My Essen 2017 Watch List
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What I am interested that is releasing this year at Essen 2017





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Will probably purchase, but might wait to play someone else's copy
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1. Board Game: Agra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:1085]
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Designer(s): Michael Keller (II)
Artist(s): Michael Menzel
Publisher: Quined Games

Quote:
Agra, India: The year is 1572; this year marks the 30th birthday of Abu'l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad, popularly known as Akbar the Great. Akbar is the third ruler of India's Mughal dynasty, having succeeded his father, Humayun. With the guidance of his regent, Bairam Khan, Akbar has expanded and consolidated India's Mughal domains. Using his strong personality and skill as a general, Akbar has enlarged his Empire to include nearly all of the Indian subcontinent north of the Godavari River; his presence is felt across the entire country due to the Mughals' military, political, cultural, and economic dominance.

To unify the vast Mughal state, Akbar has established a centralized system of administration; conquered rulers are conciliated through marriage and diplomacy. Akbar has preserved peace and Order throughout his empire by passing laws that have won him the support of his non-Muslim subjects. Eschewing tribal bonds and Islamic state-identity, Akbar has striven to unite his lands. The Mughals' Persian-ized culture has afforded Akbar near-divine status.

Notables and emissaries from all over the country are on their way for Akbar's birthday celebration. As an ambitious landowner, you cannot let this pass; the festivities are a golden opportunity for you to rise in stature and wealth.

On your land in Agra, you cultivate and harvest cotton and turmeric. You possess a forest from which you produce wood, as well as a small, but very profitable sandstone quarry. By trading and processing your wares, you can obtain more luxurious goods, which you will then use to woo notables as they make their way into the capital. Of course, your rivals have the same plan; you must use your wits to outsmart them as Akbar's birthday draws near...


Really interesting designer / artist combo here. Always enjoy Michael Menzel art, and Michael Keller (II) is always interesting because of what he did with La Granja (Solarius Mission was interesting as well). Generic Euro worker placement game, but am still pretty excited for this one. It also has a cool 3D board... which gives it bonus points!

Interest Level:
Status: Pre-Ordered (via Philibert)
Rules: Link
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2. Board Game: Merlin [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:1147]
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Designer(s): Stefan Feld, Michael Rieneck
Artist(s): Dennis Lohausen
Publisher: Queen Games

Quote:
King Arthur is searching for a worthy heir. Together with Merlin he tries to find the best candidate among the Knights of the Round Table.

Players move their knights or Merlin with the help of dice around the action ring to get the most desired actions. While the knights are only moved by the corresponding player, Merlin can be moved by all players, which makes integrating Merlin in one's plan a tricky endeavor.

There are multiple ways to score victory points such as defeating barbarians, building manors in the surrounding area and increasing one's influence in the 6 counties. Additionally, players can fulfill task cards during their turn to get more victory points. The player who plans his actions most efficiently will ultimately have the most points and thus will be the royal successor of King Arthur.


This is a theme I am always interested in, and have not played a game with this theme that I liked (that I can think of) since Shadows over Camelot... which was a long time ago. Solid designers, and the playtime looks like this could provide a solid mid-weight euro.

Interest Level:
Status: Kickstarted (Maybe?) *Queen games is awful*
Rules: http://www.queen-games.com/?ddownload=10426
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3. Board Game: Gaia Project [Average Rating:8.71 Overall Rank:13]
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Designer(s): Jens Drögemüller, Helge Ostertag
Artist(s): Dennis Lohausen
Publisher: Z-Man Games

Quote:
Gaia Project is a new game in the line of Terra Mystica. As in the original Terra Mystica, fourteen different factions live on seven different kinds of planets, and each faction is bound to their own home planets, so to develop and grow, they must terraform neighboring planets into their home environments in competition with the other groups. In addition, Gaia planets can be used by all factions for colonization, and Transdimensional planets can be changed into Gaia planets.

All factions can improve their skills in six different areas of development — Terraforming, Navigation, Artificial Intelligence, Gaiaforming, Economy, Research — leading to advanced technology and special bonuses. To do all of that, each group has special skills and abilities.

The playing area is made of ten sectors, allowing a variable set-up and thus an even bigger replay value than its predecessor Terra Mystica. A two-player game is hosted on seven sectors.


The next iteration of Terra Mystica in Space! Really interested to see what improvements they have made to the system, and just how different this is from Terra Mystica. I never trust Z-Man, but this looks like it should release just after Essen in the USA as well.

Interest Level:
Status: Pre-Ordered (Local)
Rules: None
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4. Board Game: Terraforming Mars: Venus Next [Average Rating:8.12 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.12 Unranked]
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Designer(s): Jacob Fryxelius
Artist(s): Isaac Fryxelius
Publisher: Stronghold Games

Quote:
The second expansion for the Terraforming Mars base game, has players building flying cities and making the atmosphere more hospitable on the deadly planet Venus.


Don't know much of what it adds, but I assume more cards, and some new quirks to scoring. Also want to get the Promo cards: Snow Algae (Spielbox - Preordered (local)), Penguins (Stronghold game store), and Self replicating robots (???).

Interest Level:
Status: Pre-Ordered (Local)
Rules: Link
Estimated Local Release: October
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5. Board Game: Clans of Caledonia [Average Rating:8.16 Overall Rank:61]
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Designer(s): Juma Al-JouJou
Artist(s): Klemens Franz
Publisher: Karma Games

Quote:
Clans of Caledonia is a mid-to-heavy economic game set in 19th-century Scotland. At this time, Scotland made the transition from an agricultural to an industrialized country that heavily relied on trade and export. In the following years, food production increased significantly to feed the population growth. Linen was increasingly substituted by the cheaper cotton and raising sheep was given high importance. More and more distilleries were founded and whisky became the premium alcoholic beverage in Europe.

Players represent historic clans with unique abilities and compete to produce, trade and export agricultural goods and of course whisky!

The game ends after five rounds. Each round consists of the three phases:

1. Players' turns
2. Production phase
3. Round scoring

1. Players take turns and do one of eight possible actions, from building, to upgrading, trading and exporting. When players run out of money, they pass and collect a passing bonus.

2. In the production phase, each player collects basic resources, refined goods and cash from their production units built on the game map. Each production unit built makes income visible on the player mat. Refined goods require the respective basic resource.

3. Players receive VPs depending on the scoring tile of the current round.

The game comes with eight different clans, a modular board with 16 configurations, eight port bonuses and eight round scoring tiles.


Haven't played anything from this designer, but this being a mid-heavy economic game inspired by Terra Mystica has had be intrigued since the kickstarter. The art and graphic design are fabulous on this one as well. Looks like english copies are a bit delayed, but should still be out this year (in english).

Interest Level:
Status: Kickstarted
Rules: Link
Estimated Local Release: October
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6. Board Game: Lorenzo il Magnifico: Houses of Renaissance [Average Rating:8.30 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.30 Unranked]
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Designer(s): Flaminia Brasini, Virginio Gigli, Simone Luciani
Artist(s): Klemens Franz, Andrea Kattnig, Andreas Resch
Publisher: Cranio Creations

Quote:
In Lorenzo il Magnifico: Houses of Renaissance, each player now becomes the head of a powerful house of Renaissance, each of which has a strong special ability that only that player can use. Players choose the houses from the ten available at the beginning of the game through a special and fast auction. This expansion also introduces:

48 new Development Cards and a fifth tower, where these cards are placed. These cards add to the game a lot of new powerful effect.
20 new Leader Cards with a new leader mechanism.
30 special tokens that player can take and use in combination with the new cards, and that add new way to collect resources and perform actions.
The components to add a fifth player to the struggle for the power.


Honestly my only issue with the game previously was that there wasn't enough cards to make every game feel different enough, but this expansion looks like it deals nicely with that problem. Not sure I would ever want to play with 5 players, so that part of the expansion is a little useless.

Interest Level:
Status: None
Rules: None
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7. Board Game: Nusfjord [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:1065]
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Designer(s): Uwe Rosenberg
Artist(s): Patrick Soeder
Publisher: Lookout Games

Quote:
Nusfjord is a tranquil fishing village in the Lofoten archipelago in northern Norway. Fifty years ago, business was blooming when the codfish would come for spawning. Today, Nusfjord is more of a museum than a village, with less than a hundred people living there. Imagine how beautiful this place must be given that you must pay a fee to even look at the houses. Cruise ships used to pass by this long and now mostly abandoned island world.

In the time period in which the game Nusfjord is set, things looked quite different. Sailing ships dominate the fjord. The rocks around Nusfjord are covered in trees. As the owner of a major fishing company in Nusfjord on the Lofoten archipelago, your goal is to develop the harbor and the surrounding landscape, and to succeed you must enlarge your fleet, clear the forest, erect new buildings, and satisfy the local elders. Others do this as well, of course, so the competition is steep.

As with Agricola and Ora et Labora, Nusfjord has a worker placement mechanism, with each player starting with three workers that they place on a central board to trigger certain actions. Whether a player wants to clear a forest on their own board, buy a new cutter, or construct a building, they must place a worker on the appropriate space — which is possible only if room is available for this worker. Money is scarce, and one of the quicker and easier ways to get it is to place shares of your own company on the market. This risky action could be worthwhile because if you succeed in buying these shares yourself, you have usually won money and not suffered any disadvantages; however, if an opponent acquires these shares, then you must allow them to benefit from your hard-earned catches at sea. The village elders might want their own share of your catch as well, especially if you've visited them to take certain actions in the village, so if you don't take care, your catch could end up entirely in the hands of others and your camp will be empty.

Minimum Players: 1
Maximum Players: 5
Minimum Time: 20
Maximum Time: 100


Stinks it doesn't have art from Klemens Franz, but anytime Uwe Rosenberg puts out a medium weight Euro game, you have to pay attention. Looks like it will be out a month after Essen in the USA. Haven't dove too much about how this game works, but looks to be another worker placement game.

Interest Level:
Status: Pre-Ordered (Local)
Rules: None
Estimated Local Release: Nov. 30th
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8. Board Game: The Voyages of Marco Polo: Agents of Venice [Average Rating:8.05 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.05 Unranked]
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Designer(s): Simone Luciani, Daniele Tascini
Artist(s): Dennis Lohausen
Publisher: Hans im Glück

Quote:
Die Gefährten des Marco Polo, the first major expansion for The Voyages of Marco Polo, includes a new game board featuring the city of Venice, where you can construct buildings, as well as new city markers, new characters, new actions for the dice (with the companions bringing some cards your way), and purple components so that you can play with up to five players.


More "stuff" for this game is always welcome. Does look like it adds a few new twists that doesn't seem to add too many new rules.

Interest Level:
Status: None
Rules: None
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9. Board Game: Transatlantic [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:1338]
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Designer(s): Mac Gerdts
Artist(s): N/A
Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Quote:
From the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 to the beginning of WWI in 1914, there was an amazing development of bigger, faster, and more modern steamships. Whereas in 1870 there are still many clippers around and the good old paddle steamer "Scotia" sails the North Atlantic, sea trade is dominated by the end of this era by huge vessels like "Mauretania"(Cunard), "Olympic"(White Star), or "Imperator"(Hapag).

In Transatlantic, 2 to 5 players lead their own shipping companies, which transport freight, mail, and passengers around the globe. They purchase new steamships from the market, each of them historical with their individual technical data (tons, knots etc.). Competition is tough, especially in the North Atlantic where winning the "Blue Riband" is not only a matter of prestige, but may also be a profitable investment. In order to let a shipping company flourish, purchasing the best steamships is not enough, if one fails to acquire enough coal bunkers and trade posts as well.

The game is driven by cards; on each turn, play one card and execute the related action. As new cards enter the game, build your individual deck of cards with new or improved possibilities. The task is to manage your merchant fleet most efficiently. It's a maritime strategy game with low luck, lots of interactive choices, and tough decisions.


Gerdts has been working on this one for awhile. Looks like it has another interesting take on "hand building (previously he did something similar in Concordia). No rules yet, but does seem interesting from what we know so far!

Interest Level:
Status: None
Rules: None
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10. Board Game: Altiplano [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:666]
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Designer(s): Reiner Stockhausen
Artist(s): Klemens Franz
Publisher: dlp games

Quote:
Altiplano, a bag-building game along the lines of Orléans set in the South American highlands of the Andes — the Altiplano — is not a simple game, presenting players with new challenges time and again. There are various ways to reach the goal, so the game remains appealing to try out new options and strategies, but success or failure also depends on whether your opponents let you do as you like or thwart the strategy you are pursuing. The competition for the individual types of goods is considerable — as is the fun in snatching a coveted extension card from under another player's nose!

Aside from building up an effective production, you must deliver the right goods at the right time, develop the road in good time, and store your goods cleverly enough to fill the most valuable rows with them. Often, a good warehouseperson is more relevant in the end than the best producer.

At the start of the game, players have access only to certain resources and goods. This is due to the different role tiles that each player receives and that provide everybody with different starting materials. At the market, however, a player can acquire additional production sites that give new options. The numerous goods — such as fish, alpaca, cacao, silver, or corn — all have their own characteristics and places where they can be used. Whereas silver makes you rich, fish can be exchanged for other goods, and the alpaca gives you wool that you can then make into cloth.


I'm a sucker for bag building, and this seems like a "Heavier" take on the mechanism. Art from Klemens Franz definitely give this one brownie points (although the cover does look a bit odd).

Interest Level:
Status: Pre-Ordered (via Philibert)
Rules: http://www.dlp-games.de//tpl/download/Altiplano_EN.pdf
Estimated Local Release: None
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11. Board Game: Riverboat [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:1544]
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Designer(s): Michael Kiesling
Artist(s): Klemens Franz
Publisher: Lookout Games

Quote:
Riverboat posits each player as the owner of a 19th century farm on the bank of the Mississippi River. You need to organize your workers to ensure that the fields are ordered according to their type and harvested when ready so that the goods can be shipped to New Orleans.

In more detail, the game lasts four rounds, and at the start of each round players draft phase cards until they're all distributed. The phases then take place in numerical order, with the player who chose a phase being the first one to act. In the first phase, players place their workers in the fields, with each player having the same distribution of colored field tiles, but a different random placement for each player. In phase two, players organize their crops, trying to group like types together, with some fields requiring two or three workers. In phase three, players harvest crops and load riverboats, with a dock needing to be filled with all the goods of a single type before it can be loaded. In phase four, the boats are launched and players can take special actions, with additional victory points possibly coming in phase five.


Need more info on this one. There is an article in GTM Magazine #211 about it, which I still need to read.

Interest Level:
Status: None
Rules: None
Estimated Local Release: Nov 30th
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12. Board Game: Peak Oil [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:3492] [Average Rating:6.96 Unranked]
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Designer(s): Heiko Günther, Tobias Gohrbandt
Artist(s): Heiko Günther
Publisher: 2Tomatoes

Quote:
You are the top manager at one of the big oil companies, tasked with leading your enterprise into a future without oil. With peak oil looming ahead, you try to squeeze the last drops from oil fields around the world to gather the resources to invest into various oil replacement technologies. While you may try to emerge from the coming crisis by regular means, your competitors will most probably not, forcing you to dirty your hands as well.

On your turn in Peak Oil, you assign your agents to different action spots on the board. If your agents are in the majority at any given action spot, or you decide to send mercenaries to their help, they squelch the competition there and allow you to take the linked action. Actions include developing and harvesting oil fields, building pipelines, hiring new agents, buying new ship contracts, investing in oil replacement technologies, conducting PR campaigns, engaging in piracy, and manipulating public opinion and oil prices.

After some time, the oil — represented by a set number of small barrels you draw from a bag when developing new oil fields — will run out. This is called "peak oil" and marks the end of the game. Players tally the value of the technologies in which they invested and promoted during the game. Whoever shaped the future best (i.e. gained favor for their company) wins.


Always have been a fan of Heiko Günther's art, but have never played any game that he has designed. Love the theme, the art, and the worker placement / area majority mechanisms sounds great.

Interest Level:
Status: Kickstarted
Rules: Link
Estimated Local Release: None
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13. Board Game: Amun-Re: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:6755]
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Designer(s): Reiner Knizia
Artist(s): N/A
Publisher: Super Meeple

Quote:
Amun-Re: The Card Game is a card-based version of Amun-Re, and the auction at the heart of that game is still present in this design, with the results of those auctions driving the rest of the action.

In more detail, Amun-Re: The Card Game lasts three rounds, with three auctions in each round, followed by other actions, then a scoring. Each player starts the game with money cards valued 0-8, and at the start of the game, everyone chooses money cards that sum to 14 (with the 0 being included) and lays those cards face up on the table. Province cards equal to the number of players are revealed, and players take turns bidding on provinces by placing exactly one money card next to one province, outbidding an opponent if someone else has already bid there; if you're outbid, you take back your money card, then bid again on your next turn. Eventually everyone will have bid on separate provinces, after which you discard the non-0 bids, then lay out new province cards and run through two more rounds of bidding.

Province cards show different numbers of pyramids, ankhs, and fields, with a caravan possibly being visible as well. Whoever has the most ankhs visible is Pharaoh, going first in each action with ties broken from the Pharaoh going clockwise.

After three rounds of auctions, players will have some amount of money (possibly only the 0) still in hand. Everyone simultaneously makes an offering of gold, and the sum of the offerings determines how much the Nile floods, which determines how much money players will earn from fields. If the sum is 10 or less, players with caravans receive 10 gold per caravan. Whoever offers the most gold receives three pyramids to place on their province cards, with others receiving two and one pyramids.

In player order, players determine their income level, then spend gold to build pyramids on their cards (distributing them as equally as possible), then they take money cards into their hand to account for any income not spent. They then score points for sets of pyramids, for having nine or more fields, and for having the most ankhs.

The second and third rounds of the game play out similarly, except that when you claim cards following the auction, you place these province cards on top of your previous province cards so that only the imprinted and acquired pyramids are visible. Everything else is buried in the sands. You score again at the end of each of these rounds, then the player with the most points wins.


Really liked what he did with Medici: The Card Game, so excited to see what he does with this one. The production by Super Meeple looks fantastic.

Interest Level:
Status: Pre-Ordered (Philibert)
Rules: Link
Estimated Local Release: None
 
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14. Board Game: Fields of Arle: Tea & Trade [Average Rating:8.57 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.57 Unranked]
Jason
United States
Irvine
California
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I am vengeance. I am the night. I am BATMAN!
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Designer(s): Tido Lorenz, Uwe Rosenberg
Artist(s): Dennis Lohausen
Publisher: Unknown

Quote:
Tea & Trade, the first expansion of Fields of Arle, introduces a new "Tea" resource, ships and trading destinations for that resource, an additional "Ditcher" craft action, and several new buildings. A three-player mode is also included in this expansion.


Really like this game, but it is tough to get played. Wondering if by having a 3 player option will help get it out more?

Interest Level:
Status: None
Rules: None
Estimated Local Release: None
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