Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

Essen Games synopses

Expand Messages
  • Aaron D. Fuegi
    Quick Essen Games Report (first trip to Essen) First off, huge thanks to Martin and Geoff for all they did with helping organize things. Without their
    Message 1 of 8 , Nov 1, 2000
      Quick Essen Games Report (first trip to Essen)
      First off, huge thanks to Martin and Geoff for all they did with
      helping organize things. Without their efforts, I almost certainly would
      not have come. Also a big thanks to Mario for a day of games and letting
      us stay with him Tuesday night and rides and car storage. His parents'
      hospitality was also simply wonderful! It was also great to see old friends
      and meet so many people I only knew by email.
      We spent a few days around Germany but I am going to avoid the length
      this would be if written as a trip report and focus on short comments on the
      games. Almost all of these comments are after a single playing. Also, a quick
      comment on the ratings. I am not a person that is very reluctant to give out
      9s and 10s but none of the ratings below are above 8 (with one exception for a
      game I actually played before Essen) and I don't expect that to change much -
      some could maybe go up to 8.5. Thus, I found nothing to be fabulous but I also
      found very few really bad games. Feel free to ask me for more details on
      anything in particular.

      New Games
      Atilla (HiG) - Played twice. Bruno's description of this as a stock-market
      game is excellent, really. The board play and battles are not really that
      interesting. The most important thing is to focus your efforts in the right
      places/colors and control the timing of the scoring rounds. Nobody in my
      two games had any problems with the color reuse isues.
      Initial Rating: 7.5

      Babel (Kosmos) - I think it at least 90% likely we were playing this game wrong
      and so think any kind of opinion is premature. Will try again with correct
      rules. If we actually were playing it right, I didn't like it much.

      Balmy Baloonists (Up & Away) - Interesting game and very different. Race game
      played on a radial board which one must circle. I felt that certain cards
      (the Weather cards) were overly powerful compared to the normal cards. Also,
      in our particular game the players finished 1-2-3 in turn order on the same
      turn which didn't seem good but perhaps it was a coincidence. I also had some
      troubles in reading the cards due to the radial board setup but that may have
      been just me.
      Initial Rating: 6

      Bongo (Heidelberger Spielverlag) - Quick little game much like 'Set' of
      looking at things (dice) and spotting patterns. Very fun. Designed by
      Bruno Faidutti who also taught it to us. Immediately after, all 4 of us
      bought copies.
      Initial Rating: 8

      Carcasonne (HiG) - I had played this in prototype at the Gathering. Since
      then, it has changed quite a bit, being made somewhat simpler and largely
      removing the conflict aspect in the prototype. However, both versions were
      excellent. Tile-laying game where each turn each person lays a single random
      tile in a location of their choice and also may add a influence piece to try
      to control areas of the board (roads, castles, farms or monasteries).
      Initial Rating: 8

      Cartagena (Winning Moves) - I did not enjoy this one very much but many others
      have. We played with the advanced rules of everything open and this led to
      some slow play as players analyzed things too much. Also, a very bad move
      on the opening turn largely threw the game to one player which was a downer.
      I later taught the game to Annemette and Asger but didn't play. When I came
      back, I found them playing it a big 'wrong' but I think the way they played
      might have been better. They played with secret hands and also let one
      select any card of the initially 12 face-up cards for their hand; didn't have
      to be the first one.
      Initial Rating: 4 (but could move significantly)

      Derby (dbSpiele) - Interesting betting/race game. Each turn one plays (from a
      very limited choice) two cards to move 1-6 horses of a set of 9 horses
      differing numbers of spaces. One also has a betting card for each of the 9
      horses predicting where the horse will finish. Each turn one may swap 1
      betting card of one of the 3 horses which were NOT eligible to move via your
      play. Somewhat random and has the "if lots of people want White to finish
      highly, it will" problem but the ability to swap betting cards reduces this.
      Initial Rating: 6.5

      Doge (Goldsieber) - I think this one has a couple of fundamental problems.
      The goal of the game is to get 1 Castle in each of 7 districts, 8 castles in
      6, 9 in 5, etc... The first goal seems clearly easier and is what everyone
      in our game tried to do. This led to several major problems at the endgame.
      Firstly, if you are trying to get a Castle in a district where all the other
      players already have one, you are likely to get it very easily as they have
      very little incentive to fight for this region. Secondly, if one is only
      1 Castle shy of winning, one can focus basically all (10 of 12 total influence
      points I believe) on that region guaranteeing you get it unless someone else
      does the same thing, which in most cases would be extraordinarily costly for
      that person. If these two problems combine, it is even worse. I liked the
      board and components and serial district resolution scheme but the above
      problems ruined the game for me.
      Initial Rating: 5.5

      FlickWerk (2F) - Another puzzle game where one assembles 9 of a possible 12
      puzzle pieces into a designated configuration. Kind of neatv but has some real
      problems. First off, some configurations are simply impossible and yet it
      takes quite a while to figure this out. Secondly, like Ricochet Robot, the
      best person will almost always win. This is ok with me but the problem here is
      that the round ends immediately when someone finds a solution - there is no
      possibility of a 'better' solution as there is in RR - it simply works or it
      doesn't. In our game, I believe there were 2 players who Never found a single
      solution. I recommend Bongo for a similar style of game much more highly.
      Initial Rating: 5

      Ivanhoe (GMT) - New version of Knizia's Attacke, which I hadn't played. I
      found the cards, particularly the specials, to be too unbalanced, and the
      winner of a token to be too highly rewarded. I am not sure in our game I could
      have won a single token no matter what I did.
      Initial Rating: 3.5

      Java (Ravensburger) - Those who like Tikal will likely like this and those who
      don't, won't. I don't. The game is really extraordinarily similar to Tikal
      with the same style of artwork, a similar board, action points (6 instead of
      10) and a little reference card for the many ways you can spend them, temples
      which can be built up to 10 and score, guys which walk in from off the board,
      etc... The water tiles also seem to have some troubles as they are just too
      good in the early game. I actually liked it slighly better than Tikal but
      for me, that isn't saying much. Try it if you like Tikal.
      Initial Rating: 6

      Keytown (R & D) - New game in the Key**** series from Richard Breese. Not
      really that much like either of the other games in practice, however. Tiles
      are played openly to 3 different types of regions to achieve 3 different
      goals. I think the bidding scheme for being 'start/controlling player' is
      basically broken but this could be fixed. I enjoyed the game I played enough
      to buy it but don't expect it to get much play.
      Initial Rating: 6.5

      Lord of the Rings (Kosmos in Germany, Hasbro/WotC in the US) - Excellent fully
      cooperative Knizia game where the players ALL win or lose against the system
      with the difficulty being Very easy to adjust and the game working for 2-5
      players. Players play through four small scenarios for Moria, Helm's Deep,
      Shelob's Lair and Mordor. I actually played this before I went to Essen twice
      and didn't play at Essen. Dave Farqahr was teaching the English version at
      Essen and I was glad to meet him after exchanging some email a while back. I
      find this game extremely successful at pulling off a 'cooperative game' and
      would highly recommend it for playing with families most of all. I think the
      art on the cards is excellent, although the boards are only ok. Depending
      on how things go, I could easily see this winning SdJ for Knizia. Different
      enough game, however, that this is very hard to really predict.
      Initial Rating: 8.5 (and could become a 9).

      Lunatix Loop (Locust) - Light racing game where players try to be first to
      complete 3 laps around a track. Each turn each person simultaneously secretly
      chooses one of 5 action cards (Ram, Decelerate, Drop Oil/Spikes/Glue,
      Accelerate, UTurn) to play and then cards are acted on in the listed order
      (with Speed then race Position as tie breakers). I have played it twice and
      really enjoyed it both times although I really think there need to be more
      special cards (much like the Option cards in RoboRally and only available when
      making a pit stop) and hazard cards (and that these need to be worse than
      they are). One really interesting element the game has which I can't remember
      seeing before is 3 Luck (mulligan) chips which let you cancel any bad card
      draw and get a random new one 3 times during the game. Making good use of
      these is critical. This one also deserves kudos for its graphic design from
      a one-man company. The icons on the cards are incredibly clear and easy to
      figure out. The special cards summary on the back of the rules is also
      excellent and easy to use.
      Initial Rating: 8 (could go up a bit but probably not above 8.5)

      MotorSport (or MotorCross - can't remember) - Dice-based racing game where
      players roll dice (1, 2 or 3) to move around the track. At various points,
      one is forced to either roll less dice or take a risk (like 1 in 36) of
      having your car knocked out of the game. Given that the race is 6 long laps,
      this is a hard decision. Quite fun but very expensive (about 160DM or
      about $70). It actually seemed like it really might have been very random
      but I nevertheless really enjoyed it.
      Initial Rating: 8 (but could go down a bit)

      Online (Hasbro Germany) - Just plain bad. Cards are very ugly. Theme doesn't
      work. Certain cards are much better than others and who wins is therefore
      largely random. Don't even think about it. Amazingly, they had a huge booth
      just for this game. Worst game I played during the trip.
      Initial Rating: 2

      Stortebeker/Corsairs (HiG) - Fun game of playing pirates competing to be
      the first to board and sack galleys. There are 4 simultaneous fights for
      galleys and players can participate in as many of them as they wish but if
      someone else takes it before you can (and you can't immediately retalitate
      and 'overtake it') you lose any effort previously expended on it. Played twice
      and enjoyed both games.
      Initial Rating: 7.5

      Traumfabrik (Hasbro Germany) - Knizia game of making movies. Despite not
      understanding the scoring rules for 90% of our game, I quite enjoyed this one.
      Players buy Actors/Directors/Cinematographers/Special Effects/Music/etc...
      and place them in movies. The buying is done via an auction where the winner
      pays his chips bid, evenly split, to the other players. Art and graphics
      design are quite nicely done (with one exception) and the theme worked for me.
      Initial Rating: 7.5

      Wanted (Alea) - New game in Mystery Rummy series with an outlaw theme where
      players simultaneously compete to capture 7 outlaws (color sets). The best
      thing, as with the other games, is to hold all your cards and then suddenly
      play them all at once to go out. However, this is very risky and I got no
      cards out in the last round as I tried it - another player was quite lucky in
      how quickly he went out. One really nice thing is that this one should work
      well with all of 2-4 players (certainly 3 and 4) whereas the prior games
      clearly worked best with only 1 specific number (#1 with 2, #2 with 4). After
      playing, talked with Stefan Brück of Alea and co-designer Richard Borg a bit
      about it. The Sheriff cards (like the Gavel cards from before) are quite
      powerful but more than balanced against that are that you can only play 1 per
      turn. It is in fact really bad to draw too many of them.
      Initial Rating: 7.5

      Aaron
      aarondf@...
      http://www.lasthomelyhouse.com/ (the Last Homely House)
    • Dave Bernazzani
      ... Great report Aaron! Thanks for posting it... Any word on Empires of the Ancient World ? (or similar title?!?). The title has me intrigued but I ve not
      Message 2 of 8 , Nov 1, 2000
        Aaron wrote:


        > Quick Essen Games Report (first trip to Essen)
        > [snip]

        Great report Aaron! Thanks for posting it...

        Any word on 'Empires of the Ancient World'? (or similar title?!?). The
        title has me intrigued but I've not been able to dig much up on it except
        for a paragraph on Bruno Faidutti's site (http://faidutti.free.fr/).

        Another question - is there so much German on the LotR game that it would be
        a problem for us non-German types? (I suspect either Matt or Aaron can
        answer this).

        --
        Dave Bernazzani
        dber@...
        http://www.gis.net/~dber (South Shore Gamers)
      • matthew@gray.org
        ... Not so much that it would be unplayable, but I think it would seriously detract from the game. A non-trivial part of the game is the progression through
        Message 3 of 8 , Nov 1, 2000
          > Another question - is there so much German on the LotR game that it
          > would be a problem for us non-German types? (I suspect either Matt
          > or Aaron can answer this).

          Not so much that it would be unplayable, but I think it would
          seriously detract from the game. A non-trivial part of the game is
          the progression through the narrative, which involves some text on
          the board. I've got an English copy, and would mildly recommend
          against getting the German version. The text adds, and having to use
          a crib sheet would be ok, but be less than optimal.

          ...Matthew
        • AndAgainMA@aol.com
          In a message dated 11/1/00 3:45:46 PM Eastern Standard Time, matthew@gray.org ... Matthew, At the risk of sounding pedantic, do you mean the English/UK
          Message 4 of 8 , Nov 1, 2000
            In a message dated 11/1/00 3:45:46 PM Eastern Standard Time, matthew@...
            writes:

            > I've got an English copy

            Matthew,

            At the risk of sounding pedantic, do you mean the English/UK version, or the
            US version? Anyone know how they differ? Either way, I'd love to play.

            and Mark, in the spirit of your recent question to Pat:
            Exactly which part of you is it that fears elimination? Which part is
            suspicious of cooperation? And which has faith in Knizia? Do share...

            Andrew.
          • matthew@gray.org
            ... version, or the ... play. UK version. As far as I know, the US version is not available anywhere at all yet. As I understand it there will be: Kosmos
            Message 5 of 8 , Nov 1, 2000
              > At the risk of sounding pedantic, do you mean the English/UK
              version, or the
              > US version? Anyone know how they differ? Either way, I'd love to
              play.

              UK version. As far as I know, the US version is not available
              anywhere at all yet. As I understand it there will be:

              Kosmos version in German
              Hasbro/Sophisticated version in English (UK)
              Hasbro/WotC version in English (USA)

              ...Matthew
            • Aaron D. Fuegi
              ... Actually, I should have included this but forgot. Glad you reminded me. One of the first things I played although we didn t finish the game. The board is
              Message 6 of 8 , Nov 2, 2000
                > From: "Dave Bernazzani" <dber@...>
                >Subject: Re: Essen Games synopses
                >
                >Aaron wrote:
                >
                >> Quick Essen Games Report (first trip to Essen)
                >> [snip]
                >
                >Great report Aaron! Thanks for posting it...
                >
                >Any word on 'Empires of the Ancient World'? (or similar title?!?). The
                >title has me intrigued but I've not been able to dig much up on it except
                >for a paragraph on Bruno Faidutti's site (http://faidutti.free.fr/).

                Actually, I should have included this but forgot. Glad you reminded
                me. One of the first things I played although we didn't finish the game.
                The board is kind of Civilization-like with areas of different strength.
                Players start in one space and then expand outwards from that area, conquering
                neutral areas or battling other players. Areas are worth victory points
                during the scoring rounds after turns 2, 3, 4 (card play rounds 19, 27, 34)
                and some also provide resources (trade blocks) at the start of each turn.
                On each card play round, a player has a choice - draft a card from 6
                available cards, lay down trade blocks which will score victory points if they
                survive till the next scoring round or attack an area. Players can also
                'clear' the cards by spending 2 trade blocks ala Show Manager. The cards you
                can take are 'army' cards used in battles and personality cards (like a
                Merchant or General (different name though) or Diplomat) which give you special
                abilities.
                If a player attacks a neutral area, it is a simple die roll to take it
                over (usually about a 2/3 chance to succeed). If he attacks a
                player-controlled area, they fight a battle using 5 of their army cards (each
                player also starts with a small, weak army) in a battle like in "Power Play"
                where each player orders their cards and then they are compared one by one and
                you need to win a majority of the 5 rounds of combat. Each army type has
                special abilities and it is really good to achieve the right match-ups but of
                course very difficult. After the battle, if the attacker won, he takes over
                the space. Also, each player can lose some of his army cards during the
                battle, more if he loses. There are also Naval battles and Siege battles which
                work similarly but where certain units are particularly well suited (like
                Galleys or Siege Towers).
                We only played about half the game (which is about 3 hours long) and it
                was very combat-intensive. I found the battles fun but the board play didn't
                really appeal to me but, again, we didn't play the whole game and may not
                have been playing well (and I was losing) so it is hard to judge but my
                initial rating would be about a 5.5.
                >
                >Another question - is there so much German on the LotR game that it would b=
                >e
                >a problem for us non-German types? (I suspect either Matt or Aaron can
                >answer this).

                I agree with Matthew. Either buy it from England or wait for it to
                come out in the US, especially if you want to play it with families which is
                what I think it is best suited for. There is enough text to be a problem
                for many people.
                >--
                >Dave Bernazzani
                >dber@...
                >http://www.gis.net/~dber (South Shore Gamers)

                Aaron

                ps. Btw, sorry about the bad reformatting Egroups is doing to my messages.
                I am not sure why they feel the need to add spurious newline characters when
                my lines are 79 characters or less which is standard.
              • Craig Massey
                ... Empires of the Ancient World comments Snipped ... Great report Aaron!!! Thanks so much. One other question, did you get a chance to look at Martin s
                Message 7 of 8 , Nov 2, 2000
                  --- "Aaron D. Fuegi" <aarondf@...> wrote:

                  Empires of the Ancient World comments Snipped
                  > We only played about half the game (which is about
                  > 3 hours long) and it
                  > was very combat-intensive. I found the battles fun
                  > but the board play didn't
                  > really appeal to me but, again, we didn't play the
                  > whole game and may not
                  > have been playing well (and I was losing) so it is
                  > hard to judge but my
                  > initial rating would be about a 5.5.

                  Great report Aaron!!! Thanks so much. One other
                  question, did you get a chance to look at Martin's
                  other game - Way Out West?

                  Craig

                  =====
                  Craig W. Massey
                  cwmassey@...

                  __________________________________________________
                  Do You Yahoo!?
                  From homework help to love advice, Yahoo! Experts has your answer.
                  http://experts.yahoo.com/
                • Aaron D. Fuegi
                  ... Thanks. Sorry, didn t get a chance to try out WOW. Too many games - too little time. However, there is quite a comprehensive report on B&B at
                  Message 8 of 8 , Nov 2, 2000
                    > From: Craig Massey <cwmassey@...>
                    >Subject: Re: Re: Essen Games synopses
                    >
                    >Empires of the Ancient World comments Snipped
                    >> We only played about half the game (which is about
                    >> 3 hours long) and it
                    >> was very combat-intensive. I found the battles fun
                    >> but the board play didn't
                    >> really appeal to me but, again, we didn't play the
                    >> whole game and may not
                    >> have been playing well (and I was losing) so it is
                    >> hard to judge but my
                    >> initial rating would be about a 5.5.
                    >
                    >Great report Aaron!!! Thanks so much. One other
                    >question, did you get a chance to look at Martin's
                    >other game - Way Out West?

                    Thanks. Sorry, didn't get a chance to try out WOW. Too many games -
                    too little time. However, there is quite a comprehensive report on B&B at
                    http://www.brettboard.dk/cgi-bin2/webdata_games.pl?cgifunction=form&fid=963173548
                    Info and pictures from Empires is there too at
                    http://www.brettboard.dk/cgi-bin2/webdata_games.pl?cgifunction=form&fid=963174370
                    >
                    >Craig
                    >
                    Aaron
                  Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.