Essen in 2 days...
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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After a crazy Saturday only trip to Essen last year I managed to extend this to 2 days this time round...

Below is a list of games brought, expansions, freebies, games played a few isolated experiences and more or less a summary of the things I got up to.

Next year I'm determined to get there for all 4 days, even 2 days felt too little as there were so many other games I wanted to check out.

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1. Board Game: Spellbound [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:3986]
Board Game: Spellbound
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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First part is new games brought... probably the most fun bit, but also the most expensive... Every year I've been it gets harder to justify spending a wad of cash on new games when the discounts available at Essen seem to be minimal. Feels like I can pick them up not long afterwards for a minimal extra cost and save the luggage from Germany. My (intended) plan was to focus on games I felt would be potential sellouts, or have hard to find Essen freebies included....

So while waiting in the restaurant before the 10am doors on Thursday I was still unsure on this game.. for sure it would sell out, and for sure I could sell it later if I didn't like it, but 60 euros for an unplayed game is a lot. Doors opened and I decided to head over to Fragnor knowing if I didn't buy this in the first hour it would probably be gone... and also knowing that once there I'd be bound to succumb to temptation And indeed this was a case of see game, buy game.

A handshake from Mr Lamont and the heaviest game in my collection was in the bag with only a passing concern that I'd now have to be carrying this around for the rest of the day...

oh, the components are wonderful by the way, I'm just hoping the game play is as good...
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2. Board Game: Tokaido [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:500]
Board Game: Tokaido
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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One of only 2 pre-orders and mainly cause the price was good and there was an Essen freebie. Possibly the most minimal and beautiful gameboard I've seen yet... It's something special to see a board design in a completely different conceptual way to the standard setup. Love it and even if the game play itself is simple and family friendly this game will wow anyone seeing it for the first time.

If I was in the habit of framing gameboards for display on the walls, this would probably be top of the list.

If I'd wanted to spend a few hours queuing I could've had an individually decorated box by the artist... probably worth the wait if I'd had 3 or 4 days in Essen, but with only 2 it felt like an excess. I still have my copy of Dixit from 2 years ago with a wonderful drawing by Marie Cardouat on the inside so I ruefully gave this queue a miss... still somewhat regretting this decision now...
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3. Board Game: Among the Stars [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:548] [Average Rating:7.12 Unranked]
Board Game: Among the Stars
James Sinden
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Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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The 2nd pre-order and again cause it looked like most of the kickstarter bonus's were available for pre-orders. I love 7 wonders and it's not a mechanic that's been repeated much since (no idea why, it's ripe for use). I've not played this yet, just reviewed the rules, and it looks like something I'll enjoy playing... ths only concern is the space theme which generally doesn't encourage females to want to join in. Hoping to get this to the table on Wed
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4. Board Game: Article 27: The UN Security Council Game [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:2867]
Board Game: Article 27: The UN Security Council Game
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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In the last 6 months I've realised I probably enjoy playing Worker Placement and Negotiation games more than any other mechanic. This was high on my list before Essen and I just managed to squeeze in a game at 6pm on the Friday. And I'm glad I did. It's a great game, 30-45 minutes for 6 players which is a fab length of time for a game like this, but full of debate and lots of room for double standards. Maybe the subject matter is a little dry, but I'll have no problem with this and I'm pretty sure this'll be a hit at the game club on Wed.

Played this with my work crowd on Monday night and managed to create a very frosty atmosphere as someone veto'd a last round to cut someone out of several points... so just like the real UN then

Oh, and I also learnt that when negotiating for a discount at Essen it pays to have a young attractive lady doing the talking... that's obviously where I've been going wrong all these years...

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5. Board Game: Love Letter [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:253]
Board Game: Love Letter
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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My last new game purchase... although if I'd driven I'd probably have brough a few others (more on this later)

£5 for the english version by Japon Brand, or £6 for the AEG new released edition. Was an easy decision for me as I prefer the slightly more amarturish look of the JB edition.. and you also had a few bonus cards thrown in.

Played a few games of this in the evening with Woody and it's certainly light fun gaming fare... Along with the minimalist design on Tokaido we have a card game with only 12 cards and 1 card in each players hand... is this a new direction for games after the excesses in components for the big box Fantasy Flight games, or most modern euros ?
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6. Board Game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:503]
Board Game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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This next section lists games I managed to play over the 2 days... getting a table for the big games is always a challenge, I was lucky enough to be able to check out some of the games I was most interested in without queuing for half a day...

Ah, probably the most 'fun' and 'crazy' game of this year. I'd read the rules in advance and was prepared for it, but wasn't sure about buying a copy. Queen do (annoyingly) seem to overprice games at Essen, and after a very successful kickstart project it felt like I would have to pay double to get the equivalent game direct from Queen. This could be where kickstart has a negative impact when people won't want to pay the price for a game knowing that kickstart backers managed to get a whole lot more for the same. Ground Floor felt a bit same as at the fair they were asking 40 euros (poss 45) for the game itself, while kickstarter pickups were getting numerous bonus's plus even a whole extra game (Skyline)...

On Thurs Queen had this on sale for 39,99, on Friday it was down to 34,99 and for 49,99 you could get the expansion as well (19,99 on it's own)... However they were also selling 2 very small bonus expansions for 4 euros each... so to get the full game would be almost 60 euros ! Most companies would throw in the 2 small expansion tiles if you brought the game...

So this was likely one again for buying later rather than at Essen, but for now I wanted to check it out.

Great game, although almost too quick for it's own good. You play with a CD soundtrack background which enforces game time of 10 minutes. Everyone is basically rolling dice, yatzee style, like crazy to move their explorer through a temple to find gems and get out before the exit shuts.... eyou can share dice if you're in the same place and everyone loses unless you all get out so despite the manic individual dice rolling you need to be watching other players and offering (and asking for) help. It's a lot of fun, sure. I'd certainly play this again... but I can't help but feel it's far too expensive for what it is.

I'm sure I'll pick up a copy at some stage, but would need to be a lot cheaper for me to feel like I was getting value.

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7. Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:40]
Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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In 2 days I was trying to balance game play with wandering the halls soaking up the Essen experience. That's the big benfit with going for longer times as you can spend much more time playing games instead of taking quick looks over other's shoulders and trying to get a feel for how a game might be as an experience.

I joined 3 others from the UK for this and despite the lack of an available explainer we managed to get a game in with minimal rule mistakes... makes a chance from my usual first game experiences...

Great game... really... and I'm not saying that because I won I would've picked this up on the dot but that the price was around the 35-40 euro mark and there were no Essen benefits available. This is a good example of the kind of game I can pick up later without it costing much more (if any) and not feel like I've missed out. But I'm really glad to have played it. I'd consider this an instant but once I find a copy at the right price !

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On the wall next to Czech Games they had this fabulous giant size magnetic board... would be great to play the game on this.

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8. Board Game: Snowdonia [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:433]
Board Game: Snowdonia
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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Again, a really good experience and I'd totally recommend this game. Managed to bag a seat on Friday morning at 10am with some other Brits over from Glasgow, given this is a game about a Welsh railway it felt apt that the English and Scots were both battling to take control

Little side note here as I really lucked out on Friday morning and somehow managed to get inside the Event hall at 9am when only exhibitors and workers should be allowed in. Not sure how but I was in a queue and we were all ushered in. It's a great feeling to be able to walk around without the mass crowds at every corner, checking out the bargains and games as they are setting up and knowing that in 45 minutes the place is going to be buzzing. A little window into seeing Essen from the inside that I doubt I'll be able to repeat anytime soon.

Back to Snowdonia... This has everything you want from a classic worker placement mechanic. Nothing much new here, but it all works together seamlessly. From the ability to buy extra workers each round (from down the pub) to the bonus end of game scores coming from cards collected during the game and resources taken. A whole level of strategy that was lost on us all first time through, but would be key I think in future plays. The only downside was that due to the weather the game slowed down in the middle... however the game self-corrected (a nice mechanic) and teh end game accelerated as a result.

Lovely design, top marks, and I'll be picking this up again when I see a copy back home for the right price.

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9. Board Game: Collapsible D: The Final Minutes of the Titanic [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:8066]
Board Game: Collapsible D: The Final Minutes of the Titanic
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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I'd seen this game a whie ago while looking for information on the re-print of Letter from Whitechapel. A nice theme for the game (well not nice in once sense as it's about saving passengers from drowning... but you know what I mean) and not one I've seen before.

The game itself... hmmm... it's core mechanic is your basic roll and move, which is never idea, but this is somewhat alleviated by having multiple dice and allocating movement for your different passengers accordingly. There is definitly a random element in the game though which means it won't appeal to a lot of gamers. Took about an hour to finish and I managed to save a couple of people and come 2nd... but my end feeling was that despite the great look of the game and the components that there wasn't a lot going on here and choice was pretty limited.

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10. Board Game: Myrmes [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:486]
Board Game: Myrmes
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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Hmm, last game on Thursday night and managed to find a seat for a quick, curtailed game of this.

Straight up this felt messy. Sometimes a game feels like it's a smooth ride and the different mechanics merge together for a singular experience. This felt liek several mechnics thrown together and not smooth at all. Perhaps it was just me, or my understanding from the explanation, but I felt like this really needed more playtesting to get to a better game.

However, from what i've seen it's done well on the Essen rating boards so it's probably just me !
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11. Board Game: Click Clack Lumberjack [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:1780]
Board Game: Click Clack Lumberjack
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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Heh, this was one fo the surprise leftfield hits from Essen last year, and sold out quickly. Having missed out on even a demo last time round I saw this and grabbedd a chance to spend 10 minutes backing a plastic tree with a plactic axe.

Fun, sure, but not enough for me to think about buying it.
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12. Board Game: Lost Valley [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:1629]
Board Game: Lost Valley
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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Ok, that's the game demos done... lets talk Math Trades

So I'm a sucker for Math Trades, especially those where I don't need to spend any money on postage... whats not to like about a fabulously large (over 2500 games ?!) Math Trade being conducted at Essen... so I jumped right in what a 'what could go wrong' attitude...

Yep... I had forgotten that every game I traded meant I had to get a game to Essen and a game back... and so ended up having to lug 8 games over (I was using public transport... no luxury of a car) and 8 games back... in retrospect I should've focused on games I was REALLY after, but with MT you can't drop out after the results cause it screws it up for everyone...

So the next is a list of games I picked up from the MT... some good, some not so good but I had to carry them all home again !

Lost Valley was a good example as it's a game I like... but being too lazy to spend 3 hours dealing with duplicate protection I took my chances and ended up with 2 copies of this... I traded 011 and Village for these, in retrospect I would've been happy to have avoided both of these trades.
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13. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:159]
Board Game: Ra
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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Great game... should have a copy in my collection. Traded a copy of Nightfall for this which was a win for me
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14. Board Game: Nefarious [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:2381]
Board Game: Nefarious
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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I had this after Essen last year, played a few games, decided not to keep it and that was that... then, for reasons I forget now, I added this to my math trade wants and ended up with a copy again... in shrink...

Not a bad game in itself, but likely to be moved on quite quickly
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15. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:95] [Average Rating:7.58 Unranked]
Board Game: Stone Age
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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Traded for Notre Dame in the MT, a win I think !

Also, while trying to work out luggage packing to get home I realised that Ra fits nicely inside this box so I could cut down on space. I hear stories about Essen visitors ditching inserts and playing russian dolls with all their games to try and get things down to a manageable size... I can see the benefits in this now.
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16. Board Game: A Few Acres of Snow [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:298]
Board Game: A Few Acres of Snow
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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Great game, and a good return for a copy of Fire... which is a beautiful piece of art... but not much of a game.
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17. Board Game: Neuroshima Hex! 3.0 [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:248] [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked]
Board Game: Neuroshima Hex! 3.0
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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Traded for Wallenstein which wasn't getting played. In itself not a good trade but this copy included the hard to find extra army 'Doomsday Machine' which I'm going to save up for my use only when I play my friends at this game... nice to have a secret weapon to hand
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18. Board Game: Snapshot [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:6374]
Board Game: Snapshot
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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I thought I'd done well here as I traded this for a copy of Bonnie and Clyde, and then thought I'd done even better when I saw Bonnie and Clyde on sale for 6 euros... then I saw this on sale for 8 euros. On the plus side I gained 2 Euros in value... on the downside I lugged this from Essen to London... hmmm...
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19. Board Game: Trains [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:455] [Average Rating:7.19 Unranked]
Board Game: Trains
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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Ok, the next section are the games I ALMOST HAD... but put back, or failed to get, or otherwise decided not to...

This was one of the buzz games of Essen... I was early in the queue on Thursday at about 10:15... but of course they had all gone by then... So I brought Love Letters and moved on...

Then on Friday I had an idea... they had a demo copy going and I was pretty sure they wouldn't want to have to take it back to Japan... so after some translation I managed to ask if they would sell this to me at the end of Essen and they agreed Result... problem for me was that I was leaving on Friday... so I needed someone to help.

...

Failed... after a few calls I realised that this wasn't going to work and so around 5pm on Sunday had to give up the idea of owning this game... is it wrong of me to hope it's not as good as the hype ? From what I hear they have no plans to reprint, so unless this game is picked up it's gonna be impossible to get a copy...
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20. Board Game: PitchCar Extension 2: More Speed More Fun [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.54 Unranked]
Board Game: PitchCar Extension 2: More Speed More Fun
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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Microbadge: 5 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: I was here for BGG's Tenth Anniversary!Microbadge: Toronto Blue Jays fanMicrobadge: Essen attendeeMicrobadge: Parent of One Boy
Good price at 19.99 so I picked this nup and had it in my hand while walking around for a few minutes. Then common sense took hold and I deciding that the discount wasn't enough to justify the having to carry it home...

But for a few moments there it was mine !
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21. Board Game: Copycat [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1483]
Board Game: Copycat
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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Microbadge: 5 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: I was here for BGG's Tenth Anniversary!Microbadge: Toronto Blue Jays fanMicrobadge: Essen attendeeMicrobadge: Parent of One Boy
So this game made me feel a bit dumb... I'd heard of this new game, Copycat and liked the sound of it... and I'd also seen many copies of the new FF game called Fremde Federn all over... it's a distinctive cover... but despite this I hadn't clicked they were the same game...

So I see someone with a copy of this on a table... ask them where they could find a copy as I'd been to F2F and not seen one and they pointed out to me that it was the same game... d'oh.

Despite this I never had a chance to playtest and so didn't buy it, but it still interests me...
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22. Board Game: Power Grid: Northern Europe/United Kingdom & Ireland [Average Rating:7.90 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.90 Unranked]
Board Game: Power Grid: Northern Europe/United Kingdom & Ireland
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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Microbadge: 5 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: I was here for BGG's Tenth Anniversary!Microbadge: Toronto Blue Jays fanMicrobadge: Essen attendeeMicrobadge: Parent of One Boy
I did buy this from F2F, then realised I had the German version so took back for a refund with the aim to buy the English edition.


Then realised that at 9 euros I could likely pick this up for the same price back home so could avoid adding to the luggage... made sense at the time but I kinda wish I had it now !
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23. Board Game: The Cave [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:2090]
Board Game: The Cave
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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Microbadge: 5 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: I was here for BGG's Tenth Anniversary!Microbadge: Toronto Blue Jays fanMicrobadge: Essen attendeeMicrobadge: Parent of One Boy
Very close to buying this in advance of Essen, but in the end just didn't get that 'must have' vibe when I saw it. Great theme, but I think I need to try before buying.
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24. Board Game: City of Horror [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1470]
Board Game: City of Horror
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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Microbadge: 5 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: I was here for BGG's Tenth Anniversary!Microbadge: Toronto Blue Jays fanMicrobadge: Essen attendeeMicrobadge: Parent of One Boy
Similar story... the Essen price didn't seem that cheap so I loitered around the stand for a while toying with the idea of buying it, but then added it to my wishlist for the next 6 months...
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25. Board Game: King of Tokyo: Power Up! [Average Rating:7.64 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.64 Unranked]
Board Game: King of Tokyo: Power Up!
James Sinden
United Kingdom
Chertsey,
Surrey.UK
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This one I really should have brought... not cause the price was a deal but they were offering a free bonus card 'Garfields Gift' where you would add your own text as the bonus for buying the card.

I had this idea of adding the following as a trap for fellow gamers

"If Jon buys this card then Paul's character dies, if Paul buys this card then Jon's character dies, if James buys this card, both Jon and Paul's characters die..."

But I had a feeling that was too much to fit on the card, and seemed like a lot of effort for a one off joke

Still I wish I'd picked this up now...
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