Post-Essen 2013

Posted by James (admin) on November 30th, 2013

SpielNow that the dust has settled following Spiel in Essen (due to work, sickness, voting on some awards, and life in general), I am finally able to start writing reviews of the games released this year.  Unlike other years, I didn’t get to play many of the big releases until after Spiel, rather than during it; however, I have played many now (and there’s still a sizeable pile still to play too) and can report there were loads of great games this year.

However, in advance of all the full reviews, I thought I’d post briefly about what I’ve played so far.  Last week, was a busy week with a chance to play a lot of games.  I’ve played Russian Railroads with 2 and 4 players now and it’s an excellent meaty eurogame with some pretty tough decisions, especially as there are lots of possible ways to make points but spreading yourself too thinly across a lot of them is not likely to turn out so well.  S0, you need to have a plan as well as a plan on what to do if progressing the first plan isn’t possible because other players get in the way.

Madeira was also an excellent meaty eurogame with a lot of simple but highly interwoven game mechanics – no sooner do you think of a way to do your turn better than you realise that doing so will actually mess up at least one other factor.

Stefan Feld’s Amerigo has the usual Feld hallmarks of interesting game mechanics and is a medium-weight eurogame with almost no downtime.  It’s a game of short-term planning and reassessing your plan every step of the way as you’re not sure when the actions you want to do will be available.  It worked well with 2 and 4 players.  The game’s central mechanic is the cube tower which you drop cubes into each round to determine the actions available.  I’ve read that many players find it too generous and many of the cubes dropped in come straight out.  I too found this to be the case as the game went on which can make the game less interesting as the gameplay relies on a mix of colours coming out each round and for the tower to retain cubes.  It’s a good game that I enjoyed but I’m experimenting and testing to find how to make the tower retain more cubes.  The only downside to the game is the giant box’s custom-made inner manages to convert a vast amount of storage space into a very fiddly area.

Nations was an excellent, if unforgiving, civilisation game.  Plenty of choices and hard decisions, but you’re fairly screwed if you have few resources as you don’t have anything with which to escape your situation.

Lewis & Clark turned out to be more involved and challenging than expected (which is a good thing), especially as the artwork and theme look great and give the impression of a light, easy-going game.  It’s another medium eurogame that looks to have plenty of gameplay in it.  Interesting to play a game where having lots of resources and cards is as bad as having too few.

I’ve played Citrus a couple of times and have found the decisions within it to be deeper than I expected.

I seem to have bought quite a few games that can be played solo this year (as well as a few which are solo only) and this is a good thing.  I played Freedom where you are trying to help slaves in America escape to freedom.  It’s a co-op game for up to 4 players but playing solo worked fine (as many co-ops do).  It’s a very tight game and seemed nice and simple to start with but it tough pretty quick as the rounds progress, especially as there are multiple victory conditions all to be satisfied.

As well as games from Essen, I also have some from Victory Points Games to play as well like the very promising looking Cruel Necessity which is a solo-playing game with an English Civil War theme.  Even though I’m English, I’ve never been very interested in the English Civil War (probably because the subject seemed dull when I was at school); however, I’m hoping this game can change that – the amount of rules certainly gives the impression it is a game of substance.


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