How I went to Essen and came back with a large pile of cardboard...
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
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Anyone else have fun smuggling all their Essen loot back into the house without raising too much suspision ?

I thought I'd share a list of what I came back with and some comments on why/where and what the hell was I thinking...


(Edit to add a couple of games I missed (Sleuth and Count of Carc)... like I hadn't brought enough already...)
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1. Board Game: Templar: The Secret Treasures [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:4717]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
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So to start with Pre-Orders as everyone knows that these don't really count against the Essen budget as the money has already been spent... in fact you could argue that these save money as not only are you not paying postage for them but they take up room in the car/suitcase etc that would only be filled by spending ACTUAL money at Essen...

This above was a kickstart backed game, so the money was long gone well before Essen arrived. I backed a couple of games to pick up mainly as the delivery costs could be ignored (for those in Europe this is a big saving) and the game looked interesting with a few k/s freebies thrown in.

havn't had a chance to play or even check the rule book yet, but it's been punched and is waiting patiently for me to get started...
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2. Board Game: Byzantio [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:5383]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
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...another Kickstarter, and at only $28 with free pickup this was hard to turn down (that's like £3.50 in old money I think ?)...

I'll be honest, I have no idea how this will play, but it looks like a nice game with a good play time.

Also when I picked this up the guy behind the counter (sorry, can't remember who but I think it might've been the designer) actually made a comment about my BGG avatar, which is the kind of personal service and customer attention you just don't get in normal life. This extra touch was a nice way of feeling 'welcomed' at Essen, thanks.

And good luck with the game now it's out in the real world !
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3. Board Game: Cornish Smuggler [Average Rating:5.95 Overall Rank:6496]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
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So now to games I didn't kick start, but should've !

Again I've not had a chance to play this yet, but the theme and art all look fabulous. I'm really hoping that the play experience matches the look, not only because it just looks like a great game, but also I met the people behind this for drinks and they were such a lovely bunch that I'm almost scared that I'll not like the game and have to tell them this next time we meet.

Talk about dedication, this was their first visit to Essen and they spent nearly all the time at their stall working on the business side of the fair. If this had been me I'd probably have left a 'back in 5 minutes' sign up on the booth for half the event while I wandered about.

This game has added interest due to a member of our team kickstarting to a level whereby they were included on a card in the game. Anyone subscribing at this level were asked to provide a photo which would then be drawn with added warts and disfigurements to create a more authentic, turn of the century look. I believe Neil's card was the only one that needed none of the above changes to look authentic...



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4. Board Game: Mount Everest [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:4384]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
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A last minute preorder for this as I really like K2 and this looks like the new superpowered edition of the same game.

Some companies for pre-order ask for payment upfront, which I guess makes sense in that the sale is guarenteed. Rebel.Pl took a more trusting attitude with a 5euro discount for pre-orders but no need to pay until collection.

So I'd be lying if I didnt admit that the preorder was a bit of a 50/50 in that if, once I'd seen the game, I didn't like it I could walk away... but in the event it didn't come to that as the game looks solid and the artwork/theme is again fabulous.

Would be interested to know how many pre-orders we no-shows, and compare this preorder method to the pay upfront method in terms of success ?
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5. Board Game: Machi Koro [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:787]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
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So to Japon Brand.

Last year I failed to get Trains (more on this later), and so this year I was determined to make sure I didn't miss out and spent rather too much money on a big pre-order. I made sure I ordered a few extra copies of some of the games with the view to selling them afterwards and re-couping a little of the cost... bit of a gamble, but worth the risk.

As expected most of the games sold out in a matter of minutes on the Thurs morning, and chances of getting this one were just about nil if I hadn't preordered.

I've clocked up about 5 plays of this so far and it's just a wonderful game. impossibly to imagine that AEG (or other) will not have this soon on general release as it's not only a simple, quick to play and learn game with just the right amount of luck involved, but also ripe for a series of expansions as it has a touch fo the 'dominion's' about it.

Sorry to sound like I'm gloating as I know this game is currently hard to get, but I have a feeling it'll be the hit of Essen '13 for me.

Other Japon brand PreOrders were

Say Bye to the Villains
Heart of Crown
Donburiko
Sushi Draft - played this a few times. It's a simple game but has a lovely presentation. easy to introduce for non-gamers. Went down well with my family.

Skirmish! The Scrambles
Lost Legacy - I think my gaming group is the only one that actively dislikes Love Letter and now this. Might be hard to get this to the table, but I live in hope that one day we'll 'get' it and enjoy the game as seemingly everyone else does

Patronize - played this one, in very low light (which si not recommended as the text is small... it looked ok but the reading was too much of a struggle, and the cube colours were also badly chosen... Def worth another try though, this time in daylight !

Witch's Coming!
Sail to India - Havn't played yet but even worse choice of cube colours. The blue and green are basically indistinguishable apart. Anyone with this will need to pimp this out with their own cubes, or spend time marking the ones provided.

String Safari - played this with my 7 year old... he liked it which is good enough for me

...

...as luck would have it I met someone yesterday who told me that one of the few games that I hadn't picked up from Japon Brand was really good Sukimono... yuk I guess I now already have something on my list for 2014...
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6. Board Game: Coal Baron [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:486]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
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Moving onto games I hadn't pre-ordered but just couldn't resist... wonderful shiny shiny new things that they are...

So we were staying at the http://www.alte-lohnhalle.de/ centered around a mining cultural centre... bit out in the sticks, but quite an impressive building and with the phrase Gluck Auf enblasioned in several areas in the lobby this game was already feeling like an essential purchase...

Then we also heard there was a limited edition wooden box thingy (only ONLY 500 available) and so while I dashed off to the Heidelberger cheapo stand first thing on Thurs, Neil went thisaway and brought 2 copies of this at 50 euros each (ouch)... but they looked great, so it didn't hurt as badly as it might've.

We played it last week and luckily (phew) we liked it. Nothing too new going on here, but it's a nice, relativly simple and thematically pure game that takes about an hour... enough pain points and options to keep you thinking but unlikely to cause too much seizure while players try to work out optimal moves.

Later on I was standing behind 2 elderly gentlemen waiting (I'll admit I was getting a little impatient) to pick up a copy of the Yedo espansion from Eggertspiele stand... the seller behind the stand then produced a copy of the wooden box edition, unwrapped it and handed it to the gentlemen who flourished a black pen and proceeded to write 'Kramer' and 'Kiesling' on the inside of the box... I did shake the hands of one of them afterwards while explaining that I'd already brought a copy... shame I didn't have it with me as would've made a nice souvenier...

Essen is full of game designers, casually toss a meeple over your shoulder and you're likely to hit at least 2 of them before it reaches the floor... one of which probably designed the meeple...

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7. Board Game: Blueprints [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:745]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
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Not sure why I brought this... although I can guess. It was on my 2nd tier radar and at 25 euros from ZMan was likely to stay there, but then on Friday afternoon I passed by and having turned down the chance to buy one of the last 5 English copies of Russian Railroads (luckily Phil in my group picked one up) I saw that the price had dropped to 20 euros... and in a flash, almost without any concious decision making involved, I had a copy in my bag.

I'm an easy sell, just give me the impression I'm saving money and it's a guarenteed sale...

Not played a game yet, it was turned down in favour of Machi Koro that night, but from looking at the rules and reading some reports I think it's going to be a good one.
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8. Board Game: Coup: Reformation [Average Rating:7.30 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.30 Unranked]
James Sinden
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Coup was one of the hits from last year... it's probably the best 'microgame' out there (only 15 cards) and has been on the menu at my local club on and off all year.

Seeing that an expansion was out there (and only 300 copies) I had this on my early Thurs schedule and was able to buy a few copies without much trouble... fortunately though as the person in front of me had asked to buy 50 copies which might've eaten up all the stock... I was mightly relieved when I heard there was a 5 unit max in place for sales.

We played this last week and I'll admit I'm not sure this brings a lot more to the game, but it's always nice to have some varients especaily on a small 15 minute game. It was also interesting playing this game with a number of religious folk (including an Irish catholic) who seemed slightly bemused at the idea of having to take on the role of their natural religious 'enemies' in the game... could be an interesting experience if you ever got to play this at a club in Dublin...
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9. Board Game: Cheaty Mages! [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:2256]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
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More Japanese fare, although this was from AEG so kinda doesn't count, in the same way that Trains is not really a Japanese game anymore.

However this time AEG took the right decision and kept the design ethic of the Japanese version which (IMHO) looks great.

If you were at Essen you couldn't miss AEG... not from the stand which was about average size, but from the GIANT oversize bags they were giving out for 10 euros, or free with a 15 euro purchase. Smash Up on one side, or Trains emblazoned on the other and big enough to carry your grandmother around. I decided I wanted/needed one of these and Cheaty Mages was bang on 15 euros so a difficult decision was made easy.

I did find out a few hours later that there was a weight limit on these bags as the big strap broke, but AEG kindly replaced it. I think the weight limit was more a comment on how much I'd crammed in there rather than a slight on the quality of the bags...

So we played this last Wed and despite a few rolly eyes at my producing another Japanese game, everyone really liked it. 1/2 hour of bluffing and second guessing... some gambling involved... it's a very good design, and I think we may end up playing this a lot as a filler in the weeks to come.
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10. Board Game: Hanabi [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:289]
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
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You couldn't escape this game at Essen this year... I'd bet money that probably more copies of this were sold over the 4 days than any other game given it was small, cheap (5-7 euros), easy to play and teach and was available almost everywhere.

Abacus-Spiele were also handing out lovely A2 size play mats for the game. Can't see any photos of this yet on the geek, I'll see if I can add one. So I bagged a few of these and a fresh copy of the game.



They also had the lovely deluxe version available which felt like it was a tad expensive, but did look nice... for once I was able to resist.
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11. Board Game: Takenoko [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:218]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
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...speaking of deluxe collectors editions... This was also on offer but in this case I had to pick up a copy for someone else.

In a moment of madness during the last UK Math Trade I listed an item that I'd pick up a game from Essen upto 25 euros and some promos as a sweetener... the idea being that I would probably give someone who wasn't going a chance to get something, but also get something sizable back to make up for the effort... win-win...

I hadn't realised the winner was going to choose probably the biggest, heaviest game available...

But, a promise is a promise so I picked this up late on Sat (140 euros !) to bring back (and handed over yesterday). The game looks wondeeful (whether you like the gameplay or not) and although overpriced I was sorely tempted myself once I'd seen it...

FYI I also collected promos for Yedo, Fleet, Hive, Cyclades and SOS Titanic so I think they were happy with the end result. If I remember I'll look to do this again next year, but might stipulate a weight limit on the item selected
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12. Board Game: Snowdonia [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:366]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
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This trip was my 4th to Essen and I was thinking of what I could do to make it a little different... then I saw that Indie Boards and Cards were asking for people to explain their games and decided to put my name down for a day to help out. Given I absolutely love Snowdonia (this and Tolkein were my best games from Essen 2012) I asked if I could explain this and Travis was happy to bring me on board.

Indie Boards & Cards

Hence you could find me on Thurs afternoon and Friday morning, decked out in my fancy Indie Board and Card shirt, showing people around the latest edition of this game and doing my best to make sure I got all the rules correct...

I think in total I oversaw about 8 games over the 2 sessions, everyone seemed to enjoy it, although it was a little embarassing when someone pointed out a rule I'd been playing wrong relating to one of the engines (* for those interested I'd missed the bit saying that someone had to have already built on Action E for the free action to be available)... It was good to see another side of the fair, and also gave me another level of respect for people who do this for all 4 days... it's not an easy job, and requires a lot of patience, and quite some endurance to do this all day... my hat comes off to them for doing this and still managing to smile by 6:30 on the Sat evening...

The added bonus to this was that I also got paid $$$ 35 euros in cash for my time, and also 50 euros of games... which I duly spent on the new version of Snowdonia and the expansion.

Would I do this again ? Hmm, not sure. I can't say the experience was as much fun as walking the halls and playing games, but then again it did give me an insite into another side of the fair. I guess it depends on my mood in 11 months time !
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13. Board Game: Snowdonia: The Daffodil Line [Average Rating:7.96 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.96 Unranked]
James Sinden
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Speaking of Snowdonia and expansions was there any game at Essen with more new expansions available ? I would suggest not.

A keen Snowdonia player could, this year, pick up

Snowdonia: Jungfraubahn & Mount Washington

The offical expansion from IB&C. This includes 2 expansion scenarios.

Snowdonia: Britannia Bridge

Also from IB&C as a bonus for buying the Expansion deck.

Snowdonia: The Daffodil Line

The Daffodil line direct from Surprised Stare

Snowdonia: Bayerische Zugspitzbahn

Lookout games were selling the German version of the official expansion. this included not only the German language Britannia Bridge, but also and additional German only scenario called "Bayerische Zugspitzbahn"... I picked this up for 10 euros from Lookout and so now have 5 expansions to try out in the coming months...

I do like this game but I can't help but feel this is enough for now though...

(ps if anyone fancies the German versions of the other expansions from the Lookout set let me know..... thanks)
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14. Board Game: Relic Runners [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:1492]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
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The next few items are some games that I had pre-arranged to buy at Essen... Mr
Lloyd
United Kingdom
Camden
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had the genius idea to set up a geeklist in advance for attendees to post games for sale with the aim to save postage and meet up during the fair...

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/162709/the-essen-2013-...

I'd both brought and sold a few games via this list so had an ongoing task to try and meet up... fortunately for me, the day I spent teaching Snowdonia for Indie Board and Cards gave me an easy meetup point (you come to me !) so I was able to punctuate my time there with people walking up and either giving me games and taking away money, or vice versa...

This game I actually purchased from Mr
Richard Ham
United States
Washington
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CLICK THIS BEAGLE if you're looking for in-depth gameplay video run-throughs! :)
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himself, and as anyoine who has seen his videos from Essen (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1058774/rahdo-runs-throu...) for themselves he was in the process of living out his moniker by running through Essen trying to follow a crazy agenda of buying/selling/viewing as many games as possible in 4 days...

I was pleased to get a chance to pick this up for about 25% off the price that I'd have to pay back home, and I'm sure he was happy to make space by selling a few games given the amount he was gooing to be taking back !

Haven't had a chance to play yet, but it looks interesting. Wonderful components as ever, but the game seems centered around playing routes between temples to allow for speedy movement later in the game... After a rules runthough I'm intregued to see what the game actually plays like as I can't visualise it at the moment.

I also picked up the next game from him as well, one of my Essen highlights. Thanks !
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15. Board Game: Trains [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:391] [Average Rating:7.21 Unranked]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
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This is one I really wanted... Last year I missed out on this, twice. Firstly there were none left when I hit the queue, but I'd also managed to ask if I could buy the display copy at the end of the Sunday, but wasn't able to stay get back to the stand on Sunday to pick it up

But 12 months later and I'm a happy camper.

The game is the same but the design is so much nicer, less clean perhaps, but it jsut feels like a better game this way. of course I'm going to have to accept that I'll not be able to play any AEG expansions (possibly a good thing if they go Dominion crazy with this game), but I can live with that.

Also as a nice surprise the box included the bonus USA/Germany map that Japon Brand gave out at Essen last year... Looking forwards to playing this at the club sometime soon.
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16. Board Game: Paleo [Average Rating:6.80 Unranked]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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This was another game I've been after for a while.

There was another great Essen geeklist available this year for the first time (AFAIK) winto which folk were able to list those games they were really after with the hope that someone had a copy spare and was willing to bring it along and sell during the event.

I threw up several games on the list, more in hope than expection, but as luck would have it I managed to bag several as a result. Thanks to
Belgium
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for setting this up

www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/162814/essen-2013-the-hunt-fo...

This was one I had never really expected to get hold of, basically a close relative to Caroom, but with a theme and set game play... whats not to like !

I met the seller prior to Sat morning and lugged back to the car, but I'm dead excited to get this out someday soon for a play. Looks like a lot of fun.

Other games I managed to track down this way were as follows

In a Grove - someone traded this to me before Essen
Infarkt - managed to get this in the Essen Math trade (more later!)
Trains - this was where rahdo spotted my request for the aforementioned Japon Brand edition of Trains.

The following though came up empty (if anyone has a copy available, feel free to let me know !)

Destruct 3
Neue Heimat - I had high hopes that I couod pick this up at Essen, but this year Chilli games didn't attend so this stays on the list.
Telestrations - was sure that someone from the USA would bring a copy over but nope...
Modern Art - this was another real longshot, a Japanese retheme of Modern Art that looks gorgeous.



Still this was a great idea for a geeklist and hopefully becomes an Essen staple. A lot of others seemed to strike luck with their wants as well so once again a big shout out to 'Banemus' for setting this up.
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17. Board Game: Rattus [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:815]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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Or as Queen would say "Rattus - Big Box"


...another game picked up on the pre-Essen buy and sell list. 50 euros for what looks like (I've not had chance to check yet) a complete set of Rattus.

A friend of mine is a big fan of this game so I'll be splitting this set to give him the ones he needs while keeping the base game for myself.... win-win again !

This included

Rattus
Rattus: Pied Piper
Rattus: Africanus
Rattus: Spiel 2010 Bonus Cards
Rattus: Judge Promo Card
Rattus: Spiel 2011 Bonus Cards
Rattus: Jester Promo Card
Rattus: Mercatus
Rattus: Arabian Traders
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18. Board Game: Trick of the Rails [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:2247]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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Another Japon Brand game from 2012 taht I missed at the time. This is a small trick taking varient that looked good, and at the bargain price of 10 euros seemed worth taking a chance on.
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19. Board Game: De Kolonisten van de Lage Landen [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:5583]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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and from the same seller I managed to pick up this Dutch themed version of Settlers for the give away price of 5 euros.

I've not tried any of the Setter varients before other than the offical ones on my iPad and I've always been wanting to give them a go... this looks likie it has enough difference from the base game to get people interested, and at that price I'm not sure I can really go wrong.

I have some friends living in Amsterdam, so at the end of the say if I don't like it I have an easy option of who I can pass it onto.
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20. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:116]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
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Now for the Math trades... another Essen staple is the chance to swap a few games over in the scrum that passes for the math trade each year... I'd picked up 5 trades which meant I had to arrange for 10 meetups to both receive and give games... once again the ability to let others know I was hanging out at the Indie Board and Card stand became invaluable. From what I heard the offical MT meetup spot was akin to being in the queue for the Heidelberger Spieleverlag stand on Thursday morning...

I picked this up for a copy of Taluva... Although at the time I selected it I hadn't realised it was the Dutch edition of Goa which was a slight disappointment However, it's still a great game and playable in English. My fault for not double checking the listing from the initial post. Lesson for next time
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21. Board Game: Gulo Gulo [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1011]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
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Fabulous kids game, and an easy win for a copy of Mondo Sapiens. I'[m saving this one for Christmas to play with my 7 year old and his cousins, I'm sure they''ll love it.
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22. Board Game: Infarkt [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:3364]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
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A lesson to me here... This game was available at Essen for 21 euros, which if I'd know I'd have jsut brought directly from the publisher.

As it happens I had presumed this to be hard to find and ended up trading a copy of Nexus Ops... Ah well, some you win and all that...

A game I was tempted to buy all weekend but ended up not getting was this years game by the same publisher, Dr. Hrubec... It looked like fun and I'm semi regretting not getting this while I had the chance...
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23. Board Game: Cornerstone Essential [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:4690]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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Another 'mistake' as I had traded this for a shrink copy of Ticket To Ride... a few years ago this was expensive but this year I saw a lot of copies from discount stands going for around 15 euros... Again if I'd know I'd have brought one at the fair.

I'm beginning to think that the Math Trade at Essen, despite being a great way to pass on games, is a bit of a lottery as you never know what you might be able to pick up anyways from the zillion stalls dotted around the halls.

One thought that only hit me too late though. This version of the game is actaully a cut down version of the original Cornerstone using only half the pieces. I really should've brought myself another copy so that I could have the full original version that I really wanted... so hoping they're equally cheap next year ?
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24. Board Game: Himalaya [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:992]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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My last find was a copy of this older classic.. for which I traded a copy of Jet Set.

A good deal this one for me, I had this game before and liked the look of it, but never managed to get it to the table. This time round I think I'll make more of an effort as it looked great before and I wished I'd had a chance to check it out.

So that concludes the Math Trade... next up I'll run over the 'bargains' I managed to find from the dozen or so 2nd hand stalls that show up at Essen each year... where do they get their stock !!??!!
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25. Board Game: Chinatown [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:369]
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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One of my all time favourite games.

Upto now I've been playing with a German copy of the more recent ZMan release, but had my eye on an original copy for a while as it just looks better...

And where better to get one ! Any Alea completist would love the 2nd hand stalls at Essen as everything seemed to be available, often in shrink wrap, unplayed... I passed over several copies of this at 45 euros but then spied one for 34 euros... a very quick piece of bargaining ('can you do any better ?', 'how about 32 euros', 'done') and it was mine...

Funny but of all the things I have from Essen, this and Trains are the ones I'm most pleased with... (at the moment) so much for all the new shiny games.
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