Essen “Spiel” 2019 is finally upon up, with the event opening its doors to the public officially on Thursday 24th October. For the first time there will be a special preview day on Wednesday October 23rd, with the board gaming convention running until Sunday 27th October. With over 1,200 games being unveiled, demoable or sold at the event there should be something for everyone. Here are a few of the anticipated games that we want to get hands-on with at the convention, as well as a few recommendations of games we’ve already had a chance to play!
Czech Games Edition (Hall 1 F145)
Word based games often feel unwinnable for those whom struggle with spelling. When in a room with players who know more words there seems like there is a distinct disadvantage. That is not the case in Letter Jam as everyone is cooperating, helping each other guess their letters. In Letter Jam players will make words from the letters other players have but will be unable to see their own. Therefore, when a word uses their letter there is a spot of deduction to be made – especially as the word isn’t said out loud. This could be ideal for those that loves games like Scrabble or Paperback and Spiel 2019 is a great time to check it out!
EmperorS4 (Hall 4 C102)
Originally released back in 2013 as Hanamikoji this is a brilliant, short, two player only game. With a new artwork the Jixia Academy looks as pretty as ever, though Hanamikoji didn’t exactly need an overhaul. The game is played over 4 rounds with players attempting to gain control of Geishas. There are plenty of choices packed into the game: when to give opponents the option for select cards, what to choose to keep for yourself and more.
Imperial Settlers Empires of the North
Portal Games (Hall 3 O118)
The original Imperial Settlers had rough edges, though there was certainly plenty of expansion content for it. This sequel of sorts fixes a lot of my issues with the original, offering a faster tableau building card based game. With Japanese Islands coming soon there is no better time to take a look at Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North than at Essen Spiel. Check out our review for more details on this one.
Funko Games (Hall 2 B130)
Yes, you read that right. Those collectable Pop! figures are soon to have their own board game. Not just one either technically with two Batman sets, two Harry Potter sets, a Rick & Morty set and a Golden Girls set upon initial release! With an interesting cooldown mechanism for powerful moves, two teams strive to complete objectives. Not only does the game offer awesome themes it allows them to blend, so you could have Harry Potter and Joker up against Morty and Robin. It just sounds too fun to miss out on.
Brain Games (Hall 1 F139)
Flicking penguins around a high school in ICECOOL is still one of my favourite dexterity games. Iron Forest isn’t quite a sequel but adds in a new vertical element, with one set of boxes above another. A small tube launcher allows the robots (the new penguin player pieces) to get to the top box, with holes in the boxes that sees them fall back down to the ground layer. It sounds like it takes an extremely fun game and cranks it up to 11!
Kosmos (Hall 3 B112)
The video game of Cities Skylines is one that has many aspects of a city for players to manage. From building it to powering it and keeping the crime down. A number of these aspects have been transformed into mechanics in the board game. In a nice twist the game, which uses polyomino tiles, is cooperative. Players will work together to build the best city and balance the budgets. This seems a logical approach as a competitive Cities Skylines wouldn’t feel like a true representation of the video game.
Minecraft: Builders & Biomes
Ravensburger (Hall 3 H110)
Another surprising crossover with the video game world, though potentially the biggest game to be shifting medium. Ravensburger has recently done brilliantly translating the Jaws and Disney Villainous IPs into board games, so there certainly is an expectation that they’ll do it again with Minecraft. With mining, building and fighting mobs all present it looks like the board game is doing the IP justice. Now to take down an Enderman at Spiel 2019!