Regular readers will know I’m certainly no photographer, but my trip to Essen Spiel this year did see me take a few happy snaps I’d like to share with you here. I apologise for the quality – these were taken with a cheap Motorola smartphone. But I hope they at least give a flavour of the trip from behind the scenes.
Seeing my first game published last year was an amazing feeling, but having the German edition in a proper box is equally thrilling.
Germany is the home of modern board games, so seeing it for the first time in this edition was strangely humbling – especially from such a great publisher. They’d even made some component improvements, which was great to see. The picture on the left proves it didn’t exactly have top billing (it’s there, right in the middle, promise) but hey, it’s a start!
It did at least get a nice bit of space at the press preview event – looking good! Although I doubt it will sell as many copies as Star Munchkin 3…
It’s a great privilege to get a press pass for Essen each year, with one of the main benefits being able to get into the event a day early. Upstairs in the Messe they set aside a large area for all the publishers to set up a copy of their games for us to snap, creating a fantastic mini Essen experience. Above are three of the game I came home with.
There were some new takes on old classics. Carcassonne Star Wars looked remarkably bland, while I wasn’t quite feeling the thrill of building a Ticket to Ride route from Ipswich to Northampton…
And I couldn’t come home with everything – I only had the one suitcase after all. There were some fantastic looking games on display (see below) but with close to 1,000 games released at the show you really have to pick and choose.
Mega Civilization certainly lived up to its name, with the biggest game board I’ve seen (it plays up to 18 players and for anything up to 12 hours). Titus Tentakel looked like a fantastic children’s game. No idea if it was any good or not, but the components were brilliant.
And just to wrap up the press event, afterwards you get to go down into the halls and skip between the fork lifts and pallets as the publishers scramble madly to get things ready for the next day. Some of the big German publishers have press events of their own, with Amigo giving us a lovely chance to sit and chill – along with a couple of freebies. And a quick spoiler – Die Portale von Molthar is fast becoming one of my games of the year.
They actually ended up smashing it, with 1,040 players (including designer Klaus Teuber) strolling past the old record of 922. And this wasn’t individual players – this was one big game. I can only presume the longest road was about 500 matchsticks long – but what I do know is it was won by Tim van der Bersselaar from Holland.
Another press benefit is getting invited to the occasional evening event; which this year included the Modiphius launch party for its new title Thunderbirds. Sadly Miss Penelope wasn’t available, but it was great to see the ever smiling Matt Leacock (centre, grey T-shirt) showing players who’d backed the Kickstarter how to play the game. And it’s fair to say Rory O’Connor (centre), of Rory’s Story Cubes fame, was enjoying his play with Modiphius staffer and Playtest UK organiser Rob Harris (left).
There was some genuine panic at this point. I get the train to Essen and there were some serious problems on the rails locally after a huge fire. I was facing three trains just to get as far as Brussels, so didn’t really want to have a suitcase, a backpack and a couple of carrier bags to manoeuvre.
An hour of frantic chit-popping followed, along with saying goodbye to all of the expansion boxes – even the Concordia one once my friend Karl had assured me via text that it ‘should’ fit in the original box (it did).
But that’s that for another year – and if I had more money I’d already be booking my trip for next year. Below is my haul – minus a few that the life-saving Trevor brought home for me (My Village, Celestia and Treasure Hunter). If you love board games this really is something you need to do – hopefully I’ll see you there next year. And if you’ve got a bit of suitcase space, give me a shout eh…