Rating the 2011 Essen Crop by the Eindhoven Gamers April 3 update
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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This is an in-progress list where the Master gamers from the Eindhoven Gamers rate the current Essen crop. I've ordered things from top to bottom based on the average rating, reserving those games with just a single rating for near the end: also have a couple unrated games on there that shall soon be played. I'm interested to see what will emerge as the favorite games from this year.
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1. Board Game: Air Show [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:7356]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Ok game with a couple nice mechanisms (like the bidding) but a limited amount of building variety, and some rules I really don't like (why is the weather different for everyone?) Very nice to have the plane photos there. Not sure that scoring does not force you in certain directions. 6

James: Bought this one blind based on two factors. The theme and it's a auction game. If you can get passed the spanglish rules there's a really nice game in here. The hidden bid auction mechanic is awesome and very tense. The 7 wonders style scoring of about 1,000,000 different categories means there's no clear leader and some surprises at the end. - 7.5

JeroenD- 5

AVG: 6.17
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2. Board Game: Alba Longa [Average Rating:6.13 Overall Rank:5125]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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StefanW: Having played this game a number of times leaves me with a
bit of an ambivalent feeling. The mechanisms are ok however after
everyone realizes how you can use attacks strategically it can be a
bit of an time drain. Since the victory conditions only apply to the
2nd season during the year. If you are close to winning and but cannot
do it during this year, playing another year can take too long. Next
to that the dice rolls do affect the game. If you focus only on high
rolls you might run out of money. It is all in finding the balance
between the available actions. However after a number of plays I lost
my initial enthousiasm a little bit. And i will avoid a 5 player game
in the near future, maybe with 4 players it will be quicker.
rating 6.75
 
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3. Board Game: Alcatraz: The Scapegoat [Average Rating:6.36 Overall Rank:2544]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Not really my thing. The voting for scapegoat a bit too straightforward, I think. Not sure, but not sure how much I want to keep trying. 5.75

James: The game is really made by the whole voting for the scapegoat. Makes it fun. Bit worried that by half way through the game the scapegoat is decided upon. Not really sure how much this will come out. 6.5

MikeB: The quasi coöp works nicely here. Enjoyed a three player session with loads of table talk. 7.5

Paul: I like the theme, I like the mechanisms, the only thing I disliked is that a companion can 'fulfill' a letter/assignment by just a card draw. 7

Scaut: Interesting type of coop, but takes some getting used to to get the scapegoat role right. For the rest a simple game, but nice. Plays pretty quickly, so the hurting from being chosen as the scapegoat is short. A 7.

avg: 6.75
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4. Board Game: Arriala: Canal de Garonne [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:6815]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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This one came out of nowhere. Too bad I missed it. Anyway, very dry theme but fun littlew game with a lot of choices. Not sure about replayability, but for the ten Euros James scored it for, who cares? 7.25

James: The dull as dishwater theme really grabbed me. Not often you get to build a specific canal somewhere in France. Also where else do you battle to become the greatest Project Manager. Still as a 30 minute worker placement this is a great game with some really possibilities to screw over your opponents. Another one of my top 3 from Essen. 8.25

Paul: Took me a couple of turns to get the hang of this one, then it finished too soon. Maybe I will rate it higher after a second play. 6.5

Scaut: Very surprised by this one as I'm usually not a big fan of these type of games. A lot of choices available and you can really annoy other players by grabbing the loot before they can. Short and very playable, I would rate it an 8

AVG: 7.5
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5. Board Game: Bios: Megafauna [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2093] [Average Rating:6.96 Unranked]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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My top-of-the crop. Has simplified American Megafauna, removing some of the science for playability. I prefer AMF, but this is a shorter game with perhaps some more control, with nice dinosaur figurines, board, and tiles. 9

James: Not the biggest fan of it's predecessor, but found this more tolerable. I really like how the events violently shift the landscape and threat the very existence of your animals. It's definitely a clamour for survival. Just don't quite see the game in it. 7

Scaut: Very interesting. Takes a session or 2 to get used to the game mechanics and even in the third game 2 players were completely wiped out due to a meteor strike. I'd rate it an 8

Jerome: 7.7

Walter: American Megafauna is a great game, but mostly because it's a wild ride during which all players will suffer. In other words, more of an experience than a game.
In Bios players have more control seem to have more control over the fate of their species. Although this is scientificly incorrect, it'll make for a better game. 7.5

JeroenD: 5

avg: 7.36
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6. Board Game: Bullfrog Goldfield [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:5889]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Well, found it a bit lacking after the first play. Money too easy to get after the first round or two, game ended too quickly. Like the idea of the value adjustments for connections, but they seem to extreme. Maybe a further play will help get a better score, but at the moment I'm not too enthused. Pity as I had higher hopes. 6.25

James: Want to play again really before I make a decision on this. So far I don't see anything I wouldn't get from an 18xx game. Still it's a nice game of that ilk. 7

JeroenD: 5

AVG: 6.08
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7. Board Game: Caveman Curling [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:3894]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Fun little flicking game. Adds some strategy elements of using the axes and stuff to add interest. Pretty nice components. 6

Kris: fun flicking dexterity game with extra actions close to the theme. I like it better than Safranito from last year. 7

Paul: Fun little game to play with non-gamers. 7.25

Scaut: Dexterity game, so actual manual dexterity is the most important asset to have. More of a beer and pretzel game for me, but ok. My rating 6.5

avg: 6.69
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8. Board Game: Champions 2020 [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:6987]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Nice step forward from Street Soccer: you do get a nice football feel. Crying out for player modifiers, as many have noted. My son likes to play this with me. 7.25
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9. Board Game: Cité [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:10283]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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MikeB: Pleasantly surprised by this 'housetilelayingbuilding' game. Having actual stones and cloth adds to gameplay experience. Not sure about replayability factor once you figured out the economics, but my first play left me wanting more. Has some similarities to Princess of Florence but felt more fun 7.5
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10. Board Game: The City [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1858]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Jerome: Quick and easy, 'RftG-light'. Nice graphics, perfect filler. 2p: runaway leader after 5-6 turns, avarage length 8 turns. 7.25

MikeB: Almost as good as fillers can get. Too bad about the luck of the draw, but for the amount of playing time, bang-for-the-buck, and nice small take-along size it's a solid 7

JeroenD: 6

AVG: 6.75
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11. Board Game: City Tycoon [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:2529]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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I thought I would hate it, but the icons made perfect sense after five minutes, and it really drew me in. Nice resource allocation and transport game. Tiles getting more expensive is pretty cool system, keeping you always just on the edge.7.5

James: It's like 7 Wonders, but with a real game attached. You draft city tiles, then put them in play by paying the costs, then of course this gives you some benefits. With playing time of around the 1 hour mark I'm hoping this'll get a few plays. 7.25

StefanW: played this one once and I really enjoyed the game. The scarcity of the resources provides plenty of thinking about how to arrange your actions in your turn a s efficiently as possible. The
option to use resources resembles games like steam, nevertheless the
tile laying mechanism is a nice twist to this genre. In all I would
love to play this game more often.
rating 7.75

JeroenD: 7

AVG: 7.38
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12. Board Game: Click Clack Lumberjack [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:1667]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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I don't really have any dexterity games like these, and my son liked it a lot. Lots of laughs, and it is amazing how the tree stays standing as beaten up as it is. 6

James: Like Looping Louie this is a child's game that is incredibly fun. A great way to start an evenings gaming. 6.5

MikeB: So far this is my most played game of the bunch with more than 10 plays in 2 weeks. If you're into stupid childish dexterity games like Loopin' Louie then this is a must have. Stay clear otherwise. I'm having loads of fun with it, either with my 3 year old son or with a bunch of adults & beer after something heavy. An 8 with a stupid grin is my current rating.

Kris: 8.5

Paul: Fun no-brainer. 7

Scaut: Very simple, but funny. A 7 for me.

avg: 7.16
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13. Board Game: Colonial: Europe's Empires Overseas [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:1781]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Absolutely superb production, no question there. The game play itself- I'm much less enthusiastic. The game is really very simple and straightforward. While it is perhaps difficult at the beginning, exploration is too easy later in the game. Warfare, except in very specific instances, is a bit of a waste of time. Provateering not very useful either. I don't see a lot unique about the game, more a mish-mash of other mechanics. Easy enough to play and could even be enjoyable, but at the steep price tag I expected something more, and perhaps lasting longer than the 90 minutes it took us to play. 6

James: Surprisingly light and straight-forward. Though that lightness opinion may come from the 3 player game we played, as at that number it turns into a race with only the occasional bit of annoying other players. I can see that a 6 player game of this would be pretty awesome with some very tight competition. Loved the programming mechanic as each card has two functions and only one can be used, makes the action choices that much more difficult. Rating - 7.25

Walter:
Love the mechanism of the counters and the different meanings they have. Reminds me of Civ. 7.5

JeroenD: 6

AVG: 6.91
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14. Board Game: Coney Island [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:2991]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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A Schacht game, and that is enough of a comment. Has a nice score but hamstring yourself next turn element I liked, though. 6

James: Theme on this drags you in though it gets a little lost in the game itself. However, the game is a nice blend of balancing income or money and resources versus points with some nice spatial elements on the central board. Some great decisions to make as you decide whether to block another opponent, get on in the points scoring, or give away some points. A really good 4 player puzzle that takes 60 minutes – 7.5

AVG: 6.75
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15. Board Game: Confusion: Espionage and Deception in the Cold War [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:1320]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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MikeB: Stratego done right. Looks great too. The 'hidden movement' mechanic is fun. Can be explained in a minute. 6.75
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16. Board Game: Core Worlds [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:608]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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MikeB: Deckbuilder with interaction. I'm still not interested in
playing Dominion. The thematically adjacent Race for the Galaxy is way too
multiplayer solitaire. This one is probably better than the two of 'm
together. 7.5
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17. Board Game: Deluges [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:14238]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Fun game on a very morbid topic: building monuments to your culture to be best remembered after everybody sinks beneath the waves. Directly confrontational, interesting economics. Nice components. 7.75

James: Great theme, straight-forward game-play, unique building mechanism, and best of all great tension as you fight off your opponents and the impending doom. One of the best surprises I've had in board games. 8

Kris: Quick interesting civilization game. Deforestation mechanic is great and makes a lot of sense. 7.75

Scaut: I would rate it a 9, but I'm not sure about the replayability. It was a lot of fun though.

MikeB" I like the quirky theme: building up for memories after your people are all drowned... I'm not quite sure how deforestation can lead to such immense rises in water, but it's a unique concept. I also like that in a way it's civ-lite with parts of economics, wargame and population management. Gameplay is a bit raw though and could use some polishing (going from fase 1 straight to the end in one turn is ehm 'unsubtle'), so it's a 7 for now.

AVG: 7.9
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18. Board Game: Drako: Dragon & Dwarves [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1580] [Average Rating:6.69 Unranked]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Cute little asymmetric game. Plays quite fast, cute little miniatures. Nice the dwarves have such different abilities. Dragon won both games we played, rather handily, which makes me interested in keeping on trying with the dwarves to see if I can pull out a win. 6

MikeB: great atmospheric asymmetric 2 player with easy rules. 7.5

Jeroen: 7

HJames: 6.5

AVG: 6.75
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19. Board Game: Drum Roll [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:1316]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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A real cube-pusher, but with nice art and at least enough coherence with theme to make it a fun play. 7.25

James: Cube pushing hell, but unlike Québec, this one is really really fun. There's something about it's simplicity that really works. Strangely the theme sort of works too. You do want a white cube, and not a "rehearsal". However, hiring the performers and the tension in building towards a show really sucks you in. It's a toss up between this an Salty Ocean to be the go to 90 minute cube pusher. 7.2

MikeB: Don't understand the fuzz about this one. It's just another one of those cube pushing worker placement game to me. 5

AVG: 6.48
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20. Board Game: Dungeon Petz [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:171]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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MikeB: It's a bit busy and 'overcrowded', but fun anyway. 7.5

Walter: 7.5

JeroenD: 7

AVG: 7.33
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21. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:38]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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A lot going for the game. Like the way you track your upkeep costs, variable player powers, some exploration. The turn limit rubs me the wrong way, and the combat maybe a bit too simple. Nice tech tree. Don't like the plastic at all. 7

James: A not bad 4x kind of game. Just a couple of elements that dulls the game for me. First and most hated is the fixed game length. Then is the "random" tech tree. I like the variability but somehow it just doesn't feel right. Want to play again just to find out if my initial thoughts are confirmed. 6.5

MikeB: Great & tense economic weuro. One play brought this to the top of my buylist. I actually like the 'random' tech tree. Solid 8. Maybe more eventually.

Jeroen: An amazingly streamlined amalgamam of game systems, solidly supported by exceptional graphic design, conspire to create the ultimately playable, yet variable and therefore replayable 4x boardgame on the market. It certainly begs for replays, to try different strategies, experience how different a game flows depending on the "terrain" and the available techs, by trying different species.

As clever as it may be, it does lack some of the initial wow factor for me that seems to have struck so many other players. An entertaining game, but if the playtime does not drop quite a bit (and I wonder how much room there is for that), it does go for too long. Especially in our first session, after seven rounds of buildup, the last two were spent battling each other extensively, which leads to some downtime.

Nonetheless, a climactic ending after a strong narrative arc is something I always enjoy in boardgames, and Eclipse does deliver that. As stated, with the scalability and replayability the contents of the box as is deliver, it deserves more plays to bring down the playtime, and investigate its possibly hidden depths. 8

JeroenD: 7

AVG: 7.3
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22. Board Game: Epigo [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:4152]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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StefanW: this game is kind of like a concentrated abstract version of
the robo rally mechanism of moving other robots. It is nice and the 4
player game provides plenty of chaos.
rating 7
 
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23. Board Game: Feudality [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:2975]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Wow, I loved my play of this game. Kind of a simpler kings 'n' Things, but another winner from Tom Wham. Nice mix of resource collection, random events, and some fighting possible, all in a pretty swift-to-play package. Looking forward to getting my own copy. 7.75

James: First game I've encountered that really answers the question 'I like Settler's what should I try next'. Really fun resource gathering where clever calculation and adaptability can overcome the obvious luck element. Fun events, fun buildings, fun art, what's not to like. - 7.25

JeroenD: 5

AVG: 6.33
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24. Board Game: Flash Point: Fire Rescue [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:288]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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A cooperative I can get into. Such a real-world situation pulls you in, and has some nice cinematic flair going for it as well. Have played with my son and he even requested it, so that is an extra plus. Doiuble sided map and variable setup and difficulties also a nice feature. 7.5

James: At last a co-operative game where each player can offer genuine alternative suggestions and work together as a team. Superb theme that also really enhances the teamwork and threat level. Also the rules make for quite a modular game play with different aspects being added and removed to suit your tastes. 7

MikeB: Decent coöp. Easy gameplay, but tense and thematic. A lot better than Pandemic. 7.5

StefanW: After having played this game 5+ times I still
like it it provides enough options to increase the difficulty. Also
one of my Essen 2011 favourites.
rating 7.75

avg: 7.44
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25. Board Game: The Forgotten Planet [Average Rating:5.99 Overall Rank:10581]
Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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A lot less exciting than the title suggested but a decent strategy game. Hard for me to tell what I should be doing. The inability to take things away from other players with any ease makes it mostly a race game. Presentation a bit dull. Overall, an ok game one can live with or without. Great cover art. 6.25

James: Quite abstract, almost too abstract for me. But has just enough
options, luck, and ways to get points to make it interesting enough.
Would like to see how a four-player game goes. 6.75

Avg: 6.5
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