Essen season is upon us. And what a huge range of games we have this year! Each year the international aspect of Essen continues to grow. I see that even the Evil Polish Brothers from the USA will be attending this year. There was time not that long ago when the principals of that company would never have heard of the Essen Spieltage much less considered tramping halfway around the globe to attend.
As the gaming becomes more international, we see more and more games that fuse the sensibilities of two or more gaming cultures. Lunatix Loop and Balmy Balloonists, spring to mind as good examples of American games informed by German tastes. I strongly suspect that Attila will offer a crossing in the opposite direction.
And kudos to Karl-Heinz Schmiel for leaping up to fill the gap in the Hans im Glück line. Its great to see Schmiel and Brunnhofer working together, again. More! More! And I hope the recent fracas doesn't color all American creators that might work with HiG. An amazing number of Americans are perfectly reasonable people, Bernd!
With Lord of the Rings Hasbro begins to flex its global muscle! Finally, they are creating games that will be of interest to the larger, more mature European market while simultaneously (well, near enough) releasing them in English speaking countries! More! More! Unfortunately, they didn't follow through with Knizia's Traumfabrik (Dream Makers).
And surprise! there are a flock of pirate games out this year. I don't talk about it much but pirate games are near and dear to my heart. I don't really know why but at times it verges on obsession. Look for pictures of our fleet of Playmobil pirate ships engaged in pitched battle to appear on the Cabinet someday. Adlung Spiele has released Meuterer (Mutineer), the piratical sequel to Verrater! Hans im Glück has Strotebeker which is co-produced by Rio Grande Games as Corsairs. Rio Grande has Time Pirates, which is stretching things a bit, but its a Moon game so I will have to check it out. It will either be a good game or I can give him a hard time about it. Either way I win!
I'm looking forward to a few other things, as well.
Obviously (if you read the editorials last like me), I've already acquired copies of Lunatix Loop, Balmy Balloonists (review forthcoming), Keytown, and Bus. All recommended. Good stuff.
The Settlers Book is a no brainer. And you can be assured it will be translated so buy with impunity. Clever of them to add in the extra bits, otherwise the translation would be enough.
Pila, a soccer game, intrigues me. But mainly for its bits manufactured by Brio, I must admit. Babel in the two player Kosmos line could be a goodie. And High Bohn, the back alley expansion for Bohnanza, sounds interesting. What's the scoop there? Why didn't Amigo do it? And what's going to happen to Amigo now that Hasbro owns WotC? Amigo is the Magic/Pokemon/Golden Geese of WotC distributor in Germany, you see. Hmmm.
Noris has Der Garten des Sonnenkonigs (The Gardens of the Sun King) by Günter Cornett. I have a weak spot for Cornett's designs and this one was outrageously priced in its limited edition so I passed in the past.
My wife is a huge Speed fan, so we'll be helping to keep Queen Games limping along when we buy Lift Off which is by the designer of Verrater not Speed. But it shares some of Speed's flavor as players race to complete patterns in order to launch the most rockets and win the game. The rockets are not carrying happy, match toting convicts into the sun this time, though. Thank goodness.
The game devils at Spielteufel have begeiled me into ordering a copy of Welt der Winde (World of Winds) on spec. This is a game of hang gliding in a world where life clings to high peaks. The board and bits look great and the theme intrigues. Last year's offering from this crew suffered from undo dryness, though. We shall see.
By now you should have guessed that I won't be attending Essen this year. I'm trying to be good and only go every other year now that we have a wee one running about the house. Sigh. But the Cabinet will have agents in the field so tune in after the show to see what they have to say.
The Game Cabinet - firstname.lastname@example.org - Ken Tidwell