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Essen 2015 – Preview Part 4 – Dan’s Top Five Titles

Today’s the day the GamesQuest team head out for Essen! To send us off, Dan has sent over the following post:

In the Northern tones of Dan Thompson himself…

So now we come to my top 5 games coming from Essen 2015.There’s plenty of good games to be looking forward to but my choices have definitely fit to an unexpected theme. Despite the fact that Essen is definitely a German city (believe me I checked – http://tinyurl.com/o9o9u36) most of the games I’m excited by appear to be aspiring to places even further to the East.

Nippon

Nippon Essen 2015This game excites me a huge amount. It is set in Japan during the Meiji period (the late 1800s), an incredibly exciting time in Japanese history. The rule of the samurai ends and the county opens its borders for the first time in over a centuryand rapidly changes as it catches up to the industrialisation of the rest of the world.

Nippon is a resource and economic management game, the players take on the role of emerging Japanese industry giants as you compete to secure your future as a business conglomerate. In all honesty this game doesn’t look mould breaking but a solid example of its genre and that’s great.

It’s great because it will be familiar and easy to pick up which means the mechanics of the game will not get in the way of its theme, and as someone who studied Japanese history at university (I did a module) that is excited for me. If you’re at all interested in history or the culture of Japan I highly recommend taking a look at this game to learn something new.

Takenoko – Chibis Expansion

Takenoko Chibis Essen 2015Well this is just adorable. I mean i’m not sure I really need to say more than baby pandas but i’ll try.

I’m a really big fan of Takenoko, it is an exceptional gateway game and very unique in its strategic depth and style of mechanics for how easy it is to learn. I have played Takenokowith everyone from my little sister, to my hardcore gamer friends and mostly my girlfriend, so any expansion would always draw my attention.

In the new Chibis expansion there’s a female panda, and baby pandas, and there are minis for them, they look amazing and adorable, my girlfriend is going to be so happy. I’m going to be happy also because this expansion looks set to fix some of the problems I had with the base game. The big example I can think of is that irrigation always felt very lacklustre and pointless compared too many of the other actions you could take in the game, but now with new victory cards that care solely about how many tiles are irrigated the irrigation action should matter more.

If you have Takenoko and you like it you should definitely check out this expansion, if you don’t then you should getTakenoko and then check out this expansion. Seriously – baby pandas – so cute!!

CS Files (Deception – murder In Hong Kong)

CS Files Essen 2015So CS Files is the English version of Deception: Murder in Hong Kong. Why they felt the need to change the name I have no idea, frankly I don’t like it because CS Files makes me think of CSI and I hate that show because it does things to science that shouldn’t be done.

Anyway! I am really excited by this game first because it is a deduction game and i have had some of my best gaming and a-ha! Moments whilst playing deduction games, my most favourite recently being Nosferatu. Secondly this game looks to have, for me, the perfect balance of different roles to number of players. Resistance annoys me because it’s too simple, and One Night Werewolf frustrates me because it is just a mess of different things going on and I always get lost.

For less than 6 players you have the Forensic Scientist, the Investigators and the actual murderer and above six players you can optionally add in the Accomplice and the Witness as well, the opportunity to play the game in so many different ways makes me excited for its re-playability. I’m concerned that the Forensic Scientist basically has to be a games master so games of CS Files could bomb if you have the wrong person playing the Forensic Scientist but this still looks like a very well constructed deduction game so if you’re a fan of that genre give it a look.

Journey: Wrath of Demons

Journey Wrath Of Demons Essen 2015I’m not usually a gamer for big adventure miniature games, even though if they are co-op. I enjoyed Shadows of Brimstone but usually I find these games a bit too big, a bit too fiddly and a bit too long.

I’m willing to forget all of that for Journey: Wrath of Demons because it’s an adventure game that uses Chinese Mythology!If you’ve not been able to tell from Nippon, Takenoko and Deception: Murder in Hong Kong I’m kind of a big geek for Eastern history and mythology and as the boardgamegeekpage of Journey itself says ‘Many games have science fiction or fantasy settings, but Chinese mythology is a rich and beautiful environment that is under represented in games’ so I am super interested by any game that looks to be utilising that rich unused vein of theme.

I’m not just interested in Journey for the theme though, itsgameplay ranges from half an hour to 2 hours depending on the mission you choose to undertake, 2 hours or less is always a reasonable game time, and being able to vary it is great.

I’m also super excited to play with what is essentially a virtuevs. ruthless moral choice mechanic; based on your game choices you accrue either positive or negative karma which affects your character’s abilities. This good vs. bad moral choice system is something which is in several videogames already and they are always super fun so if they’re going to start popping up in boardgames I want to check them out. I hope you do too.

Argonauts

Argonauts-Essen-2015Well this one isn’t Asian themed, it is in fact Greek, I couldn’t go 5 for 5. It’s still Historical and Mythological though so hey close enough.

Of course this game is themed with the legend of Jason and the Argonauts and general Greek mthylogy and Gods, and themed exceptionally well by the look of it. As a co-operative game over the course of the game the players sail through the story of Jason and the Argonauts, collecting the golden fleeceand then sailing home. Along the way you will have encounters with enormous Greek monsters and you must pit your crew of Greek heroes against them.

My favourite thing, and the reason I am so excited for this game is that in each encounter you roll a d12 to decide which of the Greek pantheon have taken an interest and depending on which God, which heroes you’re using, and which monster you are facing either side may get a penalty or a benefit to reflect how that God feels. For example if Hera watches and you’re using Hercules, bad luck because Hera hates Hercules for being Zeus’ illegitimate demi-god child.

That is absolutely brilliant theming and something I think to get really excited about.

So those are my Top 5. A few games that I think may be slightly more off the beaten track or have some more unusualtheming that many gamers may not be familiar with. Critically though these look to be great games that are very fun to play. I’m excited to get my hands on them and give them a try.

Heigh Ho, Hiegh Ho, and Off to Essen We Go!!!

Tom here again, and thanks to Dan for writing that for us.

On thing I’ve noticed amongst our merry band, there’s definitely some overlap between most of us of us and that’s as a very good thing! There’s some great games that have been announced and only playing them will tell us whether our hopes have been met, but that’s why we’re going to Essen right???

As I write this, I’m sat in  the car heading to GamesQuest HQ before we fly out later today, we’ll be uploading content to the blog and YouTube over the next week or two so please check back soon to find out what we thought of the show! Until then, check out our twitter account for on the fly updates live from the show (Connection permitting.)

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Tom Randell

Driven Instructional Designer by day, board game fanatic by night! Tom has a long background in eLearning design and is a strong believer that story and narrative are crucial to creating excellent learning and gaming experiences. A passionate blogger, game reviewer and play tester, he enjoys spending his time playing games of all genres.

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