Essen 2018 Highlight Preview Part 5

Wow, already 5 parts long and we’re not barely scratch half of the list. Well, considerably it is a long list (as expected from Essen Spiel). So let’s see what I have here, maybe some games that also in your list? Let me know in the comment.

Following Uwe Rosenberg signature of agriculture games, Reykholt brings new or fresh theme out of it, an icelanding gardening business. Tomatoes seemed particularly essential there. Judging by the rules, I guess it falls into the lighter and less complicated side of Rosenberg’s designs. In Reykholt, players will compete to make the best green houses. Unlike other Rosenberg’s agriculture / farming games, this one doesn’t have player boards and also building tiles (instead it uses cards as tiles placed in front of players). The game board comprises several action spaces that players can assign their workers. They will mostly seed vegetables, harvest them and attract tourist with their beautiful gardens. I am not really familiar with the Tourism track, which I think the game lacks of components to mark the player’s achievement if they completed the track and go back to the beginning space of the track with a reminder that the cost still accumulates (in addition this is how to track the winner of the game, farthest on the track; so it’s all about Tourism!).


The components seemed minimalist here, but against all of Rosenberg’s agriculture games, this one is by far has the most beautiful illustrations. And moving out of the usual tradition, the game will be published by Renegade Game Studios instead of Z-Man, Mayfair or Lookout Games. But the real question is, does this game offer new game to the agriculture lines? Or does it replace one of his older games? I am also curious about it. I heard this one is very similar with At The Gate of Loyang, Uwe’s older game.


This is the first game expansion that made into this list. I am so excited over this. Love the base game and this expansion is a must-have for me. This expansion brings new elements that considerately improve or change the game play of the base game. The first one is a new sixth characters (character with orange color named Vector). This way, you can play with 6 players. pic4339874But not just that, this sixth character allows the game to be played in team play, whether you play it 1 vs 1 or 2 vs 2 or 3 vs 3, you will use all of the characters in the game. Yap, team play as the name suggests. So there will be black and white team in team play and it will be using a new way of dealing damage, with buffers. The instance you deal damage to your opponents, they’re not instantly receive wounds, but instead all the wounds are collected with their own wound tokens in their team’s buffer board, which when it’s full the wound will then be distributed. I am not sure why they designed it this way, but I am certain they have a good reason for it.

And there are still more new things, such as the Adrenaline Rush mode, which players can adjust their hit tracker (shifting it to the left) which reduce their hit points (easier to be killed) but it also gives them certain benefits. You know they surely want to emphasize the point of Adrenaline rush into the game (like it’s not enough in the base game). Last thing, there’s also dedicated weapons for each character which I think it’s awesome. They bring the asymmetric element while the base only offers variable player weapons.


This one is the successor from Tzolkin: The Mayan Calendar. From the same designer but snot from the same publisher. Teotihuacan (wow, that’s hard to pronounce) is still wearing the same theme as Tzolkin, which is Mayan ancient civilization. In this game, players will utilize their workers/dice to take available actions around the board, so it seems like a giant rondel thingy, remember Great Western Trail? Though in this one, the rondel isn’t improving as the game progresses. But the game variation is surely high, since you can have different actions to choose for during setup, so you will have different set of actions in each game. Aside from the rondel, the way players use their dice is kinda unique, they move their dice and the action is determined by the total number of pip from all the dice in that location, which I think gives another level of consideration while choosing what action to take. On top of that, there’s this wooden block pyramid in the center of the board (it’s like the eye candy of the it all). This is not just a gimmick, but I am not sure if design-wise it’s essential to be made as it is. The pyramid is shaped by numbers of square blocks with some icons on the top side. I would guess those are resources. I am not really into the illustration, hopefully it’s a functional design decision. I am on the fence about this one, since I am not really into Tzolkin, but let’s see how it goes.


Phil-Walker Harding strikes again. After his successful game of tile placement, Barenpark, he released another tile placement game, called Gingerbread House. It still using tile placement mechanic but the form / shape is consistent with this one, domino tiles (2×1 tiles). Player will compete to build their own gingerbread house by placing the domino tiles on their boards (3×3 grid). Squares that they cover will generate resources (sweets) or actions. These sweets are used as bait to capture fairy tale characters. If you are following the story, the witch is using her Gingerbread house as traps to nail rude fairy tale characters who pass by and eat a piece of her house. I found the theme to be cute. As I know this one is more random than Barenpark, since players will get random domino tiles to form their house. But I love the illustrations, they’re cute and funny.


pic4328782THE BOLDEST
This is a new game from designer Sophia Wagner (the designer of Noria), which has fascinating illustrations from Max Prentis. The game is about a savage world called Iron Valley and the forgotten creatures of the forest. The goal is to get the most experience by the end of the game, which players get from collecting forest tiles from the main board. To do this, in each round, players will assigning 3 groups of cards (starting with 17 cards of their faction) from their hands into their planning tables. These groups will be revealed simultaneously one by one starting from the left to the right. Players will then compare their groups to see who will execute the expedition first based on the group class (from Warrior to Technician, to Hunter and then the last, Cook). If there are more than one group of the same class, the group strength will determine which player will execute the expedition. If it’s still ties, the tie breaker is the position of player’s flags from the king’s tent. Doing expedition allows players to take forest tiles based on what class is the leader of the group. Warrior allows players to take a monster or an item, while Technician allows players to take an artifact or an item. Hunter on the other hand may take up to three forest tiles from a single column but only with a cross hair symbol. Cook allows players to take Adventurers of their choice from the camp, this how players build their hands. There are also pets, which can be assign to any group, though it may not be a leader of a group. I think the game is quite simple, there are certain plannings that players need to think about, their hands are mostly where the plan is. Carefully organizing how they form their group is essential, not also to mention that you don’t get your used card right away in the next round. I found the game is more appealing because of the illustrations instead of the game play, so don’t really have a high expectation for this one.


Most of us know Martin Wallace with his classic Euros such as train games, historical civilization and such. But he also has some games with fantasy theme such as A Study in Emerald, Discworld: Ankh-Morpork, The Witches, Mythotopia, A Handful of Stars and many more. Now he releases another fantasy theme game called Wildlands, which has unusual genre. Yes, unusual because it’s a take that, racing and skirmish game. In the game players will have 5 heroes (characters) that will enter the board one by one. These heroes will have a starting space where they enter (which is done during the setup in the form of drafting). Player’s turn is very simple, first if the player still have an unrevealed character, they must reveal at least one of them. Then play as many cards and reveal as many characters as they wish. Then they draw 3 cards and pass the active player market to the next player. The game may ends in two conditions, whether one player has successfully get 5 points or one player loses all their characters.
The card play is the heart of the game. Each character has a specific symbol that will show up in the cards. In a card there are a column of scales and a column of flags. If the character symbol is on one of the scale, than that character can move using this card. Symbols in the flags are specific actions that the character can take instead of moving. I found the game to be pretty simple and straight forward. But somehow there are things that are not easy to grasp. There are certain limitations with the maps, such as high ground and line of sight. Players get points by collecting crystal shards and knock opponents’ characters. I am definitely interested with this one, and its already have 2 upcoming expansions to add variety into the base game.


Now not many of us know about Pantone, personally for me, Pantone is quite familiar. Pantone is color books, it is mostly used in printing industry or any other fields that uses paints and colors. In this game, players will get 3 character cards. On their turn, the player will be the artist and must design a representation of one of the cards they have by using color swatches. Yes, Swatch cards are basically colored cards (the game comes with 15 different colors) and it uses a plastic tray to easily store all the swatches. Players get 3 cards, meaning the game lasts for 3 rounds. In the first round, players may use all the swatches available. But in the second round, they may only use one swatch card of each color to design. In the last round, they may only use 3 swatch cards in total. After the artist is finished the representation, each other player has exactly one guess. If a player managed to guess the character correctly, the artist and the guess player score full points that shows in “NO HINT” label. If no one able to guess, then the artist will give the next clue that shown on the character cards (if a player managed to guess this, the artist and the guess player will score less points than before). I think the game is fun, given this is a social game that has similar genre as Concepts, Charades or Pictomania. The downside is that when you play with players with different generations (age) some of the characters might not really identifiable by them. And to be honest, the components are kinda meh, it’s just a bunch of colored cards. You can practically home made this game. But having this game is kinda worthy from my line of work because I am a creative person. Hell, I don’t even have the real Pantone color book (I am feeling guilty and this might be the solution, errr…).


pic3730607SPY CLUB
Detective theme games are selling like hot cakes right now. Following the success of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detectives, there are games with the same case solving theme as Watson and Holmes, Detective, Chronicles of Crime, Deadline and many more. Now there’s Spy Club which targeting more younger audiences. Spy Club is new game from Renegade Game Studios with more brighter and colorful theme (instead dark and grim tone of the story from the other crime solving games). In this game players will work together in a club that they formed by themselves to play spies and investigations. Although the game is not a legacy game, this game offers a campaign mode (5 scenarios that connected with each other) as well as one time play, which players can reset the game back to the beginning easily. In this game, players need to find the solution of 5 aspects of the game (Motive, Suspect, Location, Crime and Object). To find a solution of an aspect, players need to place 5 cards of the same aspect type in the center row. In order to do this, they need to take some actions to move around cards from their hands. Players may take up to 3 actions during their turns to Investigate, Confirm, Scout and Shift Focus. Each player hand consists of 3 cards (or 4 cards) that they place on the table in front of them within their player board. The clue cards are double sided (there are no front and back side) which they carefully not to see the bottom side when move the cards, they can flip these cards with Investigate action during their turns. At the end of each player’s turn, the suspect will move (and escape marker may advance) and will trigger special event depends on what type of card the suspect marker is on. The game also uses a resource called Ideas, from time to time, players will get or spend Ideas. If playing a campaign, players will unlock things and carry things over to the next campaign providing some sense of progression. The game is definitely an interesting set collection, puzzle game but I am not sure of the built-in story may differ in each play.


Note: images are taken from and full credit to their owner.

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