Board Game Lists · Board Gaming · Top Ten List · Wish List

Top Essen Games I’d Want to Check Out (If I Went to Essen)

As the title implies, I will not be attending Essen this year. As great as it would be to go, and as cool as Essen would be for a first convention, this one is just not in my cards for 2017. Probably not even 2018. But that won’t prevent me from being able to look at the releases and seeing what games I would be excited about.

There are two sections included here: games themselves that I’d like to check out at Essen (some are already out, some are rereleases, and others are new and upcoming games), and a section with a few expansions I’m excited to try.

There are over 1000 games under the Essen preview tool. Less than a hundred of these made my initial “look into these more” listing. But getting it down to these was a little difficult. There are some really, really good games coming out. And there are some smaller or less-hyped games that sound good and could be amazing. So, before I ramble on too long, here are the games I’d love to check out if I was at Essen (in no particular order):

Games I know are already out

Lisboa – Diving right into a heavy game here…I’m not sure why but this is one of the games that is near the top of my wish list. I haven’t played a Lacerda game yet, but I see no reason why this couldn’t or shouldn’t be our first. The theme and mechanics of the game drew me in as I listened to Heavy Cardboard talk about the game. It was enough to convince me that this is a game I don’t want to miss out on.

Raiders of the North Sea – If Lisboa is near the top of my wish list, this game resides at the pinnacle. A Viking worker placement game that doesn’t use dice for combat. I think we’ll both find a lot of things to enjoy about this game, and I keep hearing fantastic things about the mechanics within the game.

Tiny Epic Quest – I have played and really enjoyed a few of the Tiny Epic games. When this was described as Zelda in a box, I knew it would be only a matter of time before I would play the game. I’m still seeking that opportunity, and can’t wait until I get to experience this one.

Whistle Stop – Okay, so I’ve played this game once. But man, there are so many things about the game I’d like to revisit and try again. It was a really fun game, and my stock-heavy strategy fell just short of victory. A few wiser decisions along the way and I might have ended up with the win instead of a loss. Bonus points for this being a game I am sure my wife would enjoy.

Antiquity (3rd Edition) – This one appears up here because it is a new edition of an existing game. It would be my first play of a Splotter game, and why not jump in with this instead of something like The Great Zimbabwe? I really want to try some Splotter games, as I am coming to enjoy heavy games a lot. And so this one makes it onto my radar.

Iron Dragon (Second Edition) – A fantasy train game? This might be one that I could get my wife to try out, probably as a next-step after introducing her to Whistle Stop. It might take time to warm her up to trying an 18XX game, but this one should be one we’ll enjoy together.

The King’s Abbey (Second Edition) – A rerelease of a worker placement set in Medieval times. Are you kidding me? You get to construct an Abbey, go on crusades, and more during a period of history that I really enjoy? And since it is a worker placement game my wife might be interested, too? Sign me up!

Charterstone – No surprise here, this game had to make the cut. I’ve been so excited for the upcoming Stonemaier Games release, and nothing that I have heard has changed that. It is a legacy Worker Placement game that can be played by 1-6 players, it’ll allow you to build your own unique charters that are replayable when the campaign is finished, and I am yet to meet a Stonemaier Games game that I don’t like. This is as close to a must-have as it gets for me.

The Climbers – Capstone Games is tied to this release, and I’ve had the same track record with Capstone as I have with Stonemaier. If that wasn’t enough, this was Edward at Heavy Cardboard’s top “Thinky Filler” game, and this is a game that will command attention when played at a game night. I can’t wait to try this one out and find out why Edward has been singing its praises.

Hunt for the Ring – My favorite game of all time is War of the Ring by Ares Games. I was so disappointed by The Battle of Five Armies because it was, essentially, War of the Ring Lite and I found myself always wanting to play War of the Ring instead. This game promises to be something completely different, making it a must-try for me. The Tolkien fan in me demands it.

The Ruhr: A Story of Coal Trade – We enjoyed Haspelknecht so much that I am definitely interested in exploring the rest of the Coal Trilogy. We don’t play many pick up & deliver games, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for that in our collection. This one should be very solid, and being a Capstones Game is an added plus.

Shadows in Kyoto – The successor to Hanamikoji. If I knew nothing else about this game, that in itself would be enough. But this sounds fantastic, being a game completely different from Hanamikoji but with the same outstanding artwork. I really, really can’t wait to try this game.

Albedo – This one is a tough one to have make the cut, but I think it just manages. I’ve had my eye on Core Worlds this year, and this game takes some inspiration from that. It is a deckbuilder with what sounds like a built-in “trashing” mechanism that sounds fantastic. This will be a hard sell to the wife, but she’ll tolerate a few plays of a deckbuilder. Who knows, this might join Mystic Vale as a deckbuilder she actually enjoys!

Alien Artifacts – This game has been described as a successor to Race for the Galaxy. Considering that Race is one of my favorite games, and has been for years, that makes me immediately interested in trying the game. Will it replace Race? I doubt it is possible, but I would love to try this one out and see how it stacks up.

The Cousins’ War – This one is another small one that deserves to remain on my radar. I enjoy 2-player only games that have a small footprint, small component list, and play quickly. This promises to provide all of that in this duel representing the War of the Roses. My wife may not like that it has some dice in there, but from what I’ve read this has enough things going on that it won’t be a dealbreaker for her.

Fantastiqa Rival Realms – This is another 2-player only game that makes the list. I’ve heard great things about Fantastiqa from reviewers like Mina’s Fresh Cardboard in the past, and a 2-player spinoff game sounds like it is worth checking out. Players are magicians building the landscape, finding beasts, creating artifacts, and more in a head-to-head competition. Yes, please!

Harvest – We really enjoyed Harbour once we got the rules of it right, and so this game promises to be a worker placement game we’d like as well. It isn’t supposed to merely be a retheming of Harbour, so I am excited to see how this one turns out and what is different.

Keyper – Holy buckets, this is apparently the eighth game in the Key series of games which started the Worker Placement genre. I’ve really wanted to try Keyflower, but I think any of these would be a fantastic place to jump in and play. My wife loves worker placement games, and something tells me this one wouldn’t be a disappointment at all for us.

Nusfjord – Rosenberg. Worker placement. My wife would drag me along to try this one out just from those three words. I do like the idea of leaving farming behind and instead managing a fishing fleet. It also sounds like this has some similarities mechanically to Ora et Labora and Agricola, both great Rosenberg games. Yep, this had to make the list.

Game Expansions

Mystic Vale: Mana Storm – I was surprised when she loved Mystic Vale, and so of course I want to expand the card pool and strategies available in this deckbuilding game. And this promises to accomplish both of those things.

Scythe: The Wind Gambit – Airships in Scythe! No more need to unlock Riverwalk as your first mech in the game, although I bet there is still incentive to do so. I enjoy Scythe a lot so far, and this would be the first must-have expansion which adds several interesting elements to the game.

Agricola: Artifex Deck – My favorite part of Agricola? Figuring out how my fourteen cards can be used in my favor. My wife’s least favorite part of Agricola? The cards. We’ll be divided on this purchase, but I hope to win out in the end. After all, she doesn’t have to use the cards if she doesn’t like them…

Cry Havoc: Aftermath – I really have enjoyed my first plays of Cry Havoc and this is one I need to get back to the table. People claim there are balance issues between the factions, but I don’t buy into that. I like a game that rewards repeated plays and finding out how to adapt in order to win, which means the game will remain in our collection. This expansion promises to take what is a good game and make it even better.

Kingdom Builder: Harvest – We’ve determined we both really enjoy this game and want more expansions for the game. We have Nomads now, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t or wouldn’t jump ahead to grab Harvest before getting the other ones. This is the one game I think she might actually like getting expansions for.

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