Spiel, held in the town of Essen each October, is one of Germany's two major game conventions, the other being the International Toy Fair in Nürnberg each February. While Spielwarenmesse is a trade show – and therefore strictly business – Spiel is open to the public, drawing roughly 150,000 people over four days. Hundreds of new games will be introduced at Spiel 2014, which takes place October 16-19. This preview covers games that publishers plan to release at Spiel or in the months leading up to it. In most cases, these games will be new for most Spiel attendees. Listings for some smaller publishers show all titles released since Spiel 2013.
Details about the Spiel 2014 Preview:
-----• This Preview is organized alphabetically by publisher, with games ordered alphabetically under a publisher's heading. This information is pulled directly from the game pages in the BGG database, so as those pages are updated, this Preview will be updated, too.
-----• In most cases, if a game appears in multiple versions, typically due to it being released in multiple languages, each version will appear under its own publisher.
-----• If you subscribe to this Preview, you'll receive update notices whenever an item is added or edited.
-----• If you don't care to read about a game and are logged in, click the red X to hide the game listing for both now and future visits. Choose "Personal" for the reason when doing so. You cannot hide a publisher due to this Preview's special set-up.
-----• Publisher booth numbers, preorder information, game designer and artist signings, and more will be added once that info comes available.
Note that this information has been cobbled together from dozens, nay, hundreds of sources, so inaccuracies may have crept in despite my best efforts. I will update game pages as I receive additional information.
If you're a designer or publisher with information to share – or if you have details about an upcoming Spiel 2014 release – please send me email (wericmartin @ gmail.com). I'll respond as best as I can given the tidal wave of data flowing through the game world in anticipation of the most exciting game convention in the world: Spiel!
The Abyss power is once again vacant, so the time has come to get your hands on the throne and its privileges. Use all of your cunning to win or buy votes in the Council. Recruit the most influential Lords and abuse their powers to take control of the most strategic territories. Finally, impose yourself as the only one able to rule the Abyssal people!
Abyss is a game of development, combination and collection in which players try to take control of strategic locations in an underwater city. To achieve this, players must develop on three levels: first by collecting allies, then using them to recruit Lords of the Abyss, who will then grant access to different parts of the city. Players acquire cards through a draft of sorts, and the Lords of the Abyss acquired on those cards grant special powers to the cardholder — but once you use the cards to acquire a location, that power is shut off, so players need to time their land grabs well in order to put themselves in the best position for when the game ends.
Cardline: Dinosaures is similar to Cardline: Animals — but with dinosaurs! It is a card game played with approximately 100 cards. Both sides of each card depict a dinosaur, its name, its geographic place, while its average length and weight are printed on only one side of the card. For each game, players decide before playing whether they're comparing dinosaur lengths or weights.
At the start of the game, each player places a number of dinosaur cards on the table in front of her with the characteristics hidden. One card is placed in the center of the table with its characteristics revealed. Players then take turns placing a card from their tableau in a row on the table; a player can place a card between any two other cards. After placing the card, the player reveals the characteristics on it. If the card was placed correctly – that is, with the particular characteristic in numerical order compared to all other cards on the table – the card stays in place; otherwise the card is removed from play and the player takes another card from the deck and adds it to her tableau.
The first player to get rid of all her cards by placing them correctly wins.
In Wash Dash each player tries to be the fastest to hang his clothes on the dryer in various different combinations specified by cards. Each earned card gives player points, and the player with the most points wins.
Wash Dash is unique in that it's a social project, a collaboration created by schoolchildren aged 12-14 and published by Brain Games thanks to a social initiative called "(The Young Can Do It)", which aims to empower pupils by boosting their initiative and enabling them to be more secure when facing the future. To achieve this, a series of workshops is being held during which pupils develop ideas for products, which are then brought to market. This board game was created by 7th and 8th grade pupils. They also share the revenue from each product sold.
• Price €25, but discounted to €20 if you preorder and pay in advance; details in this BGG thread.
Step into the shoes of an interstellar admiral in just a few minutes. With your fleet of powerful spaceships, enter the zone of battle in which Frigates, Destroyers, and Battleships compete tirelessly under your command for supremacy over the known universe.
Fleet Commander: 1 – Ignition is a space battle game with miniatures for two players. Each player controls a fleet of seven ships on a 5 x 5 checkered board, which may integrate terrain features such as asteroid fields. In turn, a player chooses three dice among his Command Dice, throws them, and either acts according to the outcome or saves the dice on his Command Bridge for the following rounds. There are dice to move, attack, and put energy into the shields.
Fleet Commander: 1 – Ignition has been designed to make epic space battles easy to play and to enjoy without having to remove the living room table, acquire many miniatures, or learn complex rules. The whole atmosphere of such battles is transcribed here in one "small" box with a simple but deep game system and beautiful miniatures.
It features a high replayability -- and with a modular board, six special weapons to equip the Battleships, advanced and optional rules, and four scenarios -- no battle will be the same.
The game system of Fleet Commander: 1 – Ignition is flexible and allows for expansions, with multiple ones now available.
It's the 1920s during the time of Prohibition and its famous speakeasies. Will you succeed in finding your opponent's speakeasy with your clan of gangsters before he finds yours?
To set up Speakeasy, each player places his 25 pieces on the game board with the values visible only to him. Players then take turns moving along the streets and alleys, even entering the buildings that serve as a "stash". When two pieces meet, the piece with the highest value scares away the opponent, removing him from the city. Special pieces move faster than others or scare away all opponents before disappearing themselves.
Inspired by Lu Zhan Jun Qi, a Chinese game that has proven its excellence for many years, Speakeasy requires memory and anticipation in games full of bluffing.
• In addition to what's listed below, at Spiel 2014 Capstone HK Ltd. will have copies of its 2013 release Wooolf!! from Bono Light. Rachel at Capstone says that the publisher plans to release a Seven Little Sheep and Wolf expansion for the game, but it might not be finished in time for sales in Essen.
Naughty magic students have used spells to bleach the food ingredients needed for tonight's dishes, disrupting the chef from cooking dinner. The poor old chef can't undo the spells because his vision is blurred, so the kitchen elves need to use magic potions to re-dye the bleached ingredients and try to protect them from the gluttonous magic garbage bin and further attacks from naughty students.
In Magi Kitchen, five wooden ingredients are placed in the middle of the table and the eighty cards are dealt out evenly among the players; cards show either a bleached food item (that is, a white carrot, white cucumber, etc.), a dye, a garbage can, or a student.
On a turn, a player turns over the top card from her draw pile and places it in a personal magic pile. If both a bleached ingredient and the matching colored potion are visible on players' magic piles, then players race to grab the proper wooden ingredient; whoever does so claims the magic piles showing these items and places them under her draw pile. If a rainbow magic potion is revealed, then it matches all bleached ingredients showing on magic piles and players can grab any of them. If a magic hungry garbage can is revealed, players instead race to cover a magic pile that shows a bleached ingredient, thereby protecting it from making its way to the trash; as a reward the player places the magic pile under her draw pile. Finally, if a naughty student card is revealed, everyone must race to perform the magic gesture shown on the card; whoever is the last to do so must maintain this gesture until the next student card is drawn.
The game ends when one or two players have run out of cards in their draw piles, and whoever has the most cards wins. Magi Kitchen includes advanced rules in which the active player, before revealing her card, decides whether to play on her own magic pile or that of her left- or right-hand neighbor.
Since Pinocchio has come to the Carpenter's house, the Carpenter is no longer lonely. However, because naughty Pinocchio lies too often, he gradually fails to distinguish between true and false. Therefore, one day, the Angel told Pinocchio: "If you can finish an adventure on your own without telling any lies and detect the lies of the others in the journey, you will become a 'real' boy." Can Pinocchio eventually become a real boy and live happily ever after with the Carpenter?
Pinocchio: True or False is an enlightening and bonding storytelling game. A player draws a subject card, chooses one of the four subjects on the card, decides whether the story she is going to tell will be true or just a lie, then begins her story. The other players listen to the story to judge its veracity. After the story has been told, the one who grabs the Pinocchio doll first can ask the storyteller a question, which the storyteller must answer honestly — unless her story is a lie, of course, in which case she can say what she wants.
Each player then secretly votes on whether or not the story was a lie. Those who guess incorrectly must take a wooden nose block and make Pinocchio's nose grow by stacking their block onto his ever-lengthening nose. When a player places the nose block, the tree rings on the block must be fully covered and not visible. If any blocks fall, whoever caused this gets an "Angel Token". When a player gets his third angel token, the game ends after this round, and the player with the fewest angel tokens win.
In order to make gameplay more challenging, if half or more players guess correctly as to whether the story is or isn't true, the storyteller must also add a block to the nose. Therefore, the storyteller should do her best to make the story confusing.
• In addition to what's listed below, at Spiel 2014 Clemens Gerhards will have Dr. Oliver Schaudt's Taituu (€29). Here's a description from the publisher:
The idea behind Taituu comes from the Chinese symbol for the equilibrium between black and white. Using your sense of logic and your powers of deduction, you try to achieve a balance between the white and the black number disks. For example, a black disk with the number 3 has exactly three white neighboring pieces, while a white disk with the number 4 has exactly four black neighboring pieces.
Your objective is to fill in the gaps in the right way. First, choose a task card and sort out the number disks that are needed for the task. From the remaining disks, place white and black disks with the blank (unprinted) side face up on the spaces on the gameboard that are specified by the starting positions shown on the card. Now, you can start: Which disk fits where, and how will everything balance out in the end?
Due Conga is an abstract two-player game using a board with four hollows and three varieties of eight stones.
In turn, each player places 1, 2 or 3 stones in one of four hollows. It is forbidden to have the same amount of stones in any of the hollows. The player who gets caught out or places the last stone is the loser.
Publishing history: Essen isn't only a place for publishers to find their gaming audience, sometimes it is also the place where designers find their dream publisher. Intrigued by a beautiful wooden version of Wittig's "Moguli", Frank Stark, with mainly card games and only one board game under his belt, got talking with the publisher and not much later Clemens Gerhards released two of his designs in the same high quality make-up. "Trio Trio" and "Samas" were followed a year later, in 2005, by "Kick-It" and "Due conGa", again in the deluxe wooden versions that are Clemens Gerhards' specialty.
In Parallelo, each player starts with three pawns in each of six colors. Players take turns placing the pawns in indentations in a parallelogram-shaped layout on the wooden game board. Your goal is to create a parallelogram with four pawns of the same color — but since you have only three of each color, you need to make use of pawns placed by your opponent in order to do so. Whoever first creates three parallelograms wins.
The game board in Quint-X, a.k.a. Katalon, features five interlocking squares, with one central square and one square at each of the board's four corners; each square features within it an X pattern of holes that mimics the layout of the squares on the game board.
On the first turn, a player places a marble in any hole, but from then on a player must place a marble in the square matching the position of the hole in which the previous player placed his marble. Within that square, though, the player can place the marble as he wishes. When no more empty holes lie within a square, then you replace an opponent's marble with one of your own.
To win, you either completely fill a square with your marbles, have a majority of marbles in three of the five squares when all spaces on the board are full, or have all of your marbles on the board at the start of your turn.
The name Rincala refers to ring and Mancala. In this game, however, the well-known hollows are turned into stacks. On each move, you spread the pieces of one stack in a ring onto the other playing pieces.
If, after the spreading, two pieces of the same color come to lie on top of one another (on one or more stacks), you get to take the one(s) on the very top of the applicable stack(s). The object of the game is to get hold of as many playing pieces as possible. There are just a few additional rules, regarding the spreading of the stacks and the point scoring in the end.
Do you have what it takes to be a deep space colonist? An alien frontier awaits the brave and daring! This new planet will be harsh, but if you have the skills to manage your resources, build a fleet, research alien life, and settle colonies, the world can be yours.
Alien Frontiers is a game of resource management and planetary development for two to four players. During the game you will utilize orbital facilities and alien technology to build colony domes in strategic locations to control the newly discovered world.
The game board shows the planet, its moon, the stations in orbit around the planet, and the solar system’s star. The dice you are given at the start of the game represent the space ships in your fleet. You will assign these ships to the orbital facilities in order to earn resources, expand your fleet, and colonize the planet.
As the game progresses, you will place your colony tokens on the planet to represent the amount of control you have over each territory. Those territories exert influence over specific orbital facilities and, if you control a territory, you are able to utilize that sway to your advantage.
The planet was once the home of an alien race and they left behind a wondrous artifact in orbit. Using your fleet to explore the artifact, you will discover amazing alien technologies that you can use to advance your cause.
Winning the game will require careful consideration as you assign your fleet, integrate the alien technology and territory influences into your expansion plans, and block your opponents from building colonies of their own. Do you have what it takes to conquer an alien frontier?
Roll and place your dice to gain advantages over your opponent and block them out of useful areas of the board. Use Alien Tech cards to manipulate your dice rolls and territory bonuses to break the rules. Steal resources, overtake territories, and do whatever it takes to get your colonies on the map first! Don't dream it'll be easy, though, because the other players will be trying to do the same thing.
The Maidens of the kingdom keep disappearing. As an aspiring Hero, your job is to rescue them. You must battle the Monsters that have been capturing the Maidens. But you are not the only aspiring Hero trying to rescue the Maidens. Can you rescue the most Maidens and become the Greatest Hero in the kingdom?
Monsters and Maidens is a fun, easy-to-learn dice game with nine fully customized six-sided dice. Players play the role of the Hero trying to rescue the Maidens from the Monsters.
By rolling the dice and comparing the results, players determine the success or failure of their mission. Players may have some rescued Maidens but decide to push their luck and roll the dice again in an attempt to rescue even more. If they aren't careful, though, they will be overtaken by the Monsters and lose some or even all of their rescued Maidens.
• Price €15
• Game Salute lists a Monsters and Maidens expansion for €10 (and a bundle price for €20), but that item isn't in the BGG database. Anyone?
• Pink and purple maiden meeples are available for €10 each, and an überbundle featuring meeples, game and expansion is available for €30.
Old Town Robbery is a communication-based memory game for families with easy rules.
In the first part of the game, the robber wanders through the city, and the players construct a story based on the places he visits. In the second part, players take turns playing the sheriff who is trying to retrace the steps of the robber, visiting the same places as the robber has before. The story element helps players do just that, and they earn points by correctly guessing the next building.
Each year the young and old meet in East Frisia at the '"Ostfriesenlauf" in order to determine the fastest Ostfriesen!
Ostfriesenlauf is a silly race in which these dimwitted persons sometimes run the wrong way around the track! The cards are separated according to color into four piles from which each player may draw five cards of any color. Each player plays one card per turn face down in a pile in the order of last player to first player according to their place on the track. When all have played a card, they're turned over and dealt with in the order played. Depending on the color of the card, one of the pawns moves forward or backwards — fourth place is red, third is blue, etc. — so each player must foresee where his character will be in the race at the time his card is used.
• This is a second edition of the game, with the only apparent change being a new version of the back cover.
In Arcadia Quest, players lead guilds of intrepid heroes on an epic campaign to dethrone the vampire lord and reclaim the mighty Arcadia for their own. But only one guild may lead in the end, so players must battle against each other as well as against the monstrous occupying forces.
Arcadia Quest is a campaign-based game for 2 to 4 players, where each player controls a guild of three unique heroes, facing off against the other players and the various monsters controlled by the game. Players need to accomplish a series of quests in order to win each scenario and choose where to go next in the campaign.
Players are able to choose the path their campaign takes, navigating through six out of eleven available scenarios, so each time the campaign is played it can have a different configuration of scenarios. As the campaign progresses, the heroes are able to acquire new weapons, equipment and abilities that give them powerful options to tackle the obstacles ahead. Furthermore, by fulfilling specific quests in a scenario, players unlock exclusive features in subsequent scenarios.
Rivet Wars is a miniatures boardgame that springs forth from the warped imagination of Ted Terranova - set on a world that never quite left World War I but with crazy technology like walking tanks, diesel powered armor, unicycled vehicles and armor plated cavalry!
Don't let the cute visuals fool you, it's a world full of angst, war-torn camaraderie and dark humor.
Rivet Wars is at its heart a strategy game, with both players deploying units each round to counter the threats set forth by their opponent and stay one tactical step ahead.
Heavily influenced by Ted's experience working on RTS games like Rise of Nations, players gather resources (bunkers and capture points) and use these to deploy streams of new units!
There's an ebb and flow on the tactical landscape and you can stock up surprises for your opponent to be unleashed even as he thinks he's winning!
• Price €80; I have no idea whether any expansions will be available as only the base game is listed as being for sale.
• No booth at Spiel 2014, but La Mame Games has volunteered space to sell Body Party at its stand (1-G131) and Kaleidos Junior will be at the stand of designer Spartaco Albertarelli (3-N119). Details below.
Body Party plays like a team Twister, with each team competing to hold a half-dozen body part cards between their bodies before anyone else can do so.
To start the game, players form teams of two or three players, with at least one person serving as referee. The referee keeps the card deck in hand to help facilitate gameplay; each card shows one body part on the front and another body part (or possibly the same one) on the back.
On a turn, the referee shows the active team the part depicted on the top card of the deck. This team can take this card or pass on it, but then they must take the next card. The teammates must now attempt to hold this card between the two players using the two body parts depicted. If they drop this card, their turn ends; if they drop other cards already held, however, they can continue to work with the current card, despite the tears that will inevitably ensue. Then the next team takes its turn.
The game continues until at least one team holds six cards. If all teams have had the same number of turns and only one team holds six cards, this team wins; if several teams hold six cards, play another round, continuing the game until one team holds more cards than any other at the end of a round. This team wins!
As a variant, Body Party includes a half-dozen cards that feature a body part on one side and a household object on the other (table, wall, chair, floor). These cards must be placed between a player on the team and the depicted item.
• Shill alert! Body Party is my design, and while Cocktail Games doesn't have a retail booth at Spiel 2014, I plan to have copies of this game on hand to play and sell (€13). If you catch me at the show, unless I have something else cooking, I'll be more than happy to show off the game and play with you and whatever passersby we can con into playing...
• Update, Oct. 9: Rikki Tahta at La Mame Games has volunteered space at his stand (1-G131) to sell Body Party, which is super generous of him and a relief to me as I won't have to tote a dozen copies with me at all times. I'll still have some on me, but otherwise you can head to La Mame and check out his offerings while you're there.
Kaleidos Junior comes with four identical sets of eight drawings, with each drawing depicting a scene packed (to greater and lesser extent) with stuff. Each player or team uses its own set of drawings, and the goal is to find as much stuff as possible in the drawing being used by each player — but first you need to know which stuff to find!
The game includes rules for three levels of players, depending on their ages. In level one, players look for items in one of thirteen categories, with the category being chosen by the spinner included in the game. Sample categories include something edible, something made of wood, something fragile, and something round. One player flips the sand timer, then everyone tries to find matching items in the drawing, covering those items with colored tokens. After time runs out, everyone reveals their answers, and for each correct answer, the player places one of her tokens in the center of the table. Players then choose a new drawing, each using the same one, and start a new round. The first player to get rid of all of her tokens wins.
In level two, players use the letters on the spinner (instead of the categories) and now look for items that start with the chosen letter. Otherwise gameplay is the same, with players trying to rid themselves of tokens.
In level three, players choose a letter, then write down answers that they find in the drawing. Each player scores one point for an answer that someone else also found and three points for an answer found only by her. Whoever has the most points after five rounds wins.
• Available in hall-booth 3-N119, which is the stand for KaleidosGames, publisher of the original version of Kaleidos Junior.
Onitama is a two-player, perfect information abstract game with a random starting set-up. On a 5x5 board, both players start with five pawns on their side, with the main pawn in the middle.
Each player has two open cards that each display a possible move for any of his pieces. There is a fifth card that cannot be used by either player. On a player's turn, he chooses one of his cards, moves one of his pieces according to the chosen card, then replaces the card he used with the fifth card. The other player then chooses one of his cards, moves accordingly, and exchanges that card with this fifth card — which is, of course, the card the first player just used.
Moving onto one of the opponent's pawns removes that pawn from the game. Taking the opponent's main pawn, or moving your main pawn into your opponent's main pawn's starting space, wins you the game.
• MSRP €20, discounted to €16 for sales at Spiel 2014.
War Stories: Red Storm puts you in command of German and Soviet tanks and platoons of vehicles in World War 2, 1942-43. The action is fast and realistic; the system is easy-to-learn.
In War Stories you are the commander issuing orders to infantry squads and armored fighting vehicles. Each game presents a scenario using modular map with different terrain that regulates movement and impacts combat in a unique system that does not require charts or endless modifiers. Players receive a secret set of instructions with hidden deployment and objectives. Unit blocks have a variety of information that regulates their ability to move, fight and remain cool under fire.
War Stories also offers "rule breaking" asset and event cards. These enable War Stories to have additional complexity with minimal rules weight: the rules and effects are on the cards themselves. Assets are special equipment, troops, and abilities that a player has access to during the battle, such as machine guns, infiltration units, and the ability to lay mines. Events are random things that happen and create memorable moments on the battlefield such as reinforcements arriving, a gust of wind that starts a wildfire, or a damaged vehicle suddenly brewing up.
(Note: there is no solitaire system; it is a normal 2-player wargame, but the publisher printed "1-2 players" on the box)
- 5 double-sided mapboards
- 23 double-sided terrain overlays
- 75 painted wooden blocks & stickers to represent vehicles & infantry
- 109 counters (vehicle damage, battlefield damage, fog of war, unit, order and ambush markers)
- 33 asset cards
- 21 event cards
- 24 combat chips and 1 cloth drawbag
- 2 16-page scenario booklets (one German and one Soviet)
- 2 player screens/aids
- 1 20-page rule book
Are you tired of games ending in a tie — or even being forced to lose in a tie because game designers have no imagination? Do you want fun new ways of choosing the first player in a game? The finely illustrated Bim Bum Bam will transform your ties and give you a way to choose the first player in every game.
In Dungeon Bazar, the player merchants try to earn money by selling equipment — weapons, armor and tools — to heroes who wish to fight against an old dragon in a nearby cave. What the heroes don't know, though, is that the merchants have an agreement with the dragon as naturally they're interested in keeping their source of gold, the great lizard, alive.
Each player has a personal game board, and each turn they play, then reveal a number of equipment cards. Each hero card displays that hero's desired equipment and priorities. Once the cards are revealed, the heroes buy from the cheapest stand according to their priorities as long as they have money.
Soqquadro is an innovative party game in which what's happening away from the table is as important as what's happening on it.
The game takes place in real-time. Each player draws a card from a deck and searches for an object that satisfies the request on the card. (The cards come in three colors to identify their difficulty level.) When he finds it, he places it on the table, moves his pawn on the score path, then draws another card. When a pawn passes over a Challenge Line for the first time, the game stops for a while and a Challenge is played. The game ends when a pawn first reaches or crosses box 16 on the score path.