There are certain times of year when people who enjoy games have their attention peaked. Game fanatics (and let’s face it, we are ALL in that group) thrill to the onslaught of new and exciting titles set to be unleashed on the awaiting legions of gamers. More great games, more quality, more, more, more. If Charles Dickens was writing today, his Great Expectations would have been about this! One of these times is when the Essen Game Fair is held in Germany in the fall. So, did Essen live up to the high expectations? Well, yes and…. no.
With expectations high, the buzz was low. Was there a runaway hit debut at Essen? Not really. The biggest buzz of the season was for 7 Wonders. Although the game made its first official appearance at Essen, that excitement was generated months before when the prototype was played and passed around at the previous Gathering of Friends so does that really count? The first blush of a rave review that has been the hallmark of the fair for many years was missing this time around. Is this because we’ve come to know so many games so intimately that it’s hard to be impressed? Are we at a lull in creativity as designers pause to rejuvenate before unleashing yet more new titles in the soon upon us future? Or are other factors in play? Hard to say. But wait a second.
There were more than a few titles that were above average that scratched the itch for quality design and presentation. Perhaps not as flashy as some of the stars of the past but perhaps games that will keep their luster longer and not, like a nova, burn out in a flurry of excitement and then lay dormant. Some of these are making an appearance in this issue with more on the way. So, how did Essen do this year? We call ’em as we see ’em. But, as always, the final judgment belongs to YOU!
In this issue, our mission to keep you in touch with the World of Games continues. We check in to a fine hotel in Samoa, check out the great city of London and wonder at it all. Andrea “Liga” Ligabue goes west, Joe Huber visits his “inner Disneyland”, Chris Kovac seeks out his dark side, Greg Schloesser drinks it all in while K-ban returns with the second installment in his look at baseball games (just in time for the Hot Stove season). Plus the latest installment in our Game Classics series. And, of course, much more.
Until next time, Good Gaming!
Herb Levy, President
Winter 2011 GA Report Articles
Reviewed by Herb Levy
(Repos Production/Asmodee, 3-7 players, ages 10 and up, about 30 minutes; $49.99) For many years now, creating a satisfying civilization building game for multiple players with a reasonable playing time has been one of the Holy Grails of gaming. Many have tried and, it seems, none have quite crossed that elusive threshold of success. Until now. 7 Wonders, designed by Antoine ...Read More
Reviewed by Joe Huber
(Adlung-Spiele, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 30-45 minutes; about $10) There is perhaps no publisher with a more clearly defined niche than Adlung. While the company started by publishing boardgames, for around fifteen years they have published nothing but small box card games. None have been enormous hits, but Meuterer, Verräter (featured in the Winter 1999 GA Report), ...Read More
Baseball on the Table-top Part II: Comparing Baseball Boardgames by K-ban
Everyone remembers their first one. Anticipation for Spring Training, roster cuts, exhibition games and then the marathon of a full Major League Baseball season begins. For me, it was 1961 and the only team in New York at the time, the Yankees. I was heartbroken by Mazeroski’s walk-off 7th game World Series HR that ...Read More
Reviewed by Andrea "Liga" Ligabue
(NG International, 3 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 60-120 minutes; $59.90) The events of the Old West and the struggle between Cowboys and Indians is a subject of endless fascination and relevance which can be read and interpreted at various levels. The advancing white civilization conquering the prairies bringing wealth and prosperity is faced with the great Indian ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy
(Hans im Gluck/Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 90 minutes; $39.95) Reiner Knizia has carved out an enviable reputation as a top tier game designer. A recurrent theme in many of his better known games including such designs as Amun-Re (Summer 2003 GA Report), Ra (Summer 1999 GA Report) and Tutankhamen (Spring 1997 GA Report) is ancient Egypt ...Read More
[Style over substance is a hallmark of modern day society. This is often true for games as well. But when you manage to combine style AND substance in a game by the well respected and award winning designer Reiner Knizia, you should be able to come up with a hit, right? Except it didn't work out that way. We recognized the value of this particular ...
Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser
(Eggertspiele, 2-5 players, ages 12 and up, 90-120 minutes; $60) There aren't many wine-themed games. This is something of a surprise as wine is imbibed and enjoyed throughout the world and is a major industry generating billions of dollars of sales each year. Well, this dearth of wine-themed games ended at this year's International Game Days in Essen when at ...Read More
Reviewed by Pevans
(Sierra Madre Games, 2-5 players (a solitaire scenario is also provided), ages 12 and up, 2-3 hours; $44; High Frontier Expansion $20) In space, no-one can hear you manufacture. The latest game from Phil Eklund and Sierra Madre Games, High Frontier, is a stunning piece of work. Phil really is a rocket scientist and the game reflects his expert knowledge. High Frontier ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy
(Z-Man Games, 3-6 players, ages 10 and up, 45-60 minutes; $39.99) Running a hotel can be challenging. How challenging it can be will be discovered in Hotel Samoa, designed by Kristian R. A. Ostby, as players compete to both improve their hotel properties and attract tourists to their hotels to get the big bucks! Each player begins with a Hotel Board, ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy
(Treefrog Games/Mayfair Games, 2-4 players, ages 13 and up, 90 minutes; $55) From the fires that decimated the city in the 17th century, London has risen from those ashes to become one of the great cities of the world. From this phoenix-like background, Martin Wallace has found the inspiration for his latest game - London - in which players attempt to ...Read More
Reviewed by Chris Kovac
(Fantasy Flight Games, 1-6 players, ages 13 and up, 30 minutes; $24.95) Space Hulk - Death Angel the Card Game is a co-operative card game designed for 1-6 players published by Fantasy Flight Games as part of their small box Silver Line Games. The game is designed by Corey Konieczka of Runewars and Battlestar Galactica (featured in the Summer 2009 GA ...Read More
Y-Essen No There are certain times of year when people who enjoy games have their attention peaked. Game fanatics (and let's face it, we are ALL in that group) thrill to the onslaught of new and exciting titles set to be unleashed on the awaiting legions of gamers. More great games, more quality, more, more, more. If Charles Dickens was writing today, his Great Expectations ...Read More