Brandon Kempf – Three Games of Essen 2020 (A little bit heavier this time, but not a lot)

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.


This looks like a big jumbled mess of a Euro from the master of the big messy Euro, Stefan Feld (followed closely by Pfister, of course). Every time a big Feld Euro hits, it immediately goes on my radar as something I want to get, and then immediately when I get it, I play it, and remember why I don’t buy them. Yet, here we are. Low interaction, myriads of ways to score points, all crammed together with different mechanisms all there for you to pull the levers and see what comes about. This really harkens back to the days of Luna and Trajan, at least at first glance, I can’t say as I’ve not played it yet. Early reviews are kind of ecstatic, but I’ve come to expect that for Feld titles, especially big ones releasing around Essen time, but even though I know to not be all that excited, they still get me. Each and every time, I always fall for the kitchen sink Feld designs.

Pacific Rails Inc

A recent convert to rails style games thanks to the wonderful Iron Rails line of games from Capstone Games, Pacific Rails kind of jumped out at me as I browsed through the hundreds of releases coming for Essen 2020. Part worker placement and part rail builder, this title seems to combine a lot of things that I am really enjoying with gaming right now. To top it all off, it uses the wonderful place a worker or take a worker mechanism for the worker placement. You are rewarded for your workers being adjacent to each other so you need to plan ahead to gain the most out of each placement. You also have to run your train from location to location, so you have to plan out your track placement carefully as well to make the most there. The map is a bit abstracted for my taste, but that’s not taking away any of the excitement that I have for Pacific Rails Inc

Monster Expedition

This could have easily been Cloud Age, but I think with the current Monster Hunter obsession that I have, this is going to win out in the long run, plus from reading it seems as this is going to be a return to the lighter Pfister games that I love. This looks like a wonderfully themed dice game with some elements of pushing your luck. You have three camps that are out and ready to go hunt monsters, and each turn, you choose a camp to go hunting from. That camp will denote your dice that you get to use and then you roll them trying to hit a value greater than that of the monster, or monsters, you are attempting to capture. The dice rolling is simple, roll all your allocated dice and then bank one or more of the same number, then roll the rest or hold there and use the dice chosen as the value. If you re-roll and you roll a number already banked, you lose your highest banked die. Match dice to numbers on the camp and you can advance your camp so that you gain more dice the next time you use that camp. Some monsters that you capture can also give you abilities that will help you the rest of the game, or possibly just once. At the end of the game, have the most points in captured monsters and caged monsters and you are the greatest monster hunter. Super simple to learn with some fun push your luck dice rolling. I’m not sure if I am willing to wait till 2021 when Amigo finally gets this here to the US. This may be already on the way from as the only thing that is language dependent are the monster names, the English rule book is already on BGG. 

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