RogerBW's Blog

Essen 2017 05 November 2017

At the end of October I went back to Internationale Spieltage SPIEL, or "Essen" as it's generally known in the boardgaming world.

A good trip out; even Antwerp wasn't too horrible.

Even six months out the Bredeney was full on one night, and the Atlantic was too expensive, so I ended up staying in the Arosa. It's not fancy, and the breakfasts aren't as good as the Bredeney, but it's clean and about the same price. (Everything in Essen gets more expensive at SPIEL time, so I wouldn't call it "cheap".) And I found free on-street parking nearby; all the other hotels charge for parking, and there's often hassle getting in and out.

I wonder what sort of guests they expect?

I think the original lifts must have been the sort where there's only an external door, which unlocks automatically when the lift is there. This has now been supplemented with internal doors.

Many hotels have an emergency stopcock in the bathroom. Few have warning signs.

A small room, but big enough (just about).

A rental truck is a fairly boring thing, even if it's from Poland as a lot of them were.

But you can at least try to make it interesting.

Or bring your own.

This bridge across Albertstraße was part of my trip in each day. In the UK it would be 1960s and concrete; I'm guessing this metal construction was 1950s.

I was working for Indie Boards & Cards again. Here we are early on the first day, which was the only time I had leisure to take a picture.

I got a pair of Crocs, and a wristwatch, for this show. The Crocs because the Messe is designed for motor shows and such, with a hard concrete floor (and they worked very well); the watch because it's nice to know what time it is without obviously hauling out a phone or similar.

This was my view a lot of the time, as I taught and supervised multiple games. (A total of 38 of Flash Point.)

It got pretty crowded even at the back of hall 3. I ended up doing nine hours with only one short break on Friday, because I got into the demonstrations and I simply forgot to stop; on Saturday I managed to remember.

Giant Terraforming Mars. Don't know why.

And why not?

A fairly successful game of Flash Point.

Sudden airships make Roger jump.

That 4×4 section is officially the Explodey Room O' Death.

The other game I was showing off was Aeon's End; there were a couple of new expansions out, and a new separate boxed set. I read up on the rules so that I could help out with demos, and it's gone from "I might trade this away post-show" to "I really like this a lot" in spite of the unimpressive backstory (civilisation is over, broken last survivors of humanity try to fight off monsters, blah blah). It's a deckbuilder that removes the annoying randomness of deckbuilders.

I went to the Dice and Mystics Fringe on Saturday night (the only gaming I did on my own account); it's a local games club in the next town over, who opened up their church hall. (It's good to have a navigation system when finding one's way round a strange city, in the dark, in light rain…)

One half of the table was punching out Coaster Park, which seemed likely to take all evening.

We played Pirate 21, one of the small card games I'd picked up as part of my demo pay.

And The Captain Is Dead which I'd just bought. (Chief Engineer for the win.)

And Fantasy Realms, an odd game where you're trying to put together sets of cards that interact in a variety of ways.

And Festival of Thousand Cats, for which we were probably reading the rules incorrectly but it was interesting anyway.

This is some sort of learn-to-paint thing, but I liked the image.

Sparkle Kitty. Apparently.

Psychedelia is back, baby.

Not convinced by the game, but I like the poster.

Strategic?

Oooo…kay.

Extremes of game table.

But when I'm running a game I want full A4-sized books and bits of paper, not these easel things.

Even if they do have drinks holders.

Expedition Zetta, a game of humanity's first interstellar voyage (in the 1960s). Probably over-complex but looks very pretty. (Kickstarter done, in production.)

I'd come over here to see if I could take a look at The Expanse, a game about which I've heard good things. They'd only brought 100 copies and sold them all on the first day, which is fair enough; but they weren't demonstrating or promoting it at all. I want to play it before I buy it; that's one of the main reasons I go to shows like Essen.

"Vampir" is separate from "Horror", please note.

The new Time of Legends: Joan of Arc. I just don't get what all the excitement is about: how is it not just another tactical miniatures skirmish game?

Not as many sheep-related games as last year.

Lots of people offering card sleeves, though. This was one of the more interesting booths.

This looks utterly gorgeous… but damnit, it's app-driven so you're just playing a computer game with nicer components.

Don't know what the game was, but the art was fun.

As last year, the Asmodée megalith took up about half of hall 1, and weren't even selling most of their new games.

Kitchen Rush is out. I find myself strangely unconvinced: mental overload from having to do multiple complicated things in a short time is not really a recreation for me. Mostly.

Giant Ice Cool.

There are some titles that make me go "eh, so what".

Pulsar 2489: you're putting generators on pulsars and trying to produce the most energy.

An intricate ball-bearing marble run system.

That's not even much more expensive than the money I got for selling my copies of Zombies!!! 1-4. But, um, it's not really a terribly good game by modern standards.

Came back on Monday, via various shopping for things more readily available in Germany than here.

The final haul. (More details in the next boardgaming post.)

"Things more readily available in Germany than here."


  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 09:52am on 05 November 2017

    Looks like you had fun. I guess no SJG presence?

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 10:22am on 05 November 2017

    Correct; SJGames doesn't demo at non-Anglophone conventions any more. (Pegasus Spiele publish German-language versions of many SJGames products, among others, and they were certainly present; before that withdrawal, the MIBs worked with them.)

  3. Posted by Dr Bob at 05:05pm on 06 November 2017

    What's the marble run game called? I spy a potential Xmas present there for a marble-run obsessed friend...

  4. Posted by RogerBW at 05:12pm on 06 November 2017

    Gravitrax, from Ravensburger. (I admit I was tempted.)

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