Monday, December 23, 2013

Games I Tried at Spiel 2013 Essen, Germany

At the Spiel, I tried a number of different games that I enjoyed but didn't buy. Here's a sampling...

The first game we tried was Trains and Stations, a dice game where players build railway routes and stations in the United States. The dice are used to build railroads or buy stations at US cities, such as a ranch or a coal mine. These stations produce goods that can be used in the game. Once routes are built, the player with the most dice on the route collects all the bonuses for that route (some cities give bonus dice or goods) and any station owners on the route can produce their goods. The game was fun and interesting but didn't wow me. I'd play it again but I don't know that I'd buy it and I haven't put it on my wish list.

Trains and Stations box

The game in mid-progress

Mush! Mush! Snow Tails 2 is a dog sled racing game by the Lamont Brothers, who were at the booth demonstrating the game (and selling it too). The board and components are high quality. Each player has a sled with two dogs, represented by one card on the left and one on the right. The cards have numbers which indicate how fast each dog is going. The numbers are added together and the sled moves forward that many spaces on the track. The trick is, if the numbers are different, the sled has to move to the left or right (whichever side has the higher number, so the faster dog pulls the sled to its side). Playing cards craftily helps avoid obstacles (like trees and other sleds) and slide around turns in the track. The game is a lot of fun and more thinky than you'd think. The guys demoing it were pretty funny too. They are brothers and Scotsman, as you can tell from their outfits.

The Mush! Mush! booth

Amerigo is a new game by Queen Games where players are explorers (like Amerigo Vespucci) who explore and take over islands on the game board. The board is made out of large tiles that can be placed in any order, thus yielding many different configurations of islands. The most interesting thing in this game is the dice tower that comes with it. The tower has some cross beams inside, so cubes that are tossed in do not necessarily come back out. And cubes previously trapped come out randomly. It makes for an interesting randomizing mechanic. The game was okay but not great. Sorry there's no pictures of it!

Firefly: The Game was my most anticipated game at the show. Each player has his own Firefly-class ship with a captain, some fuel, money, and parts (for repairing the ship). Players move from planet to planet, picking up crew or equipment or jobs. The jobs are either legal or illegal. Additionally, they are moral or immoral, which can change individual crew member's morale. The jobs involve picking up cargo or people and dropping them off on other planets. Just watch out for the Alliance ship and the Reavers who can mess up carefully laid plans. We played a couple of rounds and thought the game was fun and the components fantastic. We didn't get it because it was expensive (50 euros which is about 80 US dollars) and a full game takes around three hours. We couldn't play it in one sitting at home and we can't leave it set up for the next night, because the kids would play with the fun space ships and such. Maybe when it's cheaper or the kids are older, this will be a great game to own.

Firefly in progress

The Firefly booth had special tables with the board and player areas printed on them. Someone came up and asked if the table came with the game. The guy demoing said that the game box has special TARDIS technology so it is larger on the inside and does in fact fit the table inside the box! He told that joke twice, though one time the passerby didn't understand. I guess he wasn't a Doctor Who fan.

We also tried The Downfall of Pompeii and Among the Stars, which I bought and will get their own reviews. We saw a really quick demo of Letnisko, which my friends bought and I reviewed here.

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