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PatK's Essen 2011 Geeklist: As it happens!
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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So I'm at Spiel again. And playing / buying stuff again.

So why not write about it again?

This is my play/buylist for Essen 2011. Games I'm picking up for others are not included - this is all for me! (evil laughter)

Onwards!
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1. Board Game: Master Merchant [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:3776]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Clever little hand-building game from Japon Brand and also the first game I played at Essen 2011. I think it was 10E or something like that.

I liked it. Not earth-shattering, but pretty cool. Play your cards to either a) buy more cards or b) get gold (which you need to buy cards). Whenever you start your turn with 0 cards in hand, you pick up all the cards you played (or bought) and start again. Win by either having 8 different cards in your hand or by having 8 gold. The game features some ways of stealing cards / gold from other players so you have to be careful and try to win in a way that's hard for the others to meddle with.

Overall a game I'm happy to own.
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2. Board Game: String Railway: Transport [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:3401]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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The other Japon Brand game I preordered and picked up today. Looks to be a somewhat bigger / more involved game than String Railway, although the basic string concept remains the same. I think this was about 20E.
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3. Board Game: Schinderhannes: Julchen [Average Rating:7.21 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.21 Unranked]
Patrick Korner
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Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Limited (250 copies I think) expansion for Schinderhannes. 10E and a little steep for what you get, but I like Clicker's stuff and this will be hard to find anywhere else.
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4. Board Game: 7 Wonders: Catan [Average Rating:7.18 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.18 Unranked]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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2E donation and this was mine. Kind of a no-brainer to pick up, no?
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5. Board Game: Rallyman: Dirt [Average Rating:8.13 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.13 Unranked]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Hooray! More Rallyman goodness!

The new tire / die combination dashboards are amazing.

Rallyman itself got a new edition which looks very sweet. I got that too.

Included with Dirt is a lime green car and a "Sisu" expansion that's basically a set of cards that let you avoid one loss of control when you turn it in. Sisu is apparently a Finnish word that means determination or something...
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6. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:38]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Played a 4p game (well, about half of one) tonight.

Whoa. There is a lot going on in this game. Trying to bend the mancala that forms the game's central mechanic to your will is HARD. Each move you make changes the other moves you can make, so effectively planning for more than one turn ahead is really really tough. Additional play might make that easier, but this is a head-scratcher (in a good way, mind you).

Each action lets you make even more decisions, so overall the impression you get from the rules explanation is one of 'holy crap how do I choose what to do?'. Actually playing the game makes you feel a little more like you know what you're doing, but it's still tricky to try and figure out the best path to take.

I wish this were a 30E game (where it would be an autobuy for me). At essentially 40E, it's harder to justify but I'll probably still end up picking up a copy because a) it's limited and b) it's a good game.

pk
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7. Board Game: Poseidon's Kingdom [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:1642]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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So it's about 3AM here and I'm beat after buying a snotload of games.

One of which was Poseidon's Kingdom, which showed up late yesterday. The Fragors got about 15-20 extra copies over and above preorder fulfillment level, so only a precious few got lucky with the fishies. Or something.

We ended up playing this tonight so I can share a little of my thoughts.

First off: The bits are adorable. And the wave is very cool. The gameplay, however, is only 'good'. That's not to say the game is bad, not at all. But it didn't wow me the way I'd hoped it would. It's a solid medium-weight game about building up your coral reef in a way that lets you carry out actions (like placing dice, moving, etc.) efficiently, in order to move around the "Kraken Tracken" and free your lil' buddies (little tiles in your colour that effectively act as a game timer) by way of various dice combinations that then also award you victory points. The game works pretty well, except that I had a bit of a hard time sorting out how to predict and plan for the shark movement, and it seemed a little arbitrary where on the wave structure your own coloured dice got placed. It seems like placing more to the outside should make you run the risk of getting your dice rolled off the board (which is not good), but it didn't seem to totally happen that way. So overall a good game but not a great one.
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8. Board Game: Colonial: Europe's Empires Overseas [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:1070]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Picked up a copy of this too. Looks absolutely gorgeous, a fantastic production quality for a first published design. Bonus points for having all the different coloured wooden bits already pre-separated into their own plastic baggies!

60E is not cheap, but the early buzz seems to indicate this is worth it. I'm told the print run isn't huge either so it was worth a buy.
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9. Board Game: Champions 2020 [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:4214]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Picked up the Cwali set along with Mondriaan 2020, Meltdown 2020 and Ocean Limbo. 70E for the whole set and I'm expecting at least one of these to be a keeper.

Champions comes in a weird overlong box that will wreak havoc with my careful packing plans, though. And Ab in the Tonne is uber-heavy. Not gameplay wise, bits wise. The game weighs like a ton!

Okay, I'm tired. More to come tomorrow morning / daytime, for now I'm beat and need sleep!

pk
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10. Board Game: Ocean Limbo [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:5064]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Whew. Another exhausting day at Essen is in the books and my fingers are tired from punching out games.

The full buylist is coming, I promise (probably tomorrow evening as I think my own purchases are now complete), but for now some writeups on the games I played tonight, all of which are on the lighter side.

First up, Ab in die Tonne, a new Cwali game that lets you try and clean up the place, one pizze slice or flat soccer ball at a time.

Gameplay is just like FITS, where you choose a piece and then drop it down the inclined board to try and make it fit in your garbage can. The genius is that you have to let the pieces drop from above a certain level, and that the pieces are all VERY oddly shaped (especially that stupid fan!).

The result? Sheer genius. Easily one of the best games I've played at the fair, with lots of groans and laughter as the garbage bits get caught up on one snag or another on their way down.

There are three rounds to the game, the second and third of which involve covering up / leaving uncovered some special chewing gum stuck to the inside of the garbage can. This makes the game even more fun...
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11. Board Game: Monsta [Average Rating:5.31 Overall Rank:9122]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Next was this card game from Amigo. Use the cards in your hand to bid on lots of cards. If you win, you give the cards you bid with to the auctioneer and take the cards that were auctioned off (never more than 2). You then get to be the auctioneer for the next round, which is also the only way you can score points. Points are scored by making melds of cards as follows: Play out as many cards of the same type as needed to match the number on those cards. So five 5's, for example. Or two 2's. Keep one card (as points) and discard the rest.

Lather, rinse, repeat until one player has 15 points.

Yawn. A decidedly 'meh' game that lacked spark. Good thing Ted bought this one and not me...
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12. Board Game: 23 [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:2395]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Hey, another Amigo card game. Actually, I think we played Sandwich (see below) first but whatever.

23 is everything Monsta is not, including awesome.

Each player gets dealt a hand of cards with values ranging from 1 to 23. The player with the 1 starts by playing it out. Then, in clockwise order, you can do one of the following:

- pass (and take a penalty chip)
- quit the round (and take penalty chips equal to the cards left in hand)
- play cards

If you play cards, you can play as many as you like of the same number. The number must be higher than the last card played to the discard pile. If the cards are more than 1 higher than the last card played, then you take penalty chips equal to the gap (so playing a 4 onto a 1 would get you 2 chips).

You also get three special bonus chips that, when played on your turn, let you adjust the value of the last card played to the pile by +/- 5. Nice for getting rid of that 3 you were hoping to play but never quite got around to!

Oh, yeah. One more thing. If you choose to pass, you can instead take 2 penalty chips to force the next player to play. Fun and nasty.

Play two rounds of this and then whoever has the fewest penalty points wins. Any bonus chips you have left negate 2 penalty chips. And if you end a round by playing out your last card you can get rid of 3 penalty chips.

Simple and light, this is a real winner. My choice for this year's "Geschenkt-like simple game that's better than you think from reading the rules" award.
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13. Board Game: Sandwich [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:3901]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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An odd game about making sandwiches. Each player simultaneously reveals a possible sandwich ingredient (on cards) and then all players simultaneously grab for the cards to get the one they want. Once all of the cards have been taken, players prepare three sandwiches with the ingredients, offering one to each other player.

Players then look at what they've been offered and choose which one is their 'most tastiest' and 'second tastiest'. Those are worth points to the players that offered them.

Second round is identical except now you're going for the most disgusting sandwich. General hilarity ensues.

I thought this would be stupid. Turns out it's stupid fun. Offering someone a jam, carrot and bacon sandwich is oddly enjoyable...

A little pricy for a tiny box (I think it's selling for about 10E?), but something I'd be happy to play on occasion.
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14. Board Game: Big Five [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:3925]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Another Amigo card game? Horrors!

This is essentially Dr. Knizia's take on Qwirkle. Play out cards in rows / columns. There are five different animals and five different colour backgrounds, and when you play out cards to lengthen a row or column one of the attributes has to match. So you get rows of orange animals. Or rows of elephants. And so on.

After playing, you draw cards from your personal draw pile; winner is the first player to run out of cards. You can get rid of extra cards from your hand or pile by playing the fourth or fifth card in a group; that lets you ditch one or two cards, respectively. You can also use your turn to ditch as many cards as you want out of your hand (back to the bottom of your pile) and redraw the same amount.

So, yeah. It's card Qwirkle. And not nearly as good / fun in my opinion. It's missing the spark that Qwirkle has, but I guess it's cheaper. It's not a direct copy, of course, but it's certainly derivative. I just wish it added to the concept instead of just repackage it...
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15. Board Game: The Big Idea [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:4068]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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To finish off the night, this reprint of the older Cheapass game of the same name.

Use cards to come up with wacky inventions and then use our glibness and charm to sell the other players on the idea. Try and get at least one medal (which means another player chose your idea as best that round) each round to avoid negative points (each player with the fewest medals gets one point). Fewest points after 6 rounds wins.

Eh. It's fun but these kind of popularity / boderline party games are always tricky because the group dynamic is so important. I can see this being a lot of fun but I can also see it going horribly wrong with the wrong crowd. I'm happy I played (and can't imagine that my Extraordinary gold-plated satellite cleaning bicycle did so well), but it's not a game I'm likely to want to pick up myself.

Okay, enough for tonight. Tomorrow comes the Big Reveal of the Big Buylist!
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16. Board Game: Pala [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:3595]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Only one game played tonight - late nights and lots of stress trying to figure out boxes and logistics take their toll.

But the one game I did play was Pala, a new trick taking game by Jeff Allers. And it's very cool.

The key twist is that the colour cards that make up the deck are split into two types: Primary colours (Red, Yellow, Blue) and Secondary colours (Orange, Purple, Green).

When a primary colour is let, you must follow suit. If you can't, you can slough. That's all basic standard trick taking. The cool bit is that you can also "smear" by playing a new primary colour on top of the one your right hand neighbour played. Those two colours combine to make a secondary colour, which you represent with a second (secondary) colour card played out in front of yourself. That colour is now the new suit to follow in the trick!

Cool, huh? There are also rules for following suit in a secondary colour by "mixing" two appropriate primary colours together.

And the whole thing is a 'bid on how many tricks you'll win' style game, where you bid on how many different coloured tricks you'll win (the actual number of tricks in each colour you win is important but there's no penalty for 'missing a bid' because you got two green tricks instead of the one you planned on. At the end of each round, if you made your bid you get points equal to the number of tricks you won multiplied by the number of different colours of tricks you won. Missing a colour means you score zero.

It's also possible to bid 0 colours - in that case you win +/- a certain number of points depending on how many players are taking part.

Play to x points, where x varies with player number.

I liked Pala a lot. Enough that I'm going to try and pick up a copy tomorrow at the fair - hope Cambridge still has copies left!
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17. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:10]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Okay. And now for, as they say, the rest of the story. Herewith find the list of all the rest of the games I bought at Spiel 2011.

Together with Supernova expansion.
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18. Board Game: Québec [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:707]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Bigger box than expected (about double the standard Ystari size).
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19. Board Game: Panic Station [Average Rating:6.15 Overall Rank:1889]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Got this on Thursday before they all vanished. With mini expansion.
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20. Board Game: Ora et Labora [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:45]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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The sprues kinda suck (not very well cut at the tile edges) and it's in German, but hey. Free copy as partial payment for doing the English rules so I can't complain.
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21. Board Game: Walnut Grove [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:722]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Looks cool. Another game received as partial rules translation payment.
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22. Board Game: Colonial: Europe's Empires Overseas [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:1070]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Oh sweet lord I hope the gameplay lives up the looks. This is one beee-utiful game board.
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23. Board Game: MIL (1049) [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:1515]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Another one I hope lives up to the hype. Sounds cube churny but hopefully not in a bad way.
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24. Board Game: Last Will [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:234]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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I already know this one's good from playing the prototype.
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25. Board Game: Coney Island [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:1808]
Patrick Korner
Canada
Coquitlam
British Columbia
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Michael Schacht without abacus? Hope that's not a warning sign.
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