Well, the setup/press day at Essen has come to a close, and I’m back home in the hotel room checking out our growing stack of games and trying to get a few played as well!
Before I get into that, a few notes/pics about the trip to Germany so far.
I love my trip through the snack aisle at the German supermarket – these were the potato chips I remembered to take a picture of… We also saw a new Pringles variety, smoked Bacon!
We had a wicked hailstorm this afternoon. Luckily, I was back in the hotel room dropping off the first batch of games, so I managed to stay dry and pockmark free.
A view from the roof with all the hail
Another view of the parking lot after the hailstorm had ended.
And, now on to the Fair!
The biggest trend so far this year is companies anxiously awaiting their games to arrive from Ludofakt. The number of companies that do not yet have their product as of 6pm on the night before the show is astonishing! A very incomplete list of companies who need games at the stand include
- Hans im Gluck
- Indie Board and Cards
- Lookout (missing most of theirs)
- Minion Games (will not make the show at all)
Almost all of the above companies, except for Minion, have apparently been promised delivery either later tonight or early tomorrow morning. There are many many nervous folks right now!
The other big change is that Wednesday at the fair is no longer the free-for-all that it used to be. Convention center security was definitely in full force making sure that companies were not selling any wares today. So, the “usual” pattern of picking up all my preorders on Wednesday were definitely squashed. I was still able to pick up a few games at the press conference and at my meetings, so there are still 8 new games on the table tonight:
(from left to right, top to bottom: Dominion: Hinterlands, Mage Knight, Dungeon Petz, 7 Wonders Catan expansion board, Casa Grande, Last Will, Drum Roll, Infarkt, Rumble in the House, Dominion: Governor expansion)
The press conference was the usual fun time of seeing a bunch of games quickly and trying to learn as much as possible in two hours. The press room definitely felt a lot less crowded this year than in year’s past – though the number of overall exhibitors at the fair this year is supposedly higher than ever before!
A few pictures from the press conference:
designer Mattias Cramer looking very Swiss
newly published Greg Daigle getting his first look at his first game, Hawaii, by Hans im Gluck!
A new Settlers version: Aufbruch der Handler
The designers of Walnut Grove in their new bright orange Lookout Games shirts
The highly anticipated Black Secret from REPOS.
Pegasus Spiele is distributing Nightfall to the German market
Pegasus is also promoting Strasbourg – and they win my award for neatest press kit extra which is a nice bottle of wine produced from the Strasbourg region.
Wiraqocha from Sit Down! (one of the newer companies from France)
Pokemon was there too (as was Karen E.)
Coney Island from Argentum
Carre, one of the new releases from Amigo
Normally there aren’t many games at the press show that I hadn’t heard of before, but this year I was surprised with two:
CocoDice is a new game out of Hungary which uses magnetic dice. It’s kind of a puzzle game as you have to manipulate the magnetic dice to make the patterns shown on the cards.
The other game I hadn’t heard of before was from Czech Board Games – it is a family oriented motocross racing game – called Speedway. The racers are articulated so that they can go straight on the straightaways and drift in the curves.
After the press conference today, I did have a chance to sit in at the Zoch press reception. This is a nice annual event that gives me a chance to rest my feet for an hour or so, eat a nice lunch and learn all about the new Zoch games for the year. They had at least one copy of every game there on display to be played, but sadly their full production was not yet at the fair.
Patrick Korner and I sat in on a demo of Tante Trudel’s Trodel. This is an interesting game which uses a balance as the main mechanic. At the start of the game, dice are rolled and a number of wooden goods are selected from the store depicted as a grid on the board – these goods are the “trodel”. Then, each player rolls a die, moves his pawn along the outside of the board and picks up one good from the aisle that his pawn is at. The players endeavor to pick up wooden bits that weigh less than the trodel. The player who comes closest to that weight without going over wins.
After the Zoch reception, it was a bunch of wandering around the fair hoping to find stands with games in supply (and the ability to sell them!). I also ran into my brother who was in the Matttel Germany booth in front of a pallet of Uno Rocking Robot (also known as Uno Roboto back home)
Another cool thing to see was the unveiling of Jonathan Franklin’s first game, A Fistful of Penguins
Kris Gould holding the very first game to emerge from the box!
A really nice thing to see is a fully stocked Queen booth. Unlike last year when the factory did not deliver the games on time… I had a quick talk with Rajive Gupta who told us that Queen did manage to get some of their new Essen games produced in under two months total time (Sparta and Kingdom Builder) which is a very short time indeed to start a game from scratch and then receive the final product from the plant!
One other cool thing was getting my copy of Dominion Hinterlands as well as the new promo card – a tie-in with the Puerto Rico anniversary
We were able to get a nice demo from the designer of Souvlaki Wars – this is a light drafting card game with a little bit of take-that with some of the action cards.
Andreas Seyfarth was wandering around – without a copy of the 15th anniversary version of Puerto Rico yet…
Here you see me with a shark-eaten Gordon Fragor (thank god he wasn’t in a Kraken outfit!)
After the Fragor reception, time for one of my favorite dinners – Doner Pide – it’s pretty much a toasted pita bread filled with cheese and doner meat…. yum!
Finally, to end the night, a chance to play a few games. Last Will from CGE was one of my most highly anticipated games, and it lived up to all of my expectations – the game was as much fun as I remembered, and packed a lot of decisions into a short 45 minute game. Valerie proved to be the best one at wasting her uncle’s money and won a fairly tight game.
After that, we took a run through Drum Roll, the new game from Artipia Games from Greece. This is a really nicely designed economic game set in the early 1900s. You go through the three rounds of the game building up your circus, hiring and training performers to score victory points. The first game we played took about 90 minutes, but I would see later games coming in around 1 hour for sure.
OK time for bed now – big day tomorrow with the first official day of the fair!
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor