Rundown of Essen & Lucca (with Mini Reviews)
Michel Condoroussis
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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Two friends and I made the journey from Montreal, Quebec over to Venice to visit a friend and from there the four of us were off to Essen (which I am sure everyone is familiar with) and Lucca (a Comics and Game fair in a town of the same name located in the Tuscany region of Italy).

This is a rundown of our trip and how things went, including some reviews of the games we played. In all, I alone played about 70 different games over the 16 days, so I will not include all the games, but just some notable ones (good and bad). Also to note, that these are first impressions as I played most games just once and that not all of these games are new. Although most are 2009 releases, some were older games that I had just wanted to try out. Enjoy!
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26. Board Game: Vasco da Gama [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:302]
Michel Condoroussis
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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I had seen this game at Essen and got an explanation, but did not get a chance to play. Since one of my friends did, the rest of us were able to try it out. Sadly, we got a few rules wrong and thus the beginning was a little odd. but once we fixed the mistakes, the game was really good. There is a mechanic that you select which order to play in but if you want to go really early you may have to pay, which may be worth it. It is definitely worth a try, just not sure when or if it will come to North America.
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27. Board Game: Balance Duels [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:5561]
Michel Condoroussis
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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This is an original game with a Backgammon feel. You move your pieces around the play area, but the catch is that the play area is a balance and if either side hits the floor, you lose. You have two sizes of pieces and must get all of them to the other side. you can also eat others pieces, which removes them form the balance, but again, make sure the balance does not tip. Fun, but the appeal may wear out quickly.
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28. Board Game: Valdora [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:886]
Michel Condoroussis
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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This is a standard pick up and deliver game. Go to one location and for a gold gem you can get space to carry more gems and then, after collecting gems, you can get missions for a gold coin in order to get points by delivering specific colored gems to different locations. It is quite boring and there is almost no thought, just go where you can on your turn.
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29. Board Game: Gonzaga [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1703]
Michel Condoroussis
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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We actually played this with Bruno Faidutti who was wondering the halls (and was a speaker at the show). A nice fairly light game where you place shapes on the board to claim areas. You use your cards to do this, selecting one card for the area and another for what you can play one (which icons you can lay your piece). The cards you play will only return to you in two turns, thus you must plan ahead and since you have goals for bonus points and also get a bonus for the most connected pieces you must watch out not to get blocked off.
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30. Board Game: Power Struggle [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:618]
Michel Condoroussis
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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Probably my favorite at Lucca. There are six points available for each player, but once you get four, you win. Climb up different ladders and try to be ahead of your enemy, but you must reach a minimum level on each ladder in order to achieve a victory point. Others can see who is in the lead on each ladder and will fight you as you reach the top. To get points you battle for majority in different areas, which give you abilities, you bribe others and you get nominated to be the boss. Seems a little daunting at first, but plays very smoothly. I would say it is a must try.
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31. Board Game: Alea Iacta Est [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:945]
Michel Condoroussis
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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Roll all your dice and then place them on the different areas to win points, people or cities to place your people. But once one person places all their dice, the turn ends and any leftover dice simply get a re-roll token. having the best dice on each location also gets you better items and first choice. It is fun and easy to play, worth a try.
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32. Board Game: Turandot [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:6501]
Michel Condoroussis
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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This was the winner of best card game at the festival. A cute game of card selection, where the starting player has a lot of power since if two players select the same card, he can give then any card. Try and get a complete cast to make your opera and ensure that they also match your director bonus. Cute, but not that much to it, a nice filler.
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33. Board Game: Lungarno [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:3626]
Michel Condoroussis
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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The scoring system drives where you place your tiles, but you cannot try and fill an area on your own, you need help form others in order to get your player pieces back (which happens when an area scores) and then use them again. There are also tiles that only score at the end, but that commits you piece till the end, so make sure it is worth it and watch out for the tile that swaps pieces. Worth a try.
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34. Board Game: Rush n' Crush [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:2119]
Michel Condoroussis
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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A fun race game, like Ave Caesar, but with more to think about and more chaos. We played one lap, so we basically just went all out, but none of us would have lasted a second lap, which is the regular way to play. As you go faster, you can steer less (change lanes) and your car overheats, but you can also hit others. Lots of fun!
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35. Board Game: Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:1316]
Michel Condoroussis
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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Move your wizard around to collect the books, but you need cards to move around the paths in order to get there, while others do the same. It is enjoyable, but repetitive and when you are ahead, others will just move the paths away to annoy you.
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36. Board Game: The End of the Triumvirate [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:939]
Michel Condoroussis
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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So that was the end, now we had to return to Venice and pack our stuff to leave the next morning. A great trip and I would definitely recommend Essen to any gamer. I also loved Lucca as the feel is much different, the city is incredible and the costumes are awesome.
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