My Essen 2017 First Impressions
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This is my list of thoughts after the first play or two of the games I picked up at Essen. As always it’s possible we got rules wrong so impressions are subject to change. I’ll add the games as I get them played.
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1. Board Game: Azul [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:864]
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Wow, this one is great, beautiful components and the gameplay is simple but intriguing. Don’t miss the first player tile (it’s cardboard) when you are punching.
So far only a two player game but I really enjoyed it. Initially choices seem easy grab a bunch of tiles but as your board fills up you have to be clever in your selections as you try to help yourself and hinder your opponents.
Another couple of plays and it’s still great.
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2. Board Game: Nusfjord [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:2879]
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Yet another Rosenberg game. This one is definitely in the Glass Road family. Still has the interesting choices and wanting more actions as you are limited to three. Lots of buildings to choose from. 3 player game was fast. I liked it but similar to Glass Road I’m wanting the game to on for one or two more turns.
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3. Board Game: Tybor der Baumeister [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:5917]
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This years offering from Österreichisches Spiele Museum e.V.. Card drafting, use the cards to pay pay for buildings and set collection for end game points and discounts on building costs. 2 player game works well, I liked it.
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4. Board Game: Majesty: For the Realm [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:2479]
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Another lightweight game. Nice production with chips rather than cardboard money. Card drafting. Everyone has an identical realm and you draft workers for the buildings in your realm. When you place the worker by your building you activate it and get points. Works well and fast game. Played with 2 might be better with more players. The game works well, but was not as interesting to me.
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5. Board Game: TAGIRON [Average Rating:7.71 Unranked]
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Including this since it was available at Essen. Very fun deduction game, plays well with different number of players including 2. If you like deduction games, recommended.
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6. Board Game: Sakura Hunt [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
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Beautiful set collecting game. Have to play with the variant as Eric mentioned in his preview. Very light game.
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7. Board Game: Clans of Caledonia [Average Rating:8.29 Overall Rank:239]
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Technically a KS game for me but since they were at Essen I'll list it here. It's a medium weight economic game. People have menitoned it's similarity to Terra Mystica, variable starter powers, placement bonuses next to other players. I agree those feel similar but this game has a market side as well so doesn't feel like a knock off. I enjoyed the first game 4 player. Some people have felt like there are imbalances in the game, I didn't notice any obvious ones in the first play. Looking forward to another try.
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8. Board Game: Indian Summer [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:3162]
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Another in Rosenberg’s polyomino series. Indian Summer has beautiful graphics. This one adds another layer of spatial puzzling to it. There is not much scoring or economics to it. Try to be the first to fill your board and have the most acorns leftover. Indian summer is definitely challenging in trying to fill the board. Played a 2 player game and it may be a bit more interesting with more players. Patchwork is probably still the best in this series but gosh the artwork in this one is so nice....
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9. Board Game: Prank of the Fox [Average Rating:5.58 Unranked]
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This is a clever bluffing and memory game. The adds are essentially double sided with one side being the fox’s and the other side representing the peasant. The peasant has a hand of 5 cards. Neither player can see the other’s side of the cards. The cards award points or allow some manipulation of the rules. The peasant holds up a card so the fox can see the fox side and asks if the fox wishes to “prank” the card and have the fox side up to score or “no prank” and allow the peasant to score. The clever part is that the two sides of the card are changed each game and sometimes during the game to prevent memorization. This is accomplished by using sleeves and placing the peasant and fox cards back to back randomly making a new deck each time.
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10. Board Game: Heaven & Ale [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:2487]
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I really enjoyed this one. Tile placement. Very spatial. I found it to have brain burning goodness.
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11. Board Game: Reworld [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:5989]
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Interesting game with 2 phases. The first phase is drafting. Drafting has very cool limits with the use of cards. The second phase is placement but you have the first drafted last placed problem. Good game.
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12. Board Game: Rajas of the Ganges [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:2051]
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Dice worker placement. The board is very busy. Liked the race to end the game. Lots of icons but pretty easy to remember. Liked it.
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13. Board Game: Merlin [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:1968]
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Was a bit disappointed in this one. We played the base game without the modules so hopefully that will improve the game. My problem with the game is that the ability to modify the dice is too limiting. It’s very tactical which is not bad for me but often it felt like your move was not very productive. Will need to look at the variants and see if it sounds more interesting otherwise it feels more like a roll and move than strategy game.
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14. Board Game: Paper Tales [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:3577]
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Not that interesting, the wars dominate the scoring.
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15. Board Game: My Story [Average Rating:6.77 Unranked]
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Deck builder with life theme. We played with 2 and I think I would avoid with 4. It was fun and challenging to build up your life! I’m not a huge fan of deck builders but the variety of games like this one has been growing on me. One of the end game goals seemed a little strong but overall enjoyed my play. Reminds me of The Pursuit of Happiness.
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16. Board Game: Perfect Hotel [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:10478]
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Adorable graphics in this little filler. Set collecting. Probably better with more than 2 players.
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17. Board Game: Santa Maria [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:2724]
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Interesting mixture of tile placement and dice on a grid. I can see the evolution from their previous game Doodle City. I'll have to play it again. I liked it but need more plays. Felt like more emphasis on points should be on the grid since that was where the action was.
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18. Board Game: Exit: The Game – The Forbidden Castle [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:4456]
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Can't say much but we were successful!
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19. Board Game: Transatlantic [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:2867]
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Derivative of Concordia. Decent game but I enjoy the original more. Getting cards is less important in this game. We played a 2 player game and it plays fine.
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20. Board Game: Gaia Project [Average Rating:8.78 Overall Rank:697]
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So I was thinking, ok I've played a lot of Terra Mystica, this isn't going to be that hard, right? Doh! This game has lots to think about. Yes some of the basic flow and movements of the game are the same but it also introduces a whole new set of moves to think about. After 1 play I liked it and already thinking about how to do better next time. It's nice that the board is modular. The “cult track” (research tracks)becomes way more important as each step has important actions associated with it. There are 2 different ways to get the “favor tiles” (tech tiles) feel like the bigger differences too me after 1 play.
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21. Board Game: TA‐KE [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:8284]
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Don't let the cute art fool you, there is mean little game in there. Interesting 2 player game. I worry that first player could have the advantage but I suppose luck in how the chips are dealt can play a part.
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22. Board Game: Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 [Average Rating:8.88 Overall Rank:443]
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Just started it. We survived January! So far the fun picks up where it left off devil
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23. Board Game: Biosphere [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:6829]
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I would call this a kinder, gentler Dominant Species. The aging or life mechanism is interesting. The rules are a bit rough be sure and see the update. Definitely need to play it again.
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24. Board Game: Altiplano [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:2244]
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Bag building game with alpacas! Lots of choicesalthough your iitial direction depends on the role you get. Felt a bit slow to get going but it was interesting.
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