December was all about trying to keep a little bit of Essen with us, and three games of the month were titles we had seen and played at the trade fair this year. Azul, When I Dream and Indian Summer, were all firm favourites of the show and were favourites of ours too.

We also had some of our top, most-played games, in the December crate with Tsuro, Retro Lunacy and Masques amongst the titles we keep going back to.

And let’s not forget the amazing Bohnanza: The Duel, Portal of Heroes and Welcome Back to the Dungeon and No Thanks! All amazing games!

When I Dream

  • 4-10 players
  • 20-40 minutes
  • 8+
  • 7.3

The night has fallen and your mind is floating in the magical world of dreams. But the Dream Spirits want to have some fun tonight! They are giving their best and the dreams become strange and surreal. Become the dreamer, put on your sleeping mask and try to figure out your dream and which spirits are the Naughty ones. Become a good spirit and help the Dreamer by giving him clues about the dream before the naughty spirits mess it up. Close your eyes and dive in!

You can learn how to play in a few minutes and have a great laugh right from the start. Each role is challenging and entertaining giving the game more depth according to the player’s imagination, providing a wonderful experience with a unique dream every round.

Azul

  • 2-4 players
  • 30-45 minutes
  • 8+
  • 8.0

Introduced by the Moors, azulejos (originally white and blue ceramic tiles) were fully embraced by the Portuguese when their king Manuel I, on a visit to the Alhambra palace in Southern Spain, was mesmerized by the stunning beauty of the Moorish decorative tiles. The king, awestruck by the interior beauty of the Alhambra, immediately ordered that his own palace in Portugal be decorated with similar wall tiles. As a tile-laying artist, you have been challenged to embellish the walls of the Royal Palace of Evora.

In the game Azul, players take turns drafting coloured tiles from suppliers to their player board. Later in the round, players score points based on how they’ve placed their tiles to decorate the palace. Extra points are scored for specific patterns and completing sets; wasted supplies harm the player’s score. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Indian Summer

  • 1-4 players
  • 15-60 minutes
  • 10+
  • 6.9

Before winter makes its appearance, a particularly warm fall bathes the forest in a golden shimmer. During the Indian Summer, New England blossoms one last time. Treetops are ablaze with countless colours – a living rainbow, from green to orange to red. Slowly the first leaves are starting to fall. Meanwhile, our steps and the diligent squirrels rustle the colourful foliage.

Indian Summer is the second part of Uwe Rosenberg’s puzzle trilogy following 2016’s Cottage Garden, and this game is firmly geared towards experienced players. At the heart of the game are puzzle tiles with holes that are placed on individual forest boards to cover up treasures. When players get their hands on these, they gain more options and an edge over their opponents. All that counts in the end is to be the first to cover your forest floor completely with leaves.

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Tsuro

  • 2-8 players
  • 15 minutes
  • 8+
  • 6.7

A beautiful and beautifully simple game of laying a tile before your own token to continue its path on each turn. The goal is to keep your token on the board longer than anyone else’s, but as the board fills up this becomes harder because there are fewer empty spaces left… and another player’s tile may also extend your own path in a direction you’d rather not go. Easy to introduce to new players, Tsuro lasts a mere 15 minutes and actually does work for any number from 2 to 8.

Portal of Heroes

  • 2-5 players
  • 45 minutes
  • 10+
  • 6.8

The portals of Molthar have opened! The players travel through the portal into a world of a type that you know only through folklore and fairy tales. By collecting magic pearls and trading them in a timely fashion for fantastic and powerful character cards, you draw ever closer to victory – but only the one who first manages to gather twelve insignias of power will save Molthar and win the game.

No Thanks!

  • 3-7 players
  • 20-30 minutes
  • 8+
  • 7.0

No Thanks! is a card game designed to be as simple as it is engaging.

The rules are simple. Each turn, players have two options – play one of their chips to avoid picking up the current face-up card or pick up the face-up card (along with any chips that have already been played on that card) and turn over the next card.

This game was originally published in Germany by Amigo as Geschenkt …ist noch zu teuer!, meaning Even given as a gift, it is still too expensive!.

Retro Lunacy

  • 2-5 players
  • 5-10 minutes
  • 8+
  • 6.6

Retro Loonacy is a rapid-fire card game in which players race to be the first to empty their hand by matching one of two images on each card in their hand with the images on the open piles in front of them. The number of piles varies depending on the number of players, and if players ever reach a moment in which no one can play, everyone draws a card and it adds it to their hand at the same time, then the game play resumes.

Welcome Back to the Dungeon

  • 2-4 players
  • 30 minutes
  • 10+
  • 7.0

The sun is shining in the Abysmal Woods where you’re strolling without a care in the world, your weapon at your belt, dreams of adventure in your head. On your path, you stop before a damaged dungeon door. It seems that great battles took place here, a sure sign of coveted treasure inside.

You recognize this dungeon from the ballads sung in your village! However, you’re not the only one who wants to enter, despite the warnings left around the entrance by the previous adventurers. Will you muster your courage to break open the door or will you let your opponents brave the monsters found inside? Let the adventure begin!

Masques

  • 2-4 players
  • 45 minutes
  • 13+
  • 6.6

As the head of an ambitious Venetian family in Intrigo (a.k.a. Masques) – which won the 2009 Concours de createurs under the title St Benoit – you have sent your most influential representatives to mingle at the Doge’s masquerade ball. By cleverly positioning these guests (and by manipulating the guests of your opponents), you’ll vie for the attention of Venice’s elite guild masters, ensuring the most political power for your family.

Bohnanza: The Duel

  • 2 players
  • 45 minutes
  • 12+
  • 7.2

What was that thing about the gift horse? In this two-player variant of Bohnanza, both bean farmers give each other gifts of beans they can’t use themselves – to make life harder for their opponent, if possible. Trying to fulfil their secret “bo(h)nus” requirements, they both need to keep a vigilant eye on the other player’s bean fields. Give as good as you get in Bohnanza – Das Duell, there can be only one winner!

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