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Boardgames in Blighty Essen 2016 News – You’ve heard of Terraforming Mars, but who are @FryxGames?


Boardgames in Blighty Essen 2016 News – You’ve heard of Terraforming Mars, but who are Fryx Games?

Shameless plug here – if you’ve been following Boardgames in Blighty for a while you may have noticed that I have reviewed previous fun games published by the Fryxelius Brothers.

I had the chance to meet these awesome guys a number of Essen’s ago and I loved their enthusiasm and as it happens, they’ve published a few really nice games, prior to Terraforming Mars, which was picked up by Stronghold Games, became a hit at GenCon and it remains top of the BGG hotness list as we enter Essen 2016 week. Sadly, I can’t attend but I hope to play Terraforming Mars at some point.

So if you are going to Essen this week, check out the Fryx Games stand and Terraforming Mars and tell Enoch Fryxselius and his brothers that I sent you to say hi. They deserve your accolades. Also, check out their previous games. Here are links to my previous reviews…

Fleets cover

Fleets: The Pleaid Conflict


Brawling Barons


Space Station



Boardgames in Blighty – EssenSpiele 2016 – These games caught my attention…


EssenSpiele 2016 – These games caught my attention…

ESSEN!!! Yep it’s the best games faire in the world and its time again to take a look.

This year sees another huge leap in the growth in this DADDY of all board game faires with 1074 publishers. This is crazy in a wonderful sort of way of course. 🙂

Sadly, I can’t go to Essen this year for health reasons but I’ve had a look at the BGG Preview list and here is my list so far of games that I find interesting. To be honest, I just can’t get overly excited about what’s on offer this year. I’ve probably grown too fussy, but there is a lot of the “same old” stuff and a lot of derivative stuff. Not a lot that I would consider fresh and really interesting.

Unfortunately there are Legendary Deck-building games for Firefly and Big Trouble in Little China but I’m not a fan of deck-building games as they tend to be about the mechanics, and don’t drive the theme. Shame really.

Anyhoo, there are a few gems which really suit my interests as follows…


Hannibal: Carthage vs. Rome

Publishers – Phalanxx

Booth 2-C110

20th anniversary version – Its always intrigued me and I’ve never got around to it. This looks like the version to have. 



Publishers – L4 Studios, Mr. B. Games

Booth 7-F120, in space shared with co-publisher Cloud Island

A huge fantasy war game which looks pretty impressive.


Days of Ire: Budapest 1956

Publishers – Mr. B Games and Cloud Island

Booth 7-F120, in space shared with co-publisher Cloud Island

I saw the Kickstarter on this one and it does look brilliant. Probably my number 1 choice if I was going.



Publishers – Triton Noir

Available for demo games at SPIEL 2016 ahead of the game’s release in 2017

A cooperative commando operations game? Take my money please! My 2nd choice if I was going…

Attention EssenSpiel Shoppers! Here is the Boardgames in Blighty “Check it out” list to save you time and money!

Attention EssenSpiel Shoppers! Here is the Boardgames in Blighty “Check it out list” to help save you time and money!

742 listings on the Boardgamegeek Essen 2015 list means it will be difficult to choose won’t it? With Kickstarter, our hobby has exploded and although that’s a good thing, it also creates a huge problem in terms of sifting through to find where to spend our money. Well here is my list of those chosen few which truly have attracted my attention because they stand out as being original and interesting rather than the same old rehash of tired old themes and mechanics.

My criteria:

  • needs to be refreshing to me. Probably pretty different then what I’ve played before including mechanically so probably not worker placement, pick up and deliver, spreadsheet-like (ugh) or just pushing cubes with the theme pasted on
  • more likely to be somewhat Ameritrashy or Wargamey as that’s where my interests mostly lie so forget about farming, mining, stock trading, politics, trading in the Mediterranean (or anywhere for that matter), civ-building (yawn) but also unlikely to be a dungeon basher or a tactical combat thing either
  • needs to be a refreshing theme so unlikely to be fantasy, horror, cthulhu, sci-fi, pirates, spies, etc. and probably not a big box game with lotsa Minis
  • I lean towards small publishers as they take more risks

Yeah I’m biased but that’s the spice of life! Feel free to take it or leave it. But I know what I would consider buying…

Hope this helps, even if it steers you away from these to what you do like! Just have fun at Essen without me will ya!

Sad Panda…



Lembitu is a co-operative board game inspired by the events of the Livonian Crusade in Estonia. Definitely worth a look because its a refreshing take on a Euro wargame and an unusual theme.

Price €25

2D6.EE Booth 7-E106




In a distant future, scientists were able to build small alternate Earths. Exactly 504 such Earths have thus far been built. The scientists programmed each of these Worlds with an individual set of laws and rules which the residents strictly follow and consider most important for their lives. These may be exploration, consumption, economics, military, etc., and each is unique. You can visit all of these 504 alternate Earths to experience how the people are living, and decide which of these worlds harbors the best civilization. On which World do you want to live? Explore them all and decide!

This looks really cool, very different and heck, you have 504 game options!

The English-language edition of 504 can be found at the Stronghold Games booth (3-M107)

Price €65 for sales at Spiel 2015




In Aya, you have to cooperate to connect as many landscape tiles and animal photo tokens as possible to arrange a chain of dominoes placed upright one after another. At the end of the game, they will fall onto each other, each one toppling the next – in a cascade effect – to reveal the ultimate number of landscapes and animals and bring back the greatest photos. Working as a team, the players try to score as many points as possible.

This could the one I’m most excited about. Sounds like cooperative and social fun!

Booth 3-P104, which is the location of Blackrock Games

Price – €27




Clacks: A Discworld Board Game is based on the “Clacks” semaphore messaging system — the fastest (non-magical) messaging system on the Discworld — featured in Sir Terry Pratchett’s novel Going Postal.

Play against your friends and claim the title of Fastest Clacks Operator on the line, or play together as a team to win the race across the Discworld and prove that Clacks is here to stay. In more detail, Clacks: A Discworld Board Game contains rules for a player vs. player game, a co-operative race game against the Post Office, and a children’s introductory game.

Clever game and a must for Discworld fans!

Backspindle Games – Booth 1-F148

Price €40



Race to Berlin

Race to Berlin game portrays the last months of World War II in Europe. In the West, after the landing in Normandy and forcing German troops to withdraw from France, the armies of the Western Allies stand over the borders of the Reich, being ready to get across Rhine. In the East, mighty Red Army preparing itself to final offensive, which goal is the capital of Nazi Germany, Berlin. Both Allies are set for the race to ultimate victory.

Looks a bit different from the usual wargame fare.

Gry Leonardo Booth 1-G137

Price €25



Raid & Trade

Raid & Trade is a post apocalyptic game of negotiation and resource management for 3-5 players. From the ashes of a devastating third World War, a precious few golden cities emerge offering hope to those who struggle for survival in the wastelands. Players explore the ruins of the modern world completing quests, honing their skills and maneuvering for social status in order to claim a precious spot as a citizen with a Golden City.

This one appeals to me and looks like fun. Its got a few minis and that is fine.

Mage Company Booth 3-P103

Discounted to €45




Planned for release in Q4 2015 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the cult TV show, the co-operative game Thunderbirds will feature the iconic Thunderbirds machines and a high octane world full of disasters for players to come to the rescue.

Set in the year 2065, Thunderbirds follows the exploits of International Rescue: a secret organization committed to saving human life, secretly founded and funded by the millionaire Tracy family, with the motto: ‘Never give in, at any cost!’. International Rescue has a host of technologically advanced land-, sea-, air-, and space-rescue vehicles and equipment ready to launch at a moment’s notice.

A criminal mastermind known as “the Hood”, operating from a temple deep in the Malaysian jungle and in possession of strange powers, often engineers events to allow him to spy on the Thunderbird machines with the goal of selling their secrets to the highest bidder.

Players will work together using Thunderbirds characters and vehicles to complete rescue missions and save the day. For instance, to help complete the ‘Attack of the Alligators’ mission card, players will try to assemble Thunderbird 4 and Virgil in North America. All the time, being mindful of the influence of The Hood.

It’s pricey but how could I not want Thunderbirds designed by Matt Leacock? I mean really!

Modiphius Entertainment Booth 2-A126

Price €63



Stronghold 2nd Edition

Stronghold is a two-player game telling the story of a siege. Players take opposing sides: one has to defend the stronghold, and the other has to break into the castle as soon as possible. The game board represents the stronghold itself as well as the surrounding terrain, where enemy forces are placed and whence they proceed to the walls.

The defender has a small number of soldiers manning the walls, while the invader has an infinite legion of attacking creatures. A desperate fight takes place every single turn. The invaders build war machines, equip their soldiers, train them, and use black magic rituals to achieve victory. Meanwhile, defenders repair walls, build cannons, train soldiers, and do everything they can to hold the castle as long as possible.

If the invader manages to break into the castle before the end of seven rounds, they win; otherwise the defender wins.

I was intrigued by the 1st edition of Stronghold but never got around to playing it. This edition sounds better and shorter in gameplay so I am very interested.

Portal Games – Booth 3-N113

• Price €60



The Last Spike

In The Last Spike, players must cooperate to build a continuous railway from St. Louis to Sacramento. Different routes are possible and some towns never get a railway link. Each player competes to accumulate the most money from land speculation before the “last spike” is laid.

I’m a fan of Columbia Games so this one is on my list. It sounds family friendly which is a key factor for me in these kind of games.

Booth 2-D150, which is the location of UGG, which will be selling the title listed below, along with older releases, for Columbia Games.

Price €35



Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot

Take to the high seas as the captain of your very own pirate ship. Seek out valuable merchant ships and raid them for their goods! Hire new crew, upgrade your ship, and give your treasure to the Pirate King for fame and glory!

I don’t have a pirate game and this is one that seems to put the fun into being a Pirate! Arrrgh!

So Portal Games’ Ignacy Trzewiczek scores again!

Portal Games – Booth 3-N113

• Price €50


Ok so out of all those games at Essen, these are the one’s I would be seriously interested in. Good luck to you all in finding games for you amongst the veritable treasure trove that is Essen!

Blightygamer at Essen Spiele 2014


Essen Spiele 2014

I attended Essen Spiele for a few days to promote and sell Luchador! at the Backspindle Games stand. Make no mistake, it was hard work and not as much fun as previous visits when I attended with friends and as a member of the gaming media.

Manning a stand is all about endurance. With a bad back, its not easy and the worry of losing my voice after doing so many demos was with me. Last year it took me 3 weeks to recover my voice…






It was a very intense few days as the crowds were massive as usual. It was lovely to meet to many awesome gamers and in particular gamers who were excited about my game. Very gratifying and humbling.

I did get a few chances to look around the 4 halls at Essen and they are huge. Apparently there were around 600 games and expansions on display which is ridiculous as it sounds. I am all for new games but that kind of number makes it impossible to do the fair justice. You just can’t get around to see everything. You need a plan and a pretty narrow list of games to check out.

My list was very small as for me, there just wasn’t all that much to be bothered about. I think I’ve gotten over the new shiny hotness thing as I feel like Id rather look at a few games that suit my interests and game style. As luck would have it a couple publishers had games for me (Mage Company gave me 12 Realms and Hoyuk and Fryx Games gave me a copy of the Space themed Fleets: the Pleiad Conflict) and as I had a small suitcase, I had room for little else. I managed to pick up Choson and Heroes of the Three Kingdoms from Korea Games and Coup: Guatemala 1958 from LaMame Games which are all small card games. At some point I want to get Yardmaster from Crash games actually as it looks fun.


Looking through the BGG listings, I just didn’t see much else of interest I have to say. I’m not a Euro game fan so that ruled out a lot of games anyway and even the historical games and American style games weren’t much to get excited about. I think that the truth is there are few really interesting new games. An awful lot of retreads of tired themes, as seems to happen on Kickstarter. So to be honest, the vast majority of new games are boring at first pass. And I know a lot of gamers that feel the same. And of course there are simply crap games being released and bottom of the list this year has to be Drinkopoly and Lap Dance. Please, if another gamer justifies Lap Dance as not being sexist by saying it has male dancers… who are you trying to convince? Really? The audience for Lap Dance is men who see women as sex objects, end of story.

I mean how many zombies and vampires and Cthulhu games do we need really? Fantasy as  genre is really tired. 12 Realms looks a bit different and fun and you can play solo so I am interested to play. Space as a genre is tired as well. Having said that, Fleets looks a bit different too.

It was really great to meet up with friends in the hobby and industry from around the world and the guys from Backspindle Games are a blast to work with.

So overall, a fun experience although not a stellar year at all for new themes or solid games I fear. Particularly in Euros which are just retreads of the same old tiresome mechanics for the most part with a thin coat of new paint of a slightly different colour. I reckon the vast majority will disappear from our radar pretty quickly. Thankfully, Luchador! 2nd Edition seems to have hit a sweet spot for is dynamic and original theme so fingers crossed!

Here are some photos for you to enjoy, or not…

Yes Saturday was this crowded.Essen65


Essen Mars


Colt Express was one of the few innovative and unusual games
A game about the Goth invasions looks sort of cool…
The Witcher
Battle of Five Armies



The BGG Crew
Friedemann Friese
Awesome Patrick Nickell from Crash Games
Tom Vasel





Ignacy, the Immortal Portal



Martin Wallace


Ragnar Bros
Ragnar Bros


News – Yay! Games will have Frankenstein’s Bodies ready for Essen


News – Yay! Games will have Frankenstein’s Bodies ready for Essen 

Well, the good news is that after funding we’ve carried on developing and the first games arrive next week and we launch at Essen on 16th October!

We’re delighted that we kept the game totally UK based (Cartamundi UK manufactured it).

 Frankenstein’s Bodies is a board based card game for 2-6 players and lasts about an hour.The object is to create two of the finest bodies you can from the cards available.

Each player has two lab benches to work on. You can place body cards of two genders and four serum colours to make the best matched body and score the most points. 

Surgery cards remove parts from other players – but there is the risk of infection. Infected parts score nothing- until they are cleaned by carbolic spray.

If you bring in a Master Surgeon you can use his expertise to prevent infections and stop other stealing parts. But they too can be relocated to an opponent’s lab.

Maybe you should raid the disposal pit to grab a discarded part?

 It’s a fast paced, highly interactive game where body parts are shredded and reassembled quickly.

Frankenstein's Bodies, card board game, horror, boardgamegeek
 For more information go to – http://www.frankensteinsbodies.com/


Back from Essen 2012. My Day 2 pictorial…

Day 2 was another good one at the Essen games fair, although I did need to leave for my return flight.

The guys from Greater Than Games promoting their huge hit, Sentinels of the Multiverse. They have more games coming apparently…
I really enjoyed playing Wilderness from Fryx Games of Sweden. 5 brothers were there showing off their more mass production version, compared to their hand-made version which was on show last year. A very nice race and survival game with a nice mix of events, risk and reward, player interaction and looming threats to survival. A review will be coming right here.
Outside of Victory Point Games, there were few other war games there. Euro game designers attempting to do Euro war games, don’t seem to understand that yet another strategic game about rather distant times, with the Mediterranean in the middle of the map have been done to death, New ideas are needed guys.


Woohoo! My favourite racing game, Rallyman!
Metro 2033, a post-apocalyptic game set in the Moscow Metro. Interesting theme, but reports seem to indicate its a rather tedious affair…
There were a few miniatures games set up but hardly any


Angry Birds, the table top game.
AEG’s Smash Up. Can’t wait to play and it review it here!


Even the age old classic GO, was at the fair.
The very popular Euro Game Village was in evidence. Not my type of game really.
A Dungeons & Dragons diorama


By the end of the day, I had a pretty good collection of games to take away, and stay within my luggage weight limit. A pretty eclectic mix of mostly Indie games which I shall play and review right here at Boardgames in Blighty.




Back from Essen 2012. My Day 1 pictorial…

My friends and I have the attitude that Essen is a great opportunity to pick up Indie games and unusual games that might be hard to get for a while back in Blighty. There is also the challenge of 1 suitcase and 20 kilos max weight or get surcharged by Easyjet

Essen 2012 was brilliant. My 5th Essen, it was certainly the largest and I think I covered a fair amount of mileage as I tried to squeeze in as much as possible Thursday and Friday. It was a great opportunity to make new contacts and friends, and meet virtual friends in the flesh and that’s what I enjoy most. I had a great time and would recommend a trip to Essen to any gamer for sure.

Some observations –

1) The amount of Indie game companies was astonishing. I think this bodes well for our great hobby.

2) It seemed to me that most of the creativity was coming from the Indies as opposed to the established heavyweights. Can’t measure this but it just seemed that way.

3) Germans make the BEST pastries!

4) Small games may be the new BIG (there were were quite a few)

ok, 5) I was thrilled by the reception of my Wrestling Dice  game that I’ve designed and am hopeful that I’ve found an interested publisher or 2.

Now how many games could I pack and not go over my weight limit?

We started out early on Thursday for a 6:30 flight from London, Gatwick airport to Dusseldorf. Tired, but pretty excited, that’s for sure.

Geeks ready to board for the world’s biggest and best games fair 🙂
First day of Essen 2012. The mass of gamers is growing in the countdown to the opening!
One of my earliest stops was to welcome Victory Point Games to Essen. One of my favourite game companies, I chatted with co-founder, Vince about the latest upgrades to VPG components and art as well as boxes for their games. Exciting times ahead. Prediction – Darkest Night will become of their top sellers! Watch this space for a revie of Darkest Night and VPG games I received before going to Essen 😉
Steve Jackson’s OGRE, much trumpeted as a massive Kickstarter success story. You know what? It looks no where near worth the money it earned. Yes, it is much better than the original which was painfully cheap and cheerful but it still looks cheap and cheerful by today’s standards. This blogger’s opinion is that this was a case of crazy Kickstarter hype over common sense.
I’m not knocking Steve Jackson games nor anyone’s choice to back this project. More power to all of your collective elbows. Enjoy! Now maybe I saw a prototype, but even having seen that in the flesh, I’m not impressed at all.
Tony at Surprised Stare Games was doing a roaring trade in his new game, Snowdonia.

Eric from Flatlined games was a great guy. I picked up copies of Rumble in the House and his latest, Rumble in the Dungeon. I also got a peak at Twin Tin Bots, which looks like a lot of fun and has amazing minis.
Go to the Twin Tin Bots kickstarter page and have a look – http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/flatlined/twin-tin-bots?ref=live
The halls were very busy!
David of Backspindle Games teaching Guards, Guards!
And here is Leonard teaching Backspindle Games’ newest game, and Aztec abstract called Codinca which I will review in due course!
The AEG stand was always jammed as there was a lot of interest in their Tempest series of Euro Games. I’m not a Euro fan but I managed to play a little card game set in the Tempest universe called Love Letters and it was a hoot! Review to follow. I also picked up a copy of Smash Up which I am really looking forward to playing and reviewing.
A cool looking Gotham City game on was unveiled by Wizkids but not available yet…
The Boardgamegeek crew were there doing live streamed game demos
Beth from Boardgamegeek and our friend Max, all the way from Malaysia
Ticket To Ride, the perennial favorite, was played
Had a go at Ragami, an interesting game about Angels and Demons but I found it too “mathy” for my tastes which I thought detracted from the theme.
yes it was busy, but manageable. So cool to see so many people interested in games 🙂
Stronghold Games were there as well, although they didn’t have any releases that interested me.
Star Wars!
The Ravensburger stand was very busy with their family games and puzzles
Iron Sky demo games. Looked interesting but I was trying to watch my luggage weight allowance 😦
In the evening I watched as Michael Fox played Ace of Spies with some new friends. They loved it I’m happy to say.
We also played Love Letters from AEG and my latest prototype, Wrestling Dice and other new friends who loved that one too. Great to see them laugh and carry on, enjoying my game. I hope that I may have found a publisher too. Fingers crossed.

Well a very busy and productive day at Essen, Day 1!