Essen Spiel '15: Day Two

2015, Oct 22    


After reflecting on day one’s lack of purchase success, we stumbled upon a free table for Viticulture and solved all my woes. This game is beautiful in every direction and feels deep and intense and well thought out. I want it. The edition on sale was 65 euro, however, so I decided to hold off. I’m not sure I’d ever get to play it, anyway, I don’t have much time for long games like this these days. Still, I was delighted to find a game that felt really, really good.

##Kumo Hogosha

Another hit. Kumo plays like chess and looks gorgeous. The game is about pushing dice around a rotating board and attempting to push a “stone of balance” off the opponent’s side of the board, the catch being that when you rotate the board, it might not be their side any more at all. It’s a nice idea and it works really well. Again, I didn’t buy it because I’d never get it on the table, but I really enjoyed it.

##Between Two Cities

Our third game from the same stand, Between Two Cities combines drafting, tile laying, and co-operation to create a rather different kind of city builder. On your left, you’re building a city with the player on your left, and on the right, you’re building a city with the player on your right. Your final score is the worse of the two, so you can’t deliberately neglect one, but the constant two-way communication means that something will go wrong sooner or later. It’s a great concept, easy to teach and learn, hard to get right.

##Big Book Of Madness

Big Book of Madness had a lot of hype surrounding it. You’re a group of schoolkids who’ve opened a big, bad book full of monsters, and have to defeat the monsters together in order to close it. It’s pretty simple to learn considering the number of moving parts, and I think it’s probably a “good” game, but I didn’t think it was a very “fun” game. I think Dave put it very well when he said it was a deckbuilder in which your deck just doesn’t get very exciting.

##The Game

Pretty much everyone I knew only heard about The Game when it got nominated for Spiel des Jahres this year, and didn’t really understand what it was all about. About 3 turns in we were hooked and all bought a copy immediately. It feels like Uno - a great game for killing time.


Oh, Euro games, how I love you. In Liguria you run a boat that floats about collecting coloured paint to decorate your cathedral and you can also conquer islands and send diplomats to other harbours and oh gosh little boats did I mention the boats? Liguria is beautifully put together and feels really fun right from the start as your boats start circling the board itself. The most ingenious thing about Liguria is that it doesn’t even touch on scoring until the very end of the game and does it all in one go, which removes all of my most disliked euro tropes. Gorgeous. Instant purchase.

##Steampunk Rally

I’ve never seen a game that turns theme into mechanics as accurately and elegantly as Steampunk Rally. You feel like an inventor as you bolt extra bits onto your vehicle mid-race, replacing bits that explode as often as you can to keep the damn thing running. At the end of the game we played, Emma’s car lost its wheels but immediately sprouted robotic spider legs to carry her across the finish line.

##Cthulhu Realms

Cthulhu Realms is a reskin of Star Realms with tongue in cheek artwork and a nice vibe. A fun little deck builder, easily worth the meagre sum they charge for it.

Day two was perfect. Intense games, a few good purchases, loads of fun. I managed to find a good variety of deep thinky games and light fun games, and managed to find games that I wanted to own.