Back to part three of my Essen 2018 Highlight Previews. There is a long list of new titles and we’ve just scratching the surface, so let’s get down to it and take them all up.
I bet this genre is on a hype this year. Following the hit trend from Santa Maria La Granja Dice Game, The Castle of Burgundy dice game and many more, this year Essen will be filled with games that involving dice roll with pen and paper such as Railroad Ink Red and Blue, and the another one is Sunflower Valley. The game is targeted for children with bright colorful illustrations and simple game play. The game play is almost similar like other games of the same type, roll dice, choose a die and draw it on a sheet. Very simple idea, but apparently it’s not wholly simple for children to build good-score network of sheeps, houses and sunflowers. It requires a good deal of logic to connect these hexes in order to score good points. The game provides a ruleset for playing with younger players, which count adjacency placement instead connecting with railroads. I found the game to be cute, but not really think it would overstay its welcome.
BETWEEN TWO CASTLES OF MAD KING LUDWIG
This is a mix between a Stonemaier Game (Between Two Cities) and a Bezier Game (The Castles of Mad King Ludwig). Somehow both publishers can manage to combine these two and Stonemaier games get all the glory to publish it. Personally I found Between Two Cities lacking the gaming element and regardless all the decisions, is decision-less) but I do like Castles of Mad King Ludwig if not because the ugly in-game component artworks. The major differences about this one is that it incorporates Between Two Cities game system but in a 2D side scrolling style where you look at the rooms in side-view instead of top-view as in those two games. The golden rule is that when you place a room, you need to place it from bottom up (each room need a foundation just like in Dream Home). The scoring system works similar like The Castles of Mad King Ludwig, interesting. And to be honest, I love the illustrations of the rooms in this game. The illustrators of Dream Home also contribute in this game visual appearances, so that explains partially.
Dicium is a very interesting dice rolling game combination. Why combination? Because the game offers 4 different games by using the same core mechanic of dice rolling and allocation. Each game offers different game play such as racing, cooperative dungeon exploring, civilization conquest and confrontation skirmish game. All these games are using the same principle of 2-2-2, which are roll two times, take 2 actions and store up to 2 dice. The dice shows different colors and each color has corresponding value (from 1 to 5) and one side showing a spiral (wild number). These are related to what actions that player can take by grouping the dice based on sets (color or number). I think four games offer simple approach in the mechanic but the idea is neat, to offer 4 games in one game.
Atlandice is a dice rolling/ drafting game with it’s main board (dial) looks like the player’s lab in Aquasphere (the game plays differently). In this game, players will take a die from one of the location, get the corresponding resource and activate the effect. And then move the clock hand forward. The goal is resource collecting, where there are several resources available in the game, each is located in different district, though during the game, these resources may be moved around the board. When a district is out of resource, the scoring happened and player with most of the resource wins the district tile (and opens up new tile, if any). The tiles have different effect and they will affect resources on the board. I think it’s a very simple and straight forward game though the heart of the game lies on the effects of the tiles, which I am not sure how they work and affecting each other. The downside is the overly well done art cover, which is kinda misleading when you check the components.
It’s basically a card laying game. Each player has their own deck of cards which they shuffled and draw 3 cards from the top at the start of the game. On their turn they must play a card (place it on one of the eligible spaces on the city which is formed by blocks and rows (with 8 blocks and the number of players determine the number of streets). The placement rules are: The card must be placed on the first block of a street, or must be placed to the right of previously placed card. Player must not place a card which lead to a 3 in a row of a single color. Once placed, the played card is compared with the card on it’s immediate left. Which will affect the orientation of the previously placed card (the value of the card). In the end of the game, players count the value of their cards, player with the highest value wins the game. There is also an advance variant in the game, which using a different set of cards.
In this game, each turn players will draft continent tiles and place it on empty side of their planet core. Then starting from the third turn onwards, players will contest who will get the animal cards that are contested on the given round. To do this they need to pass the habitat requirement for that animal. Basically you must provide the habitat by placing continent tiles in specific pattern which allow you to get them. It’s a very simple game of area majority, light strategy game that is casual gamer friendly. Though the general idea is interesting, in addition of the eye candy planet cores, I don’t think the game is gamey enough and warrant nice replay value, let along it’s kinda fiddly to check your continent looks like, rotate that core every now and then; not to mention you need to constantly ask other players about their planet cores, since the main mechanic is area majority or control.
Another new game from Reinier Knizia. The goal of the game is to expand your tribes throughout the islands. The game has two distinct phases / stages, exploration and settlement. At the end of each phase, there will be scoring. In the exploration phase, players place a token into the board to make a wide network of their tribes. There are restrictions of course, players place settlers in a sea space in the boat side (they can place it anywhere) and to place a village or settler, they need to place it on adjacent space of their previously placed settlers. In the second phase (settlement phase) the villages that on stone tiles, will be removed from the board along with all the settlers, and then new resources will be refilled on that stone tiles. And then after the second phase, the same scoring will take place.
It feels odd, I don’t know why but the scoring mechanics looks boring and tedious. The settlement phase lets players expand their tribes from the villages that they have placed from the exploration phase which could give different stand point from the first entry points in the first phase.
Ruthless is an interesting pirate themed card game that combines a deck building with a poker (suit). In this game players will recruit pirates (card from the display) to their ranks and try to make a raiding party by making a set as can be found in poker (such as pair, straight, three / four / five of a kind, flush and full ship). The interesting part is that there are Command actions that players can take from their starting set of cards, which are Trade, Brawl/Bury, Plunder and Board. To make it more interesting, there are also special abilities provided by Pirate cards which immediately take effect once the pirate is recruited. I usually not really into a poker style kind of game but this one looks pretty interesting, and if you are looking for a more compact deck building game, this one is a good one.
Note: images are taken from http://www.boardgamegeek.com and full credit to their owner.