Dale Yu: Thoughts on the upcoming Nürnberg Spielwarenmesse

Man, I am still playing new games from those brought back from Essen in October, and the other huge trade fair on the annual calendar is ready to go! Each February, the Spielwarenmesse occurs where the game companies preview their upcoming releases for the year.  Unlike the Spiel Fair (held in Essen each October), many of the games on show at Nürnberg will not be immediately available for sale. In fact, some of the games shown here might not be available until Essen this fall – though I’d bet that the majority of these games will hit store shelves prior to that. Also, unlike Essen, this trade show is not open to the public, so it is definitely more of a “trade show” than the spectacle/exhibition that the Spiel in Essen has become.

I definitely try to keep my eye on the list of Nürnberg games to see what is coming down the road, but I also am not as enthusiastic about the Nürnberg list because many of the games won’t be available for awhile still. To further my frustration, it’s often difficult to figure out which games will be available sooner than others. And since I’m the instant gratification kinda guy, it’s hard for me to get all excited about the new games and then be told that I have to wait until Summer to try them out!

This year, the fair starts on February 1. Hopefully, as the fair happens, there will be more word from the companies as to which games will be available soon! Regardless of release date, there are a lot of new games on show this year – and I’ll take a short break from (real) work to highlight the ones that interest me.

These are the games that interest me the most (in alphabetical order by game title)

Battle Beyond Space (Frank Branham / Z-Man games) – I played a version of this game maybe 5 years ago (if I remember correctly), and it was a hoot!  And, this is coming from someone who isn’t big on the whole blowing ships up genre….  The designer is one of the contributors here at the OG – Frank Branham.   From his description of the game on BGG:

Each player starts with 2 Capital Ships, and 18 fighters organized into 3 squadrons. The game is 9 turns, and you have a card for each turn. The board is filled with open space, asteroids and a few victory point markers in the center.  Each turn, you draw a card which tells you to move one squadron and how to turn them, move and turn one capital ship, and then everything fires at one target within 2 hexes… Each player also has a secret weapon dealt out at random from a deck of 12. Some of these are one shot Death Blossom-like things, some are permanent powers.

That is actually almost the game. No dice to determine damage–being in front of someone is simply your death. Notice also that fighters only turn AFTER moving and firing. You know the direction a player’s next fighter attack can come from, but not the range. There are enough fighters on the map that almost nowhere is safe after the first turn.
You have 20 ships to start, and after 9 turns, you only have 0-8 left.

Says Frank, “I started the design after watching the big giant mega-huge space battle at the climax of Babylon 5. I really wanted to play a big, giant space battle with dozens of ships per side. And so I went on a grand tour of space battle games…and the idea of big giant battle done quickly is 6-8 ships per side in “only 3-4 hours”. (Silent Death might be the fastest. I bet you could get a 20 ship battle in 3 hours.) Still, it took me years to rip things out and trim out choices to get the thing down to 30-60 minutes with 60-80 ships.”

Again, not my usual type of game, but 30-60 minutes should be a fun romp and something the kids will like to play too!


BITS Mitbringspiel (Reiner Knizia / Ravensburger) – I love these little boxed games from Kosmos.  They usually cost 5-7 EUR, and they easily fit in a bag or backpack for some fun while on the road.  This one provides a mini-version of BITS, which can still be played by up to four players.  Obviously, with a smaller play area, the game isn’t quite as complex, but sometimes that has to be sacrificed for portability.


Carcassone mini-expansions (Klaus-Jurgen Wrede/Hans im Gluck) – there will be SIX different mini-expansions shown at the fair.

  • The Messenger
  • The Ferries
  • The Flier
  • The Goldmines
  • The Robber
  • Mage & Witch

It has already been reported that Rio Grande Games will be doing the English versions of these – so even though I desperately want them, I know that they will eventually make it over here…


Indigo (Reiner Knizia / Ravensburger) – This is a tile-laying game where players attempt to create pathways to allow them to deliver gemstones onto their locations.  It has already drawn comparisons to Tsuro, Metro and Linie 1 – all of which are games that I adore.  I don’t know anything else about the game yet, but I’m pretty sure that this is one that I HAVE to have.  It also is one of my immediate front-runners for Spiel des Jahres based on description alone.  I, of course, reserve the right to change my mind on that if it turns out to be un-fun once played.


PIX (Laurent Escoffier, David Franck / Gameworks) – This was a game that was high on my list at Essen 2011, but it wasn’t ready yet. It’s a party game, that’s kinda like Pictionary, but you have to draw your pictures using a limited number of pixels. The fewer pixels you use, the earlier you get to show your drawing, but also likely the harder it will be for the others to guess what you drew! Looks like fun times, but this is only going to be released in France, so I don’t know if I’ll ever get to try this one out.


Star Trek Catan (Klaus Teuber / KOSMOS) – Well, the time has finally come to license out one of the most popular game franchises in the hobby.  The game is mostly Settlers of Catan that you’re used to with some Star Trek theme added to it – the resources in the game are now: dilithium, tritanium, food, oxygen and water.  Additionally, there are some character cards added to the game which give players a personalized special ability.  I honestly have a serious overload of Catan versions at home already, but I’ll admit that I’m looking pretty hard at this one just to have it on the shelf next to all the other pretty shrinkwrapped varieties…


Step by Step (Bernhard Lach, Uwe Rapp / Schmidt) – The next entry in the Easy Play line which has insidiously taken the inside track for new gateway games and fillers for my game group.  Though, I wasn’t a big fan of Top&Down last year, most of the Easy Play games have been big hits around here.  This one is descibed as a push-your-luck dice game, akin to Can’t Stop, but adds in some bidding to help make things more interesting.


Ubongo Trigo (Grzegorz Rejchtman / KOSMOS)part of the Mitbringspiel small box line – this game uses triangles as the basis to forming shapes in this addition to the puzzle game line.  There is no sand timer in this version, instead – once a player solves a board, he simply counts out loud to 20 to give all players a fair chance at finishing their puzzle.  I love these little MBS boxes for both their size and cost.  The retail price of this one is likely 6 to 7 EUR.

Urbanization (Johnny Ebsen / Queen) – Well, this is a game from someone who is an unknown to me.  But, it’s a big box from Queen and it’s about city building.  Sadly, there’s almost no other information available on this one…


Wurfel Bohnanza (Uwe Rosenberg / AMIGO) – Yes. A dice version of Bohnanza. I probably don’t have to say more. If you’re like me, that’s enough to signal a high level of interest. Apparently you roll 7 dice to try to fulfill bean orders. First one to earn 13 dollars wins.


Zooloretto Wurfelspiel (Michael Schacht / Abacus) – I’m interested in this for a number of reasons… the most important being that I am really really tired of Zooloretto, but I still play it a lot as my kids love it. I’m hoping that the boys will like the dice game of similar theme, and I can get a bit of variety in my gaming at home.


This list is for the games that interested me enough to read up on (and write about here), but I’m not dying to get a copy right now…

Africana (Michael Schacht / Abacus) – A new take on the book system first seen in Valdora. You’re trying to pick up and deliver treasures from one part of Africa to the other. Looks like this one is German only right now, though like Valdora, I assume the cards should be easily pasted up.  I’ll admit that Valdora wasn’t my favorite game, but I do think the book mechanic merits some further exploration.


Die Tore der Welt: Das Kartenspiel – the one sentence fragment description which tells me all I need to know: “a card game version of World Without End, takes the basic mechanism of the big game and breaks it down to a game with 90 cards”.   Of course, what remains to be seen is whether or not there is a need for a second version of this game when I still have the big box board game in the collection.

Keltis: das Wurfelspiel – So, if you haven’t noticed, I’m a sucker for dice games.  The only thing holding that back from being in the first list is that I’m simply not a huge fan of Keltis.


Lakota – This game was previously known as Tasso, and I had the chance to play that one a few years ago.  This is an interesting abstract game where you have a bunch of sticks, and you get to play one each turn.  If you’re able to play your stick so that it lies on top of two others, you can place another one.

Locomotive Werks– This is one of my alltime favorite Winsome titles, and it is getting a nice re-release via Queen Games.  I’m not sure if any rules changes are being made to the game in this release.  If I didn’t already have the first edition copy of the game, this would have made the first list…


Santa Cruz(Marcel-André Casasola Merkle / Hans im Gluck) – again, not a lot of info on this one, but I generally love HiG games, and I like MACM games.  Therefore, this one is pretty much instantly on my radar, even if not much is known about it.

Vegas (Rudiger Dorn / alea) – not much is known about this… in fact, the only description at BGG is: “”an easy, dice-rolling fun-and-luck game with a lot of interaction and ‘schadenfreude’ Vegasrates a 1 out of 10 on alea’s difficulty scale.” Heck, I need more games with schadenfreude, don’t I? Hopefully this will go over better than Rum and Pirates… I do think that Stefan Brucke has a good eye for games, so I’m still interested, but our tastes have matched more on the heavier titles than the lighter ones.

Waka Waka (Rudiger Dorn / KOSMOS) – Another game set in the world of Jambo – this is a trading game.  The catch here is that you don’t always know what you’re trading for!  There are ways to peek at the goods on offer, but there’s plenty of room for bluffing and deduction as well.


Wanzen Tanzen (Reinhard Staupe / AMIGO ) – This looks like it would be a fun filler or game to play with the kids. Roll dice, try to finish tasks on the cards on the table. You have the option to re-roll all your dice if you take a penalty bug, and if you are the first to collect five bugs, you have to take a penalty card. Looks to be an interesting twist on the press-your-luck dice game as you now also get to manage/risk the penalty bugs. As a bonus, it is small and inexpensive, so I have a shot at getting this to come back to see me.


The other thing I noted in looking at the new games is that there are a LOT of re-releases here, some with new themes, but many simply being straight reprints of older successful games.

  • Bühne frei! – was Freeze from BeWitched Games
  • Coloretto – I think it’s just in a new box
  • Crazy Circus – a reprint of that kiddie-game mindbender known as Maniki! (Which is a game I will never ever play with Eric Martin again…)
  • Cuba – a reprint of the game with Pegasus-spiele involved now
  • Goa – a classic one from Rudiger Dorn
  • Grimoria – reprint of Grimoire, a Japanese game released a few years ago
  • Halali! (also known as Tally Ho!)
  • Halli Galli Tupperware – same game, but in a handy travel approved plastic container
  • Hive Pocket – a mini version in a bag that you can take with you
  • Kahuna – aka Arabana-Ikibiti and aka Kanaloa
  • Lost Cities – apparently there will be a 4p variant in this as well – though you need 2 copies of the game to play it
  • Matschig – AMIGO is releasing this old Fanfor title. (OK, I’m not sure that this one was a big hit the first time around, but it gets another go-round in 2012)
  • Rosenkonig – Yet another one of the Kosmos 2p Games to be reprinted
  • Wallenstein – aka Shogun

The other thing I’ve noticed is that there must be 50 games on exhibit by Dr. Knizia – spanning about every company and genre.  It’s clear that his designs are in high demand – good for him!

So, here’s hoping for a bit more news in the week to come so I can flesh out my want list for the Spring.  With any luck, I’ll have the chance to play some of the earlier releases this April at the Gathering of Friends!

Until your next appointment,

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.
This entry was posted in Convention Report. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Dale Yu: Thoughts on the upcoming Nürnberg Spielwarenmesse

  1. John Bohrer says:

    “Locomotive Werks– This is one of my alltime favorite Winsome titles, and it is getting a nice re-release via Queen Games. I’m not sure if any rules changes are being made to the game in this release.”

    No rules changes, just nifty bits, color rules, mounted board and a real box from Queen Games!

  2. Pete says:

    Jeez…looks like the Year Of The Light Dice Games has continued into 2012! I like the idea of that Zooloretto one…I really love that game, still, after 2 years or so.

  3. peer says:

    I have played Indigo. Its pretty. I would describe it as a more sophisticated version of Tsuro. It has the tile laying / crazy lines aspect of Tsuro, but since the cards are used to move neutral stones you dont get hosed with one bad tile. So its less frustrating, but its not more planable. Which youre prefer is a matter of taste, In my book, Indogo has the edge. But its max. 4 players.

  4. Jacob says:

    The only game that interests me on this list is Urbanization – the one you have no information about. I hope to read something about it soon.

    • Dale Yu says:

      Yeah, unfortunately, I don’t have a good pipeline for info from Queen right now… (As evidenced by my lack of information on Locomotive Werks as well). The theme alone is enough to intrigue me, and that’s the beauty of the Nurnberg list – unlike Essen where you have information overload, you get a lot of conjecture and guessing about this list….

  5. SpielZug says:

    Iám looking forward for TARGI , the new 2 Player Game in the Kosmos for Two series. Sounds like a intresting and fun game. But it´s language dependent, because there is german text on the cards.

    • Dale Yu says:

      I’d given up on the 2p game line a long time ago (maybe around Flowerpower)… Not because they’re not awesome games, but mostly because I rarely have occasion to play 2p games. Certainly, not enough to merit owning games that can ONLY be played by two.

      I definitely thing Targi is going to be a good game, just not one on my list.

      • SpielZug says:

        Gladly i am married to a wife who likes boardgames a much as I do. So very often we play our boardgames together. Sadly a lot of games who work very well with 3 or 4 players don´t work so well with only two persons. So therefore I look forward to play a game witch is fine tuned exactly for 2.

        • Dale Yu says:

          And I’m the other way around!

          I’ve been playing these games of ours since about 1990. In that time, I think my wife has played fewer than 10 games with me. She, in fact, has never once played Dominion with me – despite the fact that I’ve probably played it over 1,000 times in my basement.

          And… with my two kids, it’s rare that only one of them wants to play a game. The magic number in my household right now is actually 3.

  6. Dale Yu says:

    @JohnBohrer – Thanks for the updated info! Congratulations on having another game get licensed.

    @Pete – Yeah, not sure why there are so many new dice games coming down the pipe. Obv, I’m not complaining – but maybe it’s the next trend. Now that deck-builders are so last year, maybe it’s time for a year or two of dice games before the industry can find a new dead horse to beat.

  7. Doug says:

    Wow, I was making tongue in cheek comments about Keltis the Dice Game in 2010, and here it is…

  8. Chuck Waterman says:

    I’m *really* intrigued by Waka Waka. Any news Dale, on how many players and time length? Jambo is a big hit here – my wife and I love it and I have one or two friends who do too. I’d love to see this be a good 3-4 player game similar in some ways to Jambo!

Leave a Reply