Late last night I got back from my first-ever Essen, having had my mind thoroughly blown by its scale and glorious absurdity. I’d spent almost the whole four days at the fair, but there was still so much that I’d not got a chance to see or do. Fortunately, my more experienced comrades, John Yianni and Rob Harris, shepherded me through the fair’s more obscure rituals and byways, and I cannot adequately express my gratitude for letting me join them.
I shall post more news of our time at the fair shortly, but for now I’ll just take a quick look at the sizeable amount of gaming schwag I returned with. Not that this paltry amount in any way compares to what some other fair-goers must have returned with! You could have spent, spent, spent, and then happily spent a whole lot more. And some were clearly doing just that!
But, without further ado, and in no particular order, here’s what I got (total spend: €38.90, less than the price of your average big box Euro!):
- Kontor, Michael Schacht — Goldsieber Spiele (€5)
I’d always liked the look of this one, and €5 for a decent second-hand German copy seemed too good to pass up. I think (details are now blurry) that this was my first purchase, up to which time I had protested (too much, you might say) that I was not going to buy any games.
- Mozaika, Adam Kałuźa — Kuźnia Gier (€2.50)
I’m a sucker for tile games, and this little box (brand new) with such a little price appealed to me.
- Deukalion, Arno Steinwender & Wilfried Lepuschitz — Parker Spiele (€2.50)
This one is a curious historical artefact: evidence laid down in the boardgaming strata of Hasbro’s short-lived foray into Eurogames. And it’s none-too-shabby either! Great graphic design and components — the 40 meeples alone are worth more than €2.50 — so tempting, indeed, that all three of us bought a copy!
- Hab & Gut, Carlo A. Rossi — Winning Moves (€10)
Like Kontor, this is another game that I had always hankered after, so how could I pass up a brand new box for €10? It turned out I ought to have done since we saw it going for €8 the very next day! You live and learn.
- Gold!, Michael Schacht — Abacus Spiele (€4)
Schacht’s quirky little card game for 2 or 3 players packs, it turns out, quite a pleasing punch, so was definitely worth the cash.
- Medievalia, Michele Quandam — Giochix Edizioni (€2.95)
Half-remembered details about the card play made this one a relatively blind purchase, but the nice art direction and a quick scan of the rules suggests I’ve not entirely wasted my money.
- Circus Maximus, Jeffrey D. Allers — Pegasus Spiele (€3)
Allers has a pretty good reputation as a designer, so the €3 price tag seemed all-too reasonable. Plus, it came in a rather swanky tin!
- Tatort Themse, Reiner Knizia — Pegasus Spiele (€3)
Knizia in a tin. Going cheap. Kinda hard to resist.
- Carcassonne: Das Gelfoge, Klaus-Jürgen Wrede — Hans im Glück (€2.95)
I love me some meeples, so six funky transparent ones packed into an equally funky larger red transparent one was a no-brainer!
It took me a while to tune into the whole Essen promo malarkey — small expansions for existing games that are often simply unavailable elsewhere — but you can’t really argue with ‘free’ can you? (Or a small charitable donation, for that matter.) I was pleased to get the Mr Jack Pocket expansion, and, of course, am always happy with more Carcassonne tiles! I don’t have a copy of Dominion, but am sure I can find a good home for the cards.
- Gold! promo (free) — scoring variants postcard
- My Jack Pocket: Goodies (free) — new tile and character card
- Red meeple baggie (€3 donation, in aid of Rainbow Over Ghana):
— Carcassone: Die Schule expansion
— Dominion: Carcassonne expansion
And everything else, as they say, is gravy!
- On The Cards, Sebastian Bleasdale — Surprised Stare Games
Alan Paull insisted I take a complimentary copy of On The Cards with me since I had helped him and the team at Surprised Stare with the rules, something I had been only too happy to do as a way of repaying a little of all they’ve done for me during my fledgling game design career. Many thanks, then, to Alan, Charlie, Tony and Sebastian!
- DGT Pyramid
Here’s the thing: John Yianni, along with being a highly successful game designer, is an all-round nice guy who knows lots of other nice people at the fair. This means that, if you are not too careful, said nice people give you free stuff, principally because you happen to be standing next to him. It was rather humbling, to be honest. Thanks, then, go out to the good folks from DGT!
- Logan Stones, John Yianni — Productief BV
See above! Alex, one of John’s Dutch distributors, gave me a copy of Logan Stones in the dying minutes of the fair as we were chatting and playing on the Productief BV stand. If you don’t know the game, it’s a great little ‘filler’ abstract with beautiful pieces: Check it out! So thanks are due to Alex and his team!
- Die Pyramide des Krimsutep, Ralph Sandfuchs — Krimsus Krimskrams-Kiste
Pete Burley is another gent of the boardgaming world, and he was at the fair this year with his sons Johnathan and Freddie. I am interested to give this little game a go (once I’ve sourced the English rules). It was great to meet you, Pete: Thanks for everything, and good luck at Nuremberg!
- Junkyard Races, John Yianni — Gen42 Games
John wouldn’t let me leave without giving me my own copy of his latest game, a new edition of a game he first published way back in 2003. I played this back in June at the UK Games Expo and is was a blast! Thanks again, John!
This post also appears on my BoardGameGeek blog.