Jennifer Geske: BGG.CON 2011 – Behind the Scenes

While Essen is where the boardgaming industry introduces many of the new games for the next year, BGG.CON is where many non-Europeans in the community get to play those games. I usually try to get to BGG.CON at least one day in advance to get the lay of the land, catch up with friends I haven’t seen in months and get a little bit of pre-con gaming in before the serious gaming starts. This year I arrived early Tuesday afternoon, and at 2 p.m. there were already a few tables of gamers in the breakfast area playing games they have brought with them. The ballroom/conference center area was a hotbed of activities, with hotel staff, convention organizers, and many volunteers working to set up the variousrooms that will be packed with gamers starting on Wednesday.

I dropped off my copy of the 2-F games (Power Grid: First Sparks, Power Grid: Robot, and Friday) for the BGG library and spent the next few hours help setting up games in the Hot Games Room. As I have already played most games that are in the Hot Games room, I have volunteered to teach games there this year. The intention is for some high-demand/low-supply new Essen games to be set up in the room so groups of gamers can be rotated through session within a couple of hours. Some popular games may not be on the list as they may be available for purchase from vendors so there’ll be plenty of copies. Here’s a list of the games that are currently set up in the room:

  • Dungeon Petz (2 copies)
  • Vanuatu
  • Hawaii
  • Die Burgen von Burgund (not Essen release but still in low supply in the US)
  • Tournay
  • Last Will
  • Power Grid: First Sparks (2 copies)
  • Ora et Labora (2 copies)
  • Trajan
  • Village
  • Belfort
  • Poseidon’s Kingdom
  • Eclipse
  • Ab in die Tonne
  • Drum Roll
  • Colonial: Europe’s Empires Overseas

I also checked out the Funagin Store, where Nick Medinger was busy pulling together pre-orders and setting up the rest of the store with the Funagain Essen loot. If you are interested in a copy of Ab in die Tonne and did not pre-order, you should go to the store first thing Wednesday morning (10 a.m.) as there were only 3 copies left when I was in the room.

I only got in a little bit of pre-con gaming on Tuesday because I had to call in to a board meeting in the evening. I played Pala with Ted Alspach, Toni Alspach and Jeremiah Lee. It’s a fun trick-taking card game. Even though I did not understand that you are supposed to avoid points until 2/3 of the way through the first round, I managed to do pretty well. Later in the evening, I also played a couple games of A Fistful of Penguins, another new Essen release designed by an OG contributor. It’s a light dice game with cute components and plays in 10-15 minutes. I also watched most of a session of Giza: The Great Pyramid, an upcoming Mayfair release designed by my friend Dave Heberer. I took some photos to show Dave that the game actually exists. By about 9 p.m. on Tuesday, there were at least 100 gamers playing games in various conference rooms at the hotel, and there was a late-night Werewolf session as well. I spent most of the late evening (ended up going to bed around 4:30 a.m. after being awake for more than 27 hours straight) chatting with friends. However, I did manage to scope out the library earlier in the afternoon so I know what games I want to play (mostly the ones that I don’t own – I still have about 30 new Essen games that I own but have not yet played):

  • 2019: The Arctic
  • Aquileia
  • Burdigala
  • Fief
  • Mage Knight
  • Sake & Samurai
  • Siberia
  • Takenoko
  • Core Worlds
  • Zeitalter der Vernunft
  • Fealty
  • Urbania
  • Manhattan Project

I am usually the person walking around the floor with a new game checked out and can’t find anyone who is interested in playing them. So if you are interested in any of the games I listed, let me know and we can actually get the games on my list played. I also plan to check out the vendor booths and the Proto Alley to play some prototypes. Now it’s time to go check out the registration line…

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8 Responses to Jennifer Geske: BGG.CON 2011 – Behind the Scenes

  1. Dale Yu says:

    Thanks for the sneak peek! Be sure to keep us up to date on what’s going on at BGG.con this weekend! Have a great time.


  2. huzonfirst says:

    27 straight hours? Way to start early on the sleep deprevation, girl!

    I hope you get a chance to play Siberia, Jennifer. The rules for that look quite interesting.

  3. patrickkorner says:

    I really wanted to know about Siberia at Essen this year. Sadly, when I went by the booth to try and get a demo I got ignored for nearly 10 minutes while the booth guys chatted with (presumably) some friends. Eventually I decided I didn’t need to know about the game quite that badly and left. I suppose my polite Canadian nature ended up being to my detriment there!


    • Sorry for not getting an introduction to Siberia in Essen, but one thing is not true: We never had the time to just chat with friends. We had two tables and two prototypes and both tables were occupied all the time. Most people waited – sometimes 30 Minutes or more – to get a table, because we did not make reservations. It was never a problem to ask me or my people at the booth – even if we were involved with explanation or with talking – to get an answer or a date. We made some dates for some professionals between 9 and 10 o’clock as they had the chance to get in before the fair was open for visitors at 10 o’clock. After 10 o’clock we did not make a difference between „normal vistors“ and „important people“. For everyone we took the time needed. And as we were friendly to everybody this may have seemed like chatting with friends. (Maybe it’s true however – we got many new friends and meeting people in Essen is always like meeting friends).

  4. jgeske says:

    Well, I have Siberia in hand now, and have read the rules. It’s just the matter of finding people to try it out.

  5. John Garnett says:

    I’m surprised that Walnut Grove and Kingdom Builder aren’t on the hot games list.

  6. I’m missing “My little Pony Hide&Seek”

  7. jgeske says:

    John was right. Both Kingdom Builder and Welcome to Walnut Grove are in the Hot Games room. Nefarious was added on Thursday.

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