It is always frightening how quickly the trade fair progresses. In addition to appointments that have to be kept, exciting conversations with old and new acquaintances and exploring the exhibition halls, time is running out to do a few laps on the game board or toss a few cards. This year we took our time and even if it was limited, we were able to test some interesting titles. 

Everdell from Starling Games

Even before the start of the fair, I came across during my research everdell and on media day my interest in the worker placement did not change either.

During the novelty show, I was already able to convince myself of the game material and that's exactly what it did. The individual objects, such as the wood or the berries and the resin, are designed to be haptically beautiful and very different. The wooden sticks are made from real wood and the berries are soft to the touch, but the resin is hard to the touch. The general design also appeals to me at first glance. The game board is oval and overall the material has been designed in lively colors with a playful artwork. The Ever-Tree, a three-dimensional tree that houses additional event cards and workers as the game progresses, gives me mixed feelings. Another visual highlight, I could imagine that it suffers from frequent assembly and dismantling. In the course of the game he even bothered me and my teammates a bit, because the mess table was chosen too small, so that four players could only reasonably expand their villages around the tree with the appropriate cards.

SPIEL'18 in Essen: alluded to ...

Game time lasts approximately two hours with 1 to 2 players and three hours with 3 to 4 players. The object of the game is to be the player with the most victory points. To achieve victory, each player starts at the beginning of an annual cycle. In winter, at the beginning of the awakening of spring. In this phase of the game you either place a worker, collect resources with him or play a card. In order to play a card, you have to use the previously collected resources. The cards themselves are mostly provided with victory points and special effects, which should help the player to expand his village. If you become incapacitated in the course of the game because you cannot use cards, workers and resources, a new annual season begins. The player gets his workers back and can win new ones. In the course of the game, there are always opportunities to act strategically against your fellow players.

I feel everdell as a very cute and well-designed worker placement game, which I would rate 6 out of 10 with a difficulty rating. The incentive to replay is high due to the unpredictable course of the game. My positive expectations for this board game were met.

King and Assassins of Galakta

King and Assassins is an asymmetrical and strategic two-player game in which one player takes on the role of the king and his bodyguards and one player takes on the role of citizens and assassins. The playing time is approximately 20 minutes.

In this game, the citizens defend themselves against excessive taxes and the suffering they cause. Their revolt is about overthrowing the king or preventing him from escaping to the safety of his palace. At the beginning of each round, the players draw a round card, which shows how many action points and which special abilities they have. 

Kings and Assassins is a comparatively classic strategic board game for two players. The course of the game is similar to chess, but the principle is expanded to include a card mechanism.

This is followed by a game that is similar to a game of chess. Whereby the citizens and assassins are somewhat superior to the king and his knights from the start. They can climb buildings and have more action points available. Action points are required for a move. But watch out, albeit more slowly, the knights of the king can climb buildings as well. Players who are enthusiastic about chess will find this game to be very popular again and again.

Kids go wild from Russia

A Russian game publisher that focuses on educational games also caught our attention. Kids go wild is a simple children's game that encourages moving, learning and having fun. It was designed by children for children.

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You take on the role of a children's meeple in the game and roll the dice over the colorful and playful designed game board. During a turn you draw action cards that ask the player to do funny things, such as carrying a pan on your head or saying a tongue twister. Since it is becoming more and more a habit worldwide for children to organize their everyday life with little movement, this game contributes to a healthy growth. Adult players take over Kids go wild but rather the role of observer. At least we would have failed mercilessly on some movement tasks.

Vault of Dragons - Prototype of Gale Force Nine

Vault of Dragons is an area control game, based on the license from Dungeons & Dragons, with the option of strategic action, for two to four players. A game lasts about 90 minutes.

It is not yet possible to judge the game material, as it is a prototype and was accordingly processed inferiorly. In spite of this, the playing cards look quite high quality and were attractively designed.

The entry into the game was associated with little ambiguity after the explanation of the rules, even for players without previous knowledge of Dungeons & Dragons. The game is about the fact that you should reach a vault made of gold, which is guarded by a dragon, with your strongest faction in order to fight it and to get to the valuable treasure. On the bumpy road there, the player travels with his faction through Waterdeep.

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A faction consists of assassins, warriors and magicians who are sent on a dangerous journey at different costs and with different class dice. On the way they will fight the other factions again and again. On the journey, the players can collect treasures and skills or magic and treasure cards through skillful moves. The action cards can be used strategically against other players.

As it took a long time to explain the rules, we played a short game where all scenarios were played once. The level of difficulty of the game can be classified as a six out of ten.

Wangdo from Mandoo Games

When Michael Zelenka from Rudy Games enthusiastically told us about Wangdo "a game with a bear", which is nice to play and even nicer designed, we became curious and went to Mandoo Games, an Asian game publisher.

First of all, an artwork awaited us on which the illustrator Jakub Rebelka did a good job. Even the inner box of the lid has been nicely printed. The game material looks high-quality and the meeple panda bears look like carved wooden figures, which also conveys an Asian flair. The game process is kept quite simple, making Wangdo a quick game for the whole family to learn. With two to four players, a round lasts about 30 minutes, making it a wonderful game for in between. 

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Mandoo Games' Wangdo is quick to learn, quick to play and quick to buy. The board game from the South Korean publisher was completely sold out within a few hours at SPIEL'18 in Essen.

In the course of the game, each player takes on the role of a bear clan who wants to take over the throne over northeastern Asia. The clans send out their princes who travel from town to town as possible future kings in the entire empire and erect bear statues, as a gift of gratitude they receive important skills. The winner is the player who was the first to fill his scoring board and thus take control. On the game board, the cities are drawn as circles, which are connected to streets and on each of which there is a skill token. In addition, each player has a scoring board on which four skills are listed, each with two token spaces. If these fields have been filled with tokens during the course of the game, the player has won. Now the players each have to pull bears out of a cloth bag and place them next to their own scoring board.

The action cards are shuffled and the game can begin. In each round each player decides whether he wants to build a stature and thus receive a token, draw three bears from the bag or two bears from a temple area on the edge of the field. Each bear stature must be placed on a city that is connected to another bear on a city. This bear cannot be the same color. When a player receives a token, he places it on his scoring board, and you can never collect more tokens than you need. If this is the case, you put the token aside and draw an action card. These either give the player special skills or he can use them to influence the other players. The game is easy to understand and the rules can be implemented without any problems. A nice family game for in between.