Chris Wray: My Essen 2019 Most Anticipated List

Spiel (Essen) 2019 is at the end of next week, and I’ve been reading rulebooks and combing through Eric Martin’s oh-so-amazing Spiel ’19 Preview Tool on BGG.

As in past years, I’ll be doing coverage from the fair for The Opinionated Gamers and other media outlets, though I’ll be cutting back quite a bit this year.  That said, I’m still going to use Twitter (@OpinionatedGmrs) throughout the day.  I’ll also do (written) reviews of games in the weeks following Spiel.

Here’s what I’m looking forward to trying, maybe buying, and possibly reviewing in coming months.

As always, these are arranged alphabetically.  I’ve listed my top 10 below, but I have a rapid fire list of others at the bottom.  

Aftershock (Designed by Alan Moon and Bobby West, Published by Stronghold)

I played the prototype at the Gathering of Friends this year, and I instantly fell in love. Aftershock is an exceptionally cool, fast-playing majorities game. Players acquire cards in order to build bridges, increase the population of neighborhoods, and determine where aftershocks occur. It is fun, and it is tense. I expect this to be highly popular in coming months.

Babylonia (Designed by Reiner Knizia, Published by Ludonova)

Babylonia is a tile placement game from Reiner Knizia, who in addition to being one of my favorite designers, is also one of the tile placement masters. From BGG: “In Babylonia, you try to make your clan prosper under the peace and imperial power of that era. You have to place your nobles, priests, and craftsmen tokens on the map to make your relations with the cities as profitable as possible. Properly placing these counters next to the court also allows you to gain the special power of some rulers. Finally, the good use of your peasants in the fertile areas gives more value to your crops. The player who gets the most points through all these actions wins.”

The game looked especially cool in the preview from W. Eric Martin.

Expedition to Newdale (Designed by Alexander Pfister, Published by Lookout)

Alexander Pfister is one of the hottest designers of recent years, and Lookout is one of my favorite publishers. Expedition to Newdale is a campaign game set in the world of Oh My Goods! From the BGG description: “In this board game adaption of the successful card game, 1 to 4 players from 12 and up compete in different chapters to experience the world of the Longsdale kingdom once again. The story of Expedition to Newdale starts about five years after the events from Oh my Goods! Escape to Canyon Brook, but you don’t need to know the prequels at all. Each chapter of the game lasts about 90 minutes which adds up to around 12 hours of exciting campaign gameplay. And when you found your favorite chapter while playing the campaign, you can always come back and play it again to have even more fun!”

High Rise (Designed by Gil Hova, Published by Formal Ferret)

High Rise is a one-track game (sort of like Glen More) with a city-building theme and — as BGG apply puts it — “a bit of corruption.” You gain bonuses for taking corruption and certain actions, but you lose victory points at the end of the game if you do so. I played this at the Gathering, and I thought it was a fresh, original take on one-track games. Designer Gil Hova always does a solid job of developing his games, so I’m looking forward to the arrival of High Rise.

Fast Sloths (Designed by Friedemann Friese, Published by 2F & Stronghold)

Sloth racing at its finest.  Friedemann Friese is one of my favorite game designers, and it’s a highlight of the Gathering for me each year to playtest his games.  I played Fast Sloths this year, and here’s what I wrote: “Each player has a sloth, who is racing around the board collecting food.  The catch is that the sloth — being slow and lazy — chooses to hitch a ride on other animals.  Players start their turn by drawing animal cards, and then they play those down to move.  Each animal moves the sloth in a different way — the elephants move and then fling them across the board, for instance — and a different distance.  Animals are also restricted by what terrain they can travel on.  The game is all about efficiency and clever use of the different animals in the game.  (There are several animals that come with the game, but you’ll only use certain ones in a given play.)

Friedemann shows off his game design brilliance here.  This game has something for everyone: it is easy to learn, and just the right about of think-y, making it accessible to non-gamers.  Yet it has no luck, a rarity in race games.  It is highly replayable, with cool artwork and a clever theme.”

Glen More II: Chronicles (Designed by Matthias Kramer, Published by Funtails)

I adored Glen More — I’ve probably played at least 75 times — and I have been eagerly awaiting the release of Glen More II, which is an expanded, redone version with different gameplay in each “chronicle.” I played an early version of the game two years ago, and it kept the core of Glen More while adding some cool twists. My understanding is that Kickstarter backers will have their copies soon.

Lost Cities: Auf Schatzsuche (Designed by Reiner Knizia, Published by Kosmos)

I’ve enjoyed all of the games in the Lost Cities / Keltis family. This one looks like a dice-based version, as according to the BGG description: “In the game, 2-4 players use tiles to set different expedition routes to take them to remote locations around the world. To succeed, you must also take a risk when rolling — but every player should be on guard because your competitors pursue the same goals.”

Luna Nova (Designed by Uwe Rosenberg and Corne van Moorsel, Published by Edition Spielwiese)

Luna Nova is an abstract tile laying game. I’m drawn to the designer pedigree: Rosenberg and van Moorsel are accomplished each in their own right, so I’m curious to see what they’ll do together. Otherwise, I don’t know much about the game, but the BGG description sounds intriguing: “The new moon is a symbol for a new beginning, the perfect time to start something new and to plan your future — and that is what Nova Luna (lat. for new moon) is all about. In each round of this abstract tile-laying game, you have to plan your future anew, developing a new strategy to cope with what the moon wheel has to offer you.”

Silver Bullet (Designed by Ted Alspach, Published by Bezier)

Silver is a fast-playing card game designed by Ted Alspach.  Based on the system from Cabo, Silver is a hand management and set collection card game with a werewolf-themed twist.  Silver (a.k.a. Silver Amulet) was released at Gen Con 2019, and I reviewed it back in August.  The sequel game, Silver Bullet is going to be released at Essen.

Wizard Würfelspiel (Designed by Dan Kreek, Published by Amigo)

The bidding mechanic of Wizard — one of the classic trick takers — seems to have been worked into a dice game! From BGG: “In Wizard Würfelspiel, players place bids each round as in the Wizard card game, but now they’re bidding on how many symbols of a certain color will be rolled on the seven dice.”

RAPID FIRE: Expansions of Interest

  • Agricola: Corbarius Deck – I’m an Agricola completionist.  
  • Power Grid: Middle East/South Africa – I’m also a Power Grid completionist.
  • Ticket to Ride Poland – And a Ticket to Ride completionist.
  • Ticket to Ride: Italy/Japan – Indeed, I really am a Ticket to Ride completionist.
  • Claim Reinforcements – White Goblin will have three new expansion packs for the 2-player trick taking game (which can be played with 4 players) Claim and Claim 2. If you preorder, you get a play mat.
  • Pandoria: Artifacts and Pandoria: Realms – My group and I really enjoyed Pandoria last year, so we’re excited to see what the two expansions from Iron Games bring.
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4 Responses to Chris Wray: My Essen 2019 Most Anticipated List

  1. Brandon Kempf says:

    Seems you are also a Claim & Pandoria completionist as well.

  2. Pingback: Chris Wray: My Essen 2019 Most Anticipated List – Herman Watts

  3. Fraser says:

    But not a Concordia completionist?

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