Dear gamers, our story in Essen is come to the end.
Tomorrow (Sunday) I and Caterina will have to take our flight back home (if we will be able to store all the games in our suitcases!).
Maybe we will be here again next year. If you liked this report and would know a more detailed opinion about this games and/or other games write us at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop an email to Dale (my editor here in OpinionatetGamers.com) and ask about me!
Card City – Ludibay
It was the last day but I and Caterina really played a lot, starting from early in the morning when you went to Card City booth. The game is a strategic game about the building of a town where you have to build commercial areas (to earn money) and residential areas (to earn VPs) as much bigger as possible.
During your turn you have to draw cards from a deck twice the number of players in play. Then you have to arrange in stacks of two cards each and the player to the left will start to choose. The buildings (cards) have to be placed on your city that could occupy a hypothetical 5×5 grid. There are some easy to learn rules: you need Industries to make big cities; commercial areas will give you money and residential points. There are also Leisure cards (needed to evolve residential and parking cards.
The evolve phase is the core of the game: if you have more Leisure adjacent to a residential area than the actual number of cards in that area it evolves and you can add a residential to the area. Commercial do the same with residential. Finally you need to build orthogonally to an already evolved building.
I really liked this nice and little card game: I think the game will be better in three but we played in just 2.
Caterina rated it 6 and says “Not a real grate game. Too simple and with not a strong theme”.
Le Havre the Island Port – Lookout Games
Than we found a table free for the Le Havre the Island port. I’m always interested in how demonstrators and players we meet in our pilgrimage interact with Caterina: here it was surprised in learning she was used to play Le Have and Ora et Labora.
Caterina ranked it 8 saying “Nice and fun. Much simpler than the classic board games (actually one of his prefer board games ever”).
During your turn you can either build a new building or use one. If you use another player building you have to offer him one money. There is a roundel mechanism like in Ora et Labora so not using a building make its effect stronger and stronger turn after turn.
Money (that in the end is victory points) is not so important, on the other side the resources (wood, clay, fish and grain) are. We both liked it and Caterina voted 8 and said “Nice and funny: unluckily not as deep as the board game.
Mr. Jack – Hurricane Games
In our way we found a Mr. Jack free table and we played. I think it is really a great game. Caterina was Mr. Jack and the won in the 5th round. I don’t go in the details since it was an already classic game.
Was a long time we don’t play it in Italy: “It was an already known game and was more than one year ago I played last time but today has been the first time I won against my father!”. … 9.5!”
Homesteaders – Quined Games
We decide to go to play P.I. but on our way we found and played Homesteaders with two lucky gamers. Its is not a new game but the game was fun. We are involved in the settlement and building of a typical Far West town. During the game we build buildings that give us resources in the income phase. Some buildings need Man to be activated. Then, in the auction phase, players will bid for the opportunity to build. There are 3 tiles each turn in auction displacing which kind of buildings you can get. What I found really innovative in this game is how is determinate the type of buildings you are allow to build (there are different kinds of buildings and usually a card allow you only to choose from one kind. The other innovative mechanic is the trade that is free (in the sense you can trade whenever you want) but you need trade tokens (a type of resources).
All these things are mixed in a game I really liked and also Caterina, after beating all us, rated the game 10 “Really fantastic! The perfect game for an after dinner with gamers!”. If there was been still a space in the suitcase we have bought it.
P.I – Treefrog
The next game was P.I., Martin’s interpretation of the usual “Who, Where and What” schema. You have a map with districts with different names and you have to place, randomly, one person (who) and one crime (what). Using agents and cards everyone has to discover the 3 cards (a person, a place and a crime) the player on his right has. What I found really interesting is how the system works: using a card you can just try to guess one of the three elements and the answer could be “OK, it is” or “It is not that one but the right one is in one of the neighboring areas” or “Sorry”.
So mixing and crossing information with spatial position of the clue is it possible to guess the full series. The game last for 3 crime and you have 5 agents in the game that you can use to make a full guess “person, place and crime”. I really enjoyed the game. Caterina was not so excited by the theme and graphics and despite the fact she won the game she really liked too much.
Jungle Brunch – Giochi Uniti
We than take a break in the press-room, a nice opportunity to play Jungle Brunch, thanks to the copy Luca, one of the designers met in the fair, offered us.
The game is about jungle animals and food. Every player has an equal deck of animals and each turn start with 6 random cards in his hands. That is it time to set up the food drawing cards from the food deck: there are 3 kinds of foods and the round is ready to start when at last one of each kind is revealed.
It is now time to play simultaneously two cards from the personal animal deck. The animal are resolved one by one from the higher valued one (usually elephants) to the last one. Herbivorous eat food (and foods cards will give points) and the tiger eat buffalo and monkey.
Playing two equal animals on the same round means you are creating a gang: you will eat just once but you are safe. Than your turn ends bringing you hand back to 6 cards.
All the game is about deciding which animals to play according to the resources on the table and to the animals already played by your opponents. The illustrations are great. Caterina liked the game, rating it 6.5, and I’m sure it will really works better with 4 to 6 persons.
Kalesia – dV Giochi
Still in the pressroom we played Kalesia, the winner of the special award dV Giochi organize every year at Lucca for not still published card games. It I the fight between sirens and centaurs on a forest. Every player has a secret allied (sirens, centaurs or forest) and 11 weapon cards. The forest cards, numbered from 1 to 25, are shuffled and randomly arranged in a 5×5 grid. Than the cards are resolved (from 1 to 25).
Resolving a card means that each player will play 2 weapons and that the side (forest, centaurs and sirens) with the highest value in weapons will win and claim that part of forest. When one of the 3 sides has 3 claimed parts of forest in a line (orthogonally and diagonally) it wins the game and all the players allied to this faction.
After 4 rounds (8 of the 11 cards played) you pass the 3 cards still in your hands to the left and refill to 11. Caterina ranked the games 7 saying “A simple but not trivial game”. I found it a bit macchinoso and, for sure, I’m really curious to see how it works with more than 2 persons.
Urbania – Mayfair Games
The last game played in the fair was Urbania, a really nice discovery. Players are renewing the city of Urbania. The map displays the town with all but 5 buildings on the renewed side. During your turn you can take cards (resources needed to build, and projects – that offers really a lot of points in the end of the game), influence a personality, renew a building or submit a project.
Since you can build just adjacent to an already built area and since the projects are really different, offering bonus for renewed structures on certain position of a particular kind or for personalities (and so on) the strategy are not trivial. The game plays really well and Caterina ranked 10 saying “I’m without words (actually something really unusual for her): I liked it really much”
We played some more games before sleeping: Love Letters in the restaurants and Potion-Making Practice and Fairy Land back in the hotel.
Every time I play Fairy Land I discover some new aspect of the game and find it better and better: probably the best one at this Essen in the “light card games” group.
See you the next year or every time you will ask us an opinion!
Caterina and Liga, the father in the Messe!