OPINION: Essen 2018 Preview — My personal picks…

Last year I took a look at some of the games making an appearance at Essen using Eric Martin’s excellent SPIEL ’17 tool, you can find my post about that here: Essen 2017 Preview — I’m pleased to see that despite all common-sense and every well-meaning gaming fan in the world telling him it’s a lot of damn work, he’s still gone ahead and done it all again this year… Oh well… 😉

At time of writing, it’s still not complete, with 40-50 titles still to be added, apparently, but here’s a link to the BoardGameGeek preview tool as it currently stands: BGG SPIEL ’18 PREVIEW

Last year I had less than 50 titles on my ‘quite interested’ list, and this year it’s even smaller: only 25 titles have raised my eyebrows this year (out of a whopping 990 games!), and just under half of them have given me cause to investigate a little further…

Of those 12 titles, I have already backed two of them on Kickstarter (with at least one more title practically a dead cert), the others I will be looking to investigate further before parting with any hard-earned cash…

Surprisingly, there are a couple of titles I am really looking forward to that haven’t been mentioned or featured in the Essen preview, and I’m guessing that’s because either they are not going to be at the show, or they’re among the 50 or so titles still to be added to the list… I may update this post closer to the time if I do see them before Essen, but otherwise these are the titles that have caught my eye and are on show at this year’s Essen…

Architects of the West Kingdom and Nanty Narking are the two titles I have already backed on Kickstarter, the former having an instant appeal with me and the latter because I recall playing the original Discworld (which Nanty is based upon, I believe) when Martin Wallace was hawking it around and trying to test it with chaps from my local Beyond Monopoly gaming group… Yes, it was that long ago!

 

Barrage is the other game I am genuinely interested in getting a copy of (the dead cert mentioned above), and I’ll probably be first in line to back it when it goes up on Kickstarter some time in October… I’m not a fan of the graphic style being employed for the box cover, but everything else about this game is screaming ‘must have’ at me!

Barrage

Barrage2

From Berlin Brettspiel 18 – prototype image

As for the rest, well here goes… those with hyperlinks to the relevant BGG page are the ones I’m most interested in from the SPIEL ’18 preview tool…

Bastille intrigues me, although I’m not entirely sure what’s attracting me to it… I suspect it’s purely the hope that it’ll try and do something different to the norm with the bidding system as compared to so many _temp_wp2other games of its ilk.

The Dale of Merchants Collection also looks very interesting, if only for the gorgeous tongue-in-cheek artwork and the attempt to do something else within the somewhat well-worn grooves of deckbuilding games. I’m wondering whether not having the first two (original games) will count against me, but I gather the Collection has eight standalone animalfolk decks and a number of gameplay enhancements, so this is definitely on the ‘wait-and-see’ list at the moment…

As bizarre as this may sound, East Indiaman from David Wang Studio makes me think of a simplified and smoother Clans of Caledonia, and for this reason alone I am intrigued to see what the final product will look and play like… Clans having recently fallen out of favour with my group due to the lengthy set-up time and the tough struggle for money.

 

I’ve already heard lots of nice things about Everdell, and thus am itching to play this and discover it for myself in due course, when and if the opportunity arises.

_temp_wp4It’s all too tempting to compare Majolica with Azul but I suspect it’s an altogether easier and quicker game to play, and in that sense could become an occasional Century: Golem Edition replacement for those times when something ‘quick and dirty’ is needed to fill a short gap…

Having recently taken the plunge and invested in a copy of Star Trek: Ascendancy,_temp_wp5 I’m quite keen to see if Master of the Galaxy can offer something slightly different — certainly at the moment a lot of the cards remind me a little too much of those in Master of Orion: The Board Game, and I’m still having to weigh that factor up as part of the decision-making progress in my quest to find or recreate a near-authentic ‘Master of Orion’ experience… Maybe designing my own MOO boardgame is the next craziest thing I should turn my attention to?

_temp_wp6

In a similar vein to Barrage mentioned above, Pandoria is another game that is likely to be one of those increasingly rare ‘must haves’ on my list… What’s that phrase about buses arriving three-at-a-time…?  There are many things about this that I like, especially the clever and smart tile placement and map-building mechanic, as well as the multipurpose cards that can be used for one-off powerful Spells or as ongoing Buildings that contribute to your point-earning ‘engine’ as the game progresses… Here’s the link to an excellent instructional video by one of the designers: Pandoria Demo Video — I am genuinely looking forward to seeing this one break through as a real ‘winner’ for 2019!

_temp_wp7Tudor is the oddity of this selection, in that I’m probably more worried about how the ring-wearing aspect may work than I am in how the rest of the game works (not to mention how long those flimsy paper hands and rings will last). I’m not by nature a gamer who falls for a cheap gimmick, but I’m not going to pretend that I’m not at least intrigued to see what happens with this one… If nothing else, I’d certainly love to try it for myself and see if the rest of the game has enough ‘guts’ in there to warrant the extended game time.

_temp_wp8

And finally, Wildlands is a game I’ve come across almost in passing – a snippet here, a tidbit there, etc.  Regardless, it’s another Martin Wallace game, and I’m always in two minds about much of his stuff… he’s the closest thing to Marmite in my gaming picks: some of his games really grate and do not appeal at all, while others positively ooze atmosphere and promise (albeit often not matched by the mechanics and gameplay). This is definitely another one for that rather messed up ‘wait-and-see’ list, methinks…

Once again, if you’re fortunate enough to see or play any of these games over the Essen weekend, please do let me know what you think, either through a comment here or direct via Twitter: @mangozoid.

 

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