Dale Yu: Saturday Night Pictoral Report from Essen

OK, there’s not a lot of free time tonight. Gotta say goodbye to all of my friends here in Europe, get some food and figure out the luggage situation.  The only good thing so far is that when I checked into my flight, I found out that my 2nd bag fee is only 50 EUR, not the 75 EUR that I was expecting!

The bulk of this report will be pictures and captions.  I’ve tried to catch the flavor of the fair through images.


Andrea Meyer (right) at her Frigiti Booth.  The game seemed to be getting good reviews from those who tried it, and I believe that Andrea may be working with some partners to get this done in other countries.



A true meeting of the minds.  Stephen B and Zev talking shop before the show opens on Saturday.  Sales were quite strong at the Stronghold booth this year with Outpost moving fast and the others not far behind.

Stronghold also made an announcement today that they are reprinting Merchant of Venus, which is similar to a press release made by Fantasy Flight this week as well.  I have no idea how this is going to work out with two companies trying to make the same game…


Everytime that I see the Nieblings, Mage Wars is one step closer to being done.  At Essen, the game was being presented in a box at least.  It still looks quite good, and hopefully it will be done by the summer conventions of 2012.


I didn’t get one, but there was a Catan Calendar on offer this year at the Kosmos booth


Speaking of the Kosmos booth – they always have a number of game designers on hand to meet and greet.  Here is the schedule for this year.


The Mr. Jack pocket extension was all sold out by Saturday morning… Dr Shark and Sidibaba were also in short supply by this time


Here is the Fairplay standings at 9:45am on Saturday


Kingdom Builder appeared to be the most promoted game by Queen at SPIEL.  Here you can see all the tables they have dedicated to demos of it.


Their overall stand was massive.  Here you see that same Kingdom Builder area on the right with the other demo area across the walkway on the left.


The usual discounted games from years past were in yet another area.


And there was another fairly large demo area (and shop) in Hall 5 as well…


Here is the Playdek stand in Hall 4.  As I mentioned yesterday, they are doing many iOS implementations in the coming year.


Hanno and Klemens were there to check out the progress on the Agricola app


sorry… wish this were more focused!


The Korean Pavillion seemed to be slightly larger this year.  The humongous GemBlo board also seems to grow each year as well…


Hall 4 is home to most of the secondhand sellers.  Here is a view down the aisle with many of them…


Here is a closeup view of one of the stands so you can see what’s on offer


The Czech boys were having a great week.  By the start of the show on Saturday, they were nearly sold out of Dungeon Petz and Last Will.  Petr also let me know that rules for the Last Will expansion being handed out at the booth should likely have rules posted by the end of the month.


Wizkids were just around the corner in Hall 4.  They had to bring in more pallets to rebuild their display.  From this I’m inferring that sales must have been good in order to make this necessary.  Dr Knizia was also on the stand during the afternoon, and this generated a fair bit of traffic.  Their current estimation for street date for both Mage Knight and the new Quarriors expansion is 11/24.


Here is a picture of the other French language booth were Ludonaute, Rallyman, Sit Down!, Le Joueur and a few others shared space…  (And, my apologies to Sit Down! – I now know they are from Belgium!)


Here you see Jay Tummelson setting up the Dominion World championships.  The winner was the entrant from Japan who apparently won or tied all six of his/her matches!


Yay for Ascora Games.  After a slight hiccup with the initial deliveries (not enough punchboards being included in the game), they got a huge delivery to start off the morning.  This pile was much lower by the afternoon when I revisited Scott and company.


Ted Alspach and his lovely wife setting up the booth.  Tiebreaker was sold out by the end of the day…


His prototype of Mutant Meeples was also getting a lot of attention from fairgoers.  As the sign says, the Kickstarter project for this should be underway soon…


Eventhough it was consistently rated high on the Fairplay list, this is the closest that I ever got to Siberia.  The demo copies were always in play, and to be honest with you, I generally tend not to pay as much attention to games that aren’t ready for SPIEL.  I have enough to consider amongst the games that I can actually take home!


In the foreground, Alba Longa, which was highly anticipated by many gamers.  In the background, Funagain Nick is stalking through the halls trying to make deals to bring games back for the online store.


This is the Mattel booth in the setup time.  During the day, this area was jammed pack with people looking at MindFlex, Loopz and Uno Rocking Robot.  This was honestly the busiest I’ve ever seen the Mattel booth at SPIEL.  In the foreground, you can just start to see the LEGO area.  Sadly, these tables were often still not occupied during the day.


Here you see about 70% of the Galeria Kaufhof stand.  They are always found in Hall 5, and they are a good place to get a decent price on games.  It’s usually never the lowest possible price, but the selection is good and sometimes the conveinence is worth the Euro or two extra.


The Boardgamegeek booth in action.  Aldie (#51) and Lincoln (walking towards him) were constantly working the computers to make sure that videos were working. 


They’re probably checking their fantasy football lineups…


The new version of Spiel at the Abacus booth was certainly colorful.  Unfortunately, the weight of 121 dice was too much to try to take back home with me.


Along with the annual Zooloretto expansion as well as a neat Airlines:Europe expansion, they were offering this Spiel Mini – a set of dice which did not have any rules.  The folks at the stand told me that there will likely be contests in the (near) future where gamers will be challenged to come up with games with these pieces.


The designers of the Village at the eggert booth.  There was a fair amount of buzz around this game – and it should be widely available in Germany just after the fair.  Eggertspiele was still looking to find distribution in America, but it looked likely that this would be set up by the end of the show.


A closer view of the game… There will be a copy of the game available for play at BGG.con


Another stand that seemed perpetually busy with the 011 game.  This is the first boardgame that I’ve heard of that is being released in conjuction with a music album.


The change in ownership of Z-man was un-noticeable.  The stand was in its usual spot and always packed.  Sales looked to be brisk during the weekend.


Here’s what was left by late Saturday morning.  Trust me – these stacks started out much higher at the start of the day!


Did I mention that Tanto Cuore was also there – via Japanime / CardHaus…


There was also news that there will be a new Tanto Cuore set coming out soon – which can work as a standalone version – that will add Worker Placement to this deckbuilder…. The sound of this totally intrigues me!


The Fryx brothers were having a great week.  They sold out of Wilderness (at the sale price of 170 EUR), and the only Space Stations left are what you see here on the right.


The Fairplay list at 5pm on Saturday, the last time that I passed by it this year.


The same Fairplay ratings in text form…

Finally, other news and notes that I heard today

  • Sales at Gryphon were high in the morning.  They were happy to announce that sales of the new games were going well – but their older line was also doing well.  Conquest, Incan Gold, Brass were all sold out by the time that I talked to them.  The proto of Canterbury also looked awesome.  (Sorry the pic I took of it is really out of focus)
  • Santiago de Cuba was also sold out at Gryphon
  • My prediction for the BGG video with the highest number of views will be Tanto Cuore.  The game is great.  And Jess and the booth babe look great too…
  • It sounds like both Cyclades and Dice Town will be getting 6-players expansions soon
  • Hawaii will be done in the US by Rio Grande
  • Eclipse sold out late Friday night, though Stefan from Asmodee told me it should be available on our side of the pond soon

And that pretty much does it for me at the 2011 SPIEL fair.  Now it’s time to eat and play luggage tetris.  I’ll probably write a recap piece on the plane ride home as always, but for now, gotta get back to packing!  I had a great time here, and I hope that these reports were a way to get a glimpse at what it’s like…

Hope you had as good a time as I did!

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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