Board games based on video games seem like an odd thing, but this is really just a dungeon crawler with a brand name attached. Some interesting mechanics, relatively simple gameplay, and I think a great achievement in terms of preventing dominant-player syndrome that affects so many co-ops, but this still doesn't really make it higher than "okay" in my ratings. Set-up time seeming to be longer than play time also didn't help, but it's an enjoyable enough past-time to play.
I'm quite a fan of co-op games, if played with the right group of people. Yggdrasil is an interesting addition and it seems to straddle the very luck-driven Ghost Stories and the quite mechanical Pandemic (although I like Pandemic more of the two). I wonder if there's much more to it than pushing your luck at the right times and getting just enough good dice rolls, but at least it sets up a convincing facade of control. I think it's okay, but not something I'd rush to play.
Arkham Horror was something that had intrigued me for a long time, especially since I enjoy a good co-op and also like a bit of theme. I have to say, it's a really good experience, although I think it needs a couple of plays to get into it more - mainly because our 2-player effort was such a disaster that there was never any tension as to whether we'd make it or not. The mechanics really fit together well, though, and the sense of doom building up... It also offered much more choice than Mansions of Madness, which I also enjoyed. Will need more plays but I can see why it has so many fans.
A lesser-known Lord of the Rings spin-off, and one I actually quite enjoyed. The play and decisions are mostly both light and obvious, but it's still a nice enough experience. The main strategy element is in deciding when to give up on a battle and save energy for the next one, but without losing too badly as that results in a much bigger points swing. The "you will play all of these cards at some point" mechanic is one I'm quite fond of.
A cheap eBay purchase, and importantly it's the US version... It's good fun too, and very luck based but still with a bit of a story around it. Deciding who to protect with who and timing the runs between buildings, along with the variable speed that time passes, keeps it interesting. I wish it wasn't quite so roll-and-move, though, (and on 2d6) as I'm just not a fan of having such wild swings in what might be possible the next turn.
Best with 3 players so that it's 2 against 1. Player elimination could be a problem playing with the full 5.
Still a lot of old Risk to recognise, but changing the board really takes this into a differnet league. If you can live with the randomness and the dice rolls then it's great fun. It's one of those games that really relies on the players to balance it since it's possible for some regions and factions to become more powerful, which means you can be left in a bad starting position if you're late in turn order. I'm fine with that - it just means everyone has to bash the leader(s) in-game - but I know a lot of people aren't.
The component quality on this reprint is astounding, and the game's pretty good too. Very abstract and reminds me a lot of Stratego, but with randomness. Bought after playing at Essen and one that I think I won't play all the time but will be keeping for a long time.
I don't know how I hadn't seen this around before since it's such a great older game. Really good for newbies and building physical towers is always going to be fun. The great twist is that it's so easy to get into a willy-waving battle for the tallest tower despite it being rationally not a great thing to do.
If there's a downside it's that I can't really see it being the same with fewer than 4.
A very unusual Haba game with irresistable packaging - a box of eggs - and very silly rules. Played at Essen where we were the only all-adult group in the Haba booth, probably ruining it for all the kids. Definitely all about silliness and photo opportunities more than game, something I'm a big fan of.
Played at Essen when we found a free table. A credit to the game that we could learn it from reading the rules in a few minutes and then play it without making any mistakes. It was a touch light for me at the time, and a touch expensive for what it was. Subsequent plays have lead me to quite dislike the lack of decisions, especially with a repetitive card draw.
Played with Sebastian Bleasedale at the Surprised Stare stand at Essen, and then bought straight away. Very interesting idea and I think will be easy to get a lot of non-gamers to play owing to the regular deck of cards - which also means I can take a Cribbage set with it and get a whole load of fun in a small space.
Some of the rule combinations can produce less interesting effects than others, but if something comes up that we don't like there's no reason a house-rule "let's try the next one" can't be invoked.
Also played at Essen and then bought. Much under-rated in my opinion, although the potential for downtime is a flaw of the design - since the board changes between turns, there's no way to make advance plans which means having to make a handful of calculations while everyone sits and waits. Still, it's gone down well with most people I've introduced it to since.
Not that great with 2, but good with either 3 or 4.
Another game by the designer of K2, a game I'm a fan of, and played at Essen. I was in two minds about buying it and decided not to in the end, helped by the fact I was with 2 other people who did... The game's okay, although the decisions don't always seem that tense. Mainly not picked up because my other half didn't like the dwarves ganging up on the poor dragon.
Some light card-playing fun, but spoilt for me by the possibility that turn order + card draw + player numbers combined can all completely destroy a round. Okay fun but seems a bit too long (6 rounds with 6 players?) and there are other games I'd rather play that fill the same niche.
A rare event for me: buying a new game without having played it first, or knowing much about it. I love Power Grid and thought this might be a way to get something similar but much lighter, which it does but somehow in quite a different way. Although it is lighter it's still just about a gamer's game rather than a gateway game, but it does quite a lot in the hour-or-so playing time. One to bring out now and again rather than want to play every week.
A game I have similar feelings to as Pinguïn Party: okay, but not a first choice game to play. Very luck-driven but it's very up-front about it which sets the mood for a bit of take-that, push-your-luck and slight silliness.
Played twice post-Essen, and I really wanted to like it. The design is a remarkable achievement and all of the components are also fantastic, even given the high price, but it just seemed to turn into a maths exercise to me. The downtime could be quite incredible and because trying to find the best move is rewarded from spending time thinking about it and calculating then that's the best thing to do - and it's not that much fun.
Oh how I wish there was just one modifier dice to add some uncertainty and move the game along a bit faster.
While everyone else at the Japon Brand stand at Essen was picking up String Railway: Transport, I bought this slightly bizarre chess-like card game (or card-like chess game?). This was based mainly on a) I like chess, b) I like Japanese things and c) it came in a really stylish box.
I still don't know what to make of the game. It's odd. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to say anything more in-depth about it than that.
I just think of this as ameritrash Pandemic. (Pandemitrash?) Outstays its welcome for me, especially if your whole "kill the last bad guy" attack is spoilt by some unfeasibly bad die rolls and you have to play through another half hour. I wanted to like it a lot but it just dragged after the first 75 minutes.
The big game of 2011, if how quickly something this expensive sells out is anything to go by. Really well designed and plays extremely smoothly, although it is really just an economic game with a space theme and (maybe) one or two battles on top. As with Mage Knight, I think this is something for Eurogamers who want to play something painted as thematic.
I'd willingly play it a few more times, although it is a touch long for my usual tastes, but I have concerns about games being a bit samey and the optimisation side of it will take over more and more.
Loved the technology and ship upgrade design, though, and mechanically it seems flawless.