Essen Spiel 2019 Preview


Wonderland’s War – Druid City
Druid City has had a fantastic couple of years producing some excellent games including The Grimm Forrest, Guardians Call, and Sorcerers City as well as a very successful Kickstarter for Tidal Blades: Heroes of the Reef.

Wonderlands War is the next game in their portfolio and I for one am very excited to see what this game involves. Information about the game is still fairly sparse but I’m sure they will have something close to the finished product to show everyone at this years Essen Spiel.

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On Mars – Eagle Gryphon Games
Hype! On Mars must be one of the most talked-about games coming to Essen this year. Produced by Eagle-Gryphon Games, they have a back catalog too long to mention but some key games are Through the Ages and Brass, the latter of which has been played many times by my personal group this year alone. They have a great track record to produce excellent quality games.

On Mars looks to be another excellent addition to their catalog with tag lines like “Do you dare take part in humankind’s biggest challenge?” you know you are in for an interesting ride. I hope this doesn’t blend into the many other Mars colonization games and finds a way to stand out in the crowd.

Clank! Legacy! – Renegade Games
I have personally been invested in any Legacy games so far, I Betrayal Legacy gathering dust on my shelf but seem to be avoiding the long play through time that it will demand… However, Clank Legacy could be the game that brings me out of that mindset.

The original Clank! Games were a fun mix of card drafting, deck building, adventure, and race games all in one and all the components melded seamlessly. If Clank! Legacy has the same elements but gives you that elongated adventure feels then I think Renegade Games will be onto a solid winner.

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Fractured Galaxy – Clever Unicorn Games
Clever Unicorn Games are a new publisher that’s finding its feet in the gaming market. They have released a small card game called Weird Alchemy which has recently been very successful on Kickstarter. Their next project is something a little bit more ambitious.

Fractured Galaxy is a 4X game that will play in under 2 hours but still have the fun factor and feel of a standard 4X game. I had the pleasure of seeing a very early demo version of this at the UKGE but I could already see the potential. I look forward to seeing what developments have been made since then.

Black Angel – Pearl Games
There has been a lot of buzz around this game for the past year at least and with good cause. Black Angel looks like a finely polished and heavily playtested game produced by Pearl Games.

The concept of each player being an AI and tasked with reseeding the galaxy with human DNA is a fun one for sure. I can totally buy into the fact that the nations of the earth (even faced with their own extinction) would still argue over who would develop the best AI for the job.

The board and components look great for Black Angel and I’m very excited to see how it plays.

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Era: Medieval Age – Eggertspiele
Have you ever wanted to build your own castle city? If the answers yes, then Era: Medieval Age may be able to help you scratch that itch. Billed as a “roll and build” game rather than the more traditional “roll and write” games, Era will task you with building a great city in and around a castle as efficiently as possible. The better your city is the more points you get, and victory will eventually be yours.

Just looking at the little building components makes me want to dive right into this game. I love the idea of building a castle city but actually being able to step back and see the finished product at the end. It sounds good to me anyway.

MegaCity: Oceania – Hub Games
“AAAHHHH SOMEBODY KNOCKED THE TABLE!” … The worst words you can hear when it comes to a dexterity game like Megacity: Oceania. However, Hub Games have managed to make that particular issue a gameplay mechanic! Genius!

In Megacity you must create beautiful abstract skyscrapers that meet certain criteria of the city’s current requirements. The city planners might want a super tall building made of nothing but glass or they might want a wide building with space for a pavilion in the middle and it’s your task to meet those needs using the bits of plastic at your disposal.

I sat down and had a demo game of this with the game’s designer Michael Fox at the UKGE and loved every second of it! I am generally known as the butterfingers’ player in my gaming group but even I managed to create some truly spectacular looking buildings. Look out for this one.

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Sierra West – Board & Dice
Following on from the incredible success of Teotihuacan: City of Gods, Sierra West is the next big roll out from Board & Dice. In Sierra West, you play a pioneer out to make a life for yourself in the west building cabins and exploring the region while using one of 4 game modes provided in the retail box which includes Apple Hill, Gold Rush, Boats & Banjos and Outlaws & Outposts. As you can imagine it sounds like each mode plays slightly differently which will make replayability a real prospect.

From what I’ve seen so far Sierra West looks like a very solid Euro game with a lot of mechanics working in its favor. I look forward to learning and see more of this one.

Silver and Silver Bullet – Bezier Games
Bezier Games have created a really fun little card game which I had the pleasure of testing out at the UKGE this year. The concept is pretty simple, you have 5 cards in front of you and you want to points value on those cards to be as low as possible by the end of the game using card effects. This obviously as easy as it sounds because people will be trying to steal your cards at every opportunity or swap with there higher numbered cards. It makes for quite a tactical game that plays in less than 15 minutes.

The artwork is a CGI style cartoon which looks colorful and pleasing to the eye which just adds to the experience. The price point for this will make it easily accessible and it will certainly fit in any collection a solid filler game or party game.

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Terramara – Quined Games
Well, its clear that I seem to be drawn to Civ style games as this is another game that requires you to develop your settlement and become the greatest village. One difference with this one is its set-in prehistoric times, so the artwork very much reflects this. Actually, the artwork is very reminiscent of Stone Age funnily enough so that’s probably another reason why it caught my eye.

Quined Games produced some absolute classic games like Keyflower so they have a solid footing in the worker placement/hand management scene. I look forward to seeing what this game brings to the table.

Arkeis – Ankama
Arkeis had me with the Egyptian theme but after digging deeper into this game I can see it has quite a bit going for it. The game is going to play as a cooperative scenario-based dungeon crawler with modular boards and a campaign mode… deep breath, that’s a lot of content in one box!

You play adventurers exploring these ancient tombs any items you collect can potentially change the way the campaign plays out. Sounds interesting to me. Also, the cherry on the top for Arkeis is the beautiful minis and artwork. Plus, its produced by Ankama who have brought us games like Krosmaster and Monster Slaughter… I’m sold!

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All Manor of Evil – Kolossal Games
“Let’s go for a rummage through HP Lovecraft’s relic collection, nothing bad could happen right?”

That is literally the premise for this game, sort of. You play one of several characters who decide to enter Lovecraft’s house to find treasures and relics but upon doing so you wake all kinds of evil. Can you make it out alive with one of the relics or will you succumb to the evil?

Oh, and one of the team might be working against you and trying their best to actually wake one of the elder gods! Good luck!

Kolossal Games are well known for producing quality products such as Western Legends, so I’m interested to see how they make a relatively small card gameplay.

Orb Hunters – Ediciones Games
There isn’t a great deal of information on the web about Orb Hunters and pictures are sparse but just from the snippets, I’ve found it looks super colorful… sometimes that’s all I need to get interested.

Keep an eye out for more information on this one. I think it could be interesting.

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Skytopia – Cosmodrome Games
This is another game that I have found minimal information about other than some general descriptions. I don’t even know if it uses a board… or cards… or if it even exists… However, tag lines like this will always capture my attention.

“Skytopia” is the engine building euro-game about the rivalry for the prestige of your city in the sky!”

City in the sky eh, yep, I want some of that. The artwork for the front of the box is great too. Very eye-catching. I’m excited to find out more about this one.

Reavers of Midgard – Grey Fox Games
Champions of Midgard is a fantastic worker placement game and very happy to have it in my collection plus some of the expansions too. I’m very happy Grey Fox Games are continuing with the franchise and mixing things up a bit.

Reavers of Midgard looks and sounds just different enough to Champions that I’m clambering to play it. The artwork jumps off the board and the use of colors throughout the production is bold and exciting. I really hope this one lives up to its predecessor and we see another solid worker placement game to add to the collection.

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Aquatica – Cosmodrome Games
Ever since I played games like Lords of Waterdeep I’ve always been fond of a good engine builder and Aquatica seems to be going down that direction through Deck/Pool Building and Variable Player Powers. The game consists of playing cards and using their specific abilities to work in conjunction with your other cards to capture locations or complete specific tasks.

All of that interested me but the once again the artwork and game design sucked me in and dragged me down to the depths… I need to take a break! *facepalm*

Edge of Darkness – Alderac Entertainment
Once again, Edge of Darkness ticks a lot of the boxes that I seem to find myself gravitating towards when it comes to my personal game collection. Card Drafting, Deck/Pool Building, and Worker Placement. In my experience, those elements used together right normal produce something pretty fun.

From what I’ve read and seen about Edge of Darkness it looks like a very rich Euro-style game and its predicted playtime of 60 – 120 minutes makes me think this is going to be a heck of an experience.

Oh, and it also looks stunning!

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Welkin – Ankama
For some reason, I never thought I would play a game where you build small islands in the sky and sell them for gold which equates to end gaming scoring… but here we are. It sounds like resource and hand management is going to key I Welkin and every second of that will be a pleasure just due to the artwork alone. Welkin is one of the most vibrant games I have on this list which is a good thing in so many ways.

As stated above Ankama is an excellent producer with a strong background so I have every hope Welkin will be another success. Hopefully, we’ll see more of this at Essen this year.

Mezo – Kolossal Games
Minis!! Such beautiful minis!

Ok, so Mezo isn’t just all about the minis but they do look amazing. Mezo is a game of area control set in Mayan times. You control a giant god and its followers as you try to take the majority of the land while building great pyramids and making sacrifices to the gods themselves.

I have to be honest it sounds very similar to Cyclades or Kemet but with a different theme but I haven’t had hands-on with Mezo so I’ll hold off any judgment. For now, I’m excited about the outstanding quality of the components and the general idea of the game. Let’s wait and see.

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Maracaibo – Capstone Games
Sail the seas a merchant in the 17th century trying to make a buck or two on your travels. Maracaibo has you manning your own ship traveling around the Caribbean dealing in commodities.

I’ll be honest, every sailing game is always compared to Merchants and Marauders but I’m always on the lookout for something that brings new elements to the table. This sounds like it’s on a rondel style system but is there going to be any player interaction? Can you play as a pirate or is this very much just trading game? I don’t have the answers at this time, but I will be watching this one closely.


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