Dale Yu – Report from Essen, Sunday edition

I’m on the way home now, writing this while at the airport but probably not posting until I get to ATL when I have wifi again. 

Saturday was a busy day, and in fact, I spent more time at the fair than I normally do on Saturday.  Usually, I have already figured out how much space/weight I might have left in my luggage, and I go and get the one or two games that will meet the space/weight requirements.  Then, due to the humongous crowds, I usually escape as quick as possible and head back to the hotel room to pack, play games, catch up on sleep, etc.  This year, I ended up at the fair until about 6pm.  I spent a bit of time at the fair using the wifi because the signal in my hotel room is so sketchy this year.  I also volunteered a bit at the BGG booth, and I may have tried to convince Aldie to buy another copy of Wacky Wit to bring to BGG.con. I also had to go back twice as I kept packing, repacking, punching bits, etc – and I kept finding more and more room in the suitcase!

I first went to the Fairplay booth, and I check out the Fairplay list (I think I posted a picture of that list from the fair) – it did motivate me to find my old friend Ronald Hoekstra and see his game UGO.  It had been rising up the Fairplay list, and it turns out to be a clever little card game.  I only played a quick two player game, but I think that it will be good for four as well.  I will give it a full review soon, but the big thing is that the rules give players something to do with both high and low numbered cards – which makes any hand that you’re dealt an interesting proposition. It also gave me a great chance to take a few demos of games in.  Also met up with the Polish guys who are making/selling the mini-crokinole boards.  They are about 24″ in diameter, and they appear to be of high quality.  They are made in Hungary, and honestly, if I hadn’t been told that, I would have been hard pressed to know that it wasn’t made by hand by some grizzled, bearded, Canadian carpenter.  The action on the boards was very nice, and the playing surface was smooth as a baby’s butt. They did not need to have silicone powder on the surface, and a gently flick brought the puck far past the bunghole.  Additionally, the pegs have good bounce off of them – and they do not need rubber bands around them to give the bounce.  The mini pucks come in a variety of colors and they are well crowned on one side while being flat on the other to give the player better strategic choices.  The cost for the mini table was reasonable, though you had to buy the pucks separately. Sadly, there isn’t a good way for me to get this one home, so I had to pass.  I did get the folks from Funagain over to talk to them, so hopefully they will be able to stock it in the shop.  It would probably be easier to send a pallet of them across the ocean, so this would be the best way to get them in the US.

Saturday’s total was 24,840 steps = 14.4 miles (though to answer a question someone asked me at the fair – I honestly don’t know how accurate the distance is – it’s just the distance that my Fitbit told me I had walked.  I feel pretty sure about the number of steps that I took.  The total this week has been pretty high – but that’s typical for Essen.  The fair, for me at least, is nothing but a constant day of walking, looking at all the different games, talking to my friends, etc.  I generally don’t sit down much unless I’m having a meeting, and I really only had two or three of those this year. 

So, I’m trying to think of the games I managed to play this week (far exceeding my usual number of two or three)

  • Time Stories
  • unnamed secret prototype
  • Ugo
  • Longhorn
  • Coal Baron
  • Templar
  • Continental Express
  • Love Letter
  • Hanabi (with the new tiles)
  • Concept
  • habe fertig
  • the other unnamed prototype


I’m currently sitting in DUS with an extra hour on my hands.  As usual, I’ve forgotten to take the daylight savings time change which usually happens near the end of October – this affects us about 50% of the time that we go to Essen.  Luckily, this meant that I woke up an hour earlier than I had to instead of the other way around – that would truly be disastrous!  My brother and I have just pooled all of our small change (0,50 EUR and smaller) and now we’re trying to find gummy bears, chocolate or something to spend the little change on.  Sadly, there isn’t much choice here in the international terminal at DUS – the italian deli here sells Haribo gummies, so it looks like it’s a bag of “Happy Germany” which are gummies shaped like historic German buildings.  By the time you are reading this, my kids will likely be noshing on the Cologne cathedral and the Brandenburg Gate.  The weird thing is that I had no warning of the change at all!  Usually, I see some sort of public service announcement about it, or at a minimum, the receptionist at the hotel reminds us. This year, nothing.  No sign on the elevator door at the hotel, no TV commercials, no billboards, etc.  Heck, if my brother’s phone hadn’t automatically changed time, we wouldn’t have had any idea until we would have been standing around waiting an extra hour for our taxi…

It was a bit dicey at the airport security lines.  First, I forgot to pack my diclofenac gel – this is an anti-inflammatory gel/lotion that is over the counter here in Germany, and I use it on my ankles and feet when I run or walk too much.  It comes in a 150g aluminum tube, and while fluid restrictions are not quite as bad here in Europe as at home, I still got a menacing glare from the security guy.  Furthermore, this year, everything has to go in a plastic bin to go thru the x-ray machine – even your carry-on luggage!  It took all of my composure just to lift the bad up to the chest-high conveyor belt without showing signs of the extreme weight of my bag… And then when the security guy tried to lift it into the bin… well, menacing glance #2…  This year, the carryon is around 20kg – so it’s essentially another fully packed piece of luggage – just one that I have to put in the overhead compartment by myself.  I would worry that this is too heavy, but I’ve seen the commercials with Ben Baldanza in an overhead compartment, and my bag is no more than 2/3 of a Ben, so it shouldn’t be too bad…

The other thing that was weird at DUS is the placement of security.  There was the usual x-ray/metal detector prior to getting to the gate, but the ProVision scanner/air puffer thing was located right at the gate itself, and people were flagged periodically to get scanned right before getting on the plane.  It seems like kinda of a weird place to do it, but as long as I can get on the plane and have a sense of security about it, I don’t really care how they do it.

And, of course, since I am writing about it, I get chosen to go thru the security drill.  It appears that it is fairly new for the staff as it took about three people to work the machine.  I think they were a bit surprised that I knew that I had to take off my shoes for it.  They did get a good look at my carry-ons, and surprisingly nothing was said about the weight!  When he started to poke thru, he asked what I was carrying that was so heavy, to which I replied “Brettspiel”.  “Brettspiel?” “Ja, alles Brettspiel.” “Brettspiel?!”  And with that, he had a good chuckle, waved me off and then spent about a minute and a half watching me try to zip my bag back up.  A minor annoyance, but something I’m happy to deal with for the name of safety.

I’m admittedly a bit tired now, but I will try to figure out what games I’ve managed to bring home this year and write that up.  Sadly, my master list was misplaced somewhere on Saturday, so I no longer have a comprehensive list of the games that I got.  This is further complicated somewhat by the fact that I did ship a box of games home, and the manifest for that shipment was also with my master list!  Sometime tonight, I will open up the bags and see what’s inside – and then try to reconstruct the contents of the box from memory (and using a blank copy of my list which should trigger memories of what I picked up).  A big shout out to my German friends who are helping me get the box back to the States!  (You know who you are, but I don’t want to put your names out there lest you get 50 requests next year to ship games home!)

I’m hoping that the movies on the flight home are as interesting on mute as they were on the outbound flight.  It was immensely entertaining to watch The Great Gatsby and The Life of Pi without the accompanying audio.  Anyways time to get on the plane… I hope that I can retrieve the pictures from my camera when I get home – It appears that my problems were due to a faulty SD card in the camera.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Until your next appointment

The Gaming Doctor

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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1 Response to Dale Yu – Report from Essen, Sunday edition

  1. huzonfirst says:

    Great report as usual, Dale. As far as your carry-on bag is concerned, I’m not so sure. Baldanza’s a pretty small guy and I’ve seen the way you can pack a bag. It wouldn’t shock me if you were lugging 1.1 Bens onto that poor overhead compartment!

    Hope you got home safely. We’re all looking forward to the reviews of your booty.

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