Dale Yu: Friday Report from Essen

Friday started off with the box shenanigans, and this ended up taking most of the precious setup time for the day.  However, as you can guess, as  I was sending off a fairly ginormous box, I had already a fair number of games… It ended up being really nice having mostly empty walkways and aisles to maneuver the hand truck around.  I took an extra few minutes trying to exchange card games a la Indiana Jones in my box to maximize the weight – and though I was still 200g short – I feel like I’m getting as much as possible in my box.

The added advantage of sending a box home is that I now have more time during the day to enjoy myself at the fair as I won’t have to be back in the room packing and re-packing (as well as the punching and other weight reduction activities). 

I did manage to pick up a copy of Horticulture Master, a highly anticipated game for me from MOZI.  They also had a super cute came that comes in a purse, but as I no longer have small children, I ended up passing on it. But if I did…

I spent a few minutes at the BGG stand watching the promo line slowly move on by, and I started to peek at the GeekBuzz ratings.  Right now, PlanB games and their subsidiaries are crushing things with Azul Sinatra (the Rat Pack edition), Coimbra and Blackout all residing in the top 5.  Though it’s clearly still early days, there is a surprising LACK of correlation between proximity and ranking this year.  Normally, those games which were physically closest to the BGG stand seemed to do much better, however, you have to go outside of the Top 10 currently to find a game from Hall 5 which can be seen from the BGG booth.  This is a good thing to see, and makes the Geek Buzz ratings something which might be a bit more reliable for people to use as a true measure of the Buzz here.  At the end of the day –

Later in the day, I also made it by the Fairplay stand, and their afternoon ratings looked like this.

For lunch, I enjoyed another nice time at the Ravensburger press event. This is now the second year for the Friday meeting, and again, we had a 
nice quiet room to look at the new games and take a minute to rest our feet, grab some food and then play a game or two.

The food was typical German catering fare – though the tray of currywurst really hit the spot.  There were also interesting little cups with mini schnitzels and mini frikadellen.

The games presentation was a bit shorter this year, and again Ravensburger went out of their way to make sure that the non-German speakers could understand what was going on.  They still had a live translator present, but they also provided us with printed translations of the speeches, and that was super cool.

As for the games, the two innovative ones (for me) were Cool Runnings and kNOW!  Cool Runnings has already received a bit of press this week as it won an award for innovation at the start of the show.  The idea here is that each player has an ice cube and you have to keep it from melting.  You (or other players) may have to hold it in their hands, blow hot air/breaths on it, or maybe even drizzle salt on it.  I love the idea, and I think it clearly deserves awards for innovation.  Will it be a Kinderspiel candidate?  Maybe.  Not sure if it is too confrontational for that – and the game also has a possible spontaneity issue.  You have to have ice ready (preferably using their molds so that they are the right size and identical in shape/size), which means you either always have some cups in the freezer in the game room or you have to be thinking ahead a bit when you want to play the game.

They even had cute and supersweet little Cool Runnings petit-fours for dessert.

kNOW is a new trivia game just released on the fair.  This game has a bunch of questions found on the cards in the box.  Players read them and then work on the answers.  However, there are no answers in the box – you must use Google Assistant (on your phone or Google Home, etc) to get the answer.  What? You don’t have a Google Home?  That’s ok – the plans are to sell base versions which include just the game as well as an electronic edition which includes a Google Mini for only 12 EUR more.   I think that this is an interesting concept melding technology and boardgames, and I’m curious to see how it is accepted by the market.

The El Dorado expansion was also available for play, and I’m looking forward to my first chance to play it. 

I was also excited to see that we each received a jigsaw puzzle as a gift, and this one is an EXIT puzzle so there is something to be solved even after the puzzle is done!

Back to the show after that – and I managed to run into Wolfgang Warsch.  We had a nice chat at his signing event at Schmidt, and had a nice chat about his new games (and my lack of new games). 

I actually had only one other appointment on the afternoon, and I had a nice demo of Pleasant Journey to Neko with the designer, and this is another one which is high on my list to play when I get home.  The rest of the day was spent just wandering around the halls, chatting with friends and just soaking in the sights.  I did not bring many games back to the room at all as I feel like my bags are mostly filled at this time.

Thanks to fellow OG writer Alan How, I shared a bag of Christmas Tree potato chips with the BGG booth staff.  Overall, the reaction was mixed, and as I made everyone guess what the flavor was before showing them – Doug Garrett (also from the OG) was the closest as he said “it tastes like wood”. 

The evening was spent at the Spiel des Jahres dinner.  More German catering, which appeared to be from the same catering company as lunch – as there were more yummy mini-frikadellen in glass cups.  The brisket was really good, and it came with “bone sucking sauce” which tasted a lot like KC Masterpiece.

Lots of famous folks at the dinner, and many were cajoled into taking selfies with me.

After dinner, time to play a few games – we got in rounds of Knapp Daneben, a roll and write from Schmidt which is more thinky than I had expected, and Pech Vogel from Zoch – which seemed to take a bit longer than a dice game should.  But, with the group of friends at the table as well as scads of Ritter mini chocolates on the table (and free flowing drinks from the bar), a good time was still had by all.

Back to the hotel room to start the packing job.  I like to do a good test pack Friday night so that I know just what I can try to squeeze in on Saturday.  As it stands, I think I have only 6 pounds available, so not too many more games will fit right now, though I might have time/desire to shuffle around some of the boards and cards and wooden bits to get a final game or two.  We’ll just have to see how I feel this afternoon.

Well, now it’s time to hit the sack and get ready for my final day at the SPIEL fair.

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.
This entry was posted in Convention Report, Essen 2018, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Dale Yu: Friday Report from Essen

  1. Dan Blum says:

    Milton Bradley released a very similar ice cube game in the 70s, but they took it off the market quickly because parents complained about the mess.

  2. Oliver Kinne says:

    It’s the posting of games home that I wouldn’t enjoy, so I probably wouldn’t buy much. I’d prefer to meet up with a few people from the industry and get a chance to play games and make new acquaintances. Sounds like you got it all sorted though.

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