Dale Yu – SPIEL 2022 Games from Lesser Known Publishers that I’m looking at…

We’ve already looked at a bunch of games – so many games you might expect to be on this list – they may have already been reviewed prior to the show!  We posted a list yesterday of games that we’ve already reviewed…  

There are plenty of games that people are anticipating from the larger publishers; and while I’m looking forward to those games too – I wanted to focus on a few games from smaller publishers that I’m pretty interested in learning more about too.  Some of these may not actually be games that I’ll end up bringing back with me; in part because I need to learn more about them!  This is a list of games I want to see that may be a bit off the beaten path…  There are so many different countries represented at SPIEL, that I’m sure that I’ll also find other wonders during the fair; but these are some of the stands I’m sure to seek out…


Applejack – the Game Builders are a fairly new publishing house, one of their partners is Ode (Andreas Odendahl), the designer of La Granga and Cooper Island.  The publishing house first burst on the scene with Chai: Tea for 2, and Applejack is their new release for this year.  It’s designed by this guy named Uwe Rosenberg, whose games have been pretty good in the past.  Applejack is a tile laying game where you are trying to connect both apples and beehives in some way.  Interestingly, this is the first Uwe tile-laying game that uses hexagonal tiles, and one I want to learn a bit more about…


Arabella – 2d6.ee is an Estonian company (as the internet prefix in their name would suggest), and I have played a co-op game from them in the past, Lembitu.  Arabella caught my eye as it is advertised as a 18xx roll and write.  I’ll admit that I’ve become a bit jaded with the “regular” roll and write games that have been coming out, but this one might have a unique enough theme to keep me interested.  I’m normally not a big fan of 18xx games – I’ve just never managed to get over the hump of the steep learning curve – but this might be a way for me to enjoy that rail-building/share collecting genre.  I originally thought the game would be available for sale at SPIEL, but now it appears that it will only be here in demo format.  Well, I’m already interested enough that I’m gonna go look…


Deities – Mandoo Games has been bringing some of the best games from Korea to Essen for a few years.  One of the most consistent designers from that part of the world is Gary Kim.  This year, Deities is the big box release from them – here you play tiles to the board, and you gain resources from the line of tiles you make on the board.  Resources can be used to build buildings which are then used to score points and to gain area control of the board.  At points in the game, you’ll score points for area control based on your buildings as well as for objective tokens that have been gained throughout the game.


Dorfromantik – Pegasus – OK this is a major company, but this title was under my radar until a few days ago… and since it was new to me, I’m thinking it might be new to a lot of the readers here too… Dorfromantik is a chill video game (I play on Steam on my PC) that feels a lot like a tile-laying boardgame.  You place hexagonal tiles to build your landscape, and you’ll score tiles based on how well the tiles match up to each other.  

dorfromantik computer

You have a fixed tile stack to start the game, and you can gain more tiles by completing quests.  Pegasus has apparently ported this computer game to the analog world, and I’m super interested to see how it works.  According to my sources at Pegasus, the game has just finished production, and at least a few cases should make it to SPIEL.


Hamlet – well, while I’m talking about building games; what about a Village building game? “One central Hamlet that the players contribute to, with its own self-forming demand and supply economy.  Villagers walking through the Hamlet, delivering food to households and building resources to construction sites.  And one day, the Church will finally be built, and the once-little Hamlet has become a fledgling town. Who will be the biggest benefactor when that happens?”  This is a release from Mighty Boards, a company best known for Petrichor.  I generally like these city building games (Suburbia, anyone?) – so this is a must-see for me this week as well.


Revive – so I’ll admit that I’m an Aporta fan-boy, and this year, Revive is their big release.  It sounds pretty interesting.  The base game sounds 3X-ish, you try to explore and control ancient sites on the board, but there is no fighting or direct conflict.  There are also some legacy-like aspects of the game with game bits to be unlocked as you play through a five game campaign; at the completion of this, you’ll have a game which can still be played.   I’ve generally enjoyed the games from Aporta in the past, and this one certainly deserves investigation this week.

pioneer rails

Pioneer Rails – a flip-and-write game from Dranda, a company I had not heard of before that appears to hail from the UK.  This game is a co-design by two of my favorite designers, Jeff Allers (an OG contributor) and Matthew Dunstan.   This game uses a poker deck; and as cards get flipped up, you’ll use the suit to somehow expand your rail network while you also try to build a poker hand for points.  This is high on my list to try; and it appears that I can only try it out as it is not ready for release yet (slated for a 2023 release)

world splitters

World Splitters – EmperorS4 gave us an advance copy of World Exchangers to play, and I really liked that.  World Splitters is the companion game – set in the same universe.  “You will split and bid for the land while your goal is to obtain the highest influence in the enclosed regions. With that ambition in mind, are you able to intertwine multiple interests and make irresistible offers? Place fences to divide the area into designated sizes for bonuses and auction the right to occupy the space besides.”  Given how much I liked World Exchangers; I’m surely going to get a copy of this to try as well.

monster busters

Monster Busters – While I’m on the subject of Taiwanese games, there is also a large conglomorate stand run by Taiwan Boardgame Design which shows games from many small pubishers.  MonsterBusters is from Good Game, and in this cooperative game, players fight together to try to beat the ten monsters in the Monster Deck.  However, there is an interesting fight/flee mechanism – similar to Incan Gold – which means that players have to constantly read the situation.  Do you play it safe, run away, survive, but gain no points?  Or do you stay in, fight off the monster, and get the glory for winning?  Of course, if too many people run away, all those left to fight will die…  There are also a number of other companies showing their wares.


Drebo – Funbot is a publisher I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard of before.  Each player has a sheet on which they want to cross things off.  Dice are used to facilitate this, but instead of picking them up and rolling them, you appear to push them over to a different side.  That’s all I know so far, and I’m going to have to check this out to see what it’s all about.  I can’t recall another roll-and-write that has you push the dice instead of rolling them.

block and key

Block and Key – this game comes from Inside Up games, a Canadian publishing house.  This game has you placing 3D pieces onto the board, but you’re trying to score based on what you can see – this appears to be the same mechanism that was used in Pueblo, a game that I adore.  It certainly looks beautiful in the pictures posted online, and I’ll be sure to share pictures of this once I see it myself.

princes of florence

Princes of Florence – In case you didn’t know, Korea Boardgames has reprinted this classic title, and I’m super excited to try to get a copy of this new edition.  I’m not sure if any rules have been changed, but this is a game that has definitely stood the test of time, and as my original DE copy is unplayable, I’m super excited to see the new version.


Moesteiro – Pythagoras is a company out of Portugal that I’ve had some experience with.  A few years ago, we enjoyed Garum.  They have a number of releases this year – and Moesterio is based on the construction of one of the most elegant Portuguese monasteries, the Monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória.   It is a dice placement game, and i’ve always been a fan of that.  While I’m there, I plan to look at the new version of Lusitania which is also being done by them.


Evora – MEBO is another Portuguese firm, and one that usually makes games about Portugal (see Lisbon Tram 28 or Porto). This year, they take a step back in time to the Roman Empire.  Evora is a rondel based game where players are building the different columns of this ancient temple – which just happens to also be located in what is now Portugal.  I’m a pretty big fan of the designer, Joao Quintela Martins – whose self published card games have been fun: Gelato Mio, Vidrado.

caesars empire

Caesar’s Empire – Holy Grail games is relatively new to be (based out of Nancy, France), and they are showing a game this year that is all about building the road network in the ancient Roman Empire. As you build the roads, you connect new towns to Rome.  Interestingly, you build off of everyone’s network, and all of the road segments that you use to connect the new town will score.  There is also a bit of set collection in the game as you pick up different treasures with each turn.  Finally, if that wasn’t enough; the game is also set in the Asterix universe, so if you’re a fan of this classic comic, it’s one more reason to give it a look!

zoo tycoon

Zoo Tycoon – A game from treecer, a Swiss publisher which has made Darwin’s Choice and P’achakuna in the past.  In this game, you try to build and manage your own zoo. As with zoos in real life, players must find the right balance between popularity and conservation over the course of the game. In the end, the lower value between those two measurements will count as your final score.  One to check out for the future, as this is also a demo only right now.


Tempo – GDM (Guerra de Mitos) is a Spanish company which has previously given us plenty of deduction games (Sherlock, Instacrime).  This game looks to be altogether different.  I mean, all I can do is copy the description provided by the publisher: “Choose one player to be the metronome, they’ll be in charge of keeping the tempo and dealing the cards. The metronome deals one card facing up to each player and starts marking a time signature (one, two, three, four) repeating it throughout the round. This will mark the rhythm to follow. After the first time signature (one, two, three, four) the rest of the players will sing the note on their card at the same time.”  I mean, this could be amazing. But, it’s something I’m gonna have to see myself to decide!

OK, now it’s time for me to head out and start checking out the games myself!  I’ll try to post some pictures and commentary during the day.

Until your next appointment,

The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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3 Responses to Dale Yu – SPIEL 2022 Games from Lesser Known Publishers that I’m looking at…

  1. Daniel Brown says:

    What 18XX needed was kittens

  2. Alan How says:

    Great summary Dale.

    Block & Key makes a great 3D space and the game is pretty good too. I gave a bunch of the other games coming sometime.

  3. Looking forward to your discussion of Evora from MEBO — I like the aesthetic and gameplay of their previous game (Caretos) so I’m curious as to this one!

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