Essen Spiel 2018 was a madhouse. There is no other way to explain it. The games released have some of the coolest ideas, possibly ever in this hobby. Every time we attend a new to us convention, we learn all sorts of interesting things about the hobby.
Licensing is a huge part of the hobby, that we do not see state side. Publishers worry so much about licensing agreements, that they risk their game not being covered by a particular blog or medium. I spoke Spanish intermittently, and had a different response from publishers than when I spoke American style English.
On quite a few separate occasions, I had people (publishers who had seen our bright green shirts before mostly) stop me and ask why we hadn’t yet made it to their booth. MeepleGamers was able to find a few new writers, and hopefully you’ll see their content soon!
Most importantly, we found games. Lots of games. Our top ten list from conventions is regularly built on games the publisher is so excited about, that the excitement is infectious. Therefore, our top ten is not built from what games sold out, but rather, those that made an impression on us during the show. What made an impression on you? Comment below!
Smartphone Inc. – Sergei
The smartphone Inc. has definitely become one of the hottest games presented at the Spiel. This is an economic simulator game in which players try to build up a supply of smartphones and then sell them to get profit. Each player wants to sell his stock for better price, but demand is limited and customers want to buy smartphones as cheap as possible. The theme goes perfect with the game mechanics based on a real business models. And the best features of the games are its simply and clear rules, short game time, different strategies and very high interaction between players. But most great thing in a Smartphone Inc. is an opportunity to catch up the leader if you make bad turn. It’s a good game design element helps to beginners and makes the game exciting until last turn! So Smartphone Inc. developed by a small independent publisher from Russia is a really best in the show.
MeepleGamers names SmartPhone Inc., as BEST IN SHOW for Essen Spiel. Congratulations Cosmodrone!
Silk – Josh
This game has a beauty to the art, and a simplicity in its meanness. The full review is scheduled. But for those that want a quick glimpse; this is a light weight euro style game, except there is direct interaction with opponents, and that interaction is mean.
This is one of the few games we have already looked at and reviewed, and it will stay on this list, now with the eyes of someone who has played it. Not all games that are played stay in what we would call a top ten, after the anticipation has worn off, but for me, Silk, easily does.
Rebel Nox – Josh
Kwanchai Moriya has become a name synonymous with cool art in games. Cryptid, Kodama, Dinosaur Island, Roller Coaster Park. When I see his name, I am automatically interested in the underlying game. The game here is a three suit trick taking game, which sounds interesting enough. The changing of the alliance mid game is very interesting also.
What sells me on the idea though is Kwanchai’s involvement.
Fortune City – Ally
Most of the time we see great games adapted for gaming on our phones or other electronic devices. Fortune City took the opposite road to get to us. It was developed based on a popular mobile game. That made me a bit hesitant because I don’t much care for mobile gaming. But my fears were unfounded. Fortune City is a very entertaining city building game with amazing components! Part tile placement, part route building, this game has it all. Channel your inner city designer and build your dream town with Fortune City. Just be warned not all of us are amazing city planners. If you don’t believe me take a trip to Pocatello, Idaho. Sheesh! What a mess. Who ever designed that city would get last place in Fortune City. Guaranteed.
Great City of Rome – Ben
I always love great tile laying games. The Great City Of Rome is a tile layer I can really get excited about.
You must help build one of the great cities in human history. As a master architect you have the chance to impress the emperor as you work to build a 4×4 grid of city. You do this as you draft tiles through a unique drafting mechanic. Drafting order is determined by the person who is closest to the emperor on an influence track. The closer you are to the emperor the higher you draft but you also receive fewer production bonuses. This makes The Great City Of Rome very competitive and extremely entertaining. The drafting and limited grid space make this a really unique tile laying game and one that you should definitely check out.
Verona Twist – Josh
This game was introduced to me by some new friends from Brazil, while drinking beer at my hotel in Essen. It is an abstract two player game, which should have set off my radar anyways but, it for some reason didn’t.
It did not honestly get me excited, until I played through it once, and realized what a gem it is. It has been assigned to another writer, and I am curious what their take on it is. Secretly, I hope they do not like it, so they will send it back to me!
Fight! Chiken & Expansion (& Fight! Chiken 2) – Josh
While originally released in 2016, this game was found and signed by a major American publisher in Spring 2018. The follow-up is on its way to us as we speak. We are excited to see how this thinky cute game translates to the Western audience. The version I saw had Chiken misspelled, I figure this was done on purpose.
When I was asked to sit down and look at this game, I was not frankly excited. After seeing the depth of the strategy, I was hooked. This game, expansion and sequel will get a full review. Do you realize how frustrating it is when your chicken is going the wrong direction, which leads to no point chips?
Tales of the Northlands – The Sagas of Noggin the Nog – Kevin
Tales of the Northlands is a cooperative game based on a classic British children’s program. While I am unfamiliar with the source material, the artwork and style have a great look and uses both original art from the show as well as new art from the the original artist, the late Peter Firmin. I am a sucker for good cooperative games and this one seems to have some deep strategies and options. Players will plot out actions on a rondel which in turn serves as a game clock. The game looks great and I am excited to explore it in greater depth.
Concordia Venus – Kevin
2013’s Concordia by Mac Gerdts is a fantastic game that blends resource management, engine building and a minimalist deck-building element to create a very unique and crunchy game of economic development. Concordia Venus is part reissue and part expansion all contained in a single offering. The core rules have been slightly modified and an option for playing in teams has been added to the mix. Between four maps and the nature of game setup, every game is bound to be different and I cannot wait to see what is new to the formula.
Dicium – Mary
Who doesn’t love a good dice game? My gaming group has a quite a few. I am sure Dicium is going to get added to the top of our list. Dicium has a central game mechanism of dice and then has four different games that can last 30-60 minutes. While the mechanics are driven around the 11 dice, there are many other components (boards, player boards, tokens) to support each individual game. Each game poses a different mode to accommodate all players. Dicium: Crazy Cup is a competitive racing game for 1 to 4 players. Dicium: Dungeon is a cooperative dungeon crawler for 1 to 4 players. Dicium: Civilization is a competitive empire building game for 1 to 4 players. And lastly, Dicium: Shogun is an asymmetrical confrontation game for 1 to 4 players. This game has a lot of diversity to accommodate any type of player and uses a central mechanic that most players always enjoy. I love how all of the versions give a solo version as well. Solo games are starting to become huge in the board game industry. I am really looking forward to giving this one a try. Be on the lookout for an official review soon!