Armageddon game in progress

Essen Spiel – Day 2 Highlights

Essen is the type of place where you can bump in to all sorts of people… From people from Norwich such as Elliot Symonds and Caroline Butler to game designers such as Stefan Feld and Jay Cormier (And yes I know Elliot fits in both categories!). The later of which we had a chance to speak to whilst waiting in line for a hotdog! We spoke about some of his recent releases  such as Rock, Paper and Wizard and Junk Art as well as some of his upcoming titles. It is good to hear designers talking about virtual reality and app games supporting board games rather than overpowering them.


There are more than just board games here at Essen, they are a number of roleplaying games as well. Faith really caught our eye as a game we want to bring to the store. It is a Sci-Fi based game and one of the nice aspects of it is that everything has a stat card. So everything from minions to equipment has a card listing its details and its skills. The mechanics work differently as well, since this is actually a dice-less roleplaying system.

Cards Vs Dice?

So how do you do things in the game without dice? The game uses like a poker deck of cards and after each rest you draw a number of cards for your race. You can think of these cards a bit like your stamina for the day. If you want to put a lot of effort into something then play a high number, however you will have to wait to get these cards back. If the task is easy and doesn’t require much effort then play a low card and save your strength. It is like rolling all of your d20s for a game session then decided what order you want to use them.

The starter set has everything a group will need to get started as well as some help for the GM. One of the things it gives to GMs is ability to track what important plot points players may have come across. Such as, if they picked up the Comm Unit earlier on in the adventure then they may be able to do something later on.

The game was great to try out and very easy to pick up the mechanics of it. We are bringing a starter set back to the store and look forward to getting your opinion on the game as well!


Armageddon is part of a host of post-apocalyptic games themed games that have been popping up. The aim of the game is simple, you are trying to built up your town whilst trying to protect it from bandits. The game turns play over a couple of phases.

Armageddon game in progress

First, each player bids for various resources such as buildings or more meeples. The higher the bid the more likely you are to get first choice, which is important as some things have bad effects as well. The second part of the game is worker placement, so deciding on where your people are best placed to fend off the bandits or to best benefit the town.

This is a fairly solid game and if you are keen on your worker placement games and like the theme then I certainly suggest picking one up. Another game that we will be aiming to get in store on release.

Chariot Race

A new game by Matt Leacock so we had to give it a try. In the game, you each control a Chariot as you hurtle around an arena track. It has an easy to follow dice rolling mechanic where each face will allow you to increase/decrease your speed, gain a Fortuna point or potentially damage a fellow charioteer.

Speed was an important aspect to the game as if you took a corner too fast then you could potentially take a lot of damage. Also the faster you went, the less dice that you got to roll to represent your lack of control over the chariot.

Matt Leacock's Chariot Race

The mechanics really felt like they fit the theme of the game with luck being used to either heal damage or to change dice results. The game was easy to play and we mastered the rules very quickly, the one downside to the game was the components. We both felt that the cardboard chariots were slightly lacking. However as an entry point game which the whole family could easily play then the game is fun and fast paced and will have you trying to weave in and out of obstacles.

Ultra Pro Eclipse Sleeves

Ultra Pro are at Essen as well showing off what they think are the future of card sleeves. We were lucky enough to get a pack to take away with us so. Of course, we immediately put them through their paces.

The first unique thing about the sleeves is that they are black backed. So no more issue of if you can see that flip card or the card back through the sleeve. I know several companies are working on Perfect Fits to do the same thing. However it is good to see it all in one sleeve.

The next important test was the shuffle, they felt very much like KMC Hyper Mattes when shuffling. Ultra Pro sleeves were never a bad shuffle, where they normally fell down was the strength of the sleeve seal. We tried to break these using a variety of methods and the sleeve took it all.

These sleeves seem very promising and best of all come in packs of 80! A lot now depends on the price to see if they get used, if they can come in below £6.50 mark then I can see them doing quite well.

Round Up

Nothing busy day of gaming, this is obviously just some of the highlights of the day. There are far too many games to list them all here. This will be our last post until after we are back in the UK. Look out for more articles next week as we start to explore more fully some of the games which we are bringing back with us.

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.

Leave a Comment