Wystan's 2011 Essen Watch List
Wystan Benbow
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Stoneham
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Games / Expansions I am watching as Spiel 2011 in Essen approaches.

As we all know, the annual Spiel Fair in Essen always features the debut of hundreds of games. It may be unkind, but I think most of them are mediocre or worse. However, I find that usually around a dozen of these games rise above the crowd and are worth owning. Even if I won't be attending, I usually try to figure out which titles I want beforehand & then seriously pare down the list based on people's feedback. It passes the time & makes for fun watching the Essen buzz. Of course I always miss a title or three (e.g. Hansa Teutonica, Egizia and Jaipur in 2009; Troyes in 2010).

Accordingly, this geeklist summarizes the Essen titles I am most interested in and briefly why. It also gives my level of interest and lists some negatives. Naturally this is mostly meant to help myself keep track of things, but feel free to chime in.

Importance of Essen releases to me: For games published in 2006-10, I've purchased an average of 20 each year; with Essen releases making up about 70% of these. I pretty much have all the older games I truly want, so I eagerly await Spiel 2011!

My gaming tastes: I like train games & Euro games, am neutral on abstracts, and am not a fan of war games, fighting games, miniatures, AT, RPG, CCG, or anything that takes more than ~2.5 hours. No particular weight is preferable to me, as I can find good use for simple fillers, family games & brain burners.

I've used both the BGG Spiel Preview & the 2011 Essen Canonical List to generate the following.
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1. Board Game Publisher: Winsome Games
Wystan Benbow
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The Winsome Essen set is always a must buy. This year it came with 2 games & 7 expansions for $150.

Games:
Colorado Midland
Rising Sun Railroads

Expansion:
Wabash Cannonball: Nickel Plate Expansion
Age of Steam Expansion: Great Britain
Baltimore & Ohio: Norfolk & Western Railroad Expansion
Baltimore & Ohio: Technology Level Seven Expansion
Baltimore & Ohio: Robber Barons Expansion
SNCF: Germany Expansion
SNCF: Iberia Expansion

Level of Interest: ; Already have in hand
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2. Board Game: Age of Steam [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:120]
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Loads of AoS maps are available as usual & it is my favorite game; At one point, I thought I'd try to collect all of these

Something negative: I already have too many that never see the table & I will never get all of the maps.

Winsome: Age of Steam Expansion: Great Britain (Heavy paper; already bought)
Level of Interest:

Bezier Games (Alspach): 8-map pack Pre-ordered
Age of Steam Expansion: Australia & Tasmania (Mounted)
Age of Steam Expansion: Outer Space & Reversteam (Mounted)
Age of Steam Expansion: African Diamond Mines & Taiwan Cube Factories (Mounted)
Age of Steam Expansion: Orient Express & Disoriented Express (Heavy paper; Pre-order bonus)
Level of Interest:

Mayfair: Steam: Map Expansion #1 (3 mounted maps)
Level of interest:

Viard: Age of Steam Expansion: Greece and Cyclades (Laminated? Heavy Paper; $40)
Level of Interest:
Email Alban at ageofsteam2011@gmail.com ; 150 total; 50 for non-Essen attendees
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3. Board Game: Ora et Labora [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:91]
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Uwe Rosenberg's latest; Apparently modeled after Le Havre, but somewhat less fiddly. Rumored to also be shorter than Le Havre; Early feed back is very positive & given how good the harvest trilogy is, this one looks very interesting.

Something(s) Negative: Le Havre is good, but too long & never gets requested. As a result, I'm not sure a variation is something I would look forward to. Merkator didn't fare so well.

Level of Interest:

 
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4. Board Game: String Railway: Transport [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:5177]
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Desperately want String Railway; Perhaps I should get the variation before it disappears.

Something(s) Negative: Haven't tried String Railway & can't be certain I like it enough to buy a variant. Rumored to be more complex than the original, which might dilute its charm

Level of interest:
Pre-ordered it & if I don't like it, I will sell it. I don't want to risk missing out & having to hunt hopelessly on the secondary market.
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5. Board Game: Paperclip Railways [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:5301]
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I love train games & am always looking for one with new mechanisms. Seems to be heavily based on String Railways, which I am desperate to get a hold of.

Something(s) Negative: Did they mess up a simple filler by making it more complicated. Paper clips sound fiddly; Haven't tried String Railways, so who's to say I will love it & by extension this one.

Level of Interest:
Pre-ordered
 
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6. Board Game: Québec [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:1078]
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Neat looking game for 2-5 (90 min); Seems to be an area majority game, with a twist on "cube" relocation after scoring. Also has a combined city building aspect; Asmodee & Ystari are involved so the production should be good.

Something negative: The cube relocation twist sounds like it could create a runaway leader issue.

Level of Interest:
 
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7. Board Game: Upon a Salty Ocean [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:2758]
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Rio Grande picked up this 2-h, 2-4 player game about managing commercial fishing during the renaissance. Based on a pay-per-action mechanism, where the costs go up during the round. Sounds like there is an engine building aspect.

Something negative: Action points = Analysis Paralysis

 
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8. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:72]
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A 60-minute Stefan Feld game; Roman theme & mechanically based on Mancala; For 2-4 players; A new company, formed specifically to make this game, is responsible for this one.

Something negative: Looks like a winner, but I am curious why Alea didn't pick it up.

Level of Interest:
 
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9. Board Game: Casa Grande [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:3905]
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Ravensburger's adult, non-licensed game for 2011; I loved the past two, Diamond's Club & Asara, so this likely SdJ-weight game really peaks my interest; Also, only 45 minutes.

Something negative: Don't really know all that much about it;

Level of Interest:
 
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10. Board Game: Stone Age: The Expansion [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked]
 
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An expansion for a brilliant game; Adds a fifth player, a new resource (jewelery), a new location, new cards & new buildings.

Negative: Expansions are usually a waste of money.

Level of interest:
I've played this one enough to honestly justify an expansion, so it's probably an auto-buy.

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11. Board Game: Drum Roll [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:1148]
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An interesting looking game with a unique theme: putting on performances in a Circus. 2-4 players in 90 minutes. Tasty Minstrel are looking at it.

Something Negative: Action Points = Analysis Paralysis

Level of Interest:
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12. Board Game: Helvetia [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:1009]
Wystan Benbow
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Cramer's latest; I enjoy Glen More (Alea) & Lancaster (Queen) is excellent; A 1-h game for 2-4 players about managing life in competing villages. Seems to have a good bit of player interaction.

Something negative: Cramer's only other game was also produced by Kosmos & is not well received; Did Alea/Ravensburger & Queen pass for a reason.

Level of Interest:
Cramer gets the benefit of the doubt so far, but will certainly try before I buy.
 
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13. Board Game: Last Will [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:341] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
 
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Brewster's Millions style card game; From CGE & had good feedback from Gathering attendees; 45-minutes for 2-5 with worker placement & hand management aspects.

Something negative: I haven't really enjoyed any of the CGE games I've tried, with the exception of the fiddly, overly-long Through the Ages.
Yikes, more action points.

Level of Interest:
 
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14. Board Game: Bullfrog Goldfield [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:5411]
Wystan Benbow
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A train game (little luck, stock management, variable markets) for 2-5 players; Relatively new publisher.

Something Negative: A 2 h game that reportedly adds 30-min per player beyond 3; A >2 h game better be amazing.

Level of Interest:
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15. Board Game: Tournay [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:799]
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Similar to Troyes, but card-based instead of dice-based; 60-minutes, for up to 4 players.

Something negative: Are they milking the success of Troyes, without developing much new?

Level of Interest:
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16. Board Game: Beat the Buzzard [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:1914]
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20-minute filler; Blind bidding on goods; Each person starts with identical hand of cards & uses 1 card / turn to sequentially bid on a variable value good; Ties cancel cards

Something negative: Blind bidding can be frustrating

Level of Interest:
 
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17. Board Game: Friday [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:311]
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Solo, 20-minute deck-builder based on Robinson Crusoe

Something negative: Limited replayability?

Level of Interest:
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18. Board Game: Quills [Average Rating:6.45 Unranked]
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20-minute, card-based word game for up to 6 players; Make best word possible from hand of letter cards; Liz loves word games & I always need filler games

Something negative: Unfortunately word games are almost always lame; CGF production isn't always the best.

Level of Interest:
 
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19. Board Game: Agricola: World Championship Deck – 2011 [Average Rating:7.89 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.89 Unranked]
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120-card, expansion deck for Agricola; Perhaps more along the lines of the (cool) Gamer's deck, than the unplayable things (Z-deck, O-deck, X-deck, L-deck, etc).

Something negative: Most of the extra decks are completely lame & frankly unplayable.

Level of Interest:
 
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20. Board Game: K2: Broad Peak [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked]
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Expansion for K2; I just received this reasonably well-regarded game, but it is rumored to have limited replayability. An expansion could fix this.

Something negative: I haven't played my copy of K2 yet & have no idea if I will want an expansion.

Level of Interest:
 
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21. Board Game: Rallyman: Dirt [Average Rating:8.10 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.10 Unranked]
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Expansion for Rallyman; I own this well-regarded racing game. Supplies new terrain & rules to make more complex; Variations are often needed for racing games, so I am interested.

Something negative: Not sure it is a game worth expanding, as I don't generally like racing games & I haven't played the base game yet;

Level of Interest:
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22. Board Game: Walnut Grove [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:966]
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A 45-min cross between Carcassonne and Agricola for 1-4 players; From Lookout games who usually identify winners.

Something negative: Early ratings indicate this is an average game (but these ratings may suffer from BGG anti-filler bias)

Level of Interest:
 
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23. Board Game: Singapore [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:4728]
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A 90-minute game for 3-4 about building up Singapore. Seems to have a modular board, interesting worker placement mechanism & a help the loser mechanic.

Something negative: Some significant (i.e. game changing) luck of the draw regarding opium sales. Designer doesn't yet have a hit.

Level of Interest:
 
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24. Board Game: Takenoko [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:219]
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Blazars are a special type of active galaxy that indirectly pay for my boardgame habit
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A 1-h card game for 2-4 players from Bauza about raising Pandas & their food (3 types of Bamboo). Initial feedback is excellent & Bauza has a good history with card games.

Something Negative: Perhaps a bit long for a card game.

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25. Board Game: 23 [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:3493]
Wystan Benbow
United States
Stoneham
Massachusetts
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Blazars are a special type of active galaxy that indirectly pay for my boardgame habit
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Life is good!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A 2-4 player, 30-minute filler that has some similarity to No Thanks, which is truly special for its niche.

Something negative: It's a very tough niche to fill nicely.

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