Essen Mule Train Report #1

Howdy all. Dale and co. have been doing an admirable job keeping you updated on all the cool new games, so I thought I’d do something different. I want to try and capture the sights, the sounds, but especially the smells of being a hard working Essen game mule.

This year, thanks to some unfortunate circumstances (the short version: If you want to hire a kickass project manager please let me know?) I figured Essen would not happen for me. I was all set to live vicariously through Dale’s tales of endless schmoozing and free games, BGG’s livestream coverage and other news outlets. But then, I got a chance to go after all. The catch? All the games I buy for myself are getting mailed home. You see, I’ve sold my soul (er, luggage space) and become a game mule.

So. First things first. Being a game mule is not glamourous. And it involves a TON of planning ahead of time, especially when you are muling to support and entire games convention. I mean, think of the tragedy that might ensue if the games don’t arrive on time! There would be mass chaos, confusion and panic in the streets (not at the disco)! I’d be pilloried! Tarred and feathered! And all sorts of other archaic punishments! Clearly, planning is important.

Planning for this endeavour involved lots of people making lots of lists and me trying to make sense of it all. In order to save my sanity, I had to impose a list blackout date (which kicked in last Thursday). Anything not on the list by then would have to wait until the next Thursday, when the fair opens to the public. That way I get a week to fine-tune my attack, figure out which games I need multiple copies of, sort out which halls I need to hit first (because of scarce games) and what the most efficient routes through the halls are. I’m nearly there – just need to figure out which circle of hell is reserved for the good people who figure out the Essen booth numbering system, since it is clearly the product of an alien intelligence that my poor brain is not capable of comprehending.

Planning to be a mule is also not without some advance purchases. Plastic bags? Check. Extra-light duffel bags to maximize luggage weight allowances? Check. 150 lb capacity cargo trolley to trundle through the halls with? Check! Lots and lots of Euros? Check, sort of. I can only take so much out of the banks each day here, so I need to get cute and make sure I take out enough on the days pre-Essen to cover the difference. And you though muling was all fun and games. Hmph.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Remember how all my games get shipped back? Yup, I have to sort out how to get them to the post office too. I think I have that figured out, since DHL will apparently do on-site pickups during the week as well. I will just have to figure out how to sweet-talk the landlord that Ted Alspach, Esq. rents his rooms from into letting DHL in to the appropriate apartment at the appropriate time to get my boxes outta there. Otherwise I have to lug them to the post office myself, and I’m sure that won’t be fun.

And so, that’s how I find myself sitting here at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, waiting for my connecting flight to Dusseldorf. From there, it’s a short train ride direct to the Messe where I hope to help Ted set up his booth. And eventually, at some point, I’ll get to sleep. That’s a nice abstract concept at this point, since sleeping and planes don’t mix for me. Thankfully they sell Starbucks in Venti sized containers out here too! The flight out was okay, although the guy to my right smelled and the lady to my left seemed to be battling a nosebleed. Nothing like being Mr. Middle Seat between Mr. Stinky and Mrs. Bloody! Good thing I have that friendly Canadian personality…

Next missive to follow, not sure when. Think of these as akin to embedded reporter reports from the front lines – I’ll post them when I can, but sometimes the operation has to come first.

On to Essen!


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2 Responses to Essen Mule Train Report #1

  1. Good luck Patrick!

  2. Andrea Meyer says:

    Hi Patrick, Looks like Reality is the Best strategy game After all. Come by tomorrow if that helps. Btw, if you think of 11-65 As the Center of the universe (As I tend to do These days), booth numbering suddenly makes a lot more sense.

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