I have to admit, this year I paid very little attention to the pre-Essen hype. I read a few rules (At the Gates of Loyang, Cyclades, Arena – Roma II and Dungeon Lords ) but didn’t get excited about any of them; the hoopla, for the most part, passed me by.
Then the Lists and threads started to dribble in on Thursday and Friday, and I checked the new feature, GeekBuzz, to see what was hot. There was Carson City , which I’d never heard of, doing well. Oh, it’s a worker placement. This is an annoying mechanic to me, much like reality television, and just as popular. 😦 Where are the innovative games, quick, simple and yes, elegant?
On Saturday morning I got up around 7 and while sitting around in my jammies checking the GeekBuzz, finally clicked through and found the tab for Live Video! OMG, I was freakin’ hooked! And look, people I know to “talk” to. I loved it and was so sorry I hadn’t found it earlier.
When I tuned in, a game was in progress with cool looking pieces in bright colors and a big, beautiful map. Turns out it was Gonzaga being demoed by the designer. This looked cool and unique so I hopped over to the geek and downloaded the rules. Hmm, not bad, and indeed different. It didn’t get any Buzz or even turn up on the Hot List on the Geek, but it seemed more fun than yet one more game where I have to decide whether to pick up wood or stone on my turn, or what I need to build with it.
I spent several hours that morning and Sunday morning watching the feed from Essen, designers explaining their games, people being interviewed, men in kilts and men in blow-up ostrich suits, all while chatting with fellow gamers also stuck at home. Even without the expense and hassle of travel, the crowds and odors of the Spiel, Essen became the highlight of my October. Hmm, put that way, I think I got the better end of it after all!
In the end, I came away with just ONE game that sounds like fun and has unique game play for my collection: Tobago . It’s listed as a deduction game, which turned me off when I first looked at it, but after watching the demo I saw that the players decide what is being used for the deduction by playing cards to narrow it down. The pieces look wonderful, the board is modular for variety, and it should be easy to explain to my family, who tend toward the non-gamer side of the graph.
Back at the Geek, I noticed Scott Nicholson had a video review of a game that caught my attention a couple months ago: Castle Panic . I wrote it off after a couple comments and session reports lead me to consider it too easy. Scott’s review has turned my mind around and it is now back on the Buy List.
Then a review of another game caught my attention since it specifically mentioned 2-player: Acqua Dolce. It’s a card game for 2-5 players where you’re playing cards with fish on them into the “aquarium” in the center of the table. Since I’m always on the lookout for neat little card games that can be enjoyed by just 2, I put this on my List as well.
And so ends my as yet unfulfilled buying spree. When Tobago is back in stock somewhere, I’ll be placing an order, although I’m not sure if Acqua Dolce will be available here in America. In the meantime, who knows what other reviews will catch my eye and force me to extend my List?