Rdewsbery's Essen 2011 list
Richard Dewsbery
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Here's my annual list of what I'm going to look at, buy, or outright pan after half a game at Essen 2011.

Though as of mid-August the canonical list contains eleven pages of games - how am I supposed to winnow that many down to something manageable??

It's also intended - for the time being at least - as a placeholder for information about the games that *I* find useful.

If you're not me, feel free to look at my list, add comments or suggest something that I might have missed, but don't feel aggrieved if nothing presented below is in any way useful to you - you can only complain that the list is inadequate, incomplete or utter nonsense if your username is rdewsbery.

* There are far too many new games, many by new designers or even new publishers, to evaluate more than a handful at Essen. I'm skeptical of some of the hype, as three or four people can generate a lot of noise about a new game, and ofttimes those people are linked to the game - which can affect their ability to be objective. Besides, games are very subjective - I may not like what other do, and vice versa. This all adds to to the task for 2011 being even more Herculean than in past years.

Six weeks to go and this list is still a disorganised mess, larely because I've yet to wade through any of the large lists of actual Essen releases.

Two weeks to go and it's STILL not sorted.

Edit - now actually at Essen, updating the list on the fly instead of sleeping.

Edit again - now back from Essen. I've tried to add all my preliminary thoughts and views on the games as I was going along; I'll tidy it up a little, but for the most part this list is now done. I'll write up a proper report in due course, and will review some of my purchases when I've actually played them properly.

Edit again - at final count I purchased Santiago de Cuba, Power Grid First Sparks, Eclipse, Masters of Commerce, Sidibaba, Dixit Odyssey, the Puerto Rico
10th Anniversary set, Constantinopolis, and Mage Knight The Board Game.

Flash Point doesn't count; I was a Kickstarter backer who had already paid, picking up at Essen to save on postage. Also not counting are A Few Acres Of Snow and Ankh-Morpork (provided free for services rendered), the Power Grid Robots, Dominion (it's an expansion) and Ghost Stories White Whatever (same reason). Nor do the two small card game I bought, or the Steam maps.

With a bit of creative accounting, that's nine games. Three more than my target, and I bet at least four of them turn out to be rubbish (or at least not my cup of tea) anyway. Eclipse, Masters of Commerce and Sidibaba were bought because people recommended them (Masters of Commerce looked extremely good fun, though), and Constantinopolis was bought because it was cheap. They are the front-running candidates for being poor choices. I like Dixit, so I expect to like Odyssey, and I bought the new Puerto Rico mostly so I can make mine super-deluxe by
building a wooden box for my copy. The other games I purchased I had actually played at least some of, so I know that Power Grid First Sparks, Santiago and Mage Knight will get some play.

Mid-November Edit - I've now played everything at least once (although my only post-Essen game of Mage Knight was only half a game), and a clear "winner" has emerged. Much to my surprise*, my favourite game of this year's Essen haul turns out to be Eclipse. Sadly it's got a small drawback - as well as being reasonably long at 2-4 hours (depending upon number of players and experience), it is very large, taking up a reasonably big dining table for the 4-player game.

There are other games I've played more than once and enjoyed - Santiago De Cuba (though I can see the criticism that it's all about taking a simple action over and over again - even if I disagree with that criticism), Masters of Commerce and Power Grid First Sparks are all very good games (to say nothing of Ankh Morpork, which is a great lightweight). But Eclipse is so good that as soon as I finished my first game, I played it again, and ended up playing four games in a row of Eclipse that weekend.
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Richard Dewsbery
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After a long time waiting for it, I'm *not* buying this. Largely due to the presence of gratuitous dinosaurs in a strange attempt to set it apart from Glory To Rome.
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2. Board Game: 7 Wonders: Catan [Average Rating:7.12 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.12 Unranked]
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Repos/Kosmos

Booth: 12-17 and 12-56

Essen update - bought for €2

 
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3. Board Game: Alba Longa [Average Rating:6.12 Overall Rank:4703]
Richard Dewsbery
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HUCH! & friends
Quined Games
Tasty Minstrel Games

2-5 players, 90 mins
€30

Essen Friday Update -

It might be a good game, it might be a bad one, but that was the worst attempt at rules explanation I've experienced in 15 years at Essen. Struggling with explaining a game in English I can cope with (in fact it's to be expected from time to time, and the fault is mine for coming to Germany to play games without first having learned German), but our explainer clearly hadn't played the game, wasn't too familiar with the rules and had no idea how to explain games. The other players at the table mutinied and walked off rather than try to play with what little information we'd been given.
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4. Board Game: Aquileia [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:3060]
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Essen Sunday update - It's a worker placement game. Perfectly respectable, but we already have lots of perfectly respectable worker placement games. If I didn't already own many of them, I might have been tempted - the theme fits with the mechanisms better than Tribune: Primus Inter Pares (another Rome-themed worker placement game) and I enjoyed the half-game we played. But there was nothing to lift it from the pack. 7/10.
 
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5. Board Game: Bios: Megafauna [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:1872] [Average Rating:6.98 Unranked]
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Sierra Madre Games
1-4 players, 3 hours

€65?
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6. Board Game: Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:245]
Richard Dewsbery
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I'll probably have purchased this some time before Essen.

Rules:
http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_minisite_sec.asp?eidm...

Yup - already bought it.

Sleeves required - Green and Yellow.

Plan for an expansion?
 
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7. Board Game: Catan Histories: Merchants of Europe [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:3006]
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Oh look - more Settlers. Similar to the American Settlers one, apparently (no, I didn't buy it), but set in proto-Europe.

Expect a Mayfair release sometime in 2013?
 
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8. Board Game: The City [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1741]
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Amigo

May be too language-dependant.

A lighter cousin of Race For The Galaxy? A new way to ensnare unwary victims??

Essen update - Seen it. It may well be too light, but I'd still buy a copy given the price; but it is too language-dependent to buy a German copy.
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9. Board Game: Colonial: Europe's Empires Overseas [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:1638]
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3-6 players, 120 mins

Booth 6-619

Rules:
http://boardgamegeek.com/file/download/7rd8wgdj9z/COLONIAL_R...

Another candidate for this year's "I like the game but I never seem to play it" award, perhaps.
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10. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Napoleonics [Average Rating:7.97 Overall Rank:305]
Richard Dewsbery
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Two sets of the Valley Games dice.

Likely €8 per set.

Essen update - No Valley Games. The good news is that Treefrog have a bigger stand and more furniture as a result. Room to actually swing a cat!
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11. Board Game: Core Worlds [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:547]
Richard Dewsbery
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Stronghold Games
2-5 players, 60 minutes

12-86

Another game that catches my eye. Designed by Andrew Parks.

Essen update - seen it, played half a game. My concern is that with the continuing juggernaut that is Dominion, and the (imminent, surely) arrival of my copy of Eminent Domain, this game wouldn't get played more than three times. But I might reconsider on Sunday if funds permit.

Essen Thursday update - After a full game tonight - which took almost 4 hours - I have reconsidered. A thousand wild horses couldn't get me to buy this game. It is possible that in a moment of significant weakness I might be persuaded to play it again, as a three-player game somewhere quiet, but I wouldn't lose a moment's sleep if I never spend another moment with the game. I'd list the problems I had with the game (limited control in the build of your deck, very limited player interaction, too long etc etc), but frankly that would be more effort than it's worth. 5/10.

Essen Sunday update - Thinking about it some more, I might have been more forgiving but for one thing - I bought Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game a couple of weeks ago and love it. Core Worlds does quite a similar thing - you mostly play with your own deck, with some scope to customise, hoping to grab the scoring cards by laying down the right cards from your deck at the right time.

It's just that Blood Bowl: Team Manager does every part of it *better*. And has so much atmosphere I want to start painting Blood Bowl teams again (even though I found the actual Blood Bowl game to be less than stellar). Blood Bowl Team Manager is an easy 8/10; Core Worlds might actually be a 6 rather than a 5, but it's always going to suffer in comparison.

For another take on the deck building mechanism that everyone seems to be using this year, see Mage Knight Board Game. The difference is in the way you can only play through your deck once each game day in Mage Knight, and the cards usually have at least two uses. MK encourages a much more tactical, puzzle-style approach to playing your cards than most of the genre.
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12. Board Game: Discworld: Ankh-Morpork [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:405]
Richard Dewsbery
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I'm hoping to grab a copy of one of the Treefrog editions. Having spent some time demonstrating the game already, I know that this one will get played.

Essen Saturday Update - spent the day demonstrating this game on the Treefrog stand. All day from 9.30am until 7pm is a *long* day. On the other hand, Ankh-Morpork is a good game, and easy for new players to pick up.
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13. Board Game: Dixit: Odyssey [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:173] [Average Rating:7.49 Unranked]
Richard Dewsbery
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More Dixit. With teams.
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14. Board Game: Dominion: Hinterlands [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
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Don't forget Walled Village expansion - €3

I can't buy this - my Dominion carry case is full, and I refuse to make a second one.

Essen update - Bought it. Jay waving a new promo, Governor, under my nose did not help one iota. Looks like I might be hitting the woodworking tools hard again sometime real soon.

No Walled Villages, though. "Old news", says Jay. "No we didn't bring any of ours with us", says BGG. But it looks like my fears were true - th eUK distributor simply isn't organised enough (or care enough) to ensure that supplies reach UK shops. Like Stash all over again.
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15. Board Game: Dungeon Fighter [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:803]
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Cranio Creations
Heidelberger Spieleverlag
IELLO

9-57/9-60

1-6 players, 45 mins

 
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16. Board Game: Dungeon Petz [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:147]
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CGE/Z-man
2-4 players, 90 mins

Dungeon Lord was at the upper end of complexity, but holds a useful place there alongside Power Grid as longer, involved games that don't require half a day's commitment. Will Dungeon Petz also deliver, or wee on my carpet instead?

http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/71689/dungeon-petz-english...
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17. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:36]
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Asmodee
Asterion Press
Lautapelit.fi
REBEL.pl
Ystari Games

2-6 players, 120 mins

Why the buzz around this one?

(edit) - and here's what the list is really about; a place to put useful info (price, publisher, stand number etc).

BGG link to the rules:
http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/69496/eclipse-rulebook

Essen Sunday update - Oh, how easily my resolve crumbles. As soon as I was told that it was a great game (by someone who said the same thing about Rallyman last year - and I *hated* Rallyman), and that I might be able to grab an uncollected pre-order, I had to have it. I grabbed one of the last copies to go (along with the last Ghost Stories:White Wind and one of the last Santiagos, I seem to be quite lucky with this sort of thing). So that was two expensive last-minute purchases today - Eclipse and Mage Knight.
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18. Board Game: Elder Sign [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:476]
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Another game that if I want to buy it, I'll have bought it at the local shop before going to Essen.
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19. Board Game: A Fistful of Penguins [Average Rating:6.07 Overall Rank:3641]
Richard Dewsbery
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Essen Thursday update - Marvellous - I find a game I enjoyed (twice), want to buy (along with the other 3 players at the table), and the darned thing is sold out. A light, push-your-luck dice game that would go over well with my daughters. But not until next year, when hopefully they have more stock. 8/10
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20. Board Game: Flash Point: Fire Rescue [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:264]
 
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Pickup my copy at Indie Boards and Cards (pre-paid).
Stand - 12-86

Already pledged for this on Kickstarter (at the $45 level, for the bonuses), but I'll be collecting my copy at Essen.

It plays a little like Pandemic in terms of complexity; perhaps a little more random, but a little easier for families (like Pandemic's little brother, Forbidden Island), despite having quite different mechanics.

Essen Friday Update - explained the game to friends this evening, and played the introductory rules version. I really like it, but will have to watch for some changes made from the PC version.
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21. Board Game: The Forgotten Planet [Average Rating:6.04 Overall Rank:9229]
Richard Dewsbery
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Essen Thursday update - An abstract game, so dry I was picking sand out of my shoes after playing it. The most interesting thing about it is the box. 4/10
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22. Board Game: Fortuna [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:2467]
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The Game Master BV
Ghenos Games
HUCH! & friends
Intrafin Games
Ludonova

2-4 players, 60 mins

Essen Friday Update - very interesting, but ultimately it seemed that all the decisions you took in the game played much less of a roll in determining who won than a few dice rolls at the end of each turn. 7/10 if you can cope with the luck, probably closer to 6/10 for the rest of us.

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23. Board Game: Funkenschlag: Speicherkraftwerk [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
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11-63

Will need to grab a few of the latest Power Grid plant cards.

There's the Theme Park set and whatever this year's bonus card is - two of each, for me and Peter.
 
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24. Board Game: Glory to Rome [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:154]
Richard Dewsbery
United Kingdom
Sutton Coldfield
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Cambridge Games - game will not be at Essen, freebies might be.

Still debating whether to have my KS copy of the Black Box edition sent to my local games store, or pick it up at Essen.
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25. Board Game: Homesteaders [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:525]
Richard Dewsbery
United Kingdom
Sutton Coldfield
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