Top 10 Anticipated Games from Essen 2019

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Paladins of the West Kingdom

Essen is just around the corner and with literally hundreds and hundreds of new games being released, there are lots to look forward to. It’s always tricky looking at games that haven’t been released yet. How do you know if they’ll actually be any good?

Reliable designers always catch my eye: some designers consistently produce good (and sometimes great) games. Some games are twists on an already excellent game so they are always worth looking at.

Some games just attract a lot of buzz. It’s hard to see why at first, but often a lot of people have played prototypes over the past year, the game gets recommended by people and word spreads. These can sometimes be the standout games of the convention.

These games are in no particular order, but here are the top ten games I’m most looking forward to at Essen 2019…



Alexander Pfister is one of my favourite designers and Maracaibo is his latest Euro offering. This one has you sailing around the Caribbean using Pfister’s inimitable knack for interesting card play.


We demoed this at UKGE earlier this year and loved it! It’s essentially Diablo: The Board Game, and involves competitively slaying monsters in a dungeon in an effort to level up faster and more effectively than your peers.

On Mars

On Mars

This is the latest Vital Lacerda game. His games are always really good. Not always to my taste, but always good. When the theme connects with me, I really enjoy them so I’m hoping this one is more flavourful than Lisboa!

Marco Polo II

Marco Polo is one of my all-time favourite games. The dice placement is so tricky and the designers have produced some fantastic games between them. An evolution of the original Marco Polo from the same designers? Count me in!

Orléans Stories

This is another evolution of a pre-existing game that I love: namely Orléans. Supposedly this one adds some story telling aspects and has a campaign feel to it. I have no idea how that’s going to work (Orléans was a Euro), but I’m intrigued!



This is the next game in the series of unpronoucable games beginning with T from Daniele Tascini (eg. Tzolk’in, Teotihuacan, etc.). Heavy Euros with novel mechanisms always grab me and the track record here is superb.

Paladins of the West Kingdom

Shem Phillips (Raiders of the North Sea, Architects of the West Kingdom) is another of those consistent designers whose games never disappoint. He tends to do unique twists on medium-weight Euros, with great artwork from The Mico.


Alubari: A Nice Cup of Tea

This is a Euro that I know little about with a theme that doesn’t really grab me! And yet, people keep talking about it. Definitely one I will be checking out for the buzz factor: it’s meant to be very good.

Letter Jam

This was my top pick from all the games we played at UKGE. Well, it’s finally available to buy. A co-operative word-making game: played with the right people, it’s fantastic!

Adventure Games

Despite the bland title, as soon as I realised this was an escape-the-room series of games from Matthew Dunstan (Elysium, Roll for Adventure) and Phil Walker-Harding (Bärenpark, Sushi Go!), I was sold. Less puzzle-solving and more story-telling, but I’m still very keen to try these.

So that’s my list! Are there any other games you’re looking forward to?

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Jonathan Hicks

Jonathan is the director of Maven Games. He blogs and records podcast episodes several times a week. Whenever he isn't doing anything else, he designs games.

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