The Honest Meeple’s Top 5 Most Anticipated Games of Essen 2018

Essen 2018 Top 5 - Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Essen 2018 is fast approaching and as the biggest tabletop event of the year draws ever closer, the list of releases continues to grow. There have been so many great releases so far this year but Essen 2018 proves to be a fantastic time for the tabletop community.

In this article, I pick my top 5 releases for Essen. These games are the ones I am most looking forward to getting my hands on and bringing to the table. So join me as I countdown my most anticipated games for Essen 2018!

5. Chronicles of Crimes - Lucky Duck Games

Chronicles of Crime aims to offer a co-operative experience, allowing players to take on the role of detectives, investigating various criminal cases in and around London. As a team, you can choose to interview suspects and witnesses, follow up on leads and perhaps most interestingly of all, you can investigate the crime scene using the innovative VR companion app.

Board games are really starting to utilise mobile devices and apps, such as the fantastic companion app used alongside Mansions of Madness. It allows for players to really immerse themselves into the game, and this is something Chronicles of Crime promises to do.

Another digital feature is the “Scan and Play” technology, meaning character, location and evidence cards can be re-used with other cases. This will be a real plus in terms of replay-ability. The game itself comes with six scenarios, one of which is the tutorial which guides players through how to play the game while remaining interactive. This is sure to be a fantastic game for fans of the crime and detective genre as well as those looking for something a little different and innovative!

4. Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Back in August, Stonemaier Games announced a new release in collaboration with Bezier Games, bringing two brilliant games together into one by merging their core mechanics and theme. Between Two Cities from Stonemaier Games and The Castles of Mad King Ludwig from Bezier Games have been brought together in what I think is a perfect harmony.

Players take on the role of a world-renowned master builder, summoned by King Ludwig to help design and bring to life his elaborate ideas of a castle. In this competitive tile drafting game, each tile represents a room within a castle. A player must then work with the players on his left and right, designing a different castle with each player. This happens over two rounds and the winner is the one who scores the most points from one of their castles.

The artwork in this game is lovely and the mechanics seem to work well, with gameplay flowing fairly easily. Another great addition to the game is that of the Game Trayz designed by Noah Adelman. The trays were designed to keep the set-up simple for players and hold all the components, keeping everything neat and tidy, a real bonus in my book!

Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig (Credit - Stonemaier Games)

3. Orbis - Space Cowboys

I have a lot to thank Space Cowboys for! Splendor was the game that really got me into the world of tabletop gaming and drove my passion for board games, so I always credit them for that! Their latest release for Essen this year definitely looks interesting.

Players take on the roles of Gods, trying to create their best universes. Utilising lands lost in the aether, players must gather worshippers to spend on region tiles to build their universe. The more worshippers you accumulate however, the more you have to spend on more fruitful lands, ones that can provide big bonuses to players. There are 15 rounds of play and after that, tiles are scored and bonuses calculated to see who scored the most Creation Points (CP) and the player with the highest amount, wins!

This looks like another great release by Space Cowboys, with simple gameplay while still providing a sound experience, something I love to have from a board game! I look forward to trying it out soon!

2. The River - Days of Wonder

Days Of Wonder are known for releasing some of the greatest board games of all time, with Ticket to Ride being a formidable force within the tabletop world. So, when Days Of Wonder announced that they would be releasing The River, my interest suddenly peaked! A worker and tile placement game where players compete as pioneers, searching for new lands to inhabit and settle upon.

The further they explore however, the harder they will have to work to manage their workers as they try to settle along the way. Players must use resources, expand their territory, and cultivate the lands, ensuring along the way they use a decisive strategy to outmatch their opponents.

This game is being aimed at the family market, with its simply gameplay and colourful artwork but I have to say, it has got my quite excited to play! The game looks to flow really nicely and has a good pace which is always a positive so I cannot wait to finally get a chance to try it out!

Essen 2018 - The River Board Game (Credit: Days of Wonder)

1. 8 Bit Box - Iello

This is by far my most anticipated game of Essen this year! IELLO's 8 Bit Box gives players a multi-platform board game, offering four different games to get started with, each with a different theme based loosely on popular video games. The game box itself is based on an old style games console and the way in which you play is incredibly innovative.

Each game comes in a cartridge-style box and each player uses a “controller” to play and interact with each game. I managed to check out two of the games included in the base box at Tabletop Gaming Live. The first of these was Pixoid, a homage to the incredibly popular Pac-Man, where one player takes on the role of a “good pixel” while the others play as “bad pixels”, trying to catch the “good pixel”. Each player secretly selects a direction and amount of spaces to move on their controllers and reveal them all at once and move their playing pieces accordingly. If the “good pixel” manages to collect all of the white cubes before being caught, they win! It is heavily inspired by the original Pac-Man game but this adds a nice twist to an already great concept.

The second game I managed to check out was Stadium, a game that seemed very much like a collaboration of both Wii Sports and Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games! In this game, players must compete in different events, each time trying to win but also making sure they maintain their stamina and overcome various obstacles throughout. The concept is really fantastic and I cannot wait to try out these games and the remaining two! This is set to released at Essen with additional games being added at the beginning of 2019.