I'm sorry to say that none of the Polyhedron Collider crew will be attending Essen this year. Jon isn’t allowed out at weekends without supervision, Andy is off to Islay for a whisky distillery tour and Steve has to buy a washing machine, but that doesn't mean we can't get excited about the new games and generally geeky goodness surrounding Europe's largest tabletop gaming convention and arguably the largest board game convention in the world.
With over 700 games being shown off at the event there's a lot to take in, so here is a handful that have caught our eye. So if you're heading to Essen this weekend go check these games out and let the publishers know that Polyhedron Collider sent you.
Terraforming MarsI'm going to be honest with you, not a lot of Stronghold's games grab my attention. I'm not sure what exactly it is, but I never find myself drawn to their games, but I am drawn to Terraforming Mars.
Maybe it’s the theme of managing the birth of an entire planet, growing microbes producing oxygen and creating an eco-system, or maybe it’s because my taste in games is changing, gradually moving towards the lighter end of the euro gaming spectrum. Either way I’m interested in a game that is essentially about dicking around with a planet and hoping you can make something liveable. Early reviews have suggested that a take that element is against some people ideas of what a game like this should contain but for me this just makes it more interesting, blurring the line between what makes a Euro or Ameritrash game.
Beer EmpireWe've just played Beer Empire on Tabletopia with Filip from Board & Dice and it's on Kickstarter right now, so you won't be able to buy Beer Empire at Essen but you will be able to give the demo game a go. And you want to give Beer Empire a game because it combines our two favourite passions.
You'll take on the role of a brewery trying to bid into the market, brew tasty beers and impress beer festival judges. The best mechanic is the beer market where you will have to predict aspects of your beer. Those who have planned ahead can take advantage of their market position but brewing on the fly has its benefits as there are plenty of opportunities to influence the market to your favour. It's a meaty euro with plenty of strategy and we recommend playing with a nice dark stout or London porter.
AdrenalineWe played an early prototype of Adrenaline at the UK Games Expo earlier this year and boy were we impressed! Managing to blend euro game style concepts like area control and resource management with a classic first person shooter (think Quake Arena or Unreal Tournament) Adrenaline is an odd sell at first, but it works and it works really well.
If you want to know more about what we thought of the game, go check out our preview or watch our interview with Paul Grogan from CGE about the game. This will be our first purchase once it hits the UK.
Portal of MorthAt last year's Essen I was able to play of Portal of Morth. Though the game itself wasn't available to buy the game was in the later stages of design. Portal of Morth is a tower defence game, were the horrible critters attacking your base are represented by special dice. What makes Portal of Morth an interesting game to play is that even though each player deals with their own little tower defence run, you can manipulate the location that critters appear using the segmented dog bowl of doom (trademark pending).
Critters are allocated by dropping them into the segmented dog bowl of doom, which randomly distributes them into certain locations. Players can then spend their resources to rotate the segmented dog bowl of doom giving them control over where the critters spawn. Balance is the key, as you want to send some critters your way to level up your heroes but at the same time try and overwhelm your opponents.
Age of ThievesI'm going to confess to not really knowing much about Age of Thieves but the concept has me interested, and quite frankly that should be enough to go check out the game at Essen. Each player takes the role of a thief and the aim is to get into the centre of the city, steal the Emperor's treasure and get out then get out of the city.
From what I can determine from the previews, Age of Thieves plays very similar to Hitman Go, a video game designed very much to feel like a board game, and that is definitely not a bad thing. There is the suggestion that actions are based on card play and spending of action points. However, the big draw for me is that I have always been a big fan of the old Thief video games and I'm hoping Age of Thieves manages to replicate that theme.