Essen Spiel: Unreleased Games You Should Demo

Essen Spiel is upon us and everyone is excited to spend all of the monies on products, so I wanted to do something a little different! Typically, most attendees at Essen Spiel will make their purchases in the halls, clear out by early evening, then fill every restaurant, bar, and hotel lobby playing their new acquisitions. I wanted to draw attention to 10 games you cannot yet buy, but that you should definitely make time for demoing while wandering the halls of Essen Spiel. This list is in alphabetical order, so please do not read too heavily into the listing order.

I used the BoardGameGeek GeekPreview for Spiel ’17 to make this list and I encourage you to venture forth to make your own list.

Expedition Zetta

Expedition Zetta

Location
You can play Expedition Zetta at the Ion Game Design booth at Hall 7: A124

Game Description
Have you ever looked up in the sky at all the stars, at the marvel of the Universe and felt a curious nerve inside wanting to travel to these stars, see the planets, and maybe find life? Expedition Zetta includes 3D-models of spaceships, gorgeous art, and a modular game system. In this game for 1-5 players, you and your fellow travelers each represent a country in a maiden voyage of the first starship to ever use a newly developed warp drive. The goal is to brave the unknown and collect discoveries in four different star systems. Though you may have to cooperate, one player will bring special fame and fortune to their home country. Will it be you?

Why I Want to Play
I am mostly interested in the things the creators have implemented to solve for replayability in the advanced game. Yes, the claim is that they can generate any sort of star system as exists in the known universe, but does that actually add to the gameplay or are the actions too same-y to justify the board as a true randomizer. I have the highest hopes for this game in particular, so I am being the most critical toward it.

Fallout: Wasteland Warfare

Fallout: Wasteland Warfare

Location
You can play Fallout: Wasteland Warfare at the Modiphius Entertainment booth at Hall 6: A118

Game Description:
In Fallout: Wasteland Warfare, players build their own crew from a wide range of factions, allies, and iconic characters from the Fallout series, then play in apocalyptic games of 3-30 high-quality 32mm scale resin miniatures through a huge variety of iconic scenery and settlement buildings, from the Red Rocket to Sanctuary Hills, Nuka-Cola vending machines and wrecked vehicles. Settlements include buildings, defenses, and resources that impact the crew’s army list and abilities in the wasteland.

Why I Want to Play
Good luck getting to actually sit down and play this miniatures wargame, but if you do, I think you will have a good time. I am mostly interested in how the solo AI deck actually works mechanically, so I’ll be having a stop at the booth.

Mountaineers

Mountaineers

Location
You can play Mountaineers at the Massif Games booth at Hall 8: A152

Game Description
Mountaineers is a strategic board game in which 1-6 players compete against each other and AI climbers to earn climbing points (victory points) as they maneuver around an 18 in./45 cm tall rotating 3D modular game board. The theme of Mountaineers is lighthearted and fun, primarily focused on competitive route finding, resource management, character building and upgrades, while challenging players to react to various exciting (and sometimes comical) events that occur on the mountain.

Why I Want to Play
The gimmick of climbing a 3D mountain is enough to persuade most people to at least stop at the table. I mostly appreciate the value of iterative design, similar to what you find with the Restoration Games projects. This game looks to be a great climbing game which appeals to strategy gamers over roll-and-move casual gamers, which I think is a better audience match for the optics.

New Corp Order

New Corp Order

Location
You can play New Corp Order at the 2Tomatoes Games booth at Hall 7: K120

Game Description
As the top executive of one of the world’s leading MegaCorps, your task is to improve the public image of your company through the wise manipulation of the four biggest media conglomerates. Infiltrate their structures and use that influence to your advantage, even if that means playing one conglomerate against the other. After all, the prize is big: The World.

Why I Want to Play
I’ll be honest, I know next to nothing about this game. But Heiko Gunther is attached, which means it’s guaranteed to look good, no matter how the game plays.

Overbooked

Overbooked

Location
You can play Overbooked at the Randomskill Games booth at Hall 7: K121

Game Description
You have been thrust into the world of airline booking and tasked with managing competing airlines. You have to satisfy each passenger’s different needs to score prestige for your airline. Book too few passengers, and you may not be able to fill your flight. Book too many, however, and some passengers will obviously be really unhappy.

In a turn, you pick a passenger card with the orientation, quantity, and type (color) of passengers depicted on the card. You, then, seat the passengers onto the plane according to the passenger card. When any type of passenger runs out, the end game is triggered and points are counted and scored.

Why I Want to Play
I like the idea that you take a card, place the appropriate passenger chits onto the corresponding pattern on the plane, blocking your own future actions on the plane. And, worst case scenario, the box art is cute.

Scare It!

Scare It!

Location
You can play Scare It! at the Strawberry Studio booth at Hall 2: F112

Game Description
Scare It! is a simple, fast-playing family game of scaring animals off the table. At the start of the game, you receive two secret objective cards: one with an animal type, and one with a color. On your turn, you choose an animal to be scared off, and an animal to do the scaring. When a number of animals have run away in panic, everyone reveals their secret animal and color cards, then scores points for what’s left on the table.

Why I Want to Play
Guilty pleasures for the end of a busy and stressful day in meetings. 🙂

Steamrollers

Steamrollers

Location
You can play Steamrollers at the Flatlined Games booth at Hall 3: M105

Game Description
In SteamRollers, players use dice to build the best railway network, upgrade their engine, and beat their opponents to the most lucrative cargo deliveries. Make smart use of the dice to become the world’s most famous railroad tycoon!

Each round, a certain number of dice are rolled and people draft one die with which to perform an action. They can draw a railroad track on their personal board, use the die to upgrade their engine, deliver a cube from a common supply board using their personal network (if their engine is strong enough) for victory points, or take a special card which allows the player to break the rules in small (or big) ways.

Why I Want to Play
Steamrollers is one of newest roll-and-write type games and I am interested in seeing how this game innovates in the genre! Also, who doesn’t like a good ole’ fashioned pick-up-and-deliver train game?

Tokyo Jidohanbaiki

Tokyo Jidohanbaiki

Location
You can play Tokyo Jidohanbaiki at the Dark Flight Games booth at Hall 7: G107

Game Description
Tokyo Jidohanbaiki is a game about Japanese vending machines and drinks, with multiple 5-10 minute games inside. The core of the gameplay centers around a vending machine drink tower, which miniature drinks are dropped inside of. Some of the drinks will come out again, and others won’t!

Why I Want to Play
There are a few games out there now which implement a tower you drop cubes into and see what actually makes it out. Mix that concept with a Japanese vending machine and you got yourself a winning thematic gimmick. Even if you don’t play the demo, I would at least ask to test out the tower.

UBOOT: The Board Game

UBOOT: The Board Game

Location
You can play UBOOT: The Board Game at the PHALANX booth at Hall 2: B106.

Game Description
UBOOT: The Board Game is a fully cooperative, real-time tabletop game of WW2 submarine warfare. It allows 1 to 4 players to assume the roles of the Captain, the First Officer, the Navigator, and the Chief Engineer on board of a type VIIC U-boat. The game is enhanced by a companion app, allowing for an unprecedented level of realism, as well as a challenging enemy A.I. which will push your skills to the limit. The action unfolds both on the strategic and the tactical scale, always demanding teamwork, efficient crew management, and quick situation assessment.

Why I Want to Play
Firstly, look at that dual floor boat and tell me 3D proximity isn’t an awesome concept. Also, companion apps are still hot and new in the world of tabletop gaming. So are co-operative games against an AI. I want to understand the benefits of playing this co-op over solo.

Welcome To…

Welcome To...

Location
You can play Welcome To… at the Blue Cocker Games booth at Hall 7: C113.

Game Description
As an architect in Welcome to…, you want to build the best new town in the United States of the 1950s by adding resources to a pool, hiring employees, and more.

In gameplay, Welcome to… plays like a roll-and-write dice game in which you mark results on a scoresheet…but without dice.

Why I Want to Play
Details are sparse on this one, but I love the idea of a city-building game which plays 1-50 players.



Daniel Zayas

Daniel Zayas is owner and curator of this website. He has been ranking Kickstarter game campaigns via the Board Game Badger for three years. Daniel runs a consultant business via this website as well. Feel free to reach out to him in the links below.

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