Report from Essen, part II
Published: Tuesday 2006-10-24.
In the last entry I wrote just about only wrote a list of what games I bought myself in Essen, I didn’t really write much about the fair itself. That is what happens when you are in a hurry, so here is an a bit more in-depth report…
The fair, which is the world’s biggest game fair, opened up its doors on Thursday morning and was open until Sunday night. We, myself and two of my workmates, flew down to Düsseldorf on Thursday morning and arrived at the fair at about half past two in the afternoon. None of us had been there before, so we were all as overwhelmed over how big the fair actually was. I mean, nine show halls, 700 exhibitors, loads of new games. The first day was spent on just wandering around the area trying to get an overview of what was where, and what games were worth playing, and buying.
We all bought games on the first day, mainly games we had heard about from before, or that looked interesting enough that we didn’t want to wait to test play them. The second day we tried starting to tick off the games we thought looked interesting to get the opportunity to test them, to see if they were worth buying. The problem was just to get a place to play it, although most of the major exhibitors had several tables where you could play they were more or less constantly taken.
To get a table you had to try hovering over the tables to see if there were anyone that seemed to be finished, and like a hawk grab one when they showed even the most minute sign of getting ready to leave. It was not always that this tactic worked, but we did at least get the opportunity to play test several games. Some we bought, some we didn’t buy at all.
When we booked our hotel we had only written to the tourist bureau in Essen asking them for an okay hotel in the middle price class. We ere lucky, since we seemed to manage to find the hotel (one of the hotels?) that were inhabited by several of the visitors to the fair. When we came back after having found a small Italian restaurant to get some dinner on Thursday night we saw some people playing games in the hotel bar.
Since the rooms didn’t have tables big enough to play games on we decided that also we should find a table in the bar and start playing there, and after a while it was full with people. Since everyone shared a common interest it was quite easy to get in contact with the others, and several people were walking around looking at what it was the other people were playing, to see if they had found some new interesting game that also they were interested in buying.
On the Friday, after yet another day at the fair I got on the train to Dortmund, where a colleague lives in a nice newly renovated on the top floor of an old stone house. He also had some other friends who liked games, and who, not very surprisingly, also had been to the fair, so they came over and we played games until half past one in the night. Much to my own surprise I actually managed to follow the conversation rather well, although it was mostly held in German…
On Saturday the big chaos erupted, then everyone who had not had the opportunity to take days off arrived at the fair, and if we thought that there had been a lot of people on Thursday and Friday, that was nothing compared to Saturday and Sunday. Nothing. Considering how small of a presence board games have in the Nordic countries it is an uplifting experience to see that there are so many other people that share my interest.
In addition to the games I bought I have also played these:
- Haste Bock?
- A kind of “sheep chess”. Each player has two sheep and to score points you have to perform various moves (you only have a limited set of moves which only can be taken once or twice during the game) to place the sheep in different ways in the different phases of the game. One of my friends bought the game just because it came with miniature sheep ☺
- Roads and Boats
- An older game that was re-released. Takes several hours to play, comes in a gigantic box and in parts reminds of Advanced Civilization in complexity. Should be interesting to try this out for real later on.
- 2F only publishes games with names starting with the letter F, this is one of them. The goal of the game is to bid using various gemstones to achieve the goals that have been drawn for this particular game round. Too unpredictable and chaotic for my taste, so I didn’t buy it (but then again, we did play it a bit wrong as well).
- I might had bought this game if I had had the space, but there wasn’t anything that appealed very strongly. It might be because we played it the wrong way, we only had rules in German and got them explained in English by the staff.
- A quick game from the same publishing house that has released Terra Nova, which I bought. Builds on TransAmerika that I haven’t tried, you get a mission which involves building a railway network connecting five cities in Europe. It gets a bit too chaotic since after a while you always connect your network to the other players’, so what happens is very random.
- Walhalla looked exciting, but fell short because the rules were only available in German and I was unable to decipher them. It is difficult to play games when you do not understand the rules at all, and it was too new to have English rules. Perhaps it is good, that was at least what the review in the German games magazine that was handed out free at the fair said, but I have no clue.
I (almost) only bought games I had tested and knew were good, whereas the others bought a few “blind”, I am looking forward to trying them. Most of all I am looking forward to playing Thurn und Taxis which was awarded the Game of the Year award for 2006. We only found it with German rules, so we haven’t played it yet. Also Khronos seemed very interesting, a game that is built upon time-travel and where what you build in one epoch also affect the others.
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