The Spiel is finally here! Well, it will be on Thursday anyway. This annual fair is the largest in the world, and takes place in Essen, German. As of this writing, the BGG preview list shows 1216 titles that will be at the fair, with 1032 of them listed as being for sale. I’ve been covering random titles that will be there for the last couple of months, but here is my final non-random preview where I talk about games that catch my interest and I didn’t already mention. Let’s get to it.
Azul: Summer Pavilion (Michael Kiesling, Next Move Games) is the second sequel to the Spiel des Jahres-winning Azul. The game features the same tile drawing method as the other two games in the series, though now with rhombus shaped tiles and start shaped patterns you’re completing. Big differences include the presence of wild tiles (the color changes each round), and needing to pay to place a tile on your board. I enjoy the original, haven’t played Stained Glass of Sintra, and am looking forward to learning more about this.
Chocolate Factory (Matthew Dunstan/Brett J. Gilbert, Alley Cat Games) is a engine-building game from the design team that brought us Elysium. In this one, you’re drafting workers and engine parts, then running a conveyor belt to upgrade chocolate into what you need to fulfill contracts. There’s a lot of moving parts in this game (including the conveyor belt, where you’re actually pushing tiles across), and it looks quite interesting.
Crystal Palace (Carsten Lauber, Feuerland Spiele) is a dice placement game with the twist that you aren’t rolling your dice – you’re choosing the values at the start of each round. Higher numbers give you better benefits, but you have to pay money for each pip that you use. The theme of the game is centered around the first World’s Fair in 1851. It looks pretty cool, though I wonder if this is an auction mechanism disguised as dice placement.
Ecos: First Continent (John D. Clair, AEG) is an African themed game where players are building an ecosystem. It plays a little like Bingo, where a player pulls a tile from a bag and all players get to mark that spot on their mats. However, unlike Bingo, filling up a card triggers a special ability, like placing terrain tiles, animals, trees, or mountains, or allows you to score or move things around. It’s a similar idea to Rise of Augustus, though with more player interaction, and it looks pretty fascinating.
High Rise (Gil Hova, Formal Ferret Games) is a city building, time track game where players are going around, performing actions, and trying to outdo their opponents.You’re basically making 2-3 laps around attack that surrounds the board, taking different actions as you go. I really liked The Networks when I played it, and I’ve been looking forward to Hova’s next big game, especially since I enjoy him as a Ludology host as well.
It’s a Wonderful World (Frédéric Guérard, La Boîte de Jeu) is a card drafting game where you’re building a better tomorrow today. Some of the cards will be recycled for their resources, while others will be built in order to improve your engine. I haven’t looked deeply into the gameplay yet, this game mostly jumped out at me because I love the cover. Very evocative of what I hope the game is like.
Magic Maze On Mars (Kasper Lapp, Sit Down!) is a new version of the Spiel des Jahres nominated Magic Maze, but this time on Mars. Basically, you’re building colonies on Mars and are a little behind schedule because the colonists are on their way. You have to finish before the oxygen runs out. Like the original, it’s a real-time cooperative game where everyone can move anyone, but is in charge of only one action. However, this time movement is along colored pathways rather than simply moving in a particular direction. I’m a big fan of the original, so I’m eager to see what they did with the system.
Maracaibo (Alexander Pfister, Capstone Games/dlp Games) is a game set in the Caribbean during the 17th century. You’re sailing around, delivering goods, using special actions, and so on. It sounds a little like the very popular Great Western Trail, and with Pfister’s continuing popularity, I’m eager to hear how this one does.
Robin von Locksley (Uwe Rosenberg, Wyrmgold) is a two-player game where you’re trying to raise enough money to buy the freedom of Richard Lionheart. You’ll be moving your Robin Hood figurine around a 5×5 grid like a knight would in Chess (an L shape). This will get you loot that you can collect or sell for money. Meanwhile, you have a bard moving around an outer track as you fulfill the conditions there. It seems like a pretty interesting game.
Sanctum (Filip Neduk, Czech Games Edition) is a game about fighting through hordes of villains to get to the Demon Lord. It’s inspired by hack-and-slash video games, so there are lots of demons to fight, as well as die rolls, but you have to pick your battles carefully. CGE is one of my favorite publishers out there, so I’m always interested to see what they have coming down the pipeline, even if its not from Vlaada Chvátil.
Trismegistus: The Ultimate Formula (Frederico Pierlorenzi/Daniele Tascini, Board&Dice) is a dice drafting game where players are alchemists trying to unlock the secrets of the universe. You’ll be using the dice to transmute materials, collect essences, get artifacts, and mastery the elements. I’m mostly interested in this because Tascini has been involved in a number of interesting games – Tzolk’in, Marco Polo, and Teotihuacan especially.
Yggdrasil Chronicles (Cédric Lefebvre, Ludonaute) is a restructured version of the 2011 cooperative game Yggdrasil. You’re basically a Norse god, trying to prevent Ragnarok and the destruction of Yggdrasil, the world tree. This version introduces a campaign mode to go along with the original game. I never got a chance to play the original, but I wanted to (even wrote a blog post about it way back in the day). I’m a little disappointed that they didn’t use Pierô for the art again – this one does look nice, but man, that original was gorgeous.
If you’re off to Spiel, have fun! If, like me, you’ll be stuck at home, enjoy watching some of the live coverage they’ll have on BGG, and be sure to go out and play a game. Thanks for reading!