It’s my second and final (awwwwww…) installment of the Kazzies! My one of a kind awards given out to the standouts at Essen Spiel 2014. If you missed part one, find it here: The Kazzies! Part One.
Let’s cut to the chase:
“MISS OF THE YEAR” AWARD
Lift it! – Per Gauding, Game Factory
I guess there will never be an Essen without regrets. Last year, I missed out on a couple of really good looking indies coz I was too starstruck by the big boys. This year, I aggressively pursued the smaller publishers, but still missed out on a couple of gems hidden among the big booths! Grrr…. Anyway, I walked pass the Game Factory booth many times this year, and every time I was there, people were having a blast! This game looked so much fun! I debated about buying the game every. single. day. but finally decided not to due to space. Boy, am I still regretting this. I should have just hand carried it into the plane. Why I went against my mantra, I’ll never know. For those that don’t know what my mantra is:
“Better to buy and regret than not to buy and regret” – Kazfucius.
Sigh. On a side note, I think also think this was the best dexterity game at the fair. Salt, meet wound.
Runner up: La Cosa Nostra (Johannes Sich, Hard Boiled Games) – Great demo, fun and quick negotiation game, great theme. Pity the cards were in German! I guess it’s possible to play with them (there are English rules) but being able to read the cards really helps with the immersion. Sadly, they had only 1 copy of English cards for demos and I couldn’t convince them to print me a deck even if I were to buy the game and pay them for it. What a miss!
“WHADAYA MEAN IT’S SOLD OUT?!” AWARD
Ciub – Thomas Lehmann, AMIGO Spiel
Okay, this award is given to games outside of the usual suspects of sold-out-within-minutes (I’m looking at you Japon Brand!). There were also a couple of notable sold outs on the first day: Power Grid Deluxe (200 English copies only), Red 7 (ultra limited copies at the BGG booth, probably picked up by exhibitors) and offerings from Taiwan Board Games (only brought pre-orders.. WTH). However, Ciub selling out was really a surprise (in a bad way). Amigo Spiel is a big publisher with a big booth but I can’t fathom why they would print so few copies of this game…one with a designer of notable pedigree. For those who do not know, Thomas Lehmann is the designer of Race for the Galaxy, a smash hit and classic game that has spawned many expansions. A truly “scratch head” moment from Amigo as they could have sold tons of this – game looked good, response was positive. It might have charted on Fairplay too. Shame.
Right. Done with the negativity. Here’s a couple of happier awards. 🙂
“WHO’S THE MAN? I’M THE MAN” AWARD
Ignacy Trzewiczek, head honco of Portal Games & designer of Imperial Settlers, Robinson Crusoe, Pret-a-porter (so underrated), Stronghold, etc.
This award is for the coolest designer I met / saw at the fair. Even though there were significantly less celebrity designers this year, I still got to meet a couple of them. Most of ’em are usually polite or grumpy / stressed out, but a few were buzzing with energy and positivity! There was no cooler one that Ignacy though (Disclaimer: I am a fanboi), who was not only meeting fans, signing (and drawing!) and talking about games but he also did this:
Now how awesome is this! I think it all started with an earlier blog post: read about it here. Point #3 is the most important coz it definitely changed his approach to the fair. I gotta say, I met Ignacy last year too, and he was totally cold and grumpy. But this year it was all smiles, laughter and fun. A clear winner in my book.
Runner up: Stefan Feld. See post below.
Stefan Feld, playing Deus and getting his butt handed to him.
The laugh out loud moment of the fair – seeing Stefan Feld in a game of Deus and getting beat at it! 😀 I guess he can’t win ’em all eh? But it could have been worse… losing at Aquasphere. Heh. It was really awesome seeing designers just chill, play games and enjoy themselves at the fair. That’s what boardgaming is all about right?
“EVERYBODY, PICTIONARY” AWARD
Uildrim, artist of Hollywood and Viceroy
Besides designers, the artists / illustrators were also out in full force this year. Miguel Coimbra (Small World), Antonis Papantoniou (New Dawn, AtS) and many others were present to sketch and sign stuff. But I gotta give the award to Uildrim, who was present at the Hobby World booth all four days. She not only did the usual sign stuff thing but also finished at least 2 major original new pieces of artwork! Pity I couldn’t get any print-outs coz they were so amazing. A real trooper and champ. Pretty cute also lah. 🙂
“HEY GOOD LOOKIN’, WHATCHA GOT COOKIN’? ” AWARD
Trickerion: Legend of Illusion, Self Published.
Strange that not many have caught on to this: that a well designed and decorated booth that oozes with theme really helps in attracting people to it. At least this year, more publishers took the time to do this, and one of them stood out. Trickerion is an unpublished game, looking to gather feedback for it’s Kickstarter campaign launching year end / early next year. By the looks of it, I’m sure they will be successful! Old school magician posters in frames, drapery, an antique looking closet (and chairs) and the staff all dressed up as illusionist of the era. Wow. The game looks stunning too!
Runner up (booth deco): Bania’s tent. Runner up (costumes): Funforge’s Kimono clad demo girls.
“NOT GONNA KICKSTART ANYMORE, BUT…” AWARD
ZNA – Funforge
I had a long conversation with CK pre-Essen on Kickstarter games these days. You see, I’m kinda like burnt out on them. Badly gauged timelines (aka major delays), overpriced shipping, missing shipment and generally “Meh” games have worn out my desire to continue to back board games. Add to that, most major publisher are using it as a pre-order system, killing the whole reason why Kickstarter exists: to give indie / new / unknown publishers a chance to get their games out there. After a long talk, we concluded that majority of the games we play and love still come from normal channels – and there’s a reason for that: these games had to claw their way past skeptical publishers, get playtested to death and some even had to be torn apart and rebuilt again. In short: Development. I still believe that’s something up and coming companies still need to learn if they ever want to get a foothold in the industry. Ok, so what’s this award about? Well, some of these prototypes are so tempting… and Funforge’s new zombie game is one of them! Minis and design already looking great, I guess it”ll all come down to the gameplay and price.
Runner up: Trickerion – beautiful and looks like a solid Euro. Will it be priced competitively?
A couple of quickies before I wrap it all up:
“NOW THAT’S HOW YOU DEMO!” AWARD
La Cosa Nostra – Johannes Sich, Hard Boiled Games
Publishers, get your act together! I can’t even count how many times bad demos have turned me off games. Every year, it’s the same. Learn from these guys! They engaged me when I was standing around just looking, giving me an overview of the game. On the last day, Nicola and I sat down for a demo and it was so good that I would have bought their game on the spot (if not for the German cards). Nicola did though, and it’s a testament of how a demo should be done!
“OH NO THEY DIDN’T!” AWARD
My Little Pony: Collectible Card Game – Darrell Hardy, Enterplay (seen at AMIGO booth)
Why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why….
“OH HECK. THEY DID?” AWARD
Mars Attacks: The Miniatures Game – Jake Thornton, Mantic Games
What what what whattttttt…. oh yeah.
“TOTALLY IMPRACTICAL BUT COOL BOX” AWARD
Boxes – Benoît Remy, Art of Games
Talk about thinking out of the box. Punny eh? I know it’s super impractical for boardgamers but I can’t help but commend their box design. It looks like a mini container! Why didn’t the designers of Container do this? It would have been great.
“BEST FOOTIE GAME” AWARD
Superfut – Jaanus Mae, Superfut
As usual, there were tons of footie games out there… but this one’s my favorite. Easy to pick up and gives a good feel of a football match. Funny the demo girl kept calling the Argentina team Italy, when Messi’s name was printed right on the piece.. haha. FYI, I have no idea how Age of Soccer got #10 on the BGG rankings.. like I said, it’s whacked. 😛
“NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL A CENTERPIECE” AWARD
The Dropzone Commander booth had a huge replica of one of their ships – apparently it costs 40K! GEEZ. But I really liked Artipia’s alien ship too (pictured below).
“INNOVATION OF THE YEAR” AWARD
Super Sand / Kinetic Sand
Feels like sand but it isn’t. Molds like play dough but it isn’t. The creative child’s dream toy. 🙂
And last but not least *drumroll*
“COLLECTOR’S EDITION OF THE YEAR” AWARD
Verone CE – Michael Eskue, Ferti
Unlike last year, there were very few Collector’s Editions at the fair. Notable ones were Mythotopia CE and Power Grid Deluxe (not really a Collector’s Edition) but those just had some minor pimping going on. Ferti’s remake of Council of Verona was all kinds of awesome. Brand new art and tokens, wooden box and even a poison bottle! I would have snapped it up without a thought, if not for the game’s language dependency (everything was in French). Instead, I shall now cry as I watch it slip into oblivion (by that I mean freakin-expensive-zone). Alright, alright… I know I’ve been ignoring the elephant in the room…
SMALL WORLD DESIGNER EDITION IS SO FREAKIN’ AWESOME.
But it wasn’t for sale, so don’t qualify for this award. 😛
That’s it folks. T’was a great Essen 2014 (you know this by me using T’was) and full of great memories: including gaming till late nights and great company. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have a chance to make it to another Essen but hopefully there will be more Kazzies! to come. A quick shoutout to CK and Wai Yan for being awesome!
So, what’s next for all of you? Craving to play some Kazzies! Award winning games? 😀
Why not join us for 2 mind blowing days of non stop gaming by the sea? It’s going to be insanely cool this year, with surprises galore. A little bird (why do people say this ah?), okay a big bird told me that the winner’s prize is going to be BIG.
Your resident Eurodude,
Kaz a.k.a. onetonmee
Categories: Essen Spiel