On My Radar: Post-Essen 2009

So, Essen is over for another year, and BGG has been all a flurry ever since.  After processing a lot of the reports, looking at the rankings both from GeekBuzz and Fairplay, and even reading a handful of rules, these are the games that I’m most looking forward to trying and/or buying:

Dungeon Lords – If you can say that there’s one big buzz game from this year’s fair, this is probably it.  I’ve read over the rules, and the theme is right up my alley, so Dungeon Lords is definitely on my wishlist.  My only concern is that I’ve been a little hit-or-miss on Vlaada Chvatil’s games up to this point.  I didn’t care for Galaxy trucker at all, I like Space Alert but it’s hard to get to the table and introduce to new players, but I really like Prophecy.  With the “learning game” setup found in the rules, I’m just worried that this will also be hard to teach.  I doubt that it will stop me from picking it up, though. 

Tobago – Tobago is a really neat treasure hunt game that looks absolutely beautiful.  After reading the rules, I’m totally sold both on the theme and the gameplay.  Plus, this is already generating some SdJ 2010 buzz.

Carson City – I didn’t know anything about this game prior to it showing up on GeekBuzz, but its theme is very attractive to me.  There doesn’t seem to be anything terribly original or inspired about the rules on paper, but actual play is leaving a lot of people very impressed, so I’ve been convinced as well. 

Opera – The theme is the first thing that attracted me to Opera, and  glancing over the rules also revealed a mix of familiar and original mechanics that were pretty impressive.  The only negative I’ve heard is a possible runaway leader problem, so I may wait to hear a little more definite information about this before getting it.   

Macao – For this one, theme is the main thing working against it.  But when I heard about the “wheel of time” mechanic or whatever it is, I was sold.  Plus, I have generally liked most Alea games I’ve played, and own the last few from Stefen Feld, so I think this is a pretty good bet.  

Castle Panic – Well, I don’t know if this was technically an “Essen game”, but I just heard about it (from Scott Nicholson’s video), and it looked pretty good to me.  It’s a light, semi-cooperative game that may work as a decent gateway game, and I love the theme.  Some have said that it’s too light and inconsistently difficult, but I’d probably pick it up from what I know right now.

Stronghold – Again, I absolutely love this theme, but I’m a little worried about the play time and it’s 2-player nature (even though you can technically play with up to 4).  I’ve already got a few games to fill that spot in my collection (War of the Ring, most obviously) which rarely get played, but the alure of this game is still strong for me.

Vasco da Gama – Another apparently well-designed game with an extremely worn-out and overused theme.  Still, it did top the Fairplay list, so I’m interested, even if I’d prefer to play before I buy.

The BoardGameGeek Game – The game may suck (or at least be “meh”), but my avatar is on the side, so I’m gonna get it when I have the chance.

Bunny Bunny Moose Moose – Both the name and the mechanics sound really silly, but any party game that can get any manner of buzz at Essen has got to be worth a look.

I’m also looking forward to a few expansions (Ghost Stories: White Moon and Chicago Express: Narrow Gauge & Erie Railroad Company), but have no interest at all in a few of the more popular games (most notably, Power Grid – Factory Manager).  

But what do y’all think?  Have I missed anything that you’re really excited about? 


  1. Dungeon Lords is easily my most-wanted game from Essen. I’m a huge fan of Vlaada’s work so there’s no way I can pass it up. The worker placement mechanic doesn’t have me all that excited but it still looks like a lot of fun.

    Tobago is also probably my second most wanted game, looks great.

    Ants! looks like it could be a really fun, simple conquest game, almost like a simplified Nexus Ops. Not much information on it but I’ll be keeping an eye out for more.

    Beyond that not a whole lot else has caught my eye so far. Lots of really drab themes and game boards. Some of those (like Vasco de Gama) might be great but they just didn’t get my attention.

  2. Dungeon Lords looks like a boardgame remake of the of the old PC game Dungeon Keeper, which was a lot of fun. So I am definitely interested.

    I am also awaiting Martin Wallace’s newest game, God’s Playground. It is only for 3 players, but I am interested in the theme (Polish history during the Late Middle Ages) and I am always eager to play Martin Wallace games.

  3. Chris Norwood

    I’m pretty sure that I’ve heard Vladda Chvatil openly claimed that Dungeon Keeper was his inspiration for the game.  Oddly enough, I totally missed that game’s life on the PC, but I’m still really excited about Dungeon Lords.

    And there are a lot of the Treefrog line games from Martin Wallace that I’d like to try, but they’re just so hard to get a hold of.  I was also interested in After the Flood (which was the 3-player game from last year), but just haven’t ever seen it in person.  Until I hear of a wider release (like Tinner’s Trail is about to get from JKLM), I just don’t think it’s worth putting them on my wishlist.

  4. I’m really intrigued by Opera.

    I’m also interested to learn more about Macht$piele and Ship Yards.

    I also love that Yspahan guy so I want to try Jaipur.

  5. Chris Norwood

    I haven’t heard much at all about Macht$piele, but Ship Yards sounds too long and uninteresting to me right now.  I already have too many games in the 2-4 hour that I can’t get to table as often as I’d like, and I haven’t heard anything compelling enough about Ship Yards yet to really consider it.

    I’m not a fan of Yspahan, and that has conversely tainted my interest for Jaipur as well.

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