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A Look at Candice’s SPIEL Essen ’23 Experiences: Part 2

by Candice Harris

Mindclash Games had some beautiful, heavy (!!) demo offerings that folks (including especially me) were excited to check out at SPIEL Essen ’23.

Nigel Buckle and Dávid Turczi‘s space 4X euro-beast Voidfall was a popular, hot new release for Mindclash. Having played Voidfall twice so far, I definitely recommend checking it out if you’re the type of person who digs heavy, space-themed, low-luck board games with asymmetric factions. There’s lots to love with this one, but beware, it is a bit of table hog, especially when playing with four players. Thankfully it’s easy on the eyes because of Ian O’Toole‘s excellent artwork and graphic design, and it has really nice quality components, as always from Mindclash Games.

Voidfall demo in action

It was great to get a glimpse of Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles – Episode 3 from designers Richard Amann, Thomas Vande Ginste, Viktor Peter, and Dávid Turczi. After an awesome chat with the Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles design team on Cardboard Creations, I’ve been eager to hear more about Episodes 3 and 4, so it was great to see a prototype of Episode 3 on the table ahead of the Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles – Episodes 3 & 4 crowdfunding campaign, which is targeted to launch on Gamefound in November 2023.

Perseverance: Castaway Chronicles – Episode 3

I love the table presence and theme of Septima, which is a highly thematic and interactive strategy game of witchcraft for 1-4 players, designed by Robin Hegedűs. In Septima, you lead your own witch coven and collect herbs to create potions for healing people, in hopes to become the successor of the High Witch Septima.


• Speaking of cool themes, Philharmonix is an upcoming space orchestra-themed worker placement game for 1-4 players, from Faris Suhaimi and Archona Games, which was demoed at SPIEL Essen ’23. I wasn’t able to catch a demo, but I did at least get to take a peek and snap a photo. In Philharmonix, you play as a space orchestra manager, recruiting and training musicians/conductors, and creating and performing symphonies. I love this theme and look forward to playing it one day.

• At the PHALANX booth, they were showing off a new 2023 release, Keep’em Rolling: 1944 – Race to the Rhine, which is a new edition of the highly popular operations and logistics focused euro-wargame, 1944: Race to the Rhine, from designers Jaro Andruszkiewicz, Valentin Crespel, Rémi Dufourneau, Waldek Gumienny, and Yves Roig.

Keep’em Rolling: 1944 – Race to the Rhine

Wei-Cheng Cheng‘s Total Domination was also available for demo at PHALANX’s booth. Total Domination is a strategic, World War II, card-driven, area-control game that can be played with two players, or in teams with three or four players, in 90 minutes.

Total Domination

I got a sneak peek of the latest prototype of Charles Vasey‘s Unhappy King Charles, which is a reimplementation of the original 2008 version (Unhappy King Charles!) from GMT Games. The art and components are looking good already, and card-driven historical strategy games are right up my alley, so I look forward to checking out the final version of this one.

Great seeing Jaro!

It was really cool to see a sample of the giant German U-boat miniature for the Collector’s Edition of U-BOOT: The Board Game, which is being crowdfunded on Kickstarter (KS link) through November 2, 2023.

If you’re not familiar with Artur Salwarowski and Bartosz Pluta‘s U-BOOT, which originally debuted in 2019, U-BOOT: The Board Game – Collector’s Edition is a real-time, co-operative, app-driven tabletop game of World War II submarine warfare for 1-4 players who take command of a sleek and silent VIIC U-boat, evade enemy destroyers, and launch deadly attacks on Allied shipping. I’ve never played U-BOOT, but I’ve heard great things about it, and this new collector’s edition looks epic, so I can’t wait to play it.

For another upcoming release from PHALANX, keep an eye out for more on Triumph, which is an accessible historical strategy game that plays in 60-90 minutes, from designers Raymond de Maria and Waldek Gumienny. In Triumph, 3-5 players compete for power and prestige at the height of the Roman Republic’s glory.

Fruitoplay is a hooky, fun, trick-taking game for 2-6 players from designers Luc Rémond and Romaric Galonnier, and French publisher Explor8 (Federation). Fruitoplay surprised me at SPIEL, as it was not on my radar at all. After playing it and enjoying it, I ended up introducing it to any friends I bumped into, such as Amy and Maggie from ThinkerThemer (in the photo shown below). I ended up playing it four times before I left Essen, and I talked about how it plays on episode 28 of the BGG Podcast, with Paul Deming.

When influencers influence each other…

• I played an awesome game of Mitch Wallace‘s new tile-placement, auction game, Art Society, at the Mighty Boards booth, which was unfortunately already sold out by the time I tried it, but will be available at retailers in November 2023.

In Art Society, 2-4 players compete as art connoisseurs trying to put together the most fashionable art collection. Each round, players bid for turn order to draft a new painting tile to add to their wall, then any remaining paintings impact the value of how each type of painting scores at the end of the game. There are interesting and thematic tile placement rules that make for tough choices, as well as factoring in the fluctuating value of each type of art, which is driven by player decisions. I dug it.

• Sometimes a game title alone inspires me to open my wallet. Of course I had to bring home a copy of Bez Shahriari‘s Last Bug Standing in the Circle of Doom! from Surprised Stare Games. In Last Bug Standing in the Circle of Doom!, two players compete to capture the last bug standing by strategically managing their spaceship crews.

Great seeing Bez!

<–In case you missed it, A Look at Candice’s SPIEL Essen ’23 Experiences: Part 1–>


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