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Gaming Madness 2009 in Herne, Germany
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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The "Spielewahnsinn" (Gaming Madness) in Herne is a little convention with a few german publishers. In comparison to Essen it lacks a lot of space, it only has like half a hall for all publishers.

What makes it interesting nevertheless is, that you can see a lot of prototypes there and that it is mostly never a problem to get a table to play a game.

This geeklist wants to summarize the things, you could watch there this year.
I'll write my first opinions about the games which I have played. Those may be biased as I work sometimes for some of the publishers as an explainer and have - of course - mostly played those games only once during the convention (so much games, so few time..).

I hope it's interesting to you anyway.
If you were in Herne, you're welcome to add the games you played there with your opinions, too. For the others, I hope you like the impressions I of the prototypes I describe.

This year the "Spielewahnsinn" took place from the 22. - 24.05.2009.

Overview:
+ Abacus
+ Agentum Verlag
--- Santa Timea
--- Wettstreit der Händler
+ Amigo Spiele
+ Asmodée Editions
--- MoW
--- Rök
+ Eggert Spiele
Sherwood Forest
+ Heidelberger Spieleverlag
--- Cities
--- Bobby Sitter
+ Hans im Glück
--- Finca
+ Lookout Games
--- Mercator
--- At the Gates of Loyang
--- Bohnanza - Dice Game
+ Pegasus Spiele
--- Modern Art
--- Illuminati: Deluxe Edition
--- Adios Amigos
+ Queen Games
--- Montego Bay
+ Advices for visiting the gaming madness in Herne! (aka Eat it!)
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1. Board Game Publisher: ABACUSSPIELE
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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At the Abacus booth a nice looking woman smiled at me and asked if she might introduce me to Valdora. I declined, I have already played that and the game is nice.

"...but, do you know something about the second expansion for Race for the Galaxy" I asked her.
She didn't, but she did ask another one for it.
Sadly no new information. I remember something like "if were lucky we will see it soon" but I can't remember nor would I rely on such kind of informationen.
So sadly, no new news for it cry
 
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2. Board Game Publisher: Argentum Verlag
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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I start with a small one: Argentum Verlag

Argentum had 2 prototype games in Herne and also some of the games they have published so far.
You probably know Lifeboats, which is a really nasty game where you decide who gets tossed out of the lifeboat and get points for those who reach the beach.

Prototypes
- Santa Timea
- Wettstreit der Händler (Competition of Merchants)
It's yet unclear which of those two gets published. As far as I understood it, they want to publish at least one game for Essen '09 and that it is most likely Santa Timea.
My personal preference lies with Wettstreit der Händler, which is by far the better game for me.
 
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3. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1547]
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Santa Timea

It's more or less a trick taking game with a pirate theme.
Cards are divided into 4 wind direction (colors): north, east, south and west. Every direction has values from 1 to 14.

There are some ship cards in those colors lying in the middle of the table. Those cards decide how badly your ship will get hurt by the winds and which wind is dominating for this card. Every card has a value between 1-3 - you don't want to get the higher cards, as this gives you less points later.

So in every round you play for the first card on the board, there is a dominating wind, let's say it's north. Every north card is worth the full points (1-14) but you can also play another wind direction. East and West are worth half the points (0.5 - 7.0) and the opposing wind direction is worth nothing (0).
The one with the lowest score this round has to take the card. Highest score gets to play the next card.

What's tricky about the game is how the points are given:
After a whole round you summarize how much points on the ships you have. The following scores were accurate on a 3 player game:
Most score: 1 point
Second: 2 points
Least score: 3 points

So you have to distinguish between "score on your boats" and "points" which are given and notated.
Now comes the tricky part:
There are 3 other special combinations which gives you some possibilities.
- For every 4 boat cards you get -1 point (so gaining a lot of boats is not the best choice maybe).
- Every boat card exists twice in the game (except the 3 valued). If you have both boats you get the value as points!
(so you have 2 times the south directed boat with value 2 -> 2 points)
- For every wind direction that you have all three values (1,2,3) you can choose to throw those cards away before evaluating the scores.
You lose 6 "score in the boats" points, but you may lose a boat which you have twice also... it's up to you


It seems like a solid nice trick taking game to me, but I'm not sure which target group it has. In my opinion the theme fits quite well with the game, but the game itself has a tricky point system, which might be too difficult for a family game.
In comparison to other trick taking games it may be quite hard, because there are a lot of good ones out yet.
Nevertheless, I wish them good luck with this one, but the next one would be a far better choice to publish, imho...
 
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4. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1547]
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Wettstreit der Händler
(Competition of Merchants)

The title is not fixed yet and it is likely that it will be changed due to the resemblance with the game "Wettstreit der Baumeister".

What's does the board looks like:
There are several cities on the board, each linked due to roads with a different numbers of "spots" on the road.
Each city has a different number of offices in different colors and there are 2 special cities in the east and west which have a connection to outside the board.
A few cities does also have some "special powers" which enable you to get more experience and thus allow you different actions.
You get merchants (represented by cubes on the prototype) and a single special merchant (represented by the disc on the prototype).

On your turn you have a different number of actions in which you might like to:
- Place merchants of your color on the board on an empty spot
(take a merchant in your pool and place it on the board)
- Replace a merchant of a different color on the board with your own color
(take a merchant from your pool on the board. You have to pay an additional (2 additional for the special merchant) and place your merchant on the board on this spot. But this allows the other player to replace this merchant +1 additional (+2 if it was the special merchant) to an adjacent trade route).
- Change the position of a number of your merchants on the board
(take a number from 2-5 (?) of your merchants from the board and place them on free spaces)
- Establish a trade route and thus create an office in one city or use it's special power
(if you own all spots on a route, you can establish a trade route and create your office in an adjacent city or use the special power it has. People dominating an adjacent city get a victory point. You can only create an office on the next lowest free office spot and if you have the corresponding privilegue.
There may be special markers on the trade routes which you take then)
- Take back merchants from the pool on the board
(Due to several actions merchants get to the pool of "used merchants" on the board and can't be used anymore. With this action you get a number of 2-all of them back to your supply pool)
- use a special marker which allows you some special actions like swapping the positions/priority of offices in a city or creating an office in an otherwise "full" city. etcpp.

Every player has a board which describes those actions and have 5 different powers on them, which can be upgraded with some special powers)
1) Network (multiplicator for the network score)
2) Actions (number of actions you have in a turn)
3) Priviligues (you can't create offices without the proper privilegue)
4) Experience (you get additional special merchants here and it changes the number of merchants you can replace
5) Income (the number of merchants you can take back from the pool)

The game ends if either:
- a player reaches 20 Victory points on the score sheet (not all VP are notated here!)
- all cities but one have an office in them
- ... sorry, I forgot the other possibilites here

There are several special abilities to score:
- every time someone creates a trade route you get points when you dominate (have the most/highest offices in that city) adjacent cities
- create an east-west connection (have offices in the cities) -> this is marked in the score sheet
- you get 1-4 * multiplicator from the network power points for every city in your biggest network of connected cities
- for every city you dominate you get 2 (4 if more than 5 offices there) points
- some points for special markers

So how does it play like:
Every turn is short and you use the opportunities you see on the board. You try to establish trade routes on which you find interesting adjacent cities. Those might be interessting for several reasons:
You might want to have an office there, because you need it for your network or it might be interesting to dominate it because an adjacent city has a special power thus people want to create trade routes there (-> points for you).
A special mechanism in this game is the replacement rule. It is highly encouraged to block other players so they have to replace your markers. When they do so, you get your markers back on the table from the "used pool" in adjacent trade routes and don't have to spent an action for it. This might be highly interessting, so there is a lot of "oh, you wanna get this here? This is going to cost you..." in the game.
You have several pathes to get points and it looks already interesting. In the game I played the scores where 65/65/~40/~35/~35. The two winners did take differently ways to get points (network/offices,special power of a special city) and the others did some other stuff, which did not so well.
So I think there is something to learn in this game and it has a bit of a learning curve (I don't like games, which are not short and are totaly easy to grasp).
The play time should have been around 60minutes, but our game took more like 2,5 hours. I think this was a bit too much for the game, but it mainly was due to a new rule introduced to the game and I hope they will fix it that the game runs in the intentioned 60min (its to repetitive to do a whole 2,5 hours).

This is my secret gem from Herne and I really look forward to the game beeing published and hope I will see a ready version in Essen '09.

Lastly a 2 pictures of the (not at all final prototype version):
A 4 player game (sorry I have no better picture)

and the variant for only 2 players
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5. Board Game Publisher: AMIGO Spiel + Freizeit GmbH
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Amigo had a bigger both at Herne with a single table presenting prototypes. At least that was, what it looked like for me.

As I know most of the games they have created and there were not that many new ones, I nearly passed this booth. My girlfriend wanted to try Meschugge, so we did.

I don't spend a whole entry on this, let's just say the gaming title is what happened to us.
It's not like we had a lot of fun with it. I like brain-puzzle games (don't know how you would call them in english) sometimes. I like Kakerlakensalat for example.
Either Meschugge were too complicated for us or we just were too deaf. It didn't work for us, nor did we have fun, so that was it for this game.
 
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6. Board Game Publisher: Asmodee
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Next one is Asmodee which was a bigger booth there. They had a lot of their games there which you might try.
I have only two of their new ones, but you could also try:
Bakong, Formula D, Dice Town, Okko: Era of the Asagiri, Genoa, Kogworks, Kaleidos... (You don't expect me to remember everyone, do you?)

I tried RÖK and Mow.
 
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7. Board Game: Mow [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:1999]
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Mow is a little, small card game which can be easily played in just something like 15-30 minutes.
It's fast, easy and reminds me a bit of 6 nimmt!.

There is only 1 row of cards (different from 6 nimmt!) which represents the herd of cows. Each card (cow) has a value from 1 - 14 (with the exceptions of special cows) and in your turn you have to either take the whole herd (bad thing, but sometimes better to choose it earlier than to take even more later) or play a card to expand it. But you can only expand the herd with a card either lower or higher than the lowest/highest card yet on the table. So at some point someone is forced to take all the cards from the table.

Each card has a number of flies on them which count bad points for the player who gets them (0-5 flies per cow).
There are some special cards and and a direction of play card which can be turned by playing a cow with 5 flies.

The game is, as I said before, easy to grasp. Played in very few times and it is fun. I like it, though it is not a game meant to fill a whole evening.
 
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8. Board Game: RÖK [Average Rating:5.47 Overall Rank:9305]
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Rök is a fast reaction game where everyone takes the stones on the table simultaneously.

So how does it work: Every player has a special stone which he has to take care of.
In each round everyone grasps 4 hidden stone in their hand from a sack. If everyone has 4 stones all throw them in the middle of the table simultanously. The stone may land (if it does not land under the table... cry ) on the frontside or backside.
If its on the backside it is ignored, you may only grasp stones on the frontside.
So you look for stones with equal runes on the frontside and take them as fast as possible.

You should take a special look for the stone with the rune equal to your special stone. If someone takes it, he will get your special stone and ALL stones equal to its color (white, grey, black) so this is a catastophical thing to happen for you.

This is a fast and chaotic type of game... and I have to say, I really did not enjoy this at all. If you want a fast game where everyone plays simultaneously try Ubongo, Turbo Taxi or Galaxy Trucker. The material is really nice though.
If someone gets your special stone your mainly screwed, especially if you had a lot of points earlier on. 3 rounds got 2 pairs each round? You may lose like 4 pairs of them in a single round... *uarks*

The worst game (imho) I found myself playing in Herne... yuk
 
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9. Board Game Publisher: eggertspiele
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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They had a booth next to Lookout Games and Abacus and were displaying the new games and expansions but you could also buy older games there.

You could buy the new Expansion for Cuba: Cuba: El Presidente there.

We played Sherwood Forest there, which will be described in the next entry...
 
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10. Board Game: Sherwood Forest [Average Rating:5.85 Overall Rank:4723]
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Sherwood Forest is a communicative game about men in the sherwood forest, carriages with gold (or sheriffs) in them and other robbers that try to mislead you

The first thing you notice about the game is the graphics. The board is painted in something that reminds me of an oil-picture. Very smooth lines, almost a bit too blurry but I like it, at least if I take a step back to look at the board

On your turn you decide to place your robbers on some fields along the roads through sherwood forest or in the town.
You can buy additional robbers, spend money in the church for the people for getting VPs and going to the cavern for informations about carriages that are going through the forest.
Or you could buy weopon cards for gold, to help to increase your fighting power (manpower) in an assault for an carriage.

You can place your robbers on certain spots on the board and ask the other players for help. They might send you some additional robbers, which might bring them gold, also.
After all robbers are placed the players can choose 1 out of the 5 cards which are near the board. One lies there face up while the others lie face down on the table (you could see them, when joining the cavern). If a card is chosen you look where it passes through and if there are robbers along the road, they might attack the carriage, if they have enough manpower. If they have, gold is awarded for the robbers. The robber captain decides who gets the first gold, after this he decided the sequence of players to get gold and after this, he decides which robber figure gets gold - if there are not enough: bad luck for those, the robber captain don't like
You remove the robbers from the spot after they attack an carriage.

That's the basic game. Later there are sheriff carriages, which attack robbers on the way and are bad, if you don't have enough manpower to defeat them.

I don't know if it is a variant, but there is a option which increases the complexity a bit by introducing the concept of an informant. If you know about a carriage to go a certain path, you guarantee for it, using some tokens. Then the informant decides who gets gold first and is bounded by some mechanism to the information which he gave the other player.


I didn't like the game much after all. First, I don't like communicative games, where you depend on from the other players more than your own choices (I've already mentioned that before, did I?). You are highly dependent on the other players. But even if you did manage to get a lot of robbers on a certain spot and you do know, that there is a highly valuable carriage coming along that way.
Players not involved will most likely pick other cards first and if you have bad luck, they come along your way and you attack them. Winning some gold (but far less than the carriage after that) and then you have to remove the robbers from the spot. So I would label the game too chaotic for my tastes.
 
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11. Board Game Publisher: Heidelberger Spieleverlag
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Heidelberger had a booth at Herne, and they were selling Steam there! Wow

Exclusively sold and an convention price... yeah, it really was all exclusively because they got it themselfs the day before and it was weekend, so noone else could have opened. The convention price was some kind of special, too. You could preorder the game far cheaper on some stores.

But I won't complain about the prizes, after all they sell "damaged" games for a discount. Sometimes the damage is really evil, sometimes its hard to see. The discount on the games is most likely huge. My girlfriend buyed an Descent: Journeys in the Dark and is more than happy with it

You could see most FFG which are available here, yet.
Battlestar Galactica could be played there as well as StarCraft: The Board Game. Those games are not something to be played in a few hours. I'm impressed by a man who sat at a table with Battlestar Galactica and read through the rules. I haven't read the rules myself, but you could say I don't really like FFG rules... indeed I absolutely think those horrible. Game for game, they won't get better cry
I'm absoluty astonished someone would read them voluntary... he must be a fan of the series


As I knew most of the games (except Steam, where I couldn't see an open "try it out" game) I played only some game new to me:
Cities and Bobby Sitter
 
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12. Board Game: Cities [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:1608]
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Cities is a tile laying game, where you places some figures on your tiles and hope for them to score.
Sounds familiar to Carcassonne? It is, but you don't have a common game plan, instead you create your own city.

There are four different tiles: Shops, water, parks and sightseeing worthy buildings.
A startplayer draws a tile and everyone takes the tile with the same number on it and places it in his city, adjacent to the other tiles.
You try to create as huge as possible connected areas with parks and "sightseeing worty buildings", because a figure on them scores for each space (not tile) it is on.
It's a different thing with shops, they are worth 1 point for each water field in a straight line (and which are connected to the shop by other water tiles in a straight line).
After you placed your tile you can put a figure on it or move a figure one space (even diagonally).
That's it, at the end you count your points and decide the winner.


There is a heavier variant, where you may not move your figures and figures on shops get points for adjacent parks in a straight line, too.
After all, it was a nice play. I can see that you might play with more strategy if you knew a bit more, how the spaces are distributed on the tiles.
But I doubt that I will play the game that often to get that experience and I don't think it would be a far, far better game.
It's nice, but nothing I would buy.
 
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13. Board Game: Bobby Sitter [Average Rating:5.74 Overall Rank:7414]
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Bobby Sitter is an simultanious game (again?!) where one draws a cards and everyone has to grab a sheep token as soon as possible if there is a sheep on the card.

Got that sheep token? Okay, you are not allowed to grab it, if there is also a wolf on the token!
Seems easy? Well, those wolves are quity nasty hidden on the card. For example I had to laugh after my girlfriend grapped the sheep token and thought she had a point for sure. The explainer told her, there is a wolf on it, so it's a miss:
Gf: "No way, there is no wolf!"
Exp:"There is a wolf on it"
Me: "Where is that wolf, you're talking about?!"
Exp: "Have you looked at the house?"
Gf: "Yeah, there is no wolf behind the house"
Me: "I don't see it either.."
Exp: "Look in the window "
Me: "...there is no... wait, what?! "

There was a wolf hidden at the window, it was hidden that nasty I haven't seen it even after looking for it for a while
Mostly you can see them, if you look long enough, but then again someone else grapped the card before you. This single wolf was so well hidden.. devil

I'm not sure about the replay value of the game, as I can see myself getting used on the cards (especially on the wolf in the window )
Nice little game!
 
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14. Board Game Publisher: Hans im Glück Verlags-GmbH
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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They had a small booth in Herne, mainly about the new games.

Dominion with the new cover (I already mentioned it at the Pegasus entry, can't understand those: "Too dark a cover" arguments) and Maori.

I haven't played Finca yet, but I was not eager to do so. I really had no hopes for the game and was surprised positively.
 
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15. Board Game: Finca [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:394]
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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In Finca you try to collect as many fruits to deliver them to certain fincas and get points for it.

In your turn you decide to move along some kind of rondell on a windmill
Each leaf of the windmill has a certain fruit on it. You get as many fruits of that kind as figures standing there. If you move from a space (in clockwork direction) you must move as many spaces, as there are figures on the space you move from (reminds me of The Downfall of Pompeii).
If you cross the "burro line", you also get a burro token. "Burro line"? Yeah, if you travel from the upper part to the lower or vice visa you cross the "burro line". I don't know if it is called that way in the manual, but as I saw it it reminded my of the movie (Sakrileg: The DaVinci Code) which had this "rose line" which had a place in the move. I called this line "burro line" and explained why... after that everyone called it that way

If you don't wish to move, you can spend one of your burro tokens and deliver fruits to a finca. Each one wants some special fruits. You may deliver up to 6 fruits and thus you could fulfil more than one order (orders vary between 1 - 6 fruits).
If you are the first to fulfil orders from 1-6 you get a token. 2nd one gets a token (with less VP), too and so on (which reminds me of Thurn and Taxis).
There are some special tokens with special powers which allows you do to things you normally couldn't.

After all, the game itself was nothing new. No new mechanism, nothing spectacular but a well done, solid game. It is even nominated for the "Spiel des Jahres".
btw.: Normaly the "SdJ" is more like a blacklist to me, this year there are 2 games with a bit of demand (+++) in the nominees. Hopefully the SdJ is going to be a bit more demanding in the future, too.


I did like/enjoy the game for a game. I would play it again, but I don't think it will be going in my gaming collection, because I already own other games which are alike. But it is solidly made and I would recommend it for new gamers. And as such, it is worthy to be a "SdJ" nominee.
 
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16. Board Game Publisher: Lookout Games
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Lookout Games had a small booth with lots and lots of prototypes with them.

Lots of prototypes you hear me say? Yes, lots of them!
- At the Gates of Loyang
- Merkator
- Bohnanza - Würfelspiel (Dice game)
- Agricola - Moorbauern
- Mutterböhnchen ('Motherbean', yet another expansion for Bohnanza)
- ...

I have to say a few words to my relationship with Lookout Games:
I do explain games for a few game publishers on conventions and thus. As such I also work for Lookout Games sporadically, so you might think that my opinion is somewhat biased. My opinion is, indeed, biased by my own taste, which mostly likes what Lookout Games does.
One could argue if my tastes adapt to the games or the games adapt a bit to my opinion (as I give my feedback to some prototypes ).
I intend to tell you my honest opinion, but if you think my opinion is not trusty enough because of my bonds with Lookout Games you are at least warned now...
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17. Board Game: Merkator [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:610]
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Mercator is a game, I played something like a year ago. I was curious how it would have developed from the part I was playing it.

The game we played a year ago, we were not so satisfied with the gaming experience whistle

To make it short: The game was far better this time! But let me tell you, what's it all about.

The next images shows the gaming board in may, maybe so, it's not taken by me but it shows nearly the same that I have seen.
Notice that the time board (top left) now looks different than this


Mercator is all about getting and fulfilling contracts, too. But in contrast to Loyang or Agricola you don't have something like a field. Instead you have a board which fills with ressources which is in common with all players. You do have your own board (is this some kind of Lookout - Rosenberg - thing? ) which mainly holds your ressources and contracts. You personal board is not really important as it does only 2 things:
- associates numbers to each ressource you might have
- gives you a reminder, that you can only have 5 contracts at the beginning of your turn.
Nothing like a farm, field which gives you something... nope

So what do you do in your turn?
1) Check if you have more than 5 contracts. If you have, you have to invest with them.
Invest... er.. what? Oh, I haven't told you yet: All contracts are money at the same time. Every contract has a number of gold it is worth and a destination with some kind of goods. You can either use it as money and spend it on something or you can fulfill it and get a higher contract (fulfill a 5-contract and you get a 6-contract, and so on...).
2) Travel to somewhere on the board. Your not bounded by the lines, they have a different meaning. But you have to afford it. In Mercator, you represent merchants from Hamburg. So traveling and making a deal there will save you a lot of money. This is represented by time markers you get. Travel to Hamburg and you get 2 time markers.
Travel to somewhere farer away and you get less. Travel to somewhere far, far away, and you even have to pay time markers!

So, lets say you traveled to england. Take all the goods there. As in Le Havre, they have 2 sides. You can choose on which one you take them, it doesn't matter. But you have to take one of each side, so you could take 5 goods and chose from (1 front, 4 backside/ 2 front, 3 backside / 3 front, 2 backside / 4 front, 1 backside).
After you took the goods, all countries connected with a line will get an additional good on them.
There are those outside countries, they have special rules for that (and will mostly cost all time markers) like: an additional good for all countries with 2+ goods on them.

After you have done your stuff, someone of your gaming buddies might want to travel there as well. He just has to pay you an amount of time markers to travel with you (depends on the country). He will not gain any goods, but he might be able to fulfill a contract there.

You then could invest you money on something. There are blue cards available: those give you something each time you travel to a specific country.
Red cards are available and gives you VP for something like: 5 VP if you have 5 clothes when the game ends. Clothes are no good, but some goods share special atributes. Fur is used for clothes. Iron, Salpeter, ... are used for weapons.

That's mostly it. You might wonder, what those dice are for. Do you?
Well, as you take time markers, you might open a space on the time table, which shows some dice. You stored your vegetables a long, long time? Ever heard of something like "decay"? The game has!
So which goods rot you decide with the dice. Throw them both and take a look. You might want to reroll one dice (but not both). After that the lowest dice decides which goods rot (remember your table assigns a number to each good). So Iron is far less likely to rot that vegetables.
If you have rolled a double even 2 goods rot and you are not allowed to reroll. cry

The game ends when there is a certain amount of time markers gone from the time table and thus the 30 year war in which the game takes places is assumed to have ended.


So what do I think from the game?
It's an economic game again. You decide each turn which countries have worthy goods on them, which you might want to get to fulfill a contract or not. It's a good thing to get contracts which have a country in common. The bad news is: better contracts want to have more goods, so you might not be able to fulfill them all. Sticking with many low contracts which do not require a lot of goods and thus beeing able to fulfill a lot of them seemed to powerful to me. But I have seen the player doing this first going for many cards but then, he lost the point where he should have stopped this "money making" machine. As he did't got to higher contracts and just burned his contracts for money he didn't got his hands on higher contracts and he first got many, many points but was in not that position later on.

The time table is the thing which mainly changed in what I saw. It gives the game that important factor that you might not have enough time to do anything. Focus and get yourself a good engine soon! The first play went not that good, because it took a while to play and there was no end coming...
It's far better this time. For now, I think the way you get contracts should be something to have more influence on, than it is now.
But I'm looking forward for the game beeing published. I think it is planned for 2010.
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18. Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:186]
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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At the Gates of Loyang (referenced as 'Loyang' in the future text) is an econonic game in the history of Agricola and Le Havre.
From what I understood it was meant to be the first game in the "harvest trilogy" (Loyang - Agricola - Le Havre)

I was playing it on Sunday with high hopes because everyone did tell me how great it is.
To make it short: I think it is a good, solid game but it lacks interaction, even im my measurement.

But let me explain you what the game is like. First of all, lets take a look at the boards:

So let me give you a more schematical picture of the board:

+---+ +---+ +---+ +---+ +---+
|###| | ##| |###| |## | |###| ... even more
| ##| | ##| |###| |## | | | ... Fields ?
+---+ +---+ +---+ +---+ +---+
+------------------ +--------------------------+ +-------+
| VP Track | personal store | |Storage|
+--------------+ +--------------------------+ +-------+
| VP |
+---+ | | +---+ +---+
market | | | c | | | | | ... even more
booths | | | o | | | | | ... contracts?
+---+ | n | +---+ +---+
| t |
+---+ | i | +---+ +---+
special | | | n | | | | | ... even more
persons | | | u | | | | | ... orders?
+---+ | e | +---+ +---+
| d |
+----+


The game runs 9 turns, each one of them is split into 2 phases
- Harvest
- Action

In the harvest phase you get a cube (food) from every field you have if it is not empty. You get a free new field, with space from 3 to 6.
But greater fields are not necessary better, as they can not hold on every plant (you may be able to plant every food on a 3-space field, but you can only plant 3 sorts on a 6-space field)

Also you get 2 "dark blue" cards, which might be additional fields, market booths, persons, contracts or orders.
The mechanism how those cards are dealt to the players is quite nice: you get 4 cards on your hand. Now every player has the choice between: Taking on card from the pool (which is initial empty) and keep one from the hand - but he must throw all of his leftover cards in the pool then.
If you don't want this, you have to throw a card in the pool. Now the next player can choose and so on.
What it means is, that if you have drawed 2 good cards in your hand, you can't necessary get them both! You have to throw on into the pool and hope it still lies there on your turn. If you have not drawn any good card you can hope to get at least one good from the draw of the other players. There is some kind of player order determined by it as well - but in our first game it really didn't matter so much, so I'm not going into the details.

In a 4 player game, there are 2 "startplayers" and you start your turns simultanously.
You have to fulfill your contracts (can miss them one time though without paying something), you may fulfill orders and you can booths to change food from one type to another.
By fulfilling contracts/orders you get money. You can use money to get steps on the VP-track or to buy stuff. You could buy new cards, new fields (which are new cards you have to draw by chance, but to keep them, you have to pay), new goods from the store.

The VP-track is kind of tricky. It shows numbers: 1-3-4-5-6-7-... on each step. To go a step in the VP-track you have to pay 1 for the first step. If you want to go for an additional step, you have to pay the amount of money shown on the fields. So you wanna go from 15 to 18?
Sure thing, one for the first to 16, then 17 for the 17 and 18 for the last step. Makes you pay 1 + 16 + 17 = money, a bargain buy! shake
So early on your steps are easy, but you could buy an additional field, which makes much more money in the past, too... *arghs*

There are some kind of special powers, introduced by the persons available. Some of them can be used on other players. In a 4 person game, you can only use them on your "gaming partner", not on everyone. Your gaming partner is determined by the order in which people dropped out of the "card gaining mechanism" so if you go last there, you can choose your gaming partner.
Do you have a card which allows you to fulfill a contract from another player? You may want to choose him you gaming partner.
Those cards are not too catastrophical to them, but they might hurt him. Might because I have not seen this happening in our game.

I did make a mistake in my game, so most of the cards became pretty much useless (there are many cards which allows you to change between the different goods (food)). If you sell a good to your store, you get paid very badly. I have overseen it, so I sold at the same prices as I buyed, so I mainly changed with the store. whistle
Well, I won the game, but this is some kind of cheeting (I didn't want to, just misunderstood the rules and noone realized till late of the game cry )

So what do I think of the game?
It's a solid economical game. I really want to like it, but my first game was somewhat dissapointing for me. It was mostly because I had very high hopes with this, as many people told me how fantastical it is.
I was very tired (last day of the convention) and made a mistake, but the basic rules should be correct..
The game mainly focusses on your contracts and orders and how to fulfill them. Make money to make points, I like this kinds of game mostly. Most of them have some kind of player interaction (which may be not that much, but I don't want my gaming partners to destroy my precious plans too much neither).
In Agricola action spaces are blocked. Le Havre blocks buildings and piles which might be exactly what you want might be taken by the player left to you.
In Loyang nothing like that can happen. It could be, that someone closes your precious contract instead of you or he might use your market booth, so you can't use it yourself and miss a contract *ouch*

On my first play it was "too little" interaction for me.
If you're the type of player who whishes to do his own stuff, creating your own economical engine/farm and don't want others to harm it, then it might be exactly what you look for!
My first impression, with some errors and thus, not at all representing is a something like a rating 6-7. I see people give it a better rating up to the 10.

"I really like that kind of harvesting, making something grow and grow up all througout the game. Loyang is even better than Agricola" I have been told. It's not my opinion, but it may be yours as well.
 
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19. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1547]
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Bohnanza - The dice game

A well, ..., a spin-off from a well known game. Well, that's a new idea! Haven't seen this ever before, did I? Let's see:
Ubongo, Ubongo Extreme, Ubongo Mini, Ubongo: Duel, Ubongo Extrem: Mitbringspiel, Einfach Genial Knobelspass, Einfach Genial: Das Kartenspiel, Simply Ingenious. Well, it may be not that new an idea. Other publisher might be better at creating spin-off though.
It's not that it is the first thing developed in the Bohnanza Universe (I spare you listing all the Bohnanza Games/Expansions).

I don't even like most dice games.
Do you think I like this one? You bet!

As there is no entry for the game yet and I don't know when (or even if) it is published, I gave it a place in my user gallery here:

It is listed under Lookout Games, because you could see it there in Herne, but I'm not even sure, it will be a Lookout Games...
Lookout Games, you might think that the main author is Uwe Rosenberg, do you? At this point I should mention, that he is not. The game is designed by Hagen. You do know Hagen, don't you? Ever played Babel? There you have it.


So what is the game all about?
Rolling dice of course. Take all your dice, roll them and then you can choose to keep 2 kind of beans they might show (+ Joker Beans).
Like the cardgame you may only have 2 kind of beans on your fields. Instead of keep the dice in front of you (like cards in the cardgame) you have a sheet where you just notice how much you have.
So what are you going to do, if you want to have blue beans a second time? You are not allowed to (in contrast to the card game).
There is no trading in the game neither. No trading in Bohnanza? That's not something worth of the name Bohnanza... well, there is something like trading.
After you rolled your dice, you now have to offer the other dice to all other players. In player order they may choose a kind of bean and take as many dice as they want from it.
After all have chosen which beans/dice they want, the player decides which one of them really gets those dice.
So how does he decides? Most likely he will pick the one who gets less points. But it is interessting to get as many dice back as possible. To make things worse, there are even 3 kind of different dice, each showing different distributions of the beans - so you might want to keep the dice which have the beans you need.
So after thinking a lot (indeed, you should not think about it a lot, it's a fast game...) the player shows with his finger on the on who he thinks should keep his dice.
It's now up to the other players to bribe convince the player to choose him with some kind of plastic chips. Actually they're representing money. They are not worth a whole point but a fraction of it (not sure if the exact amount will change, maybe, it did so ago).

If you choose, you "plant your dice" in marking the spaces on your sheet and give all your dice to the next player.

The number of dice might decrease/increase because people might have dice laying before them, as they are only planting them at the beginning (and end) of their turn.


What do I think of the game?
It's a nice, fast, dice game. Indeed I like it more than the original card game (which I only play with the Bohnröschen Expansion) and think it is a good game. It's even a great one for a spin-off and has the right "Bohnanza" Feeling.
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20. Board Game Publisher: Pegasus Spiele
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Pegasus had a booth there, too.

Most funny thing was, that they had Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization in the displays (you know, that one I went to see all Essen'08 but couldn't. I own it by now...) but didn't want to explain. Why not? laugh
Maybe a bit too long...

So what did they have in their display?
Munchkin + several expansion
Chez Geek + several expansions/spin-offs
Heartland (have played that already before)
Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age in the english version
Pandemic with the more family friendly cover (well, that old one is really disgusting... but it's the same with Dominion, can't understand them)
The Stars Are Right + the prototype for an expansion. I really like that one! It's a tough little brainburner. The expansion is even giving oil in the flames and making it more of a brain burner (very, very first impression)
...

Pegasus has published many RPG games, or games that makes fun of PRG clichees. I'm not into that kind of humor and therefor Pegasus were nearly uninteresting for me. But in the near past they republished successful and good games like Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization, Pandemic, Brass, Tigris & Euphrates, ...
This makes them interesting again.

We tried the remake from Modern Art, Illuminati: Deluxe Edition and the new game Adios Amigos
 
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21. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:180]
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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An old Knizia, a so called classic. Haven't played this one yet, but it is with all good games: they are most likely going to be reprinted and now it's time for Modern Art.

Modern Art is an auction game set in an art gallery. Man, I really detest modern art and thus don't like the artwork at all. The player screens looks best, but the cards... *brr*


You have 5 types of cards, each is associated with a so-called artist.
Every card has a symbol on it how it is sold on the market, there are 5 available.
You sell pictures but as soon as the fifth picture of an artist ist sold the round ends and you see which artist had most pictures sold. Their value is increased by 30, 2nd place +20 and third one is +10.
You then sell every picture in your display from that round for its current price if it is raised that round or to the price 0 if it is not raised.

I bet there are several reviews available to you, so I recommend reading those if you're interested in the details.

My first impression is that the game is really nice. The worst thing is, that it is possible for someone to get a picture for free (hidden bidding: no highest bid = picture for free?!).
You always have to evalue how much a picture might be worth and how much you would earn with it at the end of the round. This one is a classical as an auction game, another one which is highly praised which I don't like at all is The Princes of Florence. I like this one far more!
Maybe it is possible to play it meaner than we did, because there were nearly no pictures worth nothing. It's quite hard to drop an artist out of the best 5 pictures if the player who played it can sell another one - so each player must agree to drop it. Even then cards which sell another picture with them are very powerful then.
 
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22. Board Game: Illuminati: Deluxe Edition [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:970]
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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An old classic again. My girlfriend dragged me to this but I was willing to give it a try.

First surprise: Such a huge box and the game is... a card game?!
Oh yeah, there are those money chips in it, but besides that it's a card game.
Besides beeing a card game it is a game with that certain "take this!" aspect. You try to convince funny-looking groups to obey your certain cult to make it stronger. It depends on your "strength", the dices and the bids whether you are successful or not. Strength is the current strength of your cult and all cards assigned to the attack. Bids is the amount of money you spend for it and the amount of money all others bid against you. Dices are exactly that: throw the dices and count the result.

I don't like games where my fates are most likely to be controlled by my gaming partners more than my own choices. I don't like funny-looking games which are not short, funny games themself.
I don't like Illuminati...
 
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23. Board Game: Adios Amigos [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:2358]
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Adios Amigos is a short and fast game, where you try to get as much gold as possible. The game is played simultanously.

You put 3 cards in front of you, each showing 2 numbers. You also get some chips with numbers on them, a dynamite token and 2 patrons.

In your turn you must put your number chips on enemy cards, thus shoot them and get gold for it.
You may put a number on a card, if either the sum or the difference is equal to the chip.
So if the card says: 5 3 you may put a number-2-chip in it or a number-8-chip. If you put a wrong chip on it, you have to pay 3 gold as an excuse to the player which you shoot after the round.
If all 3 cards are shot in front of you, you're out of the round.

You can choose to throw a patron in the middle and shout "reload" so each of the players can take 2 additional chips to them.
The next possibility is to throw the dynamite token in the middle, so everyone must stop their actions and count "10..9..8..". In this time you may act alone and put as much tokens on a cards as you like but they should be in sum either equal to the sum on the cards or the difference of numbers on the cards. If not.. well, 3 gold are gone...


The game is short, funny and plays quite well. Might be interesting for families for a short game and a funny theme. I'm not going to buy it, but I would play it again occasionaly.
 
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24. Board Game Publisher: Queen Games
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Queen Games had a booth in Herne, too.

You could buy their older games. Queen games always have a good rule and good material. But I can't understand the prices they sell their games at. 30€ for Chicago Express is what I paid for it at the Essen booth '08 where it was new. Shogun ist still at 35€ and seems to not go down as well.
At least you could buy the famous "Queen bag" along with the games for an additional 5€ *ouch*

Oh, you get a coffe mog along with it... fine...

New game this year in a big box: Montego Bay.
 
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25. Board Game: Montego Bay [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:2478]
Timo
Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
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Montego Bay is the new game in a big box.

It's an majority game where you want to deliver goods to ships. Each player gets a color and the wooden seamen along with it.
There is a tavern at the port ("like a roleplaying game, everything starts at a tavern" the explainer said). There are storage halls (which are randomly dealt to the table) which have 2 sides: front and back. Each of them shows a different room with up to 4 barrels down to -2 barrels (broken barrels).
You have a big seamen and a smaller one.
At the top of the board there is a "moving order" (randomly initiated) in which order the seamen move. All players choose cards from 1-5 spaces simultanously and place them face down on the table. They are flipped at the same time and then the seamen move in the order shown at the top.

If you move on a free space: fine.
If you move on an occupied space, you push the other seamon on the other side of the storage. If this space is occupied also, you go back as much spaces as it needs to get to a free space (might be the same space you started in).
Mean detail: the more barrels there are in a storage, the less barrels are on the opposing side.

Then, in an order which depends on how the seamen stand (you start at a certain point around the storage rooms and go along counter-clockwise) the seamen deliver the barrels on the ships.
If a ship is full, or if it is at the first space after all seamen delivered their goods, it is evaluated.
Evaluating means: The one with the most points, gets the first number (5-8?) second one gets less points (middle number) and last one the least points.

Thats mostly it. Whats left is, that there are some kind of silver coins in storage rooms which less barrels (mostly in negative ones) and that you can buy an additional seamen, the lazy jack for 3 silver coins for one round.


The game is a chaotic majority game, which I didn't like that much. I wonder why Queen game made it a big boxed game and spend so much money for the nice material - the game is not worth it imho.
 
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