2017 Random Spiel Preview #5

This is most likely my final random preview for this year’s Spiel fair in Essen Germany.  It will run from 10/26 to 10/29.  I’ve been randomly selecting games from the BGG preview, which at the time of this writing has 822 items.  I usually do seven games – let’s supersize this one and turn it up to 11.  Auf geht’s!

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

The Palace of Mad King Ludwig (Ted Alspach, Bézier Games) is a follow-up to the 2014 game The Castles of Mad King Ludwig.  In this one, players are building a single palace rather than individual castles.  You’ll be placing rooms, hallways, and stairs all around this palaces, as well as adding moats around the play area.  You’ll score points for completing certain tiles, and also gain abilities.  The game ends when the moat completely surrounds the palace, you run out of moat tiles, or you run you run out of rooms.  High score wins.  This seems like an interesting continuation of the Ludwig series, which itself grew out of Suburbia.  The tiles are all of a uniform shape here (square), but it looks to have similar scoring combination properties.  It’s one I’m looking forward to hearing more about.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Wildcatters (Rolf Sagel/André Spil, Capstone Games) first came out in 2013, and now it’s getting a wider English release.  The game is about the oil industry of the 1800s.  You’re trying to build oil rigs all around the world, find cheap oil that you can sell for a tremendous profit, and control the various areas around the board in order to bring home the most cash. I first heard about Wildcatters on the Heavy Cardboard podcast.  They really liked it – it’s a heavy economic game, which is right in their wheelhouse.  I don’t know that it’s necessarily my thing, but I’d check it out if given an opportunity.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Small World: Sky Islands (T. Alex Davis/Philippe Keyaerts, Days of Wonder) is the latest expansion to 2009’s Small World.  This one features seven new races and powers, as well as islands in the sky.  You will use the regular Small World board for one fewer player than you have, as well as a special sky island board showing 2-3 islands.  A beanstalk and a stairway will connect the two.  It sounds like a cool addition to the system, which keeps proving itself to be extremely versatile and almost infinitely expandable.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Finn Billiards (Patrick Pirou, Ferti) is a dexterity game that is nothing like billiards as I know it.  12 pins are clustered in the center of the board, and you use a slingshot mechanism to fire a disc at them.  If you knock down one pin, you score points equal to the number on that pin, but if you knock down more than one, you score points based on how many you knocked down.  Pins then stand where they fell, and you continue until someone has scored exactly 70 points.  This seems like a pretty wild game, and probably a lot of fun.

image by BGG user oriolcr

Space Opera (David Martinez Díaz/Benet Domínguez/Anna Esplandiu/Marc Vinyes, Games 4 Gamers) is a deck-building game where players are battling for supremacy of the galaxy.  You can achieve this by exterminating the other species or by building technologies to bring your civilization level up.  I haven’t dug too deeply in this one because it really isn’t grabbing my interest level.  It sounds pretty generic to me.  I’d really like to see a game about staging an opera in space sometime.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Speed Colors (Erwan Morin, Game Factory) is a kid’s game of memory and color recognition.  Each player gets a double-sided card and memorizes the colorful side.  They then flip it to the black and white side and fill in the proper colors.  Speed and accuracy count, and marker caps are switched at the end of each round to add to the chaos.  It looks like the cards are dry-erase style which is good – you could probably go through a lot of paper if you weren’t careful.  I doubt this game will appeal much outside of the target demographic, but it is probably going to be a big hit with people who like to color.

image by BGG user stooge

Coaster Park (Scott Almes, Pandasaurus Games) is a game about building the best roller coaster.  Each round, you’ll choose cards to add to the market that will give players more track or allow them to hire specialists.  Track is bid on by one player setting the price, then all others deciding if they want to buy it before the original player can.  Tracks are worth points when added to your roller coaster, but only if you can successfully get a marble to roll across them.  It definitely has some visual appeal with the 3D tracks, and the marble scoring mechanism is quite possibly brilliant.  This looks like a good one to check out.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

NOVA (Andrea Boennen, QANGO Verlag) is an abstract game with a space theme.  There’s not a whole lot of info outside of the BGG description, which I present here:

On the old star map, the constellations are only dimly recognizable — or not visible at all. Let them shine again in NOVA. Lay your star tiles on the star map so that stars of the same type touch. This earns you points, and on certain spots, you can even score bonuses. On some places on the star map, you can lay only certain types of stars, or perhaps none at all. Opponents want to place their star tiles in good places as well, so keep an eye on everyone’s possible moves. Whoever makes the most points wins!

That’s kind of vague, but it’s all that we’ve got.  This definitely goes in the “wait-and-see” category.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Hexcalibur (Enrique Dueñas González, SD Games) is another one with no information outside of the BGG description.  So again, here you go:

Hexcalibur is an abstract wargame for two players, with an average duration of 40 minutes per game. The action takes place in the first and convulsive years of the reign of Arthur Pendragon. The round table doesn’t exist yet and the land is torn by a war between the kingdom of Logres, the forces of Cumbria and the mysterious pagan warriors. You can recruit men and beasts, make use of Merlin’s powers, and even brandish the mythical sword Excalibur. During the game, players place hexagons (representing their troops) over different territories. If you place similar troops next to each other, they will form chains, improving their effectiveness in combat. When a territory has as many hexagons as its population limit, a battle takes place. Win battles in order to conquer the different regions of Britannia … but be very careful with the dragons!!

The Arthurian legend is pretty rich, so this might be interesting.  It is conflict based, so I don’t know how much I’d ultimately like it.  The game will only be available in Spanish.

image by BGG user Zmiotek

Riddler (Krzysztof Matusik, Tailor Games) is a party game that AGAIN has no info outside of the BGG description.  In a way, that’s good – my work is mostly done.

Riddler is an upside-down variation of charades. Each player gets five clue cards. A clue card has two icons on them – these icons represent certain features. Players then get a category card, which defines the frame of their word, and a starting clue card. Players then place one card from their hand with one icon visible under the starting clue card and pass their hand to the player to the left. Players do this until they run out of cards in hand. Then the real fun begins! Players have to come up with a thing that matches the category and most of their clue icons! Then player get points for this, according to the amount of used cards! The game lasts three rounds, player with the most points wins! This game requires a lot of creativity and guarantees fun even with the least experienced players.

You had me at Charades.  Wait, no, sorry…I meant you lost me at charades.  There’s card drafting there which is not a bad twist, but still, I’m not terribly taken with the content.

image by BGG user Noodles2468

Sidereal Confluence (TauCeti Deichmann, WizKids) is a game of negotiation in space, though I understand it’s more like Chinatown than Cosmic Encounter.  The game is played simultaneously – first you’ll do your deals, then you’ll run your converters to turn stuff into other stuff, then you’ll bid on colonies and research teams.  It’s a lot of cards, and people have really been liking it.  You can play with 4-9 players, and apparently it has the same play time for all player counts.  I think it would be a fun game to try out, though I am normally pretty terrible at negotiation.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading!



  1. Hi! I’m Enrique Dueñas, designer of HEXCALIBUR. Thank you very much for the preview! The game will be nor only in spanish but in ENGLISH aswell. It is conflict-based indeed, but very light on rules and very faithful to the Arthurian legend.

    You can find plenty of pics and info in our facebook page (but this time, ONLY in spanish): https://www.facebook.com/HexcaliburJuego/

    Again, thank you very much for the preview and see you at ESSEN!!

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