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Essen 2017: Rob W’s Most Anticipated Games

Essen 2017 - Ex Libris

"Hmm, a list of my most anticipated games from Essen 2017, however will I manage that…" Moves eyes to the handwritten note 10 inches to the side of his keyboard listing the purchases he wants.

"Oh, yeah, just five…"

Ex Libris

I wanted to buy Ex Libris before I knew much about it, simply because I love books and my home is turning into the library pictured on the cover. Of course I then read more, and discovered it just got more amazing: you play a book collector who has to increase their library to become Grand Librarian, which is, in a sense, everything I’ve done in life since I started earning a living.

The fact that the designer alone came up with the hundreds of titles used in this just makes me want to buy it more.


In one sense, putting Charterstone down on a list of anticipated Essen releases looks easy, even lazy. Jamey Stegmaier is following up successful and critically acclaimed games like Scythe and Viticulture with a legacy game that’s been building momentum and headlines for a while. But this is one of many lists of anticipated games, and that means I get to tell you why I’ve singled it out.

Having spent years in a gaming wilderness, the legacy game is the absolute zenith of my return to ‘action’, and where Pandemic is people (mostly) working together, Charterstone is competitive and I look forward to that, having never clicked with Risk and liked Jamey’s other games.

I must also confess to liking the way the designer has approached the harsh world of internet commentary and like to support that.

Bunny Kingdom

No, wait, come back. You’ve probably heard of Richard Garfield even if you don’t have the substance habit that is Magic the Gathering, and Bunny Kingdom is one of his latest designs. On the one hand, it looks like an excellent area control game with a visually arresting table top, on the other it’s themed in such a way that literally no one you know will take you seriously ever again.

So step forward, people like me, who can’t wait for a load of frankly confused adults to return from Essen 2017 and confess how they liked the bunny game.

Gaia Project

I love Terra Mystica, the hit that came before Gaia Project (GP) and so influenced its creation. I look to Essen 2017  to discover how closely the two are related: is GP just Terra in space? What extra is going on? Does it solve the alleged problems? I say alleged, because I and my friends are big fans of Terra Mystica and never had a problem with it.

But here’s where I look stupid: I’m aware of the accusation that top level players can work out who’ll win just from starting placement, and all I can say to that is I’m not that good and I don’t have a clue until the sixth round when my regular opponent drops the hammer on me. So, Terra doesn’t need fixing, but it could thrive in outer space.

Clans of Caledonia

I didn’t back this when it was on Kickstarter, and I’ve felt I’ve missed out ever since. Not because of some vague feeling of not being cool, but because all the feedback I’ve seen says this is a genuinely good game for people like me who like economic, building games together with hex boards.

The weakness that has carried over from my gaming youth is hex boards. Step forward Essen 2017, when it should be about and I’ll see if I got it wrong originally and have to right that wrong. Spoiler: Probably.