The international game days SPIEL in Essen begin in a few days. With more than 1.400 new products from over 1.150 exhibitors from all over the world, trade fair visitors should clearly find it difficult to keep track of things. Spending your days at SPIEL'18 therefore also means: games have to be selected. Especially apart from the well-known series or heavily advertised games, there is a lot to discover for visitors from October 25th to 28th, 2018. We have summarized our four highlights from SPIEL'18 below.   


Andres highlights of SPIEL'18

As a fan of strategic titles and role-playing games with good background stories, I can draw on unlimited resources at SPIEL'18. There is hardly a genre that is not served this year - and authors and publishers in particular seem to be focusing on games with an exciting framework.

Crusader Kings: The Board Game (Fria Ligan)

International game days in Essen: Our highlights of SPIEL18

Crusader Kings was originally a video game series developed by Paradox Entertainment. Even the digital template for the strategic board game Crusader Kings: The Board Game was aimed more at genre fans than at the general public. The board game, with its penchant for medieval drama, will strike in a similar notch, even if it can be assumed that the gameplay for the table version has been streamlined. 

The title was reprimanded by some fans during the ongoing crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter: incorrect historical details were the trigger. In terms of play, this only makes a difference for hardcore historians, but it seems strange considering the obsession with detail that Paradox Entertainment often incorporates into its video games.

As a lover of strategic board games, leads for me Crusader Kings: The Board Game still there is no way around it. I would like to convince myself of the quality of this title. 

Discover (Asmodee)

International game days in Essen: Our highlights of SPIEL18

Asmodee wrote a title that made waves well before its release. Discover is according to the publisher the first “Unique Game” on the market. Each game should be unique in terms of its content, even if this only applies to details. Discover - To undiscovered lands is so interesting to me because the basic idea sounds interesting. It is important to find out whether this title is actually as unique as advertised or whether the concept is more of a clever marketing gimmick.

And then there is the question of the playful quality. For a board game, it is not enough if the material concept is innovative - it must also be fun. Setting up the board game as a survival game is clever: in hardly any other genre can material changes be implemented as dynamically as in games in which the variable environment makes a significant contribution to the gaming experience.

Alone or with up to four players it works Discover - To undiscovered lands about surviving.

Rambo - The Board Game (Everything Epic)

International game days in Essen: Our highlights of SPIEL18

With Rambo - The Board Game is that such a thing: it can be the biggest rubbish or it is surprisingly epic. The design of the packaging suggests, however, that the anti-hero of the 80s could still have it today. Heavily armed and trained in survival tactics, no man, no law, no war can stop John Rambo. The game material makes a good first impression: pretty miniatures, lots of odds and ends and various landscape tiles awaken the theater of war on the board game table at home instead of on the TV. 

A mood killer could be missions that are too shallow or a monotonous gameplay. Rambo is primarily about tough action - and that has to be transferred to the board game in the best “bad-ass” manner, otherwise the entire brand will not work.

By the way, the right mood arises when the original film is playing in the background - on VHS of course!  

The announced expansions let players shoot their way through the jungle, the forest in the suburbs and the desert: very Rambo-like. Like in the movies. 

The playful basic structure sounds good. It is a matter of completing missions (“operations”) that are made more difficult by various environment variables. Instead of betting on devastation, players can also use a quieter and more tactical approach to achieve their goals. As an anti-war hero of my youth, I would be happy if Rambo - The Board Game makes a good trade fair appearance.

8-bit box (Iello)

International game days in Essen: Our highlights of SPIEL18

The 8-bit box by Iello is visually reminiscent of a classic game console from the 80s and 90s. And Iello and the authors Frank Crittin and Grégroire Largey also want to playfully pick up on the flair of the 8-bit era. the 8-bit box contains several small game ideas: Pixoid, a racing game and a sports game.  

That doesn't sound particularly exciting at first - and certainly not playfully complex. The 8Bit Box is about a trip back to your own childhood, a time when the graphics of games for the Nintendo Entertainment System still caused astonishment. The game by Iello is possibly more of a nice gimmick than a competitive game, but it is primarily the presentation that makes the 8Bit Box a highlight for me.

At SPIEL'18 I would now like to find out what's behind the idea and whether the game titles aren't convincing after all.

Marie's highlights from SPIEL'18

This year, fans of goosebumps, film games and the fantastic will not miss out at SPIEL'18 and the gaming factor, another passion of mine, also finds its place in the analogue gamer's heart. The 18+ generation seems to be paying particular attention to the publishing houses this year.

Coma Ward (Everything Epic Games)

Coma Ward is supposed to be a true psychological horror board game for adults, because it includes topics such as violence, forgiveness, distrust, trauma - and it is supposed to be pretty bloody.


Already the Trailer I was captivated by the board game because it teleported me right into the heart of the nerve-wracking game. If you haven't seen him yet, just imagine you and a few strangers waking up in an abandoned but functioning hospital. You no longer exist because you no longer remember who you were. You wonder what happened, but you also lack that memory. Are the others who woke up with you friends or enemies? Oh, and watch out for the shadows that lurk in the hallways, just waiting to destroy the last remnants of your functioning psyche.

You have to work with the others to examine the hospital rooms. But be careful, there is a risk of traumatic hallucinations, which can become real or remain part of your fantasy. After opening the third clue, the game changes. Occurring phenomena force you to continue playing cooperatively or competitively.

This is where the trailer ended and left me excited. The game material also appears nicely designed in the images published so far. Apparently everything has been thought of here, from the patient file to covers with biological hazard labels. Will the game hold up to my enthusiasm?

Everdell (Starling Games)

everdell is a worker placement title and tableau building game which can be played solo with multiple players. In the course of the game you have to build a village from the ground up in a fantastic animal world and through all the seasons of a year cycle. For this you have to deploy workers and produce resources with them in order to be able to use them later, erect buildings, get to know lively residents and travelers and create a flourishing village from your emerging community through clever political decisions.

I think the game material that has been viewed so far has been designed to be extremely appealing. The playing cards are just as playful as the wooden animal meeples and the game board is not just one-dimensional, but contains a three-dimensional ever-tree, and the rest of the material, such as berries and resin, makes me think “like magical” . I will certainly not pass this game by.

Hard City (Hexy Studio)

Hard City is a cooperative miniature and strategy dungeon crawler board game in which you take on the role of a brave cop from the Hard City Police Department. You and your fellow players have to face a horde of mutants led by the devil Doctor Zero. Doc Zero has only one thing in mind: Today he wants to rule the city, tomorrow that of the whole world. You have to save as many inhabitants as possible together in the course of the game, using your special abilities.

Hard City is very neon-colored, is supposed to be reminiscent of B-action movies from the 1980s and you can drive your Chevrolet to cool synth music. The atmosphere of the 80s already makes my heart beat faster, there is an exciting story and if it is mixed with miniatures and dungeon crawlers, I can no longer be held. I have to experience Hard City.

Seal Team Flix (WizKids)

Seal Team Flix is a cooperative or solo strategy game with dice elements. Your task is to put a stop to terrorists with your Navy Seal force. There are two modes: the campaign and the skirmish. In the campaign you will be sent on eight non-linear missions, during these missions the Seals can individually advance in their rank, provided they survive. In the battle you play one of the 17 missions on your own. Overall, the missions have different tasks, for example one mission task can be to spy on the opposing terrorist organization, in other tasks bombs and other weapons have to be defused or hostages have to be rescued. There are three levels of difficulty to choose from.

The makers of Seal Team Flix were inspired by classic tactical gaming shooters when developing the game and I had to start right away Call of Duty think when I read the game description.

Whether this is one of the sources of inspiration? As a shooter and board game fan, there is no way I can avoid this title.

SPIEL'18 - Trend in a nutshell: worker placement

The so-called worker placement has emerged as one of the most popular genres of board games in recent years. What sounds complicated, aims to playfully place pieces on the board in such a way that effects are triggered that fill the player's victory point account. The high strategic component of worker placement mechanics has made such board games popular with frequent gamers. However, worker placement is not a mechanism that is used exclusively for developing complex board games. Rather, the idea of ​​the clever deployment of workers is understood as a motivating element with a gradual learning experience. 

The more often players - this also explicitly means casual players and beginners - use their workers during the game and understand the resulting results, the more efficient their future moves will be. Numerous new releases at SPIEL'18 take up the tactical element of worker placement and regularly ensure a high level of sustainability through motivating incentives to replay. SPIEL'18 visitors have the opportunity to try out worker placement board games themselves at various stands. 

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