Essen Wrap-up (Chris Wray)


I’m still on my long trip back to mid-Missouri, but here’s my Essen wrap up.  I discuss (1) the semi-final BGG Geekbuzz list and the Fairplay list, (2) when various games will arrive in the United States, and (3) some of my favorite games/promos/moments/etc. from the convention.  If you’ve missed my previous blog posts, read this one instead: this is my summary and final analysis.  

What’s Hot

As always, I discuss the Fairplay and Geekbuzz lists.

Here’s the final Fairplay list, in the same order they appear on the list:

  • Gaia Project
  • Clans of Caledonia
  • Azul
  • Rajas of the Ganges
  • Altiplano
  • Istanbul Wurfelspiel
  • Heaven & Ale
  • Memoarrr!
  • Noria
  • Calimala
  • Merlin

There are several other games that had high ratings (>3.7 on a 5.0 scale) but didn’t have enough votes to make the list: Anachrony, Biosphere, Charterstone, Chimera Station, Keyper, Nusfjord, Rob ‘n Run, Sushi Go Party, Transatlantic, and Wendake.

Here are the top 20 on the BGG buzz list at the time of this writing, in the order they appear:

  1. Azul
  2. Charterstone
  3. Fog of Love
  4. Altiplano
  5. Clans of Caledonia
  6. Dragonsgate College
  7. Photosynthesis
  8. Noria
  9. Heropath: Dragon Roar
  10. Agra
  11. Anachrony
  12. Terraforming Mars: Venus Next
  13. Indian Summer
  14. Meeple Circus
  15. Viral
  16. Codenames Duet
  17. Pandemic Legacy: Season 2
  18. Gaia Project
  19. Chimera Station
  20. Dragon Castle

Both lists look solid, though there are a couple of exceptions (glances at Fog of Love).  I say this every day, but the truth is probably somewhere in between the two lists, and if a game is on both lists, its’ having a good convention.  (The games on either of the Fairplay lists and the BGG top 20 are: Altiplano, Anachrony, Azul, Charterstone, Chimera Station, Clans of Caledonia, Gaia Project, and Noria.)


I’ve been keeping a running list of what I think is hot, but today I’ll just add what I think is missing from the above list.  Here would be my additions:

  • 2F’s Fast Forward Series — I saw lots of people carrying at least one of the games.  I believe the FairPlay list was missing one of them for voting purposes, so that might explain part of the omission.
  • Kosmos Exit Games — These were hot, hot, hot.  I saw lots of people carrying stacks of these games.  I don’t understand how they didn’t make either list!
  • Majesty for the Realm — This was on the Fairplay list all week, but it was sitting at about a 3.6, so it probably just missed the cutoff.
  • Montana — Not sure why this White Goblin Game didn’t get much buzz.  I saw lots of purchases of it.
  • Palace of Mad King Ludwig — This also seemed to be selling well.
  • Pulsar 2849 — This was another one that was on and off the Fairplay list.  It was also sitting in that 3.6 territory, so it is probably just off the list.
  • Santa Maria — And I saw lots of people carrying this aroudn earlier in the convention.

So who’s having a really good convention?  I’ve previously explained why Plan B Games, Feuerland Spiele, and Stronghold were doing well.  Yesterday, Jeff Allers chimed in and said that Edition Spielwiese was having a great show.  Not only is Jeff right, in retrospect I can’t see how I missed them: they might have had the hottest convention.  Noria, Indian Summer, and Memoarrr! all did quite well.

When will the hot games reach US shores?

I’m speculating here based on a combination of (a) my conversations with publishers, (b) when things are available for order from online game shops, and (c) BGG threads.  Submit any corrections as a comment.  If I didn’t mention a game, it is because I don’t have any information, which is unfortunately the case for a lot of games.

Already Here or Arriving Very Soon:

  • Azul – Plan B delayed their October 15 shipping of preorders, saying they will ship October 30 instead.
  • Clans of Caledonia – Kickstarter backers have already started receiving their copies.
  • Codenames Duet – Released at Gen Con.
  • Heaven & Ale – CSI still shows October shipping, though my preorder hasn’t shipped yet, so maybe it is delayed.
  • Pandemic Legacy Season 2 – Already started shipping.
  • Photosynthesis – Was released at Gen Con.

By the End of 2017:

  • 2F’s Fast Forward Series + Fabled Fruit Expansion – Stronghold Games is showing a December release for the Fast Forward series and a late November release for the Fabled Fruit Expansion.
  • Agra – Showing a late November release at online game stores.
  • Charterstone – Stonemaier has previously announced a mid-December release in the US, later elsewhere.
  • Gaia Project – CSI is showing October availability, and Miniature Market doesn’t say.
  • Majesty for the Realm – CSI is showing December availability.
  • Terraforming Mars Venus Next – Stronghold Games is showing a late December release.
  • Ticket to Ride France & Old West – Showing a December release at online game stores.

Early 2018:

  • Indian Summer – Stronghold Games is showing a January release.
  • Meeple Circus – Online game stores are showing a January release.
  • Noria – Stronghold Games is showing a January release.

No U.S. Release Announced (To My Knowledge)

  • Altiplano
  • Dragon Castle
  • Memoarrr!  (You can order it off already though.)


Here’s my list of “favorites” from the convention:

Favorite Game – Either Azul or Majesty: For the Realm.  Both should be candidates for game awards next year.

Favorite Expansion – Ticket to Ride France.  I got to fiddle with a copy of this, and the France map looks very cool.

Favorite Purchase – The Oink Games edition of Modern Art, which Reiner Knizia was kind enough to sign.


Favorite Used Game Find – TaiPan, the Dutch version of Tichu.  I collect the various versions of Tichu, and this was my white whale.

Favorite Promo – The NMBR 9 promo tiles — “Extra Tiles” and “Starting Tiles” — are very cool and look like they’ll be a nice addition to NMBR 9.

Favorite Food – Probably the spiral fried potato…. the ones Dale is (rightfully) obsessed with.

Favorite Moment(s) – Getting to game with my fellow Opinionated Gamers.  A special shoutout to Jeff Allers, who I got to game with on Thursday and Friday nights.


Wrap Up Thoughts:

Three years in, I feel like I’ve got this down.  The first year I was in awe by the spectacle, finding the whole thing overwhelming.  Last year, I felt like I was finding the best way to enjoy the convention and experience it.  And this year, I finally felt like an old pro.

There were to big changes to my experience this year.  I got to travel on a press badge and attend the press events, which was very cool: it was great seeing how the various media outlets cover the convention, plus doing the preview show was nice.  Additionally, I actually got to be a Fairplay Scout this year, which was fun.  I demo a lot of games at the convention — even if I didn’t have time to do all of the nightly writeups this year — and getting to be part of the process I’ve admired for years was fun.  Hopefully I’ll get to do both again in future years.

If Essen 2017 was any indication, we have a fun year in gaming ahead.  There are more and more releases each convention, and better coverage of what those releases are (thanks primarily to W. Eric Martin).  If you enjoy board and card games, you’ll be able to find something from Essen that fits your tastes… in fact, I bet you can find a dozen or more titles.

I’m already looking forward to next year!

That’s it for me for Essen coverage!  Thanks for reading and, if you followed us on Twitter, thanks for joining in that experience.

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2 Responses to Essen Wrap-up (Chris Wray)

  1. brianfrahm says:

    Chris, I thought I had read that FairPlay votes could only go to games that had actually been *played* (demoed fully) at Spiel. If so, that might explain the absence of the Exit games..

    • Chris Wray says:

      That’s probable. Although I would have thought sure some of the scouts would have played them before the fair or at night, but I guess not! (I think we scouts were allowed to rate games we played before the fair.)

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