RogerBW's Blog

Essen 2019 02 November 2019

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

This time I took the tunnel, to see how much time I'd save. (The detailed answer had to wait for analysis of GPS tracks.)

The Indie Game Studios booth (Indie Boards & Cards plus Stronghold Games) was in the late stages of setup when I arrived.

So was most of the rest of the show, including one pair of blokes with a circular saw cutting MDF for last-minute booth construction. (They had a vacuum attachment to keep the dust down.)

Because of political uncertainty I didn't commit to this trip until relatively late, so rather than getting a hotel near the show I stayed in Mülheim, the next town west in the Rhein-Ruhr conurbation. I rather liked this jacket seen at breakfast. (The top word is "NO".)

Breakfast was all right, though nothing special.

Thursday morning before the off.

I spent the morning showing off Aeon's End: The New Age, and collecting and giving out auctioned items, then wandered around the show in the afternoon.

The new Europa Universalis, currently on Kickstarter. Very pretty, but (as with Twilight Imperium) I very much doubt I'd ever play it; and I dislike it when things you should be able to influence show up as random events.

The mysterious box for an escape room game. There was quite a bit of mechanically-cunning laser-cut wood this time.

The usual beer seller wasn't present, but this place was.

A subtle game for subtle times.

Trial of the Temples. I definitely plan to buy this at some point, and maybe also Jiguan: The Eastern Mechanist… but EmperorS4 were charging more at the show than current UK mail-order prices, and the UK's already more expensive than most of Europe.

Sparklies from one of the many game-manufacturing companies.

Sarah's Vision. It had been on my list to look at, but something about the level of abstraction felt wrong.

Another pass for now: Trismegistus. I've heard worrying things about the quality of the rulebook, and it's not compelling enough in the flesh to counter that.

Throne of Allegoria: some interesting mechanics, but again one to ignore. (This was turning into quite a cheap Essen.)

All separate companies! Honest! Not all part of the Asmodée monolith!

So, You've Been Eaten: not yet on sale, though I'm interested.

There might be a reason why you still have the last copies of these games in the world…

Repos Productions making noise again.

A very fine modular dice tower. Yes, the gears at the bottom spin as a die falls through.

Friday was more Aeon's End, with some very close games.

I parked in the area immediately under the Messe (using an exhibitor's pass); it was quite handy as a less-crowded short cut between halls, too. Some poor chap has had to drive a polisher round all that concrete, though…

Before the hordes arrived on Saturday.

Saturday night's time-change warning in the hotel.

Outside Hall 3 on Sunday morning.

Mead and leatherwork from Poland.

Metal sculptures made out of random junk.

This fellow still had to pay for his booth, but German customs were holding onto his shipment. (Quite a few people had similar problems. Storage near the Messe is very expensive, so they try to ship at the last moment. This also means that "stuck in customs" is the generic excuse used by any company that has failed to get its goods to the show in time, for any other reason.)

Hall 6 had a lot of miniature wargames, terrain and so on.

And knitting.

Armata Strigoi, an odd Italian game inspired by a power metal band. Pretty, but…

Psychedelic posters galore.

The obligatory escape room. (But this seemed to be the only one; last year there were several.)

Er, OK.

The correct answer to a lack of food.

A less correct answer: tie-in chocolate.

The game's of little interest, but the posters are good.

I thought this looked pretty good… then I realised that it was an actual working helicopter rotor hub too.

Chaosium, a bit lost among all the boardgamers.

How to make magnetic table football more challenging: you can only see half the table.

The guy on the chair at the back was handing down games as people shouted for them.

Promoting Rush M.D..

The game is pointless, obviously. But it's amusingly pointless.

Quite a bit of Crokinole for sale, after the SU&SD review a few months back.

On Sunday I was on the Aftershock: San Francisco & Venice demo table. It's an oddly complex game with multiple things interacting; it seems to make sense but it'll take a fair bit of thought to be any good at it.

Striking the show.

Some sort of scanner (?) at the tunnel check-in.

As sometimes happens, there didn't seem to be a Game of the Show that everyone was talking about; indeed, there weren't all that many games about which I was enthusing in advance. More interestingly to me, the show seemed to go very fast: not only was I never idle while sitting at the Aeon's End demo table, but while in previous years I've easily been able to get my shopping done and look round the halls with some leisure in the two half-days I tend to take off, this year I found myself using nearly all my available time, even with the short-cut I found to get round some of the crowds.

An interesting comment from one of my fellow demo people: because Essen doesn't have open gaming areas the way most games shows do (they would have to rent more space from the Messe and this would put up the ticket price), most people trying demos are happy to play a full game even if it's for the hour or so that Aeon's End takes for a first-timer, rather than playing a short sample of the game, buying it, and playing it somewhere else in the evening.

It's not the shopping show for me that it used to be (generally I'm buying fewer games than I did anyway), but it's still a wonderful experience, and highly recommended to any boardgame enthusiast.

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