Essen Day Three: What was hot, and what I played… (Chris Wray)


I spent most of my time on Saturday doing last-minute shopping (gotta love the used game stands) and chatting with publishers for a couple of articles I’m working on.  I didn’t get as much time as I had hoped to play games, so this post covers only: (1) what’s hot, and (2) thoughts on the convention so far.  I’ll put my last “played” list in my final update Sunday night.  

What’s Hot

As always, I discuss the Fairplay and Geekbuzz lists.

Here’s the Fairplay list of Saturday evening, in the same order they appear on the list:

  • Clans of Caledonia
  • Gaia Project
  • Azul
  • Memoarrr!
  • Calimala
  • Noria
  • Rajas of the Ganges
  • Heaven & Ale
  • Pulsar 2849
  • Majesty for the Realm

Here are the top 10 on the BGG buzz list, in the order they appear:

  • Azul
  • Charterstone
  • Fog of Love
  • Altiplano
  • Clans of Caledonia
  • Photosynthesis
  • Dragonsgate College
  • Noria
  • Anachrony
  • Agra

Both lists are looking solid.  As always, the truth is probably somewhere in between, and if a game is on both lists, its’ having a good convention.  (The games on both lists are: Azul, and Clans of Caledonia, and Noria.  Altiplano was previously on the FairPlay list but has dropped off.  A few of the Fairplay games are sitting high on the BGG list, just not in the top 10 list I arbitrarily copied and pasted above.)

Fairplay is also releasing a list of games with few but solid ratings.  You can find that out on Twitter.

On the Fairplay list, I don’t know much about Calimala.  On the BGG list, I continue to think it’s funny that Fog of Love is there.  I didn’t get the chance to look into Anachrony, but it is on the BGG list and is on the bubble for the Fairplay list, so maybe that’s the gem I missed out on at Essen ’17.

As I explained yesterday, legacy-style games are at a disadvantage, but I think Charterstone and Pandemic Legacy are looking good.

I’m mostly sticking with my list yesterday about what’s hot, meaning what I see a lot of people carrying around: 2F’s Fast Forward Series (Fear, Flee, Fortress), Agra, Altiplano, Azul, Charterstone, Clans of Caledonia, Gaia Project, Heaven & Ale, Indian Summer, Keyper, Kosmos Exit Games, Majesty For the Realm, Meeple Circus, Merlin, Montana, Noria, Nusfjord, Palace of Mad King Ludwig, Raja of the Ganges, Pandemic Legacy Season 2, Photosynthesis, and Santa Maria.  I’m adding Memoarrr!, which comes highly recommended to me, and which had extremely busy demo tables.  I’m also adding Pulsar 2849.

So who’s having a really good convention?  I’ll keep saying Plan B Games and Feuerland Spiele.  Because of their partnerships, Stronghold is also poised for a great next few months.  They’ve got the 2F Games, Indian Summer, Noria, Terraforming Mars: Venus Next, and probably others I’m forgetting off the top of my head.

And what sold out?  I don’t really pay much attention to that here, because unlike Gen Con, there tends to be plenty of stock of everything and it is hard to verify.  But rumor is that Altiplano sold out.  Gaia Project sold out in English soon after the convention started.  It looked like Charterstone was close to selling out yesterday (at least in English).

Thoughts on Essen ’17

I’ve actually left Essen… I won’t be attending Sunday, though I will do a Sunday update.

This year had a staggering number of releases, and I think it has been hard for any one game to get any traction.  Shopping-wise, I felt like it was pretty easy to identify the best games for me the first year I went (back in 2015), but this year, it was a much harder task, despite a narrowing in my gaming tastes in recent years.  I’m coming back with more than ever, but I still feel like I didn’t get the chance to look at everything I would have liked to.

The convention is also considerably more crowded than it has been in the past, or at least it felt this way Saturday.  It took me 15 minutes to make my way across Hall 3 at one point, and it is normally a much faster trip than that.  Saturday is famously the most busy day, but if you check out Twitter, you’ll see several experienced Essen attendees in awe about how busy the place was.  I had a hard time getting in demo games all three days so far, and I hadn’t really had that before.

I previously talked about how this is (a) the year of the beautiful game, and (b) the year where Essen had more exhibitors from other nations than ever before.  I continue to think that’s true.

Either way, it’ll be a great next few months in gaming.  Most of the games on the hotness list will make their way to other nations around he world over the next few months, with most of them seeming to arrive from mid-November to late-December.

In the mean time, I’m leaving Essen, and taking two big suitcases of games with me!  One more update to come later Sunday night.

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2 Responses to Essen Day Three: What was hot, and what I played… (Chris Wray)

  1. jeffinberlin says:

    Great update, Chris!

    I think you need to add Edition Spielwiese to the short list of publishers having a very successful Essen, as all 3 of their games are selling well and highly regarded: Memoarr! (Fairplay), Noria (Fairplay & Geekbuzz), and Indian Summer (Uwe Rosenberg).

    And I do know of one sell-out: New York Slice :-)

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