Alan How's Essen 2012 View from the Haul
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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My umpteenth Essen and umpteenth haul. Carrying capacity is a car so volume and weight don't play a part in my thinking until I get home.

Thursday is a "buy the obvious day", Friday is a pick up the buzz and Saturday is to deal with stragglers and make random purchases. Some movement of regular stalls but mostly the main ones stayed in place so it was just halls 4,5,6,7 and 9 that needed the satnav.

This year's theme might be city building, though some games have to be corralled into this theme.

New
Ginkgopolis
Ground Floor
Saint Malo
The fallen city of Karez (Dec 2012 - I didn't see it)
Town Center
Sunrise City
Suburbia
Urbanization (didn't make it but could be played)
Urbania
Uchronia
Western Town

Coralled
Clash of Culture (focuses on city development)
Keyflower (features town development)


Older games
Homesteaders new version
Carson City expansion
Old Town (still being sold, but not a new design)
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1. Board Game: Keyflower [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:51]
Board Game: Keyflower
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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The best Key game to date. I played this 6 months ago so I already knew that it was an excellent game. Loads of decisions (as you would expect)and a high level of interaction.
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2. Board Game: Il Vecchio [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:1501]
Board Game: Il Vecchio
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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In hall 9, looked good and was near R&D games, so became the next purchase.
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3. Board Game: Terra Mystica [Average Rating:8.17 Overall Rank:14]
Board Game: Terra Mystica
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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A pre-order on the basis of a read through of the rules. The game looks like a heavy weight game, which suits my preferences.
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4. Board Game: Spellbound [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:3981]
Board Game: Spellbound
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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Amazing bits, amazing people and huge box. Just managed to squeeze into the car. (I don't think the image is a Fragor family portrait.)
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5. Board Game: Snowdonia [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:431]
Board Game: Snowdonia
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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Pre-order and played on first night. Everybody enjoyed it and we only made about 2 errors in their rules, which is a new record for a first night in Essen. Solid game with lots to think about and plenty of planning to do.
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6. Board Game: Eclipse: Rise of the Ancients [Average Rating:8.45 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.45 Unranked]
Board Game: Eclipse: Rise of the Ancients
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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No brainer pre-order. It looks fantastic.
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7. Board Game: Clash of Cultures [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:259]
Board Game: Clash of Cultures
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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Pick up pre-paid. It's a civ game so in my must buy zone. The game appears to be easy to get into which is a major plus.
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8. Board Game: Suburbia [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:123]
Board Game: Suburbia
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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Looked good and early plays from folks in my hotel confirmed this.
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9. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:39]
Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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Gotta get gear game. Hope it's good too!
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10. Board Game: Copycat [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1484]
Board Game: Copycat
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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The green machine is always interesting, innovative and worth a punt.
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11. Board Game: Western Town [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:3213]
Board Game: Western Town
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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This was also a development game in a setting I'm happy to play but do not rave about. I did not know that it had been crowdfunded and my early impression was positive from an outline of the game. It looked very good graphically, but I do not know if the iconography translates into an easy game to play.
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12. Board Game: Saqqara [Average Rating:5.11 Overall Rank:16682]
Board Game: Saqqara
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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Late purchase on Saturday. I asked for a 1 minute explanation, got one and that was sufficient to persuade me. Great summary and the guy at White Goblin deserved a medal but will only get a pat on the back. At least that's what his boss said.
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13. Board Game: OddVille [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:1553]
Board Game: OddVille
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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Last minute purchase with city related theme, so it was acquired.
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14. Board Game: CO₂ [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:684]
Board Game: CO₂
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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Based on a read of the rules and Vinhos' success, this was a buy of course. The theme is one that has not been touched for some time and the complexity suggests a gamer's game.
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15. Board Game: Smash Up [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:796] [Average Rating:6.78 Unranked]
Board Game: Smash Up
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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I played a game of this and liked how the card sets worked within a theme, so my Zombies kept reanimating and the Magicians produced more actions. I can see how it will appeal and how more sets are planned.

AEG also supplied enormous backs that went over your shoulder and displayed mega advert for Smash Up. Great idea if you didn't fill up with games in the bag as you'd fall over because of the weight.
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16. Board Game: The Cave [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:2089]
Board Game: The Cave
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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Purchase based on K2 last year. Will it be as good?
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17. Board Game: Asgard [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:2374]
Board Game: Asgard
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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Another development game, though the theme (Norse mythology) is not an area I normally go for. I was persuaded by a friend who had acquired the game and gave a positive assessment of its prospects.
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18. Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:327]
Board Game: The Great Zimbabwe
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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I played the prototype last year and this version is far easier to play. A few issues have been cleaned and I really enjoyed a second playing a year later, which convinced me of the purchase.

The range of changes that can take place guarantee replayability; the options about what to play still puzzle the designers apparently, which was a relief - I thought it was me.

I liked the presentation, though I think some of the writing on the specialist and god cards could be better. There is a ton of interaction as you need to acquire resources and will not be able to generate enough on your own. You also need to bid for turn order which impacts what you can do each turn.

Overall initial impression was that this is a game I will enjoy a great deal.
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19. Board Game: Pirate Dice: Voyage on the Rolling Seas [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:4730]
Board Game: Pirate Dice: Voyage on the Rolling Seas
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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Kickstarted and so was part of a pick up.
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20. Board Game: Karnag [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:6096]
Board Game: Karnag
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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Purchase based on friend's play and recommendation at the hotel. Looked to have enough meat on to be good game.
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21. Board Game: Space Cadets [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1455]
Board Game: Space Cadets
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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I was not expecting this to be at Essen, so was pleased to get a copy.
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22. Board Game: Ruhrschifffahrt 1769-1890 [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:2667]
Board Game: Ruhrschifffahrt 1769-1890
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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It was a resource and transportation game that looked really good and I saw it included Mulheim, which is where my I stay for the show. Plus the expansion was available straightaway, so I bought this on the spot. Expensive, but the presentation was good.
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23. Board Game: Pax Porfiriana [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:454]
Board Game: Pax Porfiriana
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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Phil Eklund. Love or loath the games he is always producing interesting games. This is card version of a previous setting and looked very good. Also it was small box, so that always gets an extra bonus point in the game buying thought.
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24. Board Game: Legend: History of 1000 Miglia [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:7614]
Board Game: Legend: History of 1000 Miglia
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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I had thought about pre-ordering this as the theme, presentation and content looked fabulous and the greatest fear of a games buyer (all sold out) could happen. I did not pre-order as I thought that the cars on the game board were cardboard cut outs and this was a disappointment as it would not fit with the rest of the game presentation.

Fortunately, the cars were depicted on plastic stands and so this became a buy. I also love it when a new games company (usually one man bands) such as this guy and Rallyman last year show their enthusiasm. It's one of the delights of seeing games at Essen. The game looks very interesting and is one of the few race games to be shown at Essen this year.

I resisted the urge to buy the calculator that translated the game position into a real time (which is really odd fro me to be rationale at a games fair.)
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25. Board Game: Ginkgopolis [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:378]
Board Game: Ginkgopolis
Alan How
United Kingdom
Bromley
Kent
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For me, the surprise hit of the show. I liked the city development system, the resource management and bonus system. Everything worked smoothly and the expansion of the city both upwards and outwards was very cleverly done. (Forget the green theme in the game - it's a city development game.)
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