It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, no, Christmas is months away! It’s Internationale Spieltage aka Essen or Spiel, the biggest gaming convention in the world. With over 209,000 visitors, 1,200 exhibitors and over 1,500 new releases. This was our seventh year and each year we watch it grow bigger. It’s also great to see games from all over the world. This year included booths from Indonesia, Iran and Taiwan to name a few.
While we obviously came home with a lot of games, we haven’t had a chance to play through many yet. I’d pre-ordered a lot of stuff to avoid disappointment, but then the two things I rushed to grab at show open were Alubari: a nice cup of tea and Food Chain Magnate: The Ketchup Mechanism. (Alubari sold out on day one so that was the right choice!) This was a year packed with expansions for me, Food Chain Magnate, Underwater Cities, Hadara, Heaven and Ale, Railroad Evolution to name a few!
We had a demo of the beautiful Glen More II: Chronicles, I hadn’t played the original (though heard loads about it!) It was far simpler than I’d been led to believe but is a beautifully produced game that we all enjoyed playing. At the close of play on Thursday I held the record for the highest score at 89 points, I need to catch up with Nils to see if I held it for the remainder of the weekend. It would have been nice to investigate the ‘Chronicles’ element of the game but sadly there just wasn’t time!
We had a few games of The Mind: Extreme at the hotel on Saturday night. Wow - is this game frustrating (in the best possible way!) We managed to get to level six on our first attempt and subsequent games we came nowhere close! In the original Not only are there two piles, one going up and one going down but some rounds are placed face down so you have nothing but your intuition to go on. This is the sort of game you play multiple times in an attempt to beat it - good luck with that!
We got a few rounds in of Plunderbund, a game that is currently fulfilling it’s Kickstarter. This was beautifully illustrated with a great looking board. Sadly, it left us wanting but that may have been down to the time constraint rather than anything else. There seemed to be a lot going on: four tracks you were trying to get up (with not enough motivation to do so!), an area control element and a small deck building part. I’d be interested to play through a full game of this before making a final judgment.
The only other game we played was a small card game from NSV (who bought us The Game, The Mind and Illusion amongst other things!) Honestly, I immediately dismissed it from the cover art as a ‘silly kids game’ called Kippelino, it’s a balancing/dexterity game. You have to use small logs to balance cards on top of each other, placing them where the crows tell you to. It’s a little like Rhino Hero but simpler and smaller and a lot of fun! We played this briefly at the show and three people in the group ran and grabbed a copy!
We all know that Spiel is a cash-heavy environment, each year there are multiple stands targeted by groups of organised thieves. On Thursday morning, within an hour of the show opening, someone we knew came up to us in a complete panic. When buying a game he had lost a bundle of cash (close to 2000 Euroes!) We helped him check his pockets and all his bags to no avail. He headed off to find and talk to security while we all lamented that the money was lost for good. The next day we caught up with him to find a huge smile on his face, someone had found his money and handed it into security! We really couldn’t believe his luck - just goes to show there are some great and honest people in the world that also happen to be gamers!
We got back late Sunday night from Germany and unloaded the car. Exhausted, exhilarated and excited at the amazing array of games we bought back. Now begins the work... Sorting out the content for the stacks of games piled around our house, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!