Rifles in the Ardennes

Convention Report – Spiel 2017

What did you miss in Essen this year? A special report for GrogHeads.com ~

Eddy Sterckx and photos by Ann Therie, 4 November 2017

Spiel is a boardgame convention held every year in Essen, Germany. There are 2 things you need to know about it :

  1. It’s big – really big – over a thousand new boardgames got premiered there this year
  2. It’s not a boardgame convention in the US sense of the word : people don’t go there to play games 24/7, they go there to get a demo and buy games – it’s more akin to a very large gamestore with a huge inventory and plenty of staff than anything else.

A tiny subset of the games getting presented there are wargames – or close enough – what follows is an overview of what managed to get my attention.

Phalanx Games

This Polish publisher managed to get the rights for doing the 20th anniversary edition of the famous Hannibal : Rome vs Carthage. It got overwhelming KickStarter support and was supposed to be delivered there, but got a bit delayed – they did have the final production version there though.

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Who was also there was designer Mark Simonitch presenting a prototype of his new Caesar : Rome vs Gaul game. It will have the general gameflow of Hannibal, but with the combat system of Successors .

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Also in the pipeline is UBoot – no doubt inspired by the hit boardgame Captain, Sonar

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Prototype of the upcoming Warhammer 40K game by Devil Pig Games

 

Ares Games

They were there with another expansion for their evergreen Wings of War / Glory game-system : Tripods and Triplanes – which allows you to play a War of the Worlds type of game

Sails of Glory and Wings of Glory

 

Battlefront Games

After last year’s reboot of their Flames of War system they seem to be focusing on the middle part of WWII – releasing the new El Alamein box at Spiel. The revamped Team Yankee and their Tanks system were also present

 

PSC Games 

They started out as a historical miniature making company, but seem to be expanding into the board wargame world, mixing the strengths of the two genres.

The Richard Borg-created The Great War will get 2 new expansions : one called The French Army expansion – no need to clarify that one I suppose – and a Tank Expansion

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The same Richard Borg is also doing a remastering of the classic TSR Battle of Britain game, with a very nice looking prototype on display.

Hold the Line – The French and Indian War and last year’s Victory or Death were also present

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Warlord Games

Were there presenting the almost final prototype of Blood Red Skies : a tactical air combat game. The eternal problem of that sort of game is always how to represent height on a 2D map. I’ve seen many solutions : markers, dice, increasing the height of the standee, .. – but these are all fiddly. What they’ve done here is deciding to go for 3 bands : high, medium, low and using the declination of the plane to indicate in which band it is flying. It looks a bit weird visually, but it kinda works and is zero hassle

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They also had TravelBattle for sale there and their latest stuff for Test of Honour – there is a Samurai hype right now, so why not.

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Joan of Arc

Another game seeking that middle-ground between boardgame and miniature game is the upcoming Joan of Arc.

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2GM Tactics

Hard to come by outside their native Spain, so I was glad to be able to take a look at this WWII card game

 

ADG

Showing their Patton in Flames and 7 Ages games – I guess their booth wasn’t big enough for the World in Flames maps ?

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Castellum

A nice looking blend of a euro + wargame, with the various sieges of the city of Maastricht as its inspiration

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Heroes vs Warlords

Another great example of how the various gaming genres are influencing each other is this upcoming game from Dirk Blech, a hardcore wargamer, in which he tries to blend wargame elements with mechanics more found in traditional eurogames. A sort of best of both worlds approach.

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Nights of Fire – Battle for Budapest

An upcoming Brian Train game, supposed to be a stand-alone sort of sequel to Days of Ire : Budapest

 

UGG 

The largest German wargame publisher / seller is increasing its booth space year after year.

The auction with Udo wearing the Assyrian garment he first wore back in the auction of 2005 – and every year since – I like that sense of tradition in a guy.

 

Wir Sind das Volk 2+2

The expansion for the very popular base game. I would have loved if they had made this a stand-alone expansion, but it is what it is.

 

Tactics & Strategy Magazine

This is a Polish wargame publisher, clearly inspired by S&T who’s releasing magazine games and boxes ones too. Got some nice pictures of their old title Warsaw 1944 which they were playing there

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Leaders

A modern Diplomacy type of game, where the tablet app is an integral part of the game

 

VentoNuovo

They had been at Spiel before, but were a no-show this year – their games were for sale at another booth though

 

Iron Curtain

Twilight Struggle made the Cold War hot again and here’s a rather smart design which allows you to get from Khrushchev to Gorbachev in half an hour

 

The Cousin’s War

Another fine example of how different game genres influence each other – a light wargame from a traditional eurogame publisher

… and a Taiwanese co-op set during the 1945 B-24 bomber Raid on Taihoku

 

Trafalgar Editions

A bit of an unlucky name choice for a publisher who’s second game deals with Waterloo.

 

Fanen and GHS were present as well, selling a nice selection of wargame titles

 

Various Wargames getting played at Essen

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including 13 Days, Airborne Commander, Blockade Runner, Colonial Twilight, D-Day Dice, Democracy under Siege, Fortress Sevastopol, Here I Stand, Time of Crisis


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