SPIEL Essen Games Fair

The annual SPIEL fair in Essen is probably the number one international trade fair and expo about board games. I'm fascinated by well-done board games, which is probably because there are a lot of parallels to excellent user interfaces: To me, the visceral level of great-looking and high-quality gaming materials is just as important as effortless game flow with no unnecessary hurdles to immersion, and an engaging story being told.

I'm a big fan of cooperative games, because I don't play board games to beat someone else at the table, but to be immersed in a great story together. Coop games avoid the adversarial and, to me, often detrimental effect on the gaming atmosphere. You win or lose (mostly) together.

SPIEL 2018 Highlights

This is a report of some new boardgames tested at SPIEL 2018 in Essen.

In Fantasy Flight Games' Discovery, your group of everyday people stranded on an island and needs to survive, and ultimately uncover the secrets of the island. You feel like in the TV show LOST: You find an old wooden box half-buried in the sand, but as you touch it, it starts humming... Discovery is one of the two examples of a brand-new game genre: "Unique" games, in which every box sold contains a different combination of game materials from the next one. With one box, you will only see a fairly small fraction of all the characters, items, monsters, map tiles, and other effects. We played a few rounds and bought two boxes, so that scheme certainly worked on us, but the designers also suggest just trading game copies with others once you're done. There are five scenarios, which each will fill an evening. It's mostly cooperative, but sometimes you also need to think of yourself first to survive; an interesting tension. Unusual and highly recommended.

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