Top 10 Games: Essen 2017

It’s October and that can only mean ONE THING! No, not halloween… No not pumpkin spice whateveritis! Come on, it’s Essen Spiel! The BIGGEST board game convention in the world. It’s truly a stupendous event, and most importantly, sees the launch of most of the big new board games for the year. If you’re going, I hope you have a wonderful time! If not (like me), here are some of the most exciting games we’ll be trying to play for the next 6 months.

Honorable Mentions

A couple of games that I am also interested in but didn’t quite fit on to the list but absolutely deserve some attention: Queendomino, Azul, Agra, and Photosynthesis. Oh maybe Gaia Project too. But that’s mostly just curiosity to see the difference with it’s parent, Terra Mystica! I’m sure there will be other games too that will surprise and delight the attendees but the time has come to launch the big Top 10!

Fast Forward Games

10 Fast Forward series

Ok so this entry is technically for three games: Fear, Flee and Fortress and hopefully this isn’t cheating. After all, I make the rules here and, like these Fast Forward titles, we will learn the rules as we go along. The intention with these games is that they can be learnt as you play, utilising the “fabled” system from last year’s Fabled Fruit. Fear is a game of hand management and ghost catching, Flee is a cooperative puzzle game, and Fortress is a game of risks and bluffing. As with most Friedmann Friese games, I approach with a mix of curiosity and trepidation, as he often comes up with unique ideas, but that don’t necessarily always play to my tastes. Regardless, they are still exciting!

The Fast Forward games will be available from 2F-Spiele Hall 3:L108, Stronghold Games Hall 3: O105

Sidereal ConfluenceBox

9 Sidereal Confluence

The first returning entry from my Gen Con list, because it’s been 2 months and it’s still not out in the UK and IN MY HANDS! Come on WizKids! I have money, and am looking to trade it for a copy of Sidereal Confluence! Maybe we can negotiate… because this is a negotiation game and supposedly the best game of trading cubes ever, and that sounds wonderful. It plays up to 9 players! There’s a giant pile of unique race abilities! I can’t wait to get hold of it and the only reason its not higher is because it has had my attention earlier this year… and there was a serious risk of me repeating my top 3 games from the last list!

Sidereal Confluence will be available from WizKids Hall 6: G100.


8 Keyper

Keyper is the latest entry in the famous ‘Key’ series (Keyflower being the most well known) and it continues that line’s pastel artwork and interesting euro mechanics. Keyper is a worker placement game with specialised workers (according to their colour) and the ability to, if not cooperate, then at least arrange for mutually beneficial occurrences. When a player takes an action, other players can follow that action to also benefit. Additionally, the changing of the seasons will have an important effect on what you can do. Keyper is an intriguing mix of elements in a lovely package, I’m certainly hoping it’s a Keyper!

Keyper will be available from R&D Games Hall 3: O101

Clans Of Caledonia

7 Clans of Caledonia

Ah bonnie Scotland is the setting for Clans of Caledonia, exploring the rapid industrialisation of that weather beaten country in the 19th century. Pour yourself a stiff scotch as you set up Whiskey distilleries, cotton mills, cheese-eries on the central map board before trading your produced goods for the cash you need to carry on building! Clans of Caledonia was a recent successful Kickstarter so while people are starting to get copies, this is the first chance for those of us who missed out back then.

Clans of Caledonia will be available from Karma Games Hall 2: F107

Nusfjord6 Nusfjord

A new worker placement game from the King of worker placement games, Uwe Rosenberg (Agricola, A Feast for Odin). Nusfjord is set in the picturesque Norwegian fishing village of the same name, at the start of its development. It sounds tight and punishing. Players can take risks to get more money, by putting their shares up for sale, but should opponents be able to buy them, they will profit from your catches. I’m breaking out in a sweat just thinking about it, despite the cold North Sea breeze…

Nusfjord will be available Lookout Games Hall 1: F133 and Mayfair.

Rajas Of The Ganges

5 Rajas of the Ganges

MOAR Euro game! Well, this is Essen after all. Rajas of the Ganges puts you in the ornate thrones of India’s powerful princes to do what you do best: maximise your power and wealth. Coming from Markus and Inka Brand, two of the top designers working today (Village, Exit, Word Slam), I can’t wait to see what they have come up with. But India, especially in the 16th century, is a society with a strong caste system: your birth determines your station. This is specifically mentioned as a system within the game and I am fascinated to see how they handle such a culturally sensitive topic within a game.

Rajas of the Ganges will be available from Huch! Hall 3: D120


4 Noria

Oh boy if there’s one aesthetic that gets me going it’s that of flying ships and floating islands and Noria has that plastered across its box. But it also sounds like it has something rather exciting on the inside too: wheel-building. Not in the carpentry sense but in an action selection sense, all players have a set of action rings with slots for discs. Over the course of the game you add new discs and manipulate those rings to get the most of your action selection. It sounds fascinating and puzzle-y and I can’t wait to see it… In action.

Noria is will be available from Edition Spielwiese Hall 1: D122

The Expanse Box

3 The Expanse

Returning from my GenCon list because oh my goodness I just finished watching the second season The Expanse and I’m even more pumped than ever to play the board game version! A scifi setting all about a multi-faction Cold War is the perfect setting for a political board game, especially one inspired by Twilight Struggle. Can’t wait. My only concern is whether it will spoil events from the series that I haven’t seen yet! It may have just released in the US but the European release had to wait till Essen.

The Expanse will be available from WizKids Hall 6: G100.


2 Charterstone

The long awaited village-building legacy game from Stonemaier Games (Scythe, Viticulture) is finally within our grasp! A competitive worker placement game, building stickers are steadily added to the board to open up new actions and literal avenues. This is the first big legacy style game without genre creator Rob Daviau’s name on it and, as such, I’m extremely excited to see how this one turns out! Can it handle the run away leader issue of previous competitive legacy games? Will there be much story or does it fall closer to a varying Euro game? I’m ok with either, frankly! Now I just need to pull together a group to play it!

Charterstone will be available from Feuerland Hall 3: D100 and Stonemaier Games Hall 3: E102


1 Pandemic Legacy Season 2

Well of course it is. For those of us who loved Pandemic Legacy Season 1, this is undoubtedly a must buy, picking up the story 100 years later in a devastated world. The entire map is hidden beneath a removable material, ready to be revealed as you play. Who knows what surprises will be lurking underneath, or how much will have had to change to make the game work on so restricted a map? Truly we are in a whole new world now! I can’t wait to explore it!

Pandemic Legacy Season 2 will be available from Z-Man games, I’m fairly sure, but its not technically on the BGG list but I’m 90% sure it’s still coming out.


…And in case that wasn’t enough, you can listen to myself, Tom Heath (slickerdrips) and Paul Grogan (Gaming Rules) chat about the hottest games that may be coming out from Essen here:


And with that we reach the end of the list, but not the end of the story because I want to hear what YOU are excited about! What is your must have game (or games) and why? Let me know in the comments!

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