I have never been to the board game mecca that is the Internationale Spieltage SPIEL, in Essen. An annual gathering of the board game industry in Germany. Instead I have settled on lusting from afar at the new releases. Living vicariously through everyone else’s social media posts. This year that changes, as I am travelling across England, through France, Belgium and the Netherlands and into Germany. I cannot wait, although doing it in an Electric Vehicle has added a little bit of charge anxiety!
So, I thought I should get organised and start seeing what exciting things will tempt me as I cannot bring the entire offering back home with me. In doing so, I realised I could share the ten board games I am looking forward to seeing at Spiel 2023 the most!
Before I get into the list I would like to mention a few games you could see at Essen but I have covered before in posts about the UK Games Expo or in previews, like Mycelia by Splitstone Games, Kavango by Mazaza Games, or Kutná Hora from Czech Games Edition.
Early indications suggest that Footprints is easy to get to the table but offers some fantastic strategic depth with a sandbox style gameplay. The boards remind me of The Quest for El Dorado and the dual-layer progress trackers excite me. I’m not entirely sold on the artwork inside the box, but if the gameplay is good enough, that won’t be an issue. I will be rushing to the Chilifox stand to check this one out! (Hall 3 3F102)
I think I could enjoy building my own art collection in Art Society. In this game from Mighty Boards, you are a connoisseur building an art portfolio and trying to influence your peers. Attempting to dictate fashion, you will be competitively hanging artwork on your wall. I love the theme and although I’ve seen it a fair bit on social media, I am pleased I have got an appointment to try this one out! (Hall 3 3L120)
3 Ring Circus
Of all the games I saw from other people’s posts of GenCon in America, 3 Ring Circus was the one that got me wishing I was there. This game looks meaty and beautiful all at the same time It’s intricate and busy board is enticing and daunting all at the same time. It has a theme I really dig and will be singing along to The Greatest Showman soundtrack while playing! (Hall 3 3D129)
Update: As I was posting this list, a copy of 3 Rings Circus arrived on the doorstep for review, so I am less excited about seeing it at Essen as I can play it now, however I had already written this list and so felt it should stay!
Rats of Wistar
It may not be a conventional theme, but Rats of Wistar’s premise tempts me. In this board game you will be attempting to prove yourself as the head honcho of a colony of rats. To do this you will explore and exploit a farm, to build beds, rooms and invent. There will be six demonstrations being run by Cranio Creations so hopefully I will get a chance to play it. (Hall 3 3W124)
I have seen glimpses of Evenfall from my Austrian friends. Julie (@boardgiulie on Instagram) in particular informed me, this game is one to watch, and I value her opinion. The list of mechanics sounds familiar. However, it will be how efficient you can utilise your engine-building actions and synergies that could make this game deliciously thinky. Add some lovely artwork and some cool looking components and this game is well worthy of my attention when I visit dlp games Verlag GmbH. (Hall 3 3G130)
I’m not always sure on a game with communication limits as they can be a bit hit or miss for me. I have a feeling Sky Team will be a hit however, as two players will work cooperatively to land an aeroplane. With different airports offering unique challenges this has peaked my attention, but I certainly want to try it to see if it will be a hit like I suspect, or a miss, like an aeroplane overshooting a runway! (Hall 6 6F300)
So I have resisted Coral from 2Tomatoes Games because my wife isn’t really a fan of that sort of spatial abstract strategy and my boys aren’t competitive yet. But having seen Islet, another abstract strategy from the same publishers, I don’t think I will be able to resist. This competitive board game looks so good I will have to find someone to play it with me! In the game you are tropical birds looking to nest and spawn adorable little eggs on a shared central player board. The first player to lay all their eggs is the winner. I’m particularly loving the colour palette and components! (Hall 3 3S102)
I really liked Trails of Tucana when I played a friend’s copy, so a board game in the same world certainly appeals. The route building elements and choices sound like they will feel familiar in Tucana Builders. So I am excited to see it, along with two other new releases, from Aporta on their stand. (Hall 3 F102)
It is no secret that I am a box art tart, and I have been drawn into Portals based on that alone! Delving deeper, you see some gorgeous tokens. However, that doesn’t make a game, that’s just what drew me in to this new release from CrowD Games. This is an abstract game where you are using magic to travel between worlds gathering elemental stones to use to forge magic keys, which unlock portals to other worlds. Or, if you haven’t got an imagination, complete objectives and get points for colour and adjacency of those fancy components! I can’t wait to see if it plays as good as it looks.(Hall 3 3M124)
The A.R.T. Project
I was gutted when I missed the opportunity to try this out at the UK Games Expo, especially after discussing it with one of the co-designers in a recent interview. So, I am hoping to make amends at Essen. While Lumberjacks Studio will be taking copies of the French version, I hope to track down an English version of The A.R.T. Project somewhere, because my schoolboy French isn’t gonna cut it! This collaboration between Florian Sirieix and Benoit Turpin sounds really interesting. With art by Vincent Dutrait it looks stunning too. In this cooperative game you are fighting against the ‘White Hand’ an art crime syndicate to recover seven stolen works of art from around the world.
While that may be my personal top ten I want to see in person, I am excited to see so many that are not on my list. Games like Dragonkeepers, Kelp, Humanity, Portals, Forest Shuffle, Hens, Fox Experiment, Theme Park Mania, Waterfall Park, Planta Nubo, Hidden Ark, Galactic Cruise, Arborea and Nucleum all appeal. Perhaps I should’ve made this a top twenty… or maybe more! I want to see them all!
Like always though, it will be seeing familiar faces and meeting social media friends, that will make this European sojourn all the more memorable! I can’t wait, I am so excited to finally get to Spiel in Essen!