By the time you see this post, Essen will be over, and some of these may even be available.
Here's a list of what's coming this year that I'm excited about:
Important note: If you want to order these from your FLGS, it's possible that they'll have Matagot, Repos, Asterion, and Pearl listed under Asmodee, as those are all distributed in North America by Asmodee North America.
Captain Sonar (Matagot) - A simultaneous-play game for up to eight players. I won't probably be able to get it to the table for a while, but I really can't wait for it. Some stores already have this one.
Inis (Matagot) - The second Matagot game on the "Stuff I'm Excited About" list. Matagot has a history of making good games with lush art and simple rules. Cyclades and Kemet are favorites of mine that became favorites of those around me. Partly because my enthusiasm is infectious and partly because they are really good games.
Seafall (Plaid Hat) - this is starting to appear in game stores, so mine should be in soon. I really like Risk Legacy, and this is by the same designer, only not built on top of an existing property. Early reviews say that there is a bit too much downtime, but if everyone is aware of that going in, it shouldn't present a problem. Although I won't get to play it until we get through our Risk Legacy campaign, which runs the same day as our 13th Age campaign ...
Innovation Deluxe (Asmadi) - Innovation was a favorite of mine a few years ago. We played and played and played. And then ... we stopped. I'm not sure why. Then Iello published an edition, and the edition I had stopped getting expansions. Then they did a Third Edition. Now there's a new version coming that includes the expansions. Sign me up! I want to play this one again!
This year has so many expansions that have me excited. When talking about expansion, there are a handful of types: there are expansions that "fix" the base game, expansions that are more of the same, expansions that deepen play, and expansions that drastically alter the game. All four have their place - in an ideal world, there is no need for the first type, but this is (sadly) not an ideal world. In general, I prefer the third type - deeper, more interesting play is better, especially if I liked the base game.
Hyperborea: Light & Shadow (Asterion) - I don't know much about this one, but Hyperborea was a favorite of my group for a good while (because it's a fantastic game). So I look forward to seeing how they expand the play.
Cyclades: Monuments (Matagot) - As mentioned above: Cyclades is a real favorite of mine, and I've liked all of the expansions so far. Hades deepened play and fixed an issue with the base game, Titans drastically altered it. C3K was "more of the same." Much like Hyperborea: Light & Shadow, I don't know much about what's in this box. But I don't care. I want it, because I want to see where they go next.
Room 25: Escape Room (Matagot) - Yes, another Matagot game/expansion. Because Room 25 is one of my favorite games. Period. Adding the Season Two expansion turned it from a fun game to a fantastic game. This adds a new puzzle mode that might get me to play this fully cooperative again.
7 Wonders Duel: Pantheons (Repos) - I was caught off-guard by how good 7 Wonders: Duel is. Even the rulebook didn't prepare me for how slick it is in play. Adding Gods to the mix looks like it shakes play up without destroying it. I don't know if this will be a "deepens play" or a "drastically changes play" expansion, even having read the rules.
Deus: Egypt (Pearl Games) - I really enjoyed Deus. This expansion lets you swap Gods. So you can use a different pantheon. Before play, you decide which God you want to use for each color on the board, so it expands play options without crashing the "light tableau-builder" aspect that the base game had. So it's "more of the same," while still refreshing play. I'm down.
Scythe: Invaders from Afar (Stonemaier) - Scythe is fantastic. This is a "more of the same" expansion that adds two new factions to the game. It means the map is a bit more crowded, and so there will (probably) be a bit more direct conflict. They also include power changes for two factions for balance reasons.
Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deckbuilding Game Expansion (Upper Deck) - Likely to be somewhere between "more of the same" and "deepens play," like most deck-building game expansions. The original is a recent favorite of mine, despite its difficulty. I'm very much looking forward to this expansion.