11/9/2015 11:11:47 AM

Essen Overview!

Hello all!
First off, ESSEN! If you’ve been in the gaming scene for a while, visited a Friendly Local Game Shop sometime in the fall, read a few game blogs, listened to gaming podcasts, or just hang around BoardGameGeek a lot, I am sure you (like I) had heard about the reasonably small town of Essen, Germany and their bombastic 4-day “Messe” called SPIEL. It just so happened that our vacation time this year was going to fall in early October, and we were planning to head to Germany anyway for a getaway from the desert sun and sand of Bahrain, where we are currently living. So like any good gamer would do, we decided to head to Essen for a few days to check out the hubbub.

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The only picture I got from our first day at Essen. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement!
We knew going in that Essen was the largest game trade show in the world. There’s a reason so many designers debut games there – between the large number of players, designers, printing companies, and all around good feelings regarding gaming going on, why not? But big doesn’t even begin to describe it – enormous, staggering, huge, amazing? Now we’re getting closer. We learned that there were over 150 brand new board games being introduced this year at SPIEL. I’ve known local game shops that have less than half that number of games, new and old, in stock. So that figure alone is impressive, but then you add in all the other games that are already on the market and were in the halls and booths of the Messe and we’re at a number of games that is easily in the thousands.

We were hoping to miss some of the crowds by only attending on Thursday and Friday, the opening days of the fair. We had our two young kids with us and knew we wouldn’t have enough time to play many games, let alone buy them, so two days worked out to be enough. We walked around all together for a little bit on Thursday (and got drawn into the HABA kid’s game booth), then split so we could check things out without kids. This turned out to be an easier endeavor, and the kids enjoyed the play areas and kid’s game sections far more than wandering around the “adult” sections.

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One game caught our eye pretty quickly, “M.U.L.E.,” based off the old Nintendo game, but we decided against buying it right then. We ended up coming home with Pandemic: Legacy, Patchwork, and Jupiter Rescue. We’ve played through to October in Legacy in the last month, so you know we’ve enjoyed that one! Patchwork is already an older game, but we’ve been happy to add it to our 2-player arsenal. Jupiter Rescue is also great fun, as you (a robot) need to rescue the hapless humans from the alien creep. If we’d had more bag space and more wallet space we may have come home with more!

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While this is a very non-comprehensive review of Essen, I will say that if you’re into boardgaming and can ever find yourself in the area for a SPIEL, it is well worth the parking and entrance fees simply to be around the huge number of other gamers and to catch just a glimpse of the huge number of new games coming out each year. It was a pretty cool experience.