Essen 2017 Highlights Preview – Part 1

I’m trying my best to cover as many games I can in the wake of Essen Spiel 2017 so you can get better preview on what games interest you more and what you should be getting.
I’m starting with part one, which covers some of the games. Be sure to check out more parts along the way after this one.

ClaimCLAIM
Okay this one is a small game, it’s a 2-players game to be exact. Claim is designed by Scott Almes (Best Treehouse Ever, Coaster Park, The Great Dinosaur Rush, etc) and consists of two different halves like For Sale or Biblios. It’s a trick taking game where players decide to play a card to win another card in display. Players with the highest suit win the round and each suit has slight abilities that matters on timing. Like any other trick taking game, the other player must follow suit if they have or use a specific card that can break the suit. After collecting the cards, they will use those cards to gain favor of the suits / factions. In the end the scoring uses majority in each faction. It plays quick and simple, and the artworks are also look very good, done by The Mico (Raiders of the North Sea, GOT Hand of The King, etc).

pic3584297_mdMICHAEL STROGOFF
I am really excited about this one. It is based on novel adaptation from Jules Verne with the same title. In the game, players have to deliver the message of an imminent Tartar invasion over Moscow. It’s simply a racing game, player who managed to get into the destination and defeat the traitor Ivan Ogareff before He successfully invades Russia with Tartar’s army, wins the game. The game plays in rounds where each round players will take turns to do one of the possible action (advance, rest and resolve dangers) followed by the movement of the traitor. Players need to advance in order to get into the destination, but advance will force them to encounter many events in the route which usually have bad things on them. The route cards work in similar with trial cards in The Grizzled where the same danger icons cannot be present. If there are more than one icon present during this time, they have to bear the penalties where all route cards player has in their display, forcing the players to discard action cards or lose energies and flip route cards face down. Here comes the rest action where players can draw cards, recover energy or flip a face down card. The other action is resolve dangers where players need to deal with the dangers on their route cards shown in their tableau.
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MontanaMONTANA
The game is about building settlements in Montana (obvious to the max) from Rudiger Dorn (Istanbul, Karuba, Jambo, etc). So as expected it’s a Euro game, medium weight to be precise. This is another racing game, where player who manage to build all of their settlements, wins the game. In this game, players will take turns to get workers, assign those workers to get resources. Where these resources will be used to build settlement. It has modular board setup with networking in the tile laying mechanic, resource management and worker placement and a small bit of auction in the worker placement segment. What unique about this game is that there are multiple types of workers and they do different things, and the main way players to get workers is through the spinner. Yes it’s like a luck-based rondel system where players spin the arrows in the wheel and see what workers they got. The component quality is good, each player gets their own player board to manage their workers and resources (not necessary but a plus) and the visual presentation is off the chart, it is beautiful and rich of colors. It plays relatively quick and the rules are clear and simple. But the main concern is that I think it has low replay value, where players are obviously do the same thing over and over again without any significant difference in each game. The modular board during setup doesn’t help cause it just gives variation but doesn’t change the game play even a bit.
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ora01_box_leftLEGACY OF DRAGONHOLT
FFG latest game, they claimed it RPG without the need of a game master. Their new Oracle system provides the game that works without a game master, with its intuitive game play capturing immersive storytelling of a role playing game while adding the legacy mechanic inside the game. In short, they want to look cool with this new called system as it is practically a legacy game. It has character creations in it, some scenarios and mostly books full of paragraphs.
Corey Konieczka is the man behind the game, who also designed some notable games from FFG (Rune Age, Battlestar Galactica, Runewars, etc). I must say that I am interested on this one, surprisingly it still doesn’t have a listing on BGG. FFG announced it will be available in late 2017. I am not sure this will be on Essen 2017, but it’s new and was on Gen Con, so I just thought that this would be interesting to wait and look for.
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Ex LibrisEX LIBRIS
Adam P. McIver (Coin Age, Kingdom Land) new game, called Ex Libris. In this game players will become book collectors and in the event of Grand Librarian held by the city, you must show that you are the greatest one in the city. So in this game players will manage their book shelves with a series of books and score points from them. The game has worker placement mechanic where players sent the workers into places in the city in order get books that you want. In the end players will score based on the alphabetic order of their book shelves, variety and banned books.
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The game surely gets more interesting with variable player power instead of the basic mode. What more unique is that these variable player powers grant players with specific shaped worker meeples. By golly they have a gelatinous cube as a meeple (yes, it’s true). The gelatinous cube assistant meeple is in fact literally a gelatinous cube. It also has a snowman, but who can top a gelatinous cube meeple? I find the game to be quite interesting, finding and sorting stuff. But there are some detriments in the game, like aside the game has a very good range distribution of books category, nice clear category icons, beautiful artworks and flavors in it, sadly it has a bad in-game texts that hard to read. A classic mistake to place a white small texts in front of a colorful illustrations. Players will constantly check these texts to know what exactly the actions and how it works since the game play requires the routine rotation of the action tiles. And about the variable player powers, they seemed not balanced and also there are quite a bit of luck on the draw of the cards.
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pic3712277_mdCOASTER PARK
Another game from Scott Almes (Best Treehouse Ever, Claim, The Great Dinosaur Rush, etc). In this game, players build roller coaster park, the best on wins the game. The main attraction of this game is the 3D card board pieces of roller coaster. Yes, you actually build roller coaster rides from tiles. It uses the similar mechanic in The Castles of Mad King Ludwig, where the active player choose a tile and offer the tiles to other players with certain amount of value. If there’s a player interested on that tile, they pay that amount of money to the active player. If no one interested, the active player get the tile. Some tiles have different effect in scoring and at the end of the game, before scoring, players will get maximum three attempts to see if their ride is totally works or not. Yes, you will check if your coaster works or not by testing it. Each player has a marble which used as a roller coaster cart and they will let the marble slide from the top. This is a very unique take from the game, and while there’s a loop part of the coaster, it can really work to make the marble circle 360 degrees. Very interesting game indeed and of course the presentation off the chart. No one will not see this on the table.
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Disclaimer: all of the images shown are taken from boardgamegeek.com and the credits go the owners, I do not have the rights for all the images.

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