Essen 2018 Highlight Preview Part 1

Okay, Essen 2018 is right upon us and how excited is that? Now there are lots of games coming your way, and you need to trim down that list with some new games that worthy of your collection. But you don’t know what games fit the bill just because there are too many and you don’t do any research? Well worry not, I did some research and might as well share them to you guys. Hopefully these preview lists are useful for your Essen 2018 purchase. And as usual, I will break down the list in several posts to keep them easy to read. Happy reading!

pic4037705CRYPTIDS
Have you heard of the thing that lurks in the night? Nobody ever witness the thing face to face and the rumors just spread wide and wide. You are a cryptologist and this time you are looking for the truth behind the urban legend creatures and where it is nesting. Whether it’s a yeti, chupacabra or something else, you must find it first before someone else. That’s how it is! In this game, each player will have a certain piece or information (different for each player) that holds the location of that creature you all are looking for. Players will take turns to gain information by either question someone else or search. This two actions will revolve around your deduction in order to find the correct location of the creature. The game has modular maps, which determined the map in each game. Players then, work their ways to gain information based on their piece of information. On their turn, players can choose to questioning other player, to do this, they have to put a pawn on a map space and choose any other player “Could the creatures be here?” The questioned player must answer with an honest answer based on the information they have by placing a cube or a disc. A cube if the answer is a NO or a disc if it’s a YES. If it’s a cube the player who asked also need to place their cube in a space that is not the habitat according to their clue. Another action is to search, this is done by placing a pawn on a map space that could be the habitat of the creature based on the information the player has and place their disc there, following clockwise, players must also place whether a disc or a cube. If all players placed their discs, that searching player found the location of the creature and wins the game. If at least one player place a cube, the search fails. The game surely has interesting deduction element, very simple but lots of memory and deduction takes place. There are maps and things on the board, so players can keep track what players did. Some said this is similar with Tobago, I have not try Tobago yet, so wouldn’t know how it is. It’s kind of an abstract game with maps, cubes and discs but an interesting one at that. If you like a deduction game, this might be a game for you.
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pic4089634ARRAIAL
It’s basically Tetris: The Board Game. The premise is about Portugal tradition of outdoor festivals. People will flock the streets because the festivals they often have. In this game players will organize their own festivals and try to attract the most visitors. The game is played over 3 rounds. In each round they will take turns to take action(s). Each turn they have 3 action points which they can spend in 2 ways. 1 pt to rotate the octagon 90 degrees or 1 pt to place a color piece on your street (this is a mandatory action that you have to take on your turn). Rotating the Octagon lets you get the piece you need in a specific orientation. Placing pieces on your street will be like Tetris. You will take the corresponding piece from the supply and put it into the bottom part of your board (you cannot reorient it no longer). If the placement of the piece cross the level bar, return it and any visitor on it to the box, those will not be scored in the final score.
Visitors are gained by placing specific color pieces on the board. If you place a piece which creates a zone (adjacent) of at least 2 tiles of the same color, place the matching visitor on that zone. If you add another tile to that zone, you don’t get additional visitor. If you are the first player to make a zone of certain color, you will get the couple visitor in addition to the single one. But this couple visitor can be claimed by other players who make the larger zone of that color. When you completely fill a line on your board with pieces, same as tetris (but slightly different) you raise one line of your level bar and place an individual visitor (white) on it. At the end of phase 1 and 2, each player will drop their level bar by 2 lines. If the bar doesn’t overlap any piece, move the white visitor to any piece on your board. If it does, remove the level bar as usual. At the end of phase 3, the level bar doesn’t move downward. Players get 1 point from each individual visitor and 2 pts from couple visitor.
I thinks the game is really interesting, very simple, just like tetris, which is kinda nostalgic in some ways. I kinda guess that this game will be a relaxing game, like Cottage Garden or Tokaido and a perfect companion in a very casual night. In addition that the game is designed by one of my favorite game duos, this is a good one to have. One side note, the pieces are not double sided, cause they are not intended to be. The back side has white color which I think kinda drab and lame, should be with the same color on the front (without illustration) to make them easy to recognize even if it’s on the reverse side.
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pic3956079-2COIMBRA
The game uses dice placement and drafting mechanics. In each round players will draft a die and place it into one of the four locations. The placement follows a different rule in each location. The placement in the castle follows an ascending order of dice, while other locations are using descending order. After all players have place their dice, then each player will retrieve their dice from the locations and take the corresponding actions. This is done following the location order from top to bottom. At locations beside the Castle, players will acquire character cards. Taking cards require cost which define by the type of resource it has and the amount of that resource needed based on the value of the dice. This means taking cards first cost you more than taking it last. Cards can be used for several things in the game. After that the game continues to Influence Income, where players advance their influences based on what colors of dice they have and gain the income depicted. Then players can invest in a voyage which will give points at the end of game depends on how you perform.
The game is quite simple, the illustration or presentation of the game looks amazing and colorful. I can see a small hint of Bora Bora in the dice placement mechanic (though I think it’s less elegant). The Pilgrimage aspect of the game feels really like Voyages of Marco Polo, where players move around and place their markers on locations to get the bonuses.
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pic4023265CARSON CITY – THE CARD GAME
Following the same concept of city building in the board game, Carson City Card Game uses a  square terrain cards (with each card represents 2×2 parcels of land) which players will place in front of them to build a city. In order to get these cards they need to participate in a blind auction, strictly confined within a set of cards with value 1-9 (it is possible to increase the ante with cards value of 10-11). During the auction phase there will be some terrain cards and a character cards available to be auctioned and once players already decided what cards they want to use, they reveal the cards and check who has the highest value card, that player will choose first and followed by others in descending order. Then they place their newly acquired terrain card within the range of 8×8 parcels of land with some restrictions for placement. The game lasts for 2 eras, which after the first era, their used auction cards will be returned to their hand and be used again in the next era.
The scoring is done based on the placement of buildings on players land and also some characters that provide points. The game can be played from 2 to 6 players, though playing with less than 4 players requires the use of virtual players that will balance the auction mechanic.
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pic4010727-2JUNK ORBIT
At first, this game really feels like a children or not serious game with simple and take that and randomness and luck elements on it. But the truth is, it is. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be fun. I hold myself to read the rules and turned out to my satisfaction, the game is really interesting. Though there’s a crunching numbers and AP potential on it, it surely interesting to see managing chaos get a hold of you. In Junk Orbit, 2-5 players will be junk pilots that will make deliveries of junk cargos across the Earth, Moon, Mars and as well as Phobos and Deimos. Each planet have different locations / cities surrounding it (thus the title orbit) and players will travel these locations in a very interesting manner. In players turn, in order to move, they have to launch a junk from their ship. They decide the direction on the launch and it will travel a number of spaces based on the value listed on that junk tile. When a junk ends it movement, it will stop on the city, it can rest there (nothing happened) or can be delivered remotely (congratulation to you) or it can hit another player’s ships (yes if there’s more than one ship, all of them get hit). When a ship hit, that ship must discard a junk tile from their cargo or delivery area into the city they’re in.
The funny and interesting part is, after you launch a junk, your ship will move in the opposite direction of the launched junk tile in the same exact spaces shown in the junk value. If when your ship ends its movement to a city that exactly match with one of your cargo, you just made a direct delivery (hats off to you). You place that junk tile face down on your delivery area. And then you pick up junk tiles in that city.  Ships can move between planets from specific cities which act as transfer points between 2 planets. I found the game to be very interesting, there are interesting decisions inside and totally a number crunching game. I just hope that it’s not diminishing the fun part from the game.
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pic3443532-2PRINCESS JING
It’s an asymmetric two player game with one player will be the princess and another player as the guard. The princess of course want to get away from the guards while the guards want to capture her. It’s a hide and seek, cat and mouse game with a twist. Players will try to pin down by using mirrors and the position of their player pawns.  The thing that doubts me the most would be how good the mirror even works. I bet in this hidden movement game, your discreet is really an essential thing, getting to look at the mirror would make your opponent kinda actually know where is the location, not exactly but maybe they can narrow it down. And given the mirror is not an actual glass mirror, you will be faced with blurry reflection, which I think could be on purpose, you never know. I just hoped this game has good replay value, it’s a 2-player hide and seek game, so replay value is important. They do includes the advance variant with more components and variable to add more replay value to the game though.
Apparently the designer himself commented on this post about my mistake in translating the game as an asymmetrical game. The truth is that the game is actually a symmetrical game, where both players have their own princess trying to escape from opponent’s guards. This change several things to consider, the competition is balance, players will try to be the first to deliver their princesses to their Captains. Pointing out the location of an opponent princess may give the player, time to complete their own goal because if they correctly point the whereabout of the opponent’s princess, they have to return back to the starting line. It’s an interesting one though thematically I would say it’s less fit with the game play. First of all, the game title is Princess Jing, but actually there are two princesses and the other one is Jing’s sister named Fang (should it be Jing & Fang?). And secondly, the game pits the two characters in opposite sides, though based on the story given they’re not fighting or even competing, but getting to reach each captain (but it’s not in whatsoever affecting the game play). So The concept is interesting, unique and definitely has great presentation, which will draw public attention to the table.
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pic4259360-2UNDERWATER CITIES
In this game, players will build underwater cities. Th game is played over 3 eras. Which in each era, players will play 3 cards or more. The game uses hand management and action selection. In their turns players play a card onto one of the available action slots on the board. If the card and slot have matching color, the card effect is resolved, if not only the slot effect is resolved. This is the core mechanic of the game, which players will manage their hands with cards which determine two things, the actions on the card and the actions on the action spaces that matching the color of the cards. It still feels like a worker placement game, but it uses card instead of a worker meeple. The main objective is to get the most points by building cities with buildings attached to it and the networks. Networks are important, because you need to connect the cities or metropolis in order for them to score / produce.
This is Vladimir Suchy’s new game and it uses different game mechanic from his previous games (Last Will, Pulsar 2849 and Shipyard and many more). I think he always use different mechanics in his games.
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pic4143114GUGONG
Gugong is a game with China as the background during the Ming Dynasty. Where players will take the roles of leader of powerful Chinese families, try to gain influence and power by exchanging gifts (bribes) with Emperor’s officials. The game uses an interesting card play mechanic where they place cards to get cards for future rounds. The twist is that player must place cards of higher value than the one they take. The game is played over 4 rounds and each round consists of 3 phases (Morning, Day and Night phase). During the Day phase, players will perform various actions by exchanging gift cards from their hands with the ones in the game board. As already mentioned that player can get a card from the board by placing a higher value card from their hand, this not always the case, and players can do something to get the card even if it’s higher or equal with the card from their hand (remove servants or discard another card or exchange without performing the action). The actions that player can take from exchanging cards are varies, from traveling to cities (to get travel tokens, which could be useful for several things during the game). Participate in the renovation of great wall, which would lead to a great wall scoring if a segment is completed. Getting a jade token from Jade Official houses, which worth as points at the end of the game. You can also climb up the intrigue track. You can also advance your envoys in the palace track to gain points. Obtain a decree which gives various benefits. You can also send your servant on a journey on the grand canal, to trade with outside people. In the Night phase, players can score points with their gift cards if one or more cards are matching the destiny dice. And then all ships moved. I think the game is very simple, basically the core concept is exchanging cards and taking the actions which mostly cost servants to take.
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Note: images are taken from http://www.boardgamegeek.com and full credit to their owner.

3 thoughts on “Essen 2018 Highlight Preview Part 1

  1. I’m Roberto Fraga, the game designer of Princess Jing. You’re not right at all and you don’t have read the rules.
    It’s not an asymetric game.
    Each player has a Princess which wants to cross the palace to reach is love (a guard) avoiding the adversary mirror.
    So please, if you do something DO IT WELL !!
    Roberto

    Like

    1. Hi Roberto, sorry about the misunderstanding of the rules. I had not read the rules, only saw some reviews / previews from others in YouTube or BGG. It was my sincere mistake to assume that it was asymmetrical being with the guards searching the princess who is running away. I will revised my preview with better understanding given the correct rules.
      Thank you for reading and take time to discuss your game.
      Kris.

      Like

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