IlsesTabletopGames SPIEL2017 Shortlist
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Alright alright, this is far from a short list, but I'm not good at excluding games that MAY be good even if chances are slim. So yes this is what's left over after me critically going through the Essen Preview List for now and it's my shortlist.

Essen Spiel is less than a month away now and BGG is filled with sneak peaks, new rulebooks, first impressions and little snippets of information on the games premiering at the fair. It's gotten to me so I've started on my list again as last year has proven that making a list is profitable for my Essen experience.

I'm mainly a eurogamer but if I like the theme or even just the box cover I'll give anything a chance, who knows it may be the next big thing in board gaming (for me). I've also added a lot of smaller games that will be difficult to obtain elsewhere.

I have added different Interest Levels again this year, going from 0 to 3 stars, here's what they mean:

Definite buy/Already bought/Pre-Ordered
Very interested
Still interested but will skip if I run out of time
Only if there is time
No longer interested

Feel free to comment on my list, I'd hate to have overlooked a good game or if I have gathered the wrong impressions on the items listed. meeple
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1. Board Game: Agra [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:907]
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Publisher: Quined Games

Booth: 3-Q116

Description: 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...


Playercount:
2-4

Interest Level:



Why:
mb Designer of La Granja
mb Heavy Worker Placement
mb Economic - trading/production
mb (nearly) No blocking other players

Why not:
mb Too heavy?
mb Too dry?

Personal Note: I like heavy games, but some games are just not for me, I wonder if this may be one of them. This could be a great game, but maybe it's one that I won't be able to grasp. I had the same thing with Tzolk'in, amazing game but I my head goofs every time I try and figure out what to do, it's impossible for me to plan because I can't deal with the cogs.

Price:
€65
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2. Board Game: Ali Baba [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:6951]
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Publisher: White Goblin Games

Booth: 3-O106

Description: In Ali Baba, you want to collect treasures from the cave of the forty thieves. Each turn you take one of of the open tiles on the game board. After taking a tile, some new tiles can become available. The background color of each tile corresponds with a special effect, and you can use these effects to outsmart your opponents! The more treasures of the same kind you have at the end of the game, the more points you score. Become the most wealthy player to win!


Playercount:
2-4

Interest Level:

(already own)

Why:
mb Interesting puzzle
mb Fun family game
mb Set collection

Why not:
mb Play with the variants as they take randomness away

Personal Note: I really like Ali Baba more than I thought I would. It's a fast family game but I do recommend playing with the variants included in the rulebook as the regular game is a little 'random' as certain tiles aren't in the game and this can cost you lots of points.

Price:
€20
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3. Board Game: Altiplano [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:277]
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Publisher: DLP Games

Booth: 1-F133

Description: 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!


Playercount:

2-5

Interest Level:



Why:
mb Bag building - Orleans style
mb Low/No conflict
mb Alpaca
mb Engine building

Why not:
mb Do I need Orleans 2.0?

Personal Note: This will be released by a Dutch publisher later next year. I want to try it before I acquire it, Orleans is a great game but it hardly comes to the table. I can't justify buying this game if it's too similar.

Price:
€55
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4. Board Game: Antiquity [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:199]
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Publisher: Splotter Spellen

Booth: 7-C117

Description: Antiquity is a strategy game for 2-4 players. It is set in an environment loosely modeled on Italy in the late Middle Ages. Players choose their own victory condition: they can focus on population growth, trade, conquest, or city building by choosing their patron saint.

Each strategy requires a completely different style of play. Or you can choose to adore Santa Maria, the most powerful saint of all -- but you'll be expected to build a civilization twice as impressive as any other player.

While your economy is constantly improving, with more and more advanced cities bringing new options each turn, the land around your cities is slowly being depleted, forcing you to travel further and further to gather your raw materials -- until finally, there is no more land left to farm. Let's hope one of you has won the game before that time!



Playercount:
2-4

Interest Level:



Why:
mb Splotter
mb Hard to get later on
mb Tile laying in a heavy game

Why not:
mb Can my brain process this?
mb Boring theme
mb price/quality

Personal Note: I have played 3 Splotter Games so far: Food Chain Magnate, The Great Zimbabwe and Roads&Boats. I love the 2 first ones but I couldn't handle R&B, it's too much and too fiddly. I have moved on and I don't want to invest in another game that's too much upkeep and feels a little unorganized. R&B is an amazing design but it doesn't flow well at all. It felt clunky the entire time while playing, with so many great games out there I won't buy another Splotter that feels the same way.

Price:
€75
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5. Board Game: AVES [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:12552]
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Publisher: Play With Us Design

Booth: 7-D108

Description: AVES is a fast-paced set collection game. In this game, players become birds with exquisite tastes who strategically utilize fruit-trading rules to collect fruits that transfer the color of their plumage. Now, fight for beauty and become the brightest rainbow bird!


Playercount:
2-5

Interest Level:



Why:
mb Pretty
mb I'm in need of decent fillers

Why not:
mb Not engaging

Personal Note: This looks very pretty but is there more to it? There are different variants to try. Hoping to try.

Price:
€20
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6. Board Game: Azul [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:40] [Average Rating:7.89 Unranked]
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Publisher: Plan B Games

Booth: TBD??

Description: In the game Azul, players take turns drafting colored tiles from suppliers to their player board. Later in the round, players score points based on how they've placed their tiles to decorate the palace. Extra points are scored for specific patterns and completing sets; wasted supplies harm the player's score. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.


Playercount:
2-4

Interest Level:



Why:
mb Tactical abstract
mb Looks gorgeous
mb Attractive to both seasoned and casual gamers

Why not:
mb Abstract

Personal Note: Abstract games are rarely a hit for me, however if everyone just happily builds there own pattern and there's no direct interaction I'm ok with it and sometimes even enjoy them a lot. Azul looks gorgeous, and I would love to like it, time will tell.

Price:
€40
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7. Board Game: Bali [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:3826]
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Publisher: White Goblin Games

Booth: 3-O106

Description: The Bali game system is refined and novel: Take one card from the general display and reveal the card lying underneath — which could be disastrous for all! Only those who make the right decisions will please the gods best and score the most points.

Bali, a new edition of Rapa Nui, contains two new variants: "The Demon" and "The Oracle".



Playercount:
2-4

Interest Level:

(already own)

Why:
mb Unique
mb Balancing exercise

Why not:
mb I don't like the artwork

Personal Note: Bali is a really interesting card game where you offer goods to make them score more points. When you offer more you have less of them so it'd be better if others offered them and you could profit from it. There is much more to it than I expected, I really liked the scoring after each turn which is based on the card that's now visible (after you filled up your hand to the limit) so you don't only look at what cards you want but also at what card you wan't to open up. For €20 this is a no brainer, I highly recommend it.

Price:
€20
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8. Board Game: Bärenpark [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:291]
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Publisher: Lookout Games

Booth: 1-F133

Description: Each player in Bärenpark builds their own bear park, attempting to make it as beautiful as they can, while also using every square meter possible. The park is created by combining polyomino tiles onto a grid, with players scoring for animal houses, outdoor areas, completed construction, and more. The sooner you build it, the better! Cover icons to get new tiles and park sections. The game ends as soon as one player has finished expanding their park, then players tally their points to see who has won.


Playercount:
2-4

Interest Level:

Bought @ Spellenfestival

Why:
mb A decent medium-weight tile laying game
mb Pretty - Animals
mb Challenging for gamers, enjoyable for casual players

Why not:
mb No reason, I want this.

Personal Note: I'll probably end up buying the Dutch version later on if not before Essen.

Price:
€33
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9. Board Game: Battlefold [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:8226]
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Publisher: Happy Baobab

Booth: 3-O120

Description: As in the earlier game Fold-it, once a mission card is revealed, players must fold their handkerchief to leave visible only the right combination of symbols. After successfully making a combination, the player takes the lowest remaining turn order token. Starting with the first player, each player controls their character on the arena board, moving and fighting with the goal of being the last one standing. If a player defeats all other opponents, they win!


Playercount:
2-4

Interest Level:



Why:
mb Fold it 2.0
mb Original

Why not:
mb Player Elimination

Personal Note: I liked Fold It but decided against buying it as there wasn't much to it and it would be repetitive real fast. This adds some dimension to the game which I hope is a good thing. Player Elimination is something I strongly dislike unless the players don't have to wait longer than 2 minutes.

Price:
€25
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10. Board Game: Bunny Kingdom [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:367]
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Publisher: IELLO

Booth: 3-M109

Description: Peace has come at last to the great Bunny Kingdom! Lead your clan of rabbits to glory by gathering resources and building new cities across the land!

Draft cards and pick the right ones to position your warrens on the 100 squares of the board, provide resources to your colonies, build new cities to increase your influence, and plan your strategy to score big at the end of the game. Settle in lakesides or fields to collect water and grow carrots, gather mushrooms in the green forest, and climb the highest mountains to discover rare and precious resources... Secretly rally rabbit lords and recruit skillful masters to make your cities and resources even more valuable at the end of the game.

After each turn, your groups of contiguous warrens grant you points depending on the cities and different resources they include. The game ends after 4 turns, and the player with the most points wins the game
.


Playercount:
2-4

Interest Level:



Why:
mb BUNNY kingdom
mb Looks pretty

Why not:
mb Area Control
mb Conflict
mb No good with 2 players?

Personal Note: I'm only here for the bunnies. I was excited untill I read how much of an Area Control game this is. I'm going to give it a chance either way. Sometimes I'm often surprised how things I usually categorize as 'not for me' can turn out to be great after all.

Price:
€45
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11. Board Game: Burger Up [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:2674]
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Publisher: Rule & Make

Booth: 8-A139

Description: Burger Up is a card matching puzzle game about the art of burger making. Fill orders, earn prestige and be the best burger chef around!

Players strive to become the most prestigious restaurant by building the biggest Burgers and by using the best ingredients.

Players take turns, which consist of four phases: the Market phase where players may purchase ingredients from the market, the Building phase where players place up to 3 ingredients on their burgers, the Burger Up! phase where players may score their burgers if they satisfy an order and the clean-up phase where players draw back up to 4 cards.

The game ends when no more Order cards can be revealed. A bonus is awarded to the Chef who built the most burgers and then the winner is determined, based on who has earned the most coins.



Playercount:
2-4

Interest Level:



Why:
mb Theme
mb Pretty
mb Good filler?

Why not:
mb Not engaging enough/bland?

Personal Note: I've nearly bought this before but because I never got to play it before and I wasn't convinced just by the rules I'm hoping to try it at Essen. If it's good, it comes home with us.

Price:
€25
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12. Board Game: Bye-Bye Black Sheep [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:6564]
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Publisher: Jolly Thinkers

Booth: 7-A110

Description: Bye-Bye Black Sheep is simple but exciting. You draw cards blindly from one another in order to collect a specific number of animal trio cards. Taking some risk may help you achieve your goal faster, but if you draw a black sheep, then it's bye-bye for you and unfortunately it will scare away all the animals waiting at the watering hole. Will you be lucky enough to come across the helpful eagle, spying mole, and thieving magpie? Say hello to Bye-bye Black Sheep!


Playercount:
2-5

Interest Level:



Why:
mb Cute
mb Plays fast

Why not:
mb Luck fest

Personal Note: The artwork of this tiny cardgame is stunning. The gameplay however consists manly of luck. If it's enjoyable I could still take it home because of the low pricepoint.

Price:
€9
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13. Board Game: Café Fatal [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:6060]
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Publisher: Zoch Verlag

Booth: 3-J108

Description: Café Fatal is a lively dice game that lets players go toe-to-toe with each other as everyone is trying to complete their sets and collect big points.
“Cakes, cheese, pizza – here we go! Café Fatal is a deliciously light dice game, in which rolling for the best table is rollicking good fun.”



Playercount:
2-5

Interest Level:



Why:
mb Pretty
mb Theme

Why not:
mb Doesn't look like it'll bring anything new
mb Too luck dependent? - Dice

Personal Note: There's hardly any information on this out there so I'm keeping it on the radar for now.

Price:
TBD
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14. Board Game: Calimala [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:1193]
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Publisher: ADC Blackfire Entertainment GmbH

Booth: 2-D128

Description: Players of Calimala are cloth merchants in medieval Florence, with a number of trusted employees that they assign to various streets within the city to carry out actions. (Each street connects two places where particular actions can be taken.) While taking these actions, players produce and deliver cloth and contribute to the construction and decoration of various buildings across the city. Employees stay on their assigned places for a while, carrying out their actions whenever the street is activated, and eventually are promoted into the city council, triggering a scoring phase.


Playercount:
3-5

Interest Level:



Why:
mb Unique action selection

Why not:
mb Boring theme
mb Area control
mb Not for 2

Personal Note: Interested to see how the action selection works. There are a few downsides: theme, area control and a starting playercount of 3 so this has to be really good to return home with me.

Price:
€40
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15. Board Game: Can't Stop Express [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:5559]
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Publisher: Eagle-Gryphon Games

Booth: 6-J112

Description: To win at Can't Stop Express, you need the courage to take risks, but also the ability to predict and plan. After each throw of the five dice, you try to choose the best combination of two pairs while also making a good choice for the fifth die. Through this effort, you are awarded points, and whoever has the most points at the end of the game — which usually takes 24-25 rolls — wins.


Playercount:
1-...

Interest Level:



Why:
mb Roll & Write
mb Simple ruleset

Why not:
mb No interaction at all

Personal Note: Roll & Write games are a real hit here, however I don't see the use in playing one that doesn't engage every player on every turn. If it's not too expensive I might bring it home anyways, to play solo maybe.

Price:
TBD
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16. Board Game: Card City XL [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:4115]
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Publisher: AVStudioGames

Booth: 1-D129

Description: In Card City – part of Alban Viard's "Small City" trilogy of games, which includes the similar but three-dimensional Town Center – you will take on the role of the newly sworn-in Mayor. Your job is to encourage the growth of the residential, commercial, industrial and cultural districts that make up your home and to satisfy the demands of the city's residents. Card City includes six type of cards: Residences, Commercials, Industries, Leisure, Parking and City Hall.


Playercount:
1-4

Interest Level:



Why:
mb Good city builder?
mb High replayability
mb Quick play

Why not:
mb Too simple?

Personal Note: I don't really own a good tableau/city builder. All the ones we've tried fell flat after only a few turns. Maybe this will be the one that won't.

Price:
€30
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17. Board Game: Cat Lady [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:1044]
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Publisher: AEG

Booth: 3-L116

Description: In Cat Lady, players are cat ladies, part of an elite group of people including Marie Antoinette and Ernest Hemingway. During the game, you and your fellow cat ladies will draft cards three at a time, collecting toys, food, catnip, costumes, and of course lovable cats. But watch out! Make sure you have enough food for all of your feline friends or your hungry cats will subtract points from your score. The player with the highest total victory points wins the game!


Playercount:
2-4

Interest Level:



Why:
mb I love cats
mb Cute artwork
mb Accessible filler that offers at least some challenge
mb variable set-up making it somewhat replayable

Why not:
mb I read iconography could be better - will find out for myself

Personal Note: It is more than likely that I'll return home with a copy of this. If possible I would like to try it first

Price:
€20
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18. Board Game: Chimera Station [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:911]
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Publisher: Game Brewer / TMG

Booth: 7-F114

Description: Chimera Station brings a new twist to the worker placement genre: customizable workers. Each worker can be modified in-game by splicing claws, tentacles, leafs or additional brains (or any combination of those) on them. These workers are used to gather resources: points, food, credits, and living parts of aforementioned workers! During the game you'll build and expand the space station and open up tons of different strategical and tactical possibilities.


Playercount:
2-4

Interest Level:

(pre-ordered)

Why:
mb Customizable workers
mb Lots of ways to victory
mb Replayability

Why not:
mb AP
mb Can my brain handle all the options?

Personal Note: Pre-ordered because of the unique take on the workers. Looks like an enjoyable heavy eurogame, which is right up my alley. Expect to have it before SPIEL.

Price:
€49
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19. Board Game: Claim [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:1948] [Average Rating:6.98 Unranked]
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Publisher: White Goblin Games

Booth: 3-O106

Description: Claim is played in two distinct phases. In phase one, each player gets a hand of cards that they use to recruit followers. In phase two, they use the followers from phase one to compete and win over the five factions of the realms. Each faction has a special power that effects play, and powers can be different in each phase! At the end of the game, the player who has the majority of followers of a faction wins that faction's vote, and whoever wins the vote of at least three factions wins the game!


Playercount:
2

Interest Level:

(already own)

Why:
mb Trick taking that works with 2
mb pretty artwork
mb Fast gameplay

Why not:
mb Takes some getting used to - not intuitive

Personal Note: I really like CLaim, it's a fun trick taking game for 2. The phases are a little confusing at first (they were for me) and don't feel intuitive but once you get used to it, it flows really well.

Price:
€9
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20. Board Game: Clans of Caledonia [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:45]
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Publisher: Karma Games

Booth: 2-F107

Description: 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.


Playercount:
1-4

Interest Level:

(KS)

Why:
mb Distilled version of Terra Mystica
mb Feel of accomplishment - Engine building
mb Many ways to explore this game

Why not:
mb Uninteresting theme

Personal Note: Although the theme doesn't interest me at all I expect this to be one of the best games released this year. Let's hope it fills my expectations of it being another solid heavy eurogame.

Price:
€49
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21. Board Game: The Climbers [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:1143]
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Publisher: Simply Complex

Booth: 6-I104

Description: The Climbers / Die Aufsteiger is an easy-to-learn, all-wooden, 3D strategy game with beautiful components, which include 35 colorful blocks of different sizes, a climber pawn for each player, a blocking stone for each player, and a short and a long ladder for each player. Starting with all the blocks in a random tower, players move a block and then climb up the tower gradually -- without ladders for small steps up, and with ladders for larger climbs. Blocking stones keep the block in place and unoccupied for one round, but you can only use your blocking stones and each ladder once during the game. The winner is whoever gets to the highest point first when no one can go higher for one round. You can only climb onto surfaces that are the same color as your climber or gray (a neutral color any climbers can use). Alternate rules allow for simultaneous movement and using ladders as bridges.


Playercount:
2-5

Interest Level:



Why:
mb Looks nice
mb An abstract my brain can manage?

Why not:
mb Abstract

Personal Note: This looks like an entry level abstract game. The blocks make it attractive to a broad crowd and should have a positive influence on the number of plays this will get.

Price:
€45
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22. Board Game: Cosmogenesis [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:2578]
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Publisher: Ludonova

Booth: 3-N100

Description: In a game of Cosmogenesis, each player creates their own planet system, starting from a star and an asteroid belt. To do this, they use the elements available on the different sections of the central board. In each round, players obtain one element from each of the four sections over four turns and with these elements players form planets and moons. These then collide with each other, causing them to increase in size, develop rings, form atmospheres, and of course create life. Players do all of this in order to fulfill their own objectives, which like the rest of the elements of the game, are obtained from the central board; at the end of the game, these provide the victory points that determine the overall winner.


Playercount:
2-4

Interest Level:



Why:
mb Good thematic implementation?
mb Something I don't own yet (Simulation?)

Why not:
mb Not engaging enough?

Personal Note: Need more information, I've tried reading the rules but I'll need to see the game to visualize how it all works. Look forward to playing a demo session.

Price:
€45
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23. Board Game: Cover Me [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:9237]
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Publisher: Jumping Turtle Games

Booth: 6-H108

Description: In Cover Me, you are the chief editor of a magazine and your task is to brainwash the public so they think the models that star on your cover are the most stylish in the industry. Unfortunately you can't do this alone, and you need the help of the other magazines, but they are interested only in launching the models in their portfolio. Can you trick the other magazines in covering the models that help you achieve your goal and crush their dreams to become the most prestigious magazine?


Playercount:
2-5

Interest Level:



Why:
mb Theme and gameplay fit perfectly together
mb Unique
mb Interesting decisions to make - trying to figure out what the others will do as opposed to what you need

Why not:
mb Rather expensive for what it offers
mb May feel repetitive after a few sessions

Personal Note: I've already played a prototype of this a few months ago. There are only few games where theme and mechanics work as well as they do in Cover Me. However, somehow I wasn't convinced it would hold my attention for long, after a while the gameplay might feel rather repetitive. Nonetheless I look forward to seeing the final product.

Price:
€40
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24. Board Game: CV Pocket [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:5254]
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Publisher: Granna

Booth: 3-H101

Description: Would you like to be somebody else? CV Pocket lets you create an incredible life history in 15 minutes. Choose your work, hobby and friends, make hard life choices, and defeat your opponents!


Playercount:
2-4

Interest Level:



Why:
mb Theme
mb Good filler?

Why not:
mb Take-that?
mb Not engaging enough?

Personal Note: Don't know much about the game, never played its big brother so I'm ready to be positively surprised

Price:
€10
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25. Board Game: Dice Hospital [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:1043]
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Publisher: Alley Cat Games

Booth: 7-A124

Description: In Dice Hospital, a worker placement game, players must treat as many patients as possible to appease the local authorities! Players use their hospital staff to treat patients on their personal hospital player boards. However, players may also call in specialist staff to react to certain situations that arise to score more points with the authorities! The game uses worker placement mechanics for the staff, dice as the patients where low scores indicate low health and a personal player board of actions to treat patients. The player with the highest reputation wins the game!


Playercount:
1-4

Interest Level:



Why:
mb Theme
mb Puzzly

Why not:
mb Repetetive
mb Too light?

Personal Note: This game will still be running on KS during SPIEL, I would like to get a better idea of how the game plays by seeing/trying a few turns. Deluxe edition is too expensive.

Price:
€40
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