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International Spieltage 2015 AKA “Essen”

The logo could use some graphic designer assistance.

Tomorrow marks the start of the International Spieltage in Essen, Germany. It is the grandest of board game exhibitions in the world*. While I won’t be attending I thought I would share some things to pay attention to or look forward to regarding the convention. To learn more check out the official website:

*Some may argue that Gen Con is the grandest and I would not fault them for that.

For the remainder of this article I will refer to the convention as “Spiel.” There are hundreds of games that are released at Spiel and the awesome, talented, and overworked W. Eric Martin of BGG (Board Game Geek) News has been compiling a list of those games ever since Gen Con concluded. You can find that list here:

I want to point out a few titles that look intriguing to me, but I’ll get to that in a moment. One of the highlights of Spiel, as a non-attender, is watching the BGG live feed. Game designers and publishers sit down with someone from BGG and explain or teach or describe their games. This is always such a great thing because it allows us to learn about the game in great detail. I’ll update this article tomorrow with a link to the live feed, otherwise you should be able to find it on the BGG website.

UPDATE: Here is the LINK to the live feed.

Use this link to see the schedule of games they will be covering.

Games of Interest

If I were attending Spiel I would be interested in these games. For the sake of my bank account it is a good thing I’m not attending, as this is a pretty long list. This list is in my order of interest with the most interesting being the first two and then decreasing interest as the list goes on.

Rome: City of Marble

Rome: City of Marble is a must-buy for me. I am personal friends with the designer, Brett Myers, and I had the privilege of playing this prototype. I couldn’t be happier for this game to come to market via R&R Games. It is a solid mid-weight Euro style game that is easy to teach and play. I can’t wait to get a final copy on the table!

The hook with this game is how players use tiles to create different type of buildings. I’ve never seen such an awesome use of Rhombuses in a game before!

Gold West

Gold West is also a must-buy for me (which I will likely do since it has been released here in the US). I am also friends with the designer, J. Alex Kevern, and had the privilege of playing this prototype. It is also a Euro-style game. This game, by Tasty Minstrel Games, utilizes a fresh twist on the Mancala mechanic where you drop resources in bins and get to use all the leftover resources for your actions.

There is a great amount of strategic planning to be done with the options available to you. Planning your moves with your resource bins is a lot of fun!

Dice City: (BGG link) This game looks intriguing as it allows players to upgrade their dice throughout the game and increase their options. Check out the great Designer Diary.

Karuba: (BGG link) I love when a game offers the same information to players and allows them to use it differently. Karuba does just that. Plus, this game looks light enough to be able to get it to the table quite a bit.

Taverna: (BGG link) The artwork on this game looks amazing. The colors really pop and it is vibrant. I am a sucker for good artwork. That said, there are a few cards with some scary or revealing images. Overall, though, this looks like it could be a fun worker placement game.

Grand Austria Hotel: (BGG link) I love Euro style games and this one seems to fit that mold, especially since it has artwork by Klemenz Franz. There isn’t yet that much information available for the game but I’m intrigued none-the-less.

Burano: (BGG link) This looks like another good Euro-style game. It has some cool color mechanics and the board art is visually stunning.

Istanbul: Mocha & Baksheesh Expansion: (BGG link) I love the base game of Istanbul. This expansion looks like it will add quite a bit to the gameplay while perhaps relaxing some of the interaction on the board.

The Prodigals Club: (BGG link) I love Last Will. It’s probably in my Top 10 games. This game, while a stand-alone game, is designed within the Last Will theme and can be integrated with Last Will. I’m looking forward to trying this one.

Nippon: (BGG link) By What’s Your Game, this looks like an excellent and deep Euro-style game.

Signorie: (BGG link) Also by What’s Your Game, this looks like yet another excellent and deep Euro-style game.

Side note: If you enjoy Euro-style games you should probably pay attention to the games that What’s Your Game is coming out with. I previously owned Zhanguo and I am wishing I hadn’t traded it away.

Trickerion: Legends of Illusion: (BGG link) I wish I had backed the Kickstarter for this. I love the magic theme and the way it’s integrated into the game. It sounds like it takes a while to play, but I think it’s probably a lot of fun.

Camel Up: Supercup Expansion: (BGG link) I love Camel Up. It is easy to teach, quick to play, and so chaotic that it leads to crazy moments of fun. This expansion looks like it adds quite a bit to the awesomeness in the game by offering more betting opportunities and more chances for camels to mix it up.

Hengist: (BGG link) I love games by Uwe Rosenberg and I own both the Agricola and Le Havre two player games, so I’m looking forward to this one as well. Plus, there’s a dragonship!

Liguria: (BGG link) I like the game Fresco and this is a prequel to Fresco so I’m hoping for good things from it. Russian

Favor of the Pharoah: (BGG link) Despite the uninspiring artwork of Bezier Games, the games themselves are a lot of fun. I expect the same from this Tom Lehmann game from Bezier.

Russian Railroads: German Railroads Expansion: (BGG link) Russian Railroads is a fantastic game. It’s kind of long so it doesn’t hit the table very often. But it’s so good, so I’m definitely interested in this expansion.

Quartz: (BGG link) I really like the artwork and theme of this one so I’m interested in seeing more about it.

Ticket to Ride Expansion #5: United Kingdom & Pennsylvania: (BGG link) Whether you are a completionist, a train fanatic, or just like the Ticket to Ride series of games, you’ll probably wanna pick this one up.

That’s list “short” list of interesting games that are available at Spiel 2015. What games are you most looking forward to?


My Essen Top Seven

Greetings gamers! As you are most likely aware, the world’s biggest board game festival is currently running in Essen, Germany. There are hundreds of newly released games that make their debut each year at Essen. While I have never attended Essen myself, this is the first year that I will be able to get a game directly from Essen. How? My close friend Jeremy will be attending on Saturday (and maybe Sunday). So I am going to have him pick up a game for me. The problem is I still cannot decide which game to get.

So here are my top 7 games debuting at Essen this year in no particular order:

Glass Road:

BGG Link:

# of Players: 1-4

Playtime: 75 minutes

Mechanics: Hand Management, Simultaneous Action Selection, Tile Placement

What looks cool: First, it’s by Uwe Rosenberg. Those games always seem good. Also, I love the look of the artwork. Finally, I think the tension of playing the same employee/worker card as someone else will make the game fun to play.

Coal Baron:

BGG Link:

# of Players: 2-4

Playtime: 70 minutes

Mechanics: Action Point Allowance System, Pick-up and Deliver, Set Collection, Tile Placement, Worker Placement

What looks cool: The artwork looks amazing and I’m a sucker for good art. The other thing that gets me is the combination of mechanics. The five mechanics listed could possibly be my five favorite mechanics.

Expedition: Northwest Passage:

BGG Link:

# of Players: 2-4

Playtime: 45 minutes

Mechanics: Action Point Allowance System, Tile Placement

What looks cool: Again, the artwork is drawing me in. I think this is a very clever game design in how the isomorphism of the tiles works. Also, it seems like a nice take on the tile placement mechanic where you need to work within the land/ice system that the tile combinations present.


BGG Link:

# of Players: 2-4

Playtime: 90 minutes

Mechanics: Not listed, but there is a rondel and ship building, which is usually enough for me (Shipyard, Navegador)

What looks cool: I think that the way ships are built and the way the rondel works seems nice and fresh. The artwork looks good. And this seems like a cool take on shipbuilding.

Russian Railroads:

BGG Link:

# of Players: 2-4

Playtime: 120 minutes

Mechanics: Worker Placement

What looks cool: A railroad game with great artwork? A railroad game with worker placement? Either of those would lure me in. Together they make this game one of my Essen Top 7. I know that another Madisonite will be having a copy of this so I may not choose this one, but it sure looks awesome!


BGG Link:

# of Players: 2-4

Playtime: 30 minutes

Mechanics: Area Control / Area Influence, Dice Rolling, Grid Movement, Modular Board, Variable Player Powers

What looks cool: Everything about this looks cool. The designer diary was awesome to read. The artwork looks exceptional! I love that there are variable player powers. I love that the core of the game seems to be a simple system on which the designer added a few layers of awesomeness. And I love the idea of balance between the ship characteristics. Plus, 30 minutes is a great play time for my game group.


BGG Link:

# of Players: 2-4

Playtime: 120 minutes

Mechanics: Area Movement, Dice Rolling, Worker Placement

What looks cool: As with all the other entries I love the artwork for this game. I don’t really know much about this particular game, but with that combination of mechanics I know that this game is interesting to me. The playtime is a little long, but it still looks cool.

Honorable Mention:

So this list is a little long, but there are just so many games debuting at Essen that I would love to own!

  • Cornish Smuggler – Which Jeremy pre-ordered
  • Caverna – But I don’t think I would get such a game to the table often enough.
  • Piwne Imperium – Not available for purchasing, but it looks totally awesome!
  • Canalis – A very nice looking tile placement game.
  • L’Aeropostale
  • Les Bâtisseurs – Moyen-Âge – Not available in English, but this game looks really sweet.
  • Dig Mars – I’m a big fan of Undermining and this looks similar.
  • Craftsmen
  • Francis Drake – This game is awesome. We got to demo it at GenCon and it was a ton of fun!
  • Bremerhaven
  • Lewis & Clark – I love the theme and I hope that the designers did the great journey correctly.
  • SOS Titanic – The way they sink the boat with the binder seems interesting.
  • Amerigo – Another Feld game? Of course I had to list it.
  • Canterbury – I was very close to backing this on KS, but didn’t. I wish I had!
  • New Haven – This game looks pretty good as well!


What games are you looking forward to? Isn’t Essen Spiel awesome?!?

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