I am a full-time food technologist during weekdays. However, when the calendar hits weekends, I transform into an avid board gamer. I am a hardcore Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) LCG player from Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). Current hobby: buying board games. My shelf of shame’s list is getting longer, thanks to you, Kickstarter.
10 AM sharp GMT +1, the gates to one of the biggest board game convention in the world is opened. Thousands of people entered slowly, but surely to try various games displayed by publishers and designers from all over the world. Thus the four-day adventure begins. In this first report, a few board games that has stolen our attention and is worth the try from various companies and developers will we discuss briefly.
Through the main entrance, the visitors are immediately guided to the Main Hall filled with giant publishers such as Iello, Queen Games, and the such. Threading carefully along the alleys while avoiding bumping into other visitors, there lies a modest booth, Capsicum Games.
One of the newest games that is invaded on this booth is Gobi. Designed by Maud Chalmel and Scott Huntington, this game is sealed with beautiful artwork by Maud Chalmel. Tells the story of tribes living in The Gobi Desert falling apart because of the raging sand storm. Players are caravan riders that has to help them unite again. The mechanic of this game is a mix of tile and worker placement with route building. Players race to obtain points and rewards given by tribes that have been unified again through routes built along the game. Rewards obtained can be special skills that aid players into any destination or points that will be accumulated at the end of the round. Gobi is a 2-4 player game that requires around 20-40 minutes of time to finish.
Gobi will be discussed further later after Spiel Essen. One copy has been acquired to be further reviewed. This French company also brought along a couple of other board games that is no less interesting, such as Noxford and Siggil.
We are not done yet in Hall 3, we also visited Asmodee 's stand. Comes as no surprise, all tables were packed knowing they have taken the opportunity to published several new titles, one of them is Discover and Keyforge. Luckily, Snow Time's table was vacant, so we didn't immediately left Hall 3 empty handed.
The cover of this game that was illustrated by Xavier Gueniffey Durin became the charm itself. This piece by designer Frank Meyer is released through Lui-même and distributed by Asmodee earning positive energy from the crowd while the event lasted. Snow Time is a racing game mixed with bluffind and deduction. It was told that while winter lasted, a tree climbing competition between villages was participated by children. During the competition, players will race each other to attain fruits from the tree climbed. The fastest player to circle the tree and get back down is the winner.
Each start of the turn, a D6 dice will be rolled to decide which branch the fruit will appear. The fruit gives bonus to players to advance their children token to reach the end goal. Cards with the number 1-7 is used to decide which branch players will climb during the round. Used cards will be put face up and can't be used for the time being. There are three special cards that can help players achieve victory in the game. Every time you are able to stay at the tree, along with the fallen enemy, the fruits picked from the tree, and the smallest number from the card used will contribute players further to the finish line. This game can be enjoyed by 3-5 players in 20-40 minutes.
We then started to approach the wall side to take a look at other stands. Ferti Games still occupied the same spot as last year so we decided to pay a visit. A few of their board games are Asian themed and can count as simple but with enough depth to rack your brain.
Three board games displayed in front was Siam, Sensei, and Yokai. For Siam, they had two versions: travel edition and normal retail edition. We alone already have the travel edition with beautifully carved miniatures. The normal version had a more simplified components with cartoon illustration.
Although we had tried Siam a few times before, we still missed trying it again. Siam alone is a duel game full of tactics and strategies. Once upon a time in The Kingdom of Siam, the rhino and elephant clan debated who was the strongest. To decide, both sides will compete to push boulders. Both players will test their brains like playing chess to push one of the three boulders outside the playing area. The rules are quite complex for a game as small as this, but can be easily learned from 1-2 sessions of match. For this two player game, personal experience shows that one session only requires 10-20 minutes. Siam will be further discussed in our other article.
Trying Siam out again in an event with new people gave a refreshing sensation. Besides bringing those three board games, this French publisher also brought Taluva, a game that had been released since 2006. Each player tries to widen the island their building by the eruption of the volcano. This game that is also distributed by Hans im Glück is also available in deluxe version.
Pleased with what Hall 3 offered, time to head to Hall 5. This is where the nest of the relatively new designers and publishers which have produced equally interesting and fun board games. One of them is Play With Us Design (PWUD) from Taiwan with its eye pampering board game components and cover.
A fre board games that they offered is Wonderland XIII, Hound, and Sheep Dog. But, the most prominent out of the others is Vita Mors, a game that combines secret identity, hand management, and voting. Players are divided into three teams with each having to comply to the winning requirements.
First team is assigned to guard each character pulled out form the deck to stay alive. Second team tries to kill a number of characters from the same number set. Whilst team Joker will receive the most difficult task : stopping both teams from winning until a certain number of rounds. The most interesting part of Vita Mors is the design from the coin tokens and doctor. The minimalist designed artwork spoils the eyes of the players. Vita Mors is a relatively short game, with only 15-30 minutes per session. This game is playable for 3-6 players.
Side by side with PWUD, Mozi Game also originated from Taiwan has a portfolio that doesn't lose in comparison. Horticulture Master was the chosen board game to grace the front booth managed by Livia Yu. This game was also in Board Game Gewwks livestream in Twitch.
The components, artwork, and board from Horticulture Master is very cute, a lot of the female visitors stopped by to try. A few drawings were inspired by famous buildings and architecture in Taiwan. Combining city building, card drafting, and puzzle elements, players race to tally the most point in this game.
To achieve points, players must build a garden worthy of attracting wild animals to come. Livia has been generous enough to give us a review copy to discuss this game. Horticulture Master is played by 2-5 players in 25-60 minutes.
Post-lunch hour, our crew was waited with a meeting with Evan Song from Mandoo Games based in South Korea. Positioned in The Korean Pavilion in Hall 2, Evan confidently showcased the three board games that they released in Spiel Essen 2018.
Not holding anything back, we were given the trust to review all three of the board games. Evan started explaining about Wangdo, the biggest sized board game out of the three. Basically, players have to control the area on board and collect one set of token scattered on top of it. This Jakub Rebelka illustrated artwork is friendly enough for players from all ages. Wangdo can be played by 2-4 players and can e finished in 35 minutes.
Although we still met some language barrier, Evan was still patient and kind enough to explain Spring Rally in the best way. This racing game is designed with an unsual theme. Each player controls cars powered by springs. The first player to successfully circle the race area twice becomes the winner. Sounds easy, but a lot of factors have to be put into consideration to race other players and head to the finish line. This game is very fun to play with 2-5 players with a maximum of 30 minutes.
Our interview was not enough to explain the last board game, Seals. We were lucky to meet Evan and had the chance to talk about his company's board games. All three board games will come up in our next posts. We will further break down Wangdo, Spring Rally, and Seals for you. We were so caught up with Evan that we forgot to take a picture when we were given the review copy. But, a selfie is not forgotten as a souvenir. 감사합니다!
There was still a few time left before the closing of the first day of Spiel Essen 2018, time to visit Hall 4. Taking another peek at Asian domiciled designers and publishers, finally we decided to try out games by EmperorS4. Riding along Taiwan Board Game Design's(TBD) booth, they presented one of the board games that became a hot item in this year's convention, Burano. The packed table at Burano gave us the chance to try Realm of Sand, one of their other interesting game.
The story tells about the queen from the Kingdom of Ragusa setting on a journey across land to save her crumbling country from constantly overusing magic. The uncontrollable change in time and dimension needs to be stopped for the world to go back to normal. Players take roles as witches helping the queen to finish the task.
Realm of Sands is an abstract categorized game. Players have to come up with a strategy to solve puzzles to collect points before other players trigger a condition that ends the game. Each player races to arrange tiles on top of the board in front of it. As magicians, players can also use active special skills if other players could fulfill the requirements to fill the source of magic energy. Designed with simple components and wrapped with elegant artwork, Realm of Sands can be played starting with 1-5 players.
And that's all for Spiel Eseen 2018's first day report! The flow of visitors filled every row in Hall 1-6. Lots of interesting board games that might be hard to obtain in a few countries. We will also review a number of board games trusted by the publishers and designer that came to the event this year. As for the first day, we managed to bag the review copies of Gobi, Horticulture Master, Wangdo, Spring Rally, and Seals. Look forward our next review of other days in Spiel Essen 2018. Cheers!