The Essen games are starting to trickle in to the US retailers. I've got an order ready to go soon, but that doesn't stop me from looking forward, or reading rules just for the fun of it. These 4 are all potential future purchases, depending partly on continuing feedback about gameplay.
Imperial: I love Antike. I love the simplicity and the interactions of the mechanisms. Imperial uses the same rondel and a similar combat system, but the similarities stop there. At this point, I picture the game like this: Imagine in Carcassonne if you could add meeples to already occupied cities, and that when the city scores, each player scores something based on how many meeples they had there. On average, cities would be occupied by multiple players. So on your turn, do you make a city larger, close it off to stop it from growing, or play elsewhere? I'm pretty sure Imperial feels like this, with the additional mechanism that cities can attack other cities.
Drakon: On your turn you can add a tile to the dungeon or move your character. Moving onto a tile activates its special powers. Some tiles affect or control movement, allow you to move the dragon, or to collect gold. The first player to get 10 gold wins. It sounds like a multi-player puzzle with a high screwage factor. It could be fun or too simple for my tastes.
Walhalla: The full-color illustrated rules are only available in German so far. There's a text-only English translation, but it's difficult for me to follow along using the 2 documents. Walhalla features a restricted spatial system, area influence, and management of vikings in Midgard, Asgard, and of course, Valhalla. Vikings are placed on boats, sent down fjords, and must choose which side of the boat to exit. Since only a single viking can occupy a land space, combat ensues when 2 vikings meet. The interesting part is that the defender gets to decide who wins. The loser's glorious viking dies in honor and goes to Valhalla. Sounds pretty fun, but I think I'll wait for the full-color illustrated translation.
Lifeboats: Players are on a set of boats trying to reach land before they sink. As each boat gains more leaks, there is less and less room for people. Every aspect of the game is up for negotiation and voting: where the leaks occur, what boats move, and who gets thrown overboard. Could be really fun with the right crowd.
Imperial image by Gonzaga