Essen 2013 - What I bought, what I played, what I thought
Paul Grogan
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Cullompton
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For the 13th year running, I attended Essen. This is a list of what I bought, my initial impressions of things, with some extra additions from games that other people in our group bought played and some that we didnt.
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1. Board Game: Caverna: The Cave Farmers [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:23]
Paul Grogan
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Most expensive game bought, but probably worth it. So much in the box, really good quality stuff. Played one game whilst over there - most enjoyable game for me.
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2. Board Game: Russian Railroads [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:71]
Paul Grogan
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Very good game. Really enjoyed it but missed out on the english version before it sold out, so grabbed a german copy.
Cosmetically, components very good, rulebook very good, graphic design very good too. I'm fussy about these things, but when you punch out the cardboard easily and have none of those edge bits or ripping, that makes me happy.
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3. Board Game: Canterbury [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:2331]
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Was really happy to pick up one of the 85 copies available, and played it on the Thursday night. Solid game, but as the weekend went on and I enjoyed the other games I played a lot more than this, I started regretting it a bit. And €45 was a tad expensive for what you got in the box.
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4. Board Game: Madeira [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:325]
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The only game I'd pre-paid for. Happy to pick it up as I like other games that WYG has done, and I like the style. Plus, looking at the board just screams out "my kind of game"

Not played yet, and dont know anyone that has.

Heard the components were not good, so punched it out at home. Card is thick and good, but punching it out wasnt easy at all and left loads of those extra bits on the side of the tiles that I might have to remove with a sharp knife.
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5. Board Game: Amerigo [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:302]
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I didnt play this, but had read the rules before, and I love Feld games. About 8 people in our group did play this though and generally it went down well, so I'm looking forward to playing.

Value for money good. €45, but lots of bits
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6. Board Game: Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:492]
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I do a lot of volunteer work for CGE, so they give me a copy of each of their new games.

Personally, Vlaadas other games are more my style, but thats not to say this isnt a good game, because it is. The CGE demo tables had about 20 games of this going on constantly all weekend - it was just packed full of people all the time!
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7. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar – Tribes & Prophecies [Average Rating:8.14 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.14 Unranked]
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Must have expansion for one of my top games from last year.
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8. Board Game: Dungeon Petz: Dark Alleys [Average Rating:7.80 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.80 Unranked]
Paul Grogan
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Like last years Dungeon Lords expansion, there is no way I will use this with new players as the base game of DP is already brain-burning enough

However, I really love all the new stuff in this expansion and look forward to playing it with people who are comfortable with the base game.
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9. Board Game: Last Will: Getting Sacked [Average Rating:7.53 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.53 Unranked]
Paul Grogan
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Last Will doesnt get played as much as it should, and now I have a new reason to get it played again.
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10. Board Game: Galaxy Trucker: Latest Models [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked]
Paul Grogan
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More insane craziness.
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11. Board Game: Helvetia [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:1095]
Paul Grogan
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Or... Helvetica 12pt as I kept calling it all weekend.

Filip from CGE said to me a couple of years ago that this was a great game. I had no idea, but saw it for €12 so I bought it.

I then told Filip I'd bought it on his recommendation, and he promptly got me to go back to the stand and buy 2 more copies for him!
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12. Board Game: Spyrium [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:553]
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I could have got this cheaper in the UK, but.... William Attia was at a table signing, so I rushed round the corner, bought it and got it signed.

Played quite a few games online of this beforehand. Its a nice game - taught people how to play over there and think others enjoyed it too.
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13. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game: Krang Character Expansion [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked]
Paul Grogan
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Being a co-designer entitled me to a free copy!

Now I just need to get the other designer to sign it.
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14. Board Game: Glass Road [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:226]
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Bought a copy myself, then got an extra one for some other work I'd done. Others in our group wanted to play it, so they took one of my copies and enjoyed it a lot, so they bought it off me.

Looking forward to playing this - pretty sure its a good game from things I've read and other comments.
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15. Board Game: Keyflower: The Farmers [Average Rating:7.89 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.89 Unranked]
Paul Grogan
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Not sure I've mastered the base game yet, but Keyflower is popular in our group, so this was a must have.
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16. Board Game: Homesteaders [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:573]
Paul Grogan
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Day 1: Woohoo - Homesteaders master edition only €20. Played once a couple of years ago and liked it. Mental note to go back on day 2 and buy it.

Day 2: Sold out. Noooooooooo.

Day 3: Turned up early, just as the box was being opened with more copies!

Played in the evening. We all really liked it. Great game. €20 very well spent. At that price, very good value for money.
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17. Board Game: Cornish Smuggler [Average Rating:5.95 Overall Rank:6901]
Paul Grogan
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Not picked up my copy yet as one of the designers will be hand delivering it to me in a couple of weeks

Helped out with the rulebook and a few other bits, but not played it yet. Backed it to support the designer and the new company as it is a friend, but feel there might be a bit too screwage in the game for my personal tastes.
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18. Board Game: Bremerhaven [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:3368]
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A friend picked this up and I bought off him. Unfortunately, he forgot to give me the cards, so I cant play it yet.

This was my #1 game 2 weeks before Essen. Then I read the rules, and like many others was put off by the blind bidding, so wanted to try before buy.

Some of our group played it for a bit and it didnt work well (they were taught some key rules very wrong). Then more of our group sat down to play it - 4 hours later.... Reports were that it was just a bit too long and not amazingly great.

But... I got it anyway, so I hope that it works out.
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19. Board Game: Snowdonia: The Daffodil Line [Average Rating:7.97 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.97 Unranked]
Paul Grogan
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Picked up from Tony.
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20. Board Game: Snowdonia: Jungfraubahn & Mount Washington [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked]
Paul Grogan
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Picked up from Tony.
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21. Board Game: Snowdonia: Britannia Bridge [Average Rating:7.76 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.76 Unranked]
Paul Grogan
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Picked up from Tony.
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22. Board Game: Concordia [Average Rating:8.10 Overall Rank:19]
Paul Grogan
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I didnt play this one, but others in our group did, really enjoyed it and a few of them bought it.
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23. Board Game: City Council [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:5053]
Paul Grogan
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So nearly bought this..... A few of us did. But in the end we didnt as we were not 100% convinced. Turns out also its going to be cheaper in the UK, so happy I didnt get it there, but its high on my list to maybe get.

First of all, the father-in-law of the designer did an amazing job at explaining the game and was a really nice guy. The game itself really sounded amazing from his description and it really did sound like something a bit different.

We managed to play a few rounds on the Sunday morning to get a feel for how it plays, and a lot of it was really good. The way that the game seems to simulate a city, and the way that the game mechanics all seem to fit well. Too many unemployed white-collar workers - they leave. Too many unemployed blue-collar workers, crime rises.

Police station - removes 1 crime marker, but then if the prison hasnt been built, that marker just gets returned to the board. Things like this really draw me to the game.

However, the VP cards we all felt needed a bit more looking at, unless we were getting them wrong. You start the game with 2 - no choice in what you get. Each turn, you draw 2 and discard one of those 2. But some can be easy to do, some hard. Some rely on buildings which might never come out in the game. So despite all the good stuff in the game, and the choices you make as players, we felt actually winning could come down to if you draw the right cards or not.

We've already got some house rules for this which we would definitely play with if I pick up a copy.
 
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24. Board Game: Nations [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:110]
Paul Grogan
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Unsurprising that people think this is very much like Through the Ages, since it started off design as TTA but with tweaks. However, this was really popular, and those in our group who bought it, played it and liked it. TTA is popular with us, so a quicker version of that was welcomed.
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25. Board Game: Prosperity [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:1635]
Paul Grogan
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Three different groups within our big group played this. It's a nice game, but none of us bought it. I personally thought €35 was a bit much for it, and although the game played nicely, we all felt that there was quite a flaw with the scoring mechanism.

Since scoring happens before each players turn, the start player has always had more opportunity to do 'stuff' that the others. This happened a few times in our game.
Player 1 built a power plant. Next scoring card - power.
Player 2 built a research building. Next scoring card - research. Player 3 at this point wasnt too happy. he built an economic building. Next scoring card was Eco.
Player 1 builds an economic building. Next scoring card - economy.
Player 3 definitely not happy now.....

We might be wrong on this, and we might be missing something, but it just seemed wrong.
 
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