My fourth Essen - the games I played, the ones I bought
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Really this fair is amazing. The size, the people, the GAMES... I'm still impressed by it all. It's a great place to buy games, it's a great place to play games, and it's a great place to see friends (and who doesn't like to play games with friends?)

This year, I only spent three days there (holiday tomorrow, youhouuu) but it was already enough to discover some of the new games that will soon hit the stores (or that hit the stores recently). As usual, some good surprises, some disappointments...

All in all, a great week-end (as usual)
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1. Board Game: The Name of the Rose [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1514]
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Thursay afternoon, late arrival... so I wanted a proper start. As Stephen Feld is one of my favourite game designers, as The Name of the Rose is a good movie (yes, I suppose the book is better), I thought this game would be the perfect introduction.
Unfortunately, it was simply a more complex version of Heimlich&Co. The added complexity doesn't really add anything to the game, so none of us wanted to buy this one. Maybe it could be interesting for people who really like games in which you have to guess the colour of the others players. And the artwork and pieces are very nice.

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2. Board Game: Diamonds Club [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:971]
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As we had managed to secure a table in the Ravensburger corner, we took the opportunity to try their other new game. Of this one, I knew nothing (I didn't really do my homework properly beforehand this year...) so I was pleasantly surprised to discover a medium game with some good ideas (and an incredibly thin theme). We all liked it a lot. It reminded me of Die Baumeister von Arkadia, from the same publisher (the games are very different, but are on the same step on the complexity ladder) and I later heard that Diamonds Club is also a Dorn's design. As I am a huge fan of his work (Goa, Louis XIV, Arkadia, Emerald, Raub Ritter...) I was happy I selected this one too.

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3. Board Game: Byzanz [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:2257]
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Just before going to bed, we played a game of Byzanz in the hotel. I like little card games, I like auctions, and I liked Byzanz!

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4. Board Game: Royal Palace [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1047]
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Friday morning, our goal was to reach the Hans im Glück corner first thing in the morning, as we wanted to try two of their games.
I must say that I really like Hans im Glück. I like nearly all their games, some of them very much (Amun Re, Goa...) so I was nearly sold even before the playtest. In addition to that, Palais Royal, our first try, is a game from a French designer...
A lot of good ideas here too. I liked the placement, move and removal of the servants in the palace to give more weight to some actions or some others according to our needs. I am fond of this kind of game, and here I found some originality in a category I thought already overcrowded.

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5. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
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As planned, we didn't move from our table (sorry for all the people waiting... ) and asked for Dominion. This one didn't manage to totally fly below my radar, as I usually like this kind of card games, quite short and with huge replayability. So I was eager to see the truth by myself!
And I wasn't disappointed. In some ways, it is even better than Race for the Galaxy (one of my favourite games). For example, there are only 10 cards to know in each game (instead of around 100 in RftG), and Dominion begins very slowly, progressively complexifying. There is some text, but not a lot and I don't think it'll be a major drawback (I even bought the game in German). Obviously, I have to play it more to judge the replayability, but I am very optimistic. My favourite game of the fair this year!

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6. Board Game: Wasabi! [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1185]
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In the past years, Z-Man really managed to reach a nice position among game publishers, thanks to clever publishing choices and great component quality.
We were several amateurs of Japanese food in our group, so we wanted to try Wasabi.
I must say I enjoyed the game. And here again the components were top notch. But still, it was too chaotic and not original enough to justify the purchase.

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7. Board Game: Traders of Osaka [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:937]
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What, a 2006 game in this list? Well, I never saw it anywhere before I noticed the nice stack at the Z-Man booth, so for me it was a new game...
For this one actually, I did it the other way around. That's to say, I bought it first, and then played it at the hotel after the fair. Two years ago, I bought R-Eco on impulse, and after lots and lots of plays, I was (still am) really happy of this purchase. So when I saw this game from the same author (Susumu Kawasaki) I didn't hesitate.
I really liked our first play. The game reminded me of OltreMare a little bit, of Byzanz, and of R-Eco. We didn't really see the point in reserving cards for later turns, but I really had the feeling that the game was deeper than what it seemed after one play. And the artwork is gorgeous!

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8. Board Game: Herr der Ziegen [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:6529]
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With the little time we had left before 7. and the closing of the doors, we headed up toward Amigo and their new Herr der Ziegen. I already own Ziegen Kriegen, their little card games with similar artword. Well actually, big brother doesn't have anything in common (except the funny drawings). This one is rather like a Kupferkessel&Co. for 4 players. Light, quite chaotic, nothing really wrong with it. But hey, you have to make choices sometimes, and maybe Herr der Ziegen wasn't enough... tasty...

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9. Board Game: Confucius [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:1997]
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Saturday already, and the plan was to find a table at Warfrog. There were several games we wanted to play (After the Flood, Tinners' Trail, Steel Driver). Although we rushed there right after the doors opening, the only available table were for After the Flood and Confucius. As there were four of us in our group and After the Flood is a three-player game... we ended up playing a game that wasn't Wallace nor Warfrog (nor Treefrog) at all.
But Confucius really was a very good suprised. I found it original, pleasant, and not too heavy in spite of all the options. Unfortunately our time was limited, so to be able to try other games we stopped this one after three rounds (out of nine) but I really felt some potential here. I was just disappointed by the components that quite don't match those of other publishers (after The Traders of Carthage, the cards of Confucius were an eyesore). Can't wait to try it again though.

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10. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked]
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Well, that's all for this year!

Of course, I bought other, older games. Some prices are very interesting, maybe too sometimes, that makes you buy games you finally won't play.

The new things I bought without prior testing were Banditos (but I like both Schotten Totten and Shanghaien, so I thought for 9 euros it wasn't a big risk), Saint Petersburg extension (but I like Saint Petersburg a lot, so there again I don't expect a big disappointment), and Chicago Express just before leaving the fair (I don't know this one at all, I really hope I'll like it...)

The oldies I bought (mainly because of their price) were Magellan (12,50), Walhalla (7,-), Pow Wow (7,-), Tom Tube (5,-) and Toscana (2,50). There were interesting prices on other games, but either I already own them (like Oasis, 8,-) or I don't know them enough (like Khronos, 10,-).

The games that nearly made the cut (I would have liked to try them before, and couldn't, so I didn't buy them after all) were Comuni (this one fared quite well at Fairplay, under the King Dominion) and Sylla. Maybe I'll buy them later

Finally, why put this entry under Race for the Galaxy extension? Because it was the only thing I was sure I wanted to buy before coming to Essen. And finally I didn't, because the French edition wasn't available... well at least it is in stores now (in France) so I guess I'll buy it before long! Or maybe I'll just play Dominion?...
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