So what are those 6 games we are foaming at the mouth at?
We tried to look a little, but okay not too much, of the beaten path and come up with some titles that are somewhat less obvious and may inspire you to check out. Now let’s get rolling and see you on the other side?
The “Arte di Calimala” — the guild of cloth finishers and merchants in foreign cloth — was one of the greater guilds of Florence, who arrogated to themselves the civic power of the Republic of Florence during the Late Middle Ages. The woolen cloth trade was the engine that drove the city’s economy and the members of the Calimala were the elite of Florence.
The art is a little quirky, but this game is so high on our must buy list. Even when only being a 3 to 5 player game and we normally are strict on our must play 2 player. Maybe it is because Uli from Spielworkxx brought this to ADC Blackfire to publish it? A clever use of your actions discs, you stack them and the way they are stacked triggers bonus actions and scoring.
The Expanse, a board game based on the Syfy television series of the same name, focuses on politics, conquest and intrigue similar to the board game Twilight Struggle, although with a shorter playing time. The card-driven game uses key images from the show, along with action points and events that allow players to move and place “Fleets” and “Influence”.
So we like Twilight Struggle and we love the tv show, if you can count, you know what this means! Another game on the brink of our must play well with 2, which this say it does by the way. Another plus here is some designer pedigree (return thing..). Geoff Engelstein always has clever mechanism and can put adventure into your board game experience. Let’s see what Wiz Kids brings production wise and hopefully I can grab one of the few copies coming to Essen.
“Wendake” is the name that the Wyandot People use for their traditional territory. This population, also known as the Huron Nation, lived in the Great Lakes region together with the Iroquois, Shawnee, Potomac, Seneca, and many others. In this game, you explore the traditions and everyday life of these tribes during the 1756-1763 period when the Seven Years War between the French and the English took place in these territories.
At first glance this may look like, well another one of them standard euro’s. But something stand out here for us. Where most games involving native americans, the story will revolve around the white men stories, this time Danilo Sabia decided to focus on their story. Become one of the chieftains and prosper more than the other clans. The clever action selection and tile grid make this is very clever puzzle, where you try to combine your actions and get the better actions into your own grid and get the most point after 7 rounds.
Carthage, about 800 years BCE: Founded as a humble trading post by the Phoenicians, the city quickly grew to an important trade hub where precious goods from all across the ancient world arrived for market.
Yes, another one solely based on designer pedigree at first. Bernd Eisenstein is the wonderful mind behind Alea Iacta Est. But as so often the case, after skimming the rulebook and visualizing the way this game could be, it got us intrigued. Admitted, it’s theme may be one of the most used in the hobby, but we guess that has a reason right?
Through dice use you will try to conquer provinces, recruit patricians and grab Senatus cards which give you bonuses at the end of the game. A funny fact, if you cannot use one of the dices, it will end its round at the Latrina. Any guess where that is?
From the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 to the beginning of WWI in 1914, there was an amazing development of bigger, faster, and more modern steamships. Whereas in 1870 there are still many clippers around and the good old paddle steamer “Scotia” sails the North Atlantic, sea trade is dominated by the end of this era by huge vessels like “Mauretania”(Cunard), “Olympic”(White Star), or “Imperator”(Hapag).
I don’t want to repeat this too often, but come on people, Mac Gerdts the mastermind behind one of the most generic, but most well-loved euro games, Concordia. This time Mac will take us on a steamship adventure. Admitted I haven’t even read up that much on it, but the fact it is card driven and that way you build your individual decks and improve your grip on the game already sounds promising. The jest of the game is building your shipping empire with the growing passengers and freight growth.
The Climbers / Die Aufsteiger is an easy-to-learn, all-wooden, 3D strategy game with beautiful components, which include 35 colorful blocks of different sizes, a climber pawn for each player, a blocking stone for each player, and a short and a long ladder for each player.
Called out by Heavycardboard as the game every gamer should own, we couldn’t resist that call to action and preordered through the Capstone (Simply Complex) online shop. As we didn’t own a real stacking game with such beautiful table presence, I can see this getting a lot of table time with a variety of people.
Let’s confess something now….
Okay and now the part where we tell you that we cheated, albeit just a little. How can we make a choice out of almost a 1000 games which are coming out at Essen! So here’s a little bonus too you all with games which could have easily be another top 6…
Dateline: Germany, 1933
Jan. 30: Hindenburg names Hitler Chancellor.
Feb. 27: The burning of the Reichstag. Hitler blames his political opponents and enacts repressive laws.
Mar. 5: The Nazi Party wins the Federal elections amid a climate of fear and intimidation. From this point on, with a precise and constant rhythm, Hitler dismantles all of the democratic institutions of the fragile Weimar Republic and inaugurates a reign of terror, gradually establishing a ruthless and violent dictatorial regime.
A game brought by 4 Dados and one which covers a very intriguing part of the dark history but with a twist. What would have happened if instead of bringing Europe into a maelstrom of war, the infamous Austrian corporal had abandoned his plan of global domination and taken the path of peace? It’s a war simulation, so you will have to like that to enjoy such a game, but as I myself are a history buff so that’s ballpark. As a lot of these games have a set of players to shine, this is a two or three player only game.
Gaia Project is a new game in the line of Terra Mystica. As in the original Terra Mystica, fourteen different factions live on seven different kinds of planets, and each faction is bound to their own home planets, so to develop and grow, they must terraform neighboring planets into their home environments in competition with the other groups. In addition, Gaia planets can be used by all factions for colonization, and Transdimensional planets can be changed into Gaia planets.
While we never played Terra Mystica, I know right, we are looking forward to this new title which will bring more to the hugely popular older sister. I do have my doubts this will be a good two player experience, it may well be a game which can hold up for game nights where we introduce a lot of new gamers into the hobby. Not that this is a “gateway” game, but we do not really believe in such a thing. Play what you dig and start from there.Brought over by Feuerland and White Goblin Games.
In Hunt for the Ring, one player takes the role of Frodo and his companions, who are journeying from the Shire to Rivendell, while up to four other players represent the Nazgûl who are trying to hunt down the hobbits. While traveling, Frodo and others must resist being corrupted by the Ring that he wears.
This theme is one we love so deeply and may be the one theme which started the love for storytelling, fellowship and interest in fantasy in general. Now finally one of those done in the hidden movement style like games as Fury of Dracula, Whitechapel and more. And this seems to fit the two player wish also very well. And what about the twist in this one? When you finish as Frodo and the hobbits escaped to Bree, you will than step into the cloak of Gandalf and try to defend their route further. That’s just awesome! I hope Ares games does the job well and we can dive deep into this new Middle Earth adventure.
King Arthur is searching for a worthy heir. Together with Merlin he tries to find the best candidate among the Knights of the Round Table. Players move their knights or Merlin with the help of dice around the action ring to get the most desired actions. While the knights are only moved by the corresponding player, Merlin can be moved by all players, which makes integrating Merlin in one’s plan a tricky endeavor.
Do you really want me to say anything about this? We all know why this one is on most list’s right? This time brought to you by Queen Games, so at Essen there should be enough buzz and tables to try to play this puppy. The board looks amazingly buzzy, but also very beautiful at the same time. The theme does look a little blend, but a game featuring the Arthurian legend is always a plus in our book. And yes, it’s a Feld, there’s that. But I am just equally excited for what Michael Rieneck brings to the game.
In 16th century India, the powerful empire of the Great Moguls rises between the Indus and the Ganges rivers. Taking on the role of rajas and ranis – the country’s influential nobles – players in Rajas of the Ganges race against each other in support of the empire by developing their estates into wealthy and magnificent provinces. Players must use their dice wisely and carefully plot where to place their workers, while never underestimating the benefits of good karma. Success will bring them great riches and fame in their quest to become legendary rulers.
My dear friend Steph, which has an AWESOME blog over at The Geek, pointed me to this game after she had played it over at the States already. It has dice and it has worker placement, that’s so much what I like in games. Below we will see another Indian themed game and we will have to wait which one will win the battle of the curry. (which makes me hungry already!) games from HUCH! and R&R Games are always ones to are on the lookout for. And last, but in no way least, the designers are Inka Brand & Markus Brand.
Santa Maria is a streamlined, medium complexity Eurogame in which each player establishes and develops a colony. The game features elements of dice drafting and strategic engine building. The game is low on luck and has no direct destructive player conflict; all components are language independent.
How dare you not to obey this sturdy looking fellow on the game box? Go see this game! We continue the hype of tetris like pieces puzzle games, but this time including dice placement and order selection activation. That does sound like a fun combination and it looks like something you can again play with a variety of people. Aporta has a nice growing list of games in their portfolio and I am eager to see what they will bring in the future.
The King is dead! What happened? Nobody really knows, but he was found face down in a wine barrel this morning. It could have been either foul play or his own thirst that did him in. Regardless, the King is dead without any known heirs, so it’s up to the five factions of the realm to decide who will be the new king: Will it be you or your opponent? Do you have what it takes to win over the realm’s factions?
Two big reasons this is up here. One, it’s coming from the dutch publisher White Goblin Games and two The Mico is doing the art. His art is stunning and in a blink you recognise his hand in games. And yes, that;s enough for us to put it on the buy list, how shallow we are.
A brand new edition of a popular classic, London will appeal to the strategic thinker among board game fans. Tasked with rebuilding London in the decades following the great fire, players juggle building requirements, bank loans, and poverty as they strive to realize their vision for the city.
Another one in the category designer pedigree and one which needed a second edition. Gladly Osprey games stepped in and made it come true. Martin Wallace has his taken on how London needed to rebuild after the devastating fires of 1666. Engine building and running your city as efficient as possible to avoid poverty is key to winning this gaming. With the new art and some updated rules, this is one of the early preorders we made.
Agra, India: The year is 1572; this year marks the 30th birthday of Abu’l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad, popularly known as Akbar the Great. Akbar is the third ruler of India’s Mughal dynasty, having succeeded his father, Humayun. With the guidance of his regent, Bairam Khan, Akbar has expanded and consolidated India’s Mughal domains. Using his strong personality and skill as a general, Akbar has enlarged his Empire to include nearly all of the Indian subcontinent north of the Godavari River; his presence is felt across the entire country due to the Mughals’ military, political, cultural, and economic dominance.
One of the most anticipated games this coming Spiel and dare I say, one of the most striking looking ones? It does help that another Dutch publisher is bringing this along and I will try to speak to the amazing Paul who’s the man behind Quined games. Put in the mix that this is a Michael Keller’s first solo designed game (La Granja, Solarius Mission) and you have hit a lot of lists. They did a smart job in putting in that amazing looking imperial board, so this will attract a lot of people upfront.
The sands of time sweep across the ages, burying the cities and monuments of civilizations, leaving only whispers of the glory of ancient societies.
The Sands of Time is a civilization-building game set loosely in classical antiquity, on a board inspired by a Roman-era map. Each player rules over a civilization in the ancient world, attempting exploits that will be remembered long after the civilization has withered. Each turn, players will select two action cards, which represent edicts delivered by the player to his populace, announcing what aspects of the empire he/she wishes to address: building structures, implementing advances, migrating population, initiating combat, annexing new territories, instituting reforms to manage the empire’s unrest, building trade routes, demanding tribute, and — crucially –- recording Chronicles about his/her reign.
Balancing power over peaceful interaction between players is one of the key elements in this civilization game. He or she how makes the best use of their gold and crops becomes the empire which will be remembered for eternity and all others will be forgotten over time.
Clans of Caledonia is a mid-to-heavy economic game set in 19th-century Scotland. At this time, Scotland made the transition from an agricultural to an industrialized country that heavily relied on trade and export. In the following years, food production increased significantly to feed the population growth. Linen was increasingly substituted by the cheaper cotton and raising sheep was given high importance. More and more distilleries were founded and whisky became the premium alcoholic beverage in Europe.
Maybe the most anticipated and unexpected hit for this coming Spiel. Juma made a clever greatest hits of all kind of game mechanisms. He builded it into a very good-looking game which, if we may believe the early reviews, will trump a lot of older games. It was a kickstarter and we will have to wait how many copies he can bring to Essen, but you bet you I am making a hurry to grab one. And maybe even more important to me personally, it’s about Whisky. And every game about Whisky is a solid 10 in our rating. Well maybe not, but it does get bonus points at the end of the game.
Shadows in Kyoto is a two-player abstract game based with the background of Hanamikoji in which players take control of the Oniwaban, a group of undercover spies, secretly protecting the Shogun, or an intelligence agency of the Meiji Government, funding with the advanced technology of the Western Industrial Revolution.
We love, love, love Hanamikoji and yes we jumped on the first chance we had to play Shadows in Kyoto. What I can say it is a modern version of Stratego with card play like Onitama. You also have various powers between the two spy factions through the awesome ladies of this game. The artwork is again phenomenal and it all packs into a small box. Always nice to save shelf space, but still packing a lot of game. A review will be soon available, so keep watching (or subscribe if you like it) the blog. If you want a copy? HURRY to the Taiwan Board game Design website
Saddle up and guide your wagon train along the perilous Oregon Trail! Build a team of hardy folk and gather resources and equipment with a unique dice drafting system. But dangers await in the dice you don’t choose! You can hire townsfolk, buy wagons, pan for gold, and take on cattle — all the while preparing for inevitable raids, storms and famine. Who will best face the perils of the wild frontier and lead their wagon train to victory?
Dice Drafting? Check. Cowboys & Cowgirls? Check? Awesome art? Check. Tasty Minstrel Games is bringing over the cartoony looking Pioneer Days. Bringing you the perils and the glory from back in the days. As was custom in those days, player interaction isn’t lacking and who is succeeding the most in satisfying the town’s wishes? Roll them bones and let’s see what the future has in store for you.
And so finally…
Wow, that was the list and even these don’t cover the whole list of games still being interesting, we want, expansions and so much more.
Did you like what you see? Would you want to see others on it? Do you have suggestions we should check out? We would love to hear your 2 cents below in the comments!