Essen Day One: What’s Hot, Plus General Thoughts on Day One (Chris Wray)


As with my past coverage, I’ll be posting each night about (1) what’s hot, (2) what I played, and (3) general thoughts on the convention.  I didn’t get the chance to play any games today, but I did get 90+% of my shopping done, so I’ll spend the next three days playing games.  Unfortunately, that means I don’t have any snap reviews tonight.

Below I talk about what’s generating buzz, plus I walk through my experience buying Japon brand games.  If you didn’t see my post early this afternoon, I gave initial thoughts on the convention there, plus did a reveal of the DSP Goodie Box.  What’s Hot

I always find it fun to follow the Fairplay and Geekbuzz lists.  The Fairplay list is less subject to manipulation to publishers, but it doesn’t provide much information early during the convention.  You can see their recent tweets at their blog.

As of today, their list includes:

  • Costa Rica (Lookout / Mayfair)
  • Fabelsaft / Fabled Fruit (2f-Spiele / Stronghold)
  • First Class (Hans im Gluck)
  • Roll for the Galaxy (Pegasus Spiele)
  • Terraforming Mars (FryxGames / Stronghold)
  • The Game Extreme (NSV)
  • Via Nebula (Space Cowboys)

This list surprises me quite a bit.  There are several really hot games — A Feast for Odin, or Cottage Garden — that are noticeably missing.

Turning to the GeekBuzz list, the Top 10 are:

  • 7 Wonders Duel Pantheon
  • Ice Cool
  • Ominoes
  • Captains of the Golden Age
  • A Feast for Odin
  • Fog of Love
  • Terraforming Mars
  • Codenames: Pictures
  • Not Alone
  • Cottage Garden

This list also surprises me.  I know the GeekBuzz list is highly subject to manipulation — exhibitors close to the BGG booth have an advantage, as do publishers that send people out specifically to vote — but I’m still always a little perplexed to see it happening.

So what is actually hot?  I’m not persuaded by either list above.  Based on my observations on the ground, and at least for us English speakers, I’d guess that five of the hottest games (in alphabetical order) are: 7 Wonders Duel Pantheon, A Feast for Odin, Cottage Garden, Power Grid: The Card Game, and Terraforming Mars.  I also saw a lot of interest in The Colonists, Great Western Trail, Inis, Key to the City – London, Lorenzo il Magnifico, and Oracle of Delphi.  I listed those same games this afternoon, and I’ll now add Codenames Pictures and First Class.  I bet by the end of the convention the GeekBuzz and FairPlay lists resemble this list, although order unknown, and hopefully with a few convention surprises.

Buying Japanese Games

I had heard tales of how early you had to be in line to buy games from the Japon Brand booth.  I can now confirm: the tales are true.  Most of the games I really wanted at the convention were in abundant supply, so this morning, I made my way over to the Japon Brand line.  A line had already formed, but I took my chair.

Much to my delight, I was soon joined in line by Opinionated Gamer Karen Miller, who I had not previously met in person.  We chatted the time away, and 50 minutes felt like 5.

By the time the halls opened, the line snaked around several times.  I’d guess all of the games were claims within a few minutes of the doors opening.

I bought six games: Mask of Anubis, Alchemidus, Joudo-Sugoroko, Fan & Mallet, All Green, and Defense Three Kingdoms.  Mask of Anubis looks especially awesome: one player puts their smartphone in a “VR Mask” (not sure how that works yet) and tries to describe a maze to the other players.  They work together to escape from the maze.

I know nothing about the other games.  To borrow a phrase from Forest Gump, buying Japon Brand games can be like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get.  Mask of Anubis looks awesome, and the other three look cool, but BGG had little data on any of the games, so these were true blind buys.

Nonetheless, every year they are some of the first games to sell out at the convention, and 2016 was no different…

An Update on that Sheep…

Yesterday, Dale and I had a good laugh about this crate…


Well, by way of update, here is the must anticipated “Red Catan Sheep” in the wild:

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