Essen thoughts: well planned, prepared ... and bought 2017
Rudy Van den Broecke
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This was our 5th Essen trip. Like last year we went on Friday and Saturday.

My goal was too look for games(mechanics) we didn't own yet so I did my homework with the new Geeklisqt and the Essen tool.

In contrast to the last year we only looked at the games that were on my radar. That means we skipped a lot of booths but on the other hand it was more relaxing. We focussed mostly on games that would be harder to get later on.

Like last year my wife didn't help to keep the budget under control. So this is the result.



For those interessted - The 2016 edition
Essen thoughts: well planned, prepared ... and bought

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1. Board Game: Treachery in a Pocket [Average Rating:6.31 Unranked]
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The first game of Spiel. We played a few rounds to get an idea of the game.

The idea is simple. You play a card or take one. When you play you play an action that let's you move a character. At the beginning you receive a card which gives you 2 colours. You want those colours to be on the good row (1 on top and 1 below). The cards let you move cards, create new rows, ... or wound the characters. When a character dies it can't be moved anymore and you get a special action.

Verdict: Something new. Didn't make it because of the budget but SANTA might help us out.
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2. Board Game: Mercatores [Average Rating:6.87 Unranked]
Rudy Van den Broecke
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We always check our prioritylist on friday. It's more quiet and you sometimes you can even play a round. This year we even managed to play an entire game.

Mercatores can be compared to Bohnanza in terms of collecting cards and getting coins in return. Where the game shines is in the end. When you start counting points you have to pay tax (1 card) except for the player who holds the boatcard. After the first scoring, the boat goes to the next player. So you lose cards to tax which you have to keep in mind.

You score point for goods (like bohnanza) but also for special cards. For example - the number of ships that are on the cards. The special cards indicate how to count the ships. Some cards tell you to count your ships and the ships of your neighbeour on the left. Another card may say, your ships and any opponent.

The order in which you score is important. Because if you're opponent removes certain cards because they have been scored, you lose those cards to socre as well.

Verdict: Nice little game at a fair price - 10€ - Approved.
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3. Board Game: Kill The Unicorns [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:9809]
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Preview of the game that is coming to Kickstarter. I thought the game had tiles but we only saw cards. The artwork is hilarious so my wife wants me to check it out.

Verdict: Check out the Kickstarter.
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4. Board Game: Edge of Humanity [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:7453]
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Recently I bought This war of mine. But an apocalyptic survival game was still missing. I liked the fact that you have to give up cards to buy things. Something different then most deckbuilders. I turned out my wife was more interessted then I thought when we listened to the game.

So it came home with us.

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5. Board Game: Tortuga 1667 [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:1902]
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A pirate game. Could this be the one? Maybe but we didn't get to chance to get some information so we passed on it.

Verdict: Keep an eye on reviews.
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6. Board Game: Dead Man's Doubloons [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:6589]
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We have been looking for a good language independent pirate game for a while. My wife fell in love with this one. But the price was 50€ so we went over twice. We caved in and hope this will be the one.

We got the box signed by the autors and the artist. The lady behind the desk was really persuasive in a truly positive american way.
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7. Board Game: Dale of Merchants [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:797] [Average Rating:7.29 Unranked]
Rudy Van den Broecke
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Long ago I came across this deckbuilder. Since my wife loves goodies and nice artwork I thought she would like it. We never came around to it.

Friday we passed their booth and my wife nearly got wild from the artwork and especially the playmat. But would wich one would we buy? We needed to check our budget first.

Saturday we returned and bought the set: including

and the playmat
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8. Board Game: Isle of Trains [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:1533]
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This looked like a fast little card game where you upgrade your train-parts and try to achieve missions. My wife didn't really like the feel of the game so we passed. I think she had First Class in mind which has some simalarities in gameplay and which she likes a lot.

Verdict: No wow-factor so passed
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9. Board Game: Battlefold [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:8933]
Rudy Van den Broecke
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Last year I had Fold-it marked on my list but it was sold out by Friday. We reserved a copy for this year but I wanted to check out Battlefold as well. My wife wasn't convinced because it had fighting in it.

We followed a game and got the explanation which convinced us that there was more game into this then Fold-it. Some prefer Fold-it others Battlefold. Let's find out in which cammp we belong.

My wife and kids have played a few games by now and really like the game. Being the first is no longer the main goal. And being last still gives you an option. You still fold but you get to pick some of the objects you want to fold when there is a ?.

In this game there is a board where you move and fight each other. You get 1 fight and move action. The rest you have to earn by folding. Even if you die you can still win. You become a ghost and have to try to come back to life.



Me being to slow like about 80% of the game.



But even a dead and slow wizard can win the game. laugh


Verdict: Approved and glad that we bought this over Fold-it
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10. Board Game: Mystery of the Temples [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:6911]
Rudy Van den Broecke
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I had great expectations of this one but my wife completely lost interest when she saw how tiny the gameparts were. She was affraid it would affect the gameplay and fun and I understand here.

Verdict: Keep an eye on it. Maybe someone else will release a different version.
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11. Board Game: ORE-SOME [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:9042]
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At Zomerspel we played Crazy Karts. The family liked it but I wasn't a fan. When I saw this game I knew I had a chance of avoiding to buy Crazy karts.

The game looks awesome and crazy and so was the explanation. We had a really enthousiastic Irish? guy to explain the game. We ended up buying the game but we had a big laugh because we only understood half of what he had said.

We played the game last weekend and my wife didn't really like us afterwards . You have to forfill contracts (x cubes from y colours). There are easy ones (female contractor) and harder ones (the male which include more and harder to get gold). First everyone gets to move by rolling their own die. You follow the tracks in doing. When you meet another "car" you bump that one one space ahead. If he has any cubes coming over the board of the car he has to leave it at that place.

After the moves phase each player gets to dig. You can pick up dropped cubes, take 2 cubes from the bag (without looking), sell to the bank or forfill a contract if the contractor is close enough. If you drop the cubes next to the car shake. Bad luck. You can take 4 cubes if your car is on his own colour which is harder then it seems.

To do this all you have 5 cards. There are contractorcards and actioncards. Actioncards give you extra's like more movement, double dig or but roadblocks.

There are different ways to victory. I won with a difference of 1 and 2 points. While I focussed on contracts the other players had sold more to the bank (that way you have less risk to lose cubes during a collision). And my wife well she got hit a lot but in our defense ... she started it.



Verdict: Approved as a take that game and filler game.
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12. Board Game: Sakura [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:7358]
Rudy Van den Broecke
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Sakura got my interesst because of the artwork and the idea. A demonstration got us interessted so we wanted to pick up the game the following day.

At that moment it became clear that half of the material was not part of the game and were extra's. So the game costed 33€ in total.

When we opened the box in the way home we were a bit disappointed in the buisness model. You pay 23€ for a huuuuge box with 2 packs of cards in it.

The box is that big to fit the extra's I suppose but it is still overpriced.

We've played 2 games since then and aren't convinced. The problem is that you can use gods the influence the cards. That is a good idea but the symbols are not intuitive to us. We ended up watching the rulebook half of the time. Maybe this game isn't for us.



Verdic: For sale/ Trade
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13. Board Game: Photosynthesis [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:806]
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Somehow I forgot to mention this one. Like I said before, abstract just isn't my wife's thing. This wasn't on the list because of that. But I know that she likes beautifull games so when we passed Blue Orange I made a go for it anyway.

We asked one of the people to explain us the game. He asked if we wanted very short, a short or long version. When we said short he answerd: It's about trees . So we chose the less shorter version.

You try to grow trees by placing them on the board. Like in real life sun is an important element in this game. Depending on the amount of sun you get a number of actions. Light gives you possibilities to plant seeds, change seeds to trees or let trees grow or get point tiles. Important is that trees cast shadows so your trees don't get light all the time.

The thing we like about the game is the difficultylevel. According to the explanation you can play this with kids as well from 8 and up. Mom and dad just don't have to be real bad. laugh

Surprise, surprise my wife thought this was interessting. Could I get lucky twice? Azul you're up next.



Verdict: Santa's list is getting bigger and bigger ...

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14. Board Game: Azul [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:923]
Rudy Van den Broecke
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My wife doesn't like abstract games so we only own a few of them (Ingenious, Tsuro ...). But since she likes beautifull things I had Azul and Sagrada on the list.

We stopped by and liked what we saw. However we decided to pass for the moment because of our budget.

This weekend we got to play it twice with friends. The game itself it pretty easy. You collect stones and try to fill your board. When you collect you can always take 1 colour (from the little boards or from the middle). You put the stones on the left side of the board and when all the stones are taken you can move 1 stone from the full rows to the right. The rest is removed except for the rows that weren't finished. You score the stones that you connect to and get bonuspoint at the end of the game for full horizontal, vertical lines and 5 of the same colour.

It's a fast game that isn't hard to explain but gives you enough choices. This will probably get picked up by a bigger company.



Verdict: Oh Santa ... where are you
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15. Board Game: Unearth [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:1522]
Rudy Van den Broecke
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I read mixed reviews form this one but still wanted to see this one in action. Too our surprise the booth were you find the game was a shop. The vendor explained the game to me and another woman after which we decided to buy the game. Another fellow was interessted in the game but the vendor gave us the first chance at buying the game. We ended up getting the last copy.

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16. Board Game: FUSE [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:532]
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Renegade games. I had about all of their games on my watchlist but there were no tables available. Apparantly their shipment was late so they were organizing their pre-order pick-up on friday.

I ended up buying one of the last 3 copies of Fuse. This one has been on my watchlist for a few years so I grabbed my chance while I had it.

We played 2 games with friends and had a great time. You draw dice and each player takes a dice and puts it on one of the 2 cards you have. In order to do that you need to make the right combination (colour, number, descending ...). If you fail you have to re-roll the die and everyone with that colour or number must put a die like that back in the bag.

Oh, did I mention that you only have 10 minutes before the game ends? Tension all over.

Verdict: Great co-op/solo game
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17. Board Game: Untold: Adventures Await [Average Rating:8.20 Overall Rank:6155]
Rudy Van den Broecke
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My oldest daughter loves to create and invent so I kickstarted this game for her. We received a copy of one of their storycubes:



We played it this weekend and it is a one of a kind game. Basically you are writing episodes of a TV-serie. First you decide on a time, place, the mood (comedy, adventure ...)and choose your character. You can get inspiration by throwing the dice. You also get to chose 2 objects or abilities and decide why you are on this adventure. The episode consists of 5 scenes in which something happens: a dangerous dilemma, the plot thickens, an heroic undertaking, the truth revealed and the final showdown. each of those scenes has a small boardon which you will place your dice. For example in the final showdown we had to choose 2 treats. You choose 2 die and tell what they mean to you. During the game you can pause the game if you don't agree. Introduce a flashback ...
But not everything you want works. Every episode you have to tell what will happen. For the result you have to take a card that tells you wether it is succesfull, a failure, if there are restrictions ... This way you have to adapt all the time. You also get reactions to events.

The outcome is hilarious. We had 2 kids throwing all their imagination in the storyline (unicorns, wizard, droids, a stolen baby) and mom and dad trying to understand this all and putting a line into the story. Well not really

I really recommend this one. This normally isn't my kind of game but I don't mind. You play together but you don't and there are no wrong answers. You can take it anywhere you want, reset it when you want. Tons off possibilities. Check it out.



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18. Board Game: Little Big Fish [Average Rating:8.44 Unranked]
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The 2 oldest kids are 9 and 10 and play a lot. Sometimes they also play together but our 2-player games arent't that great for them.

This one got my interesst but I wasn't sure it contained enough meat. We watched a game while the designer explained us the game.

The idea is that you try to eat 5 fish from the other player. Like in real life the fish can get babies, grow and eat smaller or equal fish. The actions are activated when your fish lands on that spot. You can move 1 fish 2 spaces or 2 fish one space. Little fishes can also swim through ships. The ? space holds all the previous action and 2 others: The fisherman who takes your fish and 1 from your opponent (can be very nice if he loses a big fish that way.) The last option lets you rotate one of the boards.



Verdict: A very nice tactic 2-player game. Recommended.
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19. Board Game: Dreamscape [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Rudy Van den Broecke
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We already had a glimp at Brussels game festival at this game. Enough to catch our interesst and stop by for some explanation.

It's a prototype of the game that's coming to Kickstarter next year. You try to construct your dream by putting tokens on your own board. You do that by collecting them on the main board. Every area has a special action of which you can choose once every round (I think). Those action let you move, influence ... your tokens. That is necessary because red tokens are nightmares that no-one wants.

This games looks promosing. The price tag of around 40€is also a plus in these expensive times.




Verdict: Keeping an eye on the Kickstarter.
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20. Board Game: Rat Trap [Average Rating:6.82 Unranked]
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We're always on the lookout for a game that we can play with the kids and with gamers. Since the little one also loves to play we look out for 5-player games. Enter Rat Trap.

You make as many packs as there are players. You try to collect cheese but in the packs there are also a least one trap. The traps give you a wound (3
and you lose). Clover cards allow to ignore the trap card. The twist in the game are the dice.

You roll 2 dice which allow you to do one of the following action:
Take 1 card, Take 2 cards (from the same pack), Steal a card from another player, Give another play a scratch (wound), Heart (heal a wound)

The fun thing is that you don't get to choose you die. You roll (and may re-roll once) and choose a partner for your turn. He gets the die and returns one to you. Naturally this comes with a lot of lying, backstabbing, broken promises. Our 6 year old turns into a little monster in this games.

In the experienced version each player gets a role with gives a bonusaction and you use 4 die instead of 2.



Verdict: Hilarious game. Recommended.
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21. Board Game: Iquazú [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:7005]
Rudy Van den Broecke
Belgium
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The Haba line for adults brought us Karuba wich is still a favorite game. So we were curious.

... and disappointed. In the end this is a set collection game. You place stones through cards and the majority wins and gets a special action.

We played a round with the beautifull material but didn't think it would add something to the collection.

Verdict: Not bad but nothing new for us - Skipped.
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22. Board Game: Konja [Average Rating:7.35 Unranked]
Rudy Van den Broecke
Belgium
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I missed the kickstarter but I thought the mechanism for this 2-player game looked interessting. We played a round but weren't a fan of the artwork and the symbols didn't feel really intuitive.

In the game you try to collect clouds. As a player you have 5 options. The first player gets the action and a bonus, his opponent only the basic action. You can only activate the action again when all action have been used.

Verdict: We couldn't really get into the game so we skipped.
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23. Board Game: Pawn Stop [Average Rating:6.97 Unranked]
Rudy Van den Broecke
Belgium
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At Brussels gamefestival I took a walk with our 6-year old while the 2 other kids where playing a game. We ended up playing Pawnstop. I wasn't that enthousiastic but she was. Before Essen she asked me if we could buy the game there. So we did.

The rules are simple. You try to collect 3 tokens of the same colour. You can move horizontal of vertical. You take the first token of the direction you choose.

I was surprised in how much my daughter liked this. Since Essen this games has been played over 40 times even if it is a short game. It is huge over here.



Verdict: A good first tactical/abstract game. Approved.

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24. Board Game: Loot Island [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:5178]
Rudy Van den Broecke
Belgium
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I had this on my list because of Rahdo ... you again ...

This is a majoritygame where you fill a treasurechest more or less and try to get acces to it.

We were interessted but choose to get Sakura instead. Well ... we should have chosen this one.

Verdict: Still interessted. Santa? Maybe this will make his list.
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25. Board Game: Topiary [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:3973]
Rudy Van den Broecke
Belgium
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I thought this looked interessting. But a brief dialog with my wife stopped us before we even asked for info. We came to the conclusion that we already own Glastonbury and ... She figured that those were too much related and we could spend the money better to something else.

Verdict: Nice game but not different enough to enter the collection.
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