Essen - my first visit
Ian Gill
United Kingdom
Mansfield
Nottinghamshire
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The trip was my 50th birthday present from my wife. The budget for games was a result of asking for euros instead of any gifts.

It was great experience though I don't currently feel I need to go again. (This is explained in the comments at the bottom)

I cant recall everything in sequence but there should be a general timeline.

There may be small additions to the list later as I remember bits. There is a lot to see.

For info:
I play at COGS club (Chesterfield, UK) regularly, some weekend games at FANG (Nottingham) and host games at home where my most regular opponent is John, who was at Essen for the second time.
Thus John and I discussed what we might buy beforehand to avoid too much duplication.
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1. Board Game: A Study in Emerald [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:676]
Ian Gill
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Bought

After considerable confusion on entering the hall at 9:50 (the doors opened early) I found my bearings and reached the Treefrog stand. This was my #1 priority as no pre-order was available.
The game actually sold out on Saturday morning but I was taking no chances.
Opinions of friends say this is a great game and well worth getting. I hope to play it soon.

UK play: excellent game and the very unusual victory mechanics make this game unique. I am keen to explore this again. 5 player probably works most consistently but 4 player could induce the most paranoia about who is on each side as it could be 3 vs 1.
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2. Board Game: Tomorrow [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:4315]
Ian Gill
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Bought

This was my second priority but the price was higher than expected at €60 not €50 at the stand I knew would stock it.

I still bought the game as I am not convinced that it will get retailed in the UK due to the controversial theme of depopulation. If so, it might be a lot cheaper (also 5 mins later I saw another stand where it was €55 -typical) but it was a must buy for me.

With the right group this has great potential but could also fall flat if people don't get into the whole diplomacy/table-talk thing. Definitely aimed at 6 player though can be played with 4 or 5.

Uk play: very good game but "how to win" didn't become clearer until the end. This game does need a couple of 'learning games'
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3. Board Game: Coup: Reformation [Average Rating:7.29 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.29 Unranked]
Ian Gill
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Bought

I had heard that copies of this would be extremely limited so popped by twice (the stall was empty first time - quite a few stands were still setting up). I bought a copy for €8 which would have felt a little steep for just the expansion cards (though no worse than many other mini-expansions) but an extra set of the base cards was included.
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4. Board Game: Theseus: The Dark Orbit [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:1138]
Ian Gill
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Collected

This was a pre-order that came with expansion cards and I managed to collect it on second visit (again they seemed to be in chaos). I would have like to have talked to Ignacy but I never got around to it at the times he was at the stand.

UK play: very interesting and keen to play again. It is hard to explain but actually playing is easier. Knowing what each side can do is really valuable and we only used the 15 card intro decks rather than 25 each.
Quite abstract at first until you grasp the mancala type movement mechanics.
Definitely 2 player is less chaotic than 3 or 4 and I would avoid playing with anyone very AP prone.

Very pleased I bought this.

Update: playing with 2 makes it more skilled but 4 players is still clever and actually more fun.
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5. Board Game: Theseus: The Dark Orbit – Space Station Cards [Average Rating:7.03 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.03 Unranked]
Ian Gill
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Mansfield
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Free

I wont be using these for a long time but very nice to have
 
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6. Board Game: Exodus: Proxima Centauri [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:1089]
Ian Gill
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Collected

I resisted buying this for a long time (despite encoragement from John and Ben C.).
However, this is the revised second edition and I caved. I pre-ordered online for extra discount.

The weight of this box was a big factor in me returning to the hotel for a games unload. I then had some snacks, met with Sally, punched some pieces (which is a major job when reducing the weight of games) and then returned.

A delay in one train caused me to miss meeting John so this was rearranged to the Friday.

I love space games so this has appealed as a TI3 lite game since it first appeared.
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7. Board Game: Airlines Europe: New Bonus Connections [Average Rating:7.26 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.26 Unranked]
Ian Gill
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Free

The game itself is being saved as a christmas present (I am often given money so I bought this in advance at a good price).
Seeing that a free cardboard copy of this promo would be available (instead of printing it myself from BGG file) I made collection a priority.

I had to wait in a queue at the stand because of the 3 people who were manning the stand: one went into the stockroom for ages, one appeared to be meeting a designer or similar so moved away from the desk and then the final woman decided to stop serving to chat to a friend. Others in the queue were actually buying games as well so I got the impression the tempers were rising. devil

Eventually I did get the promo and it is hard to complain when it was free

 
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8. Board Game: CV [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1011]
Ian Gill
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Reserved then Bought

This was my 3rd priority but, after corresponding with the designer about getting the special promo (that you had to collect cards for from two other stands) I was assured of a copy.

It was also far away in hall 3 but I did go to the stand early, which proved helpful as it told you which stands to visit. I did collect the cards later and returned to get a very nice CV calendar

I had hoped that Sally and I would have a demo at the stand on the Saturday with the designer but it was busy and I already had the game by then.

Uk play: this surprised everyone that it is not as light as you might think. You roll dice like King of Tokyo but there are a lot of meaningful decisions to take and there are both secret and public goals to score points from.
The artwork makes the theme shine and it does actually feel like you are creating a lifestory.
Though not my usual type of game, I really like this.

Came with 3 Essen promo cards

Update: there are questions on BGG about the power of some goals but I suspect that is premature. It is fun and there is very good theme from what is 'just a dice game'.
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9. Board Game: Infamy [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:3108]
Ian Gill
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Reserved then Bought

I reserved a copy with the retailer who was stocking this American game and was pleased to see online that they had the Wizard Kings extra maps (so pre-reserved those as well)

I bought the game based more on the artwork and the simplicity of the play (it is essentially a bidding game with an unusual pay for each bid or raise mechanic) than its nature, as it is definitely another euro.

UK play: it "does exactly what it says on the tin" or box in this case. It is straightforward but with some tricky bidding decisions to make. The henchmen method of winning seemed easy in our first game but hopefully, with experience, this will not prove to be unbalanced. There does appear to be potential for powerful combos which is good.
 
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10. Board Game: Wizard Kings: Expansion Maps [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked]
Ian Gill
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Reserved then Bought

I was able to buy two sets (2 and 3) but had to visit another stand which was a bit of a pain. I would have liked all three sets but they only had the two and they were the ones I wanted most. All this did was save some European postage but every little bit helps. I could have bought much cheaper direct from Columbia Games but then faced expensive p&p and Vat.

The maps are very expensive for what you get but I felt that the variety offered (plus they are required in some scenarios) made playing the base game more likely.
 
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11. Board Game: Race! Formula 90 [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:1147]
Ian Gill
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Mansfield
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Bought

I liked the idea of this game and the race games I do have are not simulations. I don't rate Formula De as much more than a dice fest and Rush n Crush is good but is Scifi with weapons. Reiner's Formula Racing card game is great fun but is not competition for this.

This game was on my possibles list to buy at Essen purely because you can buy it in the Uk direct from the company for £39 plus £7 p&p = about €54.
It had to be cheaper to use up my luggage allowance. It turned out to be €45 and I received a good explanation at the stand so in the bag it went. I decided not to buy the unpainted metal car models to replace the plastic ones, even at a discount and nice as they were, as I would rather use the money for another game.
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12. Board Game: Assaultous [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:10792]
Ian Gill
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Decided "not of interest"

I saw this in the Spiel preview and, because it looked unusual and dice were involved (even though it was only two players) I went to the stand which, early on, had no customers.

I had very little time at that point and was about to head back to the hotel as I had a lot to carry.

Fortunately the first words I heard were "its a bit like chess and........"

As i have the two chess-Like games I ever expect to own it was an easy 'No'.
 
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13. Board Game: Rogue Agent [Average Rating:5.75 Overall Rank:10811]
Ian Gill
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Mansfield
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Unable to collect

Before Essen I was informed that this was probably not going to make it for collection.

Bad News it wasn't as it would be posted for free, giving me back some luggage space for another game or two.
 
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14. Board Game: Suburbia Inc [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Ian Gill
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Bought

I was not intending to buy this because I really like the base game but didn't necessarily need more variety compared with spending the cash on a totally different game.
However, I did read about the contents of the expansion and seeing it for 20€ clinched it.
(About the same or a bit less than Gameslore)

From a luggage perspective I liked that it didn't come in a box
 
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15. Board Game: Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:492]
Ian Gill
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Decided "not of interest"

When I heard there was a new "Vlaada" game being released I was hugely interested. When i read about it I was able to almost certainly dismiss it as of no interest to me.

Seeing it in person and briefly watching it being played convinced me. It may be great for some but I cant see me enjoying it.
 
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16. Board Game: Carnival Zombie [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:1807]
Ian Gill
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Decided "play John's copy"

Pre-Essen the artwork made me really interested in this but as a co-op it was not a definite buy. After highlighting it to John, he became much more interested so I basically crossed it from my list (my budget had already taken a pounding before even getting to Germany).

At the show I was less impressed by its looks (and it was 45€ so pleased John was buying it on the prospect of its gameplay.

UK play: this is a very challenging Euro with a very interesting theme. It probably works best with 3 players controlling 2 characters each.
It is tough and maybe a bit long on initial plays but everyone is keen to try it again.

I'm not surprised the new Dice Tower review is very favourable.
 
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17. Board Game: Polis: Fight for the Hegemony [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:583]
Ian Gill
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Bought

This game has been on my wish list for longer than most but had the distinct disadvantage of being 2 player only. I tend to buy multiplayer games because I am more likely to get them played.

Copies have been rare in the UK and I missed cheap copies from The Games Cellar on a couple of occasions.

If I could read German the new version is a lot cheaper but some English first editions were at Essen so I finally caved and bought one.

No doubt there will soon be a new English second edition just to taunt me further yuk
 
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18. Board Game: Say Bye to the Villains [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:3438]
Ian Gill
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Decided "play John's copy"

John had pre-ordered most of the Japon games but I was semi interested in this one. It was still available when I got to the stand but decided I had too many other card games I don't play to buy yet another.
 
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19. Board Game: Pax Porfiriana [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:409]
Ian Gill
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Decided "play John's copy"

I have often looked at buying this but doubted it would see much play plus I knew John bought a copy last year. It has been difficult to find recently and I knew there would be copies on the stand.

Unfortunately, I had to cross it of the list given the state of the budget. John suggested I do speak to Phil Eklund about games for "the experience" but every time I passed by he was busy.
 
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20. Board Game: Super Fantasy: Ugly Snouts Assault [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:2794]
Ian Gill
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Decided "play John's copy"

John pre-ordered this and it was only 30€. The game is colourful, the rules overly-so, but the component quality reflects the price. Not terrible, but not great.
I was tempted to have a demo as fantasy games are usually a winner with me but I couldn't see me preferring it to Descent, Dorn, Darkest Night, Wrath of Ashardalon, Prophecy, and numerous others.

UK play:
Fun first game, lots of dice-rolling, nice character advancement idea,......but no need to buy myself.

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21. Board Game: King of Tokyo: Halloween [Average Rating:7.24 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.24 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.24 Unranked]
Ian Gill
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Bought

I had decided not to buy this because I haven't even added the first expansion yet but, on passing the stand, I changed my mind. At 15€ I suspected I could buy it slightly cheaper in the UK when it arrived but then there is always postage.
 
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22. Board Game: Deluges [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:13775]
Ian Gill
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Bought

I have ordered a number of discounted items from Ludibay and seeing their stand gave me the opportunity to pick up this game (as postage charges had dissuaded me for just a single item). I think it was 10€.

On getting back to the hotel I opened the box and then remembered all the mixed reviews about the components. The box was heavy because of the brightly coloured stones it contained. The board is nice but the counters thin.

Worse, the stones were going to be heavy in the case so Sally offered to carry them in her hand luggage. This seemed great until she had to explain what they were in Dusseldorf airport security ! Ooooopppss
 
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23. Board Game: Cosmic Empires [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:11703]
Ian Gill
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Decided "play John's copy for now"

I pointed this out to John when he was thinking of buying just one more game. I had liked the look of it pre-show but had too many games on my potentials list already.

We were able to have a thorough explanation and chat with the designer. A second edition will have plastic ships but it should be possible to upgrade. We were both impressed and John later returned to buy a copy.

I am keen to try this and may then consider the 2nd edition.
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24. Board Game: Shroom Boom [Average Rating:4.53 Unranked]
Ian Gill
United Kingdom
Mansfield
Nottinghamshire
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Gift

I finally had the chance to meet Timo, who I helped with the combined rules for The Phantom League. On the Saturday Sally came along as well as she was keen to meet Timo, who had been responsible for me spending many hours in front of the PC trying to write precise rules !

We had a demo of Abyss (Timo's new fantasy game that is being developed) and a nice chat about Arctic Union, the group of Finnish designers. Timo offered to give me a game and Sally liked the idea of this little card game.

I played it at Essen with Ben's group of friends whilst we waited for everyone to arrive. It seemed quick and quite interesting for a little filler and I reckon Sally will like it as a family game at Christmas.
 
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25. Board Game: Eaten by Zombies! [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:4716] [Average Rating:5.89 Unranked]
Ian Gill
United Kingdom
Mansfield
Nottinghamshire
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10€ bargain. I looked at the game a long time ago and it seemed to be fun but Zombies is not a theme I generally like. At this price I felt it worth buying.

This solid box may have been partially responsible for Sally be ing stopped by airport security !

Perhaps they like Zombie games ?

 
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