by Mike Clifford

Thoughts post Essen? As follows, lieblings:

Livvo had a sun tan, but no new game... Moonie had two new games, but his pallor suggested early signs of GDS (game design syndrome)... The 'Beyond The Call Of Duty' award went to Mike Gray (Milton Bradley) who played every game available, and was normally surrounded by legions of desperate inventors.... Gibson's Roger Heyworth maintained a high profile and was making positive noises about product for next year... And games? These were deemed worthy of your attention:

ELFENROADS and SANTA FE (White Wind). Designer Alan Moon had a Mad magazine-type grin on his face for the entire show, which indicated that business was brisk. His surreal expression was justified, and at a more sensible price than Fishy and Elfengold, both these games should be on your compulsory list. I played Santa Fe at Essen last year, and managed a session of Elfenroads recently. Whilst I was unsure that the world needed another railway game, I can see Santa Fe's merit. Elfenroads is a brilliant design. Hurry forthwith to Just Games, even if you normally go frigid at the mention of trolls and orcs.

BANANA REPUBLIC. A simple 'papers, scissors, stone' style card game from Sid & Doris Bonkers, using South American dictators as its theme. Eminently replayable, and probably the 'game' of the show along with Elfenroads.

MODERN ART (Hans Im Gluck). This attracted almost unanimous praise, but I found it a little testing (and expensive). Both Moonie and Eamon Bloomfield declared it the best newcomer, but it appears that even if you play badly, you can remain competitive. To be tried again.

INSIDER (Piatnik). This excellent game is from Jewelenzauber designer Gerhard Kodys, and subsequently sold out when the positive word spread.

PALERMO (Piatnik). A two-stage abstract game which drew mixed comments. Eamon Bloomfield observed that any player comfortably ahead after the threequarter mark would almost certainly win, but as this never applies to me, I have no such reservations.

UM REIFENBREITE (Jumbo). Homas Tour, to you folks! This year's big prize winner given the family treatment by our favourite Dutch company. Incidentally, designer Rob Bontenbal bought two copies of Lionel's The Tour!

WALDESFRUST (Fantasy Forest). From the company who bought you Hacker, one of my choices from last year, but which apparently got a hammering at the hands of the German press. Waldesfrust is a game of ecology, with developers vying for land with the Greens. Paul Jefferies, the Barry Bucknall of gaming, rated it a '7'. Beautifully produced, and worth the probable heavy UK price. It was DM90 at the show! Both Hacker and Waldesfrust are now available at Just Games.

Both RAZZIA (Ravensburger) and QUO VADIS (Hans Im Gluck) have been available for a few weeks, but they were promoted heavily at the show and I would remind you of their equal merit.

mike clifford

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