Essen 2017 Highlight Preview Part 5

Next, our journey post-Essen continued with this 5th part of this highlight preview. I’ve tried Dogs in the past day, not sure it’s a valid Essen game, but it’s a Kickstarter game and just recently fulfilled by the publisher. It’s a simple game, yet we played it totally incorrect, shamefully in my defense that’s not entirely my fault. Okay let’s not ponder on it, move on to these games instead.

DeadlineDEADLINE
Deadline is a cooperative game with a setting where players are 80’s detectives who try to solve crime cases. The game comes with 12 cases to work with, with different range of difficulty, from easy, normal and hard. It also has several characters with different abilities. The game works similar like The Grizzled in term placing cards to complete objective or play cards to table that usually not good for the group. The game play works very simple, players try to complete the available clue cards by placing required symbols. Each completed clue card gives a certain amount of information about the case and what are the next clue cards available. The round ends when all players have passed or when they managed to complete all the symbols on the chosen clue. The game ends when players managed to clear all the clues or when they failed the third time to complete clue cards. This will lead to the question phase where they need to answer questions related to the case. Their answers will then cross-checked with the solution book to determine how well the players worked the case. I find the game to be a mini puzzle game that rewards players with information that relate to the case, it’s not directly related and thematically tied with the case. Thus some people do find it quite abstract.  Though the stories / cases are written well and provide interesting narrative in overall game experience. The game however has a very low replay value since when you’ve played and know the answers, there’s nothing can draw you back to replay the case aside from the mini puzzle experience or trying to improve your performance.
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pic3710491_lgPANIC MANSION
Now this is a game with a very unique approach from the dexterity genre. In Panic Mansion, players will try to escape from the mansion (or to be in one specific spot rather than out). In order to do this, they have to try to create the situation required in the objective. Each player will get a mansion board that consists of several rooms with partitions and all the meeples needed in each objective.
The fun part is that players need to direct their marker (and/or other markers needed) to complete the objective. To do this they will shake, slide or tilt their mansion board in order the markers to move from room to room until the objective is met. It’s surely a fun, new and bizarre experience in board game design and this can be a hit or miss game for sure. At first the objective level would be very simple and easy to do, but as the game progresses, the difficulty will increase and they will have to juggle more meeples in the same time. It’s a fun family game where you can laugh and move the parts of your body around, it’s like you shake a tray in search of gold (you know what I mean?). I for one, would love to try this game, though not sure if this will find a good place in my collection or not. Quality-wise, it has good and attractive components.
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pic3693999-2LONDON (2nd Edition)
Though this is the second edition of a classic game with the same title, it’s published under different publisher and got a complete overhaul in the visual aspect of the game. Osprey games did a very fantastic job on this one, it’s surely a work of art. I fall in love immediately with the box cover, which gives a deluxe / collector edition feel into the game. I for one, had been waiting this (kind of) game for quite a while. Never played it, but always eager to try and own Martin Wallace’s games. I know that not all of His games are proven great but some of them are legendary games such as Brass, A Study in Emerald (first edition) and Discworld: Ankh-Morpork. So head good reviews about it and luckily haven’t own the first edition, I jumped the wagon to own this one. I must admit that it is without disappointment. I guess no such thing is perfect. It has issues on the card quality, from the linen finish and the color consistency. I found the game to be brilliant, it plays fast, has very simple rules and very quick setup. You can setup and explain the game within 10 minutes. I personally like the game, the first time I tried the game, there was this feeling of a classic Euro game. Like it’s been quite a while playing games of this genre. I found it to be satisfying, it has a very simple ruleset but offers a rich possibilities on how you play the game. I must admit, there’s a small variability in the game due to the nature of the card variations within the game. It would be great if there are more card sets come with the game but there’s a randomizer to what sets used in the game. I think it would changed the game a lot. The game is more like a card game rather than a board game. In player’s turn they will draw a card and then take an action (either play a card, buy a borough, run your city or draw 3 more cards). Also there’s a twist on how players collecting poverty cubes involuntarily, which in the same time they need to remove it for it would gives penalty in the final scoring. Also the way of card drawing is affecting the length of the game into some extent. For me this is easily a keeper mostly because of the art and Wallace’s game, the good gameplay is a plus though.
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pic3624298_mdINBETWEEN
This game is a 2-players asymmetrical game with a horror sci-fi setting which can be relate with Stranger Things TV series. It’s a small box game that can be played in 30 minutes. In the game, players will take the role of human and the creature from different dimension. The goal is to achieve one of the winning conditions, whether to raise awareness to level 6 or influence a number of characters within the game or when there is only 5 characters left in the game. It’s a very unique tug of war, where players will try to pull the characters to a side of their own. Each player will have their own deck of cards with different effects and uses. In each turn, they can choose to take one out of the 2 available actions, play a card or recharge energy. Character cards also have abilities that can be triggered and have two sides showing the two different dimensions to determine which they’re currently in. The characters can be in 2 different dimensions, shown by 2 sides of the card (human or creature dimension). When players try to influence the character, they use cards from their hands (the symbols shown on the cards) to shift the safety marker on that specific character. This process feels like a tug of war where players pulling the character back and forth to their sides. It’s a tedious process for sure and it needs high amount of patience. Though somewhat the game can move back and forth without significant progress there are some aspects that players can consider and these will affect player decisions throughout the game. They need to cleverly analyze the characters’ abilities and how they are spread out in the game. Cleverly set priority which character need to be secured first will surely gives high advantage in future turns. Observe your opponents also important to react wisely before or after their moves. The game may have slow pace, I feel this as a creeping death and slowly grow paranoia and tension, thematically fit with the theme. It’s not a game for everyone though, since the gameplay requires certain understanding, slow paced and has different feel and tone compared with other games. For me, this game fits the bill for Stranger Things card game (if not a board game) and does justice to it.
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pic3717323BATTLEFOLD
This game reimplements a game called Fold It! and adds fantasy theme to give more attractive appeal. The game uses the combination of dexterity and speed element as it core mechanic. In this game players play as characters with different class and try to win the game by achieving one of two conditions, be the last living character or be the first to resurrect their ghost character. Each player will get a piece of cloth with a 4×4 grid icons, a player board and a marker. Each round players will try to fold their cloth to follow the pattern shown on the card. This is a speed game, the first player to match the pattern may take a turn order marker in the action phase. Basically the symbols on the pattern will determine the actions for the players in the current round. The actions are move, attack, potion, shield, item and trap.
When a player health is drop to zero, he died and becomes a ghost (flip the player board). However, he’s not out of the game, he can still move around (though cannot use any other action beside move and attack). Attack also have different effects. Attack action does not give damage to the attacked players, but instead give spirit points to players for resurrect purpose. Once resurrected, the player wins the game (unless another player has won before that). The game is simple but has additional depth to the folding action in the previous game Fold It! It also has interesting plays with the characters have different abilities. It is full of pattern recognition, puzzle and speed hand coordination (maybe).
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Another 5 titles are done. Now onto the next fives.

 

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