Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames

Friday, October 31, 2008

Vicarious Essen

Essen is behind us now, and the Fairplay scouts & other reports are settling in on the better titles. Remember two years ago when I insisted I'd buy Die Saulen von Venedig? Then the mediocre reports came in, and I got to play it once. It wasn't a bad game, but it didn't shine for me. I didn't buy it. (Though I'll probably play it again some day.)

This year the game that fits that description this year is Sutter's Mill. I haven't ruled it out entirely, but I hope I'll get a chance to try someone else's copy first. Hmm, come to think of it, Oregon may have been the equivalent game in 2007. Both western-themed, which is what interested me originally.

My group has placed an overseas post-Essen order. This used to be an annual tradition, both to grab exciting new titles and to pounce on special sales for older games (usually a game you loved more than everyone else). The way the hobby's been going, those orders have been slowing down. I don't think we even placed one last year. This time, though, it was decent-sized again. The somewhat better exchange rate helps, as well as some other factors (like Martin Wallace's Treefrog games being no more expensive this way). Too bad we won't get the games before the Thanksgiving holidays in late November, but at least they should arrive before Christmas. (When's Hannukah this year?) So we'll get our Essen excitement while it's still 2008.

One new game I have gotten to play a bunch lately is Dominion, thanks to the online implementation at Brettspielwelt. I haven't been a BSW regular for years (play-by-web works better for me than realtime), but once in a while I check it out again, especially when there are new titles. In my podcast I mentioned how the hype for Dominion is kind of a turn-off, but now that I've played it I can happily report I like it. In fact, I really like it. Deckbuilding was a fun part of my Magic:The Gathering days, and it's very cool to see that built right into a euro card game. My only concern is that the BSW interface makes everything so fast & easy, when I eventually play with the real game I'll be bothered by the effort to collect & shuffle cards constantly, track extra actions & buys, and so on. But that's a nit. The game is great fun and I can't wait to get my hands on a real copy.



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