A year ago tomorrow I wrote my Essen anticipation list. The anticipation was palpable because I was actually going. Of the 10 listed last year, I bought 8 of them. Antarctica I played at the show and was not impressed by and I’ve just never gotten around to Catacombs. All eight were good purchases, although I’ve sold off my copy of The Bloody Inn. Five-ish plays of that was enough. I don’t think the bench is as deep this year, luckily for me.
Here’s my list for this year:
1 – A Feast for Odin
Uwe Rosenberg has had some off-the-mark games, but Fields of Arle and Patchwork are two of my favorites. This mixes those with a huge amount of other stuff. I’ve read the rules and still am a bit flummoxed. It will either be a glorious mess or a top-10 game, but likely nothing in between. Highly anticipated.
2 – Terraforming Mars
As I struggle to get my far-future hard science fiction game published, I look with anticipation on what Tom Vasel just called Race for the Galaxy: The Board Game. I know to take that with a grain of salt, but this looks to check a lot of my boxes of interest.
3 – Great Western Trail
There are a couple designers who are “can’t miss” for me. After Isle of Skye, Mombasa, and Broom Service (Port Royal and Oh! My Goods! were worth noting, but ultimately passable), whatever Alexander Pfister comes out with is worth seeing. A heavy game with an American West theme is a nice Venn Diagram of my interests.
4 – American Railroads, Pandemic: The Cure: Experimental Meds, 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon, Concordia: Gallia/Corsica, Spyfall 2, Alchemists: King’s Golem
Expansions! It would be tiring for me to do an individual listing of each of these to just say the same thing over and over: “Love the base game; hope this adds more interesting variation.”
5 – Key to the City: London
Keyflower is a top-3 game in my household. Key to the City: London is intriguing because it is essentially Keyflower with one major mechanical change. Will this change work? I don’t know.
6 – Overseers
I knew nothing about this game before reading the Spiel preview list. It has beautiful art and graphic design. The rules as explained in the preview are succinct and interesting. I’m on board. It’s probably one of those games that has great curb appeal but doesn’t last. I’m willing to take the risk.
7 – The Colonists
A big, modular civilization game from a first-time designer gives me pause. However, if Lookout/Mayfair vetted it, then it’s worth investigating. The bits and pieces of previews I’ve read makes it look like there’s a good reason for the Caverna-esque mountain of materials, rather than just being huge for huge sake like a Mega Civilization. If I was actually going to Essen this year, this and A Feast for Odin would probably take up my baggage weight limitation.
8 – X Nimmt!
I love 6 Nimmt! Last year, I made sure to pick up a copy while in Germany so I wouldn’t have a lame, inferior 6 Takes! There was already a sequel of sorts called 11 Nimmt! which is one better than ten, I suppose. The personal row described in the summary of this game sounds like a great tactical change. Hopefully I can get this stateside somehow?
9 – Sola Fide: The Reformation
I haven’t played a lot of Jason Matthews’ games, but I’ve liked all I’ve tried. The theme does nothing for me, but the mechanics sound right up his alley.
10 – Peak Oil
Peak Oil will only be demoed at Essen, but anything with Heiko’s graphic design instantly gets put onto my watch list. The theme is unique and dovetails nicely with at least one of the mechanics.
Honorable Mention – Frosted Games’ Expansion-a-palooza
Last year, Frosted made everyone’s luggage weep with their expansion advent calendar. This year, they are bringing it back along with a Deutscher Speilepreis expansion pack which will include mini-expansions for Codenames, Time Stories, Mombasa, and Isle of Skye. My fervor for the latter is boiling. Someone bring it back for me!
Maybe? – Solarius Mission
This was way up on my list previously. La Granja is very good, but Spielworxx seems a bit disinterested in pushing this one. They said there would be only one print run and that the dice would have to be stickered. Which is odd. I’ll risk it going out of print to adopt a wait-and-see attitude.
Maybe? – Bios: Genesis
I know Eklund’s games have a specific fanbase and I am a newb, but a game of this scope from an experienced designer is worth checking ot.
Maybe? – Sagrada
It is pretty and comes well-recommended, but I am always very cautious with dice games.
Maybe? – Lorenzo il Magnifico
Going wholly on designer pedigree here. Otherwise it looks like the sea of other Euros about the renaissance. Then again, so did The Voyages of Marco Polo.