Dale Yu: Essen 2014 By the Numbers


Well, I managed to survive another trip to Essen. It was a great trip, as usual – and I was glad to have had a chance to travel to Europe, spend some time with my brother, friends from home and friends from Europe. One of the best things for me about the trip is the chance to meet up with folks that I may only see once or twice a year. Of course, this year has been a bit different with a number of trips to Europe that I generally don’t make – but still, it’s nice to see old familiar faces and have a chance to catch up with them.


This year, there was a slightly higher number of things to do and people to see as a result of my Kinderspiel des Jahres nomination this year for Flizz & Miez. That has certainly been an amazing experience, and something I hope to be able to do again. It was also pretty awesome to see my brother be a rock star due to his winning the Kinderspiel prize. They definitely take the awards seriously over here!

What I plan to do is write a number of recap pieces; each focusing on a different aspect of the trip. I did try to give a flavor of the fair with the daily posts, but I know that this was less than ideal as I really didn’t have that much free time during the day in the fair itself. Additionally, fear of losing the posts on my phone kept me from posting too much – though the main limiting factor is simply time. There are so many booths to see and games to check out that there is barely time for anything else! Hopefully the pictures came out OK. I have been known to take some blurry pictures with my camera phone… My apologies for that – I will have to take a correspondence course on how to take pictures or perhaps drink a little less coffee in the morning as apparently even the slightest of shakes causes blurry pictures! J


So, to start – let’s look at the “numbers” from the trip


3 – trips to Europe in the past 9 months for boardgaming. Generally, I only come over in October for Essen, but this year started with the Nuremberg show as my new games were released there. Then, travel to Hamburg in July for the award ceremony for the Kinderspiel des Jahres.


33,245 – Delta Medallion miles generated this year from gaming. Hooray for Medallion status – I get to board the plane early and the free 2nd international bag is a wallet saver.


6 – days spent in Europe on this trip, all in Essen. We were going to do some sightseeing in the first part of the week, but the threat of a German train strike kept us closer to home. Brian and I did manage to catch a number of local sights that we’d never done before, so it still ended up being a good time.


60ish – by a back of a napkin calculation – the number of days I’ve spent in Essen over the years. Easily in 4th place as far as cities where I’ve been in my life (After home, college, and the lakehouse).


0 – Times I was able to eat at my favorite restaurant in Essen. Sadly, the Doner pizza place that I love was closed this year. Hopefully he will still be able to remember my order next year. I know it sounds crazy, but each year when I first walk into the restaurant, the manager/owner guy remembers me and what I order. It’s truly unbelievable. We did try out another local doner pizza joint, but it just wasn’t the same. We did, however, discover a new “authentic” Italian pizza place that was unbelievably good. So – it wasn’t all bad. I can’t remember the name of it, but it’s still walking distance from the hotel, albeit a bit further.


49.2 – miles recorded by my Nike Fuelband this week – the actual total is likely a bit higher as the Fuelband really only records left arm swings, and I know that I lose a lot of the count when I’m holding on to the straps of my IKEA backpack bag. So I’d guess that it’s probably closer to 51ish.


101,860 – number of armswings recorded. Again, this is possibly low


38,246 Nike Fuel points – this number will mean nothing to you unless you also have a Fuelband as it is a proprietary number. Which is also the main reason why I think the Fuelband sucks. It really came along as it was a nice slim watch that happened to be a pedometer. Oh, and my Fitbit just broke.

1.27 – the exchange rate for most of the week.  This is the lowest I can remember in the past 4 or 5 years, and it makes the trip a bit nicer.  I still can’t believe that on my first trip to Essen, the exchange rate with the Euro was 0.68.  Not only were we still in the tail end of the Golden Age of Gaming (of course, we didn’t know that then) – but the games were relatively half priced to today!

800 – number of USD I was able to exchange with US based stand owners at Essen.  Rather that pull money from the ATM – which is otherwise my method of choice of getting funny money – I can get pretty close to the exact rate with my friends, and in the end, we both win.  Both of us get to convert money into a more usable format and neither of us has to pay exchange fees to a bank on it.  (For the stand holders, unless they keep a European bank account, all the cash collected during Essen still has to be converted back into greenbacks at some point… Might as well do it without a fee)

19.50 – amount in Euro change I came home with. A bit more than usual, and it does make your pants droopy. But it’s a significant amount of money – so it’s not like US coins that you don’t really care if you leave behind


1 – not-so-awesome Banana nectar drink tried to get rid of the smalls (definitely should have gone with the Berry Mezzo Mix)


14 – meetings/events this week while at SPIEL. Lots of people to talk to – both to look at games as well as talk a little about business. More about the news/info I learned at the show later in the week.


200 – approximate number of games that I looked at during the show. The crazy thing is – this is probably only about a quarter of the total number of games at Essen. Each year, the number of exhibitors and the number of new games increases. It is honestly impossible to even try to do it all. The legwork done ahead of time is more and more important. Going to GenCon is a good first step – the new releases there are raelly many of the same games that get a European release here. Relying on rules being posted, email conversations with folks from the game companies, and reading WEM’s BGG Essen Preview really help narrow my focus so that I can see the things that interest me the most. I did spend a bunch of time just wandering around trying to find stuff I hadn’t read of before, but I could have done that for the entirety of my three days at Spiel and seen nothing but new things!


3 – possible new projects for me after the show – two new development projects look like they are going to happen as well as an outside chance at another design gig. I also had a number of other offers for development/consultant projects, but I really don’t want to overstretch myself. It’ll already be pretty close with a real job, the family, this blog, and all the gaming I’m already committed to. I plan to really sit down and figure out the timing of the projects to see if I can fit anything else in the calendar. But, I don’t want to take on projects that I can’t commit to – so I apologize again to all of the people who asked if I could help them. I’m flattered to be asked, and I’ll do my best to get back to all of you with an answer soon.


7 – number of IKEA bag trips from the Messe to the Hotel with games. The straps on those IKEA bags are really thin and I was worried for a bit that it might separate my shoulder. However, both my shoulders and the bags survived the week unharmed.


16 – number of Ibuprofen tablets taken to try to make my shoulder and back feel normal.


5 – total hours spent punching, bagging, nesting, weighing and otherwise manipulating games to get them to fit in my baggage.


4 – total hours spent playing games in my room this year – yes, I know that this is less than what many people expect of the trip, but usually I play even less than this! The actual time I spend at the fair is limited, and usually the work of figuring out how to get everything home takes up most of the evenings. I figure I’ll be playing games 1-2 times per week until Christmas plus at least two gaming weekends which should get most of the new games to the table by then.


88 – game things that will come home from Essen. Yes, some of these are small – as small as a promo card or baggie of bits, but these are all things that were checked off the list of things to get. I will try to make a list later in the flight – but I am not 100% sure of the list. I tried to update it each night, but I’m sure there are a few things that I didn’t log.


16 – 2 gallon Ziploc baggies used to hold games. I’m a huge proponent of using these ginormous bags that I can find at Dollar Tree. They are big enough to hold even a 30cm square board. In my effort to save weight for my luggage, I filled up 16 bags of game boards and rules to place in my carryon. The heavy wood bits and cards also go in the carryon in quart/gallon bags that can be more easily moved to fill in the space in the carryon. The empty boxes (which still have a lot of heft to them) are packed in the regular luggage, but the baggies usually let me get an extra 10-12 games home I think…


2 – number of luggage pieces that will never travel again. Sadly, I think I will have to retire two of them when I get home. My beloved humongous and light orange suitcase lost a wheel. It’s kind of a bear dragging it across the ground, and the plastic housing for the wheel has also been damaged severely. I’ve never looked into whether or not there is even such a thing as luggage repair, but at this point, it seems like it would be best just to get a new piece of luggage. My backpack is also pretty much toast. I’ve been searching for a replacement for awhile for this one too.



167.7 – total weight in pounds of my various pieces of luggage (49.8 in big blue, 49.7 in big orange, 42.2 in my “carryon”, 26.0 in my backpack).


15.7 – pounds that my baggage outweighs me!


62 – linear inches of both of my pieces of luggage. Well, actually, the blue camo bag is probably 64, but they didn’t measure it at the check in desk. I was prepared to remove some laundry strategically placed as padding in the exterior pockets in order to make it fit. The nice lady at DUS did have to use a little (well a lot) of elbow grease to get it thru the super skinny conveyor belt at the desk.


1 – cardboard box that gave the ultimate sacrifice for my baggage – when I left the States, I pulled out the thick liner from my huge duffel bag – thinking that I wouldn’t need it. Of course, I didn’t realize that there were 5 pretty ginormous bolts in the bottom for holding the plastic supports. So I had to find a box and cut a new liner or else I know that I would have found 5 game boxes with huge dents/holes in them.


2 – number of OG posts that were “eaten” by the Internets or my stupid phone. My apologies for the blank posts – apparently, with the Android app, if you lose your Internet connection at any point in the uploading process, the whole thing just goes poof. The phone deletes the local draft because it thinks it has been posted, but yet, there’s nothing there… I figured out that if I used lower resolution pics, there is a better chance of not losing things – but this involves using a different camera app to take the pictures and a convoluted transfer process. First world problems for sure.


4 – number of spiral fried potatoes I consumed this week. I tried a few new flavors, but I think I’ll still fall back on the curry/paprika mix.


6,000 – my estimate of the number of spiral fried potato calories I ate this week.


That’s a fairly decent numerical recap of the week. More tomorrow…

Until your next appointement,

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: Essen 2014 By the Numbers

  1. Craig Massey says:

    See my comment from your other recent post. Again, great job Dale!

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