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What To Look Out For At Essen 2022

essen 2022 - deal with the devil

If you’re in the board gaming circles, you may have heard about something big coming. The long-awaited Essen Spiel 2022, a huge board game convention in Essen, Germany, where board gamers gather to check out the wares of the year. It’s a massive event, and one that Zatu will be a part of this year. But how do you know what to buy? There are limited copies of games, so you need a plan.

You couldn’t possibly just rock up on the day and hope. Sadly, I’m not going this year, but I still had a look through the preview list, available on Board Game Geek, and I’m going to draw your eye to the games which caught my attention. In this first part, I’m looking at brand new games and in the second, I’ll follow it up with... err… follow up games. Specifically expansions and sequels, with a retheme thrown in for good measure. But all that to come, so for now, let’s look at my nine that caught the eye of mine.

Deal With The Devil – Czech Games Edition

Deal with the Devil has an interesting premise. It is a four player only hidden role deduction game where player take on a role such as mortal, cultist or the Devil. Each player has their own objectives but they play the same game. The game comes with a companion app to tell everyone their role and helps the gameplay along, letting players blindly trade with each other. It seems like there’s a lot of strategy in this game, and the four player only is an unusual step for CGE who usually have games with a wider player count. Regardless, this looks like a good heavy euro game for those who love a bit of deduction along with their city building.

Terracotta Army – Board&Dice

The Emperor is dead and needs protection in the afterlife. In Terracotta Army, you’re crafting the great army of statues to stand guard over the Emperor’s tomb. You have a really interesting action selection system which is made up of three rotating wheels that changes up the actions. Among them are gathering resources, upgrading workers and getting favour from the late emperor’s advisors.

You and your opponents will be building the army together, but at the end of the game, there is only one winner. There are multiple ways of scoring with either domination or presence in a particular category and you get to see how the tomb is built by placing the miniatures of each statue type out. It’s a really high production value and there’s a lot of cool things to try and do. One to watch out for.

Ready Set Bet – AEG

Ready Set Bet is the new John D Clair game where players are heading to the races. A set of die rolls will move horses along the track to form the race and it is followed by a betting phase. Players can make their bets as the race is run, but the fun of the game is one player taking on the role of announcer. Watch It Played had a game of this on their channel with John D Clair as announcer and it brought a huge amount of life to the game in a way that just rolling the dice alone wouldn’t include. I’ve also heard rumours of a companion app coming along which can allow everyone to play the game the way its intended but a nice light game to replicate the excitement of the day at the races without the need to dress up. But feel free if you want to, use that fabulous hat.

essen 2022 cat in the box

Cat In The Box – Bezier Games

Cat in the Box is a trick taking game, with a twist. Based on the premise of Schrodinger’s Cat, your card’s suit isn’t defined until it has been played, meaning you have to play carefully to avoid getting a paradox which ends the round. You get more points by placing tokens on the board in a collective group, showing that those colours and numbers have been taken. You’ll also score based on a prediction of how many tricks you’ll win. I’m not a huge fan of trick taking games but this is a quite interesting take on the mechanism that I’d be willing to give a go! Would you like to give Cat in the Box a play at Essen 2022?

Guild Of Merchant Explorers – AEG

Another AEG game, The Guild of Merchant Explorers, has been popping up a bit on various preview content which had me intrigued before I saw the game itself and then it turned it up to 11. In a similar way to Kingdom Builder, GME has players revealing terrain cards, one by one, and placing a cube on that terrain type adjacent to either one of their cities or another cube. As you go along, you’ll want to build new cities on distant lands as every cube is removed from the board at the end of a round. If you haven’t set up a new city in time, you’ll be starting from scratch. The game has also been designed to play at a distance, which is a really nice feature in the world we find ourselves in. It looks like a lot of fun and I’m excited to give this a try.

essen 2022 the wolves

The Wolves – Pandasarus

New from Pandasarus comes The Wolves – an area majority game where players are building their own pack of wolves to be the most dominant. You gain dominance by recruiting lone wolves, hunting prey and claiming territory, but your opponents may be able to lure your wolves into their pack if you spread too recklessly. The action selection in this game comes in the form of terrain tiles which you can flip to take an action in the terrain shown. In doing so, you can set up the terrain you can work on in the next round, giving you lots of that forward planning gamers love. Actions can upgrade as the game goes on, letting you be more aggressive. There’s a lot to do here, but the components are really nice and the artwork is delightful. I like a lot of what Pandasarus puts out so this is one I'll look to play soon.

essen 2022 shake that city

Shake That City – AEG

Another city builder game joins us from AEG, where players will deal with a random pattern produced by a Cube Shaker and choosing an option from those distributed. The active player picks a building colour from the pattern and places a building tile on their own player board in the same pattern as those revealed. There’s choices to make, making sure you fit in roads, factories, homes, parks and shops that each score in different ways. The unique distribution system is a fun addition and I’m looking forward to seeing how the game plays with a lot of replayability right out of the box.

Wormholes – AEG

Wormholes is set in space where the latest technology in travel is the ability to move through space almost instantaneously. In the game, you are collecting passengers who have specific destinations to reach, but you can make your routes easier by building wormholes to move around the galaxy even faster. This has a very similar feel to something like Maglev Metro, which is a game I deeply enjoy, but a little bit lighter. Wormholes has a very cool theme and really awesome artwork and I’m intrigued to see how it plays. Also it’s designed by Peter McPherson from Tiny Towns fame, so you know this is going to be a very well thought out design.

essen 2022 tokiado duo

Tokaido Duo – Funforge

A new two player version of Tokaido is coming out, where players are discovering the island of Shikoku. The two player variant of Tokaido wasn’t my favourite, it felt too much like players could use the ghost to get in each other’s way and hate draft spaces, which goes against the feel of the game. In Tokaido Duov, players walk about the smallest island of the Japanese archipelago, exploring it through the eyes of three different characters, and completing three different spiritual journeys. Craft and sell wares, explore temples and hot springs, and paint your way through each of these adventures. I love Tokaido but with my usual player count being two, I tend not to play it much these days. This new game will probably change that quite significantly.

Are you excited for Essen 2022? Make sure to look out for Zatu when you arrive through the doors of Essen 2022!