Wednesday is always an exciting day at Essen for me because it usually signals the real start of the fair. Each year around noon, the press room is opened up and many of the companies are there showing off their new games. This generally serves as a great introduction to many games and gives both publishers and press a quieter chance to chat than on the convention floor. Some of the larger companies produce a pretty good presentation, replete with props and booth babes while other companies simply place a demo copy on a table and stand near in case you have any questions.
Well, we can actually go back to Tuesday night – since I last posted on this blog. Ran into Anthony Rubbo and had one of my favorite dinners, doner pizza accompanied by some of the popular german sodas like Mezzo Mix (half Coke and half Fanta) and apple schorle (think of a carbonate apple juice). We then headed back to the hotel for a few games. First up was a quick run thru the new Kosmos card game, Greg’s Tagebuch: von idioten umzingelt! While that may not sound like a great game, Greg’s Tagebuch is the German name for the Wimpy Kid Diary that you may have heard of here in the U.S.A.
As far as I know, there isn’t an English translation available yet, but Rubbo and I had enough German between us to get started on the game. Normally, I’m not looking for untranslated card games, but this one was designed by my good friend Friedemann Friese, and that alone makes it worth a look. The game itself is simple – you play as one of the characters from the book, and your job is the be the highest ranked kid in line. The game is set up with the player characters at the back of the line and six neutral grey cards at the front end. On your turn, you try to move up in rank through a push your luck maneuver. There is a stinky cheese card (actually “cheese curse” is how it is translated – which has a value of minus 3. The start player takes this card and then adds three cards from the deck, which have values from –2 to +3. This group of cards is handed to the next player face down – that next player is the active player. He then chooses one of the cards and reveals it. The number shown is the relative change in his position in line. If you draw the stinky cheese card, your turn automatically ends. If not the stinky cheese card, you can push your luck and draw another card. Whenever your turn ends – when you choose to stop or when you draw the stinky cheese, you sum up all revealed cards and move your character up or down in line accordingly. For instance, if your drawn cards sum to +2, you move ahead of two people in line. The game continues until one of the players reaches the front of the line. Everyone gets one more turn, and whomever is furthest forward at that time wins. It’s a decent game, and given the target market of the Wimpy Kid books, it will definitely be suitable for that age gamer as well. There is fair amount of shuffling and card manipulation in the game though, so it wouldn’t surprise me if the cards ended up getting bent or mangled by little hands.
The other game we played was Hey Froggy! – Anthony’s new release via R&R games. It has cute little plastic frogs in the box which actually jump when you press their backsides – though interestingly, that has nothing to do with gameplay. You start the game with 4 stacks of frogs on 4 adjacent lily pads. What you are concerned about is the color of the frog on the top of each of the stacks. You will move the frogs around the lily pad circle and then try to score the cards in your hands. The cards are in each of the four colors and range in value from 0-3. You can choose to score a card if the number/color combination matches the status of the top frogs on each stack. For instance, if there were four stacks of frogs in the game, and the top colors of each were: red, red, blue, green – you could conceivable score the Red 2 card, the Blue 1 card, the Green 1 card and the Yellow 0 card. You have a hand of 4 cards, and you score 1-2-4-7 points for 1-2-3-4 cards which match the current situation. First to score the target number of points wins.
Ok, that catches you up to now (and that’s probably the only game summaries you’ll get out of me this week – for the rest of the week it will be nothing but furious picture uploading in the few minutes of downtime that I get… So back Wednesday and the pictures:
The 2F booth is now crammed with boxes. Amazingly, this isn’t even all the boxes they are due to receive this week!
Apparently I’m worth two coins
Poor Azubi was put in charge of punching out all the German Suburbia Essen Promo tiles. The carnage on the floor was from the first 1/3 of tiles sets punched out!
QBQ from Huch! and Friends. An interesting abstract game where you try to get your cubes from one corner to the other
In the press room, Herr Teuber was showing off his new Android app which is a Catan helper. He’s here explaining it to Herr Knizia.
Auf der Nusse – from AMIGO – a push your luck dice game. I’m looking forward to trying this one out
A new game from HABA where the game makes shadow puppets
Tetris Link was on display but no one was there to explain it, so it remains a mystery to me
The Palaces of Carrara – this is the German HiG version,but I talked to Zev who is expecting English copies to make it by tomorrow.
Speaking of Carrara, Herr Kramer was nice enough to explain it for me. He did say that there are two versions of the game – one for families and one for “gamers”.
Il Vecchio is another one of the new games I’m hoping to learn more about.
Lots of good chatter about Noblemen.
My first glimpse about Journalist – I still haven’t been able to read the rules, so I’m not sure what to make of it yet
A pirate and his huge Riff Raff ship. This was an actual working version of the game
An Andor girl in the foreground, designer Michael Menzel in the back
That was pretty much my trip through the new releases hall. This year, the attendance seemed a bit higher on the press side, and the attendance on the publisher side seemed a little lower. Not sure why this happened- but it was still a great chance to look around at some of the new games.
I’ll finish out the day with pictures from wandering the halls
This cage has the first additions to the 2012 BGG.con game library
In case you wanted to know, this year’s special Catan board is Mallorca.
FF really does look like a politician on the cover of his new game
The Germans… know how to do Twister right.
Eric Martin and I had a chance to play Banana Matcho at the ZOCH reception. A nice little push your luck dice game with the added time element of racing against an opponent.
You know that secret game that AEG was talking about. It’s called Guildhall. And it’s so secret that they didn’t even have any t show on the floor. Actually… they were due to come in by 5pm on Wednesday and simply weren’t here by the time that I took this picture
Other notes from today
- The box for Spellbound is OMG huge. My picture of it didn’t turn out, but I’ll get one tomorrow. Looks like the Fragor brothers had favorable news about the print run and were able to get copies closer to the upper end of the predictions.
- I have heard from a number of sources that the Messe Halls may be reconfigured for next year. One of the prevailing plans is to reduce the current 12 hall system into 4 ginormous halls. Not sure how true this is nor what this change would do to the setup of the booths.
- Jeff Allers’ game, Nieuw Amsterdam, will not make the show :(
- I slightly turned my ankle this afternoon on the wet pavement and have been limping around all evening. Hopefully a mega dose of Advil will straighten that out. Otherwise, It’s going to be a long week. Apparently, I must have overtrained for Essen
- The new AEG bags that I got at GenCon are awesome and super-huge, but may not be able to be completely filled to the brim. However, even at half-full, it holds as much, if not more, than my usual IKEA bag and the handles don’t compromise the bloodflow to my fingers.
- My bratwurst mit brotchen count stands at 2
- Managed to collect 14 games today while wandering around. This is a nice total that will save me time later in the week
- Too early to talk about any buzz. Plenty of gamers were picking stuff up, but with the general prohibition on selling games, it was mostly limited to picking up prepaid preorders. Most booths weren’t ready to do demos yet
- In an interesting twist, Qin (Eggerspiele/R&R) debuts at SPIEL 2012. So does the iOS version – at the same time. I can’t remember if this has ever happened before. Anyways, played QIN a few times on the iPad last night as well – a nice little abstract tile laying game
- It was hard to talk about soccer today – I was excited because the US pulled out a victory against Guatemala and put us into the final stage of qualifications. However, most of the Germans didn’t want to talk about the stunning 4-4 tie that their team had with Sweden.
- In other sports news, every year we come, team handball is on every evening on TV. I am a lover of just about any sport, but it’s taking me a long time to warm up to this one. Of course, I’m still watching it every night, so that must say something…
- Will Niebling from Elfinwerks is bringing a number of titles back to the US including Swordfish, Out of Gears, Ark & Noah.
- This evening, I had a chance to play a prototype from Game Works – tentatively called Time Stories. We played a fascinating scenario which was a mystery – and gave it three runs over the course of an evening. I’m not really a coop game guy, but if we had had more time, I would have pushed for a fourth game to try to beat the darn thing. Tentatively scheduled for Essen 2013 and is the first game on my 2013 list.
- Room 25 (Matagot) doesn’t look like it made it
- By my count, I’ve played more games at Essen this year already than I did all last year!
Ok – time for bed. It’s been a LONG day, and we have to wake up early tomorrow for the first real day! Hopefully I will have enough energy to post some pics tomorrow night.
Until your next appointment,
The Game Doctor