I was standing near the entrance this morning at 09:45 when they let the punters in and as usual at Spiel there was a healthy buzz of noise and a rush of air as people jogged to find a space on their favourite tables. There was a queue at various booths to buy games with limited copies or which had the most hype – this year definitely made more noticeable by the problems of getting games to Essen on time. Notable long queues were for Arche Nova at Feuerland (only 20 copies in English); Devir for Bitoku (excuse the incorrect accents); Golem even though this year Cranio are in Hall 5; and Kosmos (no idea what they were queuing for though!).
Aisles have been spaced out noticeably for Covid reasons, and the fair is much smaller than normal: Halls 7 and upwards were not being used, and nor was Hall 4, so we are back down to Halls 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 only – it’s been a while since the fair was that small. Noticeably absent are Zoch and Asmodée, but I am sure there are others.
Nevertheless so far it’s a terrific Spiel with a lot of good, high quality games on offer. Some are for me automatic buys – Boonlake, Golem, Messina 1347, Witchstone, Stichtag – but I have many, many more on my list to check out.
Today I sat down and played:
– Mobile Markets: a Smartphone Inc. game, which I thought packed a lot of punch for a small-box game. Players forumalte a strategy similarly to the “mother” game, Smartphone Inc., by overlapping two double sided tiles with icons on them; and then execute the game through a number of phases determining customers, advertising, purchase cost, phone features, production, profit margin and so on. The game comes with a number of 3-D boards to hold components and a bunch of cards representing the different classes of customers. I only played a quick round but it seemed very engaging and I bought it.
– Corrosion: again not a full play through but I was blown away by the cleverness and originality of this Deep Print game. Super graphic design helps and the concept of the game and it’s theme is very evocative, making the rules feel very natural. Basically players run a factory each and compete over resources while getting the chance, Keyper style, to take part on each others actions. But the real cleverness comes in the way the player board has a dial which is turned clockwise and triggers certain machines that you have bought for your factory to be activated, Some machines activate and immediately corrode, and are discarded; some corrode every 4 rounds. Cards played are placed around the board according to their value from 1-4 and are recuperated into hand when the dial is turned to face them. The strategy in the game, and the timings associated, are the key: do you turn your engine dial often to swiftly blow through your activations or do you go more slowly, allowing you to play more cards and build up your engine. The use of steam as a resource to accelerate the game is a great touch. Nice Components, excellent theming and rules – I was really blown away by this one. Unfortunately the game has not yet arrived for purchase (and nor has Savannah Park which also looks good). Both games will be available from Capstone in the USA.
– Flourish: this game from US Publisher Tabletop Tycoon has such pretty artwork that I had to play it. It’s a relatively quick card game where players start with a hand of 6 cards, give one to their opponent and receive one; and play one card in front of them. Cards are played in three rows of three, one row at a time, and scored after 3 are played. You score variously: for the symbols on teh card during the rounds, and for other symbols on the card at the game end. Many symbols at game end refer to players sitting to teh left or right, so the game is quite interactive as you try to figure out which cards to pass to them. It’s nice, pretty, and a decent family game that breaks no special ground.