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.
Alas, came the last day of Spiel Essen 2018. Meeple Eksyen crew decided to take it back a few notch to enjoy the last day of this annual convention. Besides picking up the promised demo copies for our review rubrics, we also spared some time to look around and try other board games. We started our last day's journey from Hall 3, where the mainstream board games nest. Our first board game of the day is Scorpius Freighter distributed by Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG).
In this game's setting, players are smugglers who operate across galaxies. Each player collects points before the end of the game condition is triggered. Players receive their own boards that acts as a user interface of the controlled ship. Players can modify their ship to later take the smuggled commodities. The goods are then sold in exchange for points. The mechanics of this game is a mix of tile placement, worker placement, and also set collection. The right placement will result in optimal income to help in reaching the most points. This game can hold 2-4 players in one session,
Still interested in the smaller publishers, we traced back the alleys of Hall 5. This time, a Spanish board game caught our attention thanks to its artwork. Titled Ambar, design by Invedars' team, we took the time to try one session. Alberto as the manager of Invedars and also the designer offered himself as the game coach. Combining push-your-luck and action point system, Ambar invites you to travel back to the Medieval times where players will try to collect the most money by selling precious amber rocks. Game occurs for two rounds and is playable for 2-4 players. This small board game is very compact as a travelling buddy and we ended up asking whether we could get a review copy. Alberto gave us the chance to buy the demo copy in a relatively cheap price. Why not? Sold! We will talk about this game more later.
We headed back to Hall 4 to meet Milan, the founder of Archona Games and also the designer of Small Star Empires, their 2016-released game. Not only the core, they also brought along two expansions that will be released this year, Small Star Empires: Dawn of Discoveries and Small Star Empires: The Galactic Divide. Vladimir took part as our game coach that day to explain us how the core game is played before moving on to the two newest expansion.
As soon as we sat down and saw how the game was set up, one can immediately see that the area control and grid movement mechanics are used. Each player will try to build colonies in the galaxy. Sadly, each player's movement have to be calculated thoroughly and thought over 2-3 steps ahead. Ships can only move horizontally and vertically, without any diagonal movements; and when one player has built a colony at one point, then the other players can't pass that point. Every time a colony is built in a galaxy, player score as much as the amount of planet inside of it. This is a 2-4 player game. Immediately, we asked for the availability of this board game to Milan to be reviewed in our blog. He was willing to give us a demo copy after Spiel Essen ends. We scheduled the time to pick up this game a few hours later.
Hall 2 became our next destination to meet with Konstantinos from Vesuvius Media. Since he was occupied with the visitors queue, we took the privilege to check out the demo of Zoar ourselves. Andreas Katelanos as the designer gave us explanation himself as the game coach.
In Zoar, each player becomes the head chief that lives in the desert. The main objective is to become the first to take the tribe's artifact in other tiles to be brought back to camp grounds. Besides that, player can also win by destroying other cities built by the enemy. The movement and city planning also have to be strategic. Player must remember that the resources in the desert is very limited. Like Catan, the area control mechanic is very apparent in this game, along with grid movement that becomes the crucial point. When we wanted to buy a copy for our Meeple Eksyen's review material, Andreas was kind enough to offer a free copy to us. We can't say thank you enough and promise to give as good as a review as the other. This time, we did not forget to take a photo together.
We still have a lot of time before the closing of Spiel Essen and picking up our booked demo copies. Therefore, we strolled around a few other hall areas. In Hall 5, we spotted a stand showcasing an economics and financial board game. After some chit-chat with Ashley, turns out they are from Singapore, our neighboring country! Capital Gains Studio brought two titles, Debtzilla and Cryptocurrency which they gifted us as a review copy right at that moment.
Since the seats are limited, we only had the chance to try Debtzilla. Players cooperate to defeat Debtzilla and its cronies to save the citizen from the wrath of endless debt. Debtzilla has to defeated before its Health Point (HP) exceeds over 99 or before everyone is tangled in debt trapped by the evil goons of this monster. Truthfully, this game is pretty difficult. Well, there has never been an easy cooperative game, and Debtzilla is not an exception. After trying one demo session, we bid farewell to the crew of Capital Gains Studio. Outside our expectation, we managed to land a deal with the designer and publisher from our neighboring country!
The density of visitors in Hall 3 never seem to recede. We visited Abacus Spiele's booth, a German publisher. This year, they distributed a board game titled The Great City of Rome in collaboration with Z-Man Games. The crowded table only gave us the chance to pick a review copy with no chance of trying it. We had to be satisfied with just seeing the game play from one of the tables.
This game is played in the course of fourteen rounds. Players take turn drafting to build a city plan with the limited resources. Not only must we be careful in planning the city, players must also pick the right time to use influencer and invest throughout the game. After finished drafting, player can choose to build or produce bu paying a number of resource and coin. The resources are bricks and gears. At the end of a round, each player counts the points from his/her buildings. Who earns the most point is the winner of the game.
Before we end the last day of Spiel Essen 2018, we made time to visit Blackrock Games's booth who was the distributor of games designed by Catch Up Games. One of the board games that became a crowd magnet is Fertility. Caroline and Thibaut greeted us and was kind enough to present a review copy.
The jam-packed stand approaching the end of the closing gave us only a glimpse of the ongoing game play. The amount of players start from 2-4 player to enjoy Fertility. Taking place in ancient Egypt, player must be keen to manage the available resources from the Nile River. Collecting a lot of resources doesn't mean winning the game, players must be smart enough to optimize the usage. Each unused resources will be vain at the end of every round. With the resources, players then collect money and build new districts. Players continue until round 9 and above, each player counts the money collected to determine the winner.
After packing the schedule for the first three days, we had a lot of time for sightseeing on the last day. We then picked up the booked demo copies by the board game companies that we've nurtured a connection with these past four days. The exhibitors have started cleaning up up their stands and booths since 5 PM with a note that Spiel Essen closes an hour earlier (6 PM). Seeing the enthusiasm and spirit of both the board game designers and publishers towards our country's board game community is no less than us, we then came up with #SpielEssen2019FullTeam in hopes of getting to give you guys a more updated report and bringing more glory to our board game community. Thank you to all the exhbitior and especially Friedhelm Merz Verlag for holding this awesome annual event. The closing of Spiel Essen 2018 is not the end of the story, but a start for preparation of Spiel Essen 2019. Await Meeple Eksyen's next appearance in other board game events and our promised reviews post- Spiel Esen 2018!