A Female Gamer's Essen 2013 List of Experiences and Acquisitions
Ronja Räubertochter
Germany
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Hey all,

so the SPIEL is over once again and it was a very exciting and exhausting weekend for me. By now, another week has come and gone and I got around to playing a lot of the games I bought blindly. So far, no regrets.

Even though I thought the arrangment of the booths was very confusing and it took some time to figure out where what was, I liked the bigger halls. I heard afterwards that there were 8 000 more visitors this year than the year before, but to me it didn't feel too full and I got to try quite a lot of games at the fair, so it's not like all the tables were occupied all the time. How was it for you guys? Did you like the new halls or do you want things to go back to how they were before?

Anyway, in this geeklist I'm gonna list all the games I tried out and/or bought and let you know my thoughts on each one. That means the list will be growing and changing for a while until I finally got around to trying every one of the games I bought without playing them first. I hope you stick around for the duration and enjoy the geeklist. Feel free to add your thoughts on the games as well.

I will also add games that are new releases and were bought by friends or family members at the fair, even if I didn't get to play them at the fair but afterwards (or beforehand).

Before I get started, though, here is an explanation of my rating system:
- no fun at all, won't play again
- ok game, but probably won't play again
- good game, would play again
- great game, will always want to play this
If I use half stars then the rating is something inbetween two categories.

All set? Ok, here we go... meeple
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1. Board Game: 12 Realms [Average Rating:5.85 Overall Rank:8771]
Ronja Räubertochter
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- Status: Played (1x2-player)
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I played this with my Dad on the evening before the fair. I like the artwork and the mechanics, but I found the iconology very unintuitive and the rules need a do-over. We kept looking stuff up during the game and often enough we didn't find an answer. I imagine this is a typical problem with crowdfunded games.

After the game, I didn't feel bad about not kickstarting the game anymore and don't want to own the game myself, but I will definitely play it again.
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2. Board Game: 1655: Habemus Papam [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:3399]
Ronja Räubertochter
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- Status: Played (1x4-player)
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We only tried this because the table was free, really. It turned out to be more fun than it looked and I think it worked really well. It's one of those nice little games that you can play, but really don't have to play. There are just too many more interesting games, in my opinion.

But if you're looking for a solid card game with everybody-wins-something-bidding, set collection and a bit of a take-that-element, this one is "well worth a look", as Eric Summerer would say. The artwork is fine and I like the little gems you use for bidding.
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3. Board Game: A Study in Emerald [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:593]
Ronja Räubertochter
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- Status: Tested (1x4-player)
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This game was one of my major disappointments this year. A cool, vintage-looking game with Cthulu and Sherlock Holmes? It sounded almost too good to be true. And as it turned out, it was.

It didn't feel thematic to me at all. The game could just as well have been about James Bond or some other theme involving 'terrorists' and 'loyalists'.

The deck-building mechanic (you place bids on cards to claim them in a later turn and add them to your deck) didn't work at all during our game. Whenever someone claimed an agent, someone else instantly killed him and the card had to be discarded again. We stopped after half an hour or so, which is why I put the status "tested" instead of "played". Maybe you have to play for an hour or something before it gets better? I don't know.

I can imagine that people who like more strategic euro-type games might enjoy this and it's not like the game is unplayable, but if a game has a promising theme like this one, not feeling the theme is just a no-go. I guess I'll just stick to Mansions of Madness for now and hope for a Sherlock Holmes expansion. Wouldn't that be something?
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4. Board Game: Amerigo [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:265]
Ronja Räubertochter
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- Status: Played (1x2-player)
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I hate to say it, but this is a great game. I really enjoyed it. With Stefan Feld games, this is hardly ever the case for me. Most of his other games I played I didn't like at all. But this one just works... and it works really well. I like the way your available actions are determined by throwing cubes into that little tower and how you can sail around the board with your ships and how you build your towns on the islands. It was and felt really quick, almost no downtime in the two-player game I played.
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5. Board Game: Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game [Average Rating:6.10 Overall Rank:3874]
Ronja Räubertochter
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- Status: Tested (1x3-player)
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Another game we tried just because the table was free. I liked the idea of playing the bad guys from the Batman universe and fighting over Gotham city, always hoping that Batman doesn't come out of his cave to kick your butt. Whenever he did show up, though, it usually meant bad news for the person who played the Batman card in the first place.
Levelling up your character took ages and often enough you had to play cards which had no use other than to give you two thread tokens/money/information.

All in all, we found the game rather boring, despite the cool HeroClix figures and all. We stopped after everybody had reached level 3, which took about... an hour or something?

 
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6. Board Game: Buccaneer Bones [Average Rating:5.86 Overall Rank:5444]
Ronja Räubertochter
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- Status: Bought and played (3xsolo, 1x2-player)
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As I mentioned in my other geeklist, this is my first Kickstarter game. It was sold out at Essen, which I take as a good sign. Sadly, of all the unlocked Stretch goals, only the second set of custom dice were finished, so now I'll still have to wait a while until I get my fridge magnet, my drawstring bag, my tote bag and the four extra players. Oh well, something to look forward to, I guess.

Playing solo for the first time took me 11 turns to win. I was a little tired then, so I kept forgetting the abilities on the islands where ships had already arrived. Otherwise I probably would have won faster. Anyway, I really enjoyed it, even without other players.

Then I played it with my boyfriend and I won again, but he could have won just as easily. It's a game of luck after all. But we still both liked it. It is a very light, cute little game.

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7. Board Game: Cheaty Mages! [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:2101]
Ronja Räubertochter
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- Status: Played (1x4-player)
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Hilarious little card game. A few "monsters" are revealed, you bid on which one will win and then you play cards to try and increase the chances that your monster actually does win. In the end, it might turn out that you tried too hard and the judge kicks your monster out of the competition or discards all the cards played on that monster. I really liked the game, but my boyfriend, who was more interested in the game beforehand, didn't, so neither of us bought it. Also, we played this on Sunday, when we were already almost out of money, so we didn't want to (or couldn't) spent another €15 for a deck of cards.
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8. Board Game: Concept [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:564]
Ronja Räubertochter
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- Status: Tested (1x2-player) and played (1x4-player)
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Because there were only two of us, my boyfriend and I could only test the game and we each tried to explain a few things (e.g. Bambi, Batman, "Seebär" (literally "Seabear", which is an expression an (old) experienced sailor) and 'white as snow' according to the rules and I thought our friends would enjoy this game very much as well. Similar to Telestrations, I thought the actual scoring would be rather unimportant for us. It's more about the fun of guessing the answer.

Last week we finally got around to play it and as expected we all really enjoyed it. We used the medium difficulty and guessed every word, so next time we probably have to use the more difficult expressions, but anyhow, great party game.

My boyfriend pre-ordered this game together with Terror in Meeple City, which will also make an appearance on this list sooner or later. He kept the Concept T-Shirt, while I got the one with the red Rampage dragon. So cool!
 
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9. Board Game: CV [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:887]
Ronja Räubertochter
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- Status: Played (1x2-player)
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The guy who explained to us how the game works compared it to the The Sims, which I found funny. As we came across an empty table, we tried it and it was fun to play as a two-player game, even though it felt very random and somewhat pointless. My boyfriend actually considered buying it, but didn't. It had a bit of a zen vibe. It was very relaxing and light, there is no real player interaction. You just roll the dice and see what cards you can add to your CV with the result.
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10. Board Game: Desktopia [Average Rating:6.02 Unranked]
Ronja Räubertochter
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- Status: Played (3x2-player)
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Playing Desktopia was so much fun! Even though the first scenarios (we played three in a row) seemed somewhat unbalanced. Sooner or later, this will be added to my collection. It wasn't for sale at the fair, but maybe next year?
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11. Board Game: Legends of Andor: The Star Shield [Average Rating:7.89 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.89 Unranked]
Ronja Räubertochter
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- Status: Bought, but not played yet
- Rating: Pending

I got this for €10.50 at the AllGames4You-booth, which was a good price I think. On the internet it costs about €15. I haven't played all the legends from the base game yet, so the expansion will have to wait a little. From what I saw of the contents, it looks really cool. The new legend has a lot of different story cards of which you only choose some, to increase replayability, which has been a problem for the legends in the base game. There are also some new 'table top' components, e.g. a larger tower and some siege weapons (I think).

At the Kosmos booth I also picked up the bonus hero from last year and the new bonus card, which is a wishing well. At this point I have to complain a little about Kosmos:
The designer of the game was there on Friday and Saturday to sign stuff, the time window for that was half an hour each day. You had to get in line for a signature as well as the bonus card. Of course, half and hour was far too short. Many people only wanted the card, but had to wait together with everyone who wanted a signature as well. The queue for that came from two directions and then randomly mixed together close to the table were the designer sat. Simply put: it was a mess and badly organized and I don't understand at all why they made people wait in line for the bonus card instead of just handing them out at the counter, like they did with the bonus hero. If people had wanted the signature on the card, they could still have gone to the designer afterwards and I think that line would have been much shorter and quicker.



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12. Board Game: Dig Mars [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:6692]
Ronja Räubertochter
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- Status: Tested (1x2-player)
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After reading the rather simple rules I was already a little sceptical, but I thought maybe there was more to the game than I imagined. Turns out, there wasn't. My boyfriend and I were bored after a few turns, so we abandoned the game. The artwork is kinda pretty, but the game is... well... lame. We didn't try Om Nom Nom afterwards. There was a group next to us who played it and it looked just as dull.

Somehow, it sold out anyway. Seems like other people could appreciate these games more than I did, which is just the way it should be. After all, I'm fairly certain that other people might see my ratings and think something like "what, she actually liked that game? I thought it was terrible".
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13. Board Game: DubbelYatzy [Average Rating:6.36 Unranked]
Ronja Räubertochter
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- Status: Played (1x4-player)
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A more interesting/more complicated way to play Yahtzee. Checking the dice outside and inside is a bit confusing and you have to think a little harder about re-rolling dice and what you are trying to get as a result.
The first time we played DubbelYatzy, somehow everyone managed to roll five of a kind, which has never happened in a regular game of Yahtzee so far.

I also bought this as a bit of a 'gateway game' to introduce my flatmate to board gaming.

Two minor points of critic:
1. The points you get for some things are different from what I am used to. This isn't a problem, generally, but there is no information on the points you get for a full house in this version. And these two aspects combined are a bit problematic.
2. The score pad is falling apart. It looses sheets of paper everytime you touch it, which is annoying.


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14. Board Game: Dungeon Guilds [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:4912]
Ronja Räubertochter
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- Status: Bought, but not played yet
- Rating: Pending

Even if the game doesn't turn out to be as much as fun I think it will be, the artwork was worth it. So cute! But of course I hope that my friends and I will like this.

 
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15. Board Game: Dungeon Roll [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:1991]
Ronja Räubertochter
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- Status: Bought and played (1xsolo, 1x3-player, 1x4-player)
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I greatly enjoyed Dungeon Roll. Beforehand, I thought this would only be fun solo or with two players, but I didn't mind the downtime at all in the two games I played. It was fun to see how the dungeons turned out for the others players.

Pegasus also had dungeon mats for each copy, which was nice. We ended up buying 5 copies of the game (with €1 discount for each copy), for our own collection or to give away as presents.

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16. Board Game: Expedition: Northwest Passage [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:1074]
Ronja Räubertochter
Germany
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- Status: Played (1x4-player)
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A reviewer my boyfriend got to know a little while ago has this game and we played it last week. It was interesting and entertaining, for a while we were playing neck-to-neck but about halfway through the game it was already obvious who would win and I don't like that. My boyfriend liked it better with fewer players, so maybe I would play it again with 2 or 3 players instead of 4 and see if it's more fun then.
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17. Board Game: Ghost Fightin' Treasure Hunters [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:1284]
Ronja Räubertochter
Germany
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- Status: Played (1x2-player)
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One of the last games we played at Essen. As suspected, it was a more of a co-operative children's game than anything else. The game works, but it's rather simple and just not very interesting compared to great co-operative games like Flash Point or Yggdrasil.
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18. Board Game: GiftTRAP Lite [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:8914] [Average Rating:6.30 Unranked]
Ronja Räubertochter
Germany
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- Status: Bought
- Rating: Pending

These little GiftTRAP Lite boxes are a fine example of how Heidelberger can sometimes screw over their costumers. At their booth in Hall 1 they had a regular sale and a bargain sale (can you say that in English?). In the regular sale you could get these boxes for, I think, €7.50 each. In the bargain section they had them for €2.95. The boxes weren't damaged or anything, so I don't understand the idea behind this. I like GiftTRAP and I wanted to add these 'expansions' to my collection for a while, so I jumped at the opportunity to buy orange, blue and pink for less than €9. But I don't like the idea that someone might buy them for €7.50, only to find out afterwards that they could have been so much cheaper.

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19. Board Game: Glastonbury [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:3684]
Ronja Räubertochter
Germany
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- Status: Played
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Not as much fun as I'd hoped. Actually, no fun at all for me. Move your meeple, take a card, move your meeple, take another card... If everything goes well, you get a lot of points. If not, then you probably didn't pay attention to which symbol you started collecting. I was disappointed.
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20. Board Game: Going, Going, GONE! [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:2639]
Ronja Räubertochter
Germany
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- Status: Played (1x4-player)
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A chaotic game in which you place bids, in the form of wooden cubes, in plastic cups. One person counts down from 10 at any speed they like, as long as it is steady, then they cover the cups and the bidding is over. The one who put the most cubes in a cup wins the bet. With the cards that you gain this way, you try to build sets, which you can then sell to gain new cubes. Whoever has the most cubes (or 'bucks') after 7 rounds wins. It was... ok... People always lost count of how many cubes they had thrown into the cups and the hectic bidding during the countdown was fun, but all in all, it wasn't a game I could play over and over again. Maybe if you added rules about the way you have to throw the cubes, like in Dungeon Fighter...?
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21. Board Game: Golden Horn: Von Venedig nach Konstantinopel [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:4869]
Ronja Räubertochter
Germany
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- Status: Tested (1x4-player)
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My sister wanted to play this because she liked the components, but the game turned out to be rather monotonous and at some point we agreed to stop because no-one was having fun. As you had to collect cubes of different colors instead of as many as possible of the same color, no-one really cared if another played took one of the cubes from their ships. You usually arrived at the other harbor with at least 2 or 3 cubes left, so it didn't matter. Sad. The game looked really nice. What a waste.
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22. Board Game: Guardians' Chronicles [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:5596] [Average Rating:6.79 Unranked]
Ronja Räubertochter
Germany
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- Status: Played
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This was one of the most entertaining games I played at the fair. My boyfriend was so disappointed that it wasn't for sale. It worked really well and it was fun. I like that there are a lot of different missions and the way you assemble cardboard pieces to look like the front page of a daily newspaper to reflect the results of the scenario.
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23. Board Game: Händler der Karibik [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:3521]
Ronja Räubertochter
Germany
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- Status: Bought and played (1x2-player)
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I got this for a donation of 5€. I also got a lot of other goodies and stuff, so even if the game hadn't turned out to be great, I wouldn't have complained. The money goes to the Österreiches Spiele Museum, so I spent it on a good cause, kinda. whistle

After playing this, I'm glad to find that I really enjoy the game. It has a huge push-your-luck element, it is quick and fun. Those €5 were well spent. laugh

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24. Board Game: Ignis [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:7575]
Ronja Räubertochter
Germany
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- Status: Played
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After playing this, it didn't seem anything like Ebbe & Flut anymore, which was my first association after reading the description. Neither my boyfriend nor me enjoyed the game. Ebbe & Flut is much more interesting.
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25. Board Game: Kenya [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:11710]
Ronja Räubertochter
Germany
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- Status: Played (1x2-player)
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This card game, in which everyone tries to place as many cards with their secret animal on them as possible and ideally next to a watering hole to get double points, wasn't as much fun as I had hoped. Maybe you need to play this with more players? With just two it was a bit random and the difference between first and second place was minimal.
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