Sunday, October 23, 2005

Essen 2005 Games

Yesterday, I got the chance to play a bunch of Essen 2005 games. Most notably I did not play Caylus, largely because the first game of it took well over 3 hours and I wasn't in the mood for that kind of duration. I'm sure with experience it gets shorter, but I'm a bit averse to games that start at 3.5 hours.
Here are my 1 or 2 play quick comments on each, in the order I played them:

Beautiful artwork, interesting if not especially amazing game, and it's desperately in need of a reference card. Without it, it was common to get confused about the various card placement limitations. I'm also not so sure there's much plan ahead, but it's cute and small.
Sushi Express
Super random, super light, quite fast, not bad.
Techno Witches
Surprisingly engaging pre-programmed measured movement race game. The components are nice and the mechanics are clever. My only wish is they had components for more than 4 players. It cries out for a Harry Potter brand licensing.
Odd Adlung game about collecing spherical objects. Not awful, but nothing too inspired and definitely an odd theme. I bet if you translated it to English and named it "Balls!", you'd get sales on the name alone. Gameplay has an interesting bit or two but ends up feeling mundane.
Simple slap-jack style speed recognition games with attractively illustrated little elemental men. If you like that sort of thing, it's pretty good.
Much better than Candamir. It doesn't feel that innovative, but it is a well crafted combination of familiar mechanics along with a few clever bits. If you like Catan-style development games, this is definitely worth a try.
Disappointing. Very luck of the draw/draft driven and even when I felt I had control I didn't enjoy it much. It has some serious similarities to Taj Mahal, but I think I'd rather play that anyday. It might be better with fewer (we played with 6).
Nice exploration/development/pick-up-and-deliver game. The actions cards are a bit more variable in power level than I'd like ideally (ie, some are very good, some are quite poor) but it's still nice. The exploration element here is very light, but I like it. Plays reasonably quickly too.
King Solomon's Mine
Very cool, but in the end I didn't actually like it that much. Very nice components, though the levels of the stacks are often a bit difficult to read, which is crucial to gameplay. There's also a fair amount of downtime with minimal if any ability to plan ahead. I feel like something's there, but I'm not quite sure.

(See also the GeekList version of this)

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