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Essener Delikatessen

Since neither JW nor I are going to Essen this year, we decided to do some online Spielunking and unearth the games we might be interested in trying out or buying if we went there. Our choices are not Kickstarter projects, since for us the Essen Spiel is primarily connected with straight-to-retail releases. We consulted Eric Martin's Spiel '21Preview list, and found a few gems we think are worth highlighting.


That won't be us in the corner.

JW: Let's start with the game that has the Best! Title! Ever! Caesar!: Seize Rome in 20 Minutes! - Because I need to have all games with capitals! We even had a thread about it, years ago on BGG.


Image source: BGG

I prefer this setting to the previous one, Blitzkrieg!: World War Two in 20 Minutes. That was also missing the exclamation mark at the end. Which is plain lazy editing.


Athena: My first pick is Ark Nova. The animal cards in this one look good in my opinion, even though they are photographs.


Image source: BGG

Everyone says the gameplay is akin to Terraforming Mars. This suffices for me. I don't like the main board, it is way too long for my table but, if the solo mode is as good as in TM, I'll buy it and just be irritated every time I set it up.


Then we have Messina 1347. Underwater Cities is one of my favourite games, so I tend to take a second look when Vladimir Suchý puts out a new game.

Image source: BGG

This time there's rats, pestilence, and aristocrats who rush to save themselves and their workforce so that they can keep plaguing the land. I love that in the solo mode there is no bot to compete against but rather a blocking mechanism and a score that you will be trying to reach. I'm in.


JW: Yes, Messina 1347 is on my shortlist as well. One of my favourite novels is Conny Willis' Doomsday Book. So this particular medieval setting sounds right up my alley. Also, like you said, Suchý.


And, while we are in the Dark Ages: I'm not really interested in deduction games, but I must say Mortum: Medieval Detective sounds intriguing. I mean, "medieval European legends, superstitions and fears coming to life". Bring it on.


Athena: My main problem with medieval co-op Oltréé is that it reminds me too much of Ghost Stories, with a bit of flavour text added in. I probably don't need a second Ghost Stories in my collection, and I don't like narrative because it hurts replayability. That said, the Vincent Dutrait art makes it a beauty to look at, and it's probably engaging and fun to play. I'll have to think about it some more and watch a playthrough.


Image source: BGG

JW: Speaking of artwork, the colour scheme of Boonlake hurts so bad. Not only of the board itself, but then you put those yellow and blue meeples on it. Brrrr. 🤢


But hey, it's the next big Pfister. I'm going to check it out.


Image source: BGG

Athena: By the way, let me add my biggest disappointment from the con selection: The Siege of Runedar


Image source: screenshot from video by LudoNova

As you can see in the pic above, this one is a cluttered mess and looks like a toy I might buy my 8 year old son, if I had one. The box-castle is a good idea in theory but didn't come out well in the end, and the numerous dwarf and goblin standees make the whole thing look childish and ugly. I'll let our resident Kniziaphile Zerbique judge if it's a good game but even if it is, it's really unappealing.


JW: Oh, we're doing disappointments as well? I don't have any. Or perhaps the second edition of Great Western Trail. It's one of my favourite games, and the changes in the new edition don't look bad. The included solo variant is probably similar to the fan made one I use now. But I really don't want to buy it again. Bummer.

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Cadet Stimpy
Cadet Stimpy
Oct 12, 2021

Some popular Vladimir Suchý games spook me a bit. Underwater Cities and Pulsar 2849, to name a couple. If I wasn't such a scaredy-cat, I'd be lookin' at Messina 1347, too.

Image Source: Pinterest


Alexander Pfister's a little scary. too. But, I'm still sorta lookin' at CloudAge. In the BGG Overview, it says Boonlake is an "Expert" game. 😬

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Zerbique
Zerbique
Oct 10, 2021

I scrolled through the list and the game that draw my attention the most is Astrum. I like the historical theme which doesn't show through at all through the artwork and components, I like abstracts, I like polyominoes, well, I'm very much and positively intrigued.


Then there is Balada, which I already featured in one of my "Freshly added" posts. Something about it appeals me a lot, despite my strong repulsion for writing anything on board gaming stuff (I did copy every single sheet of Legacy of Dragonholt to not write anything on the actual components; I usually don't use the scoresheets in games that include them).


Some intriguing adventure games... Cartaventura is already in my collection, waiting for me…



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Cadet Stimpy
Cadet Stimpy
Nov 22, 2021
Replying to

"Buying resistance". Interesting phrase. All I know is, while looking at my Game Room, I don't have enough of it!

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Zerbique
Zerbique
Oct 10, 2021

Yeah, you can count on me to get Runedar as soon as I can. I agree it looks bad though. And the rules are rather long for a Knizia - I haven't even read them yet.

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Cadet Stimpy
Cadet Stimpy
Oct 10, 2021

Athena, I thought the cards for Ark Nova were great. I like photography and thought those were NatGeo level (you musta liked the Owl card). 😍


When you look at the Icons 'n stuff on the cards, do you generally think you understand most/all of it? Much of the time, I'm like, "Nope, gonna need to look at the Rulebook for that one." 😀

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Athena
Athena
Oct 10, 2021
Replying to

Yeah, it doesn't look like a very light game but hopefully it can be easily learned. I'm not an icons fan, rather the opposite, but I see there is text on these cards too, so I guess we'll manage. 😄

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Cadet Stimpy
Cadet Stimpy
Oct 10, 2021

Sorry to hear you can't make it to Essen this year. It apparently gets "crowded" there. 😄


JW, will Caesar play exactly as Blitzkrieg? A Video I watched, said, at least initially when playing Solo, your turn will be pretty quick, but the AI has a much more time-consuming procedural thing you'll follow. Your thoughts?

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Gloomknight
Gloomknight
Oct 11, 2021
Replying to

I am gonna keep an eye on Caesar! as well. I tend to love all things Roman

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