So I’m in Essen. On Thursday (Opening Day!). I couldn’t buy much the day before – many booths aren’t finished yet, and those that are have been told by the Messe management not to sell until the next day. Wednesday also featured some odd weather, including hail! Hmm, I hope that’s not a sign from above that our endeavours are going to be fraught with peril or something. I have a lot of boxes to grab!
Trusty hand cart in hand, I rushed to Hall 4 to start my planned surgical strike – up one aisle, down the next, 30 minutes and I’ll be done with the hall. Hooray for advance planning!
I get to the GenX/Homoludicus booth and… nobody there. Okay, on to Pearl Games. They’re there, all right, but their games aren’t yet. Oh dear. 5 minutes into the fair and my best laid plans are already starting to go horribly awry…
As it turns out, the running around with efficiency thing is not destined to happen. The running around haphazardly thing, however, will occur with distinct regularity.
By the end of the first day, I have bought about 100 games. Some are enormous (THREE copies of Eclipse, anyone?) and some are tiny (five copies of Master Merchant), but it’s enough to fill a heck of a lot of bags. Actually the games fill two enormous cardboard boxes, one large duffel bag plus additional shopping bags. At least one part of the plan went as planned – buy as much as possible on Thursday when the crowds are a little less.
Lugging all the games back to the hotel is a bit of a chore. Did I mention I’m staying in an apartment this year? And that it’s in a building with no elevator? And that I’m on the top (5th) floor? Yeah, fun. I’m very very thankful to Ted, Toni, Jeremiah and Sean, all of whom carried more of my stuff than they really needed to – thanks guys. At one point, my room looked like the back room of your FLGS getting ready for launch.
Also a bit of a chore is buying 1500 Euros worth of games when you’re a very smart guy who forgot to bring extra Euros with you before coming to Europe. My ATM withdrawal limit turned out to be like 300 Euros, so some complex loan and money management systems were required. I literally ended Thursday with less than 10 Euros in my wallet, and that repeated itself for each and every day of the fair. Fun!
Friday was more of the same, buying wise, although I ended up buying a little less (which was to be expected, as I’d knocked off a pretty big chunk of purchases the day before). I had about a dozen games left on my own personal buylist and about 20 or so left on the convention buylist. I managed to finish my own purchases on Saturday and actually ended up mostly finishing up the convention purchases the same day, although there were a few final stragglers in to Sunday. Sunday, the final day of the fair, I came back to the apartment with only a small plastic shopping bag that included a few last-minute buys (Pala for one) and a few extra copies of some of the fair freebies.
So that’s how the games came to be in the apartment. But there’s a lot more to muling than just buying the games. Oh, yes. For space and weight reasons, each and every one of the approximately 240 games I ended up buying had to be opened, punched and evaluated for additional weight loss measures (such as tossing rules in other languages, flimsy cardboard inserts, etc.). That was a chore, let me tell you. Except for Thursday, where I was still too exhausted / jet lagged to pull it off, I was up until 4 am each day of the fair, punching, bagging and sorting. This game is mine and it goes over there. That game is theirs and needs to go here. Which game is this freebie for again? I wonder if this plastic insert is nice enough to warrant keeping. And so on, and on, and on.
Because I knew there’d be a lot of them. I decided to keep all the cardboard sprues and bits and whatnot that I turfed from the games and weigh them at the end of the fair, just to see how much weight was actually saved. The answer? 45 pounds.
Yeah, I’d say it was worth it.
The next (and probably final) mule report should be coming in a day or so, and will discuss shipping and luggage logistics (I can see the anticipation in your eyes already…) as well as tie up some final loose threads. If I can get my iPod phone to cooperate, I’ll try and post some pictures of the haul and such too.