Layout of 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon

Essen Spiel 2016 Board Game Preview

Essen Spiel is almost upon us again and this year Alex and I will be attending! For those that don’t know, Essen Spiel is the largest board game expo in Europe and is often used by companies to show off upcoming games (and they may even have a few copies to sell!). So I thought I would kick things off with a look at the board games I am most looking forward to seeing.

7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon


Layout of 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon

7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon is an expansion for my favourite two player game. This expansion builds upon the original game by adding in gods and religion to the game. From what I have seen, the mechanic seems to really fit the theme of the era with having to make offerings to the Gods to win their favour.

It will be interesting to see how this extra mechanic and the addition of Grand Temples will change the game. Since if you manage to build 3 Grand Temples that is a massive 21 victory point.

And now on to the brand new board games! Now there are obviously far too many board games to go through ahead of time, so this is a selection that have caught my eye.

The Fog of War

Fog of War Cover

It appears to be a good year for Stronghold Games and their Great Designers Series. The Fog of War seems like a strategy game of incomplete information where you are trying to work out where the opponent is striking. I have a love for this type of game which feels a bit like Twilight Struggle. These games require you to think ahead as well as adapt to changing situations.

The Fog of War is a two player game set covering the World War 2 arena. One will play the side of the Axis whilst the other plays the Allies. The game does not have units that move around a map or a dice based combat system. Instead the game focuses on the planning and intelligence aspects of the war. Each player has a deck of cards that represent the army, navy, and other assets of their nations.

Just like you would have to in real life, you have to commit to Operations ahead of time using the Operations Wheel. This means by the time an Operation could be ready, it may no longer achieve what you are hoping for it to.

This is especially true if an opponent has used intel to work out what your operation is and prepared a suitable defence. Of course, it could all just be a ruse on either side to draw the enemy out of position. These games of bluffing and mind games are sure to appeal to tacticians out there.


Adrenaline Board Game Cover

Adrenaline is described as a first-person shooter board game. So naturally assumed it would be right up Alex’s street. However digging a little deeper it appears to be more of a Euro game. Adrenaline has resource management and area control at its heart.

Where this game differs from a lot of miniatures games is that there are no dice involved! Weapons always hit and do certain damage according to their card (which means I may actually stand a chance against my brother!). The resource management comes in that you have to pay to reload your guns.

Furthermore the best thing is that no kill stealing in this game. Instead when you do damage to a player, you put your damage counters on that player’s card. This is the area control part of the game, however has a slight twist in that the area you are trying to control is running around and is well armed!

Rising 5: Runes Of Asteros

Rising 5 Box Cover

Rising 5: Runes of Asteros is a game currently up on Kickstarter however is going to have a prototype copy at Essen Spiel. It is a co-operative deduction and adventure game where players must unlock the code to reset the Gate.

Part of a wave of games that are making use of a companion app with the game. There is still a manual mode in the game, however it does require someone to sit out and be the game master. I am still not sold on the use of apps with board games, it seems to slightly defeat the point. However there are potentially a lot of benefits to using an app, such as being able to have more scenarios than you would have been able to in paper. Or even being able to update anything that later turns out to work as intended.


Inis Board Game Cover Art

The final game I am going to look at is Inis. In Inis, players are trying to rise to become King of the Island. This is achieved by either having control over other clans, land or religion.

As you may have guessed from the mention of 7 Wonders Duel earlier, I am a fan of card drafting. Inis uses card drafting at the beginning of every round for the action cards to be used. This gives the potential to lock an opponent out of a particular strategy, especially if working with others around the table.

What games are you looking forward to?

Obviously this is just a small selection of the great number of games on display and coming out. It is great to see a selection of new style of games coming as well. I am hoping to provide commentary from the event however you can certainly look out for my round up article following Essen.

What games are you all looking forward to? Any suggestions for games at Essen that we should check out? Or do you have any tips for someone attending the show? We would love to hear your input.

Jamie Grinstead on Email
Jamie Grinstead
Director at Athena Games
One of the owners of Athena Games and is often seen running the store. Plays a variety of games including card games, board games and miniature games. Jamie has over twenty years of gaming experience with various games.

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