Spiel 2019 report
This last weekend was the Essen Spiel Fair of 2019. Four days of pure excitement looking at and trying out all the new games. First of we want to say a big thanks at all our followers that came up to us for a small conversation or just a simple hello. We really appreciate all the support for what we our doing and our team. We also want to express our appreciation to all the publishers, designers and game explainers for taking the time to talk to us about their new and upcoming releases. We would not be able to give our followers all this content without your help.
This edition of Essen Spiel was the biggest one yet in all regards. The exhibition space was expanded from 80.000 m² to 86.000 m² which our feet can acknowledge after roaming around the halls for four days. There were around 1200 (previous 1150) exhibitors with more than 1500 new titles this year (1400 last year). The biggest increase was found in the number of attendees, they went from 190.000 to a whopping 209.000 visitors. According to this figures it is safe to say that the board game industry keeps on expanding year after year and there is still no inclination of the interest in board games. The exceptional thing at this convention is the fact that although it is crowded, you still can get around pretty easy and you can regularly find a table that is free to demo a game. For some games this can be easier than for others but in that case some patience can go a long way.
It is always hard to say which games were the most popular at the end of a convention but we definitely noticed some tendencies. The theme for this year seemed to be of a more nautical fashion like deep sea diving, underwater worlds and roaming the seas. Some of the new games using this theme are Deep blue, Aquatica, Conspiracy: Abyss Universe, Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates etc. The mechanic to be used the most this year is worker-placement in all its different variations. A small selection of the new games using this mechanic: Bruxelles 1897, Save the Meeples, Paladins of the West Kingdom etc. The third thing we are starting to notice more and more in the new games is the inclusion of a campaign or legacy element outside of the games where these are common like dungeon crawlers. Some of the games that feature this are Expedition to Newdale, Machi Koro: Legacy, It’s a wonderful World, Yggdrasil Chronicles.
The number of exhibitors that showcase game tables or other things like inserts, cardholders, game mats and so on has definitely increased. It is obvious that players want their games to be stored properly, can be setup as quickly as possible and play them on an appropriate surface or table. More variety can only be perceived as something positive for the board gaming industry and for the players.
Now let’s get to some games that we took a look at in Essen. First off World of Draghan: Sneaky Ol’ Dragons published by Jumping Turtle Games. In this game you take on the role of a Dragon who wants to be first in the treasure room to claim all the treasure for himself. This is a racing game where players first draft some cards which can be movement cards or action cards. When the draft phase is over it is time to write the story for each dragon by placing cards face down in your and your opponent’s storyline. Afterwards it is time to reveal the different stories one card at a time and see what happens. This a small fun racing game with lots of interesting choices and some take that elements but tongue in cheek. This makes us very curious about the World of Draghan: Once upon a Dragon which is a cooperative game.
Another game we tried out is Set & Match published by Prétexte SAS. In this flicking game you are playing a match of tennis by flicking the disc (tennis ball) from your side to the opponent’s side. Like in a game of tennis you have to make sure that it lands within the playing field, but to make it more game-friendly there are some areas that give you some points. Once you have accumulated three points you get the actual points for the game and it is time for the player to serve again. This is one of those games that you wonder why it has never been done before. The ruleset is almost the same as tennis so everyone who knows how to play tennis will understand the rules right away. This is just simple fun and will have you amazed at some of the shots that you might be able to pull off.
A third game I want to highlight is Bruxelles 1897 published by Geek Attitude Games. This game might seem small but packs a lot of punch. You have seven cards that represent your workers that can be assigned to get new art pieces, sell your art pieces, get building materials, construct building, get money, advance your prestige and so on… This is all standard fair at the moment but after the action phase is over we move on to the majority phase. There you can get bonuses for having the majority in the columns, for having the majority in the coat of arms (These are four workers in a two by two grid) and for having the Brussels majority. Considering both these things at the same time and balancing your choices between the things you really want to do and the majorities you want to claim at the end makes for a really interesting game.
Some of the upcoming games we got to try out were TacTiki where you are trying to get your pieces on the other side of the board and at least four or five high depending on the difficulty level. Each player has a set of Tikis with numbers which are hidden from your opponent and the higher number can catch a lower number. You have two actions each turn which can be used to move one Tiki twice or two Tikis once. The designer was looking for a publisher for this game. Another upcoming game was Kapow published by White Wizard games where two players duke it out in a fight done by dice. Both players roll their dice behind a screen and assign them on their player board according to the symbols they rolled. Each player can also use a certain character with special abilities that only that player can use. You also have some dice that can be customized by snapping on the sides that you want. This makes that you are constantly wandering when it is a good time to attack, defend or upgrade your dice pool.
One of the other upcoming games we tried out was The Longest Trench. This game walks you through the main events of WWI where one player takes on the role of the Allies and the other the Axis. In this game you play cards during the different events to try and conquer two of the three battlegrounds where you will be fighting your opponent by revealing the cards and getting the higher values with some dice rolling involved. The main choices in this game is when and where to play certain cards to outwit your opponent. Sometimes it might be better to give up one of the three battlegrounds so that you are stronger at the other two. This will probably hit Kickstarter next year. The last one I definitely want to mention is an upcoming Kickstarter from Board&Dice which is called Dark Ages. It comes in two variations with a different setting, Legacy of Charlemagne and Holy Roman Empire. This is a game where you build up your civilization and cities visually by adding houses to your city, learning new technologies and expanding your army on the way. It houses lots of beautiful miniatures and will be an epic game that can be played under two hours which is a big surplus for such a huge game.
We had a great time at Essen this year and this is only made possible by all the people involved, the organization, publishers, visitors and so on. We cannot wait to do it all over again next year but for now it is time to start unboxing, playing and reviewing all these games for your viewing and reading pleasure.
Play with Honor