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Essen Videos

October 20, 2011

The live streaming videos from Essen that BoardGameGeek has been doing so far are a great way to experience the convention remotely. Iíve found them entertaining and a fun method for both learning about new releases and seeing the designers/publishers talk about the games firsthand. Itís great to see so many excited and enthusiastic designers and publishers as they present their games and probably for many of them are just now finally seeing the finished product.

The schedule for the live videos is available at this page. The link to the streaming video can be found here and the archived videos are being stored here.

So far Iíve enjoyed a number of the videos. The video with Ignacy T. from Portal was great fun. He was very amusing in his presentation of Pret-a-Porter, particularly in describing the playtest with the potential financial backers of the game. Ignacy also gives some interesting insight into the design of the new 51st State expansion/sequel Ė The New Era. He explains how a couple of the changes in the new game were based on feedback from the gaming community concerning interactivity and fiddly components. The Opinionated Gamers had great in-depth previews of Pret-a-Porter and 51st State New Era, but thereís something nice about also watching an excited and engaging designer discuss his new games.

Another video that I really enjoyed was Doug and Shelley Garrett sitting down with Michael Schacht to discuss his new game Ė Coney Island from Argentum Verlag Ė which had not been on my radar at all! Since the recent release of Hansa Teutonica, Iím happy to give Argentum Verlag the benefit of the doubt, and this one definitely seemed interesting from Schachtís detailed description. The spatial element of the placement may be more abstract than I would like, but the timing element and the income mechanism both seemed particularly interesting. I found it amusing that he couldnít remember the fourth way the game end is triggered, but I suppose maybe he finished working on this game a while ago to send it off for printing and has since been caught up with other games. I havenít read the rules yet, but if youíre interested, they are available at this PDF link.

The Czech crew was great fun to watch. Peter, Vlaada, and Yuri provided interesting descriptions of Dungeon Petz, Last Will, and Pictomania. Unfortunately the second Galaxy Trucker expansion has been slightly delayed so did not make the convention, but three Czech games is pretty great (not to mention Mage Knight coming from Wiz Kids). For detailed description of all five Czech games, check out my first impressions article. But you should also make sure to watch that video; the CGE enthusiasm for their games is infectious.

Speaking of enthusiasm, youíve got to watch Friedemann Friese talking about one of his new games Ė Freitag. His excitement for this solitaire deck-building game is contagious. I tried the prototype once back in April and was pleasantly surprised. Iím now eagerly looking forward to giving the game another shot, or more. There are some really interesting and difficult decisions to make in Freitag concerning which challenge to face and whether to pay life points to draw extra cards and which cards to trash to a lesser extent. It seems like a game that most people ought to at least try to see if itís for them. That video also has Friese talking about the new Power Grid: First Sparks game, which isnít up my alley but may interest many of you.

Those were four great videos, but thatís not all! The video with Gordon and Fraser Lamont presenting Poseidonís Kingdom is one you canít miss. The Scottish duo is hilarious, as always. The shark costume is a riot, the puns are out of control, and the constant time pressure ratchets up the fun. I tried a prototype of the game in April and enjoyed it. I didnít like it quite as much as Antics, but thatís not a slight because I was a particularly big Antics fan. Poseidonís Kingdom uses a similar ant-hill mechanic, but in a somewhat more family friendly game, although the vicious shark can make for some brutal moves. But stop reading this and just go watch that video! Even if the game is already sold out, hopefully both Antics and Poseidonís Kingdom will get wider reprints soon. They both certainly deserve it.

I suppose those would be my top five videos Ė Ignacy, Schacht, CGE, Friese, and Fragor. But youíre not going to make me stop there, are you? Thereís also the informative, if less hilarious, video with Feld describing the highly anticipated Trajan. Plus thereís Scott Tepper and his amazing game explainer ways describing Nefarious, one of the new Donald X games this year. Then thereís a video about some sort of String Railway type game, but this time with paperclips! Iím thinking shoestring licorice should be next if the games of building railroads with strange materials continues.

Thereís all those, plus some I havenít even watched yet. I still need to watch the videos for: (1) that new Greek game, Drum Roll by Konstantinos Kokkinis and Dimitris Drakopoulos, which Kulkmann already wrote an interesting detailed piece on; (2) the Queen releases, including Donald Xís other new game Kingdom Builder; (3) Martin Wallace of course; and (4) the Lookout Games presentation of Welcome to Walnut Grove.

And thereís so much more to come. The daunting schedule has Corne van Moorsel presenting both Champions 2020 and Meltdown 2020 tomorrow, plus Travis from Indie Boards and Cards showing the new cooperative game Flash Point. Then on Saturday, Mac Gerdts is set to demo Casus Belli, the two-player reimplementation of Antike, along with a video on the much-discussed MIL (1049) later in the day. Sunday finishes up with Thorsten Gimmler, Matthias Cramer, and Klaus Jurgen-Wrede. The BGG crew sure is keeping busy.

Speaking of which, in addition to all these Essen videos, Iíve also been keeping an eye on GeekBuzz. So far interesting to see Tournay in the top spot, although not surprising if itís being mostly tried and rated by Troyes fans, and avoided by those who didnít like Troyes. Same could go for Power Grid: The Robots and Power Grid: First Sparks occupying the next two spots. But then in fourth comes Welcome to Walnut Grove, not surprising since itís Lookout and theyíre a perennial favorite, but definitely makes me begin to think this one might need to be added to my list. Freitag and Dungeon Petz are up there in the top ten right now as well, which is not surprising. The most notable absences at this point to me would seem to be Trajan, although itís just slightly down at the lucky #13 spot and Kingdom Builder down at #17, but thereís plenty more time to go and votes to be cast. Iíll have to keep a close eye as more Essen videos are released and as the GeekBuzz rankings are updated. In the meantime, hope you enjoy some of the videos that are up so far and perhaps theyíll help you fine tune your wishlist or discover completely new things to investigate like I did with Coney Island.

(See The Opinionated Gamers for this column plus additional comments on it)