Essen Preview #26 – Liga’s last minutes notes

Hi gamers, I take a break from my Interviews to be part of the usual pre-Essen hype. Here some last minutes notes for Essen. Nothing really enough to call it a real preview but something I really would like to share with other gamers. Of course, since I’m from Italy, most of this notes are about Italian publishers and/or designers … but not only Italy this time since I was lucky enough to have some first hand infos also by other publishers (some one is discovering that, with some help, I’m also able to write English previews/reviews!).

Here my notes in alphabetical order:

999 Games
Aquileia (999 Games, Zoch) by Pier Volontè (Cielo d’oro)

I already wrote about this game in my BGG news article and I’m really curious to see the final result. Winning Archimede Prize is not easy and the game has all the chance to make well. Having tested the great new Cielo d’oro prototype (Sestrieri is the actual name of the project), Aquleia, that seems to be a solid worker-placement title, is for sure in my “to buy” list.

Tuareg (Adlung) by Francesco Berardi

I’m really happy to see this games published. Was really long time ago when I got this prototype in my hands. The game started in 2005 and was the first Francesco Berardi game. It really take a long and circuitous route before finally arrive in Adlung and in Essen this year. The game is about trading and camels: a simple card game but it works (at least in the early version I was lucky enough to try) really well.
Here what Francesco wrote to me about the development of this game:

Tuareg is a game that I developed in 2005. The first idea was a 110 card game, play-tested during meetings (IDEAG and GiocAutori) and other conventions in Italy (Lucca and Modena).
After the deployment with the help by Cogito Studio, Tuareg was ready to be proposed to the publishers. But despite good first impressions, it didn’t find a publisher. So, after the first negative results, with Studiogiochi we tried different ways: I developed a boardgame version (with board and tiles) and a 66 card game for Adlung.
After 2 years we didn’t receive any news about Tuareg, so we thought that this game should be unpublished… but now, in 2011, Adlung decided to publish it!
I was very surprised and happy, and now I hope you should play and appreciate this game.

Albe Pavo
SAKE & SAMURAI (Albe Pavo) by Matteo Santus

I talk about this game in my preview on BGG News. I have had time to play it in his final version (I got a copy delivered at home last week!) and my impressions are good. The game looks like a light card game but it has some depth. The idea of the movement/distance between Samurai works well and the neighbors interaction, something close to the one we have seen in 7 Wonders, is nice. Playing it in 7-8 really could take more than 45 minutes and it seems like a real “tournament” with small fight between neighbors in the beginning and Samurai winning the battles getting close and close to the last opponent. The Spirits of Enma in 6+ players games could be really annoying: otherwise to be the best one you need to win against the livings and the deaths.
Playing with 3-4 players is a really a different experience. The game is more strategic and the Spirits of Enma have really less chances to beat the livings.
I think this game could be really well received because it is thematic and have a good mechanic.

Angelo Porazzi Games
Assist (Angelo Porazzi Games) by Angelo Porazzi and Marco Donadoni

Angelo long time ago take the route of producing light family games/party games and, in this category, is becoming a real expert. His games (starting from TA-TA-TA down to this year release Assist) are easy and fun to play: what can you ask more from party game ? I was lucky enough to have a copy of Assist at PLAY: The Games Festival, back in march. I’m not a party-games fans but Assist is really good and fulfill the promises: easy to learn and funny to play.

But what really stroked me about this game is how Angelo was able to engross many “entities” (Marco Donadoni, CartaMundi, Spielmaterial) making something really more than a simple card game: I would like to say Assist is an example how really a game could be a joint project.

Here what Angelo wrote me about this project, with his usual great oratory:

Assist is a Pokery-Family Game designed by Angelo Porazzi together with his “Luding Master” Marco Donadoni. As Warangel, the first game of Angelo of 1996, was dedicated to Zargo’s Lords, one of the most appreciated game of Donadoni, now, after 15 years in the luding world, Angelo has the pleasure and honour to join his creative passion to the experience of one of the most prolific game designer in Italy.
In Assist you see many artwork of Porazzi appreciated worldwide (Vicious Fishes last year): every Illustration Card report the year like in a PhotoGallery, starting from 1986 with the “Valkirye on Dragon” that is first illustration of Warangel, now in the middle of Assist cover.
The game is the fruit of an international collaboration: two Italian designers, Cartamundi from Belgium as printer, Spielmaterial from Germany as furnisher of the “Neurons” the coloured coins inside the game, used to bet and raise, like in Poker.

What about the game? Make your question OR give your answer. This is the soul of Assist.
On your turn you can play one of your three Question Card – OR – try to guess the secret world chosen by the dealer.
Every question you play can become a big “Assist” for other players: so choose well your questions …OR give the solution!
You can bluff like in Poker: maybe you do not know the solution and you play an “All-In” to stun your opponents, you can win and have a lot of fun also this way.
Is a game created to speak and listen, two verbs that are so precious for kids and adults too.

You can see the game well described on Official Page.
The game comes with in Italian, English, German, French Rules. You can read the full rule-sheet on BGG Assist page

Days of Wonder

Here some quick notes Adrien, from Days of Wonders staff, wrote me about Dow in Essen:

So we’ll get some novelties:
Ticket to Ride Asia Expansion will introduce two new map. Small World Tunnel (free at our booth), a free mini expansions to connect Small World and Small World Underground

About this you can find details from Eric W. Martin on BGG News.

Adrien also wrote me that gamers will be able to play on DoW booth all the recent releases: T2R Team Asia and Legendary Asia, Small World Underground, Cargo Noir,…
Also, gamers will be able to play some of DoW digital boardgames on iPad: Ticket to Ride and Small World.

dV Giochi
Lady Werewolf’s Revenge (dV Giochi) by Domenico di Giorgio and Andrès J. Voicu

dV Giochi will have in Essen the first expansion to Lupus in Tabula, his really nice Wherewolf implementation. Lady Werewolf’s revenge brings into Lupus in Tabula new characters and special rules to play without moderator. A really good expansion for Lupus in Tabula fan. I have played it and I think it really works well. Apart for Lady Werefolf herself some new characters are really great! Amleto, that can join his destiny to another characters, or Baron Samedi, able to revive a death characters. Really a lot of new ideas to Lupus in Tabula addicted looking for something news.

Cranio Creations
Dungeon Fighter (Cranio Creations, IELLO, Heildeberger) by Aureliano Bonfino, Lorenzo Silva, Lorenzo Tucci Sorrentino

Apart from the new Horse Fever release (new rules and nice new wooden horses), Cranio Creations will bring in Essen his new Dungeon Fighter, a really original Dungeon Crawl game that could really compete with Catacombs.
You can read something more about this game in my BGG News preview.
I really like Cranio Creations’s attention in graphics and illustrations: all their games looks like small piece of arts and also Cranios are used to amaze with nice presentations in Essen … we will see this year what they are preparing!

Ghenos Games

This time Ghenos will release also title not really related to sports.

Lupin the 3rd (Ghenos Games) by Pierluigi Frumusa

A real hit for Lupin the 3rd fans. You can read my preview on BGG News.

Lamborghini: the official race game (Ghenos Games) by Pierluca Zizzi

This year Pierluca will be in Essen with two very different games: a German style game,. Arcanum, using Tarots as core engine and Lamborghini, a licensed race game. After Caligula I think Pierluca is one of the most innovative Italian designer and i’m always curious to see his designs. Here my preview on BGG News.

Leader1: Hell of the North (Ghenos Games) by Christophere Leclerq and Allain Ollier

I’m a Leader1 fan and so I can’t miss this new installation of the games. The new rules and add-ons are for me enough to include this in my “to buy” list. Here my preview on BGG News.
Upon a Salty Ocean (, Rio Grande Games, Rocks Games) by Marco Pranzo

I’m quite curious about this game. Unlucky I discovered the designer got a problem and probably will not attend Essen. But the game, of course, will be there. Here my preview on BGG News.

LEGO Games
HEROICA (LEGO) by Cephas Howard, Nicolas Assenbrunner and Thomas Robert Van der Heiden

All the 4 HEROICA games will be in Essen, I think. I’m really curious to see if there is something official about the future of this series. Since I’m collaborating with LEGO Italia in the LEGO Games and HEROICA projects I’m not allowed to say nothing. What I can say is that the story talk about the freedom of Kingdom of Ennon but after the last battle and the conquest of Castle Fortaan, The Barbarian and The Mage discovered that the true king was not there. I hope this is an open door to a sequel but I would like to see if there is something official about it revealed in Essen by LEGO.

Lo Scarabeo
Arcanum (Lo Scarabeo) by Andrea Chiarvesio and Pierluca Zizzi

I wrote a lot about this game (here my preview posted on BGG News), that I consider really a good title. My full review will be published in the next Gamers Alliance Report issue and an Italian review is online on
I think in Essen there will be also available some copy of “The Witch”, a mini-expansion for the game.

Minion Games
Kingdom of Salomon (Minion Games) by Philip duBarry

James from Minion Games wrote me something about their Essen release.
Kingdom of Solomon, Nitro Dice, Grave Business, NILE deLuxor, Five Fingered Severance, and a few copies of Pesky Humans and Legitimacy will be there from our old print runs.
Manhattan Project and Venture Forth will only be there as demos, not for sale.

Here what he wrote me about Kingdom of Salomon:

Kingdom of Solomon is a worker-placement game with some interesting new twists and turns. The game supports 2-4 players and takes about 60 minutes. Players are governors tasked with building and expanding Solomon’s vast kingdom. Each turn players must allocate their five or six workers across the board, claiming either resources or action spaces. They may also claim one of the three powerful bonus spaces but at the cost of all their remaining workers. Next, each player resolves his claimed spaces, collecting resources and performing actions. Then, players may buy and/or sell resources in the market—supply and demand is a real concern.

Finally, players may build one of the four available buildings, blocking the other players from one of the resource spaces on the board and earning points plus a new private action space. Players may also build roads, which connect resource spaces together. These new regions can be activated by one worker, collecting all of the resources in that region. And of course, players may help build part of the Temple. The Temple gives either points or access to the High Priest and the ability to place a worker in another player’s space as well as a nice endgame bonus. Once the eleven building sites have been claimed or the Temple is finished or one player manages to build five buildings, the game is over.

Kingdom of Solomon resulted from many months of development and the help of many clever playtesters. Our Kickstarter campaign was a huge success, raising over $10,000. Even during this final push, the game took on a few important changes. Many gamers objected to this Bible-themed game containing an “Idol” space, so we decided to rename it the “Altar”. Soon after, we introduced the game at GenCon. These demos went very well, but a few people misunderstood the strategy surrounding the Temple and ended up forcing the game to end prematurely. Just before the final printing, we added several spaces to this part of the board. In the end, Kingdom of Solomon provides a tight and exciting experience for a wide range of gamers. I am very happy with the finished game and eagerly await its release at Essen.

Venture Forth (Minion Games) by Dan Manfredini

Venture Forth is a strategy adventure game (in a Greek mythological world) in which players populate a map with encounters and then send their adventurers into to explore. Players can earn ‘will’ to gain victory points or increase the level of their adventurers, coins to recruit new adventurers or gain boons at the temples, and treasures which can be used for victory points or for their special abilities. In addition, players must learn to manage their adventurers’ despair, which counts against their final score at the end of the game.

Placentia Games
Florenza (Post Scriptum, Placentia Games, Elfinwerks) by Stefano Groppi

I discovered friday night (having a play-test session of Stefano Groppi new prototype) that they will be attending Essen bringing a small number of Florenza copies. Actually the last copies I think of a game I was almost sure was sold-out last year in Essen.

Portal Games

I have already wrote enough about Pret-a-Porter (here and on BGG News) that I really like to see in his final version. I have also recently interviewed Ignacy, the designer. For me, actually, it will be one of the greatest hit in Essen if gamers would like to give a chance to this great economic game looking under the stylish cover!

I also have had a look to New Era, the new 51st State implementation. As Dale wrote in his article a really upgrade on a already good game. Another “to buy” in my wish list.

011 (Scribas, Elfinwerks, Heidelberger and Runadrake ) by Marco Valtriani

I have already wrote about this game in my BGG News article. As wrote before, what is nice about 011 is also the project around it: a project where the game is only a part. Here some fresh notes I got from Marco (designer) about the game and the project:

First of it all, in Essen there will be a really limited print-run of hand painted miniatures [link1, link2] sold at 30 euros. Also Runadrake joined the 011 project together with Elfinwerks e Heidelberger. In Italy, 011 will be distributed by Raven Distribution.
The second new is about the movie. The first of the short movie “011 – Adulruna Rediviva” will be projected at Lucca Comics & Games 2011, Friday 28 at 13:00, at Ingellis room. The video will be included in the next Therion’s DVD that will be soon published (someone say close to Christmas).
And, last but not least, the 011 Novel by Paolo Vallerga will be published in all likelihood in 2012: the idea is to have a series of events and pieces of work to keep 011 project dynamic.

About Andrea "Liga" Ligabue

Andrea "Liga" Ligabue is a game expert contributing to many games related international projects including Gamers Alliance Report, WIN, ILSA Magazine and Boardgamenews. Member of the International Gamers Awards Committee is coordinator of Play - The Games Festival and founder of the project Ludoteca Ideale.
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