Essen Preview Part 9 – Sources for info and lots more new games

Essen Preview Part 9

More games and news that have been brought to my attention this week.  I just started making up my master Excel spreadsheet of all of the games that I’m interested in, and it’s over 60 games so far!   For previous editions of this Essen Preview, click here for a list of those blog entries.

1)  Sources for info – A few readers have asked me where I look for information about he new games, and I’ve made a short list of the places that I normally refer to on the Internets.

Boardgamegeek – specifically at five places

A) Forums – My front page is setup with the recent and hot forum entries.  I usually spend a bit of time each morning scanning the top 20 threads that happen to pop up just to see if there is any news I can catch this way

B) BGG Spiel Preview –  This is the official preview.  Eric Martin works his tail off to fill this with the newest information, and it is one of the more reliable sources of information.  I will admit that I’m not the biggest fan of the new Geeklist format that the Spiel Preview had to take this year, but I’m happy that it still exists.  I’m sure that some of the formatting issues will be dealt with in time for next year.

C) BGG Canonical Essen Geeklist  Every year, the users of BGG put together a geeklist where the new games can be listed.  Admittedly, there is a bunch of duplication with the “official” Spiel Preview, but there are some things that end up posted to this list and not the other, so I end up checking here too.

D) Essen List of Lists   This is more of a meta-list which collects as many different user Essen geeklists as can be found.  While there isn’t necessarily a lot of “news” to be found here, it’s still very useful and entertaining to see what other gamers are looking forward to.

E) New approved file list – OK, so I do kind of get a sneak peek at this as I’m the BGG admin in charge of files.  But anyone should be able to see the newly approved file list to see if there are any new rulesets that have been uploaded and approved on BGG – This is the main source for my German game news.  While the majority of the site is written in German, it’s not too hard to navigate around, and there is a wealth of information here.  The main pages I usually look at are:

A) The main listing of game companies and new releases – which always includes helpful information such as booth numbers and expected game prices.  There are also direct links to the publisher webpages, so it’s a good jumping off point for all sorts of research

B) The page which lists which games have rules available  Another huge database of new releases written in German. There is also a blog that is chock full of news tidbits.  This one takes a bit of Google Translate help to get through, but it’s usually worth it.  There are also links to all sorts of videos on the game.  These, of course, are also usually in German, but it’s still a good way to get a look a the components of a game

Trictrac – another Google Translate special – but this is a good source for French news.  A lot of the news updates focus on whether or not a game will be available in French, but you can also find a lot of news concerning the French game companies and designers here.

Ludorium – This is a new computerized database run by the folks who also run the Austrian Games Museum.  It can be found at  The text of their latest press release is below:


Make up your selection of Essen games online using our database. You can save your opinions and comments for every game. This personal information can be displayed and printed!

Use our service and use our list of novelties. This list is daily updated and augmented by new games.

As a user – you can login with an email only, no personal data necessary – you can then evaluate every game: I like, I do not like it, you can add a comment etc. Your personal list is immediately assembled from these data, presenting them in clearly structured form. But you can make changes at any moment and thus compile a new list. The layout has been adapted for easy display on any mobile device, be it smart phone or tablet. Even at the SPIEL you can change your data and generate new lists. You will always have your own summary!

IN THE LIMELIGHT– the most interesting games of SPIEL ’11

In the past a few gamers have evaluated games at the SPIEL (mostly for freak’s games) and those evaluations were made public locally at the booth.

We begin now and compile a ranking that does not only evaluate games for freaks or experts, but all games. We use our User Groups: CHILDREN, FAMILY, FRIENDS and EXPERS; in each group we will announce the TO10 and TOP3, a new feature for SPIEL ’11! Please join us!

The data on which this ranking is based are compiled from your entries: All entries are used to yield an anonymous ranking, so the more evaluations/opinions you enter for the novelties the more rankings we can generate based on ever growing numbers of data. We ask all participants to only give true personal opinions!


German Game stores (i.e. Milan Spiele) – you can sometimes get a good feel for what games will be available to order and what the pricing will be from the retailers… (Remember that at SPIEL, many games are sold near MSRP – though there are definitely still bargains to be had).  If you’re going to SPIEL and are running short on luggage space, it’s a good way to figure out how to triage your last few pounds…  The link for Milan Spiele’s list of new Essen games is:

Kulkmann’s Gamebox – this is actually a resource for the week of the show itself.  Frank Kulkmann writes up the best (IMHO) real-time reports on Essen.  He happens to live just down the street from the Essen MESSE, and after spending all day at the fair, he heads home and types up his thoughts for the day with news about new games and pictures as well.  (I’m hoping to do the same this year, but I already know that I probably won’t have as much time or Internet access to do the same).  Last year’s report can be found at:

Lots of emails – Finally, the old fashioned method of just emailing people that I know and asking them questions about what’s going on.

2) DSP Awards.  OK – so this isn’t really news about new Essen games – but it’s related to Essen as I hope to be at the awards presentation…  The winners of the 2011 Deutscher Spiele Preis were just announced.

  • First place – 7 Wonders (REPOS)
  • Second place – Die Burgen von Burgund (Alea)
  • Third place – Troyes (Pearl)
  • Kid’s Game – Monster-Falle (Kosmos)
  • Beautiful Rules – Expedition Sumatra (Igramoon)

Congratulations to all the winners!


Rampage will definitely not be ready for this year, so I’ll have to wait for 2012 SPIEL for that one…  But, preorders are available for Ghost Stories: Black Secret.  Only 666 will be available – and if last year’s response to the 7 Wonders pre-order was any indication – I don’t think that the games will be around for long this year either….

For 30 EUR, you get the game and a goodies box filled with

  • The Ex-Ludis, numbered and signed by Antoine Bauza and Pierô
  • A new Curse Die for Wu-Feng
  • A new Incarnation of Wu-Feng: Steven Qi-Gal

For 35 EUR, you get the game, the goodies box and a sweet t-shirt (in either red or black).

4) Hasbro – Risk Legacy

Not even sure if this will be at Essen, but it’s new to me  (Though Spielbox has it listed at Risiko: Evolution – so I’m guessing that it will be at the fair). My preview copy just arrived, though it’ll take awhile to get stuff written up about it as we’ll probably need to play it a minimum of 3-5 times to start to see some of the changes (and a total of 15 plays to really get the world completely modified), but I’ll be sure to upload a few pictures soon.

OK – as in now I’ll upload some pics:

the unopened box

as soon as you open the box, you can see 4 envelopes with hidden stuff that you'll get to open later!

Closeup of two of those envelopes

The vac tray filled with components. Note that there are two bays on the left which are currently sealed.

The virgin board, not yet stickered or labeled

Sticker Sheet that will soon modify my game of Risk Legacy

It appears that even the rules will be modified!

5) Id&al editions – This is a French company that I hadn’t heard of before.  This year they have two games on offer at Essen.

The first is Burdigala, designed by Bruno Cathala.  The players take on the role of city planners building the city of Burdigala (Bordeaux).  There are 14 different buildings in each game, and they are completed as players place their cubes on them.  Each player has 4 meeples, on on their turn, they roll 2 dice and then must move one of their meeples the EXACT number on either of the dice.  Wherever that meeple stops, the player must then place a cube on the directly adjacent building space.  If this does not complete the building, the player scores a number of points equal to the number of cubes needed to complete the building.  If this completes the building, the tile is collected by the player and the player gets a special action as a result (printed on the reverse side of the tile).

If you happen to roll doubles, you have the option use some special shortcuts on the board (to compensate for the fact that you are limited in your movement choices).  You can also opt to take a corruption tile to take a second turn.  Corruption tiles are a balancing act because taking them will give you special benefits, but the player or players with the most at the end of the game will lose 5 points.  The other way to take corruption tiles is when you roll a total of 7 with the dice.  When this happens, you can choose to take a corruption tile and then place two cubes in the building site (when normally you would only place one).  You could also choose to take a corruption tile to collect a merchandise card – which are important for endgame scoring.

If you happen to roll the dice and are unable to make a legal move (mostly because you must land on an open space), you do not move and must instead remove one of your meeples from the board.

The game continues until all buildings are built, one player is out of meeples, OR all the merchandise cards are taken.  Then players score 2 points for each completed building they have in front of them.  Then merchandise cards are scored – there are 5 different types, and you score 1/3/6/10/15 for each set of 1/2/3/4/5 different merchandise cards.  Finally, the player with the most corruption tiles loses 5 points.

The other game they are showing is Kahmaté.  I have had the chance to play this one via an iOS version, and it’s an interesting take on a 2p rugby game designed by Igor Davin.   To start the game, you place your 6 players (each with different abilities/capabilities) on the back two rows of your side of the field.  Then, on your turn, you may move one or two players.  Each player has his own limit of movement.  If a player passes through the square with the ball, he picks it up automatically.  Once a player has the ball, he has three options, he can run with it, he can pass it to another teammate (backwards only of course), or he can kick it (up to three squares forward).  Remember that turns are fairly short because players can only move two of their ruggers each turn.   Tackles happen when a defender moves into the square with the ballholder.  To resolve this, each player has a hand of “fitness cards” which are numbered from 1 to 6, and one card is chosen to add to the tackle by both offense and defense.  (Once a card is used, it cannot be used again until all six fitness cards have been played.)  Each rugby player has a base value, and the number from the chosen fitness card is added to this.  Whichever player has a higher total number wins the tackle.  If there is a tie, players choose a second card to add to the battle.  If there is still another tie, the defender wins.  Whichever player wins the tackle takes possession of the ball, and whichever player lost the tackle seems to be out of the game for a turn and cannot move next turn.  The game continues until one side scores a try.

If you want to try the iOS version, it’s currently $3.99 in the iStore –

Preorder Burdigala for 25 euros :
Preorder Burdigala & Kahmaté for 40 euros :
Purchase Burdigala in the Id&aL editions booth 07 in Hall 9!

6) Ystari

From Cyril, the big boss at Ystari:

We will release 3 things :
1) Olympos expansion. Several new tiles to expand the game
2) Eclipse (French version)
3) Québec (coproduced with Le Scorpion Masqué). It is a very fine game (worker placement) very euro-styled where you build the city of Québec over 4 centuries.

I have had a peek at the new Olympos tiles.  There are three different sets of tiles, and they can be added to the existing tile set or used on their own.

  • New Discovery Tiles – these will be red-backed to distinguish them.
  • New Marvels – These new marvels will each be worth 8 VPs at the end of the game, but they also will give the player who acquires them a special ability to be used during the game
  • Objective tiles – there are 5 of these, of which 2 are chosen at random at the start of each game – such as “be the first to reach Atlantis”, etc.  Each of these are worth 3VP at the end of the game.

7) Gryphon games lineup – I have chatted with Keith Blume from Gryphon and their new games at Essen will include:

  • New England Rails
  • Buyword
  • Can’t Stop
  • Mirror Mirror
  • Montage

Unfortunately, The Road to Canterbury will not be at Essen.  It is apparently still is in production (in China) and will not be ready in time.

Also, I’ve seen that Gryphon will be distributing Santiago de Cuba (from Eggertspiele) back home.  Current plans are to ship their games home from Essen, so they should be available by the holidays.

8) Amalgam Games – Well, I don’t know much about this one, but I do know that one of the other Opinionated Gamers has Uskoci on his wishlist for Essen.  It’s Uskoci is subtitled “the game of Croatian Pirates”.  The short description available is: “In the basic game, players must combine treasures (valued 1-9) on their pile until they total exactly 25; what makes this difficult are the 14 event cards (Venetians, traitors, storms) that can mess with a player’s plans or change the value of a treasure, but thankfully they can also protect you. The more complex game adds card drafting to the mix, with the player who has the least treasure on the table drafting the most cards.  The rules in both games are for 3-6 players, with modifications that allow two players to go head-to-head.“   I’m also a bit intrigued by the box which isn’t quite rectangular.

9) Hurrican Games

I have chatted briefly with Bruno Cathala, and he has another game coming out at this Essen (other than Burdigala mentioned above).  Hurrican games will also be releasing Dr Shark, a family game designed in combination with Antoine Bauza.  From the Hurrican press release:

South Pacific – The famous Dr. Shark is organizing a cocktail party on his private island. This mysterious character is strongly suspected of being the head of a secret criminal organization.

You are a secret agent and you have just received an encrypted text message:

“Cocktail party organized by Dr Shark – important evidence probably hidden in pool – Attend party and recover evidence – Beware sharks! Invitation to follow by courier. IN THE EVENT OF FAILURE, WE WILL DENY ALL KNOWLEDGE OF YOUR ACTIVITIES. “

At the request of your country’s counter-intelligence services, you will mingle with other guests at the reception. Your mission: to dive into the pool to retrieve clues hidden by the infamous Dr. Shark. But beware: the pool is full of sharks!

Back on the surface, you will try to group your clues to form evidence. The secret agent who has put together the biggest dossier against Dr. Shark will have the privilege of putting him behind bars. Mission accomplished.  The other secret agents will be thrown into the pool …

In Dr Shark, which is especially innovative, it is of course the “gameplay”.  This game is ideal for families and allows children and adults to play together in a test of tactics and, above all, dexterity. To build up the evidence against Dr. Shark, we can only “see” with our fingers.

It’s an innovation in the world of games: Dr Shark is the first family game that uses the sense of touch. And this creates a unique experience.

You will have only thirty seconds per dive to recover as many clues as possible from the bottom of the pool, using only your sense of touch to recognize shapes and materials.

It can be played individually or in teams, which enhances the opportunities for play and allows for collective thinking and decision-making, and thus to be in a less competitive dynamic.

I’m definitely interested an games that use this touch/feel mechanic, and I’m looking forward to learning more about this (And trying it out myself at the Hurrican booth at the fair!)

10) The Austrian Game Museum and Hans im Gluck

One of the new promo items has been announced, the new exclusive expansion for Pantheon.  It appears to consist of six new god tiles:

11) Previews to come soon to the Opinionated Gamers blog: Nefarious, Shitenno, On The Cards, Ghost Stories: Black Secret, New Era, and a few more

OK – that’s it for now.  Time to get a few games played — hosting an Opinionated Gamers game night tonight, so I should get a chance to get a few more games to the table this week.

Until your next appointement,

The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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2 Responses to Essen Preview Part 9 – Sources for info and lots more new games

  1. James says:

    Minion Games will be there with 2 new releases: Kingdom of Solomon and Venture Forth. The Manhattan Project will be soon to follow in the states.

  2. Klaus C. says:

    Finally, someone likes the Uskoci not-exactly-rectangular box :) I saw their stand on my vacation to the Adriatic, and was drawn to it because of the very pretty pictures and the nice design of the box. I tried it, liked it, and then immediately bought it.

    And THEN I found out that first edition boxes come with a real wax seal adorning that cut corner (you can see it on this picture you posted). It really makes that special feeling of opening a new box even more special, an irrelevant but very thoughtful touch. I recommend the game.

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