Interesting abstracts at Essen 2011
Bruce Murphy
Australia
Pyrmont
NSW
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I'm a big fan of abstract games (and more permissive than some in how I define that) but this year I didn't manage to get to Essen, so I didn't get to walk around. Instead, I'm creating this geeklist to record all the games I need to get hold of, play, and review.

Can you help me make sure I didn't miss anything really interesting?

What interesting abstract games did you see or hear about this year at or before Essen?
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1. Board Game: Mondriaan 2020 [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:9494]
Bruce Murphy
Australia
Pyrmont
NSW
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A fairly simple and colorful tile-laying game from Cwali. Looks interesting but light.
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2. Board Game: Talat [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:6676]
Bruce Murphy
Australia
Pyrmont
NSW
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Originally published as Drei, this was designed to only be played as a 3-player game (although 2 is also possible). This is an unusually niche abstract from Huch, but I did like last year's Campos.
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3. Board Game: Kulami [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:2911]
Netherlands
Enschede
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This one looked really nice, we got an overview at the booth late Sunday afternoon, so no time to play.

What I remember from the explanation: The board is modular, you first build it (or you can use a square setup) out of wooden pieces with different sizes (and numbers of 'dips' to put marbles into). Then you place your marbles on the board (alternating turns). First player can place anywhere, but all subsequent marbles have to be put in a line either vertically or horizontally from the marble that was last placed. This continues until out of marbles, or no more legal placements. Then you get points for the number of 'dips' in the wooden pieces on those tiles where your color has majority.
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4. Board Game: Stein im Brett [Average Rating:7.19 Unranked]
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
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It has random draw, so not a pure abstract, and for 2-6 players. Each player has a color (or more than one color if smaller number of players is playing).

Take turns drawing 3 (if I recall) colored stones and placing them on a hex grid. At the end of the game, you get points for your color stones which are singletons (not touching another stone of the same color). Vaguely like OMEGA in that sense of "placing both colors stones, try not to make groups of inappropriate size of your color".

Seemed a nice lighter game, but I prefer Omega I think for that kind of gameplay.
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5. Board Game: Moeraki: Kemu [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:8673]
Netherlands
Enschede
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This one we did play, but only the basic version.

What I remember: Again it's placing marbles on a board with 'dips' in it. First a slightly bigger marble is placed somewhere in the middle circle. To win, you need to either make a square (iirc, square of 4 marbles in your color), or make a line from one side of the board to the other, or from the big marble to one of the sides (vertically or horizontally connected only, and all in your own color of course). On the edge of the board, the diagonally connected side also counts for a win (but nowhere else on the board do diagonal connections count).

From observing the people next to us: It appeared that in the advanced version you 'won' the inside of a square of marbles if you have the majority around it, and there was some big stone that you could put on the board as well, but we didn't ask what that did. The people next to us were counting the number of areas belonging to them as a way of scoring (areas with only 3 marbles around them on the edge of the board counted as 0.5, which caught my attention), so it seems that adding the advanced rules does make a difference. We didn't find the basic version interesting enough to ask about the advanced rules.
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6. Board Game: The Blue Lion [Average Rating:5.95 Overall Rank:6766]
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
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You're more permissive about the definition of "abstract", so maybe the memory aspect of this won't disqualify it for you.

We weren't fond of the memory aspect (regardless of whether it's an "abstract" or not).
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7. Board Game: Moeraki: Kemu [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:8673]
Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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Players place marbles in their own colour on the corners of rhombi. Winning is achieved by either controlling the four corners of a single rhombus; or controlling a diagonal on the board (varying in length between 3 and I think 8); or creating an unbroken connection between the green central marble and the edge of the board.

In a more advanced game, for every 3 to 1 marble majority in a rhombus 1 point is awarded immediately; on the edges a 2 to 1 majority is awarded 1/2 point; a majority of 3 to 0 also gets 1 point. In case the game is not won by means of the above conditions, the point total decides.

In the full game, players can also opt to place a guardian once per game, which annihilates all scoring tiles already placed in the direction of its 'view'. Think of Sauron's Lidless Eye, and a path or scorched earth whereever it looks, and you've got the general gist.

In practice I found this game to be not that interesting. Experienced gamers know better than to let victory slip away through obvious placement; it is very difficult to gain sufficient sente to force a fork and win. The point tiles are really too much like tit-for-tat; whereas the guardians don't seem to add much either. It's a good game for beginning abstract fans, with a lovely and well-crafted appearance... But I found it lacking too much to be worthwhile. That said, the three games I played against my partner were won/lost because of oversights regarding the corner victory condition; winning like that felt anticlimactic.

Woops: sorry, this entry crossed the one on number #5 ...
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8. Board Game: Sparta [Average Rating:5.53 Overall Rank:14708]
Daniel Danzer
Germany
Stuttgart
southwest
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Missed to give it a try at Essen, but looks like one should do so.
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