Essen – Reenergizing and Exhausting

Well, the jetlag is starting to wear off and it feels like time to start thinking about the lessons from Essen 2013 – don’t worry, game discussion will come in future columns, as I got in 10 solid games and plan on lots more over the coming month.  I got lots of games in trades and also bought a fair amount, but ‘only one suitcase full’.

After going for four or five of the last seven years, I thought I had it down, but here are a few tips for my 2014 trip, if I am lucky enough to go, and perhaps for you too.

1. Get business cards that highlight what you do/are trying to achieve.  Write a blog?  Make a card.  Design games? Make a card.  I cannot tell you how many times I had a good interaction that ended with getting a business card without having one to give.  As Dale told me, ‘amateur’, although I believe he used more colorful language.

2.  Either get a luggage scale or get to the airport early, so you have time to repack your checked bag if it is grossly overweight.

3. In hotel rooms where the lights and outlets are controlled by having your door key in the slot inside the room, your electronics will not charge while you are gone.  Bring a spare card you don’t care about and leave it in the slot while you are gone if you want things to charge – but turn off all the lights so you don’t waste energy.

4. Do not store your Messe pass and money in the same pocket as your game list.  I was constantly using my game/booth list.  At some point I lost a large bill and my pass from my pocket.  I assume it was because it was not in a wallet and hence fluttered out.  Do like I say, not like I do.

5. Don’t wait until the week before Spiel to try to make a trade.  My last trade was finalized the night before I left.  It took some coordination to negotiate the deal, pack the games, schedule the meetup, and make the exchange.  If you need a meeting spot, just do it at the math trade, as many of the traders already have to be there.  Yes, there are a ton of people, but it means you only need to be at one spot at one time to complete many trades, rather than having multiple pick-up and drop-off spots – or just don’t do it if the hassle is too much.

6. Consider selling games in Essen, rather than trading, unless it is for something you really want.  Trades can be a ‘good deal’, but they take up space and weight you might rather use for new games.  Instead, bring over games that are sold, get the cash on the first day at the math trade meetup and then go shopping!

7. Starbucks in Essen has free wifi – and their coffee is great for when jetlag slams into you.  One is in the train station.  Free wifi is not common in Germany, as far as I can tell.  Need to blog?  Find a Starbucks.

8. Don’t trust the Geekbuzz/Fairplay lists that much.  From afar they seem important, but when there, proximity of the game’s booth to the voting booth seems to play a not insubstantial role in how games place.  Check which games that were high on Geekbuzz were in Hall 1 and which games that were high on Fairplay were in Hall 3.

9. I liked the new layout.  Yeah, some grumps lamented that they could not longer complete their shopping lists with blindfold on, but honestly, the wider aisles and larger spaces were great.  Not all change is bad.

10. Don’t bring a rollerboards (carry-on suitcases with wheels) on the weekend.  I know you want to fit in all the games and not have to lug them, but rollerboards are very low and people are looking up, not down, so there is lots of tripping and running over feet with them when the place is full.  I followed this this year, but was run over a few times.

Anyway, more to come, but that’s all for now.

Jonathan Franklin

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3 Responses to Essen – Reenergizing and Exhausting

  1. Dale Yu says:

    Amen on the lack of wifi. I was so busy, I never even found the press center on the side on the Messe that we now occupy. At the other one, you could get (wired) Internet there, though you had to bring your own ethernet cable… I’ll have to put that on my list of things to look up for next year.


  2. Timo says:

    Most McDonalds have “hotspots” (free wifi) too. Besiides those and universities … yes, (we are) germany is far behind many other countries. :(

  3. gamekahuna says:

    There are two types of free wifi in Europe – straight free and free that requires SMS to receive the password. If you don’t have a phone with a European SIM card, I don’t think you can get the SMS to use the free wifi.

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