Spiel Digital (Day 1 Brandon Kempf)

In an effort to kind of blog along with everything that is going on at Spiel in 2020, I’m trying my best to participate from home, which is kind of difficult as I am working while most of Spiel is going on. Don’t get me wrong, there are some demos that go on 24 hours, and the availability of some games on Tabletopia or Tabletop Simulator makes it easier for folks like me, as long as the rules are readily available, and not in German. So most of my first evening was kind of getting used to the interface of Spiel Digital and learning what is out there, what isn’t out there, and what I can do from my cozy, if a bit squeaky, home desk chair.

Part of the joy of a big convention is getting up and just walking and looking around the halls, trying to find something that no one else will find, or just finding something exciting. To try to simulate this, the folks at Spiel Digital have created what they call Theme Worlds. The worlds are broken up into genres, 2 player games, Expert Games, Family games, Puzzles, RPGs, et al. Once you choose one, you open up a new “world” that looks like the following screenshot.

Each of those little “worlds” represents a publisher and their booth. You can zoom in and zoom around the world making it easier. The photo is from the mobile version of the website, so it is a bit smaller than normal. Once in a booth you’ll see a short bio of the company followed by a list of any game releases that they want to highlight and links to the game tables that you can access for demos and any video media that may be already available for the games. Click on an individual game and it takes you to a page dedicated to that game with demos and maybe even a way to purchase the game.

All in all it really is a fantastic system, that works really well to try to simulate that feeling of stepping into a hall and just exploring. Will it replace face to face conventions? I certainly hope not, but with the way the world is right now, I think we owe a bit of gratitude to the folks trying to put this together for us and most definitely for the publishers who need a bit of a boost right now.

That’s really most of what my first day consisted of, well that and getting used to adding all the Discord channels, all of them. Some are hosted individually by publishers, and some are hosted by Essen Spiel themselves with different channels for each publisher and their demo team.

So what did I look at and get kind of excited about? Well one, is Paleo, which Dale has already written about here. I sat and read the rules and then hopped into a demo and just watched a couple of folks try to survive and leave their legacy behind on the cave walls. To borrow a term that I have seen around here on The Opinionated Gamers, this one looked very Hans im Glück-y. What I have taken that to mean is a very well designed and developed game that should appeal to families and more serious gamers alike. This one is a cooperative endeavor with a lot of variety with different card setups, which has become a trademark of Hans im Glück. I’m excited to see Paleo coming from Z-Man here in English, I just hope it doesn’t take too long, you know like Lift Off did. Games can most certainly lose a lot of momentum from the time they are announced and first shown off, to the time they are distributed world wide if that gap is too great.

One other game that I “discovered” was Dive from the publisher, Sit Down!. Dive is one of those games that would have really benefited from having the game shown in person to people walking through the convention hall. It’s really a game that cannot be replicated on Tabletopia or Tabletop Simulator at this time, at least it doesn’t seem that way to me. Thusly, there seem to be no demos of Dive available. But, with the wonders of Spiel Digital, I could still find out information about it. Dive is a push your luck programming game where you are attempting to dive for jewels in the deepest parts of the ocean. You program your dive and then reveal the water and the dangers and see how far you can dive. The hook here is that the water cards are transparent, and you can see the stack, but you never know really if the dangers are on that first card, or deeper in the water. I’ll be interested in seeing Dive, programming games don’t really rank too highly on my list, but the transparent cards, and the quick play time help push this one to the forefront for me.

First sketches. What you see looking from the top at the big stacked transparent cards.
Illustration from the publisher of the stacked transparent cards.

That’s really about all I did during Day 1 of Spiel Digital, I wish I played some games, but the weekend is long and hopefully we have time to experience more things and eat more snacks. Also, I apologize dear readers for not including photos of my Orange Sherbet, which is kind of a Kempf famly tradition, or at least mine and I know how the folks who go to Germany love to talk of their snacks, especially spiral potatoes.

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