railroads - English copies sold out by Friday evening, with only a couple of copies left at re-sellers. Several of my friends played Russian Railroads and all wanted to buy a copy, so I assume they liked it a lot.
Rokoko

Other games that had a lot of buzz:
Tash Kalar - Saw four tables in the evening with this game in the stack.
Rokoko - Two of my friends played it and bought it, and I await a game.
Rampage - I reviewed it (above) favourably. I saw lots of copies being played in the evening.
Amerigo - Saw it sell very well and lots of people stopped at our table to chat and ask about the game in the evening.

Games that are high on the BGG buzz list that were just ok:
Steam Park - The stall was offering free t-shirts with the first 250 copies sold, so a lot of people went to see the stall early, so advanced buzz. One friend liked it and bought it, but another reported that the game was ok, but not different enough to interest them. Another said there was a small issue with some of the folded card splitting that they didn't like.
Twin tin bots - is pretty much next to the BGG stall, so got high ratings. Friends actually viewing the game said it looked pretty but not totally sold on the gameplay, and it seemed a bit too expensive.
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5. Board Game: Difference [Average Rating:5.41 Overall Rank:15422]
Christina Crouch
United Kingdom
Tadley
Hampshire
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Games that I did not play but would like to:
Bruxelles 1893
Concordia
Spyrium
Bremerhaven
Prosperity
Lost legends
Tash Kalar
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