Dale Yu: Friday Essen Report

The SPIEL fair is now halfway over – and it’s been jam packed with games so far!  This morning, we were back to the Messe by 9am, and got a good walk around a mostly empty convention center.  This early time is great to get a unhurried and non-crowded look at some of the stands.  Of course, this is the setup time for the stands, so you have to make sure that you stay out of the way!

Early this morning, ran into two game designers with new releases at the fair this year – Greg Daigle (Hawaii) and Jeffrey Allers (Pala). In between them is my brother, Brian Yu, who is a game designer, but he isn’t showing a new game this year at Essen.


Sadly, the Austrian Game Museum still did not have delivery of their Pantheon tiles, so I was politely asked to return Saturday morning to try again… Hopefully they will arrive tomorrow as it’s the last day that I’ll be at the fair!

Hall 10 was bustling with activity.  The BGG booth had a constant line of people there rating games for the Geekbuzz rating system.  There was also a constant bunch of folks around the interview area as it is a great place to catch a demo of a game, no matter the time!  The BGG Booth is also the area for the sales of the Rio Grande Games – the jubilee edition of Puerto Rico arrived today – so this added to the general congestion at the stand.


(The Geekbuzz ratings at about 10:15 this morning)

Just around the corner was the Fairplay magazine stand which has the other rating poll.  There is a nice bookcase in the center of the booth which has the boxes of the current top 10 of the Fairplay poll.  We had a short conversation with Kathrin Nos, one of the editors of the magazine, who told me that there was a fairly steady stream of folks at the booth – both to vote as well as check out the current standings.


(The Fairplay ratings at 10:20 am above and 5:30pm below)


The Hans im Gluck stand was busy with people playing Hawaii as well as other recent releases such as Pantheon.  There were also a lot of folks lining up to make a donation for the Carcassone school expansion.  Other companies offering promos for a charitable donation included Queen Games, 2F and Repos.

At Fraser’s request – a few pictures of what’s inside the HiG Promo:



The WizKids booth was filled with folks getting their first look at the newly released Mage Knight.  It seemed to be getting a good reception from the convention goers, and there was definitely a lot of attention to Star Trek: Expeditions and Quarriors as well.  Eric Lang, one of the designers of Quarriors, was at the booth for a bit today as well.

Right next to them in Hall 4 was the Playdek stand.  I had walked by this a number of times this week so far without checking it out – as all I saw there was a bunch of people playing on iPads.  As it turns out, Playdek is becoming a force in the move to bring gaming to the iOS.  Today they were announcing five new strategic partnerships with world-class board game developers Christophe Boelinger of Ludically, Lock n Load Publishing, Eagle Games, Gryphon Games, and Rebel Games.  iOS versions of Ascension and Food Fight were available to be played.  Soon to come will be: Agricola, Nightfall, Summoner Wars and many other games.  I can’t wait to give some of these a look when they’re ready.

A quick walk into Hall 5 showed a mostly empty back wall at the Wattalspoag booth – I’m happy to report that A Fistful of Penguins has done extremely well this year…


Lookout Games had its usual line in front of the booth – today with some there to buy games and some there to enjoy the new Agricola beer…


After enjoying the Agricolava, it was time for the REPOS reception to celebrate 7 Wonders winning the Kennerspiel.  The boys from Belgium with the sombreros definitely know how to throw a party.  Good Belgian beer was offered as well as some of the more interesting flavors of German Lays potato chips – Roasted Ham, for example, as well as Balsamic vinegar.


After a quick dinner, back to the hotel to eat dinner and then try out a couple of games before the annual suitcase wrestling match.  We played Master Merchant twice tonight.  It’s a cute little hand-builder/deck-builder of a game.  Games are short, maybe about 10-15 minutes.  There are only 28 total cards in the game (other than the starting cards), but there are still many ways that you can go strategy wise.  An interesting little game that will easily fit in your pocket.  Then, we played Splits from Jactalea, a nice little wooden two-player abstract.  It’s nice, and if I played more two-player games (and had more weight in my luggage), I’d consider it.

Oh yeah, I did get a few more games today while wandering the halls…


One more day at the fair, and a lot of packing and re-packing before that happens!  Here’s how the bags look so far – they’re all packed… now I just have to make about 27 pounds disappear somewhere to make it under the weight limit!


About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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4 Responses to Dale Yu: Friday Essen Report

  1. Baguety says:

    Always looking foward to your reviews and your photos. Thanx
    Can you please tell me what the name of that game next to the city is.

  2. Baguety says:

    Nevermind, problem solved.
    Master Merchant

  3. John Mellby says:

    Master Merchant from Japon games, I think.

  4. Fraser says:

    Thanks for the pics of what was inside that little meeple bag! Cute meeple I must say.

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