The biggest convention of the year is coming up fast! Essen Spiel 2017 takes place on Thursday 26th October – Sunday 29th October and is looking at having over 900 new releases!

With so many new games on the horizon, we’re highlighting ten games that have caught our eye and why you need to give them a look!

10 – The Palace of Mad King Ludwig


Kicking off our list with The Palace of Mad King Ludwig from Bezier Games. This is seemingly the next game in the trilogy, following on from Suburbia and Castles of Mad King Ludwig from designer Ted Alspach.

Both its predecessors are highly regarded by myself and the board game community with Suburbia in particular being one of my all-time favourites.

The game seems to be closer to Castles of Mad King Ludwig, however its differences have me intrigued. With no auction, a clever endgame timer that graphically builds pressure for players as a moat slowly closes in around the palace.

There’s also a twist on resource management with multi-colored swan tokens being used as currency, points, and the keys to new abilities.

All in all an interesting game that I’m looking forward to giving a try!


9 – Clans of Caledonia


Clans of Caledonia is up next on our preview and this one is for the Euro gamers! The game was funded on Kickstarter back in May of this year and raised a sizeable €391k in the campaign.

The game is set in 19th century Scotland and sees players represent clans with unique abilities and compete to produce, trade and export agricultural goods and whisky! This is done through area control on a very smart looking modular board.

I’m very interested to see how this plays and whether it will compete with the other Euro games in my collection!


8 – Wulong


Heavy, engine-building Euro games that are released at Essen Spiel get a lot of coverage and love from the board game community. However, they’re not the only thing available. Nor are they the only thing I’m interested in. Light dice games are a pinnacle of my board game collection.

Be it for filler games, games to play with non-gamers or competitive luck games that my dad just can’t get enough of! That’s why Wulong is a game I’ll be looking into!

Wulong is a gambling-style dice and wagering game. One player rolls the dice, while the others place a bet on the throw. Players bluff and gauge the others to win or lose. Simple!

The goal of the game is to roll a Wulong (five dragons in one go) or to achieve the biggest fortune at the end of the game.

This is one I’ll certainly be buying to bolster the filler game collection!


7 – Gaia Project


A game that is being pushed as the new game in the Terra Mystica line must be one to take a look at right? Gaia Project is being touted as a streamlined Terra Mystica with a space theme.

I have never played Terra Mystica, but have been tempted to take a punt on it on multiple occasions. Yet I’ve never pulled the trigger. Others have recommended I give it a go, drawing comparisons to my favourite game of all-time Scythe.

The stars have never aligned and Terra Mystica sits in the abyss of not played and probably never will be played. But perhaps the stars are beginning to align..

The hype and hysteria that surrounds this title has gathered me in. This is the opportunity to jump in for me and I plan on doing so with both feet. Definitely worth the look.

Pre-order Gaia Project

6 – Coaster Park


If you’re looking for a game that will grab attention when set up on the table then look no further than Coaster Park. Games which link to PC games from my childhood always persuade me to have a look at them.

Games like Suburbia and Quadropolis remind me of Sim City, while Bärenpark and Zooloretto do the same with Zoo Tycoon. This one looks like it’s going to hit the Roller Coaster Tycoon itch.

Not only does this strategy game encourage players to build the best roller coaster through outbidding and outsmarting one another. You need to ensure that it can physically be possible to pull off.

You’re not bidding for cards or tiles in this game, you’re bidding for actual 3D track pieces that you join together! Then use a marble to ensure that the cart in your coaster can make it all the way along! Genius!!

Hoping this one is as good as it sounds!!

Pre-order Coaster Park

5 – Alien Artifacts


Now this one has some buzz around it. At the time of my writing of this preview, pre-orders for Alien Artifacts have been arriving around the globe and people are excited!

The game was at the UK Games Expo earlier this year in demo form. However the booth was so busy every time we visited we were unable to give it a go! That says a lot!

In this 4x (expand, explore, exterminate, and exploit) style card game, players are building a corporation to send out into the unexplored areas of space and attempt to create dominance over the other players.

I’m unaware of another 4x style game which classes itself as a card game but the idea has me very interested. I’m a fan of the card drafting mechanic as a whole and combining this with this style of game could be a match made in heaven!

Portal Games are the publisher behind my favourite card based game at the moment, Imperial Settlers, so I have high hopes in that regard. Most 4x games can take a few hours to play through.. Some take a lot of hours!

This game boasts to ‘provide a true 4x experience in under an hour’ which (if it’s true) would be immense and certainly a game that will one day sit proudly in my collection.

Pre-order Alien Artifacts

4 – Unlock! Mystery Adventures


Whenever a new Unlock is announced or released I will always be one of the first in line to pick it up! These ‘escape the room’ style games have been blowing up in popularity over the past year and, for me, Unlock is the pick of the lot.

The three new scenarios are set in an ocean, haunted house and pirate theme respectively. That’s all I really want to find out about these! No spoilers please!

I was considering cheating by putting all the escape room style games in the list as there will be new Exit and Escape the Room scenarios available too. However, the use of the app in Unlock is what clinches it for me and one I’m hoping will be coming back from Germany.

Pre-order Unlock! Mystery Adventures

3 – Tokyo Highway


Finding a game that gets me excited to play it by simply looking at it’s components has become few and far between these days. Although, Tokyo Highway has done just that.

In Tokyo Highway, players compete to place all of their cars on the road. To do that they will first have to build the roadways using columns of varying heights, then connect those columns with sticks that serve as roadways. Once players have a highway, they can possibly place one of their ten cars on it.

The game looks like an abstract strategy game with the components from River Dragons (a fab programming game). Images of the games people online have played look lovely and this is a must buy for me!


2 – Altiplano


Perhaps this is the year of the follow up? Altiplano is the next pool-building game from Reiner Stockhausen, the same designer of another all-time favourite of mine Orleans.

The prospect of another game with this mechanism has my attention wholeheartedly. Orleans is such a fantastic game that if you asked me to play it now, I’d drop everything and do so.

From what I can gather, the game seems to have a bit more depth than Orleans and a greater potential for replay-ability as there is randomness in the setup as well as different roles.

Certainly one I’m more than willing to take a punt on!

Pre-order Altiplano

1 – Charterstone


Lastly, to the game that has had me excited since reading about it in the Stonemaier Games newsletter way back when, Charterstone: A village-building legacy game.

In Charterstone, a competitive legacy game, players construct buildings and populate a shared village. Building stickers are permanently added to the game board and become action spaces for any player to use. Thus, players start off with simple choices and few workers, but soon players have a bustling village with dozens of possible actions.

Need I say more?

The game sees a lot of gaming goodness (in my eyes at least) come together in one tidy package. Village/city building is most probably my favourite theme behind a game. The designer and publisher (Jamey Stegmaier and Stonemaier Games) are the masterminds behind my favourite game of all-time, Scythe. The legacy experience is a joy to behold, with Pandemic: Legacy being one of the most memorable gaming experiences of my life.

Also, the game isn’t unplayable once complete. In fact, it’s being said that it will create a unique worker placement game with an individual experience.

As well as all that, the publishers are releasing what they’re calling a recharge pack, which will allow players to play through the legacy version of the game again.

The game seems to be well thought out, beautiful looking, and exciting to experience. I have a lot of trust in Stonemaier Games to deliver this in Charterstone. This is a money no object purchase in my eyes!

Pre-order Charterstone

Honourable Mentions

With so many games released, it was inevitable that some great titles were going to be missed. Here’s a list of others you may want to check out!

  • Untold: Adventures Await (Backed on Kickstarter – Story-telling game that uses Rory’s Story Cubes)
  • Catacombs & Castles (Backed on Kickstarter – Dexterity based dungeon crawl game)
  • When I Dream (Pre-ordered from FLGS – Unique party game with a blindfold!)
  • Karuba: The Card Game (Card game based on Spiel des Jahres nominee Karuba)
  • Nusfjord (Latest worker placement game from Uwe Rosenberg)
  • Manhattan (Re-print of the classic Spiel des Jahres winner)

That’s what we’re looking forward to! What about you? Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments or hit us up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! See you at Essen Spiel!