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The Essen Games You Need To Try: Part 1

Posted Monday, 14-Nov-2016

We talk about the games we saw, played, and brought home at the world’s largest board game convention!

Prepared by Calvin Wong


1,200 new games released at Essen in 2016, along with thousands of older games. We took a look at some of the hottest titles of the con – and some hidden gems.




Czech Game Edition’s flagship 2016 title is a candy neon first person shooter… eurogame?


How can you not love a smiley faced robot.
How can you not love a smiley faced robot.


Featuring no dice, a dazzling array of combo optimizing weapons, elements of area control, and wonderfully chunky components, Adrenaline is a wonderful hybrid bridge between the Amerigame style theme and Eurogame style gameplay. Unlike other games with direct player conflict, Adrenaline does a great job of making it feel good to get shot – as you take damage, you get faster and stronger – hence the name!


Move, shoot, strategize.
Move, shoot, strategize.


Play standard Deathmatch for an accessible, easy to learn game suitable for younger games – or up the ante with Domination and Turret mode for a more cerebral experience.


Adrenaline is in stock from $45.49




A movement puzzle game with a wonderfully unique mechanic, don’t be fooled by the minis. Argo is a eurogame through and through.


Jason and the AAAHHH!gonauts.
Jason and the AAAHHH!gonauts.


Each player has a handful of crewmates who are fighting to escape the stricken Argo, which has been invaded by aliens – but there are only so many escape pods to go around…



The pretty components disguise the thinky puzzle within.
The pretty components disguise the thinky puzzle within.


The central mechanic of Argo involves the fact that figures on the map block each other – but a figure behind another one can still move, pushing the one ahead in a direction of their choosing. Push your own figures into the escape pod for bonus points, or push your opponents towards the aliens and make sure they get eaten first!

Argo is in stock from $49.99


Capital Lux


An absolutely gorgeous small box game with excruciating decisions in each play.


Rayguns are timeless.
Rayguns are timeless.


Lovingly drawn by Kwanchai Moriya, illustrator of Catacombs, Kodama, and Days of Ire, Capital Lux challenges you to a deadly game of sabotage and self-preservation.


The lush illustrations of Capital Lux.
The lush illustrations of Capital Lux.


Each round, players draft a mere six cards of the four colors shown above, and then must decide to play them into their own tableau or the center of the table, the Capital, for special abilities. Only cards played into your tableau allow you to score points, but your tableau’s cards cannot exceed those in the Capital.

Containing incredible tension for such a small game, Capital Lux is a gorgeous, thinky, winner.

Capital Lux is in stock from $25.99


Codenames: Pictures

Love Codenames? Pictures is more of the same, but for visual thinkers and having no language dependency.


'Hi honey, I brought a planet home for dessert. How's the clock going?'
‘Hi honey, I brought a planet home for dessert. How’s the clock going?’


Players must split into two teams and race to guess which pictures in the grid belong to their team. Help comes from one of their own who is giving clues in the form of Word: Number. Animal: 3 means that there are 3 cards they want you to pick up on, but since a picture is worth a thousand words, and you shouldn’t give clues which link to your opponent’s pictures, or heaven forbid – the Assassin…


In this image: 280,000 words
In this image: 280,000 words.


Delightful fun for all ages, Codenames: Pictures can be combined with regular Codenames for a ton of replayability and laughs.

Codenames: Pictures is in stock from $12.95



Dice drafting and engine building in a science fiction future.


The pictures doesn't do the box justice - the words and lines are all faded silver foil.
The pictures doesn’t do the box justice – the words and lines are all faded silver foil.


From the designer of Suburbia and Castles of Mad King Ludwig comes Colony, with his signature combo building style.

Colony is a dice drafting game with low luck – since dice can be stored from round to round, and each of a player’s constructed buildings can be upgraded, plenty of strategies exist to race your way to the victory point finish line.



Rebuilding the science fiction future.
Rebuilding the science fiction future.


With 28 different cards, only 13 of which will be used in each session, Colony has high replayability which can be tuned to your group’s liking (Don’t like attack cards? Don’t use ’em!)

Colony is in stock from $38.99


Cry Havoc

Area control on an Avatar-like alien planet, with unique asymmetric factions and one of the most inventive combat systems ever made.


No dogs, unfortunately - warlike or otherwise.
No dogs, unfortunately – warlike or otherwise.


Four races battle for control of a previously unexplored planet and its precious crystals – the mobile and adaptable humans, the unstoppable machine collective, the high tech pilgrim aliens, and the native hordes of the Trog.

It's a big game but it's easy to jump in and plays quick.
It’s a big game but it’s easy to jump in and plays quick.


Playing great at all player counts and featuring a deck building, card-driven action system and diceless combat based on completing specific objectives rather than binary win-lose battles, Cry Havoc is one of the year’s biggest hits for a good reason. Discover why.

Cry Havoc is in stock from $48.99


Dale of Merchants 2

Low luck deck building with an intelligent, adorable twist.


No word on the sequel: Glen of Vendors.
No word on the sequel: Glen of Vendors.

Dale of Merchants 2 is a new take on deck builders – with a clearly defined victory condition that prevents ‘who’s winning’ guesses, buying cards straight into your hand instead of your discard pile, and not dumping unplayed cards from your hand either!


The competition just got a lot cuter.
The competition just got a lot cuter.

Players are merchants who hire cute animal companions to help them perform mercantile commerce. With 6 decks to choose from in the game, you can tailor your experience to be more newbie friendly, require careful and precise timing, or even be a little more brutal and in-your-face.

Unfortunately, Dale of Merchants 2 is not yet available on BoardGamePrices, but the two sets are completely compatible. Dale of Merchants is an excellent deckbuilder – not to be misse.d

Dale of Merchants 1 is in stock from from $19.36


Escape from Colditz

Designed by a British Army Officer who escaped the infamous prison camp, Escape from Colditz is a modern classic.


Based on a true story.
Based on a true story.


Originally printed in the 70s, Escape from Colditz became a cultural phenomenon in its native Britain, at one time being outsold only by Monopoly. It has now been updated for a modern audience.

'Classic' doesn't begin to do it justice.
‘Classic’ doesn’t begin to do it justice.

The game is based on the real life escape of Major Pat Reid, who had to gather documents, disguises, rope, and other equipment, while escaping notice of the German guards.

Each player plays one of the Allied Nation’s prisoners who were detained in Colditz Castle, and must race to ensure that their prisoners are the ones who escape first before the whole place goes into lockdown. A thrilling game of suspense and cat and mouse games.

Escape from Colditz is in stock from $43.55


A gorgeous, all-ages dexterity game with a surprisingly deep level of strategy.


Probably the most adorable game at Essen.
The most adorable game at Essen.


Players are children who are trying to get to a magical land in the sky. You play by throwing a foam rainbow circle to another player, who must catch it with their index finger – but the game introduces restrictions on how the throw must be performed. Lying on the floor, for example.


Probably best components, too.
Best components, too.


Funny, beautiful, skillful, and surprisingly deep. Hop is illustrated and designed by Marie Cardouat, who is best known for her work on Dixit and …and then, we held

HOP! is in stock from $38.99


Come back soon for Part Two of our list, where we look at some of the hottest games of the convention! Until then, have a look at our photojournal coverage where you can see pictures of Essen in full swing:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Published by BoardGamePrices.com

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