Five Big Board Games About To Hit The Spotlight This Week

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The Internationale Spieltage is held in Essen, Germany every year. It’s the biggest board game convention in the world and scores of games debut there from publishers all around the world. There’s always excitement as new games are announced and finally arrive in gamers’ hands. Although it usually takes a few weeks to make it back to the States, here are a few games that you should follow.

And it would be impossible to cover all the exciting and awesome titles that have been announced, teased, or previewed. Let alone the expansions to great games that will also hit shelves at Essen. But between these five games, you’ll something that interests you.


Coming from some brilliant minds at CGE, Adrenaline seeks to replicate the first person shooter in board game form. The players will move from area to area, grab guns and ammo, and then blow each other to smithereens. But this isn’t a mindless dice-fest. Different weapons work differently and you need the right one for the right situation. Plus, combat is handled entirely without dice. As you take damage, you get stronger. And if you die, you respawn. No player elimination.

The result should be a game where taking damage might actually benefit you. Just because you’re wounded, doesn’t mean you’re out. In fact, as you lose life, you actually become more dangerous. Suddenly, you’re not trapped in there with them, they are trapped with you!

7 Wonders: Duel – Pantheon

7 Wonders: Duel is an amazing game that actually improves upon the whole 7 Wonders experience. So it goes without saying that the first expansion to that two-player affair is highly anticipated. Pantheon adds gods into the mix. Players can add them to their own pantheon and then in later ages call down their power for special benefit. Perhaps most interestingly, it allows you to do so instead of taking a card – so you can better manipulate what your opponent has to take.

Terraforming Mars

Although a few copies made it to GenCon, Terraforming Mars will hit wider release at and after Essen. The game takes place in the 2400s and the time has come to make the red planet habitable for human life. The players take on the roles of corporations trying to change the temperature, oxygen, and oceans of Mars to habitable levels. Players will take on special projects until the planet becomes habitable. The buzz from players who managed to snag a copy at GenCon has been huge.

Let’s face it, being able to make Mars habitable has all kinds of Total Recall connotations. But, more than that, the game has a system of auctions and interlocking actions that seems really interesting. Combine that with the praise it has already gotten, and it has to be near the top of the watch lists.

Sola Fide

There are few games about the Reformation period, but count one more with Sola Fide. In this two player title, the Catholics face off against the Protestants for the souls of Europe. What really puts this on the watch list is the designers. It’s the team who created 1960: The Making of the President and includes a co-designer of Twilight Struggle. Both titles have received critical acclaim and popular praise. Will it happen again?

I guess we’ll find out the answer to that question at Essen. But given the success of previous historical games – titles which marry strong context to interesting mechanisms – it would be a mistake to bet against it. Plus it promises to be a little shorter than Twilight Struggle, which will help it get played more often.

Pax Renaissance

Pax Renaissance is the latest Phil Eklund title in the Pax series. The best and most well known is Pax Porfiriana about the Mexican Revolution. Eklund titles tend to be studiously accurate, yet highly playable titles. Now, that same idea is spreading to the Renaissance. While mechanically distinct, it nevertheless occupies a similar mechanical space. If you like Pax games (as all right thinking people do), then this should be on your radar.

What Essen games are you looking forward to?  Tell us about them in the comments.

Image Credits: Czech Games Edition, Repos Production, Stronghold Games, Stronghold Games, and Sierra Madre Games

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