Essen 2014 updated: The aftermath
Chris Marling
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Now with what I bought, why, and why not

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So this will be my third Essen, but my first as a guy with a game out! Looks like we'll be doing a few sessions at the AEG booth but beyond that I'll be soaking up all the gaming goodness once again.

Both the first two years I managed to keep my spending at 200 euros, but came home each time with around 15 items. Hopefully I can do the same again. This may make my comments look stingy below, but I'm on a budget - any game on this list is there because I really like the sound of it (I've rejected 350+ other Essen preview games already), so disparaging comments should be seen in that context!

I tend to buy one of the 'big' bigbox games, several small box, a couple of card games and a bunch of bargains. So what will be coming home in my suitcase this time?

More games to be added in the lead up to Essen.
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1. Board Game: Ancient Terrible Things [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1516]
Chris Marling
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Bought: €38

This became my 'big' purchase of the fair after seeing it in the flesh, then playing a demo and chatting with artist Rob. The game is beautifully produced, while adding enough to the Yahtzee dice idea (in both mechanisms and theme) to float my boat all the way to the Trading Post (it's a ATT thing).

I like both the look and sound of this, but I'm worried the depth of gameplay isn't going to meet the 38 euro price tag. If it had been a 20 euro small-ish box game (or I was rich!) I'd probably go for it, but the board looks like a place-holder for a pretty basic but fun looking card/dice game.
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2. Board Game: First to Fight [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:9304]
Chris Marling
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Bought: €30

Had a really fun demo with one of the designers and one of their friends. The game was exactly as I'd imagined, and after a play I do still have reservations, but the offer of a discount twisted my arm. I am so weak...

This seems to borrow the action selection of Puerto Rico but adds an interesting timing mechanism, where you have to have people in the right place at the right times to fulfil mission requirements - but so does everyone else, and you're all using the same people. Sounds like it could be fascinating, or the kind of game that only really works some rather than all of the time. 37 euro, would like to demo it.
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3. Board Game: El Gaucho [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:1517]
Chris Marling
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Bought: €25

Had a great demo of this and bought it straight away. There's lots of game for the price and the components are great. There are lots of tricky decisions, but also plenty of room for screwage.

El Gaucho looks like an interesting worker placement/set collection game at 27 euros and the component pics appeal. But as always with the genre, there's a lot of them about and some fall really flat. Need to try before I buy.
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4. Board Game: Johari [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:4426]
Chris Marling
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Bought: €15

Had a fun demo of this and was almost, but not quite convinced. It ate away at me and then on Sunday suddenly it was €15 instead of 20. Sold.

Looks like a nice simultaneous action game with plenty of decisions to make, but not complex rules, all for 20-25 euro. A likely purchase (Mayfair for English version).
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5. Board Game: Steam Donkey [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:4117]
Chris Marling
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Bought: €10

I was going to buy this from BoardGameGuru, but they said they knew Paul and convinced me buying it from them direct was the right (and cheaper) thing to do and that he wouldn't mind. They made me do it!

They almost had me at the theme, but they definitely had me after watching the videos. The mechanisms look simple yet thinky with some great original ideas.
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6. Board Game: CV: Gossip [Average Rating:6.54 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.54 Unranked]
Chris Marling
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Bought: €10

Sadly missed out on the 'free gift' as I didn't make it back to the stand until Sunday when they were all gone. I hope it wasn't anything good...

CV was one of my favourites from Essen 2013 and I'm looking forward to seeing what this adds to the base game. It's the kind of game that will obviously thrive from variety, so it's a definite purchase.
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7. Board Game: Romans Go Home! [Average Rating:6.05 Overall Rank:5090]
Chris Marling
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Bought: €10

Totally fell for this little card game on my one play but the artwork on the original was, well, terrible. This one looks brilliant though, so it's a definite purchase.
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Chris Marling
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Bought: €7

I only grabbed Paititi as prices had gone up this year and I really wasn't interested in the other game.

Will definitely pick the games from these guys up again. A good cause, plus last year gave us Port Royal. Paititi looks fun.
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9. Board Game: Can't Stop: Rollin' Down the Highway [Average Rating:6.15 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.15 Unranked]
Chris Marling
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Bought: €4

At this price it has to be worth a punt! Love the original and this deviation sounds interesting.
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10. Board Game: Empire Engine [Average Rating:5.87 Overall Rank:5378]
Chris Marling
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Collected: free

Well der...
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11. Board Game: Snowdonia: The Necropolis Railway & Neuhauser Bockerlbahn [Average Rating:7.99 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.99 Unranked]
Chris Marling
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Collected: free

Looking forward to seeing how this turned out after doing a fair bit of playtesting on the Necropolis Line.
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12. Board Game: Sail to India [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1246]
Chris Marling
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Collected: free

Thank you AEG!

Played twice, loved it both times. Would've bought the original if the components had been up to muster but the AEG version is really nice, so it's another definite purchase.

Looks like the German version will be 10 euro, so hopefully the English AEG version will be the same.
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13. Board Game: Stone Age: Casino [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
Chris Marling
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Collected: free

Got lucky and grabbed one at the press event.

Apparently coming packaged with a Russian Railroads expansion I have no interest in. Hopefully it'll be free, or I can chip in with someone who likes RR and not Stone Age
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14. Board Game: Deus [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:331]
Chris Marling
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Didn't play

My biggest regret in terms of missed demoes - this was hot all weekend. Hopefully play next weekend.

This looks like an interesting card game with elements of area control/influence. But 45 euros challenges my budget; especially as it doesn't seem to be bringing much new to the party. Do like the look of it though.
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15. Board Game: Progress: Evolution of Technology [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1775]
Chris Marling
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Didn't play

Second biggest regret. Hopefully someone I know picked/will pick it up, as I still have high hopes for it.

Hand management, tech trees. Mmmmm. I really like the look of this, but not really sure a card game is going to be worth 35 euro, so looking for a demo for sure. There are also replayability doubts, without having to buy expansions.
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16. Board Game: Castles of Mad King Ludwig [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:90]
Chris Marling
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Didn't play

Hopefully get a game next weekend.

I really thought I'd love Suburbia, but didn't. In fact I haven't liked any Bezier Games so I'm a little down on this (and it looks like it will be 40+ euros). But I love the theme and the mechanisms sound cool, so I'm staying cautiously optimistic.
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17. Board Game: Imperial Settlers [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:148]
Chris Marling
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Didn't play

Decided pretty early that I wouldn't get into the bun fight for this one. I'm sure friends will pick it up and it will be easy to find if I need it.

The art, mechanisms and general game style all tick the right boxes, so I'm really looking forward to trying this one. This would be my one 'big' purchase though, at 40 euro, so definitely need to at least see it in action.
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18. Board Game: Mangrovia [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:1179]
Chris Marling
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Passed

If I owned less games, I'd have snapped this up but at 30 Euros. I'm a little concerned it won't get played, as while as it both plays and looks nice - and the main mechanism is great - it fell a bit short overall. Would like to play again.

With an interesting action selection mechanism, short-ish play time and a gamers'/family game tag, and at 30 euros, this is one I definitely want to get a game of.
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19. Board Game: Concordia: Britannia / Germania [Average Rating:8.07 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.07 Unranked]
Chris Marling
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Passed

As much as I like Concordia, I don't play it enough to buy a new map/

I'd like this, but I certainly don't need it - I'm far from being bored of the original maps. Whether to purchase this will come down to price and possible future availability.
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20. Board Game: Onward to Venus [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:1593]
Chris Marling
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Passed

Got about 15 minutes into the rules explanation and was nodding off. Not my kind of game, and the components were pretty bland. I did really enjoy a demo of Mythotopia, but not enough to want to purchase it as it doesn't fit with my regular playing groups.

I'm not a big fan of area majority and this is priced at 45 euros - but it looks gorgeous and rules sound really interesting. This one could be a dark horse for my 'big' game - we will see.
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21. Board Game: Amber Route [Average Rating:5.69 Overall Rank:11817]
Chris Marling
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Passed

Second biggest disappointment of the show. The art and components are incredible, but the game events are ridiculously easy. Totally underdeveloped, which is a shame as there's nearly a great race/combat game here.

No price details yet, but the Android app is a fun little race game and this looks to add some nice twists to it.
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22. Board Game: Madame Ching [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:2345]
Chris Marling
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Passed

Biggest disappointment of the weekend. A nice movement and point scoring mechanism is totally undermined by a set of cards that dump any strategy you may have into the bin and replace it with blind luck. This year's Mauna Kea.

A bit like Ancient Terrible Things (below), this looks like a slightly overpriced card game at 30 euros - but at the same time it looks like a lot of fun too. If I had to bet on one of them I'd choose this, as it looks like there's a bit more game to Madame Ching. Looking forward to trying it out.
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23. Board Game: La Isla [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:778]
Chris Marling
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Didn't play

Matt bought this on day 1, so I'm sure he'll be up for playing a game soon. Will also be easy to get.

Looks like the more interesting Feld release to me. May give it a miss, simply because it will be easily available post-Essen and people I know are bound to buy it.
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24. Board Game: Planes [Average Rating:5.98 Overall Rank:4944]
Chris Marling
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Didn't play

I usually love AEG's artwork but this one really didn't do it for me on the table. Also, it felt a bit weird asking for a demo when EE was being demoed on the next table. Would still like to try it.

I was initially put off as the box looked like it was a sequel to Trains (which I found really boring), but this seems like a fun light game with some clever movement mechanisms. Definitely worth a demo. Will be interested to see the price.
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25. Board Game: Office 21 [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:7849]
Chris Marling
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Didn't play

I walked past the booth a good few times, but no one playing ever really looked like they were having fun. In the end, too many other games at this price were more appealing. Would still like to play.

Despite this being under 10 euro, I still won't be pre-ordering. And yes, that might mean I don't get a copy - but having played more bad hipster games than good ones, I don't feel it's a risk I want to take; I've already got a draw full of small card games I don't play and if I could have that money back I'd probably take it. Man, what a tight arse!
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