Here we are! Essen Messe day 1. Thousands gamers gathering in the north of Germany, despite the bad weather and the terrible food. Thousands of gamers crushing their pigs full of money to buy almost everything publishers and designers are promoting in stand every year more appealing. Does the nice looking girls and the expert gamers, with long beards, demonstrators succeed in getting a sold out before Saturday of a small print-run game no one will remember in two years from now ? Who will be the stars of the 2015 edition ? Will be BGG Buzz or Fairplay a good thermometer of what’s going on ? The man selling the spiral potatos will be able to survive the horde of hungry people at his small barrack ? We will be able to resist to the compulsive desire to buy everything is looking more than average in the fear of not getting home the hottest games ? (Probably no!)
Keep reading Father in the Messe report if you want to know something more but remember, the only real answer is always 42!
Everything started in the press office where me and Caterina were suggesting to the girl working there a nice Italian restaurant with very good “gnocchi al tartufo” sadly discovering, later in the evening, it doesn’t exist anymore …
It was 9:45 when we met Dale in the hall 3. It was a very nice beginning. I’m always surprised how it is possible to meet each other ever year without any appointment.
We stopped at Matagot playing Barony. Thanks to a very pour rules explanation we are able to play the game wrong for the first 15 minutes. Than we ask to another one and get the right rules, but it was not really an improvement. We both doesn’t liked the game at all: too much abstract and not fun. Move, build, move, upgrade, move, change, move, build, fight (oooh!), move, move …. zzzzz …. hey! Dad, is your turn … my turn ? Again ? Probably someone will like it (it has something good ) but it is not for us.
We both liked CV and so we stop at Grama to try CVilization. We were lucky because the designer himself explained us the rules and played with us. Usually there is nothing worse to have the designers at your table because they are avid of attention and are used to stop the game telling you funny stories about the design or commenting like “good, you have done what I suppose was the best choice” or “ah! Ok, is your decision but you will see in the end it was not the best choice”. Luckily he was a good player and demonstrator and we discovered he was the designer just in the end when he tell us he has to leave for the BGG’s interview. The game is simple. Every turn you decide two actions from 8 possible: taking resources (food, stone or wood), trade, steal from other player, duplicate an action, make people fun. Fun (actually smiles) are victory points. One of the action is played face-up and one face-down. You can have an idea of what’s going on but no certainty. If you are the only one playing an action you perform it normally; if two players perform the same action they do it with more power; three or more and the action is performed really bad. After the actions you can buy one of the four available ideas that will give you smiles (in the end of the game) and a special ability/power like “get one more food every time you take the haunting action”.
Which cards playing (looking what other players are playing or remembering the already played cards) and which ideas to buy are the tactic and strategic decisions. After three rounds (you will play 6 cards out of 8) you will get back your cards and start a new round with all the 8 in your hamds. After 3 rounds (so 9 turns) the game end. In the last round (turn from 7 to 9) the ideas cards are taken from a special deck, with more powerful cards.
The game is easy to play but really fun. There is a good player interaction, tactics (in each turn) and strategy (planning the three rounds); the ideas cards will help you to have a long time strategy and sometimes will give you extra point in the end. Caterina get 23 points, we both 19.
After that with go at Iello to play Sapiens where you have to place tiles on a map trying to get food point or getting into caves to acquire shelter points. In the end your score will be the lower of the two. During your turn you have to play one of your four tiles. Every tile has two part, each with a different symbol. To play you have to connect to one of your already played tiles with the same symbol (like in Domino). The connected symbols will give you food point and special abilities including the possibility to steal other players’ tiles or just block a box with a bear! Then you refill your hand to four tiles from the common pool and than refill to five the common pool. In a 2 player game evry turn you have also to discard one of the tiles in the common pool and that ads a great level of strategy. Both me and Caterina liked Sapiens a lot. In the beginning it looked like a multi-player solitaire but during the game we discovered it is really important to look what other player are doing and planning.
During the search for food (we decided to try the Spiral-Potato’s quest!) we stop playing Kitty Paw, a quick game where you have to assemble, in real time, a pyramid of cats according to the picture on a card. Needed tiles are in the middle and all the player take from here trying to be the first completing. It is not a 3D game so the tiles portrait cats in different color and POSE and the cat tiles are in prospective. The first one completing will score points, the other loose. In the level 2 the difficulty improve and you have to use also one “cat in the box” taken from face-down cards. Finally in level 3 the cats are partially overlapped and it is much more difficult to reproduce the picture. The game is funny and it deserve a try of you like this kind of games.
At 14 we have a planned demo at Ares booth. From the designer of Galaxy Defenders (a game I really liked) is arriving Sword & Sorcery (the kickstarter will start just after Essen). It is a collaborative fantasy dungeon crawling CHE EREDITA a lot of good mechanism from GD but more simple and linear. Everything is imbued of “old-time” RPG where the rouge are looking for traps hiding in the shadows, Wizards are casting sleep and Cleircs heal wounds. Since I presenting it in details after Essen with a preview and an interview to the designers I let you with just some pictures and good impression. If you like collaborative dungeon crawler and you liked the GD core idea Sword & Sorcey deserve a pledge.
Just the time to say hallo to some Italian publishers and friends and we moved in the XXX booth to try
We stopped in the booth of Desyllas Games, a new greek designer. We played, together with two people from Hungary, Amphipolis (from Knizia) and OMG (that is not about Food and Genetics but about Gods from Olympus). Archeologist is a fine tile collecting games. Everyturn you draw from bag 4 tiles and according to what they are you in every-one in one of the 4 colelcting area: skeletons, VASI, mosaics and “temples”. After that you can take two tiles from the same area. Tiles score differently: you score 6 if you have 6 different VASI, 4 if you have 4 different and so on. One full skeleton (legs and bosy) will score 1 but you will score 6 if you have two complete adult’s skeletons and one complete kid skeleton. In the back there are rocks that are a countdown. When you get a rock you put it in the middle of the map and as soon as you get the 16th the game immediately end. It is a typical Knizia’s game: a good mechanic but quite abstract. Since a gem last no more than 20 minutes the game has good opportunity in the filler area.
The next one is OMG that it looks like a Uno’s edition with the gods. You have 6 cards and the first one playing his last car win. Cards have a god name (and picture) and a number from 1 to 4 in 4 possible colors. In your turn you have to play a cards: if it match the good or the number in the last played card everything is OK otherwise you have to draw as many cards ad the difference in the number plus one if the colors are also different. Some cards has special powers on it. It is an updated and re-themed edition of Uno or, at least, we got the same feelings. It is an OK game we think.
Caterina disappeared for 5 minutes so I dive in a small and quick sci-fi game. During tour turn you move one of your ships in a straight line as far as you want as long as you don’t reach the end of the map or another player colony or trading port. Than you can build a colony or a trading port. They both will give you one point for each planet in the hex (usually one but sometimes up to 3) and trading port will give you also one extra point for each enemy colony or trading port near. It is nothing special and, that’s bad, it is not sci-fi. The game is so abstract that the only sci-fi I found is that you have colonies and starships instead of something else. It is no for me.
The last game in the Messe was Tumult Royale, from Kosmos. Actually is only in German but they told us an english edition is on the road. The game is good because wisley mix a real time “take as much as you can” phase with a strategic development on a map. You have to build houses, villages and palaces on a map. To build you need marble, bread and tools you can gather in a 20 seconds real-time phase from facedown tiles. The great thing is that every time in the middle has to stay some bread, marble and tools for the villagers and if there aren’t enough the one with most of the kind decrease in his reputation and loose all but the lowest tile. So you have to see what need to build and grab with moderation. Than you can use your tiles to build. Finally the one wit most reputation becomes the new king (some more points and the the possibility to be the first in the turn).
Back in the hotel, after discovering our best restaurant in Essen closed, Caterina gone to study Latin and then slept. I moved down in the hall for a game of Zena. It is a nice area-controlling game with fresh mechanics. During your turn you have to move one of your 4 family’s member in a location, than you can play a location card (one where you have at least one member) and influence it (paying money). All the player with family’s member there can also influence the card. Than you can influence other cards already played in area where you have members. Finally you pass. Once everyone has got a turn the area are scored. First the cards give players with influence on it some rewards. There are permanent cards that rewards you for several rounds and temporary cards that are just one-shot. Finally the area is scored for majority.
The game last for 8 rounds and in the beginning of each round there is an event actually giving player some more coins. The game is very good. The two mechanism (area control and cards’ influence) works great. I suggest you a try.
See you in the Messe
Andrea & Caterina