Essen 2012: Day 3

Essen is odd this year, for reasons that completely escape me, the Saturday wasn’t much fuller than the weekdays – but the weekdays were fuller than last year, so everything was still very, very crowded. But more people seemed to just walk through and look around, it was actually easier to get a table and try a game today than it was the yesterday and the day before. Of course, we took every opportunity we could, and we found more games that are absolutely worth your time.

Northwest Passage Adventure
Northwest Passage Adventure

Let’s start with booth 4-119, shared by Gen X, Mage Company and HomoLudicus. We played a round of Gen X’s Northwest Passage Adventure with one of the designers, and it’s a great game. Not too heavy, it plays quickly and is family friendly – and I don’t think there is a name for its mechanics yet. It’s a racing game to find a way around the north of North America, on a game board made from stripes of hexes. You make your way across the different kinds of terrain by putting shaped tiles on top of the board, showing your ship’s route. Other players can follow in the canal you carved into the ice, they can mess with you with action cards and it’s a lot of fun all around. The demo round of Wrong Chemistry (Mage Company) was promising as well – you might remember Wrong Chemistry as a Kickstarter project we presented a while ago, it’s another one that is done and available in Essen. Another light game, your goal here is to rearrange the game elements on the table – hex tiles, black discs, white disks – to resemble the chemical elements depicted on your cards. The goal shapes don’t exactly have anything to do with the real look of molecules, but that’s not really the point, is it? The game is fun, the illustrations are funny, it’s worth a look. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to try Kalua by HomoLudicus, but the people we observed were definitely having fun, and I’m sure we will, too.

If you’re in this corridor already, go pay a visit to the Kuznia Gier booth as well and try 1984: Animal Farm – like you’d expect from a shifting alliances type game from the designers of Alcatraz: The Scapegoat, this game makes people emotional, there was yelling and cries of betrayal. 1984: Animal Farm must be doing something very right for that to happen. And then a bit further down the corridor – or maybe up the corridor – you can give MafiaDollar a try, if you read the review you already know why you should.

Heiko Weyen, designer of MafiaDollar
Heiko Weyen: did he invent MafiaDollar, or is it an autobiographical card game? On this photo I really cannot tell.
Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island
Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island

Staying in the same hall, if you were hoping to snag a copy of Ignacy Trzewiczek’s Robinson Crusoe at the Portal Publishing booth you might want to be there early tomorrow, they are almost over. After listening to the overview, I have a good idea why everybody wanted one. Again, we didn’t have time for a trial game. These fair days are just too short!

Why didn’t we have time to play a round of all the games we wanted to? I blame Sebastian Bleasdale and Richard Breese, we got stuck for more than an hour with R&D Games because none of us wanted to abort the game of Keyflower we started. It’s an awesome, heavier game with lots of meeples. Always a plus. If you plan to try it out, heed the words of our explainator: don’t play just the first round, try to get at least to round three, the game develops a lot with every round. And when you’re in round three, you might as well finish, there are only four rounds.

Tomorrow we’ll be back again, go see some people that have so far successfully evaded us and, if the table situation is the same as today, try some more games. If you see us there, please come and say hi.

Until then, you can follow our progress in convenient visual form:

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