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Bare Essen-tials

JW reminded me that Essen Spiel is going to take place at the very beginning of October this year, so I went through the BGG preview list and picked the games that piqued my interest. I ended up with 27 titles, of which only 6 made the final cut. If I had the chance of visiting the convention, these would be the ones I'd consider purchasing or demoing.

Aleph Null

Image source: BGG

This is my most anticipated game of the lot. In case you haven't heard of it before, it is a solo card game designed by Tony Boydell in which you are a magician trying to summon Baphomet by using all your ritual cards. I have played the PnP and liked it. I was somewhat disappointed at the final artwork because it looks too modern; I prefer the medieval images of the prototype. Nevertheless, I will get a copy when it hits the stores.

Fish 'n' Flip

Image source: BGG

This is a simple, abstract strategy game about saving fish from a fishing boat's net. You lay the fish cards down in a grid, and then play action cards to flip them, switch their places, and take them out of the grid. You lose if 7 cards pile up in a column. If you win, your score depends on the number of fish remaining in the net. As I said, simple. But it looks like easy fun. I believe it's already available through the Helvetiq online store.

Ecosfera: Rewilding the World

Image source: BGG

I don't know much about this but the fact that it's a cooperative deck building game is enough to draw my attention. Your goal is to create biomes and populate them with animals. The description says that you start with plenty of resources but they become scarce as the game goes by, which may spark some interesting tension. It is going to Kickstarter sometime in 2023, so we'll see when it launches.


Image source: BGG

I'm so-so on this one: I like the theme and the components but I'm not sure how exciting it is to play solo. It may be nice and relaxing though. On your turn, you either meditate or cultivate. I guess it doesn't get more Zen than that. You are laying tiles to create a bonsai tree in your pot and score points, and the solo mode comes with a set of challenges.


Image source: BGG

I'm waiting for an English playthrough of this to decide whether I want it or not. I know I'm in the minority but I don't like Elise Plessis' artwork so I'll only get it if it's a good hand management game. I saw an unboxing, it's basically just a deck of cards. We'll see.

Honourable mention: Unconscious Mind

Image source: BGG

I suspect this will have an AI opponent in solo which means I'm out. I appreciate the originality of the theme, however, and some of the artwork (mostly Dutrait's). Worker placement and engine building mechanics are right up my alley but it is probably chiefly a multiplayer game. It's going to Kickstarter in November.

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