Essen 2019, Day One: What’s Hot, and What I Played (Chris Wray)

The Morning Haul

As with my past coverage, I’ll be posting each day about (1) what’s hot, (2) what I played, and (3) general thoughts on the convention.  I haven’t had the chance to play many games so far: I typically spend the first day shopping, then the next three days playing games. 

If you missed the post last night, I had initial impressions of Anubixx, Azul Summer Pavilion, and Chartae. Today’s initial impressions are of Evidence and Nova Luna.

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, and in fact, it provided no details today.  (They said they’ll release the initial list Friday morning. We’ll retweet what they post.)  GeekBuzz doesn’t have many voters at this point, and having checked it at various points in the day, it has been all over the place.

Here are the top 20 or so games in the Geekbuzz list (in order of appearance):

  • The Magnificent
  • Maracaibo
  • It’s a Wonderful World
  • Ecos
  • Aquatica
  • Last Bastion
  • Sanctum
  • Offshore
  • Trails of Tucana
  • MegaCity: Oceania
  • Black Angel
  • Cooper Island
  • Trismegistus
  • Food Chain Magnate: The Ketchup Mechanism & Other Ideas
  • Underwater Cities: New Discoveries
  • Terraforming Mars: Turmoil
  • Suburbia: Collector’s Edition
  • Bruxelles 1897
  • Fast Sloths
  • Terramara

Overall, I can’t really quibble with that list!  (There are a couple on the list that I don’t know anything about, but I’ll research them tomorrow.)  The Geekbuzz list is, at least to me, a pretty good representation of what is hot at the convention.  Based on my observations on the ground, I’d guess the hottest game is easily Maracaibo, which I’ve been seeing everywhere in the halls.

I think there are a few games that deserve to be up there: Glen More II, Azul Summer Pavilion, Nova Luna, and Silver have all been quite present in the halls, but they’re lower on the list. The most confusing omission is Ticket to Ride Map Collection #7 (Japan/Italy), which seems extremely popular, but which isn’t an option to vote for on the Geekbuzz list.

There’s a BGG thread going for sell out info. Titles of note so far are the new Castles of Burgundy and the Terra Mystica expansion.


Evidence, Designed by Orestis Leontaritis, Published by Edition Spielwiese

Evidence is a card-based deduction and bluffing game in which you’re an ambitious journalist trying to solve intrigue around the world’s most mysterious creatures. Each creature (leprechauns, Loch Ness monster, etc.) has a different deck composition (meaning there’s a different distribution of cards 0-4), and one of those cards (called a “rumor”) is removed. The value on the removed card shows how much a “search” card of the same type is worth at the end of the game.

You start with a hand of these rumors cards, and you play one of them down on your turn, revealing more and more information to the players. Once all of a creature’s cards but one are showing, the final value is revealed.

Also on your turn you can take search cards. The catch is that your total hand size — the rumor cards and the search cards — can’t exceed six. You can hold off on taking rumor cards, but the first one in each stack comes with a bonus card.

There’s a beginner version (which let’s you trade in cards once per game) and an advanced version (which basically let’s you take asymmetric powers).

The game last six rounds. Most points at the end is the winner. Points come from the search cards (which are worth as much as the revealed rumor card) and there are bonus points that can be earned.

I enjoyed my two plays, and I thought the advanced version was quite a bit better than the basic version. For deduction aficionados, the deduction here isn’t that challenging, and it is more about making educated guesses. Most deduction games are about what, and Evidence is about when. By that, I mean the really interesting part is deciding when to reveal information to other players, and when to take cards, rather than choosing what cards to take, as that is generally a bit of a gamble. The game plays quickly — we probably took 15 minutes to play — and is easy enough to learn (though the rulebook is overwritten).

Overall, I’m glad I bought a copy of Evidence!

Initial Rating: I like it.

Nova Luna, Designed by Uwe Rosenberg and Corné van Moorsel, Published by Edition Spielwiese

Nova Luna is a tile drafting and placement game based on Habitats by Corné van Moorsel.

On your turn, you draft a tile (one of the next three in line) and place it in your personal display. Each tile has different tasks — meaning different tiles it wants to be adjacent to — and completing them allows you to place out disks on those tasks. (Tiles can have more than one task.) The first to place out all of their disks wins.

Choosing where to place tiles is interesting, but the choice of what tile is also interesting. Each tile has a “time” cost — you move ahead on the moon track that much time — and the player furthest behind always gets the next turn (sometimes taking a couple of turns in a row, kind of like in Patchwork or Tokaido or Glen More).

This is a simple yet remarkably effective tile placement game. I enjoy Habitats, and I think it has the better theme (this one made little sense). Nonetheless, I prefer Nova Luna, because it adds a better tile selection mechanism, and I like having multiple tasks per tile.

The components are nice, and the rulebook was well-written. I can teach this in under 5 minutes, and I think this will have broad appeal.

Initial Rating: I like it.

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9 Responses to Essen 2019, Day One: What’s Hot, and What I Played (Chris Wray)

  1. W. Eric Martin says:

    I’m guessing that TTR: Italy/Japan is not included in BGG’s GeekBuzz list because Scott exported the SPIEL ’19 Preview file before I had added that title to the preview, which I did only a few days prior to the show. I’ll see whether he can refresh the file to include everything now listed in the preview.

  2. Pingback: Essen 2019, Day One: What’s Hot, and What I Played (Chris Wray) – Herman Watts

  3. Jean-Christophe Gareau says:

    I love your Essen Spiel coverage. I can’t wait every day to see when your article is added. Please continue to publish them, it’s awesome.

    Thanks !

  4. chris1nd says:

    How do the Fairplay rankings get manipulated by publishers?

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