Brandon Kempf – Three Games Essen 2019

I have a lot of games. A lot of games that are on my shelves, or on my table being played, that I have told myself that I want to review at some point. For one reason or another, this doesn’t always happen. My goal here on The Opinionated Gamers is that I want to get about one review out per week, but I’d like to write about more games. So I’m taking a page out of Patrick Brennan’s playbook, and we’re going to start writing about games in threes, in snapshot form. This should be a good way for readers to get to know me and my gaming tastes a bit better, and also another way for me to talk about games that I maybe don’t really want to dedicate two thousand words to. Welcome to Three Games.

It’s the most, wonderful time, of the year!

On the Underground

Older titles coming back is a great thing, especially well respected older titles that fall into that sixty minute, mid-weight complexity level. That’s the wheelhouse that On the Underground falls in. Plus, they’ve made it absolutely beautiful in comparison to previous iterations. 

In On the Underground, players are taxed with building the underground railways under London and now Berlin, using four actions per turn. Actions are either building a track by placing a track token, or taking a branch tile. After you have build, the passenger token will move along build lines in order to reach destination stations which are cards out on the table. You are going to score points by building track and connecting your lines to certain types of stations and by having the passenger use your line when moving. Game will end as all the destination cards have been drawn and everyone has had the same number of turns. There are a few differences between the new version and the old, they are spelled out on the new BGG page for On the Underground London/Berlin

The Magnificent

Really, all I need to say about The Magnificent for you to know that I absolutely have this on my must play list is that it has dice drafting and some polyomino tile placement to go along with that, all wrapped up around a mystical/magical theme where the players are competing to draw the largest crowds to their magnificent show. The dice drafting seems interesting as it seems to lead you down the path of drafting specific colors of dice as their power is increased by each die of the same color that you have drafted previously, including some clear die which act as wilds. 

Santa Maria & Capital Lux from the same designer are two games that I absolutely enjoy playing each and every time I get the chance. Eilif and Kristian seem to be designing games for my headspace as Offshore, is also high on my wish list for Essen, but I didn’t want to list two games from the same design and publisher team, even though they may have deserved it for these two titles. I can’t wait to find out if I am correct about them or not. 

On the Origin of Species

I love oddball, or rather, unique themes in board games, and every time I see one, I hope that the theme fits with what we are doing in the game, and from a quick rule book scan, On the Origin of Species may actually manage to deliver on that. In On the Origin of Species, players are attempting to best help Charles Darwin across the Galapagos Islands, discovering new species and learning more about them through rigorous research. 

Each turn for a player consists of only one action, of a possible two. You can research or you can discover. When discovering you also help the Beagle move one its track. When the Beagle hits the last spot of its journey, the game ends and players will tally points they scored during the game and then add to it points as based on the final goal card. 

I love the look of On the Origin of Species as well, as it looks like the drawings of Darwin and his artist in residence, Conrad Martens. Amelia Sales seems to have done a wonderful job showcasing that here. 

And a bonus game!!

Cooper Island

Probably the heaviest title on my list by a pretty good margin and added because I just read the rules recently and really should have been trying to follow up on Cooper Island a bit more closely. Coming from the studio that brought us the wonderful Ragusa and the designer of La Granja. It’s being brought to the states once again by Capstone Games. Part worker placement and tile placement, Cooper Island plays out over five rounds with players exploring Cooper Island in hopes of gaining the most points. At first, actions are limited due to income needing to be generated, but as the game progresses, actions will become more and more intensive. 

This is probably as meaty as I get now a days, and I’m willing to take a chance based on pedigrees, both publishers and designer, and the promise of a sub-two hour game with lots of meaningful choices that will push players to figure out how to work the system. 

Look for reviews of at least three of these four in the next couple months, I’m not too concerned about getting enough plays of the first three to properly review them when they show up here, but Cooper Island is probably going to be a bear to get to the table enough times, especially with someone else in the group bringing back a copy of Maracaibo, another title that Capstone Games is bringing, and it looks like it is going to warrant a lot of table time as well. 

So readers, what are you looking forward to most of all at Essen Spiele 2019?

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13 Responses to Brandon Kempf – Three Games Essen 2019

  1. Sanctum from CGE… I loved Adrenaline (by the same designer) as a Euro-y translation of a first-person shooter game. (The long-awaited expansion was not all I had hoped it would be… but that doesn’t diminish the original game.)

    So, Sanctum is a Euro-y translation of hack-n-slash gaming. I figure it will be THE game at the table with my video-game-obsessed sons this Christmas.

    • Brandon Kempf says:

      I am curious about Sanctum as well Mark. I liked Adrenaline, but I worry about about Sanctum as it has taken some time to get it out. But I’d love to try it some day, just not going to take up valuable suitcase space up for it in Chris’ bags. :)

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  4. Chris Wray says:

    You know you’re allowed to rename the title “Four Games” on occasion, right?

  5. Brandon Kempf says:

    So, there are three other titles that I could make a Three Games about, “Three Games I have already bought and paid for and I am waiting for from Essen 2019 that are simultaneous releases”:

    Ecos
    Bloom Town
    Miyabi

  6. jeffinberlin says:

    On the Underground had me at “Berlin” :-)

  7. Jacob Lee says:

    I like three in one articles!

  8. willsargent says:

    my essen picks:
    humbolts voyage – lighter mancala than tribes
    trails of tucana – traxx meets kingdom builder
    wizard wurfelspiel – excited
    claim expansions – fantasy For Sale. underrated 2p gem.
    Babylonia
    cooper island – pegasus only pivk good stuff
    era – leacock. finally! something that looks new and exciting

    thanks, i’ll pass…
    maricaibo – too much going on for sake of it. Feast 4 Odin is so much smoother.
    newdale – why make goods! bigger. i love it because it is small.
    Pfister helped me dump 25 big box games with Port, Goods n Tybor so why bulk up again?

    • Brandon Kempf says:

      I’m with you on Maricaibo, but I am anxious to at least try it. And I was not a fan of Oh My Goods, so I haven’t tried anything after it in that line.

      Those are good picks and a couple of those are coming home for us to play soon as well. And I like that description of Claim!

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