If it is October, and you are a board gamer, it can only mean one thing — It is Essen Spiel “Envie” Time!
What is Essen Spiel?
The Internationale Spieltage SPIEL — or Essen for short, based on the city in Germany where it is held each year — is a trade fair put on by hundreds of board game publishers from around the world. Around 150,000 board game fans browse, demo, play games and shop for four days in October. (For an excellent recap of the differences between Gen Con and Essen and the other big cons, check out Paul Grogan’s excellent interview with Tom Vasel here.)
What is Envie?
“Envie” is a Cajun French word that roughly translates to “I want something real bad”, and in 2017, there’s a lot to want that is coming out at Essen. Our thanks to Eric Martin of Board Game Geek for his incredible resource, the SPIEL ‘17 GeekPreview.
Without further ado, here’s our list, with comments:
BJ — Raise your hand if you had Roller Coaster Tycoon on your Windows machine, and probably still have a copy of it on CD somewhere. The idea of a table top version of that beloved game quickens the heart of many a board gamer. In fact, I purchased Steam Park almost sight unseen, just based on comments I heard that it was the closest thing to RCT that we’ve had so far. (It was not, but is still a great game.) Now Pandasaurus tries their hand at bringing that RCT feeling to our game tables, with absolutely gorgeous art by Kwanchai Moriya (Flip Ships, Take The Bait, Kodama). Can Scott Almes (Tiny Epic series) bridge the gap between the two realms? Check out BGG’s preview video here.
BJ — Not Alone has been one of the most played games at our Gumbo Game Nights. It is easy to teach, gives you a great one-versus-many feeling like in Fury of Dracula but in a much shorter time period, and almost always comes down to the last turn. We’ve played it enough now that injecting some new cards (Hunt, Survival and Location!) could really extend the life of this great game. Why doesn’t this game get more pub?
BJ — I just love the board art of this game and the cover. I also am intrigued by the theme, which is not your standard pick-a-city-in-Europe-and-throw-some-mechanics-at-it type game. As I said in the GEN CON 50 preview, Agra has the look of a good, thinky Euro. The designer also designed La Granja, so there is a pedigree. I never got the chance to try this one at GEN CON, but hopefully, I can get my hands on this one after Essen.
BJ — I am a sucker for unique themes, and a sci-fi diving game set in the far future is a theme we do not see very often. The game play sounds like a typical worker placement, but with a unique twist where the players are looking at the depth ability of each diver to determine the sequence of actions. Eric Martin from BGG interviewed one of the publishers this year, and provided us with a good overview here.
BJ — Bag building games have been a lot of fun to play and are still fresh in my mind. Altiplano is another bag building design from the same person who brought you Orleans. The designer promises that this game allows players multiple paths to victory. The unique theme — players are in the South American highlands between Bolivia and Peru, up around 10,000 feet, trying to scratch out a living developing the available, but limited resources in the area. Any interest? You can check out the English rules here.
Brandon Kempf, WDYPTW Podcast — Really, all I need to say is that this is a Euro about building your settlements in Montana and it uses a spinner, yup, an actual spinner. That should be enough to get anyone ready to jump on this, right? But what it looks like is a fantastic lighter weight city building Euro with some bidding/auction type mechanisms. I need to dive into the rules as this one has just kind of appeared on my radar, not sure how I missed it previously, I mean it’s only like there are 1000 games being shown at Spiel ‘17!
So that’s our short list of games we are really interested in checking out, once they start arriving on our side of the Atlantic after Essen Spiel ‘17.
Be sure to also check out fellow Punch Board Media writer and WDYPTW member, Brandon Kempf, and his five most anticipated games here. Also, the State of Games podcast has an excellent discussion of their most anticipated games in episode 139, that was released last week. Finally, Paul Grogan from Gaming Rules! Podcast also chimed in with an Essen games preview with Matt Evans and Tom Heath.
What games are you craving to see and play? Let us know here or on Twitter @boardgamegumbo.
Until next time, Laissez les bon temps rouler!